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eat more of – food variety

Eat more of – variety #eatmoreof

Part of the issues with current eating habits is the lack of variety and boredom in our diet. We are constantly advised to eat a combination of different food groups (macronutrients) such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but sometimes we tend to eat the same food too often. Of course, these are essential to include in our diet as they provide our body with the vital energy to live, repair and function.

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The process our body undertakes in changing food to energy (metabolism) is via an integral complex system of chemical synergies and transformation, necessary to provide a variety of nutrients required by every cell in our body. Considering we are made up of trillions of cells, you can understand why it is so important to choose our food wisely!

This month we have launched #eatmoreof – focusing on introducing variety into our diet, every week we post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter a particular type of food, explaining why it is good for us and ways to include it in our diet.

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The objective is to entice you to try new foods and become more adventurous! Perhaps they are foods you have never thought of eating before, but once you realise the potential mental and physical benefits these foods provide, we hope you will indulge!

You may be pleasantly surprised how your taste buds are stimulated and discover your appreciation of novice flavours.

We would love to hear about your new food experiences, so do head over to our social media platforms every Monday for the weekly #eatmoreof and please share your reactions with us!

Alcohol at its worst

Have you started celebrating the Christmas season? Does it involve going out for drinks?

In particular, the Christmas season seems to be associated with alcohol consumption more than any other celebratory time of the year. For many of us this means a drink after work, catching up with friends over a few beers, a bottle of wine…..or more? Whilst it is lovely to get together and be social, drinking in excess is damaging, both socially and physically!

Personally, I enjoy a glass of wine with good friends, chatting and laughing, a wonderful feel-good and carefree factor kicks in. We just have to take a little control over the amount of alcohol we consume so it doesn’t end up consuming us!

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I’ve listed some bullet points to consider BEFORE ordering that second or third drink!

High in calories – all alcohol contains ‘empty calories’ which basically means it supplies us with sugar and nothing else. Whether you drink wine, beer, cider or spirits, they all contain similar amounts of calories, compare each glass to a slice of pizza or a piece of cake! Do watch out for cocktails, they are often made with a variety of spirits topped with mixers, liquors and syrups. Prosecco and Champagne generally contain the least calories per glass.

Nutrient robbers – alcohol offers the body no nutritious value, actually, in addition it is what we refer to as a ‘nutrient robber’ which means it effectively depletes the body so it is unable to effectively absorb other nutrients.

Negative effects – The following day dealing with a hangover, head like a brick, unable to get out of bed with lips and skin as dry as a crisp: it’s no fun at all! Those are just the visual consequences, the internal damage is even worse. Excessive alcohol can cause more than dehydration and weight gain, it is the culprit of liver disease and risk of cancer.

Obviously the best thing is to avoid alcohol, but I am not advocating that, what I am saying is drink in moderation. If you plan a big night out or at a party, take a break and have a glass of water before you order another drink. Ask for a small measure, add extra ice and drink SLOWLY. Remember, not only is alcohol bad for our health, it is high in calories and stimulates appetite too making you more likely to stop off for greasy chips on the way home!
Cheers!

Junk food is cheap

What influences our food choices?

How important is the price?

Is cheap junk food fuelling our obesity crisis?

 

Food high in calories with excessive amounts of sugar, salt and fat which lack any nutritional value is generalized as junk food. The demand for junk food is evident as more and more fast-food outlets now domineer the majority of our high streets.

Is it the price tag £1.99 chicken and chips with a free drink that drives consumers to buy unhealthy food?

According to Public Health England there are many factors that determine our food choices:

 

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There is a complex of external variables that influence our food choices, one of which is economic – the price! How much does this influence your decision(s) to buy a certain food or drink? According to Obesity Action Scotland (2016) price promotions play an important role.

  • Promotions encourage people to buy more of a product or service
  • In the whole of Europe, the UK has the highest proportion of food and drink bought on promotion (40%)
  • The balance of promotions in Scotland is in favour of high sugar and fat food an drinks (50% vs 30%) which means that most promotions involve junk food (high in sugar, salt and fat) and sugary drinks

Action is needed to introduce a regulatory framework to phase out price promotions on foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

Chicken that has been deep fried is NOT a healthy choice or a nutritious form of protein. A study led by Leah Cahill, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health examined data from more than 100,000 men and women over 25 years. They found people who ate fried food at least once a week had a greater risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This increased as the frequency of fried food consumption increased.

Don’t be a statistic swayed by clever marketing campaigns and promotions – Just keep on walking past your local fast-food outlet, your health after all is priceless!

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Exposure  is a multi-award winning charitable youth communications enterprise. Working with young people Exposure produces engaging visuals, videos and reports covering issues concerning young people.

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Here’s their take on obesity – we hope it will help you take some action!

 

Georgia Wheeler encourages young people to walk a little bit more and pick up fruit

“As a nation we’re growing fatter and fatter; it’s not surprising if you think about it. We’re richer, busier, play more computer games and watch more TV than ever.

We just don’t have time to live a squeaky clean lifestyle. You might think it sounds good, but a more comfortable lifestyle has contributed to our expanding waistbands and its reported that 66 per cent of deaths in the UK are due to obesity.

Imagine you just got out of school and are starving (you haven’t eaten for three hours). You wander into the newsagents and what’s there? A selection of brightly coloured crisps, biscuits and chocolate bars all wanting for you to buy them. You can’t decide: Kit Kat or Snickers? You take both; they’re only cheap.

How familiar is this situation? Are there apples and yoghurts on display? If they are, they’re stocked right at the back where few go far enough to see let alone buy (except the little old lady who started shopping this morning when you bought a can of Coke for breakfast). And look at all the fast food restaurants (if you can call them food): McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King.

Lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking

I’m not saying that everyone should give up their favourite ‘pleasure’ foods in favour of a wheatfree, dairy-free, fat-free, everything-nice-free diet: counting calories can become just as unhealthy and obsessive.

All you need to improve your diet is a balance between carbohydrates, protein and fat and five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. You can still have the occasional burger. Exercise plays a huge part in keeping healthy and two out of three teens aren’t getting enough. Are you one of them?

Researchers claim a lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking across the world. But what is enough exercise? Well, a brisk walk for 30 minutes most days helps to control weight and cuts stress, anxiety and depression. That’s five problems in one!

If you’re reading this thinking ‘I like my junk food and can’t be bothered to exercise’ then good luck to you. You can look forward to a life with a range of health problems: arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, shortness of breath and depression.”

Brilliantly said Georgia Wheeler @Exposure

 

 

Healthy Fats

Cutting out all fats from our diet is a bad idea. We consume a variety of fats, not all of them are detrimental. It is important we distinguish and understand the difference.

Let’s start with the HEALTHY FATS:

Our body needs healthy fats to function. MONOUNSATURATED, POLYUNSATURATED, OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6 are the must eat fats. They are responsible for

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  • Absorbing and transporting vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • fat cells insulate our body helping us to keep warm
  • protect and promote healthy function of our nerves and brain
  • maintain healthy skin and cell membrane
  • a source of energy
  • regulate certain hormones

Most living creatures, animals and plants included, contain a certain amount of fat. Try to include a healthy source of fat in your diet. You may be surprised to know how good for us these foods are:

  • avocados
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • fish
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • olives
  • dark chocolate

 

X The fats we SHOULD AVOID are TRANS FATS X

Food companies began using hydrogenated oil to help increase the shelf life of foods and save costs. Hydrogenation is a process in which a liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat by adding hydrogen. During this processing a type of fat called TRANS FAT is made.

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This chemical manufactured TRANS FAT is found in a variety of food products

  • Baked goods / cakes / biscuits / doughnuts / pies
  • Confectionery / sweets / chocolates
  • Dairy products / margarine / cream
  • Processed Foods / ready meals / burgers / chips / pizza / sauces
  • Snacks / crisps / crackers / popcorn

 

Basic rule to follow  – if food is in its natural form it is generally healthy and beneficial to eat. If it comes out of a container and you cannot see what the ingredients are, it’s likely to contain some form of trans fats and therefore detrimental to our health!

Enhancing man-made substances

Last week I attended the British Library TalkScience discussion about the ethical, social and legal implications of performance enhancement in sport – Doping in Sport : fair game?
Owen Gibson of the Guardian chaired the panel with expert speaker Professor Chris Cooper of Essex University, Professor Andy Miah of Saliford University and Nicole Sapstead of UK Anti-Doping.

It was a highly interesting debate – how far are we willing to push the limits of human potential? Scientific evidence optimising sporting achievement through training and diet is an acceptable part of athletic activities, whereas performance enhancing drugs such as steroids and EPOs are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The big question – Do we legalize substances that enhance performance so we can control, administer and monitor athletes in a safe environment? If so, how far do we take science? Is this morally acceptable?

It was interesting to hear the different views between the Professors – Chris Cooper against substance use with a moral and legal influence, Andy Miah on the other hand keen to continue enhancing athletes’ performance.

What do you think? Should performance be solely a physiological status enhanced by dedicated training and optimal eating habits? Or do you believe the use of ‘man-made’ substances should be acceptable to enhance performance?

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It isn’t just at an elite level, this applies to me and all of you reading this. How far are we willing to go to ‘better’ ourselves? We are constantly bombarded by advertising campaigns for vitamins that make our hair shine, shakes that make us run faster or protein bars that give us bulging muscles.

Let’s rely on us! Give our body the credit it deserves, look after it, feed it well and keep it sufficiently hydrated and you will see how well it performs. After all, we are all human …..

Juice it or not?

Chew it don’t drink it

Much of our drinking as adults is performed in social situations – a cup of tea with a friend, coffee at our local café or perhaps an alcoholic beverage at a party or in the pub? In these situations it is unlikely we drink because of thirst. I’m hoping you choose water to quench your thirst?!

Now let’s talk liquidized solids. It has lately become very fashionable to drink our food – yes, in the form of smoothies or more recently anything that one can throw in a NutriBullet! Let’s look at why a healthy adult is better eating food rather than juicing it!

At birth we only have the ability to suck and swallow we are not capable of chewing. We spend a good few years from birth evolving and learning. Maturing taste buds, growing teeth and developing senses that all contribute to the successful process of chewing. Gradually we become competent chewers and absorb our nutrients from solids. The only essential nutrient liquid healthy adults continually need to drink is water.

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Our very clever human bodies evolve to enhance a complex digestive system that utilises the food we eat to fuel, maintain and optimize the way we perform. Chewing is an important initial stage and when we liquidize foods we bypass vital developed digestive triggers –

• Our saliva does not create Amylase and other import enzymes necessary to prepare for the next digestive stages.

• Our metabolic rate slows down as its catabolic functionality is compromised.
Babies, the elderly and people suffering from illness or surgeries may require a liquid or soft food diet. This is temporary (hopefully) until they are able to consume a natural solid balanced, nutritious diet.
Consider both quantity and quality of your ‘drink’

• A smoothie may contain as many as 3 different pieces of fruit plus milk, yogurt or even ice-cream.

• The more you process a food the more it loses its nutritional value.

Not only have you just drunk more than you would have eaten (had it been in its natural solid state) but you have also lost out on the nutrients, minerals and fibre through liquidizing!

Better stick to eating food, drinking water and socialising!

Don’t diet! 5 basic rules

What can we do to encourage healthier food, drink and lifestyle choices? It is important to learn what is good for us, how nutrition and exercise has a positive impact on our health. What we eat and drink determines how we function in a physical and mental capacity.

Don’t diet! Take a look at 5 simple steps towards developing a healthier lifestyle:

1 Water

Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up – it rehydrates and cleanses our body promoting efficient blood, cell and organ function. Our body is about 70% water so the average adult needs to drink 1.5 litres daily.
TIP: keep a glass of water beside your bed and carry a bottle with you when travelling from A-B

2 Breakfast

This important meal breaks our overnight fast, kick-starts our metabolism and provides us with essential physical and mental energy to start the day. Eating a nutrient dense breakfast within 30 minutes of waking also plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body weight.
TIP: quick + easy oats mixed with nuts, seeds and fruit / eggs with wholemeal toast / yogurt

3 Regular eating patterns

It is important to avoid erratic eating habits or going for long periods of time without food. Eating at regular times each day stabilizes our blood sugar level. This eliminates fatigue, mood swings, dizziness, irritability and controls cravings! Eating regularly enhances our metabolic rate and lowers the risk of food being stored as fat.
TIP: Try to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner more or less at the same time each day – fresh fruit and nuts is a great snack if you get hungry between meals

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4 Chew

Our digestive process is stimulated by our senses: look, smell and taste. Every mouthful requires the physical process of chewing, releasing saliva containing some digestive enzymes. Amylase and other enzymes begin breaking down our food making digestion easier on our stomach and small intestine.
TIP: relax before your meal, take time to eat, chew each mouthful well – on average 20 times!

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5 Plan ahead
The same way you plan your schedule plan your meals too. Wake up 10 minutes earlier to eat breakfast. Prepare a packed lunch ensuring your afternoon includes a nutritious meal to refuel. Plan what is on the dinner menu before you get home.
TIP: Get organized! Make a shopping list of all the ingredients you need for the coming week’s meals.

learn to love carbs

Carbs is a common word for carbohydrates and is often thought of as the food that makes us fat! This is so not true – let’s take a closer look at this misunderstanding.

Carbohydrates are sugars and starch that are digested and broken down inside our body to create glucose. Glucose is our body’s primary source of fuel. It is transported around in our blood and easily used as energy. Our cells, central nervous system, brain, organs and muscles all rely on carbohydrates to function properly.

There are 2 main types of carbs: The bad guys (simple) and the good guys (complex)

Simple carbs made of monosaccharides, sugars which are rapidly absorbed into our bloodstream and give us a ‘kick’ or ‘quick fix’ of energy. These are found in most soft drinks that are on the market and also alcohol! Processed foods contain high levels of these sugars as do the more obvious snacks like biscuits, cakes and desserts. THESE are unhealthy, deficient in nutrients and high in refined sugars. THESE consumed in excess will cause weight gain.

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Complex carbs made of polysaccharides, a combination of sugars which are digested, absorbed and slowly released by our body as energy, giving us a slower but continuous source of energy. These healthy sources of carbohydrates are found in foods such as whole grains and nutrient dense foods such as wheat, rice, corn, oats, rye, buckwheat, barley and millet. Others include potatoes, bananas, beans, peas, lentils and leguminous vegetables. Plenty of the good stuff to choose from!

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Healthy carbs contain natural sugars plus fibre. Follow a balanced diet and make sure you include 25% of healthy carbs at each meal and you will benefit from:

Increase energy levels
Improve sleeping patterns
Feel fuller for longer
Enhance your mood
Increase alertness
Regulate blood glucose levels
Improve digestion
Absorb vitamins & minerals
Help metabolism
Avoid weight gain!

Caffeine induces stress

Are you a coffee drinker? Perhaps you prefer tea? Maybe you get a buzz from energy drinks?

Let’s take a closer look at what caffeine does to our body – then we will have a better understanding of how much is too much?!

What is caffeine – At its best it is a naturally occurring substance found in many plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, Kola nuts and cacao pods. At its worst it is man-made then added to many of our foods and drinks, plus over the counter and prescription medication.

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What happens when we consume it?

Our brain – Caffeine quickly reaches our brain and stimulates our central nervous system making us feel more alert. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and it can cause anxiety, restlessness and exacerbate sleeping disorders. However, our body can develop a tolerance to caffeine and regular consumers may suffer withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and drowsiness.

Digestive and Excretory Systems – Caffeine raises acidity in our stomach and may cause heartburn and inhibit nutrient absorption. It is also a diuretic, triggering our body to get rid of water which can result in dehydration.

Circulatory and Respiratory Systems – Caffeine circulates in our bloodstream within an hour or two after consumption resulting in elevated blood pressure. Excessive amounts may cause rapid or irregular heartbeats and possibly breathing trouble.

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Skeletal and Muscular Systems – Too much caffeine can contribute to muscle cramps and the interference of calcium absorption can have a detrimental effect on bones.

Reproductive System – Caffeine present in our bloodstream travels into the placenta which acts as a stimulant causing a baby’s heart rate and metabolism to increase. Too much caffeine can slow fetal growth and increase the risk of a miscarriage.

Is it safe to drink caffeine?

The guideline limit is 400 milligrams (4 cups of coffee) a day for adults – as there is so much added caffeine to food and drinks, it is best to stick to no more than 2 cups of fresh ground coffee a day. Watch out for soft drinks and especially energy drinks! Some contain the equivalent of nearly 4 cups of coffee!

Better get that bottle of water out instead! Cheers