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How to Minimise Jet Lag

How Our Sleep Rhythms Are Controlled

Jet lag happens when travel across time zones disrupts our internal body clock, or circadian rhythm and is considered a  sleep disorder.

A key factor in how our sleep is regulated is exposure to light or to darkness. Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the retina in the eye to an area in the brain called the hypothalamus. There, a special centre called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) initiates signals to other parts of the brain that that are involved in making us feel sleepy or wide awake.

Once exposed to the first light each day, the clock in the SCN begins performing functions to prepare us for the day ahead, including raising body temperature and releasing stimulating hormones like cortisol. The SCN also delays the release of other hormones like melatonin, which helps us feel sleepy, until many hours later when darkness arrives.

Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland. This is a pea-sized gland located just above the middle of the brain. During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” by the SCN and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. Usually, this occurs around 9 pm. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes more inviting. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours – all through the night – before the light of a new day when they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 am. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable.

How Air Travel Affects Your Body and Mind

Jet lag can result in mental, emotional and physical symptoms such as:

Pressure in the ears due to changes in air pressure. Chewing gum during ascent, and swallowing or yawning during descent can help equalise the pressure
Headache due to low oxygen. Prevent by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine and alcohol during the flight
Foot, ankle and leg swelling, raising your risk for a blood clot, due to impaired blood flow. Prevent by standing up now and then, and flexing, rotating and extending your ankles while sitting. Compression stockings may also be helpful
Dehydration due to dry air. Prevent by drinking plenty of water before and during the flight
Toothache due to shifts in air pressure. There’s no way to prevent the pain associated with the expansion of gas trapped in fillings or cavities, so see a dentist before traveling if you suspect you have a problem
Fatigue, sleepiness, increased reaction times and reduced ability to make decisions due to low oxygen
Gassiness due to shifts in cabin pressure
Altered/dulled sense of taste and smell. Taste sensitivity can be restored by staying well hydrated
Dry skin due to dry air — a problem easily addressed with moisturizing lotion. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water
Bad breath due to dry mouth. Remedy by brushing your teeth on the plane and staying well hydrated

How to Reduce Symptoms of Jet Lag

When you’re traveling shorter distances

If your destination is just one or two time zones away, it may be possible to wake up, eat, and sleep on your regular home schedule. At your destination, schedule appointments and activities for times when you would be alert at home.

When you’re traveling longer distances

As a general rule, your body will adjust to the time zone change at a rate of one time zone per day. What this means is, if you need to be at your physical or psychological best, you’d want to fly out one or more days ahead of time. If you cannot squeeze in the extra time, you could act “as if,” and pretend you’re in your destination time zone while still at home.

To do this, gradually switch your routine before the trip. For several days before you leave, move mealtimes and bedtime incrementally closer to the schedule of your destination. Even a partial switch may help. As an example, if you were planning to travel from New York to Paris, start going to bed (and shift your mealtimes up) an hour earlier each day, three days ahead of your flight, and avoid bright light for two to three hours before going to bed.

During the flight

  1. Drink plenty of fluids, but not caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol promote dehydration, which worsens the symptoms of jet lag. They can also disturb sleep.
  2. If traveling at night, wear blue-blocking glasses on the plane, and continue wearing them until you go to sleep, as excess blue light will impair your melatonin production and make it difficult to fall asleep
  3. Jet lag checker : https://www.britishairways.com/travel/drsleep/public/en_gb    Dr Idzikowski , director of The Edinburgh Sleep Centre, has drawn up a jet lag checker for passengers, which tailors the amount of time and when passengers are to wear sunglasses. Dr Idzikowskisaid that without using sunglasses it took a day to recover for every hour of time difference travelled westwards.

Once you’re at your destination

  • Switch your bedtime as rapidly as possible upon arrival. Don’t turn in until it’s bedtime in the new time zone.
  • If you have travelled east, try going to sleep earlier and getting up and out into the early morning sun. Or if not possible switch on the lights, to shut down melatonin production (the hormone which makes you feel sleepy)
  • If you travelled west, try to get at least an hour’s worth of sunlight as soon as possible after reaching your destination
  • The sunlight will cue your hypothalamus to reduce the production of sleep-inducing melatonin during the day, thereby initiating the process of resetting your internal clock
  • The sooner you adapt to the local schedule, the quicker your body will adjust. Therefore, if you arrive at noon local time (but 6 a.m. your time), eat lunch, not breakfast.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption Before Bed

Both alcohol and caffeine can adversely affect quality of sleep when they’re consumed a few hours before bedtime. Alcohol should be avoided altogether if you still have jet lag and caffeine should only be consumed in order to enhance daytime alertness.

Studies show that when caffeine is consumed too close to bedtime, it may result in difficulty falling or maintaining sleep. This can lead to exposure to light during the night, which further shifts the internal clock out of phase with the new light-dark cycle.

The Anti-Jet Lag Fast

Devised by a team of researchers at Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, the anti-jet lag fast involves determining the time of breakfast at your destination and then fasting (abstaining from all food and drink except noncaloric beverages like water) for 12 to 16 hours beforehand. One of the researchers states “Since most of us go 12 to 16 hours between dinner and breakfast anyway, the abstention is a small hardship.”

This strategy is thought to work because fasting causes your master clock to suspend the circadian clock and instructs your body to sleep less. When food intake resumes, the master clock switches the circadian clock back “on.”

“The master clock probably evolved because when our prehistoric forebears were starving, they would have been tempted in their weakness to sleep rather than forage for the food they needed to survive. 

Today, when a traveller suspends his circadian clock before flying from Los Angeles to London, and then reactivates it upon breaking the fast, the clock doesn’t know that it should still be on Pacific Time. It knows only that the breakfast and the daylight declare morning in Mayfair, and it resets the body’s rhythms accordingly.”

Minimize Jet Lag With Traditional Chinese Medicine

You can also trick your body into connecting with a new time zone using Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques involving the stimulation of certain acupuncture meridians.

Borrowing the knowledge of the general circulation of chi, and being aware that each meridian undergoes a two-hour time peak that moves and peaks from meridian to meridian as it travels through its general circulation, it was reasoned that if one were to reset the body clock utilizing the horary cycle, the body in theory could be made to function at the horary cycle of wherever the person is physically located on the planet, disregarding the effects of so-called ‘time travel.’

Cardiologist Dr. Lee Cowden devised  a shorter version of this technique, focusing on just one meridian — the heart meridian. He explains this technique in the very short video below, originally taped in 2009. Here’s a summary of the steps:

  1. The day of your trip, set your clock to match the local time at your destination (depending on the time of your flight, you may have to do this a day ahead)
  2. At 11 a.m. (the local time at your destination), stroke your heart meridian three times on the left and three times on the right. Your heart meridian begins just to the outer side of your nipple, up through your armpit and down the ulnar aspect (inner side) of your arm, down the outside of your pinky. Once you reach the end of your pinky, gently press into the base of the fingernail (heart point in Traditional Chinese Medicine). For a demonstration, please see the video below.
  3. At noon, repeat the heart meridian strokes

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=K3qlO3wM8ho

References:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/10/19/ways-to-minimize-jet-lag.aspx

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep

https://www.medicinenet.com/jet_lag/article.htm#are_there_any_remedies_for_jet_lag_is_it_possible_to_prevent_jet_lag

Chilled Asparagus and Almond Soup

The combined goodness of antioxidant-rich asparagus and protein-packed almonds makes this a superfood soup. Enjoy hot or chilled, just don’t skimp on the lemon zest – it really lifts the creaminess and richness.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

100g flaked almonds   

1 small onion, roughly diced
1 large leek, roughly diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, roughly diced
2½ tsp fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
600g asparagus, trimmed
1¼ litres vegetable stock
2½ tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper

For the topping

½ tsp lemon zest
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

1 Toast 25g of the almonds in a dry, large saucepan and set aside for garnishing later.
2 In the same pan gently fry the onion and leek in ghee for 5 mins until softened, but not browned. Add the garlic and tarragon to the pan and fry for another minute.
3 Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends. Add the spears and remaining 75g almonds to the pan. Stir, add a pinch of salt and black pepper, then add the stock.
4 Simmer gently for 5 mins, with the lid on, until the asparagus is tender.
5 Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Blend carefully, in batches if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Courtesy of Hemsley + Hemsley

Sugar Substitutes

One of the things I am asked about most as a Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach is sugar substitutes. “What can I use instead of sugar ?” I am asked, so here’s the here’s the good, the bad and the ugly low down on some of  those sugar replacements you might think are healthy (and some that definitely aren’t).

Honey

Honey has a lot going for it in some regards. It contains amino acids, electrolytes and antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds that can support your health. To get these extra benefits, you’ll want to choose a raw (unprocessed) local honey. It may also help relieve allergy symptoms, specifically hay fever, because the bees feast on the local pollen, and taking raw local honey can help you develop natural immunity over time. But, whichever way you cut it, honey is sugar. It may be natural, but sugar it is, and it behaves that way in your body, spiking blood sugar exactly as actual sugar would.

Medjool Dates

Dates are a popular feature of many paleo or natural sugar-free bars, because they are naturally very sweet. They have the highest nutritional benefit of all-natural sweeteners because they also contain minerals like selenium, copper, potassium and magnesium, as well as providing fibre to slow the speed at which the sugars hit your bloodstream. Studies show that they don’t spike your blood sugar levels that much and they’ve been proven to decrease cholesterol and boost bone health, and can help relieve constipation. Stick to 1 or 2 a day so there is no guilt associated with these caramel-like gems.

Maple syrup

It contains antioxidants (24 in fact), which are helpful in the fight against cell-damaging free radicals and inflammation. While studies show maple syrup does not spike your blood sugar levels as much, it is still wise to use sparingly. You’ll want grade A (lighter in flavour) or B (nutritionally better as it’s richer in antioxidants than grade A and with a more intense flavour). Avoid maple flavoured syrups as these are not the same.

Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar has become very trendy of late and brings a lovely caramel flavour to your food. It contains small amounts of iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants, and a fibre known as inulin which  may help reduce the absorption of glucose. It is perfect for baking with and has a lesser impact on your blood sugar levels than regular sugar, but it is still sugar, so use sparingly.

Palmyra Jaggery

You may not even have heard of this, but it’s the crystalized nectar collected from the flower of the Palmyra palm and has a deep, warm caramel flavour. You use it exactly as you would sugar, and often you can reduce the amount needed by up to a half. It’s packed with B vitamins and has a much lower GL than table sugar.

Brown Rice Syrup

This has found its way into ‘healthy’ recipes. It’s made from fermented, cooked rice. It’s not a particularly good option as a sweetener as it’s highly processed, contains very little in the way of nutrition benefits and the effect on blood sugar is almost identical to standard sugar.

Agave Syrup

Agave syrup comes from a cactus, and the syrup is made from the pulp of the leaf. It’s very highly processed and is mainly fructose, which needs to be processed by the liver, causing more stress for an already over-worked organ. Fructose is actually worse for you than glucose. Agave syrup (or nectar) is very similar to the (deservedly) much-demonised high fructose corn syrup, that has contributed greatly to the obesity epidemic in the US. My advice? Do not use it!

Stevia

This is another natural sweetener. There a number of different types of stevia, and ideally you want full, green leaf stevia that is unadulterated with other sweeteners. There are many brands out there that you should avoid because they’re so highly processed, and they also add in other chemicals. Pure stevia will not unbalance your blood sugar levels, thus avoiding an energy rollercoaster. But, a little bit goes a long way, so use sparingly.

Xylitol

Often found in the UK under the brand names Total Sweet or Xyla, xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It’s a little sweeter than sugar, has fewer calories and (the important part) 75% less carbohydrate, so the impact of blood sugar levels is lower than it would be if you were to eat the same amount compared to real sugar. It’s the same stuff used in sugar free chewing gum, thanks to its antibacterial properties. The downside is it is very highly processed, and some people can be sensitive to large amounts and may find their stools a little loose, or they get bloated, if they eat too much. Note as well that it is toxic for dogs.

Artificial sweeteners (like aspartame and saccharin)

People usually resort to artificial sweeteners in a bid to cut calories. This is bad news for a number of reasons, but I’ll mention the two biggies here: Research into some of them shows a correlation with cancer (weak, perhaps, and refuted by the food industry, but personally I’m not taking any chances). Secondly, nutrition science conclusively proves that weight gain/loss has little to do with calories in and out but what happens hormonally inside the body – how much insulin your body makes (insulin being the fat storage hormone that also sabotages fat burning). Recent research shows that these artificial sweeteners can increase blood sugar (and consequently insulin) levels more than normal sugar. So really, what is the point? Thirdly, research shows that ironically, they actually increase hunger. My advice is to stop now.

BUT…

The very best scenario of all is that you wean yourself off sweeteners of any kind as this helps you appreciate and embrace natural sweetness from real food. If you continue to eat sweet things, your taste buds will always want sweet things. That’s because sugar has been shown to have an effect on the brain similar to that of addictive drugs like nicotine, cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. In fact, quickly removing it from your diet can cause withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, depression, headaches and muscle aches. No wonder it isn’t easy to quit.

If your diet has traditionally been quite high in the white stuff, the first few weeks can be a little tricky as your body (and brain and taste buds) starts to adjust – but bear with it.

 

 

 

Food Reactions Demystified

Is the food you’re eating sabotaging your health? You might not even be aware of it because sometimes it’s hard to directly connect a reaction to a food. What are food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, and what are the differences between them?

FOOD ALLERGIES

Many people are clear that a nut allergy is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition. But apart from this, food allergy isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be. As it’s Food Allergy Awareness Week this week, I want to give you the lowdown on food allergy and intolerance, and what to do if you suspect there are foods that don’t agree with you.

What Is a Food Allergy?

To start, let’s get clear what a FOOD ALLERGY is …

The job of the body’s immune system is to identify and destroy germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that make you sick. A true food allergy happens when your immune system overreacts to a harmless food protein—an allergen. The body mounts an immune response by releasing IgE antibodies which stimulate the release of certain chemicals such as histamines which cause physical symptoms.

The symptoms can be restricted to one area (your digestive system, skin and so on) or the whole body, where the immune system triggers widespread inflammation and swelling – which can result in anaphylaxis and can be deadly. Symptoms usually show up immediately or within the first two hours after eating the problematic food.

The most common food allergens are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

Mild food allergy reactions may involve only a few hives or minor abdominal pain. The most common food allergy signs and symptoms include:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

Severe food allergy reactions can lead to anaphylaxis which can cause life-threatening signs and symptoms, including:

  • Constriction and tightening of the airways
  • A swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe
  • Shock with a severe drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or loss of consciousness

If you think you have a food allergy, you can often get tested free of charge via your GP, but private tests are also available.

Clinical Pearl

One clinical pearl I’m going to share with you is that, if you’re struggling with the symptoms of a true allergy (itchy eyes, swelling and the like), yet testing reveals no problem foods, or the test shows you have low grade reactions to a number of foods, the answer might be in the gut. For example, parasites also cause the body to produce high levels of IgE antibodies, yet these are not often considered by conventional medicine as a potential cause of allergy-like symptoms.

FOOD INTOLERANCES

With food intolerances your immune system isn’t involved and symptoms may not appear until hours or days later.

When a food intolerance exists, the problem is at the level of the digestive system –it can’t digest the food which causes uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. In contrast to a food allergy, a person with a food intolerance can typically eat small amounts of the identified food without experiencing symptoms.

Food intolerances are most commonly due to lactose, gluten, preservatives, additives, histamines in foods, salicylates, fructose, impaired complex carbohydrate digestion (the body’s enzymes simply can’t handle the volume of carbohydrates in the digestive system) and tyramine (common in cured meats, aged cheeses and smoked fish).

They can produce low grade inflammation throughout the body and symptoms that are far ranging, but altogether less dramatic. These can include the following:

  • Weight that won’t shift
  • Bloating
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Coughs (frequent)
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy or overly waxy ears
  • Stomach ache
  • Irritable bowel
  • Hives
  • Fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Blocked nose
  • Ear Infections
  • Eczema
  • Sinusitis
  • Urticaria
  • Colitis

Why it’s important to deal with Food Intolerances

Although the symptoms might seem less dramatic, it really is worth dealing with food intolerances, especially if you’ve had niggly issues for years. This is because the low-grade inflammation created throughout the body when you’re repeatedly eating foods the body doesn’t like, frequently progress to more problematic issues. ALL chronic disease is caused by low- or high-grade inflammation of one sort or another.

Although you can do your own elimination diet, cutting out foods you suspect you might have a problem with for a period of time, then reintroducing them and seeing what happens, this can be time consuming if you are not entirely sure which foods might be problematic. Testing can help you pinpoint which foods might be problematic for you- this can save a lot of time, remove the stressful guesswork and help prevent the unnecessary exclusion of too many foods.

Intestinal inflammation caused by a food intolerance may also impair your body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. This can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies down the road.

FOOD SENSITIVITIES

Researchers are finally validating what many of us have known for years: Certain foods just don’t agree with some people. Although food allergies are well-recognized because firm diagnoses can be made through the use of blood tests for the presence of IgE antibodies, food sensitivities fall into a grey area. Experiencing unwanted symptoms after eating certain foods are not as easy to diagnose, but it doesn’t mean that they’re any less real.

Some people can eat tiny amounts of these foods and not always have symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are a lot less severe than allergies but can be just as debilitating and include migraines, brain fog, inflammation, digestive problems, and bloating.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP WITH FOOD ALLERGIES, INTOLERANCES, AND SENSITIVITIES?

The Gut Connection

Studies have increasingly found that food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies are associated with arthritis, autoimmune disease and a leaky gut (or increased intestinal permeability). So it’s important to not just avoid the food in question but to address potential underlying root contributing factors such as leaky gut and inflammation.

It’s not enough to just take the food out and not do anything about it. Because symptoms are another way of your body telling you that your gut needs some TLC to heal, restore and rebalance itself. Without this vital step, no matter how many elimination diets you do, if you don’t work on healing your gut you’ll likely end up fighting symptoms all over again. And also likely to eventually end up with more intolerances and symptoms.

Once you have really healed your gut, you may find that foods that once gave you problems are tolerable again. But it’s important to remember that many of the foods that we become reactive to are inflammatory in nature, so while you may be able to tolerate them, it’s good to eat them in moderation.

Food Allergies

Currently, there is no cure for food allergies themselves. The only way to prevent food allergies reactions is to completely avoid the food you are allergic to. So if you have a food allergy, you will need to avoid the food forever. That’s because part of the immune system works on the basis of memory. In exactly the same way your body remembers its response to, say, the polio vaccination you were given as a child (and can prepare its attack should it come into contact with polio again), it remembers its response to nuts, dairy, or whatever food you’re allergic to. However, making sure the integrity of the gut lining is intact is important to help reduce inflammation associated with food allergies and help prevent further potential complications developing in the long-term.

Food Intolerances

If you have a food intolerance, you don’t necessarily have to remove the food forever, it depends on the underlying cause of the reaction. Digestive support can often help alleviate many symptoms.

Food Sensitivities

Since 80 percent of your immune system is found in your gut, it makes sense that by healing your gut you could reverse sensitivities. Now, that doesn’t mean that every person and every single food sensitivity will be able to be completely eliminated forever—but you don’t have to think of it as a life sentence!

MOVING FORWARD

If you are wondering whether you have a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity, please do get in touch. I can help by offering a variety of testing options where necessary to help get to the bottom of the problem, and my gut restoring programmes can help bring your body back into balance. Book your free call here: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=14670092

 

 

Hidden Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a problem I see so often in clinic and it is problematic on many different levels. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you may well have been suffering with it for years. While a diagnosis can – at first– offer comfort in finally having a recognised problem, the satisfaction is frequently short-lived because often that’s where all support ends, and you’re left no further forward in actually getting to the root causes and resolving the symptoms.

The difficulty begins because IBS is a catch-all term used to encompass a huge variety of digestive issues, including stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, easily feeling full, nausea and heartburn. There are also non-digestive symptoms which often accompany IBS such as anxiety, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and a frequent need to urinate. Each person’s experience with IBS is a bit different, and certain symptoms often seem to be stronger or more frequent than others.

In my experience, some of the underlying causes of IBS symptoms are likely to include one or more of the following five conditions.

1. SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)

Around 60% of people with IBS will have SIBO. Though you might have heard about good (and bad) bacteria in the gut, really what experts are talking about is the balance of bacteria. While bacteria naturally occur throughout the digestive tract, in a healthy system, the small intestine has relatively low levels of bacteria, whereas the highest concentration should be in the colon in the large intestine.

Bacteria are moved down into the large intestine during fasting at night and between meals, clearing them from the small intestine (SI) on a daily basis. This flush is called the ‘migrating motor complex’. For a huge variety of reasons (historic food poisoning being the most common, but also low levels of stomach acid or adhesions play a role, among others) the bacteria are not swept away. The trouble is that with SIBO, as food passes through the small intestine, the bacterial overgrowth actually consumes some of the foods and nutrients, leading to unpleasant symptoms, including gas, bloating and pain.

A breath test can establish which gases are present, and we can devise an action plan based on your results.

2. Lactose intolerance

This is when your body is not able to tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found naturally in milk and other dairy products. Essentially, bacteria in your intestine feed on these milk sugars, leading to a host of IBS symptoms, like bloating and gas, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea.

It can go hand in hand with other digestive complaints, such as coeliac disease or increased intestinal permeability (‘leaky gut’). Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed via a simple at-home breath test.

3. Fructose malabsorption

The symptoms are very similar to lactose intolerance. Fructose (which is found in fruit, honey and many processed foods) is a sugar, which, like lactose, is digested in the small intestine. Some people cannot absorb fructose, and what is not absorbed is fermented by intestinal bacteria, causing bloating, cramping, gas and distension of the stomach. You might also experience brain fog and headaches. A breath test will diagnose the condition.

4. Dysbiosis

This is an imbalance in the levels of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the large intestine or colon. This is now common due to overuse of antibiotics and alcohol, an increase in high sugar diets and stress.

Symptoms can vary from a sluggish bowel or diarrhoea, pain, bloating and flatulence, to chronic bad breath, joint pain, fatigue and food sensitivities. Dysbiosis is also implicated in a variety of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A stool test can help establish whether your gut bacteria are out of balance, along with a host of other markers that are very useful in getting to the root of your digestive problems.

5. Yeast overgrowth

When it’s at proper levels in the body, candida is a fungus that aids with nutrient absorption and digestion. But when candida overproduces it becomes a fungal infection that can affect men and women of all ages in various parts of the body. Symptoms include thrush, gas or bloating, fatigue, bad breath, white coating on tongue, cravings for sweet foods, UTIs, weak immune systems, joint pain and brain fog.

Antibiotics, Birth Control Pills, a weakened immune system and diets high in sugar feed the yeast. A stool test can establish the presence of candida or other yeast overgrowth.

PS: Some people struggle with digestive problems for years. If you are ready to take the first step in getting to the bottom of your digestive problems, I invite you to book to book your FREE 30- min IBS Empowered to Thrive Call now by clicking HERE.

 

 

How To Enjoy Easter Without Bingeing Or Deprivation

Easter is going to turn up, whether you like it or not. Moreish chocolatey treats, hot cross buns lathered in butter, will be all around us, and in every shop and TV commercial. It’s enough to melt away your good intentions, and with this much pressure, bingeing feels almost inevitable.

Of course, chocolate is available all year round. The trouble seems to come when there’s too much chocolate around, as during this time of year. In no time it leads to too much temptation, eating too much in one go, then feeling miserable because you over indulged. The worst parts of a binge are the feelings of guilt and failure that you feel afterwards.

So let’s sort that and figure out how we can enjoy our treats at this time of year, without bingeing but also without depriving ourselves.  And let’s start by accepting that Easter will mean chocolate indulgence on one level or another and then move on!

Top Tips to Avoid Over-Eating

  1. Try to discourage family and friends from buying chocolate for you, or failing that, let them know what and how much you’d like. This helps put you back in control.
  2. Ideally choose the darker chocolate eggs or chocolate selection. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the less room there is for sugar. Aim for over 70% which doesn’t raise blood sugar and insulin levels as much as milk chocolate. If that’s too dark for you, around 60% is a good compromise for those who prefer milk chocolate. Plus, from clinical experience, dark chocolate seems to dampen cravings, particularly chocolate that is above 70% cacao content.
  3. Don’t to eat too much in one go with the intention of getting ‘rid’ of the chocolate sooner. Eating a whole large egg will lead to an energy crash later on, not to mention, for many, feelings of disappointment in yourself that you ’gave in’ or ‘failed’ with your diet.
  4. Don’t eat chocolate on an empty stomach. Firstly, it will give you a blood sugar crash. Secondly, it will encourage you to overeat due to hunger. It’s healthier all round, both for your body and mindset, to have a smaller amount of chocolate as treats after meals containing protein (protein slows the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream) and/or to reduce the blood sugar roller coaster by eating a few nuts at the same time if you’re not having it after a protein meal.
  5. Plan your meals ahead of time so you can make the right choices. Don’t give yourself the excuse that there was nothing else to eat. Ensure you have plenty of your usual healthy foods to hand.
  6. Get a good night’s sleep– yes, really, if you want to keep your appetite in check, getting good quality sleep is essential! Our hunger hormone leptin increases when we become fatigued. That means a spike in our appetite, which inevitably leads to snacking.
  7. Eat mindfully– make sure you savour each mouthful of chocolate, don’t wolf it all down in one big mouthful! This will help you to eat less, as you will feel that you have truly been able to indulge. Savour it slowly, enjoying how it melts on your tongue, how the flavour floods your mouth. Swallow when you’re ready. When it starts not to taste as good and/or your enjoyment starts to fade, decide whether you have had enough. If not, continue eating. If so, then stop. Know that if you want more later, you can have it.
  8. Eat consciously. Make sure your decision to eat chocolate is a conscious one. “Some chocolate would be nice, but I choose not to have one right now”. Whether it’s donating an unopened box to a local food charity, or dividing it up among friends, and/or saving it for later, you can make the decision that you don’t want it. Choosing, and therefore consciously taking responsibility, puts you back in control.
  9. Remove guilt– we can feel deprived even as we eat (and overeat) something if we don’t really let ourselves have it without guilt. Feeling deprived will just lead to overeating so let go of the guilt and enjoy while you eat your treat mindfully.

Alternatives To The Traditional Easter Egg Hunt

If the Easter egg (and everything that goes with it) plays a big part in your family’s tradition, consider doing something a bit different this year.  Here are some great alternatives to the traditional Easter egg hunt https://www.parenthub.com.au/education/easter-egg-hunt-alternatives/.

 Chocolate Binge Rescue Remedy

Consider that even the healthiest people over indulge – but they don’t beat themselves up about it. They just go back to eating normally.

If you do happen to sugar binge this Easter, rule #1 is: don’t panic! Negative self talk and freaking out about weight gain will only exacerbate the situation – not fix it. Neither will throwing in the towel and continuing to binge OR going in the opposite direction and starting a fad diet.

Instead, you can still rescue the situation and stop it turning into a binge, sabotaging all your good work. Say: “It’s done, it’s in the past and I choose to move on”.  Easter is ONE DAY, that’s all. There is no need to be on the rollercoaster for the rest of the month.

Remember that small amounts of the best quality, dark chocolate has the following benefits: anti-ageing, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, is packed with antioxidants and important minerals like iron, potassium, zinc and selenium. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine; the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love …

PS If you are the kind of person who KNOWS you will have a problem with the Easter binge because this kind of bingeing and self sabotage is what you do, or you need some help to get healthy, click here to book in a FREE 30- minute Empowered to Thrive Call HERE

 

Delicious and Nutritious Kale Chips

If you’ve seen kale chips in the shops and want to try your own, this recipe is for you!

 

INGREDIENTS

75g cashew nuts (ideally soaked for 2 hours)
1 shallot, chopped
2tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
½ tsp garlic salt
4 soft large dates, chopped
2tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp water
2tbsp apple cider vinegar
250g bag of chopped kale

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  2. Blend all the ingredients, except the kale, until thick.
  3. Add a little more water if needed.
  4. Place the kale in a bowl and pour over the sauce. Massage thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Place the kale on a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Carefully turn them over and cook for a further 5 minutes.

 

 

The Ultimate Cold & Flu Survival Guide

We are all familiar with the fact that when the temperature drops, the chance of us coming down with a cold or the flu increases significantly. That’s because we’re likely to be inside and studies have shown that the flu survives and spreads better when the air is dry than when it is more humid. And, when you spend more time indoors, you’re exposed to more germs.

The flu virus is also transmitted much faster when it’s cold because the fatty coating of the virus that hardens and protects it becomes more resilient the colder it gets. In warmer temperatures this protective coating melts, and unless it is inside a living person or animal, the virus perishes.

Did you know: when your core internal temperature falls after exposure to cold, the immune system’s ability to battle the rhinovirus (the virus that causes it) is also reduced. The immune system literally slows down.

Interestingly, cold feet may also play a part. In a recent study, researchers made students sit with their feet in cold water for 20 minutes. These students were found to be statistically much more likely to catch a cold in the next five days than the control group (those who didn’t have to sit with their feet in cold water).

TOP 7 WAYS TO BEAT THE FLU

Fewer colds and sick days this winter would be good, right? Here are my top seven tips to keep you fighting fit this month – and beyond. I print out this list and stick it on the fridge as a reminder to me (and my family) that prevention is better than cure

1. WATCH YOUR SUGAR INTAKE

Why? Recent studies suggest that the immune system stays depressed for hours after consuming sugar. That’s because sugar fans the flames of inflammation and affects the ability of white blood cells to fend off viruses and bacteria.

Enjoy raw cocoa, Sweet Freedom Choc Shots or cacao hot chocolate on chilly days, adding your favourite milk or milk substitutes (with a little xylitol or stevia to sweeten, if you like). A few squares of pure, dark chocolate will also satisfy – Green & Blacks, or any good chocolate with a higher cocoa content (at least 75%), is ideal.

2. SUPPORT YOUR TUMMY

Did you know that up to 80% of our immunity to germs and disease is in the gut? The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) in the gut is part of the first line of immune defence, so getting the right balance between beneficial, or ‘good’ gut bacteria, and the ‘bad’, or potentially unfriendly bacteria, is key.

How to do this:

The gut environment takes a beating year after year, owing to poor diets, too much sugar, stress, antibiotics and other factors. Even if you have no obvious tummy troubles, digestive health is vital, so it’s worth the extra effort to take care of it.

Add probiotic and prebiotic foods to your diet, as these re-populate the gut with good bacteria and feed them well enough to crowd out bad bacteria.

Here are some gut-friendly choices to get you started:

  • Organic, probiotic, natural yoghurt (such as Yeo Valley or Rachel’s)
  • Choose full-fat, as the 0% or no-fat options have increased levels of milk sugars – and fat isn’t the enemy, either in life or in weight loss
  • Miso soup or miso bouillon paste (add these to soups and stews)
  • Oats (soak first, as you would to make overnight oats, in order to release the goodness)
  • Onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Beans

3. SERVE CHICKEN SOUP

Did you hear that chicken soup is great when you’re unwell? If you thought it was just an old wives’ tale, you’d be wrong. Research suggests that a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup can slow the speed at which neutrophils move around your body. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and part of the immune system, protecting your body from infection. When the neutrophils move slowly, there’s a greater chance of them becoming more concentrated in the areas of your body that need the most healing. Studies have shown chicken soup to be particularly helpful in reducing symptoms in upper respiratory system infections like the common cold.

4. DRINK MORE WATER AND IMMUNE-BOOSTING TEAS

Water is a miracle worker. It flushes germs from your system, helps your blood to carry plenty of oxygen to your body’s cells and allows those cells to absorb important nutrients.

Invest in a filter jug or bottle to avoid quaffing high levels of chlorine and fluorine along with your tap water.

Green tea and chamomile tea are also immune system strengtheners. Chamomile promotes the production of white blood cells (macrophages and B-lymphocytes) which are the biggest infection-fighters of your immune system. Green tea, and Japanese macha in particular, is rich in polyphenols, specifically a group of natural chemicals called catechins. The catechins in green tea (the most powerful of which is epigallocatechin, or EGCG for short) have been found to be at least 25 times more potent than vitamins C and E.

5. TAKE TARGETED SUPPLEMENTS

Top of the list for immunity are a good probiotic, a multivitamin and extra vitamin C and zinc.

For most people, a daily probiotic will help maintain the right balance of bacteria in the gut. If you have ongoing tummy troubles like IBS or constipation, we should talk – you will need something for your specific symptoms.

A multivitamin bridges the gap between what you are eating and what you should be eating, and takes care of any major deficiencies.

Go large when it comes to vitamin C, both in food and supplement form. Broccoli and red peppers contain more C than oranges (contrary to popular belief) and there are loads of other foodie options, too: kale, cauliflower, parsley, spinach, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, pineapple, mango, papaya and citrus fruits.

Top up zinc levels by eating more palm-sized pieces of lean meat (especially lamb, beef, venison and turkey), pumpkin seeds, ginger root, green veggies, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, yoghurt and scallops.

6. COOK WITH IMMUNE-BOOSTING INGREDIENTS

Adding flavour to food is a smart way to include delicious immune boosters on your plate.

Garlic is a potent superfood. It is antimicrobial, thanks to the active ingredient allicin, which helps fight viruses, and has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and prevent sickness.

Most culinary herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties due to their phytonutrients, but oregano and thyme are particularly rich. Spice up your cooking with turmeric and ginger, too, as these are well-documented immune boosters.

7. SOOTHE SORE THROATS

There are a variety of different natural ingredients that are backed by research pointing to their usefulness.

Fresh ginger added to boiling water may help sooth a sore throat or cough. Honey (look for raw honey or Manuka rather than the common-or-garden variety) is often teamed with lemon for a soothing drink for sore throats and may also act as cough suppressant. Raw honey should not be given to children younger than one as it may contain botulinum spores.

Sore throats may additionally benefit from gargling with salt water, while saline (salt water) nose drops help clear mucous from blocked nasal passages and soothes tender skin inside the nostrils.

PS If you’re the kind of person who ALWAYS has a cold or gets things worse than everyone else, would you like to try to fix that? Maybe you have other health issues or niggly symptoms you know you need to work on. You’d be amazed how you can improve your health by following a good eating plan. You know where I am… and you can book a free call HERE.

 

Top Tips for Portion Control

I am often asked by clients – and in fact many other people I come across as soon as they discover I am a Registered Nutritional Therapist ‘how much should I be eating?’ This is never a straightforward question but I’m going to give you some general guidance.

WHAT YOUR PLATE SHOULD LOOK LIKE

My experience is what people are actually asking is ‘how much of the different food groups should I be eating’ or ‘what should my plate look like’ and my answer is this:

  • Have protein at every meal
  • Eat as much non-starchy veg as you can
  • Think carefully about the type and quantity of starchy carbs like potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.

I ask people to split their plate in half. Consider filling 2/3 of one half of the plate with protein, the remaining 1/3 of that half plate with starchy carbs, and the second half of the plate with non-starchy veg. This is a good visual guide.

THE DIETING INDUSTRY AND READY MEAL PORTIONS

People are frequently surprised because the advice on the starchy carbs goes against what the diet industry and big slimming clubs have been telling us for years. It is also the exact opposite of the ratios you’ll see if you open up a ready meal ­ – the starchy carbs section is usually very generous as this is typically the cheapest part of the meal to manufacture. Even if you’re a little unsure, trust me on it.

SHOULD YOU EAT UNTIL YOU’RE FULL?

You’ve probably heard it said that you should eat until you are 80% full, then stop. There is a lot of logic in this because it takes some time for the stretch receptors in your stomach to pass the message to your brain that you are actually full.

If you eat slowly, taking care to properly chew every mouthful, your body will thank you for it because you will be digesting your food better, and you may find you eat less than you normally would simply because you’ve given your brain a bit of a chance to catch on to the fact that you no longer need to eat!

A SECRET WEAPON

There’s usually something else going on, too, and this cunning trick might be what you need if portion control is something you struggle with. Serve yourself a meal on a smaller plate. I’m not suggesting you go from dinner plate to side plate but try swapping from a 12-inch dinner plate to a 9-inch plate. The same serving will look significantly more generous, tricking you into thinking it’s more food.

Try it, it does work.

9 Ways to Avoid Festive Season Weight Gain (And Still Have Fun)

December is a month that encompasses the Christian and Jewish celebrations of Festive Season and Hanukkah, and also includes spiritually significant days for Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans and Zoroastrians. Festivities and commemoration for each faith go on for varying lengths of time.

So how do we end up piling on the pounds over the festive season?

It’s normal to want to indulge over the Festive Season, but the number of people joining diet clubs and gyms in January speaks volumes about how many regret their festive binges.

Maybe you’ve grown up associating food with pleasure and fun, so subconsciously you fear that if you don’t eat tonnes, you won’t have a ‘happy Festive Season/happy Hanukkah’. It’s easy to slip into a ‘one more won’t hurt’ mind-set – just one of the many reasons you might have piled on the pounds during the festive period in the past.

When working with clients on weight loss programmes, I always like to get clear on what has held them back in the past. These are a few of the things that often come up

1. Portion control – have you ever felt you’ve waited all year for Festive Season/Hannukah, so you’re not about the hold back? The extra roasties or chocolates don’t seem to matter.

2. Social life – family gatherings, work lunches and endless parties mean that you are literally overloaded with temptation, sometimes on a daily basis. And hangovers add to the urge to eat junk food and veg out on the sofa

3. Sedentary lifestyle – a busy social life means exercise routines get put on the back burner as we swap dumbbells for the remote control. Swap that for a few brisk walks in the park or some gym time and you’ll have done the hard work of making a start come the New Year- starting is always the hardest bit

4. Mental ‘hall pass’ – willpower goes out the window at this time of year. It’s almost as if you tell yourself that it’s fine to binge on everything in sight as you’ll lose it all when you go on a January diet / detox- which often doesn’t ever start.

Guess what? You can still enjoy the festive season and not gain weight

The trick is to not feel left out by integrating treat foods into the context of an overall healthy diet. So one slice of cake/doughnut/biscuit treat, not four, in one afternoon. And as long as you have some strategies in place before the festive season, there’s no reason why you can’t start the New Year looking and feeling fantastic.

If you don’t have a plan (for parties, going out, visiting friends, having family over and so on) you are setting yourself up to fail. Be clear in your mind what your healthy options are, and if you know you’re going somewhere you won’t be able to eat the right foods, take some nutritious snacks or meals with you.

9 Tips To Avoid Gaining Weight Over The Festive Season

As a qualified BSc Nutritional Therapist, I work with clients to take control of their relationship with food and plan how to get through times when over-indulgence might feel hard to resist.

Here are my 9 tips for how to avoid gaining weight over The Festive Season, and still have fun:

1. SET A FESTIVE FOOD GOAL

It’s unrealistic to try and avoid all temptation over the Festive Season, but by setting a specific goal – say, limiting yourself to one treat a day, or scheduling in a quick workout once or twice a week to offset your increased calorie intake – will help you stay on track

2. HAVE PROTEIN

Fill up on some protein-rich food such as nuts, seeds or chicken before you hit the party circuit

3. PORTION CONTROL

Eating from a smaller dish causes you to eat less, because the food itself looks more substantial. If you transfer food from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate, it looks like more food and you, therefore, feel more satisfied. And avoid seconds unless you are genuinely still hungry

4. AVOID EATING EXCESSIVE FAT

Research reveals that fat from certain foods, including ice cream and roast potatoes, goes straight to the brain and tells you to eat more! It triggers messages that are sent to the body’s cells, warning them to ignore appetite-suppressing hormones that regulate our weight.

The effect can last for a few days, sabotaging efforts to get back to a healthy diet afterwards. Dr Deborah Clegg, who conducted the research, explains: “Normally our body is primed to say when we’ve had enough, but that doesn’t always happen. When you eat something high in fat, your brain gets ‘hit’ with the fatty acids and you become resistant to insulin (which regulates blood sugar levels) and leptin (the hormone that suppresses hunger). Since you are not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat.

5. KEEP TREATS OUT OF SIGHT

If you want a Quality Street chocolate and all you have to do is reach to the tin and help yourself, chances are you’ll end up eating 3 or 4. But if you have to get your shoes on, walk to the shop in the cold to buy some chocolate, you probably wouldn’t bother.

Ever heard yourself say “take this away from me, so I stop eating?” With food directly in front of you, it’s easy to overindulge. Once it’s removed, you realise you aren’t even hungry – you were just eating because it was there. So keep unhealthy foods out of sight in cupboards- or better still, don’t buy them. If you know they’re in the house, you might not be able to resist

6. REMEMBER VEGETABLES

Veggies don’t need to be doused in oil and roasted to within an inch of their lives to taste good. Plus they can really fill you up in a healthy way.

One of my favourite festive side dishes are thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, steamed and then fried with garlic, pine nuts and a dash of white wine. It’s so tasty, I make it all year round. Slow-cooked red cabbage and apple is another fantastic way to get some much-needed nutrients

7. SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU EAT

It takes around 20 minutes for your body to tell your brain that you’re full. If you eat quickly, you’re more likely to overeat. Slowing down gives you time to recognise and assess how hungry you really are.

One trick I use is counting chews (it’s tedious but, believe me, it works). If you chew a bite 10 times, you’ll eat slower. I also found myself enjoying food more, as there’s more time to actually taste what I’m eating. Eventually it becomes second nature to chew more

9. 8. CIRCLE OF SUPPORT

Emotional support is crucial when it comes to dieting. Research shows that people who felt supported by their friends and family were 50% more likely to stick to a healthy eating plan. So ask your loved ones to help you avoid temptation by not to offering you sugary treats. Buddy up with a family member who is also trying to lose or maintain their weight. Having that moral support will boost your chances of success (and you won’t be riddled with that horrible feeling of regret the next day)

9. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up or see it as an excuse to write off the rest of the day and eat everything in sight. Just leave it in the past- don’t ruminate about it, and move on.

If you’re resigned to Festive Season weight gain and are promising yourself you’ll do something about it in the New Year, why not make a commitment to your future self by booking a FREE call with me to see what the options are. I offer a range of health and weight loss packages that can help you reach your personal health goals. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to get to (and stay at) your happy weight.

                   M: 07812163324          Email: info@yournutritionalhealth.co.uk

 

Yours in health

Sylvia

Sylvia Salvendy

Nutritional Therapist, Health Coach & EFT Practitioner

BSc Nutritional Therapy, Dip BCNH, CNHC, mBANT

Accredited Certified EFT Practitioner AAMET

Zest4Life Health Coach