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Posts Tagged "diet"

Benefits of Dry January

We are now two weeks into dry January and we hope people taking part in this event are feeling the benefits of a booze-free few weeks.  As a gentle reminder and motivational boost here are a few benefits of an alcohol free January. Most of us see January is a perfect way to start the year in a healthy fashion. Giving up alcohol can help to lose weight and cut out excessive calories.  For example pint of beer contains on average 150 calories and a glass of wine contains 170 calories. Cutting these out automatically reduces the calorific intake and can help you start to the year without excessive extra calories. Excessive alcohol intake can cause dips in blood sugar levels which can lead to increased sugar cravings which can result in further weight gain. People generally eat fast foods and junk food after a night out drinking and this food does not get enough time to undergo proper digestion which needs to unwanted weight gain. One the main drawbacks of alcohol intake is the dreaded hangover, or “heavy head”, which can have a detrimental impact on work performance and can reduce energy levels and mental altertness. This resultant low enery can therefore impact on our levels of activity and this can lead to weight gain. Cutting out alcohol during January can result in increased energy levels, and help us to start the day with increased motivation which leads to improved mental performance. This can also have the knock-on effect of feeling more motivated to go out and exercise, which can help to reduce stress levels, reduce weight and help to maintain a healthy general lifestyle. Regular alcohol intake is also related to and can cause the low mood and depression staying off booze for a whole month can help to improve mood, not to mention improve energy levels. Many people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which is related to a lack of a lack of daylight. This condition naturally affects more people during autumn and winter months.  January can be a particularly bad month as the days are generally shorter. Cutting out alcohol during this month can help to maintain and improve mood levels. Alcohol is metabolised...

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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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Tips for planning a healthy diet

There is so much advice these days about how to eat healthy, but here are our top tips for planning a healthy diet for you and your family: A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going. Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet.  The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart.  Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different colour vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking.  As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet. Avoid fruit juices, which can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per cup. These can be diluted with water.Canned fruit is often in sugary syrup, and dried fruit, while an excellent source of fibre, can be high in calories. Avoid fried veggies and those with dressings or sauces, as these generally contain too much unhealthy fat and calories. Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly. 50-60% of the population is gluten sensitive or intolerant. I suggest trying an elimination diet where you eliminate all forms of gluten, seeds, and nuts from the diet. This allows one to easily begin to identify any  offending food because after the seven days is over, you begin introducing any potential offender one...

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Top tips on how to keep your breath fresh

Bad breath (halitosis) is often due to gum disease, tooth decay, throat infection, poor diet or problems with digestion. So what is the best way to keep your breath fresh? The most common cause of bad breath is a lack of dental hygiene. This can be improved straight away by brushing your teeth at least twice a day (not immediately after eating fruit). There are many fluoride free toothpastes and mouth washes available to buy. You should also change your toothbrush regularly. Certain foods such as garlic, onions and cheese are other causes of bad breath. Smoking also contributes to this condition. Chronic bad breath can be a sign of more serious illness such as diabetes or heart disease, so it is important to consult your doctor. The following tips can help to keep your breath fresh: Avoid too much caffeine and sugary drinks. Cut out smoking. Cut down on high fat, low fibre foods. Cut down on milk and dairy products. Eat plenty of green vegetables such as kale, watercress, cabbage and spinach. These vegetables contain chlorophyll which helps to promote the natural cleansing functions of the body. Eat plenty of fresh fruit. Papaya and pineapples eaten after a meal help to break down the proteins. Add herbs such as coriander, parsley, fennel and mint to your diet. These herbs help to kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. Start a course of probiotics containing acidophilus and bifidus. This should be taken daily for between 2-3 months.  This will increase the healthy bacteria and improve digestion. Digestive enzymes containing betaine will help to improve the digestion of proteins. (Avoid if you have stomach ulcers). Natural mouthwashes containing lemon, myrrh, peppermint oil, clove oil and tea tree oil can help to keep your breath fresh and free of bacteria. Supplement your diet with Co-enzyme Q10. This is a strong antioxidant that helps to improve the health of your...

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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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How to keep your bones healthy

How to keep your bones healthy

Osteoporosis is a degenerative illness of the bones that is becoming more common than before, affecting more than 2 million people in the U.K. This condition causes the bones to become weaker and increases the risk of fracture, especially in old age. But how should we keep our bones healthy? There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from poor diet, lack of regular exercise, family history through to side effects of medication. Women generally have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men. One in three women and one in twenty men are affected by this condition. This is partly due to the fact that women generally have smaller bones than men and during menopause, the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, which helps to protect the bones. Several medications can cause osteoporosis or weaker bones. The long term use of steroids, such as prednisolone and beclomethasone can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Medications such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, which are used to lower stomach acid, have been reported to decrease levels of calcium. There is some good news! Osteoporosis is a condition that can be easily prevented and managed. Although this does require you to do some work! Your diet is very important in keeping your bones and joints healthy. Eating the correct foods (and avoiding the bad foods) can really make a big difference. Excess alcohol, salt, sugar and caffeine consumption can all lead to lower calcium levels.  Taking the correct supplements and regular exercise also helps to strengthen your bones and joints. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the bones and joints and can help to prevent osteoporosis in later life. While cardiovascular exercise such as running or jogging is important, weight bearing exercises like weight training are essential for keeping your joints and bones strong and healthy. High doses of calcium supplements are not the answer to treating osteoporosis. Calcium supplements that are prescribed by G.P’s have been linked with an increased risk of heart attacks in a study published in the British Medical Journal. While calcium is important, other minerals such as magnesium, boron, and zinc also play an important role in bone health. Homeopathic remedies can also help your body to absorb calcium...

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6 Easy Steps for Weight Loss

There are so many diets aroung these days, let us talk you through 6 easy steps for weight loss: 1. – Before you can start any diet program you need to be in the right frame of mind. If you do not feel good about yourself you probably will not want to choose healthy foods. You cannot expect the act of going on a diet to make you feel better about yourself. The only way you can choose to eat a healthy diet to lose weight is if you have a positive self-image.   2. – Eat whole foods that are as natural as possible. When you eat whole foods that are full of nutrients your body will know how much to eat and how much not to eat. You do not have to count calories because your body is a wonderful machine. If given the right nutrients you will be at the best weight for you, have plenty of energy and feel great. Eating highly processed empty calorie foods will cause your body to always be hungry because it’s trying to get the nutrients it needs.   3. – Drinking water is the best weight loss supplement known to man. Most people do not know the difference from being hungry for food or thirsty for water. A great deal of times people eat when they should drink. You will generally not feel as hungry if you are getting enough water. You will be satisfying the thirst, which is confused for hunger. Water also helps you digest food better. Drinking water before you eat will help fill you up.   4.   Always chew your food well. Chewing your food well will ensure that you get the most nutrients out of your food. Getting the most nutrients will satisfy your body therefore you will eat less. Another benefit of chewing well is that it helps aide indigestion.   5. – Eat small, frequent meals in a day. Large meals tax your digestion system, making it work harder. Taking too much time in between meals makes you hungrier for the next meal.   6. – Increase your physical activity. Most people are over-weight because of a lack of physical activity. Start...

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Foods to Improve Fertility

Foods to Improve Fertility

Infertility is an increasing problem for many couples. The causes of infertlity range from genetic complications, hormone imbalances, life-style and diet. A healthy diet for both the male and female partner is very important especially if you are having trouble conceiving. Adding certain foods and removing others from your diet can actually improve fertility and raise your chances of getting pregnant. Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can have a detrimental effect on your chances of conceiving, so should be avoided. The more alcohol that both partners consume – the lower the chance of getting pregnant. The odd drink is fine, but binge drinking is not recommended if you want to get pregnant. Excessive alcohol can lower zinc levels, which can lower sperm counts in men. Alcohol can prevent implantation in women. Sugary snacks such as chocolates, biscuits and cakes can affect hormone balances in the body. These foods should not totally be cut out of your diet, but keep to a minimum. Foods high in saturated fat, ready meals and junk foods deplete the body of essential nutrients that are needed for conception. These foods are also generally high in sugar and salt. Caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and many carbonated drinks, can reduce your chances of conceiving. It is worth noting that the odd caffeinated drink or bar of chocolate is fine, but when these foods are eaten in excess, fertility can be affected. In males, excess caffeine intake can cause impotence by reducing blood flow. This lack of blood flow also affects the motility of a fertilised egg in females. The following foods, aside from improving your general health, can help you to conceive: A diet that is high in antioxidants will improve the reproductive function of both partners. Antioxidants are present in coloured vegetables, such as peppers and green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. Strawberries, blackberries, pomegranates and raspberries are examples of fruits that are high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants are natural substances that help to protect the body from the harmful effects of free radical damage. Free radicals can be formed by factors such as exposure to radiation (including over exposure to the sun’s rays), cigarette smoke, air pollution, exercise, processed foods, household cleaners and stress. Zinc is...

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Zinc: Essential for Health

  Zinc is a very important mineral that is essential for optimal health. It has many health functions, ranging from supporting the immune system, reproductive organs to skin health. Zinc has also been found to improve mental health and reduce depression. Zinc is a trace mineral, meaning that we need to obtain it from our diet. Due to intensive farming methods, the levels of zinc in the soil have been greatly reduced, meaning that more people than ever are now deficient in this vital nutrient.  There are however certain foods that have high levels of zinc. Oysters are the richest food source of zinc. Other foods that have high amounts of zinc are shellfish, red meat, pumpkin seeds, lentils, sunflower seeds, ginger root, pecans, and brazil nuts. Other good sources are whole wheat, rye, oats, peanuts, lima beans, almonds, walnuts, and buckwheat. A deficiency in zinc can show up in many symptoms. Examples are hair loss, loss of taste or smell, reduced ability to fight infections or poor night vision. 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).Taking addition zinc is very important for people over 60 years, as the body’s ability to produce T-cells deteriorates after this age.  It is also a very important supplement for men as zinc is very important for maintaining a healthy prostate gland. The usual dose of zinc is between 10 and 15mg a day. You should only take a higher dose under the supervision from your GP or...

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