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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 (
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. (

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.

If you have found this article useful, please feel free to share it.

Tips for a stress-free and healthier Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year and it’s a time for fun, reflection on the past 12 months and an opportunity to wind down. But, for some, Christmas Day and the lead up to it can be extremely stressful. Then it’s all over in the blink of an eye. But with a bit of planning, you can have an enjoyable and stress-free festive season.

Prepare early

Here are some suggestions for making sure your pre-Christmas preparation goes smoothly. All these are naturopathically focused, to help you feel relaxed and in control of having and organising a great celebration.

  • Make sure you have your Christmas cards, at least three weeks beforehand. If time is tight due to working commitments, order them online. You could take a family photo for the front of your Christmas card, to simplify things.
  • Consider buying the stamps beforehand this saves a lot of time and pre-empts any disappointment with the post office running out of stamps. You can write and post them immediately. One thing out of the way!
  • If you have children, get them to write out their Santa lists three weeks before Christmas. This way, you can organise buying presents to avoid any disappointment, or reserve them and get them delivered straight to work so kids don’t get a chance to find them hidden at home. If delivered at home, make sure you don’t take them out of their boxes until kids are at school. Then wrap them up and hide them somewhere safe or in the loft.
  • If you’re planning a traditional turkey dinner, it’s a good idea to place your order now from your local butchers or store and picking it up on the 24th of December. This way it’s fresh and it won’t take up any space in your fridge/freezer. More space for other Christmas goodies. If you decide to order a frozen turkey, it normally takes 72 hours to thaw so make sure you incorporate this time into your preparation.
  • Your Christmas food shopping for those who like to shop: consider buying things at least a week or two before the Christmas rush. Things such as turkey stuffing, after dinner mints and drinks. You may even pick up some bargain prices if you buy a few weeks before the big day. In the days leading up to Christmas, go through your shopping list to make sure you’ve not missed anything out. The more you prepare the less stress you will endure, plus you will feel organised and in control. These two things equal no stress. If you have someone in the family who is artistic, get them to make some table decorations. You can get materials in places like Hobbycraft. Get them to buy all the items they need a few weeks before Christmas, another task crossed off your list.
  • If you find yourself feeling a little anxious, close your eyes, take three or four deep breaths. When you inhale make sure that your abdomen gently fills with air and not the chest, then hold for three seconds and exhale as deeply as you can and hold for three seconds and so on. This will calm you both physically and mentally to enable you to re-focus.
  • Make a list of foods you need for Christmas, this way you won’t forget anything.
  • Internet shopping can be very useful when you don’t have a lot of time to go to the high street or simply don’t like facing the Christmas crowds. Try booking your delivery slot first thing in the morning, to get better delivery options. Here is a template I found, which may be helpful and time saving.

Foods that can help with stress

Here are some foods that aid stress. As a naturopath and stress management consultant, I would recommend these foods.

  • Linseeds: a major source of lignans (probiotic) that may influence hormone function. A controlled study found that adding 30 grams per day of freshly ground linseed reduces the blood pressure elevating effect of mental stress and reduced stress-related changes in fibrinogen, a blood component associated with increased risk of heart disease. (ref: 1. Spence JD, Thornton T, Muir AD, Westcott ND. The effect of flax seed cultivars with differing content of alpha-linolenic acid and lignans on responses to mental stress. J Am Coll Nutr 2003;22:494-501.)
  • Oily Fish and unrefined sunflower seeds, pumpkin and hemp seeds: These all work to lower an inflammatory response triggered by stress.
  • Herbal teas: Liquorice tea will help support adrenal function. It contains an active ingredient that stimulate the adrenal gland, this helps promotes a healthy level of cortisol in the body (Note: those with blood pressure issues should consult their doctors before taking liquorice). There are other teas such as camomile and valerian tea, that also help with stress and promote calmness.
  • Turkey: Why do you think people feel sleeping after their Christmas lunch? This meat contains an amino acid called tryptophan, this induces a sleepy calm sensation.
  • Stress breaks protein down quickly: Eating a good level of protein at breakfast and lunch helps you maintain balanced blood sugar levels, as high levels of stress hormones, drive blood sugar levels up. Other supportive foods are, eggs, lean organic meat, fish, quinoa, lentils, amaranth, tofu, cheese, beans and pulses are good options.
  • Oats: These are rich in B vitamins which aid calmness. I sometime recommend gluten free oats, if someone is suffering from lack of focus and fatigue.

Healthier options for Christmas

  • Prepare the veggies: on the 24th, start cutting and peeling, get your partner, friend(s) to help you, this is a great team building exercise, and great for family bonding time.
  • Trimmings time: prepare the stuffing on the 24th along with the veggies. As this blog is written by a naturopath, here is my alternative to using sausage meat. Why not try a chestnut or fruit-based version of the stuffing? When you’re cutting up roasties, cut them large. Potatoes absorb less fat during roasting as it has a smaller combined surface, this applies for other veggies i.e. parsnips.
  • Serving bread sauce? Try making it with semi-skimmed milk and add a clove of minced-up garlic for extra flavour.
  • When making gravy, skim off all the extra fat with a baster.
  • Instead of cream, why not use Greek yogurt with your dessert. You can add some cinnamon or a little honey for sweetness or blend some fruit and add it into the yogurt.

By the end, you will feel that you’ve accomplished a successful healthy stress-free pre and post-Christmas. The great thing will be that you’ll enjoy it and feel relaxed with loved ones. If you’d like to catch up with me during the New Year to discuss project work, please feel free to drop me a line, I’d be happy to discuss workshops/health talks for your company, to start 2019 healthy, wealthy and wise.

On behalf of Future Health Management – Christina Martin would like to wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

The natural approach to tackling diabetes

The natural approach to tackling diabetes

Do you have diabetes, or know someone who has? Recent reports have shown that the condition, particularly type 2 diabetes, is placing an ever-increasing burden on the NHS.
Type 2 is where the body produces insufficient insulin. With type 1, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells. There’s a third one that has recently been tagged under the diabetes remit – the Alzheimer’s gene type 3. But it’s type 2 that is the most prevalent – 90% of diabetic adults have type 2 and more than 80% are overweight.

The main systems of diabetes are:

• Excessive thirst
• Changes in weight either way
• Blurred vision
• Cuts/sores that take a long time to heal or itchy skin
However, you may not have any of these symptoms and still be diabetic.
The human body is very good at healing and maintaining itself. By taking a naturopathic approach, which means eating the right foods and making some lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse and prevent type 2 diabetes. In other words, you don’t have to be on medication to control your blood sugar levels.

Unfriend diabetes to prevent or reverse it

A low glycaemic diet is worth considering and below are my top 10 food recommendations:

1. Oats: to help keep your blood sugar even
2. Whole grains instead of wheat also help to maintain blood sugar
3. More pulses, such as lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and butter beans. You can make some really smashing recipes with these or even soups which may become your favourites.

  • Quinoa: contains 9 of the amino acids our body needs and it’s a complete protein, even better than meat. It’s a grain and is a great source of essential fats, vitamins and minerals. This grain is very versatile, you can make salads with it or soups or serve it up with other foods, such as fish.
  •  Chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin (great product to eat if you are pre-diabetic) or walnuts as a form of snacking. These are all great sources of antioxidants or natural fats. You can make yourself a lovely smoothie in the morning using chia seeds or any of these seeds/nuts. You can add some flaxseeds into a humus.
  •  By using chia/flaxseeds you are also increasing and getting good levels of calcium and magnesium. On the plus side, chia is very low in sodium, so in terms of sodium it beats flax seed.
  • Eat more courgettes, pumpkin, butternut squash and other varieties of winter squash - all these are low on the glycaemic table.
  • Low sugar fruits: berries, cherries, plums, blueberries and blackcurrants. All of these are a great source of antioxidants as well as low in sugar and you can have them for dessert or make a wonderful tasty smoothie, adding some of our seeds. What a great combo.
  • If you like your cordial drinks, the best one to choose is ‘Cherry Active,’ made from Montmorency cherries. It compares well with other juices, such as grape juice, which contain pure glucose. Everything in moderation

Nature is best

Chromium is one of the best things you can take to keep diabetes at bay, and it’s a tasty spice. Its active ingredient is MCHP, which mimics the action of insulin, which removes excess sugar from the bloodstream. You can cook with it, add it to teas and cereals. Take a teaspoon a day, which is roughly the equivalent of 3g.
One of my favourites is baked apple and cinnamon. The best apples to use are Bramley cooking apples and ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Increasing your fibre also helps to get rid of excess cholesterol. Effectively, fibre is a good internal cleaner. Examples include chia seeds and barley, apples and pears (these fruits are high in pectin).

You need good fats to break own the bad fats

Our bodies need fat and there are good fats and bad fats. Good fats are those such as olive oils, fish or fish oils, nut and seed oils. Add these into your low glycaemic foods, experiment a bit with your food, get to know what you like, what things you can mix together to produce something you really enjoy. One of the most well-known diets is the Mediterranean diet, which chooses fish over meat. Another important point is that omega 3s also increase the level of a hormone called adiponectin, which helps to burn sugar rather than storing it.
Let’s not forget that fish also contains vitamin D, something in which many of us are deficient. Vitamin D is great for keeping your immune system strong and healthy and ideally, we need 30mcg a day. Other than fish this vitamin is found in eggs and, of course, outside in the fresh air on a lovely sunny day. Just make sure you’re not completely covered up, otherwise you won’t benefit from those sun rays.

Example of some food or combinations you can choose

  • Boiled, poached or scrambled eggs on toast and use wholegrain rye toast
  • Apple and cinnamon compote using Bramley apples
  •  Artichoke and red pepper omelettes – you can combine it with smoked salmon on another day.
  • Wonderful bean salad: combine any type of beans such as green beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or black-eyed beans. Use a mixed salad leaf and make a salad dressing you like, for example, 1 teaspoon of wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Saturated fats

Meat and dairy come under the saturated fat topic, these promote insulin resistance when you combine it with a high glycaemic carbohydrate diet.

Try and avoid sugar

Sugar is mainly the culprit that triggers inflammation. That and starches, which are another form of sugar found in potatoes and processed carbs, such as white bread and pasta. All these are high in the glycaemic table.

By making changes to your diet and taking more exercise, it is possible to kick type 2 diabetes. Spare a thought for the man who, being among the 170 people a week having amputations due to the disease, told the BBC that it was his own fault for ignoring his doctor’s advice on healthy eating.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask or do leave a comment or your experience.

Lack of sleep means a bad day at the office

Eating to offset the effects of ageing

Are you falling asleep on the job through lack of a good night’s rest? Insufficient shut-eye has a detrimental effect on your ability to function properly.
When you’re drowsy, your brain won’t process information as quickly or retain important facts so well. You’ll be less creative and find it hard to make decisions properly, all of which will make you less productive.
As well as hindering your work, lack of sleep will make you irritable and an irritation to your fellow workers. And, of course, your boss won’t be happy.
But, more importantly, the less time you spend in the land of Nod, the more likely you are to suffer from high blood pressure. Sleep aids the blood in regulating stress hormones and ensures a healthy nervous system.

Getting a better night’s sleep

There are steps that you can take to help keep insomnia at bay. First and foremost, make sure you have a decent mattress. If you feel that your pressure points are not being correctly supported by your current bed, then this may mean that you may need to consider changing your mattress.
Pillows are another source of frustration. You may have purchased a million pillows because you can’t seem to get your shoulders away from your neck. In other words, you scrunch up your shoulders while sleeping and end up with a headache or neck and shoulder pain. Result, you certainly won’t feel like getting up to go to work, more like pulling a sickie.
Once you’ve got your bedding sorted out, try the following to send you off:
• Drink a cup of camomile tea an hour before bed, instead of coffee or tea
• Use a diffuser in your bedroom with some lavender oil to help you relax
• Minimise screen time (TV, computer, phone) close to bedtime
• Have a warm bath with Epsom salts an hour before bed
• Get your adrenals tested in case your cortisol levels are high in the evening, thereby preventing you getting to sleep

Happy slumbering.

Prevention is better than cure

Preventative health is better than masking the symptoms with medication

Over the years I have seen many clients who have had a degree of desperation, due to ill health, because all they want to do is feel well and regain their health back. Some have a degree of fear, which causes a stressful situation, kicking off an IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) episode of diarrhoea.  It is hard not to feel anxious, when that person is preparing a presentation to a bunch of potential clients.

Preventing it before it happens

I believe doctors do a wonderful job, however when a client prefers to take a more preventative approach and act to get down to that root cause of why they are feeling the way they are, at this point, they realise that by taking medication, they are never going to get rid of their health issue.

When you take medication, all you are doing is treating the symptoms. What happens if you stop taking the medication?

Acting on the "why"

Prevention is better than cure, which means that you are acting, to deal with the “why” I’m feeling ill.

  • Why am I getting a lot of spots?
  • Why am I feeling so tired all the time?
  • Why am I feeling pain in my stomach?
  • Why am I not sleeping properly?
  • Why am I not focusing properly?

If you want a quick fix, then yes, medication will simply take away your symptoms, if you don’t want to take medication and want to eradicate the “why” along with all the issues and discomfort that your ill health is giving you, then the preventative approach is the way to go.

Rome was not built in a day, and if you’ve had pain or discomfort in one way or another for a long time, you need to be patient and work together with me.

The preventative approach has many rewards, the BIG one is to get rid of what ever it is that’s causing you to suffer.

 For some it may be:

  • Their IBS symptoms and how it’s affecting their lives
  • Their hormonal issues and how it’s affecting their character and personality
  • Their stomach pains, diarrhoea and discomfort and how this is affecting their jobs. For example, a theatrical dancer playing a lead role

These are but a few examples of how a preventative approach could really help you get rid of the symptoms, get your confidence back and most of all feel that you have finally tackled the problem that’s been making you miserable.

You will begin to see the transformation in your health and you won’t look back.

If any of this resonates with you, lets speak, it won’t cost you anything other than a phone call.

Taking the fat out of fast could help cut obesity

Taking the fat out of fast could help cut obesity

The ‘obesity crisis’ hit the headlines again this week with the news that the increasing number of takeaways on our high streets was partly to blame for the nation’s expanding waistlines.

Apparently, there are now more than 61 outlets per 100,000 people, compared with 47 in 2010. Research by Cambridge University showed a link between increased access to fast food and higher body mass index.

When I first started studying nutrition, I saw a rather disturbing video of a 20-year-old McDonald’s meal. I say disturbing because it looked like it had just been cooked. Even the fries appeared fresh. Why? Preservatives galore of course.

If it’s bad for you why does it taste so good?

It’s often said that all the food that is bad for you is what tastes the best. This is what makes takeaways so popular, as well as the fact that they are a quick and easy option for those who can’t or don’t want to cook – or just need to grab a bite of what makes them feel good.

But, ultimately, fast food cons the body into eating more. In fact, the term ‘junk food’ is an accurate description. This is because the high levels of sugar, salt, fat and preservatives in processed foods play havoc with our neurotransmitters and hormones.

Our brains receive signals from pleasure pathways that use hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine, which influence our eating behaviours. That is why we tend to eat more if we’re bored or stressed.

Hunger hormones tell us when we need to eat and, importantly, when we are full. Leptin in the fat cells decreases appetite, while Ghrelin does the opposite as the stomach empties. Processed foods disrupt this process by distorting the hungry hormones, encouraging us to overeat.

Healthier options

In the US you can find fast food outlets offering ‘broiled chicken’, which is far healthier than the fried version. But this is not available in the UK. Ideally, all takeaway chains should be encouraged to bake, grill, steam or boil instead of frying.

Other healthy choices are:

• More salads
• Baked potatoes instead of chips
• Switching to low sodium salt, such as pink Himalayan
• Offering burgers without the bun
• Dip meals, such as hummus with sticks of carrot or cucumber
• Using meat from animals not fed on antibiotics, corn or soybeans
• Batter-free chicken nuggets
• No more super-sizing (unless a customer specifically asks for it)

Start healthy eating young

The NHS has estimated that one in five children aged between 10 and 11 are obese. It is important therefore to get them eating healthy foods to prevent them becoming overweight adults.

One way of doing this is to make cooking fun. Easy recipes that parents and children can do together at home, using good healthy ingredients. Burgers don’t have to be off the menu – make them with quality meat and serve with salad and a baked potato.

But can you really encourage people to ditch fried food and eat less, I hear you ask. Well, according to Deloitte, this is already happening. In 2017, they conducted a survey on long-term food trends. More than three-quarters of respondents said they had adopted healthy eating habits; at last half thought that portion sizes at fast food restaurants were too large and 83% believed that the typical fast food menu didn’t offer enough healthy choices.

With just a few simple changes it’s possible to enjoy a takeaway without piling on the pounds.

Healthy canteen food is better for the workers

Healthy canteen food is better for the workers


Eating a healthy lunch at work will not only improve a person’s well-being, it also makes them perform better.

It’s therefore in the interest of employers to try and dish up more choice in the good food category in the staff restaurant. The increased pace of working life has led to a higher consumption of ‘quick fix’ fast food and sugary snacks. This, combined with sitting for long periods, is helping to fuel the obesity crisis.

The Government’s Tackling Obesities: Future Choices project predicts that the costs to the NHS attributable to overweight and obesity could double to £10 billion a year by 2050. The knock-on effect to the economy would be £49.9 billion.

We all know that consuming too much sugar, salt and saturated fat and too little fruit, vegetable and oily fish is bad for you. But how easy is it to follow a healthy diet when you’re at work?

Responsible choices

The good news is that organisations are recognising the need to offer better food choices, including catering for those with special dietary requirements, such as gluten free and vegan options. Companies are embracing the key pledges in the Responsibility Deal on Public Health, for example, providing calorie information at the point of purchase and cutting the levels of salt and trans-fats.

Public Health England has produced A Toolkit for Serving Food to Adults. Aimed at those involved in the commissioning of food and catering service, it summarises the Government guidelines for achieving a healthy diet.

Five-a-day plus

We know that eating your five-a-day is a good target to aim for. Staff restaurants can help people to achieve this by offering a good variety vegetables and fruits (particularly low sugar types, such as melon, berries and papaya).

Other recommended actions are to offer:

  • Healthier choices in vending machines and by the canteen tills, instead of sweets and salty snacks
  • Good proteins instead of processed varieties
  • A good selection of salads
  • Boiled or mashed potatoes instead of fries
  • Complex carbohydrates, such as short grain brown rice, which have not been processed and help to stabilise blood sugar.


Eating from a wide choice of wholesome foods will keep you fuller for longer, improve your motivation and help stop the pounds piling on. Also providing a restaurant where people can get a decent meal shows that a company cares about its employees’ wellbeing.

Interestingly, a survey of 41 global companies in 2010 by Towers Watson found that organisations with high levels of employee engagement had a 4% higher operating margin, whereas those with low levels of engagement declined by 2%.

They say that ‘strength goes in at the mouth’ so helping employees to eat well and stay healthy can only help boost the bottom line.

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Eating for good mental health and minimising dangerous metal exposure


Mental health has been a hot topic in the news for some time. Every year approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem. In England alone, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

Nutrition plays an important role in keeping the brain functioning properly. As well as eating the right foods, it’s important to avoid ingesting dangerous metals, like mercury, that can affect the brain and nervous system. Taking a preventative approach is good practice.

How people become exposed to mercury and heavy metals

Mercury is widely used in products such as batteries, paints and thermometers. But the inorganic salts it contains are corrosive and highly damaging to our bodies, including our brains. Fish, normally considered to be a healthy food choice is, unfortunately, a typical way of becoming exposed to mercury. Certain types, such as mackerel and swordfish can contain high levels and may be best avoided or purchased from an organic store. If you’re not taking any additional nutrients other than your food, it may be advisable to add in a few good supplements such as a clean omega 3.

Other ways of becoming exposed to mercury can be through a glass thermostat. Of course, children might put batteries in their mouths!

How Mercury affects the Body

Mercury kills brain neurons, the cells that conduct nervous impulses. Toxic heavy metals are present in the air we breathe, water, soil and food supply. Chronic low levels of exposure can lead to issues such as aggressive behaviour, depression, memory loss, irritability and many more. The brain is an incredibly vulnerable organ and taking steps to protect it is of utmost importance.

The key question is, what can we do to minimise the decline in health?

How to support the brain with a natural approach

The flow of blood to the brain delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells, which is an important function and supports our learning, thinking and memory. Lack of oxygen to the brain leads to cerebral hypoxia, destroying brain tissue and characterising conditions such as Alzheimer’s and vascular disease.

Feeding the brain good nutrients

  • Magnesium is nature’s natural relaxant, helping arterial flow to the brain
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids also play an important role in blood flow to the brain, and are a simple yet safe and effective way to support cognitive function.
  • Ginkgo biloba herb has been used to help and prevent cognitive decline.
  • Green tea is a great antioxidant that supports reducing oxidative damage. The neuroprotective effects of the theanine contained in green tea are also a focus of considerable attention.
  • Turmeric contains curcuminoids, a great antioxidant including an anti-inflammatory and cognitive memory enhancer. Curcumin has a broad cytokine suppressive anti-inflammatory action. Cytokines are cell-signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses towards sites of inflammation, infection or trauma.
  •  Folate and vitamin B12 are both required for the methylation of homocysteine (a common amino acid in the blood). A deficiency in these can cause neurological disturbances, such as depression and dementia, and the neurotoxic effect of homocysteine may play a role in these disturbances.
  •  Saffron also has the potential to enhance mental health through its antidepressant properties. In a six-week trial, at a dosage of 30 mg/ day, extracts of saffron stigma were as effective as fluoxetine (20 mg/day) for the treatment of mild-to moderate depression (see reference below).

Reference: Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, Jamshidi AH. 2005. Hydroalcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a doubleblind, randomized pilot trial. J Ethnopharmacol 97: 281–284.

Food that nourishes the brain

The brain is a fatty organ and therefore requires good fats. Providing it with a well-balanced, essential fatty acid complex, is important. Good sources are clean fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil.

Try to avoid empty calories from refined foods, such as white breads, sugar and fizzy drinks.

Consume good lean proteins, as these are the building blocks of our existence. Good proteins are our lean meats.

Legumes are also high in fibre (lentils, bean and peas), fish, nuts and seeds.

Try cutting down on caffeine as this can cause anxiety and depression and disturbed sleep. Caffeine is in: coca cola, coffee, chocolate, and other manufactured energy drinks.

Feed the brain all the goodness it needs and you will certainly help your mental health.

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Eating to offset the effects of ageing

Eating to offset the effects of ageing


As we get older many of us find we can’t eat the same as we did when we were young. The body becomes more fragile with age and the chances of becoming ill are higher.

That’s why I always advise clients to look after themselves by making sure that they put back what age takes away. We become more deficient because our digestion works less effectively and the enzymes that breakdown food become depleted. So, it’s important to up our intake of the right nutrients.

The effects of a slower digestion

When you’re not digesting correctly, don’t have the necessary enzymes, or stomach acid to cope with food, your body becomes more acidic, which increases the risk of illness and causes other problems in the gut, like constipation. This leads to haemorrhoids, which can be quite painful, due to straining. Also, when the stool backs up it can develop small pockets in the lining of the colon called diverticulosis. When inflamed it can cause pain, abdominal tenderness and high temperature.

Gas will start to form because you’re not breaking down food correctly and things will start to ferment causing other issues such as a build-up of yeast (the formation of candida) which then causes bloating and alternating bowel motions (between diarrhoea and constipation).

Some may even get GERDS (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) The build-up of acid, when the food from your throat into your stomach comes back up causing pain and a burning sensation.

What can I do to make improvements?

One of the most important things you can do is to drink plenty of water, ideally 1.5 litres per day, this helps to:

  • Lubricate the intestines
  • Avoid constipation and clear out toxins.

There are simple changes you can make to your diet which would work well as a preventative approach, also minimising side-effects caused by medication. For example, by increasing fibre, this helps clear excess cholesterol. Apples and pears have good amounts of the water-soluble fibre pectin which is great for lowering high triglycerides and preventing colon cancer. Eat more colourful foods, such as berries, which are good sources of antioxidants. Add more red, purple and blue foods such as kidney beans, beetroot, cherries, plumbs, carrots and papaya which contain enzymes to help digestion.

High triglycerides also increase heart disease and strokes as well as making you gain weight.

Arthritis is another disease that plagues us as we age and eating less stodgy things will help, such as:

  • Cakes
  • Bread
  • Refined carbohydrates


Adding more fresh oily fish such as tuna and salmon are good anti-inflammatories, which helps lubricate our joints and prevents them from getting inflamed. Most people don’t eat a lot of fish and therefore it may make sense to substitute an omega3 capsule once or twice a day.

Caffeine and drinks such as coke are stimulants and better minimised. Try swapping caffeine for decaf. I know you may not like the idea but think of it as one less thing affecting your health, blood pressure and heart (e.g. arrhythmia).

If you like eating meat, opt for the white meat rather than red.  Red meat is far harder to digest and can take longer to break down. As we age, we want to love and take care of our digestion and not burden it.

Exercise is always a plus to keep your body healthy and maintain a healthy weight get mental clarity, and a great route to relaxation and peace of mind.

Walking or a little light exercise will keep the weight down taking pressure off the joints. Your knees and ankles will thank you for not making them carry all your body weight!

There is no reason why you can’t maintain good health once you reach 60 and over by making little changes in your lifestyle and diet to aid old age.

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