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Posts Tagged "healthy eating"

The Second Brain

The second brain is a phrase that has been mentioned in various books and articles, but what actually is our second brain, what does it do and how can we look after it? Many studies have been conducted over the past few years which have analysed the importance of the second brain and its connection to various chronic illnesses that in the past would have been overlooked. The second brain is actually the gut, which starts at the oesophagus and ends at the anus. The wall of the gut consists of various types of neurons and neurotransmitters that produce up to 95% of all serotonin in the body. These neurotransmitters also produce 50% of all dopamine that is produced in the body. The vagus nerve connects the digestive system to the brain. Serotonin and dopamine are widely regarded as “feel-good” molecules that are involved in the prevention of depression and in the regulation of appetite and sleep. Dopamine is also heavily involved in illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A simple example of the connection between the two brains is how fatty foods can make us feel good, and the digestive reaction to stress such as the feeling of “butterflies” in the stomach. This indicates that the second brain could potentially play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of illnesses such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With this connection in mind, how can we look after and nourish our second brain? Studies have found that certain strains of probiotics can result in the production of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which are necessary for a healthy neuro function. Scientists have also found that these beneficial bacteria change the expression of certain receptors in the brain. This is communicated via the vagus nerve, which is a direct link between the gut and the brain. Preliminary animal research has found that a variety of these friendly bacteria may help to treat a number of mental illnesses such as depression, autism and anxiety. We can help to maintain our digestive health, by eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and avoiding excess sugar, salt, animal fats and processed foods....

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Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure

As this month is National Heart Month, the following tips can help to lower or maintain a healthy blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80mmhg. High blood pressure is generally defined as having a diastolic pressure over 85mmhg and a systolic over 140mmhg. So read on to learn more about how to lower your blood pressure… The first change that you can make is to cut down on salt. You should not totally cut out salt from your diet, as the body requires salt for healthy function. Salt contains sodium, which encourages the body to hold onto water, which in turn puts more work on the heart and leads to increased blood pressure. Fibre is important in your diet, as it helps to flush out the extra LDL (bad) cholesterol. Foods high in fibre are: whole grains, porridge, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lentils. Foods such as garlic, ginger and broccoli are all known to be beneficial for the heart and help to keep the arteries healthy. The best way to start exercising is to incorporate walking to your daily schedule. You can start by walking for 15minutes and gradually increase this. This will help you to lose weight and therefore reduce the work load on your heart, which will result in lowering your blood pressure. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are very important for lowering LDL cholesterol and they have an anti-inflammatory effect in the arteries. You can obtain these essential oils from flax seed or fish oil supplements. Magnesium helps to relax muscles and research has shown arteries are considerably narrower in people who are deficient in this mineral. A dose of between 400-1000mg a day has been shown to lower blood pressure. Co-enzyme Q10 is a supplement that helps to strengthen the heart and improve its function. L-Arginine has shown promise in reducing blood pressure. A study published in Alternative Medicine Review has found that in a small trial consisting of 29 patients, the results found that two thirds of the patients had a significant reduction in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings. These results are very promising but further larger trials are required. L-Arginine is an amino acid that is found in dark...

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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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A Healthy Diet may Prevent Dementia

Doctors have written to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggesting that persuading people to eat fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oil was “possibly the best strategy currently available”, in the battle against dementia. This is a very different treatment method than the usual advice of taking more medication. The group, which consists of doctors and health workers said that the prevention of dementia should be based on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and not on questionable drugs. Last week brought together dementia experts from G8 countries in London.  Worryingly, according to a recent report the number of people living with the condition is expected to triple worldwide to around 135 million. There is at present an increasing number of prescriptions of anti-pyschotic medications written in the UK, with many possibly the result of mis-diagnosis. The letter also states that encouraging people to eat a healthier diet could have a greater impact in the battle to reduce the rates of dementia than the “dubious benefits of most drugs”. London cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra said, “The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet, in preventing all of the chronic diseases that is plaguing the western world is overwhelming. This includes cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer”. Dr Simon Poole who organised the letter said that educating the public, including young children in the importance of a good diet in maintaining good health is a project that will take years, but which is absolutely essential. This letter needs to be taken seriously by all key decision and policy makers, to educate and promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle in disease prevention. We hope you found our article on how a healthy diet may prevent dementia useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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Can turnips help prevent flu?

Can turnips help prevent flu?

There are lots of recent foods and remedies that claim to help prevent flu. Recently scientists in Japan have discovered that eating a traditional pickled turnip could prevent people catching the flu. This is potentially a major breakthrough and an addition to the number of natural remedies for supporting the immune system against the flu virus. Studies conducted in mice have found that suguki, a pickled turnip dish popular in Japan, reduced the incidence of the animals contracting the virus. The active component in the pickled turnip is Lactobacillus brevis, which is thought to boost immunity.  The animal studies found that the Lactobacillus brevis bacteria increased the production of disease fighting anti-bodies. Researchers found that the effects was strong enough to prevent the H1N1 (swine flu) strain. A new study is now underway to test this supplement. Researchers will give participants a probiotic drink containing the same KB290 strain of the bacterium found in suguki. Naoko Waki, author of the study in science journal Letters of Applied Microbiology said, “When a particular strain of Lactobacillus brevis is eaten by mice, it has protective effects against influenza.” The researcher continued, “Continual intake of (the drink) for 14 days prior to influenza virus infection alleviated symptoms such as loss of body weight and deterioration in observational physical conditions induced by the infection.” The Japanese researchers believe that a layer of sugars called exopolysaccharides that protect the bacteria against stomach acid juices could be responsible for action of the Lactobacillus brevis. Probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are regularly taken to support the immune system, so the initial findings of this study look very promising, although further research is required.  ...

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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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What is Serrapeptase?

as a dietary supplement, serrapeptase is becoming much more popular, but what is all the fuss about? This enzyme was initially discovered by the German scientist Hans Nieper over 20 years ago. Serrapeptase has been promoted to treat many health conditions. What is Serrapeptase? This enzyme was originally found in the intestines of the silkworm, but is now prepared synthetically in the lab through the fermentation process. It is main action is a strong anti-inflammatory response, without gastrointestinal side effects of conventional NSAID’s (non steroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. Serrapeptase is thought to work by helping the body to break down protein. Hans Nieper used this supplement to treat clogged arteries in his patients. The scientist also reported that Serrapeptase dissolved blood clots and reduced varicose veins. Other potential uses of Serrapeptase: Sinusitis Sore throats Ulcerative colitis Crohns disease Osteoporosis Back pain Osteoarthritis Migraines  It must be stated that more studies are required to back up these potential uses of this supplement.   The long term safety of Serrapeptase has not yet been determined, but short term treatment of up to 3-4 weeks seems to be ok. It is best avoided in pregnancy and if breast feeding, as there is not enough information regarding safety. There is also a potential interaction with medications that help to prevent blood clots such as anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin) and anti-platelet drugs (e.g. aspirin and clopidrogel). If you are taking these medications, it is best to avoid this supplement. The recommended dosage for Serrapeptase ranges from 10mg (20,000 units) to 60 mg (120,000 units) three times a day on an empty stomach (one hour before meals or 2 hours after a meal).   Please consult with your pharmacist or nutritionist before starting this...

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