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Asian Red Cabbage Slaw

Red cabbage slaw is rich and vibrant; a treat for the eyes and simple to make. Pair it with some grilled fish, halloumi or chicken. This delicious recipe uses miso to make it creamy without using mayonnaise.

Miso, like yogurt, is a live food packed with bacteria that’s good for you. It adds a savoury, umami flavour to food and can be used in lots of ways. Traditionally, miso is made using cooked soya beans, koji culture, salt and often a grain such as rice or barley. These ingredients are fermented and then slowly aged which can take anything from three months to three years, depending on what kind of flavour and texture is required.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 apple,  julienned
  • 3-5 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Miso-Ginger Dressing

  • 1-inch fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons Clear Spring Sweet White Miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • chilli flakes optional

Instructions

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Alternately you can use a small blender to combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, apple, spring onion and sesame seeds together with the dressing. You can also omit the sesame seeds and serve them as a garnish.

Serve immediately if you like it very crunchy or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for a few hours for a more slaw-like texture and to let the flavours mingle a bit. Both ways are great. Depending on how you are serving the dish it can be served at room temperature or cold.

Thinking of becoming Sober Curious?

Ahhh….A drink after a long day to take the edge off before bed, and then maybe a few more on the weekend to help you loosen up when you go out with friends. Socially, drinking is one of main ways we enjoy being with friends.

The trouble is it’s easy for those units to mount up, without even being aware of it (when I ask my clients to write down how much they actually drink, many of them are very surprised). And over time it can have really detrimental effects on your health, mood, energy levels and weight. Because some of these problems can creep in overtime, you may find it difficult to link them directly to drinking.

The recommended guidelines for alcohol are no more than 14 units a week, with at least 2 alcohol free days per week. A typical bottle of wine will contain 10 units. It’s easy to get through a bottle with three generous glasses in a night! Let’s face it, whoever pours a small glass?

Do you ever wonder if you drink a little too much? Maybe it’s crossed your mind on occasion that you have a problem with alcohol (even if you’ve not spoken those words out loud)? Do you use alcohol like a social crutch to give you confidence at parties and events? Do you often wonder what life would be like without alcohol or even why on TV, films and even in real life the alcohol flows freely at practically every event? It’s like we should all be drinking, and without it, we must be having less fun.

Have you ever thought about cutting down? And then maybe worried that not drinking seems somewhat suspect. After all, abstaining is often interpreted as a tacit indication that you struggle with alcoholism (itself a stigma and kept private), or that you’re just a virtuous teetotaller who’s a party- pooper and doesn’t know how to have fun! Trying to cut back though can be difficult and often meets with disapproval from others.

While you might be eating well, doing your yoga or Pilates, meditating, getting your 10,000 steps every single day, at the end of a long day, you get back from work, kick off your shoes and head for a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Soon, one glass is a second glass, which becomes the rest of the bottle.

I wonder if that sounds familiar?

If any of these questions above have crossed your mind, perhaps you are sober curious.

The sober curious movement is gathering pace and not drinking is really rather trendy. To be clear, ‘sober curious’ is not the same as sobriety (being 100% sober). According to Ruby Warrington, author of the book Sober Curious, it’s not that you’re either a drinker or teetotaller. Rather, it’s about bringing a “questioning mindset to every drinking situation, rather than going along with the dominant drinking culture”. Sober curious is a movement that welcomes you at any stage of your questioning the role alcohol plays in your life.

It may be that you have already dipped your toe into extended periods of sobriety – Dry January, Go Sober for October. Being sober curious the rest of the time is a natural extension. There are even sober bars popping up where you get to socialise over mocktails and kombucha rather than a G&T.

Author Ruby Warrington – the first to coin the phase – began thinking about her alcohol consumption in 2010 in terms of its impact on her health and wellbeing. She was drinking in a very socially-acceptable way. The way you might see openly portrayed on social media, it wasn’t like she was drinking secretly or during the day. Maybe a few glasses of wine on a few weeknights and a mini-binge at the weekend. Like many, she was simply doing it without question.

But then she began to question the role it played in her well-being, drinking less and less often. And then she stopped almost completely. With that came relief from hangovers, sleepless nights, and anxiety, plus a new sense of self-confidence and a stronger ability to cope with daily life. She calls her approach to drinking sober-curious, which she describes in her book Sober Curious.

Feel like exploring this for yourself?

Being sober-curious starts with asking yourself:

Why am I choosing to drinking right now?

Is it expected of me that I will have a drink right now? If so, how do I feel about that?

What will this drink do for my health and general well-being?

Think about what it is that you actually want.

It’s also important not to focus on what you’re cutting out. Instead, focus on everything that you’re cultivating or creating space for now in your life by looking beyond drinking.

When you do drink, ask yourself: How is this drink actually making me feel compared to how I thought it would make me feel? You might begin to notice that alcohol makes you feel tired and groggy and doesn’t give you the lift or the release you were looking for. And these experiences might make it easier to choose not to drink on some future occasions.

If people question you, it may sometimes be easier to have an excuse. For example, “I’m just not drinking this month” or “I’m driving.” Sometimes it’s easier to shut down the question, depending on who’s asking and whether you are comfortable sharing. Don’t be afraid to say to friends that you’re taking some time off from drinking, that you’d like to do something different instead (on a night you would normally go to a bar) . Remember, you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. But if you feel the need to, I always tell my clients to use me, their nutritionist, as the reason!

Can you ever drink if you’re sober curious? Of course! Being sober curious is not about never, ever drinking. It’s simply being more mindful about when and why we drink, and how it fits in with the other things we want in our life. And that’s something we could probably all do with more of in every aspect of our lives.

SOBER CURIOUS RESOURCES

Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington

The Sober Diaries: How one woman stopped drinking and started living by Clare Pooley

Drink?: The New Science of Alcohol and Your Health by David Nutt

Alcohol Lied to Me: How to Stop Drinking and Get the Real You Back by Craig Beck. There are some excellent hypnosis tracks to go with this book by Craig Beck

Is Your IBS Driving You Crazy?

Bloated, constipated, gassy, crampy, heavy, loose stools- just plain uncomfortable? One minute you can’t go to the loo and the next minute you can’t get off of it?

The likely cause is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It’s incredibly common. According to Guts UK, a charity set up to promote awareness of and funding for digestive problems, it affects up to a third of people at some stage or another and it is one of the main reasons people visit their doctor.

Unfortunately, according to the NHS, there’s not a lot you can do. The official view is that it’s a lifelong problem that no one really understands and that there’s no cure for (although over-the-counter medicines can help symptoms). So sorry, move along and deal with it yourself.

As nutrition professionals will tell you, there IS hope. A consultation with a nutrition professional specialising in digestive health can help provide some natural solutions for you, if you prefer not to take over-the-counter medication. AND your nutritionist can help you get to the bottom of what is causing your IBS symptoms (excuse the pun), so that you can take steps to start feeling your best.

Causes

SIBO– One of the most common causes of IBS is SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Experts estimate that 60% – 80% of people with IBS actually have SIBO. This describes a condition where bacteria manage to grow and thrive in the small intestine. It’s not a question of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria. There shouldn’t really be many there at all.

Lactose/Fructose Intolerance– It might be that you have a 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, leading to a host of ‘IBS symptoms’. It might similarly be fructose malabsorption. Again, some people are not able to absorb fructose and symptoms are very similar to lactose intolerance.

Dysbiosis– is an imbalance in the normal levels of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the large intestine or colon. It can potentially be caused by the overuse of antibiotics or alcohol, other medications such as the contraceptive pill, an increase in high sugar diets, and stress.

Yeast overgrowth– Candida normally co-exists with many other types of bacteria, in a state of balance. We all have small amounts of Candida growing in our digestive tracts and living on our skin, usually kept in check by our “friendly” bacteria. When the gut environment gets out of balance (due to dysbiosis) we become vulnerable to overgrowth of yeast.

In some cases, digestive problems can be tricky to solve, and it almost always involves a lot of detective work. Although IBS might be very common, it is not normal to experience these symptoms. If your symptoms are hampering your life in a significant way, please know that there ARE things you can do. You don’t need to feel resigned to living with them for the rest of your life.

What can I do about my IBS now?

There are some simple tricks you can put into practice today and that might make enough of a difference to help you get your life back on track. I’m going to tell you what they are in a moment.

It might be helpful to clarify a few things in your mind first. To what degree do your symptoms bother you? Do you feel OK with finding temporary solutions for your symptoms? Are you feeling positive that they will eventually go on their own? The answers to these questions might be enough for you to keep going as you are. If it isn’t,  please contact me to book in a free 30-minute digestive health call to get an idea of what might be possible for you.

10 ways to improve your digestion

The following suggestions are very simple, but surprisingly effective for many clients at improving their symptoms of digestive distress.

DO

  • Try a cup of hot water or ginger tea (just chop up fresh ginger and steep in hot water) before meals to stimulate digestion.
  • Apple cider vinegar also works – take 1tsp before a meal in a bit of water or as part of a salad.
  • Eat bitter greens as a starter to stimulate your digestion- these are green, leafy vegetables like spinach, rocket, watercress, kale, broccoli rabe, cabbage, collard greens
  • Try a few cubes of pineapple or papaya before a meal. These contain enzymes that can boost your digestion. You might also consider taking a natural digestive enzyme supplement from a health food store to support your body’s natural digestion process.
  • Think about your food before eating it – the thought and smell kickstarts the digestive process so that stomach acid and digestive enzymes are produced, which help break down your food.
  • Make sure you’re chewing properly so your digestive tract has an easier time breaking down your food. Digestion starts in your mouth as soon as you start to chew your food. Chewing signals your salivary glands to start producing saliva, which contains enzymes that help you break down food. If you had to spit out the mouthful, no one should be able to tell what you’ve been eating.
  • Take a 15-minute walk after eating if you can. This lowers blood sugar levels and gets your digestive system moving (see, your granny was right).

DON’T

  • Eat at your desk at work. Getting up and out is important for so many reasons. But in this case, checking emails while you are also eating may make you wolf down your food and/ or not chew properly. Neither are good for your digestive health.
  • Try to eat on the go or when you’re stressed out. You won’t digest your food properly or absorb the nutrients. This is the quickest way to get heartburn and bloating.
  • Don’t eat fruit aftera meal. Fruit likes a quick passage through the digestive system. It can get stuck behind other foods that are digested more slowly and then ferment, causing gas.
  • Although there isn’t much scientific evidence yet for this, many people find that drinking too much water or other fluids with their meal slows down digestion. This is because the extra fluid is thought to dilute stomach acid which is needed to break down food properly. The best thing is try and see if it helps you or not.

 

Kale with Japanese Dressing

This flavourful dressing is easy to make and quickly transforms simple steamed kale or spinach into an irresistible dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1kg kale, tough ribs removed – spinach is also delicious
  • 60g toasted white sesame seeds (if you can’t find toasted seeds, you can buy raw sesame seeds and quickly toast them yourself)
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin (sweet sake for cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • optional: 2 teaspoons Sweet Freedom syrup or Stevia
  • optional: if you are the type of person who happen to have dashi on hand, add a splash or two to the dressing

Method

Add a few tablespoons of water to a large frying pan, and in 2 batches, steam-fry the kale leaves for 2-4 minutes until greens are tender. You might want to put the lid on the pan to speed this up.  The age, size and heartiness of your kale will determine how long you’ll need to cook the leaves. (Keep in mind that spinach will need much less cooking.)

While the greens are cooling make your dressing. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend toasted sesame seeds, Mirin, Tamari, rice vinegar, and Sweet Freedom/Stevia. It’s easier to achieve a creamier consistency using a food processor.

When the kale has cooled to room temp, grab half and squeeze between your hands to removed excess liquid. The cooked greens will stick together in a log-shaped clump after being squeezed together in your hands. Take that roll of greens and slice it into 1/2 inch wide strips then transfer chopped leaves to a mixing bowl.

Before dressing your salad, keep in mind that this recipe gives you a VERY generous amount dressing. You may only need to use as little as half the dressing.

 

Adapted from Yummy Suppers

 

Spinach & Halloumi Salad with Blueberries

The saltiness of the cheese goes perfectly with the tannins in the spinach and the sweetness of the berries. Soaking the Halloumi leaches out its preserving salt, and also softens the cheese nicely.

Serves 2

Ingredients

250g Halloumi cheese

100g Fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp lime juice

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt

Method

Cover the Halloumi and soak in water for a few hours or overnight.

Drain and cut the Halloumi into slices.

Heat the olive oil in either a frying pan or a griddle.

Gently fry the Halloumi until lightly golden on each side. Drain on paper towel.

Mix the salad dressing ingredients.

Place the spinach in a bowl and dress.

Put the Halloumi cheese pieces on top of the spinach and sprinkle over the blueberries.

Season to taste and eat immediately

 

Adapted from Divalicious

Nutrition & Lifestyle Hacks for Hay Fever

What makes spring and summer so beautiful for many people leads to misery for those who suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms. Freshly cut grass, blooming trees and flowers, and weeds release pollen, which can make life unbearable as you battle a runny nose, blocked nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and uncontrollable sneezing attacks.

Hay fever symptoms are caused when our bodies release histamine in response to an allergen. The body over-reacts to substances like pollen, which are in fact harmless (but the immune system thinks they aren’t), and produces antibodies to attack the substance. This is what causes the symptoms.

The great news is, that your lifestyle and what you eat can have a profound impact upon your symptoms! So read on to find out how you can take back control over your hay fever and better enjoy the season.

Lifestyle

A lack of sleep can make you more prone to allergies because it weakens your immune system.

Studies have shown that stress can exacerbate allergies. It’s not exactly known why, but it’s thought that stress hormones can ramp up an already exaggerated immune-system response to allergens. According to the British Institute for Allergy & Environmental Therapy, once stress is properly managed and relieved, the symptoms of hay fever improve. Meditation, exercise and eating healthily are all recognised ways of managing stress.

It’s a good idea to have a shower  after pollen exposure. Pollen and dust left on your skin and in your hair can make your symptoms worse.

Using a Neti pot during allergy season or after exposure to allergens can help relieve nasal congestion and flush out mucus. Once or twice daily, use warm filtered water or distilled water with a touch of salt to flush your nasal passages for relief.

Diet

Identify Food Sensitivities

Remove foods you are sensitive to, and increase foods that boost your immune system. The purpose of this is to lighten the overall burden on your immune system to allow it to function more optimally.

If you’re not sure what your food sensitivities are, an elimination diet or food diary can help identify foods that worsen your allergies.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Dairy products like milk and cheese can thicken mucus, making blocked noses or ears much worse. Matured cheeses also tend to contain high levels of histamine. So, it’s worth trying some alternatives to cow’s milk, such as almond and rice milk and cashew nut based cheeses.

There are also foods that, while they are not high in histamine themselves, are ‘histamine liberators’ and can trigger your cells to release histamine. These include strawberries, pineapple, bananas, citrus fruits and egg whites.

Foods containing high levels of histamine should be avoided and include chocolate (sorry….); aged or preserved foods like vinegar, sauerkraut, yoghurt or canned fish; and wheat can stimulate an allergic reaction in those who suffer from grass pollen allergies.

Lots of caffeine can trigger histamine release which might accentuate your hay fever symptoms. Why not try anti-inflammatory green, white or nettle tea instead.

Beer, wine and liquor contain histamine, produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. Wine and beer also contain sulphites, another group of compounds known to provoke asthma and other allergy-like symptoms.

Refined sugar found in most cakes, sweets and ice cream can trigger a blood sugar spike which in turn will release histamine. For a natural sugar fix, choose fresh or dried fruit instead- in moderation as these can be high in natural sugars.

Eat Anti-Histamine Foods

Anti-histamine foods contain chemicals which can disrupt or block the histamine receptors in your immune system. By blocking these receptors, it can help to reduce allergy symptoms.

Research has found that raw local honey can help relieve hay fever symptoms in some people because it contains the local pollen that’s causing your allergies. Do not give honey to young children under one due to the risk of listeria.

A fish a day could keep the sneezing away! There’s some evidence that anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish could boost your allergy resistance because they help decrease the narrowing of airways that occurs some cases of seasonal allergies.

By filling your diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, you will have  a steady supply of vitamin C, which will support your nasal lining and reduce the amount of histamine in the blood.

Foods that are rich in flavonoids such as quercetin, vitamin C or beta-carotene, can help to block histamine and reduce inflammation (see below).

Quercetin containing foods

Onions, garlic, goji berries, asparagus, all berry fruits, apples, kale, okra, peppers, plums and red grapes.

Beta carotene containing foods

Sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale, and romaine lettuce.

Vitamin C containing foods

Blackcurrants, blueberries, peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, mango, courgettes, and cauliflower.

Drinks to Include

Water– Stay hydrated. Drink eight to ten glasses of fresh water each day. If you get dehydrated, any mucus you have becomes much more difficult to expel. Staying hydrated on the other hand can help relieve irritation in your throat and also thin the mucous in your nasal passages, helping to  unblock your nose.

Ginger tea– either slice up fresh ginger and steep in boiled water or buy  ginger tea. Ginger has been shown to help reduce allergic reactions by lowering your body’s IgE levels (the antibody involved in the specific immune reaction associated with hay fever).

Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, which are helpful for the immune system generally. It has also been proven to block one of the receptors involved in immune responses.

Peppermint tea contains menthol, a natural decongestant that can offer relief if your nose is congested or your sinuses are blocked.

There are also anti-histamine supporting supplements which have helped a lot of my long- suffering clients.  If you’d like to talk more about this please contact me, I’d love to speak with you!

Carrot Cake Granola

A delicious gluten free granola that is also an immune booster, what’s not to love!  This is also a great way to use up leftover carrot pulp from juicing, if you have it. Using orange juice and xylitol naturally sweetens this granola without the need for added sugars and syrups. You can leave out the xylitol if wished. Make up a batch of this granola and store in an airtight container for up to 2-4 weeks. Delicious served with yogurt and fruit as a healthy breakfast or snack.

Serves 12

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 60g coconut oil softened
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange (about 100ml)
  • 30g xylitol
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g carrot grated or leftover carrot pulp
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g cashew nuts or almonds
  • 60g walnuts
  • 125g pecan nuts
  • 60g mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame and pumpkin)
  • 125g gluten free oats
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 60g goji berries or raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and lightly grease the oven baking tray.
  2. Add the coconut oil, orange juice, xylitol, vanilla, carrot, sea salt and cinnamon to a blender and process until smooth
  3. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the orange – carrot paste.
  4. Stir the mixture to thoroughly combine so that the mixture is coated and starts to stick together. You may find using your hands.
  5. Spread the granola in a thin layer on the baking tray.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes until lightly golden stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  7. Allow to cool then stir in the raisins or goji berries. Store in an airtight container.

Courtesy of Christine Bailey

Nutrition To Turbocharge Your Immunity

When it comes to fighting viruses, everyday precautions such as washing your hands often and avoiding sick people are key. But experts say that boosting your immune system may also give you an edge in staying healthy. Here are my top foods to help armour your immune system.

Vitamin C

I’ll be talking more about important vitamins further down but wanted to bring your attention to this big one first. Physicians have demonstrated the powerful antiviral action of vitamin C for decades. There has been a lack of media coverage of this effective and successful approach against viruses in general.

Vitamin C was used back in the 1940s to combat polio, a virus-caused illness. In China, a study is under way to see if high doses of vitamin C can help fight off COVID-19. Scientists at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University are testing its effects on 120 patients who have the virus, giving them daily infusions of 24g of vitamin C for seven days. Results have not yet been published. The government of Shanghai, China has announced its official recommendation that COVID-19 should be treated with high amounts of intravenous vitamin C (https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/shanghai-government-officially-recommends-vitamin-c-covid-19.2)

Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, kale
  • Cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, papaya
  • Red, green and yellow peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes

Increase Your Antioxidants

You need to stockpile natural antioxidants (and not just the packets and tins of pulses!). When you supercharge this “antioxidant potential” you give your immune system a real boost. And, if you’re wondering ‘where have I heard about antioxidants before?’ they’re the things skincare companies tell you their anti-ageing moisturisers are full of to keep your skin looking youthful.

Viruses and bacteria produce oxidants, which are reactive forms of oxygen that damage cells and also age you faster. Simply put, they are bad news. We’re also getting our fill of oxidants from eating chargrilled/ blackened foods, fried fast foods, and breathing polluted air. And maybe you’ve had a less than great diet over the years. Antioxidants mop up the damaging oxidants to help keep your cells healthy. What can happen is that you can end up in a situation where you have too many oxidants and not enough antioxidants.

Scientists use several tests to measure the antioxidant content of foods. One of the best tests is the FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) analysis. It measures the antioxidant content of foods by how well they can neutralize a specific free radical.

High antioxidant foods include:

  • 70% + dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Blueberries
  • Other berries, especially raspberries and strawberries
  • Dark green veggies like kale
  • Red cabbage
  • Goji berries
  • Beets, also known as beetroot
  • Green tea- look for decaf if you’re sensitive to caffeine
  • Beans

Glutathione – The Master Antioxidant

Glutathione is one of the most important molecules in the body – almost like a magic elixir of health. Too little of it and you’re at risk of developing one of the most feared health conditions facing us today, including stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, and heart disease.

If you’ve got good enough levels, that’s where the gold is…

But when levels are adequate or high, that’s when the magic happens. You’ll not only have protection from the conditions above, but you’ll have amazing energy, glowing skin, healthy detoxification, strong heart and brain function, and possibly even a longer life!

Glutathione is made up of three amino acids called cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid (or glutamate). It’s often called the “master” antioxidant because it helps recycle all the other antioxidants in your body like vitamins C and E, as well as alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10.

The immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Research shows that glutathione primes the white blood cells of the immune system and helps them produce more infection-fighting substances so they can control both bacterial and viral infections.

Foods to increase glutathione

Eating the right foods to naturally increase glutathione will help keep you fighting fit. There are a small number of foods that naturally contain glutathione. These include:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Garlic, Chives
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Almonds, And Walnuts

Some other foods contain the building blocks needed to make glutathione (they are the pre-cursors – the warm-up act)- the foods containing cysteine and other sulphur-containing foods, and selenium. Good foods to choose are:

  • Onions, spring onions, shallots, leeks
  • Kale, bok choy, rocket, spring greens, watercress, radishes

Some spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom – have compounds that can also help to restore healthy levels of glutathione and its antioxidant enzymes.

Alpha Lipoic Acid – Glutathione’s Reloader

Alpha lipoic acid (also called ALA) is a critical co-enzyme that helps to recycle many antioxidants, including vitamin C, E and also glutathione. It is well known for its anti-ageing effects on our cell’s energy factories, the mitochondria.

Good food sources of alpha lipoic acid include: 

  • Organ meats
    • Beef
    • Brewer’s yeast
    • Broccoli
    • Spinach
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Peas
    • Tomatoes

Selenium – Building Block Of Antioxidants

Selenium is an important trace mineral that is key in the production of glutathione (it also happens to be great for thyroid function so if yours is a little off, consider getting more of this antioxidant- a double win).

Good dietary sources of selenium include:

  • Seafood
    • Oysters
    • Brazil nuts
    • Eggs
    • Mushrooms
    • Whole grains
    • Organ meats
    • Dairy products

Why You Need To Get In More Broccoli

You’ll often find me extolling the virtues of these little trees in relation to women’s health, where it is an excellent detoxifier of oestrogen. When it comes to boosting immunity, broccoli has good levels of antioxidants sulforaphane, lutein and zeaxanthin. Research has also shown that it reduces markers of viral load in the nose.  It’s also packed with vitamin C, which is undoubtedly an important nutrient for immune function as well as all the vitamin K you’ll need in a day, and decent amounts of folate, vitamin A, potassium, phosphorous and selenium

Here’s one of my favourite recipes… deliciously simple and the sauce can be used over so many different vegetables. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Broccoli With Olive Oil, Garlic And Chilli

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli, broken up into small florets so that they can be cooked within 3 mins

2 minced garlic cloves

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ -1 teaspoon Chilli flakes, to taste

Sea salt- ½ teaspoon

Method

Steam the broccoli for 3 mins, either in a steamer, or steam fry them by adding 4-4 tablespoons of water to a frying pan with a lid. Drain.

In the meantime, combine all the other ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on a low heat until the garlic becomes fragrant but isn’t browning- keep an eye on your pan as garlic can burn quickly and if you burn the garlic it will have a bitter taste.

Combine everything gently in a bowl and enjoy!

Vitamin D

Loads of research has shown that vitamin D is super important for a healthy immune system and its anti-viral properties have been shown in multiple studies. Getting your vitamin D checked is really important – either your GP can do it or contact me for a home finger prick test.

Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because direct exposure of sunlight onto large parts of the skin is the best source of this nutrient. Your skin has a type of cholesterol that functions as a precursor to vitamin D. When this compound is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun, it becomes vitamin D. People with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun to produce vitamin D than those with lighter skin. That’s because darker skin has more melanin, a compound that can inhibit vitamin D production.

Food sources include:

  • Fatty fish and seafood
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is involved in the development of the immune system and very important in maintaining the health of the respiratory tract, where viruses enter. It also regulates the growth of viruses and has been effective in the treatment of various infectious diseases.

Food sources of Vitamin A include:

  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish
  • Milk products
  • Liver and liver products such as liver pâté – this is a particularly rich source of vitamin A, so you may be at risk of having too much vitamin A if you have it more than once a week, depending on how much you eat (this is particularly important if you’re pregnant). This shouldn’t however put you off consuming this important nutrient.

 Zinc

Zinc interferes with the four stages of the viral life cycle, including stopping viruses from multiplying, and it may also help stop them from lodging in the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.

The jury is out but Zinc may be more effective when taken in lozenge or syrup form, which allows the substance to stay in the throat and come in contact with the virus.

Food sources include:

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes Like Chickpeas, Lentils And Beans
  • Wholegrains
  • Seeds And Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

Does it matter if I buy frozen veg?

I’m often asked this question in clinic. In short, the answer is no. It might even be the case that frozen veg actually contains more nutrients than fresh. This is because, once harvested, vegetables start to lose nutrients and antioxidants. Frozen vegetables are usually ‘snap frozen’. This is a pretty instant freezing process that preserves nutrients. When you defrost them at home, it means that there’s been minimal loss of nutrients so even though the produce has been frozen, it’s still nutrient dense.

Special Announcement/Offer

I’ve been inundated with questions about how we can boost our immunity and am supporting the wider community by offering one-off 60-minute immune-boosting nutrition sessions at special reduced fees of £65 (I rarely do one-off sessions as people need long-term support, but when I do, the usual fees are £125 to cover my time spent in analysis and prep).  We will cover diet, lifestyle and supplement recommendations tailored to your needs. You’ll have a short questionnaire to complete in advance.

If you, your family or friends want to turbocharge your immune system and have a personalised programme, please contact me on 07812 163 324 or email me at info@yournutritionalhealth.co.uk.

Speedy Gluten Free Pan Pizza

This is a really easy and quick pan cooked pizza which you can personalise with your favourite flavourings and toppings. Using coconut flour keeps the base gluten free. If you want the whole recipe to be paleo omit the cheese. For those who are dairy free you could always use a dairy free cheese.

Coconut flour is high in fibre, protein and healthy fats and is free from wheat and other grains. It also has a low glycaemic index meaning it won’t disrupt blood sugar levels too much. A great alternative in breads and baking to regular flours.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • Flavourings – garlic salt, onion powder, dried basil or parsley etc
  • 2tbsp coconut flour
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Toppings: tomato passata with added dried herbs, spring onions, mushrooms, olives, spicy red pepper flakes, grated cheese etc

Method

  1. Whisk together the eggs and egg white with the spices and herbs.
  2. Tip in the coconut flour and olive oil and whisk to form a smooth thick batter. It should be quite thick – if your eggs are very small then you made need to add a splash of almond/coconut milk to the batter
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. When hot pour in the batter and use the back of a spoon to form a circle. Place a lid over the pan and allow the batter to cook for a couple of minutes until the sides turn golden brown.
  4. Carefully flip over the base and cook for a further minute.
  5. Preheat your grill to high
  6. Scatter over your toppings and place under the grill for a couple of minutes until golden.

Did You Know? 

You can use the same recipe for the base to make a sweet flatbread – add a little xylitol and cinnamon to the mixture.

 

Recipe courtesy of Christine Bailey

Is Too Little Or Too Much Sleep Sabotaging Your Weight & Health?

We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But this is not the case; sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. We spend about a third of our lives asleep and how much you have and the quality of it matters even more than you probably realise. Sleep matters. Without enough sleep, you create an uphill battle in so many different ways. You sabotage your weight and any other health goals you might have. Here I’m going to share exactly why it matters so much and what to do about it.

Sleep deprivation and weight gain

Sleep and weight are intimately related. If you aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you’re setting yourself up to be hungrier, eating more, weighing more, and finding it even harder to lose that weight you’ve been trying to shift. It’s not all in your head.

We know from research that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10.  Scientists now know that, if you are consistently surviving on too little sleep, you’re not going to be functioning at your best, focusing properly or thinking creatively. The cherry on top is that you are also sabotaging any attempts to take control of healthy eating and your weight.

Sleep deprivation causes hormonal imbalances, and I’m not talking about PMT, but the hormones that directly affect your feelings of hunger. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone that makes you feel more hungry) and leptin (the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat) are majorly disrupted when you are not sleeping enough. So, after a night of lousy sleep, if you feel like you need to eat a banquet, it’s not all in your head but rather your hormones turning you into a ravenous beast. The feast you desire is going to be filled with high-carb, starchy foods and not the healthier (yet still tasty) ones you might otherwise choose.

The stress placed on the body by lack of sleep also reduces your body’s sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone that regulates the levels of glucose in the blood. When it becomes less responsive to glucose it can contribute to weight gain.

Sleep deprivation, raised stress hormones and hormonal imbalances

Sleep deprivation also affects stress hormones, and then stress in turn messes with your sleep. It’s a vicious circle. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones and should follow a specific pattern throughout the day: rising to a peak in the morning to energise you and get you out of bed, and then gradually tailing off towards evening time so that you can drift off into sleep. Prolonged periods of stress can create an imbalance in this daily rhythm that may lead to cortisol levels being high come night-time. This can leave you feeling tired but wired – absolutely exhausted, but your head is buzzing when you hit the pillow. That alone is enough to make you feel even more stressed and less able to sleep.

During the perimenopause (the transition to the menopause), those night sweats caused by falling levels of oestrogen are enough to keep anyone from restful slumber. But did you know that oestrogen also allows your body to better use the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, which is the precursor to the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin? And, during menopause, when oestrogen levels fall steadily, progesterone falls off a cliff. This is a problem for women because progesterone helps you fall asleep faster and experience fewer disruptions to your sleep. (A similar scenario plays out during menstruation).

Blood sugar roller coaster and sleep

If your diet is high in starchy carbs like bread, rice, pasta and sugar, it creates blood sugar fluctuations which can lead to significant sleep disturbances. So, If you have blood sugar levels that are either too high or too low overnight, you may find yourself tired through the next day. For example, a sugar ‘crash’ at night triggers a release of cortisol to wake you up at the wrong time, and this can shift you out of deep sleep into a lighter sleep phase. Moving to a way of eating that balances your blood sugar can significantly help improve the quality of your sleep.

Risks of sleeping too much

You always hear about health problems associated with people not getting enough sleep, but what about getting too much sleep? Research has found that for most adults, getting between  7 and 9 hours of sleep a night is ideal. Although a small percentage of people actually need 10 hours, regularly sleeping more than the suggested amount may increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, headache, back pain, and heart disease.

TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

Unfortunately, a person can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it (although paying back “sleep debt” is always a good idea if you’re sleep deprived). The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines.

There are a number of things you can do (or not do) to improve your chances of sleeping well.

Do:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot, nor too cold.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.
  • Keep the bedroom completely dark, so you’re not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.
  • Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check.
  • Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.
  • Try to take some gentle exercise every day. There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes.
  • Keep your feet and hands warm. Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed if you struggle with cold extremities.

Avoid:

  • Eating a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.
  • Exercising within 4 hours of sleeping
  • Drinking caffeine in the afternoon – including coffee, ‘normal’ and green tea, and colas.
  • Using alcohol to help you sleep. Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.
  • Eating sugar after 7pm

You will almost certainly have read some of these tips before. Just knowing the information is not going to give you the restful night’s sleep you are looking for. The only thing that counts is action. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that lack of sleep is at the root of not getting organised enough to plan your meals ahead of time (which may result in your feeling forced to grab a coffee and croissant on the way to work), has you craving sugary snacks you wouldn’t otherwise eat and feeling like a shadow of your normal self, I invite you to put getting more and/or better sleep at the top of your to-do list this week to see what a difference it can make.

You might have a whole list of things on your list already this week but focusing on this ONE thing might be what you need to see a real shift in everything else.