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Healthy eating to keep the doctor away

Top tips for healthy eating to keep the doctor away

It’s Healthy Eating Week and as good a time as any to check your diet.

When you eat good fresh food, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, you are doing your body a favour. A sensible diet helps to keep cholesterol down and your blood sugar levels stable. Also, it reduces the risk of diabetes and cancer.

Health experts regularly warn about the dangers of eating too many processed foods. Of course, we are all aware of the prevalence of obesity. Let’s just look at the figures. The Health Survey for England 2016 estimated that 26.2% of adults are obese. NHS Direct reports that more than 10,000 hospital admissions are related to obesity.

While obesity is generally the result of eating too much unhealthy food, there are other factors. They include genetic influences – if your parents are both overweight. Or it could be a slow metabolism or hormonal imbalances. Stress also plays a part as food can become a coping mechanism.

Salad or apple pie

First, let’s look at the unhealthy foods. Obviously fast foods and takeaways and anything containing high levels of fat and sugar. But a big issue is where people ‘think’ they are eating something that’s healthy. Take this as an example, a salad from a certain fast food outlet has more calories than a piece of apple pie. How can that be? Well, the answer is that all those nourishing vegetables have been coated in dressing loaded with sugar.

And, there are plenty more examples of ‘hidden’ calories. It’s a good idea to check labels for sugar content. Especially those that are low fat. When you remove the fat, which accounts for much of the flavour, you must replace it with something else. Usually more sugar.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean a drastic change, just a few alterations can make all the difference.

Use smaller plates

Most dinner plates are around 12” in diameter. Try using one that is between 7” and 9” instead. You can still fill it, but you will be eating less.

Obviously, you need to be careful about what you put on these smaller plates. So, as mentioned above, you need to include more of our body’s good friends – fruit and vegetables. For example, say you are making a Shepherd’s pie. Simply add more vegetables to the meat.

Other healthier options include more natural salt, such as Himalayan and replacing cream with natural yogurt.

Fish is good for you

As a naturopathic nutritionist I often extol the virtues of oily fish as part of a healthy eating regime. Salmon, tuna and trout are good examples. Try and incorporate them into your diet at least once a week.

I realise there are those who really don’t like fish. If it is a big no, no for you, then I recommend a substitute. Native Elements fish oil, which is mercury-free, is a good option.

Good carbs, bad carbs

The body needs carbs and it’s important to pick the good ones and avoid the bad ones. Or, at least only eat them in moderation.

Good carbs include brown rice, grains and legumes. In other words, foods that still have much of their nutritional value still intact. The bad carbs are the processed ones that have been nutritionally altered, including removal of fibre. These are your typical fruit drinks, white rice, white bread, cakes and pastries. They tend to have an insulin-negative effect on the body.

Satisfying the cravings

From time to time we all get cravings, usually for something sweet. We want to comfort or reward ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with giving in occasionally. However, if cravings occur regularly, chromium is good little helper. It is the main constituent of glucose tolerance. It helps deliver sugar to the cells. I recommend at least 100-200 mcg twice a day, at the times when cravings are strongest.

Don’t forget the exercise

Yes, it makes sense to supplement healthy eating with regular exercise. If you’re not a gym-goer, quite a few of the parks now have exercise equipment. They’re free to use. The bonus is the fresh air, which is great for de-stressing and clearing your head.

So, do yourself a favour and change your eating habits today. Dad’s may want to wait until Monday in case there are treats (no doubt unhealthy) in store for Father’s Day.

Please feel free to share my articles with others. If you would like to discuss further, contact me at hello@futurehealthmanagement.co.uk

Book your free 15 minute telephone consultation

If conventional methods haven’t worked for you, find out how a qualified naturopathic functional medicine practitioner can support you on your journey to improved health and well-being.

Is work bad for your wellbeing?

Is work bad for your wellbeing?

National Work Life Week (October 7-11) provided the opportunity for employers and employees to focus on wellbeing in the workplace and the importance of work life balance.

The fact that there was such an event highlights the growing concern that the world of work can have a negative effect on health, mentally and physically. In today’s fast-paced world, many employers are expecting their employees to take on higher volumes of work and to stay late to meet deadlines.

When a long-hours culture becomes the norm, it’s hard to break it. Employers assume that their staff will knuckle down to show dedication to getting the job done. At the same time, employees fear that, if they don’t put in the hours, it could harm their career.

Some of my clients have told me that they have been working nearly 18 hours a day, which is one of the reasons they have sought one of my health programmes. Without a proper work life balance, people become stressed, tired and demotivated. So, as we say, prevention is better than the cure.

I’ve mentioned these statistics before but they’re worth repeating. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that 15.4 million working days were lost due to stress in 2017/18, up from 12.5 million the previous year. This equates to 57.3 per cent of the 26.8 million working days lost due to ill health.

Now, as the nights draw in, those who are already feeling depressed are likely to become more withdrawn. The winter months affect our neurotransmitters, we get less vitamin D and an increase in melatonin. This is a mood regulator that reduces energy during darkness to aid sleep. But it also contributed to increased fatigue and even depression.

Look after your employees

While the paycheque is, of course, essential, employees also want their skills to be valued and to feel that what they do matters. That’s why it’s so important that employers recognise people as individuals and support their sense of worth.

By giving priority to wellbeing and work life balance, employers will reap the benefits of having a happier staff who will look forward to coming to work and be prepared to go the extra mile.

Results from a study by Mercer in 2018 bear this out. It collected input from 800 business executives, 1,800 HR leaders and more than 5,000 employees across 21 industries and from 44 countries. The study identified top talent trends. This can be useful for companies that are trying to stay ahead of the game with employee satisfaction. The findings showed that flexible working, health and wellbeing and a sense of purpose were paramount.

First and foremost, employers need to trust their employees. Unfortunately, in some sectors, there’s a belief that working from home is shirking from home. Obviously working from home may not always be suitable, depending on the business. But there’s no reason why people can’t work different hours. Flexible working can and does lead to better productivity.

As well as providing flexibility, employers should be aware of any issues or problems that employees are facing. Perhaps difficulty with a co-worker or being the victim of bullying. Maybe events at home are having an impact. It’s worth considering providing a forum for discussing health and wellbeing and getting to the root cause of what is making an employee distressed.

In the long term, employers benefit from better employee engagement and work quality through improved morale. It helps to retain staff, therefore saving money on retraining replacements. There could also be further savings in temporary cover, recruitment costs and health insurance.

Talk to your employer

Employees, on the other hand, should be prepared to grasp the mettle and talk to their bosses. Tell them about any problems you may be experiencing. They may be more sympathetic than you think.

As a naturopath, I can suggest ways of combating the mental and physical effects of stress. Breathing techniques work wonders in stimulating relaxing and lowering blood pressure.

Try listening to music to boost your mood and, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t be tempted to turn to stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine when feeling low – they only make the stress worse.

Natural food supplements, such as vitamin B complex will support the nervous system and boost energy levels.

Given that most of us spend a large chunk of our time at work, better flexibility and balance is good everyone. After all, we only have one life so we need to do everything we can to protect it and stay healthy.

If you would like to find out more about how naturopathy can help, email me at hello@futurehealthmanagement.co.uk

How tackling food intolerance means less time off work

Did you know that food intolerance's can reduce your productivity and energy levels in the workplace?

Common causes

Common causes of workplace absenteeism are fatigue, migraines, anxiety, depression, IBS symptoms and nausea. Two in five have taken time off or reduced their responsibilities due to these symptoms.

In many cases these symptoms are linked to food intolerance's, but sufferers may not be aware that it’s their diet that is to blame. The problem is that food intolerance is not something you are born with, it can develop at a later stage of your life. Also, the effects can last for days, which is why it’s difficult to pinpoint which food is the culprit – keeping a food diary can help but, but it can take a long time and a lot of patience to figure it out.

Repair work for better health

When you’ve had food intolerance's, you have to do some repair work after the offending foods have been banished from the diet to give the body a chance to reduce inflammation.  This is where naturopathy works well in getting these individuals back on track.

While the NHS does a great job, it doesn’t take a preventative approach to food intolerance. It focuses on alleviating the symptoms, not dealing with the root cause like naturopathy would.

The Naturopathic approach

The naturopathic approach involves testing to find out exactly what foods are bad for your health and eliminating them for three-six months. Then you take one at a time, testing it at least twice or three times on a day, then use a four-day rotation method. Sometimes digestive enzymes are given to remove the burden on the digestive system.

In the ten years that I have been practising, I have seen many people with an array of intolerance's and it’s a joy to see their faces, when they start feeling so much better.

Do contact me for further information at hello@futurehealthmanagement.co.uk

Preventative steps against ovarian cancer

Women over the age of 45 are most at risk of ovarian cancer and more than 7,000 will be diagnosed with the disease in the UK every year.

As I mentioned in my previous article on prostate cancer, March is ovarian and prostate cancer awareness month. The aim is to shine the spotlight on the importance of detecting and treating the disease early.

Here are some of the increased risk factors involved:

  • Endometriosis – when the lining of the womb grows outside the womb
  • When women have been on HRT for seven years of more (1% of ovarian cancer cases are linked to HRT).
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal disruptors: exposed to herbicides, pesticides and drinking out of plastic bottles

From the point of view of a naturopathic nutritionist, I aim to take a preventative approach to ill health. While this is in no way a treatment for ovarian cancer, if there is a family history of the disease, there are things you can do regarding diet and lifestyle to lower the risk.

What protects against ovarian cancers?

  • Drinking tea may lower the risk of ovarian cancer.  This can be green tea, black tea or any herbal teas. Black tea has powerful compounds (flavonoids) with strong disease-fighting properties.
  • Eat a colourful diet such as vegetables and fruit, those have high antioxidants.
  • Stay lean by exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight. Keeping things like high cholesterol and blood pressure at bay.  This may also help the formation of polycystic ovarian cysts, by keeping away the bad fats.
  • Include allium vegetables, containing high levels of flavanols, such as onions, garlic, leeks and chives and organosulphur (sulphur rich foods such as Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage and cauliflower) compounds, which contribute to the anticancer effects.

Overview of other things to consider

  • Environmental and industrial toxicity: air, food and water pollutants
  • Bacteria, fungus, moulds, yeast and parasites
  • Electromagnetic toxins refer to PC’s, Wi-Fi and microwaves.
  • Household chemicals: cleaners, air fresheners, wax and paints.
  • Personal care products: hair dyes, bleaches, hairsprays and lotions.
  • Heavy metal: amalgam fillings, food packaging, lead pipes and antiperspirants.

Preventative and natural approach to support cancer

The body needs an optimum level of nutrients; this mean eating a well-balanced diet, if not organic.  It is important to supplement your body with the nutrients it requires. Therefore, a multivitamin and mineral supplement will support the body with a good level of nutrients.

I believe that the body should have a good balance of essential fatty acids, this means omega 3,6 and 9, which not only acts as an anti-inflammatory but also helps to balance your hormones. Vitamin C is a great bioflavonoid and provides great preventative support for cancer.  Linus Pauling, who was a biochemist and a two-time Nobel Laureate did a series of books, starting with Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970, followed by Vitamin C, the Common Cold and the Flu (1976), Vitamin C and Cancer (1979), and How to Feel Better and Live Longer (1986).

Taking a good probiotic will ensure that you are giving your gut health enough friendly bacteria, which will also help prevent and deactivated oestrogen that has been deposited into the gut to be activated again by all those unfriendly bacteria.

Prevention is better than cure and if you want to consider a more natural approach to dealing with your health, I provide a free telephone consultation to see how I can help, or you can email me at hello@futurehealthmanagement.co.uk

The preventative approach to prostate health

The preventative approach to prostate health

 

Every year around 47,700 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and the numbers are expected to rise by 12% up to 2035.

March has been designated ovarian and prostate cancer awareness month to focus on the importance of early detection and treatment. (I’ll look at ovarian cancer in a separate article).

The prostate is a walnut-size gland that sits below the bladder that secretes seminal fluids. As men get older, the prostate gland enlarges gradually to approximately the size of a lemon, and it does this due to changes in hormones like testosterone and oestrogen. Some hormones can also be disrupted by environmental factors.

As a naturopathic nutritionist I concentrate on taking a preventative approach to ill health. Of course, it’s important to stress that naturopathy is not a treatment for prostate cancer but, if there is predisposition in the family, there are dietary and lifestyle steps you can take to lower the chance of it happening.

Hormone disruptors

Drinking out of plastic bottles and eating foods exposed to herbicides, pesticides and petrochemicals, are all linked to hormonal disruptors and the formation of cancers.

DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), an androgen hormone responsible for the biological characteristics of males, is normally broken down, but this process is inhibited by an excess of oestrogen's. The concentration of DHT collects in the prostate, causing the overproduction of prostate cells, which results in an enlargement of the prostate.

Foods which should be avoided

As I mentioned earlier, diet can help to keep the prostate healthy and I would recommend avoiding the following:

  • Processed foods, such as pies, meats and pastries
  • Non-organic meat which is normally injected with chemical hormones, which may contribute to risk of prostate cancer
  • BBQ as charring of the meat can be carcinogenic

Foods and natural remedies that support the prostate

The mineral zinc is more abundant in the prostate than in any other organ and zinc-deficiency is commonly-associated with prostate issues.

Along with zinc-containing fruits, eggs and brown rice, wheat germ, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, the following are recommended:

  • Fish high in essential fats, especially salmon and fresh tuna
  • Fibre to help balance hormones naturally
  • Red, orange and green foods as these contain good levels of antioxidants. Or make sure you take a good food-based supplement with CoQ10
  • Saw Palmetto is another natural supplement for enlarged prostate issues. Taking 150 to 320 mg of the standardised extract twice a day will provide you with support. There are many health stores offering this product.

Other helpful tips included buying BPA (bisphenol A) free bottles and drinking filtered water, because hormone residues from the contraceptive pill are found in most water supplies. Ingesting these can have an oestrogen-like effect in the body, which in the long term can bring about hormonal cancers.

Bad habits can cause long term health issues

Keeping the body in a well-balanced state is one of the most important factors in avoiding ill health.  The body cannot live with alkaline foods alone. It works very efficiently and has several processes for balancing the alkalinity and acidity. Therefore, if you do not give the body what it needs, and are not eating a healthy diet which is rich in vitamins and minerals; in this case the minerals, to neutralise the blood and bring it back from and acidic state to an alkaline state, it will begin to rob these minerals from where ever it can, such as from the bones and joints. For example, our stomach acid is there to break down the foods we eat, if you are drinking lots of carbonated water or even ionised water, it will neutralise your stomach acid, making it hard for the digestive system to break down foods. The gut is like our temple, keeping this healthy will keep the rest of you healthy.

From a naturopathic view, the question that must be asked is what metabolic process has caused the cancer cells? Cancer materialises over time, and therefore the naturopathic approach focuses more on a preventative goal, this will be looking at the diet, looking at what lifestyle factors may cause ill health, looking at what genetic factors have you inherited from your parents.

Prevention is better than cure and if you want to consider a more natural approach to dealing with your health, I provide a free telephone consultation to see how I can help, or you can email me at hello@futurehealthmanagement.co.uk

Eating and drinking to stay healthy for longer

Water, water everywhere – but are you drinking enough? And is your fluid intake part of a healthy and balanced diet?

Nutrition and Hydration Week is focusing on precisely this. It’s also a cornerstone of naturopathy’s preventative approach to healthcare and well-being.

Let’s consider hydration first. The human body is two thirds water. It needs it to improve the delivery of oxygen to the cells, transport nutrients, lubricate joints, hydrate the skin and regulate body temperature.

Signs of dehydration

When you feel thirsty, your body is telling you that it needs hydrating. The consequences of not drinking enough can be severe. Dehydration is one of the main causes of acute kidney damage and a common cause of constipation. It’s also associated with a two-fold increase in mortality among stroke patients.

Even mild dehydration can have an adverse effect on your mental performance, including concentration and reaction time, and you will feel more tired.

A dry mouth, lips and tongue are the common signs of dehydration. You may also feel dizzy and disorientated.

You will probably go to the toilet less. The colour of your urine is a useful indicator of hydration. If it’s pale and odourless, that’s a good sign, whereas dark and strong-smelling urine indicates dehydration.

Preventing dehydration

Ideally, you need to drink the equivalent of six to eight glasses of fluid a day to keep fully hydrated. Obviously, water is recommended as it doesn’t contain any calories but low-fat milk, tea and coffee (in moderation) are fine. Avoid drinking too much alcohol. If water seems too boring, you could give it a bit of zest with a slice of lemon or lime. Alternatively, drink sparking water.

It’s best to avoid, or at least limit, soft drinks. Most of these are high in sugar, which is bad for your teeth and your waistline.

Older people are particularly vulnerable to dehydration. This is in part due to the ageing process, including a reduced sensation of thirst and the onset of dementia. Nutrition and Hydration Week has been focusing on good practice for the elderly in hospital and social care.

If you have an elderly relative, why not take time to check that they are drinking enough.

Eating for good health

Also, as we age, it’s even more important to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. In particular, choose the rainbow foods – red, yellow, green, blue and purple – which contain antioxidants. These include kidney beans, beetroot, cherries, plums and carrots.

Increasing your intake of fibre will help to clear any excess cholesterol. Limit your carbohydrates to the starchy kind: potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. Choose wholegrain options where possible.

Eat more oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.

It goes without saying that you should avoid foods high in sugar, although you may allow yourself the odd treat.

By eating plenty of the right foods and drinking enough you can stay healthy for longer.

Let #BalanceforBetter inspire a healthier you

Let #BalanceforBetter inspire a healthier you

Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme - #BalanceforBetter – is focusing on building a more gender-balanced world.

Balance

The question of balance is something that women contend with every day as they juggle their professional and work commitments with looking after their homes and families. And, let’s face it, women are still doing most of the household chores and childcare tasks.

In order to keep pushing the boundaries, break through the glass ceiling and continue to achieve amazing things, women need to stay strong and healthy. In other words, achieving the balance between hard work and looking after number one.

The charity Well-being of Women, reports that, in the UK, 58 women are diagnosed with gynaecological cancers and that the incidence of womb cancer has risen by 65% in 40 years. Also 1.5 million women suffer from endometriosis. In some cases, women put their own health on the back-burner as they tackle day-to-day tasks.

Take a step back

So, in honour of International Women’s Day, why not take a step back and look after your health. The naturopathic approach can help to ward off potential illness and I offer the following tips:

  • Take a food state supplement – this will help to keep the bugs at bay and keep your immune system strong.
  • Don’t let the menopause weigh you down – make sure you have plenty of calcium and vitamin D in your diet to offset the loss of bone density. Take supplements if necessary. Post menopause cut down on the carbs to avoid gaining weight.
  • Keep fit – take regular exercise. If the gym is not your thing, do something you enjoy and share activities with friends.
  • Get a good night’s sleep – as we get older, our sleep patterns change so try and avoid caffeine before you go to bed.
  • Endometriosis/polycystic ovaries/infertility – It is possible to minimise these issues through diet and supplements. Fish oil is a good anti-inflammatory, zinc is essential for hormone synthesis and balance and vitamin B complex also supports hormone production. Eat plenty of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables and good proteins, such as fish, eggs and nuts. Try and, restrict carbohydrates and drink plenty of water. Flaxseeds are good for removing excess toxins and cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar.

If you are trying to lose weight, drink two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar 30 minutes before each meal as this helps to break down food more efficiently.

Taking a preventative approach can help you to stay healthier and fitter. And you will feel more energised in striving for that all-important #BalanceforBetter.

Have a heart for your heart

Have a heart for your heart

Valentine’s Day is all about matters of the heart so it’s appropriate that the British Heart Foundation has designated February as National Heart month.

Did you know that our hearts can beat around 70 times a minute? No doubt they may be working a little harder on this romantic day. And the heart is an undoubted workhorse that can keep going for a 100 or more years.

But sometimes this vital organ can go wrong, often with fatal consequences. Which is why the National Heart Foundation is keen to raise awareness of heart and associated circulatory diseases. There are around seven million people living with heart-related conditions in the UK: 3.5 million men and 3.5 million women.

Some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing heart disease. Naturopathic medicine is a way of finding a preventative approach. If the disease is likely to be inherited, then you are likely to be affected at some point and catching it and doing something to make dietary and lifestyle changes is a positive strategy.

What are the symptoms one should look out for?

Although heart attacks appear to strike out of the blue, there are warnings sings telling us that something is not quite right:

  • Pain or a discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away
  • Pain in your left or right arm which may also spread to your neck, jaw back or stomach. The severity of the pain is not the same for everyone. This is often called myocardial infarction, which means death of the heart muscle due to an interrupted blood supply.
  • There may also be nausea, sweating, light-headedness or shortness of breath.

A heart attack can sometimes feel the same as indigestion which, if it’s persistent, is always wise to get it checked out.

Things that contribute to heart disease and bad circulation

Angina is another common warning.  This is a constrictive pain in the chest which is provoked by exertion. Top contributors to heart disease are:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Other factors that may contribute to heart disease

There are other health factors that may contribute or link heart disease via inflammatory conditions caused by the parasite chlamydia pneumonia, a type of bacteria that can cause lung infection (if you want to see the article here is the reference: Us National Library of Medicine) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632020/)

Poor root canal treatment is also linked to heart disease. Statins place a strain on all muscles including the heart muscle as they block production of a vitamin-like substance called CoQ10, which is produced naturally in the liver. Mercury and thyroid hormones can also cause heart problems.

Taking the preventative, naturopathic approach

Naturopathy looks at diet, lifestyle and genetic predispositions when creating a unique health program for the individual.

The following are good examples of heart-friendly foods:

Pomegranate disrupts the formation of plaque in the arteries and lowers blood pressure.

Fish is high in essential fatty acids and helps lower inflammation. Try to include fish at least two or three times a week. Non-fish lovers should consider a supplement.

Unrefined oils are also good additions into your diet. Linseeds are a great form of probiotic, as well as essential fatty acid, which you can use as part of a salad dressing.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, which are high in carotenes and antioxidants. By including more fibre this also helps the body lower cholesterol.

Dietary no-nos

Low fat foods are high in sugar, which the body converts into fat and, unless you are burning this excess fat by exercising or keeping physically active, will lead to becoming overweight.

Hydrogenated fats are another process used to manufacture unsaturated fats into saturated ones through a process called hydrogenation. Avoid any foods and mass-produced oils containing hydrogenated fats which are in manufactured foods, like biscuits, pies, cakes and many others.

Meat is a good source of protein, although you should try not to eat it every day, especially red meat. Include plenty of pulses, salads and beans, for a more varied and healthier diet.

Although red wine should be drunk in moderation it contains properties such as polyphenols, bioflavonoids that help protect the arteries.

Other natural remedies you can use

Take a CoQ10 supplement, if you are on statins. As we age, we make less of this vitamin-like substance, which the body manufactures naturally in the liver, and statins block production of CoQ10. You should be taking 100mg daily and, if you’ve had a heart attack, it is advisable to take 100mg in the morning and another 100mg in the evening, so a total of 200 mg per day. This will protect your heart and maintain good energy levels.

Garlic is a natural blood thinner, add this into your diet or take a garlic supplement. Unless you have a medical condition that requires iron, do not take extra iron supplements, as excess iron is linked to heart disease and it applies more to men that women.

A good food state vitamin C is good to take, it helps to reverse arterial blockages. Native elements are a good brand and are made with the pulp of an orange. https://www.futurehealthmanagement.co.uk/vitamins/

I work with people who are looking for a complementary and holistic approach to having a healthy heart. If you would like to know more about going down a holistic and natural route, drop me a line.

Dodging the stodge and boosting your mood

Have you resolved to kick-start 2019 by losing weight and getting fitter? Dieting is high on the most people’s to-do list in January and the newspapers and magazines are full of tips for shedding those Christmas calories.
But, despite the best intentions, most diets will fall by the wayside. The problem is that January is generally cold, there are few daylight hours and eating something stodgy and filling makes you feel better – it’s not called comfort food for nothing. Let’s face it, when it’s miserable outside, curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and biscuits is more attractive than a salad.

Craving carbs

The fact is that, during the winter, we crave more starchy and sugary foods. When we eat things high in carbs, the body releases the hormone serotonin which lifts our moods.

Unfortunately, this feeling is short-lived, and this is what leads to an unhealthy cycle of wanting to eat stodgy food for that feel-good fix. Also, during winter, we lack vitamin D, which can affect our emotional eating. Vitamin D has a significant impact on the levels of calcium that the body can absorb. Calcium is an important contributor to the body’s immune system and bone health. Therefore, I recommend a Vitamin D supplement during winter (www.futurehealthmanagement.co.uk/vitamins/)
Habit is another factor in the sabotaging of the new year diet. It’s likely that you’ve been indulging more not just over the festive period but also during the run-up – all those Christmas parties etc. So, you’ve got used to eating more, which makes switching to a healthier regime more difficult.
Of course, if you’re feeling unhappy or stressed, then you are highly prone to tucking into larger proportions of the wrong things to lift your mood.

Mood food

Naturopathy has an important role to play in tackling the imbalance or craving. It’s a discipline that takes a holistic look at the whole person and gets to the root cause of why they have a low mood and coming up with a resolution, including altering their eating habits.
Here are some tips on keeping in a good mood with diet.

  • Invest in a pressure cooker and make hearty stews and bone broth soups
  • Spice up salads with ginger, cinnamon, pepper and cayenne pepper, which are great winter warmers
  •  Roasted vegetables make a delicious and hardy winter dish and can be eaten on their own or as an accompaniment to meat or fish
  •  Peppers or tomatoes stuffed with minced turkey, chicken or lamb are a tasty option
  •  Pulses and beans make healthy and filling dishes. Try a lentil or chickpea casserole and add boiled eggs, spinach, carrots and even meat.
  • Avocados are full of protein and essential fats and they are very versatile. Add them to salads, sandwiches or smoothies.

Dodging the stodge

Hydrating your body by drinking plenty of water will stop the temptation of stodge in its tracks. However, you might not feel like drinking large quantities of cold water in winter.
So, to make it more palatable, I suggest having a couple of bottles of filtered water on the kitchen counter. Add something you really like, such as mint leaves, slices of orange or lemon. There are flavoured oils you could add, including peppermint and orange.
Finally, chromium, the mineral that helps regulate the body’s insulin, is very good for combating cravings for stodgy food. There is a good supplement that I usually recommend. (www.futurehealthmanagement.co.uk/minerals/)

If you’d like more information about how to improve your health and well-being, I’d be happy to schedule a 10-minute telephone call. A preventative approach will set you on the road to a healthier you. As Hippocrates said: “What remains in diseases after the crisis is apt to produce relapses.”

Alternative milks – how healthy are they?

Dairy milk and alternative milks are, you might say, as different as chalk and cheese. But are they?

In actual fact, they do have something in common. Cheese is made from dairy milk, which contains calcium and chalk is a type of inorganic calcium, called calcium carbonate.

The difference is that calcium carbonate is an unnatural ingredient. You will find it in the chalk used on blackboards and in shells and wouldn’t imagine putting it in your mouth. However, calcium carbonate is used regularly in food supplements, as a filler in pills and as an antacid. But excessive consumption can be hazardous and cause poor digestion.

That is why I was surprised to discover that it features in many alternative milks, which people probably consume regularly. I’m an alternative milk drinker myself and have done quite a lot of research into them.

Milk is good for you

 First, let’s look at the positives of milk, before getting down to the nitty gritty on calcium. A glass of cows’ milk provides around 300mg of calcium, 400mg of potassium and 12g of sugar in the form of lactose. So, it’s a good source of nutrition and great for bone health.

But for people who are lactose intolerant, dairy milk has to be avoided as it causes bloating, gas and general stomach discomfort. So, an alternative is better for them and, of course vegans. Also there are those who feel that alternative milks are simply more healthy.

Certainly, the advertising would lead you to believe that they are. Some manufacturers claim that their milks contain 50% more calcium. But it’s important to take other ingredients into account. Rice milk, for example, contains twice as many carbohydrates as cows’ milk and hardly any protein. Almond milk, the favoured choice of many, has a good supply of protein, fibre, calcium, vitamin E and healthy fats. The only downside is that a lot of the goodness doesn’t end up in the end product. This is due to the milling and the way it’s processed. Plus, if you have a nut allergy, it’s not for you.

Oat milk is good generally and well tolerated, although it may contain some gluten.

Calcium carbonate is not natural

 Now, let’s get to the main point. Like many of you, I try and eat as healthily as possible. But, just when I found an alternative milk that I really liked, I discovered, on calling the company, that it contained calcium carbonate.

As well as being an inexpensive way of fortifying alternative milk with calcium, it also serves to make it white. Some companies will list calcium carbonate in the ingredients on their labelling. But other’s will not. I wonder why?

Well, only the other day I rang one of the manufacturers and asked, “why are you putting chalk in your milks?” They didn’t have an answer other than to confirm that they do add calcium carbonate.

Manufacturers will argue that calcium carbonate offers consumers as much readily-absorbable calcium and provides the same level of bone protection as that naturally-occurring in dairy milk. This was was stated in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in 2005.

Chalk leaves deposits

As I said earlier, consuming chalk is not natural. No doubt this is why it can have a negative impact in the long run. If you are consuming alternative milks containing calcium carbonate on a regular basis, you need to be aware that chalk deposits can build up and, worse case scenario, clog the arteries. Calcium carbonate may also cause acid rebound. The stomach will overcompensate for the high dose of calcium carbonate – which is alkaline – by churning out more acid. For that reason, people with a history of stomach ulcers are advised that they may not tolerate it.

I realise that all this sounds depressing, especially if you are lactose-intolerant, vegan or just wanting to find healthy food options. The good news is that there are some alternative milks that do not contain calcium carbonate and will support your dietary aims.

If you are unsure, or the label is not clear, then call the manufacturer and ask them if their product contains calcium carbonate. Obviously, you may feel that you need additional calcium. In that case, I would advise taking a ‘food state’ supplement – one that is made from actual food. Native Elements, for example, is made from high calcium yeast.

While there is nothing better than food itself for getting the calcium that the body needs, sometimes we do need a bit of extra help and support.

The message is to always check the labels.

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