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Healthy Eating Tips

Fibre Helps Asthma

A potential ground breaking treatment for asthma has been discovered by scientists from Switzerland. The treatment simply involves eating more fruit and vegetables. The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggested a connection between the boost in processed food consumption and the increase in asthma rates over the last 30 years. The team of scientists from the University of Lausanne conducted tests on mice and the results found that those with high fibre diets were less likely to suffer with serious inflammatory respiratory symptoms. The team found that the extra soluble fibre, found in fruits and vegetables, was converted into short chain fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory action. Whilst adding more fruit and vegetables to the diet is an ideal way to get more fatty acids into the system, an omega 3 supplement would have a similar effect. For further information on the link between asthma and diet please read: Does fast food really increase the risk of Asthma? Can Vitamin D Reduce Asthma Symptoms? Vitamin C helps Childhood...

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Top Tips For Keeping Healthy This Year: Part 2

3. Diet (continued). Foods that can give you energy and help your circulation include fruit and vegetables, whole grains and goods oils such as olive oil, flax seed, fish oils and coconut oil. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and lentils in your diet will also help you to lose some extra weight and benefit your immune system. Red meat and fats from fried and junk food also produce free radicals in our body. These free radicals have been linked with causing a number of diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Cutting down on fizzy drinks is also a must in your new health plan. These drinks are full of sugar and regular intake can be harmful to general health. The sugar free versions of these drinks are actually more harmful, as the artificial sweeteners have been linked with a host of illnesses such as osteoporosis and digestive problems. Water has many health benefits. You should aim for 8 glasses a day (1-1.5 litres). It is important to remember that water is also present in fruit juices, salads and certain fruits. Fluid intake is a must for a healthy body. A good way to start you day is to have hot water with lemon and ginger. This healthy drink has the benefit of boosting immunity and stimulating your liver to kick start the detox process. 4. Health Supplements. You can easily include some health supplements as part of your daily routine to improve your immunity and general health.  The number one supplement that I would recommend is a good quality probiotic. This will provide you with essential good bacteria, which is required for a healthy digestive system. Probiotics also help to support and boost the immune system. You can take the probiotics throughout the winter months to aide digestion as well as help fight the winter bugs. Essential fatty acids from either fish oils or flax seed oil is another food supplement that will help your general health. These essential oils are required for a healthy cardiovascular system, brain function and they are excellent at reducing inflammation in the body. These fatty acids also help to maintain healthy joints. Antioxidants are required to “mop up” the free radicals that...

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5:2 Fasting diet – It’s not just for weight loss

5:2 Fasting diet – It’s not just for weight loss

The 5:2 fasting diet is nothing new, but the mechanism of how this can benefit us has not always been clear, but new research has found that fasting diets may help people with diabetes and heart disease. The added benefit is weight loss. The diet is based on eating little or no food a few days a week, and has been found to be as beneficial as exercise or surgery for heart disease.  The fasting diet has also been found to improve blood pressure and research has indicated that it may even reverse type 2 diabetes. James Brown from Aston University led a team of researchers that evaluated various approaches to intermittent fasting in medical literature. They specifically looked for the effects of fasting on the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting involves alternating fasting or restricted calorie days, alternating with normal diet days. The fasting days can either be on alternate days or a few days each week.  Research has found that intermittent fasting days have been found to be more effective than calorie counting to lose weight. Clinical trials have found that 5:2 fasting can reduce inflammation and blood pressure. Fasting has also been found to improve sugar and fat levels in circulation. This diet is thought to be as effective as bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery), and it also improves pancreatic function. These findings are certainly not ground breaking or new. Intermittent fasting has been known to result in weight loss and reduce the incidence of diabetes in lab animals since the 1940’s. Recent studies have found that restricting calorie intake could reverse type 2 diabetes. “Intermittent fasting might achieve much of the benefit seen with bariatric surgery, but without the costs, restriction on numbers and risks associated with surgery,” according to lead author, James Brown. “Whether intermittent fasting can be used as a tool to prevent diabetes in those individuals at high risk or to prevent progression in those recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes remains a tantalising notion and we are currently in preparation for clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of this form of lifestyle intervention in various patient groups.” Animal studies have found that intermittent fasting has similar effects...

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Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Foods to Boost Your Immune System

As we are approaching the “flu season” it is time to start eating the right foods for our immune systems.  During the autumn and winter months, there are new strains of viruses and bacteria mutating and this puts a great strain on our immune systems. We are surrounded by all sorts of viruses and bacteria from buses/trains/underground, places of work, coffee shops to our homes. So which are the best foods to boost your immune system naturally? As you can see we are exposed to germs everywhere. The good news is that by eating the correct foods, getting plenty of good quality rest, cutting down on alcohol and by doing regular exercise you can reduce your chances of illness. It is also worth noting that certain foods can put a strain on your immune system and should be avoided or reduced. It also goes without saying that smoking will lower your immune function is best avoided. You should eat plenty of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, carrots and cauliflower. They will provide you with essential vitamins and minerals that will support and boost your immune system. These vegetables should not be overcooked, as the nutrients are destroyed by the cooking process. They can be steamed for a few minutes and then served. Pumpkin seeds, lentils, sunflower seeds, ginger root, pecans, and brazil nuts are all a good source of zinc and selenium. Several studies have found that daily doses of zinc caused dramatic improvements in the function of the immune system, especially the T-cells (they help to fight off infections). Eat more coloured fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, oranges, papaya, apricots and pomegranates. You should also aim to eat more coloured vegetables such as peppers, beetroot, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. These foods are high in vitamins A and C and they are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals which can damage our immune systems. Use more garlic in your cooking. Garlic contains nutrients that are beneficial to the immune system. Hot chillies are also effective at boosting the immune system, as they contain vitamins A and C. Ginger is another good ingredient to use as it has a warming effect on the...

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Are almonds beneficial to weightloss?

A new study in America has found people who eat 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day experienced reduced hunger and improved dietary vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake without increasing body weight. So are almonds beneficial to weight loss? Snacking has become a regular habit in the US with an estimated 97 per cent of Americans consuming at least one snack a day. This is a good statistic, but only if the snack is a healthy one. With the rise in obesity rates in the US, it is increasingly important to choose healthy snacks that do not cause weight gain. This latest study, which was led by researchers at Purdue University, investigated the effects of almond snacking on weight gain and appetite. The study involved 137 adults who were at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The participants were divided into five groups. The control group that avoided all nuts and seed, a breakfast meal group, and a lunch meal group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds a day with their respective meals, and a morning snack and afternoon snack group that consumed 1.5 ounces of almonds between meals. The participants were not given any other instructions, other than to follow their usual eating habits and physical activity. The results found that monounsaturated fat (good fat) and vitamin E intake were significantly increased in all almond groups compared to baseline and the control group. The participants did not increase the total number of calories they ate and drank over the course of the day or gain any weight during the study, despite consuming approximately 250 more calories per day from almonds. The daylong ratings of hunger and the desire to eat were also significantly reduced in the almond group. “This research suggests that almonds may be a good snack option, especially for those concerned about weight,” says Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the study’s principal investigator. “In this study, participants compensated for the additional calories provided by the almonds so daily energy intake did not rise and reported reduced hunger levels and desire to eat at subsequent meals, particularly when almonds were consumed as a snack.” This...

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A Diabetes Crisis?

As the rates of diabetes are continually on the rise, an obvious but important question is are we eating too much sugar? A survey by Diabetes UK has discovered that patients with type-2 diabetes, is expected to hit 5million by 2025. This is quite startling, and it clearly shows that governments alongside the food industry have not acted in the best interests of the population. Unless this changes, we are heading for health disaster in the coming decades. The survey also found that many people were not aware of the seriousness of the disease. Many people were not ware that diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness and even amputations. Type-2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or it does not work properly. This condition is generally linked with weight gain, especially around the abdomen.  So why are more people being diagnosed with diabetes than before? Possible answers are a lack of regular exercise, irregular diet and higher consumption of sugar. We generally like sugar and it is very addictive. Food manufacturers have continually increased the amount of sugar in everyday foods such as bread, savoury snacks and convenience foods. Sugar is not only included as the white powder as we all know it. Carbohydrates release sugars which can cause these problems. High sugar intake leads to a surge in the levels of insulin, which is released by the pancreas, to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. Regular high sugar intake can eventually lead to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. The simple solution is that we need to cut down on how much sugar we consume and increase our exercise output. Cutting down on processed foods and ready meals is a good start. We need to go back to basics. Generally, the more whole foods that we consume, the lower our chances of developing insulin resistance. We should be eating more complex carbohydrates, which release sugar slower than simple carbohydrates. A simple example of this is eating more sweet potato rather than more potatoes. Sweet potatoes release sugar slowly as they have a lower GI (glycemic index) compared to ordinary potatoes, which release sugar faster, as they have a high GI (glycemic index)....

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Does fast food really increase the risk of Asthma?

Does fast food really increase the risk of Asthma?

There have been many different findings recently, but does fast food really increase the risk of asthma? Regular servings of fast food could be causing a rise in the number of cases of asthma, eczema and rhinitis (persistent colds) in children. A study published in Thorax has found that children who have three or more servings of junk food are at a higher risk. The findings of this study could have a major impact on the health of many teenagers. Fast food could also be making their symptoms more severe. The researchers based their findings on data from more than 319,000 13-14 year olds from 51 countries and more than 181,000 6-7 year olds from 31 countries. The teenagers and the children’s parents were asked about any illnesses such as asthma (wheeze); rhinoconjunctivitis (which produces a runny or blocked nose accompanied by itchy and watery eyes); and eczema; and their weekly diet. The results found that three or more servings of fast food such as burgers and chips increased the risk of asthma by 39 per cent in teenagers and by 27 per cent in younger children. The study also found that fruit had a protective action in both age groups. Eating three of more weekly servings of fruit reduced symptom severity by 11% in younger children and by 14% in teenagers. The results of this large study provide further evidence of the harm that regular consumption of fast can do. This is not to say that you should never eat fast food, but it should be limited to once a week. Aside from the benefits of fruit that have been reported in this study, they provide a whole spectrum of vitamins and immune boosting properties that children...

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Healthy eating can improve sleep

Healthy eating can improve sleep

Researchers from the Centre for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania have found more evidence that eating the right foods can improve the quality of sleep. The study found that people who get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night have more balanced diets than those who sleep too much or too little. They found that a lack of vitamin C, eating too much fatty food and dehydration can have a negative effect with our sleep patterns. High caffeine intake, from tea, coffee and chocolate, and alcohol are also known causes for sleep disturbances. The researchers also found that people who consumed the most calories throughout the day had the worst sleep. Those who had a balanced and varied diet slept better. “Overall, people who sleep seven to eight hours each night differ in terms of their diet, compared to people who sleep less or more,” said the study’s lead researcher Michael Grandner. The participants who consumed less lycopene (found in tomatoes, grapefruit and oranges), selenium (found in nut and seeds) and vitamin C (found green vegetables, peppers and oranges) were found to have disturbed sleep patterns. “A good sleeper’s diet is most likely one that has a variety of different types of foods, with more complete nutritional coverage, and not too much high-calorie food,” concluded Michael...

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Can Non-Alcoholic Red Wine Reduce Blood Pressure

“A glass of red wine is good for the heart”. We’ve all heard of this medical fact, but a new study suggests that non-alcoholic red wine can lead to a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The study was published in American Heart Association journal Circulation Research. The researchers studied 67 men with diabetes or three or more cardiovascular risk factors who ate a regular diet plus either a large glass of non-alcoholic red wine, red wine or a large measure of gin. The men consumed this diet for 4 weeks. The red wine group had very little change in their blood pressure readings, the gin group had no change whilst in the non-alcoholic red wine group the diastolic blood pressure reduced by 2mmHg and the systolic by 6mmHg. The researchers suggest that this could lead to a 14 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease and a 20 percent reduction in the risk of stroke. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic red wine contain polyphenols which are antioxidants the can reduce blood pressure. The researchers concluded that the reason that the non-alcoholic version is better is that the alcohol in red wine weakens its ability to lower blood pressure. The non-alcoholic red wine increased levels of nitrous oxide which helps to improve blood flow to the heart and organs, and reduces both systolic and diastolic blood...

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Can Green Tea Lower Blood Sugar Levels?

Can Green Tea Lower Blood Sugar Levels?

Foods scientists at Penn State University in Pennsylvania have found that green tea could help to reduce spikes in blood glucose. These new findings could have a positive impact on the diets for people who have type-2 diabetes, and for people who are pre-diabetic. This could also benefit people who are on a weight-loss programme. The researchers concentrated on an antioxidant that is found in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate(EGCG). They found a significant reduction in blood glucose levels in mice that were fed EGCG with corn starch, compared to the mice that did not receive the antioxidant compound. Joshua Lambert, assistant professor of food science in agricultural sciences said, “The spike in blood glucose level is about 50 percent lower than the increase in the blood glucose level of mice that were not fed EGCG.” The dose of EGCG that was fed to the mice is equivalent to one and half cups of green tea for a human. The researchers found that EGCG was more effective when it was fed to the mice with the corn starch. For humans this means that green tea is more effective at lowering blood glucose levels when taken with a starchy food such as breads, bagels or rice. The researchers found that green tea and the starch would need to be consumed simultaneously. Green tea should be drunk with, not after a starchy meal for optimum benefit. These results indicate that green tea could help to reduce blood glucose levels in the morning, when starchy foods are usually eaten. The researchers also found that this compound found in green tea did not have a major impact on blood sugar levels when given with glucose or maltose. This indicates that for green tea to reduce blood glucose levels, it should be taken without sugar. Lambert said that the reason that blood sugar spikes reduced when the mice ate starch, but not the sugars, may be because of the way the body breaks down starch to sugar. A possible mode of action has been suggested by the researchers. Starch is broken down in the mouth and pancreas by the enzyme, alpha-amylase, into glucose and maltose. EGCG may work by preventing the enzymes ability to break down...

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The Cholesterol Balance

More people than ever are being diagnosed with high cholesterol levels. Possible reasons for this are a high fat diet, lack of regular exercise, high alcohol consumption or being overweight. Cholesterol is an essential part of the body and is required for healthy nerves, hormones and cells. Cholesterol is also required in the formation of sex hormones. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to depression and anxiety. High cholesterol levels can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease. The levels of cholesterol are measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/l). The current guidelines state the levels of total cholesterol to be less than 5.0mmol/litre, LDL to be less than 2.0mmol/l and HDL should be at least 1.2mmol/l. Cholesterol is made up of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) referred to as “bad cholesterol” and HDL (high-density lipoproteins) which is also known as “good cholesterol”. LDL’s are responsible for leaving cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries. This can lead to the arteries clogging up and heart disease. HDL’s, mainly carry cholesterol to the liver and to organs that require cholesterol for cell and hormone formation. As you can see, it is not just a simple matter of drastically reducing cholesterol levels. We need to have a certain amount of cholesterol to be healthy. The current medical guidelines are to prescribe statins, such as atorvastatin, simvastatin and rosuvastatin, which are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK. These drugs work by reducing the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, which can help to prevent heart disease, but also prevent good cholesterol getting into cells and hormones. Our bodies require cholesterol for optimum health. There are however certain foods that can help you to lower LDL cholesterol levels without affecting HDL levels. Eating more fibre is the first change that you can make to lower cholesterol levels. Foods high in fibre are porridge, beans, lentils, wholegrains and vegetables. Fibre has been shown to lower cholesterol levels in many studies. Healthier fats such as olive oil, avocado and pumpkins, linseed, sesame seeds can help to lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels in the body. Walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also a good source of essential fatty acids, which can...

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Top tips to maintain a healthy acid and alkaline balance

The recommended healthy balance of acid and alkaline forming foods is 75% alkaline and 25% acid. The higher proportion of alkaline forming foods is directly related to the fact that our bodies are mildly alkaline. A possible reason for the increase in the number of illnesses that we see today such as arthritis, skin conditions and gout is because the western diet is approximately 80% acid-forming and only 20% alkaline-forming. It is worth noting that just because foods are acid-forming it does not make them unhealthy. Many proteins are considered to be acid forming foods, but are essential for the development of tissues and muscles. A healthy option is cut down on protein based foods, but do not completely remove them from your diet. The following tips can help you maintain a healthy acid/alkaline balance in your body: Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Rather than the 5 a-day that the medical authorities recommend, we should be aiming to eat 8 to 10 portions of fruits and vegetables every day. These foods are highly alkalising, even the citrus fruits which you may consider to be acidic. Include green vegetables as part of your daily diet. Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus and green beans are rich in chlorophyll, which is high in magnesium (highly alkalising). Drink plenty of water. You should aim to drink approximately 8 glasses (1.5 – 2 litres) of water every day. Water is essential to keep our kidneys functioning healthily and to eliminate the acids. Remember that your water intake is included in juices and herbal teas. Stress, anxiety and anger can all cause an increase in acidity. This is because these emotions cause shallow breathing, meaning that less carbon dioxide is released resulting in more acidity. Breathing deeply allows more carbon dioxide to be expelled from the body and increases the amount of oxygen in the body, resulting in a healthy acid/alkaline balance. Increase the amount of raw food in your diet. Raw foods help to maintain a good acid/alkaline balance and are also a good source of nutrients. Healthy raw foods include apples, avocados, carrots, bananas, pears, strawberries and grapes. Cut down on sugary foods such as cakes, pastries, chocolates...

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