What Cravings Really Say About Your Health

Those cravings you get for sugary or savoury things, are they all in your head- or is your body trying to tell you something? Some might dismiss a ‘wisdom of the body’ theory as quackery.  However, if you think about what biological processes are happening in your body and the factors affecting them, the argument to substantiate a link becomes more compelling. Here’s why.

The body is a wonderful machine, constantly sending you signs and signals about the information (or nutrients) it needs to function at its best. Food is so much more than just calories. It’s also sending information to all your cells and helping to direct their activity. The trouble is, when you fall into unhealthy patterns, you unwittingly train your brain and body to think and crave certain foods.  Often these foods give you a quick fix. You feel great for 30 minutes, yet an hour later your energy levels are on the floor and you need another hit to keep you going. Sound familiar?

This concept applies to everyone, not just women in pregnancy who are typically associated with an appetite for unusual or inedible substances such as clay, coal or dirt (this type of craving is referred to as ‘pica’ by the way).

Are You Craving Foods High In Sugar And Unhealthy Fats?

One of the most common and documented cravings is of course, sugar.  In recent years, articles in the press have suggested sugar is as addictive as class A drugs.  How true is that really? Or, have you been simply making excuses for your lack of willpower? You’ll be glad to know there is more to it than meets the eye and it’s not actually your willpower that’s missing.

The brain needs glucose, or sugar, from the right kind of foods to function optimally.  Glucose comes from starchy and non-starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, vegetables and desserts.  When you’re eating in such a way that your body steadily releases glucose into the blood stream throughout the day, this process works as it should. You’re productive, sharp, and full of energy, and you don’t need to rely on willpower to make good food choices.

So, What Causes You To Crave Sugar In The First Place?

Imbalanced biochemistry

Not balancing your biochemistry by having the right distribution of protein, fats and healthy carbohydrates on your plate. I often use a non-invasive genetic test to help identify the ideal ratio, which varies from person to person.

The toxic combination of sugar and unhealthy fat

Too much of the wrong kinds of sugar, as well as fats, can throw things off kilter. Studies have found that increased consumption of sugar and unhealthy fats (like in donuts, chocolate, cake, biscuits and sweets) triggers the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward and satisfaction. And that means you now need superhuman amounts of willpower to stop eating these foods that give you a temporary high- and we all know how long that will last for….

By falling into this trap, you train your brain to think, ‘I need to eat this to help me feel better’.  You might use these foods to regulate your mood and lower your stress. But in the long run, this sends you on a rollercoaster – with your energy, your mood, stress levels and sleep. And over time, this rollercoaster can result in the development of chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity, inflammation, immune suppression or chronic fatigue.

Processed and energy dense foods like junk food which are high in both fat and sugar have a higher association with food addiction. You never see this combination of high sugar – high fat foods in nature, but food manufacturers are very aware of the addictive quality of this toxic combination and use it to their advantage.

Feeling tired and the role of emotions

You’re also more inclined to eat these kinds of foods when you’re stressed, anxious, or tired, because your brain is looking for more fuel than it would be when you are relaxed and well nourished. What helps a lot of my clients is EFT or tapping, an evidence-based tool I use to help them manage these issues better on their own, so they don’t have to rely on me or anyone else.

If you’re craving sugar or carb-heavy foods you may also be low on serotonin, the neurotransmitter which helps regulate mood and helps keep you feeling positive, giving you sound sleep and days of productivity. Serotonin is made from tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid (or protein) found in almonds, fish, eggs, turkey, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

The challenging bit here is, that in order for tryptophan to release serotonin, it needs to be coupled with the right amount of carbs because it’s a bit tricky getting it into the brain where it needs to be to exerts its positive effects. Get the wrong amount and it can spike your serotonin for a couple of hours making you feel good- but then send it crashing back down, leaving you feeling moody and emotionally unstable.

Similarly, woman can be more susceptible to sugar cravings around the time of their menstrual cycle. That might not come as a huge surprise to you… studies have shown that higher oestrogen levels are associated with greater levels of the hunger hormone, leptin, which triggers stronger cravings for sugary foods.  PMS also causes the stress hormone cortisol to increase and the feel-good hormone serotonin to dip, making you reach for chocolate, chips and sugary snacks to give you a feel-good boost at that time of the month.

What To Do About Your Sugar Craving

Generally, the foods you choose to eat every day can help to regulate or trigger these cravings by helping to balance your biochemistry. Try switching your white bread, pasta, sugary cereals, low fat products and processed foods for lower GL (glycaemic load) alternatives such as wholegrains, pulses, root vegetables and increasing your protein intake at each meal. This can help balance your blood sugar better.

Quality proteins such as eggs, turkey, salmon and nuts and seeds are also rich in tryptophan, which support production of serotonin and dopamine – a much better source than a packet of chocolate digestives or a bag of sweeties.  Making the switch to a more wholesome and nourishing alternative may be a much more sustainable approach to healthy weight loss than crazy diets you might be tempted to try.

DO YOU CRAVE SALTY SNACKS?selective focus photo of french fries

Sugar doesn’t do it for you? Perhaps you are more inclined to reach for savoury, salty foods; crisps, salted nuts, cheese and biscuits.  Generally speaking, this may be a sign that your adrenal glands are under strain, and that hankering for salt could be attributed to stress, fatigue or PMS.  You rely on your adrenals to produce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline whenever you need it to meet challenging situations. That might mean deadlines at work, training for a marathon or gearing yourself up for a big presentation. The adrenal glands also play a big role in maintaining good energy levels and quality sleep.

Chronic demand on the adrenals due to long-term physiological stress (from over-exercising, medications, high caffeine, sugar, alcohol etc) or psychological stress/anxiety can result in fatigue and insufficient secretion of adrenaline and cortisol,  but also the hormones aldosterone, renin and angiotensin which regulate blood pressure by controlling fluid levels and electrolyte balance in the body.

When your adrenals are tired and don’t produce enough aldosterone, your blood pressure can become low and result in salt cravings and these might be accompanied with other symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings including low mood and anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, excessive thirst, headaches and nausea. These are often classic signs of adrenal fatigue, which can result after long periods of psychological/physiological stress which places extra demands on the adrenal glands and results in them ‘burning out’ and not functioning optimally.

Please don’t read this and think that I’m suggesting you need to be consuming salt by the bucket load. Too much sodium (the key element in salt) should be avoided as it can tip the hormone balance in the other direction and contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues.

The good news is that the adrenal glands can be supported through nutrition and lifestyle to help rebalance hormones. Working with a Registered Nutritional Therapist can be a powerful way of equipping you with the knowledge to recognise these signs when they present themselves, and make positive changes to benefit your long-term health and well-being. Please contact me for a complimentary 30 minute Wellness Call if you’d like more information: info@yournutritionalhealth.co.uk or on 07812 163 324.

Juicing and Smoothies- How Healthy Are They?

Smoothie vs juicing Fruit and veg is good for you. No one would argue with that.

There has been a great deal of research in recent years to support the claim that eating more fruit and veg may be able to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, while also helping to manage your weight. It can be a challenge to eat five portions of fruit and veg each day, even when you like vegetables. And now a new report suggests that eating 10 portions is what we need to stay healthy for longer. Most people don’t come nearly close to having enough, and I bet you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to manage that!

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of juicing and smoothies. Both are trending right now and there’s a huge debate. But what is better for your health – and losing weight- and are there any downsides? I’m going to give you the lowdown on both so you can get the hard facts from a nutrition professional and make an informed choice.

SMOOTHIES

The Benefits of Smoothies

When you make a smoothie, the whole lot is whizzed up in a blender. The juice and the pulp go in. This means that smoothies contain fibre. Fibre is good for you for so many reasons. It’s great for the digestive tract, helping to bulk out stools which helps you ‘go’ more regularly. Fibre supports weight loss because it helps slow down the absorption of sugar into the body, meaning that fruit and sugar-rich vegetables like beetroot and carrots are less likely to give you a blood sugar spike – ­ albeit a natural one. Fibre absorbs cholesterol in your digestive tract and flushes it out of your body, which is helpful for reducing risk factors for heart disease.

Dietary fibre also activates a few hormones really helpful in weight loss (called PYY and CKK and GLP-1, since you ask). These are appetite suppressors, meaning you’ll want to naturally eat less the more veg you consume. Fibre also decreases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and increases another hormone called leptin, which tells your body you’re full. So, all in all fruit and veg are the good guys.

Fibre isn’t the only good thing in a smoothie. In a 2012 study in which scientists blended and juiced grapefruit, researchers found that the blended fruit had a higher concentration of the beneficial phytochemicals than juices because that compound is primarily found in the fibrous membranes of the fruit.

Given a smoothie can be packed with fibre, it can even serve as a meal replacement if you’re smart about what you add in it- more on this next (breakfast would be the perfect example).

The Downsides to Smoothies

When you eat fruit and veg you have to chew them which helps breaks down the fibre This in turn slows down the release of the sugars, helping to prevent a blood sugar spike which can lead to fatigue, low mood, increased hunger, weight problems, sleep problems etc.

On the other hand, when you blend fruits and vegetables in a machine, although the smoothie still contains fibre, it’s been broken down (literally pulverized) super-fast during the blending process- basically, the blender is doing the work your digestive system should be doing, which takes both energy and time to digest.

Even if you’re making your smoothie at home, using only fruits and vegetables with no other added ingredients, you can drink it in just a few minutes, compared with the time it would take to eat the same fruits or vegetables whole. It’s very likely that you are also getting more calories and sugar when you drink a smoothie than when eating whole fruits or vegetables. Research shows that we don’t register liquid calories as accurately as food we’ve chewed. So, smoothies enjoy a “health halo” that can be misleading.

The Best Way to Have Smoothies

If your idea of the perfect smoothie is only fruit and some liquid … Well, that’s a sugar bomb waiting to happen and is likely to upset your blood sugar balance. Plus, if consumed too frequently, this will have you start piling on the pounds.

But, if you combine a little bit of fruit and mostly veg, with a healthy source of protein such as yoghurt, a handful of nuts and seeds, nut butter  or a protein powder that would be best. Why? Firstly, with the addition of protein you’ll have a healthy, nutritious and filling meal to take with you on-the-go. And secondly, you’ll help avoid the blood sugar spike.

Also, quantity is important. To give you an idea, according to the national Eatwell Guide, we should only be having one serving of smoothie or juice, which is 150ml. That’s the same as a “mini” can of cola and less than half the size of a standard can of soft drink. If you’re using mostly veg in your juices and smoothies, and adding protein to your smoothies then the amount can be increased.

JUICING

The Benefits of Juicing

When you juice, your juicers extract the water and nutrients from what you feed it, leaving behind the pulp. Many juicers will also have a filter attachment, so you can remove even more ‘bits’ from your juice.

Given the lack of fibre, juices provide an almost immediate energy boost. The bulk of the vitamins and minerals found within a fruit are typically in the juice rather than the fibrous pulp. And without the fibre, the nutrients are absorbed into the body more efficiently. Additionally, the digestive system doesn’t have to work hard at all to process what you’re consuming. The cherry on top is that juicing allows you to eat a far higher range of nutrients from leafy greens and vegetables you wouldn’t normally eat in such quantity or blend – like cabbage and wheatgrass! Typically, juices (rather than smoothies) are a great way to detox.

 Downsides to Juicing

When you juice, the fibre is usually removed. And without the fibre slowing digestion of the sugar in fruit, the juice drives up your blood sugar rapidly which can lead to symptoms discussed above. This can also contribute to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

If you juice mostly vegetables, you’ll get a potent dose of phytochemicals and disease-fighting compounds without all the sugar. But do it incorrectly, and you can get more sugar than a soda. Thing is, many “green juices” actually do have more sugar than a can of soda. Why? Because people don’t like bitter green juices and so most contain lots of fruit juice, carrots, and beets. A study in 2014 found that, on average, fruit juices contain 45.5 grams of fructose per litre, not far off from the average of 50 grams per litre in fizzy drinks.  If it has more than 5 grams of sugar, stay away.

Verdict

Which is better depends very much on what your health goal is. Juicing offers the possibility of getting in a greater concentration of nutrients, increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption, and possibly making it easier on your tummy if have a hard time digesting the fibre in vegetables.

On the other hand, fibre IS super important in your diet, and in juices you are missing out – plus you could also be losing other important elements like antioxidants.

For weight loss, energy, mood, PCOS, high cholesterol the added fibre is a huge bonus for balancing your blood sugar levels. Smoothies provide this. They also bring the possibility of adding other beneficial ingredients, like collagen (for arthritis suffers), protein powders, prebiotics, nuts or seeds.

Ultimately, you need to consume more fruit and veg than you are currently eating. Both smoothies and juices give you options to consider.

 HEALTHY JUICES

Green juice

2 apples

4 stalks celery

1 orange

½ lemon

5 handfuls spinach

½ thumb ginger root

Start with the spinach. A good tip is to try to roll it into a ball in your hands before feeding through the juicer. Peel the orange and lemon, then juice. Cut the apples into halves, then juice the rest.

Green goddess

3 cups spinach

6 stalks celery

2 pears

½ cup parsley

½ lemon

Start with the spinach and parsley, rolling them into a ball in your hands before feeding through the juicer. Follow with the lemon (peeled), then juice the remaining ingredients.

Liver cleanse

1 apple

1 beetroot

3 beet leaves (or a small handful of spinach)

4 carrots

1 stalk celery

½ thumb ginger root

Cut the beetroot and apples in half to juice. Add the ginger and celery. Roll the leaves into a ball (makes it easier to juice). Cut the skin from the pineapple (but leave in the core – it has extra enzymes), peel the orange and then juice.

HEALTHY SMOOTHIES

Put all the ingredients in the blender with a cup of liquid (water or almond milk, etc.) to start with and increase liquid to desired consistency.

Berry nice

½ avocado

75g fresh or frozen blueberries

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ tbsp coconut oil

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ banana (ideally frozen)

Small handful of ice

Water, as desired

Hidden greens

25g vanilla protein powder

1 kiwi, peeled

Handful of strawberries

Handful of kale

Handful of watercress

1 tbsp cashew butter/cashews

2tbsp broccoli sprouts

Small handful of ice

Water as desired

Blueberry + kale

Handful blueberries

Handful kale

1 small banana

1 tsp cashew or almond nut butter

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Small handful of ice

250ml coconut or almond milk

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

 

 

Healthy Eating

Do we really need to worry about what we eat?

These days, more and more people are telling us that healthy eating is very important for our health and well being. However, is it really all that important? A human being is made up of roughly 63% water, 22% protein, 13% fat and 2 % minerals and vitamins (Holford 2005). Every single molecule comes from the food you eat and the water you drink. Eating the highest-quality food, in the right quantities, can help you to achieve your highest potential for health, vitality and freedom from disease. For example, there is good evidence that eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of obesity and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and some types of cancer, including those of the bowel, stomach, mouth, and breast (Cancer Research UK 2009).

But eating healthily doesn’t just reduce your risk of ill health, it will also help boost your energy levels, mood, concentration and help you handle stress better, making you feel better all round.

How have our diets and lifestyles changed?

Although we are living in the 21st century, our human genome is greater than 10,000 years old.  The genome refers to our entire DNA, including our genes. Genes carry information for making all the proteins required by the body. These proteins determine, among other things, how well the body metabolises food or fights infection, and sometimes even how it behaves. Our ancestors consumed only natural and unprocessed food from the environment which provided them with a diet of moderate protein, high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial plant chemicals. Thus, many researchers argue that there is a striking discrepancy between the diet we were biologically designed to eat and what we actually eat today.

Rapid changes in diets and lifestyles have occurred with industrialisation, urbanisation, economic development and market globalisation. While standards of living have improved, food availability has expanded and become more diversified, there have also been significant negative consequences in terms of inappropriate dietary patterns, decreased physical activities and increased tobacco use. This has corresponded with an increase in diet-related chronic diseases which are becoming increasingly significant causes of disability and premature death. For example, traditional, largely plant based diets have been replaced by an emphasis on animal-based foods and energy-dense diets which are high in fat- particularly saturated fat, and low in complex carbohydrates. Alongside this shift in dietary patterns, we have also switched to a much more sedentary lifestyle due to motorised transport, labour-saving devices in the home, the phasing out of physically demanding manual tasks in the workplace, and leisure time that is predominantly devoted to physically undemanding pastimes (World Health Organisation 2003).

Can nutrition help prevent disease?

It has been calculated that, in 2001, chronic diseases contributed to approximately 60% of the 56.5 million total reported deaths in the world and to approximately 46% of the global burden of disease- this is expected to increase to 57% by 2020(World Health Organisation 2003).

Chronic diseases are largely preventable diseases (World Health Organisation 2003). Although more basic research may be needed on some aspects of the mechanisms that link diet to health, the currently available scientific evidence provides a sufficiently strong and plausible basis to justify taking action now (World Health Organisation 2003). Modern dietary patterns and physical activity patterns are risk modifiable behaviours. Furthermore, nutrition has been shown to have the capacity to modify the expression of critical genes associated with normal physiological processes, as well as those associated with the development of disease, including age-related processes and cancer (Choi & Friso 2010). But diet, while critical to prevention, is just one risk factor. Physical inactivity, is now recognized as an increasingly important determinant of health, and is the result of a progressive shift of lifestyle towards more sedentary patterns.

What should we be eating?

There is no single “diet” which suits everyone-one man’s elixir could be another’s poison. However, there are some basics which apply to us all. Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, and too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre.

Increase Fruits & Vegetables

It has been estimated that eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day could reduce the risk of deaths from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer by up to 20% (Department of Health 2000). But eating fruit and vegetables can help to achieve other dietary goals too, including increasing fibre intake, reducing fat intake, helping to maintain a healthy weight, and displacing foods with added sugars.

The reason why fruit and vegetables are so beneficial is because as well as containing fibre, vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables also contain many complex plant components called phytochemicals.  Phytochemicals are nonessential nutrients, meaning that they are not required by the human body for sustaining life, but they have protective or disease preventative properties. It is well-known that plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves but recent research demonstrates that they can also protect humans against diseases.

How many fruits and vegetables do we need?

The UK government recommends that we have AT LEAST 5 portions (400g) of a variety of fruit and vegetables daily, 2 of fruit and 3 of vegetables.

One portion of fruit:

  • half a large grapefruit
  • a slice of melon
  • 2 satsumas
  • 3 dried apricots, or 1 tablespoon of raisins
  • A glass of 100% juice- but you can only count juice as 1 portion a day, however much you drink. This is because it has very little fibre.

One portion of vegetables:

  • 3 tablespoonfuls of cooked carrots or peas or sweet corn
  • 1 cereal bowl of mixed salad.
  • Beans and other pulses, such as kidney beans, lentils and chick peas, count only once a day, however much you eat. While pulses contain fibre and protein, they don’t give the same mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as fruit and vegetables.
  • Potatoes don’t count towards 5 A DAY because they are starchy

Increase healthy fats

Eating too much fat can make us more likely to put on weight, because foods that are high in fat are also high in energy (calories). Being overweight raises our risk of serious health problems. However, this doesn’t mean that all fat is bad. We need some fat in our diet because it helps the body absorb certain nutrients, provides energy and essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself.

Reading nutrition labels on food packaging can help you to reduce the amount of fat you eat:

• High fat foods: more than 20g of total fat per 100g
• Low fat foods: less than 3g of total fat per 100g

Reduce Saturated fats

There are two main types of fat found in food: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated and unsaturated fat contain the same amount of calories, but most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat: about 20% more than the recommended maximum. Eating a diet high in saturated fat can cause the level of cholesterol in your blood to build up over time which can increase your risk of heart disease. The main sources of saturated fat are meat and dairy products.

  • The average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day.
  • The average woman should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.

Look out for “saturates” or “sat fat” on the label: this tells you how much saturated fat is in the food.

  • High: more than 5g saturates per 100g. May display a red traffic light.
  • Low: 1.5g saturates or less per 100g. May display a green traffic light.

Unsaturated fats

There are also 2 kinds of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats which are found in olive oil and avocados, and polyunsaturated fats called omega-3 and omega-6 which are found in nuts, seeds and oily fish.

Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are essential for optimal functioning of the brain and nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and skin health. Pumpkin and flaxseeds as well as oily fish (including salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, fresh tuna, sardines and pilchards) are rich in omega- 3 fats, while sesame and sunflower seeds are rich in omega-6 fats.

We should aim to eat a small handful of a combination of seeds and nuts daily, as well as eat at least one portion of oily fish weekly. In addition, by increasing our intake of plant foods, as opposed to animal foods, we naturally shift to a more healthy fat consumption.

Avoid hydrogenated and Trans fats

Trans fats are formed when manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats. Think shortening and hard margarine. Manufacturers create trans fats via a process called hydrogenation, a process by which vegetable oils are converted to solid fats simply by adding hydrogen atoms. Why hydrogenate? Because hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavour stability of foods. Indeed, trans fats can be found in vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers, cereals, candies, baked goods, granola bars, chips, salad dressings, fried foods, and many other processed foods.

Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. This is why it’s recommended that trans fats should make up no more than 2% of the energy (calories) we get from our diet. For adults, this is no more than about 5g a day.

Increase fibre

Fibre is the structural part of a plant that supports and holds it together. Fibre can be chewed, swallowed and subjected to stomach acid, yet much of it passes through the body unchanged.

Fibre is important because it:

  • stimulates the digestive tract and helps it work efficiently
  • encourages the presence of health-giving bacteria in the large intestine
  • softens the stool (bowel motion) and helps prevent constipation
  • slows down carbohydrate absorption, makes you feel fuller and so helps to control your appetite, and therefore helps with weight management
  • has also been associated with a decreased incidence of certain cancers of the digestive tract.

There are two types of fibre:

  • Insoluble fibre– insoluble fibre is less easily broken down by bacteria in the colon, so it passes through the gut, helping other food and waste products move through the gut more easily. It holds water very effectively (up to 15 times its weight in water) thus contributing to an increase in stool weight. Fruit and vegetables with their skins and pips, wholegrain cereals (wheat, quinoa, rye, rice) as well as nuts and some pulses are good sources of this kind of fibre.
  • Soluble fibre-this fibre forms a gel-like substance which can bind to other substances in the gut. It also has the extra benefits of lowering cholesterol levels and slowing down the entry of glucose into the blood, thereby helping to maintain good energy levels, concentration and mood. Fruits, vegetables, oats and pulses are good sources.

How much fibre do I need?

The recommended intake of fibre for adults in the UK is 18g a day, but 20 g -35 g in the US. However, most people in the UK don’t eat enough – the average intake is 12.6g a day for women and 15.2g a day for men.

So what does 18g of fibre look like? A few examples of the amount of fibre in some common foods include the following.

  • One bowl (30g) of high-fibre cereal, e.g. bran flakes – 4g
  • One slice of wholemeal bread – 3 to 4g (white bread contains less than half this amount)
  • One baked potato (with skin) – 5g
  • Half a tin of baked beans (200g) – 7.7g
  • Portion of dried figs (50g) – 3.8g
  • One medium-sized apple – 1.8g

Don’t forget the fluid

Without fluid, dietary fibre cannot do its job. Insoluble fibre, in particular, acts like a sponge absorbing water, increasing stool weight and size, thus putting pressure on the bowel wall and facilitating the movement of the stool. Without fluid this fibre is pointless and will only result in constipation.

Water

Two-thirds of the body consists of water and the body loses 1.5 Litres of water a day through the skin, lungs and gut and via the kidneys as urine, ensuring that toxic substances are eliminated from the body(Holford 2005). We also make about a third of a litre of water a day when glucose is “burned” for energy.  So our minimum water intake from food and drink needs to be more than 1 litre a day, with the ideal begin around 2 litres daily. Fruit and vegetables consist of around 90% water- 4 pieces of fruit and four servings of vegetables  can provide a litre of water, leaving 1  litre to be taken as water or diluted juices or herb or fruit teas. Alcohol acts as a diuretic and causes considerable losses of vitamins and minerals so it doesn’t count in this regard.

Should we be eating less?

We need to eat the right number of calories for our level of activity, so that we balance the energy we consume with the energy we use. Although consideration of calorie intake on its own is a simplistic view of weight management (and therefore also health management) if you eat or drink too much, you’ll put on weight. Likewise, if you eat too little for your energy requirements you’ll lose weight. The average man needs around 2,500 calories a day. The average woman needs 2,000 calories. Most adults are eating more calories than they need, and should eat fewer calories.

In fact, controlled, supervised calorie restriction is widely viewed as the most potent dietary means of slowing the aging process (Fontana et al 2004; Colman et al 2009).   Calorie restriction is a dietary regimen that restricts calorie intake, where nutrient dense, low-calorie foods are consumed to supply sufficient quantities of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. Generally, a calorie-restriction diet may call for 20 to 30 percent fewer calories than usual. Adult-onset calorie-restriction works best when it is imposed slowly, over two or three years, to allow the body to adjust.

How should we be eating?

We should always eat in a way which helps us maintain steady blood sugar levels. Why? Food is turned into glucose or sugar, which is the fuel that drives all cells and bodily processes. Thus, maintaining a steady supply of glucose to cells is key for optimal mental and physical functioning. However, blood sugar levels must be kept within strict boundaries, since too much is toxic to cells on the one hand, and too little makes us feel tired and lethargic on the other. This balancing process happens through the actions of two hormones. Firstly, insulin stimulates cells to take in glucose when there’s too much of it in the blood- this helps lower high blood sugar levels, but also provides cells with the fuel they need. Secondly, another hormone called glucagon breaks down stored sugar when blood sugar levels are low.

The negative effects of imbalanced blood sugar levels include irritability, poor concentration, fatigue, depression and food cravings- especially for sweet foods or stimulants such as tea, coffee and cigarettes, all of which in turn cause further blood sugar roller coasters.

How you can maintain steady blood sugar levels

1. Eat breakfast. The meaning of the word “breakfast” is literally “breaking the fast”. Blood sugar levels are low after an overnight fast and skipping breakfast will result in an inadequate supply of glucose to the cells. This can make you feel fatigued, moody and affect your concentration.

2. Don’t skip meals. This is for the same reason you shouldn’t skip breakfast- it will lead to low blood sugar.

3. Choose complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly into glucose because of their fibre content and therefore provide a steady supply of fuel to brain cells. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables.

4. Avoid refined carbohydrates. They convert more quickly into glucose than complex carbohydrates. This causes rapid blood sugar spikes, which is then followed by blood sugar lows because the body keeps blood sugar levels within a narrow range to protect against the potentially toxic effects of sugar on cells. This rapid drop in blood glucose levels (below the optimal reference range) starves the brain of its primary fuel and we experience symptoms such as energy slumps, cravings for sweets and stimulants (tea, coffee, and cigarettes), irritability, mood swings, poor memory, poor concentration and fuzzy thinking.

Refined carbohydrates are found in white pasta/bread/rice (as opposed to their whole grain versions) and anything containing added sugar like cakes, sweets, ice cream etc. Natural sugars are found in fruit and are better sources of simple carbohydrates because they contain protective antioxidants as well as fibre, which slows down the release of fruit sugar into blood and so reduces blood sugar spikes.

5. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, chocolate and nicotine which increase levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline (Lovallo et al 2006) which sharply spike up blood sugar levels and subsequently leads to an energy slump as described above. Adrenaline and cortisol are “fight-or-flight” hormones, biologically evolved to help survival under stressful situations by breaking down stored sugar to heighten alertness and fuel muscles for emergencies. However, unless the extra sugar released in the blood stream is burned off through a physical response as in the “fight-or-flight” reaction in a genuine emergency, blood sugar levels will remain high. This will trigger a large insulin response and lead to low blood sugar levels because the body keeps blood sugar levels within a narrow range to protect against the potentially toxic effects of sugar. Usually this results in reaching for another cup of coffee or more chocolate and the blood sugar roller coaster starts over. When stimulants are consumed, blood sugar levels remain high because the “fight-or-flight” reaction has been artificially induced rather than through a genuine emergency and requires no physical “fight-or-flight” response which would use up the extra blood sugar and naturally lower blood sugar levels to safe ranges.

6. Make sure you consume protein with each meal and snack – this helps slow down the release of sugar from food into the blood. Choose from chicken and turkey, game, white fish, oily fish (tuna, mackerel, herrings, pilchards, sardines, and salmon), pulses, eggs, yoghurt, cottage cheese, feta, nuts and seeds.

How do you make healthy eating a habit?

  • Don’t try to change everything at once.
  • Set an easy goal you can reach, like having a salad and a piece of fruit each day.
  • Make a long-term goal too, such as having one vegetarian dinner a week.
  • Aim for balance. Most days, eat from each food group-vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives. Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied.
  • Look for variety. Be adventurous. Choose different foods in each food group. For example, don’t reach for an apple every time you choose a fruit. Eating a variety of foods each day will help you get all the nutrients you need.
  • Practice moderation. Don’t have too much or too little of one thing. All foods, if eaten in moderation, can be part of healthy eating. Even “treats” can be okay.

References

Cancer Research UK (2009) Diet, healthy eating and cancer last accessed 12.12.2011 at http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/dietandhealthyeating/.rs

Choi SW & Friso S (2010) Epigenetics: A New Bridge between Nutrition and Health. Adv Nutr (Bethesda)11 8-16

Colman RJ  Anderson RM Johnson SC (2009) Caloric restriction delays disease onset and mortality in rhesusMonkeys Science 325 5937 201–204

Department of Health (2000) The NHS Plan. London: Department of Health

Fontana L Meyer TE Klein S Holloszy JO (2004) Long-term calorie restriction is highly effective in reducing the risk for atherosclerosis in humans Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101 6659-6663

Holford P (2005) The New Optimum Nutrition Bible Rev Upd Edition Crossing Press

Lovallo WR  Farag NH  Vincent  AS  Thomas  Wilson T(2006) Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women Pharmacol Biochem Behav 8 3 3  441–447

World Health Organisation (WHO) (2003) Technical Report Series 916: Diet, Nutrition And The Prevention Of Chronic Diseases last accessed 12.12.2011 at http://whqlibdoc.who.int/trs/who_trs_916.pdfDigiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Sylvia Salvendy

Fatigue & Performance

A Corporate Nutrition article by London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

Prevalence of fatigue among the workforce

Fatigue is an everyday experience common among the general working population, with UK prevalence estimates as high as 22% 1 and US prevalence rates ranging as high as 45% 2. Broadly defined as “a feeling of weariness, tiredness or lack of energy,” 3.  Fatigue is best viewed on a continuum with behavioural, emotional and cognitive components 4.

Causes of hazardous fatigue

Fatigue is caused by prolonged periods of physical and/or mental exertion without enough time to rest and recover. By the end of the day, some fatigue is normal but hazardous levels of fatigue can be due to one or more of the following:

  • Feeling stressed for extended periods
  • Excessive workloads
  • Long shifts
  • Working long hours in total over the week or longer periods
  • Working nights
  • Inadequate sleep, particularly over extended periods
    • Iron deficiency anaemia
    • Chronic pain
    • Infections, such as flu
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Cancer
    • Thyroid dysfunction
    • Diabetes
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
    • Lifestyle factors: obesity, insufficient physical activity 5, environmental stressors (eg, personal relationships)
      • Psychosocial work characteristics: job demand, decision latitude, social support, and job strain6

The effects of fatigue on work performance

Employees with fatigue experience more concomitant physical health problems, bodily pain, poorer general health, vitality, and social functioning than workers without fatigue 7. Fatigue has been associated with accidents, injuries 8, and ill-health 9, 10, all of which indirectly impair work performance. Fatigue can also restrict an individual’s ability to compensate physically or mentally for functional impairment from other concurrent health conditions 11. Continue reading “Fatigue & Performance” Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Sylvia Salvendy

Energise Your Diet

by London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

One of the most common causes of visiting a healthcare practitioner is the complaint of fatigue. There are different kinds of fatigue. It may be constant, beginning in the morning after a full night’s sleep or it may build up throughout the day. Your nutritional status can and does play a major role in the prevention and treatment of fatigue.  Here are some factors to consider when trying maximising your energy levels throughout the day.

Nutritional causes of low energy

  • Eating refined carbohydrates and sugars: these are found in white bread, rice and pasta, cakes, honey, jam, soda drinks, sweets. These foods are digested quickly and therefore rapidly release sugar (glucose), the main source of fuel for our cells, into the bloodstream. This provokes the release of excess insulin, a hormone which controls blood sugar levels by stimulating cells to take up glucose, as excess glucose is toxic to tissues. Excessive amounts of insulin remove excessive amounts of sugar from the blood, which results in low blood sugar; this can reduce the glucose supply to cells which depend on glucose for energy and therefore reduce our energy levels.
  • Food sensitivities: allergenic foods can act as a stressor on the body and lead to low blood sugar so that cells lack enough sugar (glucose) for optimal functioning, making you feel tired.
  • Nutrient deficiencies such as B and C vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper which are needed for energy production can lead to low energy
  • Stimulants such as coffee, chocolate and nicotine increase levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline (1) which sharply spike up blood sugar levels. This causes the release of large amounts of insulin to remove the excess sugar which is not used by the body and subsequently leads to an energy slump.
  • Dehydration every cell in your body needs water for a myriad of chemical reactions, including the burning of glucose and the breakdown of fat for energy production.

Other causes of low energy

  • Stress leads to a sugar imbalance because it triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which increase blood sugar levels. This stimulates the release large amounts of the hormone insulin, which removes the excess glucose from the blood, leading to low blood sugar and insufficient energy supply to our cells
  • Anaemiathis refers to a condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells or the haemoglobin (iron-containing) portion of red blood cells. The function of red blood cells is to transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body and help turn fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. Thus a lack of red blood cells reduces the amount of oxygen being delivered to tissues and thus energy levels. Iron, vitamins B12 and folic acid are needed to make properly functioning red blood cells, and anaemia may be caused by a shortage of these nutrients.  These nutrient deficiencies may be due to a poor diet, heavy menstrual bleeding, pregnancy or poor nutrient absorption as found in coeliac disease and Crohn’s disease.
  • Poor adrenal functioning-the adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and The adrenal glands are situated on top of the kidneys and one of their main jobs is to release hormones which help the body maintain a state of alertness as well as help raise  blood sugar levels when they are low. If the adrenal glands are overworked due to constant uninterrupted stress and poor nutrition, their ability to produce hormones which help maintain steady blood sugar levels can become compromised.
  • Poor thyroid functioningThe thyroid controls energy production, so an underactive thyroid can result in reduced energy production, making us feel tired..

Optimising your energy levels through nutrition and lifestyle Continue reading “Energise Your Diet” Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Sylvia Salvendy

The Thyroid, Adrenals And Weight Gain

by London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

There is a connection between our adrenal glands, thyroid glands and weight gain. When these two glands are not kept in a healthy state, the result can often be weight gain. The good news is that on the other hand, if these two glands are supported through proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, it can lead to a natural weight loss.

What our adrenal glands do

The adrenal and thyroid glands are very closely connected in how they enable the body to function properly. The adrenals are small triangular shaped glands that sit on top of both kidneys. They are responsible for releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol which among other functions, help control body fluid balance, blood pressure, blood sugar and are designed to help the body deal with physical and psychological stress. In addition, the adrenal glands produce small amounts of oestrogen when women enter into menopause and the ovaries reduce their oestrogen output. This is why it’s so important to maintain adrenal function in the menopause years.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a “syndrome” that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level.  This happens most often when you are exposed to constant , uninterrupted stress so that your body (and adrenal glands) cannot fully recover, or during or after acute or chronic infections. Consequently, the adrenal glands become fatigued and are unable to continue responding adequately to further stress.

You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not even have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of feeling unwell, tiredness or “grey” feelings. People suffering from Adrenal Fatigue often have to use coffee, tea and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.

Some Manifestations Of Adrenal Fatigue: Continue reading “The Thyroid, Adrenals And Weight Gain” Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Sylvia Salvendy

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

By London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

Different Types Of Food Reactions

Type 1 Immune Reactions

The best known and well-studied form of food allergies is called a Type 1 immune reaction, also known as a classical food allergy. Type 1 food allergies occur in approximately only 2-5% of the population, mostly in children and are less frequent in adults.  The reaction is immediate, usually appearing 15 – 30 minutes from the time of exposure to the offending food substance. Usually occurring in people who are genetically predisposed, the immune system begins creating a specific type of antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) to certain foods. One side of the IgE antibody will recognise and bind to the allergic food.  The other side of the antibody is attached to a specialised immune cell called a mast cell which is packed with histamine. Histamine is one of the chemicals that is released in the body as part of an allergic reaction, and which causes the itching, sneezing, wheezing, and swelling typical of allergic symptoms.  Primed for action, the IgE antibody now patiently waits for re-exposure to food allergens.

So, when you eat the allergic food the next time, IgE antibodies hungrily latch onto the food.  Instantaneously, histamine and other allergy-related chemicals are released from the mast cell, quickly bringing on the unwelcome symptoms of stomach cramping, diarrhoea, skin rashes, hives, swelling, wheezing or the most dreaded of all Type 1 reactions, anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction which causes your blood pressure to drop suddenly and your airways to narrow, blocking normal breathing. It requires immediate emergency medical attention.

Clinical approach: In Type 1 food reactions, offending foods are completely avoided and nutritional immune and digestive support provided.

Type 3 immune reactions

Type 3 immune reactions are much more commonly involved in food sensitivities than Type 1 reactions.  In fact, 45-60% of the population has been reported as having delayed food allergies.  A delayed food sensitivity also involves the immune system and occurs when your immune system creates an overabundance of antibody Immunoglobulin G (IgG) to a specific food.  The IgG antibodies, instead of attaching to Mast cells, like IgE antibodies in Type 1 allergies, bind directly to the food as it enters the bloodstream, forming food allergens bound to antibodies circulating in the bloodstream.  The allergic symptoms in Type 3 immune reactions are delayed in onset – appearing anywhere from a couple of hours to several days after consuming allergic foods.  This delayed onset makes pinpointing the culprit food difficult. In this instance, laboratory testing may be useful.

Delayed food reactions may occur in any organ or tissue in the body and have been linked to over 100 allergic symptoms and well over 150 different medical diseases.

Clinical approach: In Type 3 immune reactions, it is important to identify food triggers, either through food exclusion tests or laboratory testing (more on this below).Depending on the symptoms,  these foods are then excluded for a period of time, and then reintroduced on a rotational diet to avoid retriggering symptoms. In addition, nutritional immune and digestive support is provided.

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Is Your Thyroid Sabotaging Weight Loss?

Part 1

By London nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

Have you tried every diet known to man, really watch what and how much you eat, exercise regularly and find that you STILL CAN’T LOSE THE WEIGHT???!! Well, here’s some good news. Research is pointing to the fact that an underactive thyroid might be the number one cause of weight problems, especially among women.

So what is the thyroid and how might it be affecting your weight? Well, the thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland with two lobes found just in front of your neck below the Adams Apple. One of its main functions is to control metabolism- that is, the rate at which we burn calories to maintain vital functions. Our bodies need fuel just as a car needs fuel to power itself, so whether we are sleeping, shopping or exercising, we are constantly burning calories.

Now, your thyroid gland produces two main hormones. One is called thyroxine (T4) and the other is called triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid produces approximately 80% T4 and 20% T3. T4 is generally considered to be inactive and only becomes active when converted to T3, although some researchers believe that T4 does, in fact, have a function. T3 is an active hormone needed by all of the cells and tissues of the body and is the one which does all the work of regulating the body’s metabolism.

Thyroid problems often run in families and can happen at any age. Things can go wrong with the thyroid in two ways:

Hyperthyroidism, also called an overactive thyroid where the thyroid produces more thyroid hormone than it should which causes the metabolism to run too fast.

Hypothyroidism, also called an underactive thyroid where the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone which causes our metabolism to work too slowly.

What are the symptoms Of An Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism) Continue reading “Is Your Thyroid Sabotaging Weight Loss?” Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Sylvia Salvendy

Re-Energise Your Fatigued Body and Mind

By London nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

What happens to our bodies during stress?

As a London nutritionist, I see many clients with stress-related health issues. We’re all familiar with stress but what we aren’t so familiar with is the body’s response to stress and the ways in which the stress we face today ends up depleting our energy and health.

When faced with a stressful situation, whether psychological or physical, our bodies rely on the 2 adrenal glands which sit on top of  the kidneys  to initiate our “fight or flight” response, which is an evolutionary mechanism  designed to help us escape or fight off danger (stress). For the most part, our stress response evolved from short-term events. For our ancestors, this meant being able to run away quickly, fight or pursue an enemy or game, endure long periods of physical challenge and deprivation, and store up physical reserves when food was available. In modern life this means being able to cope with stressful circumstances such as difficult bosses, family quarrels, financial problems, too little sleep or illness.

Healthy adrenal glands which are supported by sound nutrition and a healthy lifestyle respond by releasing the hormone adrenaline, making us more alert and focused, and the hormone cortisol, which converts protein to energy and releases stored sugar in the form of glycogen, to fuel our bodies for a quick response. The adrenal response rapidly increases our heart rate and blood pressure while releasing energy, tensing our muscles, sharpening our senses, and slowing our digestion so we are primed to escape or fight back, whichever is needed. When the threat is gone, the body returns to normal — quickly with respect to adrenaline levels, less quickly with respect to cortisol.

The effects of long term stress on health and energy levels Continue reading “Re-Energise Your Fatigued Body and Mind” Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Sylvia Salvendy