There’s the common and well know saying “you are what you eat”… this saying applies to many aspects of health. Choosing the right foods can also help support mood, sleep, and even the ability to focus and concentrate.
As a Holistic Nutritionist and a mother, I know that there are many factors that play into a child’s ability to focus. I also know that there are no magic foods that will get any child to laser-focus on their maths or reading when they want to zombie out in front of the TV or play electronic games.. so chill out time is also an important part of their daily routine.
What I do know is that there are certain brain-boosting foods that could potentially support proper brain development, cognitive skills and concentration. Foods which will help kids to concentrate on their schoolwork, project or other task in conjunction with quality sleep, daily activity and exercise and minimal electronic distractions.
These seven foods can help kids stay sharp. Hopefully, these suggestions give some lunchtime inspiration too!
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends eggs as a first food for babies and toddlers as eggs are a rich source of choline and because early and sustained exposure to eggs may help reduce the risk of developing an egg allergy. But the benefits of eggs continue well beyond the first two years of life. Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse that contribute to health and well-being at every age and life stage.
Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of dietary choline, a nutrient that helps brain cells produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in cognition. Plus, eggs have the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health and may help protect the eyes from harmful blue light from computers and phones. New research shows lutein may also play an important role in brain health, too.
Eggs are easy to prepare and easy to love at any age, and at any meal. Enjoy an egg as part of breakfast, make an egg salad sandwich for a quick at-home meal or pack in a lunch box for a portable meal, or pre-make hard-boiled eggs for simple grab-and-go snacks to satisfy hungry tummies after a long day of learning. Another favourite are pancakes made with oats, bananas or wholemeal flour.
Thank goodness beef is a favourite in many households, because eating it may help keep your kiddo's head in the game. Beef is a source of two important nutrients, iron and zinc. Both have been shown to play a role in cognition and restlessness in children.
Fish and seafood are rich in a slew of brain-boosting nutrients that can help your little one in many ways. Having your kids enjoy those fruits of the sea can result in some seriously amazing outcomes. In one study, for example, children who ate fish at least once a week slept better and had higher IQs by an average of 4 points versus kids who were not fish eaters. Good quality oven cooked fish sticks or homemade fish cakes, anyone? Try these simple salmon cakes or a more gourmet version.
Avocados can easily be added to sandwiches for a healthy fat boost. Why is fat important? Eating fat with carbs helps slow the digestion and helps kids feel fuller longer – AKA no tummy rumbles to distract them from their studies. Shoot for healthy fats found in avocados and nuts instead of trans or saturated fats when feeding your precious little ones.
Avocados also fuel your child's belly with tyrosine, an amino acid that is the precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a role in memory function.
Strawberries offer a slew of benefits to kids, one being that it contains natural vitamin C. This vitamin plays a role in producing norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in increasing attention. Your little one doesn't care for strawberries? No sweat! Kiwi, citrus, and red peppers can be swapped out for a vitamin C boost. Strawberries can be added to a smoothie with bananas and some calcium rich yogurt.
Although conducted on adults, data from a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Ageing suggests that eating a handful of walnuts every day may help support memory and concentration. While the same study was not conducted on children, eating walnuts certainly won't hurt anything, assuming your child is developmentally ready to eat this nut.
Try some walnut butter on a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack or, for a decadent treat, dip shelled walnuts in dark chocolate. Tell your kids they are chocolate covered brains for a creative story. (Errrm.. walnuts do look like little brains !)
I know … breakfast is not a specific food – yet it is the most important meal of the day and needs to be a focus if parents are trying to support their child's ability to focus in school or otherwise. According to researchers who reviewed from 45 articles focusing on the effects of skipping breakfast, tasks requiring attention, executive function, and memory were made more effective by eating breakfast.
While it may be an overly ambitious goal to get your kids to eat a well-balanced breakfast every morning before school – let’s be realistic that eating breakfast that early in the morning is not for everyone – myself included !
It would be good if you could get them to eat a boiled egg with some toast or yogurt topped with granola or fruit and then they could take with them a nutritious sandwich and some healthy snacks to tuck into at school.
Avoid giving them a packaged juice to take to school every day as they are high in sugar and will interfere with their concentration.
It’s better to get them to eat something rather than nothing – even if that means grabbing a healthy granola bar on the way out the door.
As the saying goes - any breakfast is better than no breakfast when trying to support concentration.
Glorious Smoothies !
As a nutritionist, I love smoothies and if you start incorporating them in your diet, I am sure you will fall in love with them too. There is a smoothie recipe to suit every taste or dietary preference and are an excellent way of increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables and other nutrient dense foods.
Smoothies have become an ever increasingly popular wellness food and are always best when made from scratch as the commercial varieties are often loaded with added sugars or other unhealthy ingredients.
There are many types of smoothies that range from fruit based, green vegetable smoothies and one of the latest trendy smoothies in New York and London is the hummus shake where chickpeas is one of the ingredients.
Let’s discover the world of smoothies by first finding out what is a smoothie, their health benefits, their negative side, whether they can help with weight loss and of course some smoothie recipes.
What are smoothies?
Smoothies are thick, creamy beverages usually blended from frozen or fresh fruits, vegetables, juices, yogurt, nuts, seeds, dairy, plant milk, water or cooled herbal teas.
Many smoothies include frozen produce or ice cubes to give the final product the cool, icy consistency of a milkshake. However, their flavour profiles vary tremendously depending on the ingredients.
Popular ingredients in homemade and store-bought smoothies include:
The Different Types of Smoothies.
There are three main categories of smoothies although they often overlap between them:
The Health Benefits of Drinking Smoothies
Smoothies are a fantastic way of increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. These foods are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Together, these nutrients may reduce inflammation, improve digestion, combat constipation, and lower your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, age-related mental decline and not to forget that these foods also reduce wrinkles, diminish dark circles and keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Athletes can also benefit from drinking smoothies as they can be drunk as a pre-and post workout, muscle building and carb-loading, offering the essential ingredients at the right time to complement workouts and fuel the body.
When making smoothies at home, use whole fruits, such as a ripe banana, to add sweetness instead of honey or maple syrup.
Do smoothies aid weight loss?
Smoothies are frequently marketed as a weight loss tool. Research suggests they may be effective for this purpose as long as they’re not causing you to exceed your daily calorie needs.
If you prioritize ingredients low in calories and high in protein and fiber, your smoothie may keep you full until your next meal. Whole fruit, vegetables, nut butters, high protein cottage cheese and plain yogurts are all excellent weight-loss-friendly ingredients.
Keep in mind that your nutritional needs and ability to lose weight vary depending on many factors, including age, activity level, medical history, and lifestyle habits.
Made Just for You !
What I like most about smoothies is that they can be tailored to suit your needs, especially if you have a specific health or fitness goal in mind. They can become a healthy snack or meal replacement.
There’s a common misconception that smoothies are inherently low calorie snacks, but some smoothies pack over 1,000 calories depending on their size and ingredients.
Generally, a 200–300-calorie smoothie with 10 grams of protein is a great snack, whereas a 400–800-calorie smoothie providing at least 20 grams of protein is better suited as a meal replacement. It’s best to assess your goals and calorie needs to determine your specific needs.
The difference between the two may be as simple as adjusting the serving size.
When making smoothies at home, be sure to control your portion size. Fats like nuts, seeds, nut butters, full fat yogurts, and avocado will provide more calories but increase nutrient density. Avoid using sugary add-ins like syrups or chocolate sauces as they will provide more calories without quality nutrients.
The Fat Burning Banana Ginger Smoothie
Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 cup frozen Ardo blueberries or Ardo fruitberry mix from Foodsaver
One frozen medium ripe banana or frozen Ardo banana puree from Foodsaver
One tablespoon grated ginger or frozen Ardo diced ginger from Foodsaver
½ cup of spinach leaf from Foodsaver
ADDITIONAL: for a hit of protein add a serving of your favourite protein powder
High Protein Smoothie
Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes
This smoothie is high in protein, lower in carbohydrates and is a great one for weight loss and also as a recovery drink after a workout.
Blend, drink and enjoy !
The Trendy Hummus Shake !
Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes
What I really love about hummus shakes is that they are so"creamy" and smooth.
Tip: Frozen chickpeas can be used. They are usually in packs of 1 kg. Boil about 3 cups at a time and store them in the fridge for easy access. They are very convenient, because they only need about 15 to 20 minutes of boiling.
Variation: Strawberries, apple or pear is a great substitute instead of banana. You can also turn it into a chocolate shake by adding a tablespoon of cacao.
There are some key foods that individuals should minimize or eliminate from their regular meals in order to shed pounds quickly and safely.
Overeating and poor habits are hard to change but easy to develop. Changing habits is hard, especially at first, requiring determination, discipline and dedication (the three D’s) to make long lasting permanent changes.
One of the basic problems regarding weight loss is a fatal mix of dietary confusion with an increasingly inactive yet stressed lifestyle. Our diets and eating habits are highly imbalanced. Our level of physical exercise is generally not enough to keep pace with what we eat and with the stresses we bear.
The key to weight loss success is to develop healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !
We are what we eat.
The first steps that you can take is to avoid eating refined foods, processed carbohydrates, sugar, excess fatty rich foods, fried foods and foods with additives or synthetic colouring. Avoid genetically engineered foods. You may also take it a step further and opt for organic foods versus conventional ones.
Examples of foods to avoid are:
A simple rule to keep in mind when supermarket shopping is: “The brighter and more colourful the packaging of a product is, the more you should stay away from it !”
Boosting Metabolism Naturally…
The top four foods that I like to recommend which boost your metabolism, improve the digestive process and speed up the weight loss process are:
Spirulina: This superfood is amazing, it is rich in vitamins E, B12, C, B1, B5, and B6 as well as beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. All these substances play a part and are critical to being able to perform exercise and burn a maximum amount of calories. The reason it assists with weight loss is due to the fact that it is approximately 60% protein.
Protein slows down how fast food moves through the digestive system and stabilizes blood sugar levels, which, for most people, means feeling full longer, as well as not reaching for additional snacks or eating huge amounts at subsequent meals.
Seaweeds: Seaweed helps you lose weight by inhibiting the action of an enzyme that controls the digestion of fat. Seaweed fiber also blocks the absorption of fat by the body as it contains a substance called alginate. Research has shown that among a variety of foods tested, seaweed fiber was the most effective in helping people lose weight. Seaweed also curbs your appetite and makes you feel full thereby decreasing your intake of food. It controls levels of blood sugar and this in turn decreases your food cravings. This also can also assist you in weight loss.
Lemons: Start your day with lemon water. Add juice of half lemon to a large glass of water. Lemons strengthen your immune system, aids digestion, is a diuretic, clears the skin and helps with weight loss.
Carob Powder: Carob inhibits digestive enzymes because it contains chemicals known as tannins. It has also been reported to help with weight loss, diabetes and manage cholesterol levels. Carob may assist with weight loss by helping to burn fat and calories in the body and also increasing the metabolism. Add 1 teaspoon of carob powder to hot water. Enjoy as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon beverage. Beware as it has mild laxative qualities so don't overdo it ! You are now on your way to flat tummy kingdom
There are some meal-planning strategies and dietary tips that individuals can use to maintain an active metabolism. These are:
Exercise in the Morning: Studies show that an early-morning workout will boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories than if you exercise later on in the day.
Breakfast: Without an ounce of a doubt, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives your body essential nutrients, jump starts your brain, gives your metabolism what it needs to get working for the day and keeps you slim.
Studies have found that what you eat for breakfast tends to influence what you eat the rest of the day.
Also, people who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t.
People can enhance the weight-burning potential of their diet that go beyond making nutritional food choices by adding in fat burning herbs, spices and exercise.
Fat burning supplements can be added to your weight loss regime although I do not recommend them as most of them are high uric acid-forming and damage the kidneys and liver.
You could add thermogenic herbs to your diet. Most of these mentioned are found in pill form or drink them as teas – have at least 3 mugs a day to get an effect !
Thermogenic herbs help the body generate heat that burns fat. They help reactivate the metabolic rate thereby promoting weight loss. They also increase the energy and boost athletic performance. Apart from burning excess fat in the body, some thermogenic herbs also may help improve digestion
Herbs and Spices
Spicy foods, especially the ones that contain capsaicin, are especially thermogenic and can raise your metabolic rate for up to three hours after eating. Hot peppers including, the more common cayenne peppers, all contain capsaicin. Other thermogenic herbs and spices are: cinnamon, green tea, fennel seed, garlic, ginger, ginseng, guarana, horseradish, kola nut, ma huang, mustard seed, parsley, and turmeric.
Few weight-loss programs are effective without increasing physical activity. To lose weight or mass, we need to reduce intake and increase output.
Reducing fat stores and adding muscle improves energy utilization by using more calories for active metabolic tissues. Exercise also improves general metabolism and vitality and lowers that important “set point” allowing us to maintain lower weight and body fat with the same food intake.
At a good level of exercise, the body will burn more calories than usual, even 12 hours afterward. Regular exercise is clearly needed to keep fat off.
Based on a chart taken from the Mayo Clinic, running clearly comes in first. Exercise should be fun and enjoyable so it would be best to choose an activity that you like.
Calories burned per hour*
Based on a 72kg person
The best exercises over the summer season are the ones that you can do by the beach such as swimming, walking, cycling, light jog or run and definitely some kettle bells in an air-conditioned room !
There are many more watersports that you can take advantage of such as peddle boats, SUP, windsurfing and for the adventurous some water skiing.
The mountains also offer a "cooler" version where you can enjoy some hiking, cycling and swimming in lakes or pools.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health.
That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological implications it carries can seriously impact one’s mental wellbeing.
Government legislation, mass media coverage, and the increasing global death toll will cause a lot of stress, especially for the older population, children, and people with a history of mental health problems.
It’s of the utmost importance that we try to remain as composed as we can during this time.
The fear and anxiety that is gripping the nation are as contagious, if not more so than the illness itself.
To continue reading ....
A useful guide about guarding mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
Another useful resource page is 'COVID-19 and Substance Abuse'
10 Healthy barbecue tips
Summer is here and there’s nothing quite like the sizzle of the grill !
Eating healthy certainly doesn’t have to be boring. It’s especially important now more than ever due to Covid-19, to eat quality foods for wellness and avoid ultra-processed foods.
People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems and lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases.
Here’s ten delicious and nutritious barbecue ideas to enjoy:
1. Grill up some fish
Grilled fish can be a delicious, healthy alternative to red meat on the barbecue. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fish has been linked to a number of health benefits, including supporting your heart, brain, immune and mental health. Choose fresh fish like salmon, sea bass, cod and whole perch and enjoy a tasty protein hit.
2. Get creative with salads
Fresh, light and full of flavour, salads are the perfect way to balance out your barbecue meal. Serve up green leafy salads with nutritious ingredients like this quinoa superfood mix and add in some grated raw carrot. Other options are chickpea and rice salads or a classic Greek salad topped with feta.
3. Choose healthier cuts of meat
You can make a big difference in lowering the fat content of your barbecue by choosing leaner cuts of meat. Choose loin or round cuts of red meat and pork, look for choice or select grades of beef rather than prime, and trim off the excess fat before cooking. Red meats are higher in red iron and zinc which support the immune system.
If you’re cooking chicken, a good trick for lightening it up is to remove the skin first – the skin soaks up all the juices and fat while it’s cooking. Choose chicken breasts instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs).
4. Burgers (meat or veggie)
If you love burgers, you could go for the pre-made variety or attempt to make your own super healthy versions. The trick is to buy lean minced meat either, beef, chicken or turkey (or lentils, chickpeas or kidney beans for a filling vegetarian option).
5. Skip heavy marinades and condiments
Lighten up the salt, sugar and fat content of your barbecue by swapping heavy, preservative-filled marinades with simple ingredients like olive oil and fresh herbs and spices.
6. Corn on the Cob
A barbecue isn’t quite a barbecue without corn on the cob with a little quality butter and salt. Say no more.
7. Serve healthier snacks
Ditch the bag of potato chips and try raw veggies like carrot, cherry tomatoes, capsicum and celery sticks served with a yummy, nutritious guacamole, yogurt or salsa dip.
8. Infused Colourful Waters
Skip the fizzy, sugary soft drinks or beers and drink plenty of water. If you want something a little more exciting, try some unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water or infused colourful waters with slices of lemon, oranges and a few berries.
9. Grilled Halloumi
A Cypriot barbecue has got to have some halloumi cheese ! Serve with sliced tomatoes and pita bread. Heavenly ! Halloumi is a great source of calcium, but it is high in fat and salt – so a little slice will do.
10. Barbecued Shrimp Kebabs With Garlic and Herbs
Shrimp are the ideal choice for weight loss. They pack a protein punch for very few calories. Four large shrimp (30g) have about 30 calories, 6 grams of protein and minimal fat. Shrimp are a good source of vitamin D, selenium, omega-3’s the antioxidant astaxanthin and even contains several energy-boosting B-Vitamins.
If you would like to purchase any products from Foodsaver, here is a link to their online foody store: https://foody.com.cy/en/menu/foodsaver or visit their stores found island wide.
Did you know that ninety per cent of serotonin is made in the gut ?
Serotonin is the happy hormone which helps to stabilize our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone affects your whole body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating and digestion.
By eating well and feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut, the body's ability to generate serotonin is significantly increased, helping you feel more relaxed, happy, and confident.
The digestive system is now seen as fundamental to our overall health in most traditional medicine systems. Digestion has a strong influence on our nervous, hormonal and immune systems. The role of foods is now increasingly recognised in conditions not previously associated with diet: auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis; mood and behaviour problems such as autism, ADHD and depression; degenerative disorders such as Alzheimers's and arthritis; allergic conditions including asthma and eczema.
Inflammation underlies these and most chronic disease like obesity, heart disease and cancer. We can modify these destructive inflammatory responses by the kinds of food we eat and how we eat them. Common problems like heartburn, indigestion and constipation can be managed with understanding how to use foods, herbs and spices in self-care.
There are obviously other factors that affect our digestive health, such as our stress load: sleep, diet, alcohol, smoking, weight, liver function, circulation, mood, exercise, chemicals, food quality etc, but you can begin to support your digestive health by understanding the basic digestive functions and being mindful of your body.
Here are some common digestive herbs, along with their health benefits which you should experiment with in your cooking, or drink them as herbal teas:
1. Ginger: Ginger is warming and calming to the digestion, anti-nausea and anti-microbial to many common stomach bugs. Warms cold hands and feet.
2. Turmeric: Turmeric is carminative - meaning it can relieve bloating, liver supporting, an anti-microbial and a powerful anti-inflammatory.
3. Fennel: Fennel can also help relieve bloating and is stimulating to the liver. It improves appetite, increases milk production and eases colic. It expels upper respiratory catarrh, is an eyewash for conjunctivitis and has a balancing estrogenic action.
4. Caraway: Caraway is a supreme herb for the digestive system, eases stomach cramps and nausea, helps expel gas from the bowel and prevent fermentation in the stomach.
5. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a warming stimulant to appetite and circulation. Antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Helps reduce blood sugar and ulcer causing Helicobacter pylori.
6. Garlic: Garlic is anti-microbial, and probiotic due to its inulin and other compounds, which supports cardio-vascular health. Onion, shallot and leek belong to the same Allium genus family and have similar actions.
7. Rosemary: Rosemary is a stimulating carminative that helps to clear your liver and head.
8. Peppermint: Peppermint is refreshing as well as antispasmodic, cooling and anti-microbial. It's useful in coughs and colds, supports liver function and helps stop itching when used topically.
9. Dill: Dill is calming and can be used as a sedative. It's useful to promote restful sleep, dispel colic and cramping pain. It's a key ingredient in gripe water.
10. Allspice: Allspice is warming and settling to the gut. The eugenol content promotes digestive enzymes, is analgesic and antiseptic. Most beneficial when drank as a tea after a meal.
11. Tulsi (Holy Basil). Is a herbal plant traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce fever, strengthen the immune system, calm nerves, and act as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Studies have shown that Tulsi (Holy Basil) can lower cortisol the stress hormone and blood sugar levels to help our bodies cope with stress. Research has also shown that ursolic acid and triterpenoic acids both of which are found in Holy basil effectively improve the body’s response to stress and reduce the amount of cortisol released during stress. It’s no coincidence that Tulsi has been nicknamed “nature’s stress reliever”
It's Time to return to Our Greek - Cypriot mediterranean roots in the age of covid-19
Modern living in large cities have had a negative impact on our physical and mental health.
Stress and modern living for most people go hand in hand and has been scientifically linked with various diseases but also with bad life decisions such as bad nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of sleep and stressful relationships.
For mental health, research has proved that exercise, praying and meditation can help us better control our lives, focus, and solve our problems. They also contribute to our feeling blessed with what we have, which reduces anxiety.
Gratitude is a wonderful trait to develop. A well know exercise to remind ourselves of all the things that we can be grateful of, is to have a gratitude notebook or diary. Once a day write down three things you are grateful for. It could be as simple as the running hot water you have in your house or the beautiful smile your child gave you. It’s a great exercise to remind ourselves of how many good things we can be grateful for in our daily lives.
It is relevant now more than ever our greeting and toast ‘stin ygeia mas’ – to good health, as we wish our fellow human beings to be strong and healthy and full of life !
All over Cyprus and Greece, there are a great variety of cuisines, practices, and recipes, often connected with Christianity and fasting (called ‘nistia’ which I see as a great opportunity to detoxify the body) and connected with meditation, praying, good deeds, and positive thoughts about our fellow humans.
But the context is always the widespread Mediterranean diet – with local variations based on the available seasonal ingredients and location.
Ancient traditions also connect food with the environment. The rocky hills of Cyprus, Epirus and Crete are better for goats and sheep, where people made cheese from their milk. And in Macedonia’s rich valleys near Lake Kerkini, water buffalo have survived and give us their delicious products.
The same applies to plants – we have a large variety of wild and domesticated edible plants rich in nutrients that we can add into our diets including fruits like figs, oranges, lemons and pomegranates grown in coastal regions right up into mountainous areas where apples, pears, cherries, apricots and so many other fruits are found.
There is a consensus on what constitutes the Mediterranean diet, which nutritionists believe is best reflected in traditional Greek food: Meals are rich in fruits and vegetables and sprinkled with many different herbs and spices which add to the antioxidant content of the food.
The key to long term health is to create healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life ! The Greek Mediterranean Diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating and living.
In the Mediterranean diet pyramid, every meal is ideally based on fruits, vegetables and mostly whole grains. These form the base of the pyramid, along with olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Next are fish and seafood, which should be eaten often – at least twice a week. Poultry, cheese, eggs and goat’s yogurt follow next; moderate portions of each are acceptable daily or weekly.
At the very top of the pyramid are meats and sweets; these foods should be enjoyed less often, only on occasion.
In times of Covid-19 – avoid sweets made with sugar and use raw unprocessed honey, carob or grape syrup in small amounts. Sugar has been known to depress the immune system.
Mediterranean cuisine is naturally vegetarian-friendly and appeals to all ages and nationalities. The sheer variety of ingredients create dishes that are both comforting and yet have rich, complex flavours.
The most important component of the Mediterranean diet might very well be social, with an emphasis on enjoying meals together with family and friends… make a point of sitting down as a family to eat or prepare meals together whenever possible and hopefully in the near future we will be eating with friends too.
In people found in well know Ikaria, Okinawa and Sardinia we can see that they are connected in common nutritional principles of eating a mostly unprocessed plant based diet which is the key to longevity and to keeping your immune system working healthily and in addition they all live a lifestyle free from stress, live closer to nature and have naps !
Enjoy the videos. Ikaria nutrition and Ikaria Siesta.
Aronia is also known as chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) which is an antioxidant-rich fruit that is commonly consumed in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Aronia have been used in folk medicine by Native Americans as a treatment for the common cold. This little berry is said to offer a range of health benefits related to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a destructive process linked to many chronic diseases. It occurs when DNA-damaging free radicals overwhelm the body. Aronia is thought to fight oxidative stress by providing potent antioxidants known to knock out free radicals and offer additional health benefits.
Aronia may be useful in treating conditions related to oxidative stress. Free radicals can damage your DNA which may contribute to the development of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other conditions.
In a research review published in 2010, scientists evaluated 13 studies, finding that chokeberry's mixture of procyanidins, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids "constitutes one of the most potent natural antioxidants."
Authors of a 2017 study also examined the antioxidant benefits of chokeberry. They concluded that the berries have the potential to provide both medicinal and therapeutic benefits and may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases including metabolic disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
In a small study published in 2010, researchers found that aronia berry extract may benefit people with metabolic syndrome—a cluster of health problems linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, including excess belly fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
For two months, 25 patients with metabolic syndrome took 100 mg of chokeberry extract three times daily. Study results showed that the patients experienced significant decreases in blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Another preliminary study evaluated the effects of chokeberry extract on obese mice who consumed a high-fat diet.
Researchers found that the mice treated with the extract showed decreases in body weight, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. It is too soon to tell, however, if these benefits will occur in a human body.
Chokeberry may help keep blood sugar in check in people with diabetes, suggests a small study published in 2002. After drinking 200 ml of a sugar-free, artificially sweetened chokeberry juice daily for three months, diabetes patients showed a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels.
Chokeberry juice also appeared to reduce total cholesterol levels.
A review of studies was published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition where researchers examined evidence linking chokeberry to antidiabetic effects. The study concluded that there is evidence suggesting that the berries' antioxidants have potential in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Other preliminary studies are investigating the potential of using chokeberry extract in the treatment of hypertension and related cardiovascular conditions.
Some people also use chokeberries or chokeberry supplements to treat conditions including:
There is not enough evidence to know if chokeberry fruit or chokeberry extract can aid in the treatment of these conditions.
Aronia is found in many forms. A common favourite is to drink aronia berry juice or as a concentrated juice, where you take a small shot per day. It can be found as a powder or flour which you can use in baking, capsules even as vinegar which you can use in salads.
It has a tart taste similar to that of sour cherries.
Possible Side Effects
Experts suggest that drinking chokeberry juice or taking chokeberry extract as medicine is possibly safe for most adults. However, some people may experience side effects including constipation or diarrhea.
People with diabetes should exercise caution when using chokeberry. The fruit can lower blood sugar so it is important to watch for signs of low blood sugar and monitor your blood sugar carefully.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also exercise caution with chokeberry or chokeberry extract as there is not enough evidence to know if it is safe.
List of Scientific Studies Specific to Diseases
When you’re feeling down, it can be tempting to turn to food to lift your spirits.
However, the sugary, high calorie treats that many people resort to have negative consequences of their own.
While many of us reach for stodgy comfort foods when the blues kick in, snacking on mood-boosting nutritious foods will help to keep you healthier and happier too.
Thankfully, there are some lifestyle solutions that don’t cost a fortune, and can be done from home that can help anyone struggling with depression, anxiety and stress.
Here are some foods and lifestyle solutions to boost your moods:
Anxiety Causing Foods to Avoid
High sugar foods, caffeine and alcohol provide short-term relief from feeling anxious. However they can intensify the feeling of anxiety or stress if too much is consumed
Did you know chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the oldest and most popularly consumed crops in the world. Chickpeas have been a part of certain traditional diets for over 7,500 years!
They belong to the legume family and offer a range of health benefits. Chickpeas help to increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and more. In addition they are very high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas Nutrition Facts:
Just one cup serving of chickpeas contains (in daily recommended values):
They are also quite low in carbohydrates with only 35 grams in a one-cup serving. In addition, they are quite low on the glycemic index which is estimated to be 23.
Chickpeas can help benefit your health in the following ways:
Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels:
Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a form of complex carbohydrate that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy. Chickpeas contain starch, which is a slow burning carbohydrate that the body does not react to by suddenly spiking glucose in the blood (1).
Increases Satiety and Helps with Weight Loss:
Chickpeas are high in both protein and fiber, which helps to make you feel full and to curb food cravings and unhealthy snacking. Studies have shown that consuming fiber is correlated with having a lower body weight (3).
Chickpeas help you lose weight by making you feel satiated and hence less likely to over snack on healthy or unhealthy junk foods between meals.
Improves Digestion Thanks to a High Fiber Content:
Chickpeas are very high in fibre with roughly 6-7 grams per half cup serving.
Fiber facilitates in healthy digestion by increasing the healthy bacteria in the gut and decreasing the unhealthy bacteria. It also combats constipation which ensures the quick removal of toxins and waste from the body.
The high amount of fiber in chickpeas is responsible for making you feel full, aids in heart health, helps to control blood sugar levels, guards against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity, and more.
Helps Protect Against Heart Disease and Cancer:
Chickpeas have been shown to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, to reduce hypertension, and to protect against heart disease.
Beans help to keep the arteries clear from plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and decrease the chances of cardiac arrest and stroke. In fact studies show that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help to decrease chances of a heart attack and to help balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Consuming beans has also been shown in studies to have protective benefits against cancer, in particular colon cancer, due to their high fiber content (6). In studies, garbanzo beans were demonstrated to stall cancerous cells from further forming (7).
Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals:
Chickpeas nutrition boasts high levels of iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and B vitamins, all of which are especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these essential nutrients due to avoiding animal products.
Folate: is one of the B-vitamins and is needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence. It is also beneficial to athletes.
Zinc: this mineral may enhance immune function, stabilize blood sugar levels, and help keep your skin, eyes, and heart healthy.
Zinc deficiency can include frequently getting sick with colds, leaky gut syndrome, consistent digestive problems like diarrhea, poor eye health, infertility, thinning hair, and even stunted growth in children.
Magnesium, Manganese and Vitamin B6: Chickpeas are loaded with these 3 nutrients which help reduce common symptoms of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) and are also vital for athlete’s optimum performance.
Protein plays an important role in nearly every function in the body, from our vital organs, muscles, tissues and even hormone levels. Consuming enough healthy protein helps you to naturally slow ageing, create hemoglobin and important antibodies, to control blood sugar levels, help with muscle building and maintenance, give us lasting energy, fight bacteria, make us feel full, and help to heal wounds and injuries too.
Chickpeas have about 15g protein per cup of cooked chickpeas.
Those who are most at risk for not consuming enough protein are children, vegans and vegetarians.
Protein deficiency can result in muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems such as cataracts, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more.
Chickpeas are often eaten as a stew cooked with other vegetables or as a dip called hummus, roasted as a crunchy snack or as I have discovered lately the new trend in New York and London are hummus shakes ideal for the whole family for adults, kids, babies and teens !
TIP: When chickpeas are combined with a source of healthy fat, like tahini for example which is the case with hummus, nutrient absorption is further increased.
18th March 2020
I thought I should say something about the coronavirus for readers of this blog. I need to state that the situation is fast moving, facts are changing, and I am not asking anyone to go against any current medical advice.
Here, I am simply providing advice that I believe, currently, may be of benefit to people out there. I am acutely aware that there is controversy swirling about, but I will not promote anything that can cause any significant harm – but may cause significant good.
I have tended to look back a few years in time for some evidence, because current, emerging evidence is subject to massive bias and controversy, with various vested interests getting involved. The ‘older’ evidence has not been done in a rush and is therefore more measured.
1: Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
COVID-19 appears to impact the lungs more than any other organ and COVID-19 can be thought of as a ‘viral’ community acquired pneumonia. There has been evidence for several years that anti-inflammatory agents e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen (NSAIDs) may worsen community acquired pneumonia. As highlighted in this 2017 paper:
‘Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs may Worsen the Course of Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Cohort Study:
Our findings suggest that NSAIDs, often taken by young and healthy patients, may worsen the course of CAP with delayed therapy and a higher rate of pleuropulmonary complications.’ 1
There is now anecdotal evidence, particularly from France, that patients who take NSAIDs do considerably worse. It has been suggested they may lead to an increased death rate.
ADVICE: Avoid NSAIDs if possible
2: Vitamin C
Vitamins always cause massive controversy, and the mainstream medical community tends to be highly critical of the use of vitamins. However, vitamin C has been found to have many, many, positive impacts on the immune system. It also protects the endothelium lining blood vessels – thus preventing/delaying passage of pathogens from the bloodstream.
I include the full abstract from the 2017 paper ‘Vitamin C and Immune Function.’ It contains a great deal of medical jargon, but I have highlighted the most important parts.
‘Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.
Vitamin C accumulates in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and ultimately microbial killing. It is also needed for apoptosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing necrosis/NETosis and potential tissue damage.
The role of vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear, but it has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects. Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements.
Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100–200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.’ 2
In short, Vitamin C can help prevent respiratory infections. It can also help to treat established infections, although much higher doses are required. This seems to fit with emerging Chinese data which appears to be showing considerable success with high dose intravenous Vitamin C in treating coronavirus.
It is unlikely that anyone working in the medical system in the West will agree to using high dose Vitamin C as part of any management plan. However, if your loved one is extremely ill in hospital I would recommend speaking to the doctors and asking if this can be added.
Whilst it is possible that vitamin C may prove ineffective, it also does no harm. Those who are currently attacking the use of Vitamin C and attacking those who believe vitamin C may be beneficial are, I believe, mainly concerned with their personal reputations.
ADVICE: Take at least 2g of Vitamin daily C to ‘prevent’ infection, probably more like 5g. Increase the dose to at least 10g if you are suffering symptoms.
COVID-19 appears to enter the body using the ACE2 receptor (found on the surface of many cells, particularly in the lungs. Also found in high concentrations in the heart and kidneys.
Because of its affinity to ACE2 receptors (and the more widespread Renin Aldosterone Angiotensin System or “RAAS”) COVID-19 is causing upset with the whole system – in complex ways. The system itself is complex.
To remind those of a more technical bent, here is the system:
I wished to make it clear that if COVID-19 impact on the RAAS system, trying to work out the resultant abnormalities, is not easy.
There are two main drugs that are designed to lower blood pressure by ‘interfering’ with the RAAS system. ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors), and ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers). They are very widely prescribed.
Some people have suggested that these drugs should be stopped. Others have suggested that they should be continued. You may be able to see why the advice is contradictory, given all the possible interactions.
However, it does seem the COVID-19 creates hypokalaemia (a low blood potassium level). A rising potassium level indicates recovery from the virus. This is probably due to interference with the hormone Aldosterone due to degradation of many ACE-receptors in the body.
ADVICE – currently not enough information to provide any advice on ACE-inhibitors and ARBs.
However, increased consumption of potassium, if symptomatic, can be advised. Dose?
‘People who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables tend to have a high potassium intake of approximately 8000 to 11,000 mg/d,’ 3
So, up to Ig a day appears perfectly safe, and if more is being lost through the kidneys with COVD-19, there appears to be little danger of overdosage.
4: Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine
These drugs normally used to treat/prevent malaria (and are also used to treat various ‘immune’ disease). However, they have been found to be effective in treating other viruses and seem to have been highly effective against COVID-19 4. These drugs will only be available as part of medical management. They cannot be bought over the counter (in any country, as far as I know).
If you, or a loved one, is seriously ill, I would urge you to ask for – one or the other – to be used. Hydroxychloroquine has fewer side effects (drug related adverse effects)
ADVICE – Ask for one of these drugs if you, or a loved one, is seriously ill with COVID-19.
5: Vitamin D
This one is simple. Vitamin D has important effects on the immune system 5. A low vitamin D level in the winter is almost certainly why flu epidemics occur in the winter months. [Vitamin D is synthesized in the sun by the action of sunlight].
ADVICE – take at least 2000iu vitamin (preferably D3) daily.
I hope some people have found this useful. If anything I have written here proves to be wrong, or dangerous, I will change it. However, I am working on the basis here of ‘first, do no harm.’ The worse thing that any of this advice can do, I believe, is to NOT work.
Link to the original article on Dr. Malcom Kendrick's website: https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2020/03/18/coronavirus-covid-19/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
14 Food Swops to Lose Belly Fat
The following: pesticides, herbicides, xenoestrogens, cosmetics and plastics causes hormone imbalance, which causes your body to store belly fat
Coconut flour is a unique alternative to wheat flour.
It’s popular among low-carb enthusiasts and those who have a gluten intolerance.
In addition to its impressive nutrition profile, coconut flour may offer several benefits. These include promoting blood sugar stability, better digestion, heart health, and even weight loss.
What is coconut flour?
Coconut flour is made from coconut flesh that has been dried and ground.
The resulting white powder looks and feels similar to flours made from grains like wheat and is very mild in taste.
Coconut flour is gluten-free
Coconut flour contains no gluten, making it an option for people with certain conditions, such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It’s also naturally grain-free, making it a popular choice for those on grain-free diets, such as the paleo diet.
Benefits of coconut flour
Coconut flour has a diverse nutrient profile and may offer a range of health benefits.
In addition to being very rich in fiber, coconut flour provides medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and plant-based iron.
MCTs are a type of fat linked to several benefits, such as weight loss, protection against bacteria and viruses, and enhanced brain and heart health (2, 7, 8, 9).
Keeps blood sugars stable
Coconut flour is packed with fiber, which may help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
A 1/4-cup (30-gram) serving provides a whopping 40% of the DV for fiber, or 3 and 10 times more than the same quantity of whole-wheat or all-purpose flour, respectively (6).
Foods rich in fiber help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the speed at which sugar enters your bloodstream.
It also ranks low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning that breads and baked goods made from it are less likely to spike blood sugar levels (1, 12).
May promote healthy digestion
The high fiber content of coconut flour may also benefit your digestion.
Most of its fiber is insoluble, which adds bulk to stools and helps move food smoothly through your gut, reducing the likelihood of constipation (13).
Additionally, coconut flour boasts small amounts of soluble and other fermentable fibers, which feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
In turn, these bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetate, propionate, and butyrate, all of which nourish your gut cells (1, 14).
SCFAs may also reduce inflammation and symptoms linked to gut disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (14, 15, 16).
May improve heart health
Coconut flour may also benefit heart health.
Research shows that consuming 15–25 grams of coconut fiber daily may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by 11%, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9%, and blood triglycerides by up to 22% (1).
What’s more, coconut flour provides lauric acid, a type of fat thought to help kill the bacteria responsible for plaque buildup in your arteries. This plaque is associated with heart disease (2).
Yet, other studies suggest that lauric acid may have no effect on or even raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, so lauric acid’s effect on cholesterol may vary by individual (1, 17, 18).
May help you lose weight
Coconut flour may help you shed excess weight because it offers both fiber and protein, two nutrients shown to reduce hunger and appetite (19, 20).
In addition, coconut flour contains MCTs, which are less likely to be stored as fat because they travel directly to your liver, where they’re used for energy production (21).
MCTs may also reduce appetite and are processed by your body differently than longer-chain fats found in foods like olives and nuts. This difference may help you burn slightly more calories (22, 23).
May kill harmful viruses and bacteria
Coconut flour is rich in lauric acid, a type of fat that may fight certain infections.
Once ingested, lauric acid forms a compound known as monolaurin. Test-tube research shows that lauric acid and monolaurin may kill harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi (2, 25), especially infections such as Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and Candida albicans yeast (2, 26, 27).
Coconut flour uses
Coconut flour can be used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. You can substitute it for other flours when making bread, pancakes, cookies, muffins, or other baked goods. Coconut flour tends to absorb more liquids than other flours. You can start by substituting 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour for every cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour. It is important to increase the liquid in your recipes.
For example, if you used 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour, make sure to pour in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of additional liquids. Remember that coconut flour tends to be denser than other flours and doesn’t bind as easily.
Bakers often recommend that you mix it with other flours or add 1 egg for each 1/4 cup (30 grams) of coconut flour to help give your end product a fluffier texture.
This unique flour can also be used as breading or to thicken soups and stews. What’s more, you can use it as a binding agent in burger or veggie loaf recipes, as well as to make grain-free pizza crust or wraps.
In Conclusion, coconut flour is a delicious and versatile gluten-free flour made solely from coconuts. Rich in fiber and MCTs, it may promote stable blood sugar, good digestion, and heart health. It may also boost weight loss, fight some infections and be used in the paleo lifestyle.
As temperatures fall, our winter appetites can easily spin out of control. Studies point out that people do tend to eat more during the winter time, with the average person gaining at least one kilogram - and individuals who are already overweight likely to gain a lot more. Therefore, we need to be careful during the winter months and eat good food in order to stay healthy and warm, but we also need to watch our weight!
These tasty foods not just help curb cravings and burn calories, they are also ideal for winter weight loss.
1. Rabbit Meat
Rabbit meat is popular for its high protein content. This meat contains more protein than chicken and beef. It is also a concentrated source of iron. One serving has more than four mg. In addition, the meat provides many minerals. Rabbit meat is very low in calories, which can truly benefit your weight loss process. One serving of rabbit meat contains only 147 calories.
Recipe Suggestion: https://androulaskitchen.wordpress.com/tag/rabbit/ Serve with Brown rice or if you want to reduce your carbs make some cauliflower mash.
Nutritious and appetizing mushrooms are low in calories (only 10 in 1/2 a cup), almost devoid of fat and a great source of zinc, Vitamin B6, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, selenium, potassium, and dietary fiber. According to laboratory studies, some mushrooms like oyster and shiitake help immune cells to kill viruses.
It is a relatively inexpensive source of protein. The liver is an amazing source of vitamin A, B12, niacin, folic acid, and minerals, principally iron.
With just 200 calories, it supersedes most cuts of meat, however, the problem is it's high cholesterol: around 400 mg per 115 grams' liver braised. Therefore, if you lead a diet that is low in cholesterol and fat, eating liver from time to time cannot hurt if you are healthy.
4. Macadamia nuts
Macadamias are a melt-in-your mouth treat! They are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good fats that can help reduce cholesterol. Macadamia nuts are also rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E and contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio 1:1, which is great! Macadamias will warm you up and benefit the weight loss process.
There is nothing like a hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter day! Not just is oatmeal delicious and convenient, it is also full of phytochemicals and nutrients. It also provides great energy and keeps you full. In accordance with a research, individuals who consume oats for breakfast eat 1/3 fewer calories at lunchtime.
Recipe Suggestions: https://www.barbarakarafokas.com/apps/search?q=oats
6. Ginger tea
If you are thinking of reaching for a cup of tea, choose a brew with ginger. It has thermogenic properties that will keep you warm. Due to its healing powers, ginger can also promote blood flow and boost metabolism.
With Moringa Ginger Tea you get the best of both worlds !
7. Goat’s / Sheep’s Yogurt or Kefir / Airani (sour milk)
Packed with vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. Short and medium chain fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a cancer fighting-fat -reducing fat. Yogurt is an ideal winter food as it strengthens your gut health, helps to fight candida and strengthens the immune system.
As a good source of fiber, cauliflower slows digestion and promotes feelings of fullness. This may automatically reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day, an important factor in weight control. Cauliflower is also low in calories, carbohydrate and high in water which are all weight loss friendly aspects of this nutritious vegetable.
Recipe Suggestions: https://www.barbarakarafokas.com/apps/search?q=cauliflower
9. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate (75% and more) is rich in some powerful antioxidants. A piece of rich and decadent dark chocolate will satisfy your cravings for sweets without consuming many calories.
Recipe Suggestion: https://www.barbarakarafokas.com/healthy-recipes/chocolate-coconut-clusters
10. Oysters or Mussels
Oysters or mussels are one of the finest sources of high-quality protein that have little fat. For example one oyster contains just 8 calories. Additionally, it is an exceptional source of minerals such as zinc, iron, iodine, fluoride, calcium, and others. Oysters and mussels are also great sources of B-complex vitamins.
Recipe Suggestion: https://www.barbarakarafokas.com/healthy-recipes/mediterranean-fish-stew
11. Winter Squash
There are many types of winter squash--including spaghetti squash, butternut, acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash--and they are all brilliant choices in the winter. A cup of cooked winter squash has around 80 calories but is high in both Vitamin C (33%) and Vitamin A (214% of the recommended daily value), as well as being a great source of vitamins K and B6, folate, and potassium.
Recipe Suggestions: https://www.barbarakarafokas.com/apps/search?q=pumpkin+
If someone had to describe me in a few words it would be lover of nature, outdoors, smoothies and animals ! Enjoy the read - this article was written by Julie Singh from Tripoutside.
Drinking Tea At Least Three Times a Week is Linked With a Longer And Healthier Life.
Drinking at least three cups of tea a day is one of the golden rules listed in my book the Med Life Diet and also one of the health building pillars in creating lifelong health. It is one of the things which I stress time and time again to my clients during our sessions… drink herbal teas ! The health benefits which you receive are immense.
According to the study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, habitual tea consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death. The favourable health effects are most robust for green tea and long-term habitual tea drinkers.
The analysis included 100,902 participants of the China-PAR project. Participants were classified into two groups: habitual tea drinkers (three or more times a week) and never or non-habitual tea drinkers (less than three times a week) and followed-up for a median of 7.3 years.
Habitual tea consumption was associated with more healthy years of life and longer life expectancy.
For example, the analyses estimated that 50-year-old habitual tea drinkers would develop coronary heart disease and stroke 1.41 years later and live 1.26 years longer than those who never or seldom drank tea.
Compared with never or non-habitual tea drinkers, habitual tea consumers had a 20% lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 22% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15% decreased risk of all-cause death.
In a sub-analysis by type of tea, drinking green tea was linked with approximately 25% lower risks for incident heart disease and stroke, fatal heart disease and stroke, and all-cause death. However, no significant associations were observed for black tea.
Dr. Gu noted that a preference for green tea is unique to East Asia: “In our study population, 49% of habitual tea drinkers consumed green tea most frequently, while only 8% preferred black tea. The small proportion of habitual black tea drinkers might make it more difficult to observe robust associations, but our findings hint at a differential effect between tea types."
The researchers suggest two factors may be at play. First, green tea is a rich source of polyphenols which protect against cardiovascular disease and its risk factors including high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. Black tea is fully fermented and during this process polyphenols are oxidised into pigments and may lose their antioxidant effects. Second, black tea is often served with milk, which previous research has shown may counteract the favourable health effects of tea on vascular function.
Health Benefits of Herbal Tea
Preventing and Treating the Common Cold: Elder berry, Tulsi, Oregano, Peppermint, Ginger, Cinnamon
Improves Digestion, Reduces Symptoms of Indigestion, Bloating and Vomiting: Dandelion, Chamomile, Anise, Fennel, Cinnamon, Ginger, Peppermint.
Boosts Immune System: antioxidants and vitamins found in herbal teas are great for fighting disease and infections. Elderberry, Echinacea, elderberry, echinacea, ginger, and liquorice root tea.
Reduces Inflammation: can greatly help those that suffer from arthritis. Can reduce pain, swelling, and tiredness in joints. Moringa, turmeric and ginger.
Anti-ageing: Doesn’t everyone wish they could look and feel younger? Antioxidants found in herbal teas have shown to aid in slowing down the ageing process. Moringa, Tulsi, Rooibos, Ginger, Rosemary
Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia: Chamomile, Tulsi, Rose, Rooibos.
Lower Blood Pressure: Hibiscus can decrease blood pressure without any negative side effects due to the chemicals it contains. Always consult your doctor before taking it – if you take blood pressure lowering tablets.
Great for Skin Health and Acne: Calendula, Rooibos and Chamomile. are some of the best teas for treating the skin due to their antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Spearmint tea may also work as it reduces the breakout of acne.
Rooibos tea: has a whole bunch of health benefits. It is great for skin care as it relieves acne and eczema. It also hides the signs of ageing by reducing wrinkles thanks to all the antioxidants. In addition, the calcium and fluoride in rooibos tea make it great for bone health. These minerals reduce the chances of developing arthritis and joint pain. Other benefits include treating headaches, asthma, and allergies.
Peppermint Tea: If you’re experiencing problems with your digestive health, then you should try drinking some Peppermint Tea. This tea helps relieve symptoms of bloating and abdominal gas, as well as relieving muscle spasms. Peppermint can also help treat colds and nausea. However, it should not be consumed for indigestion or heartburn problems. Check out our Organic Moringa Peppermint Tea.
Ginger Tea: Ginger tea is also best for your digestive health. It helps relieve nausea and vomiting like peppermint, however, ginger does treat indigestion, heartburn, and stomach pains. Drinking ginger tea is one of the best natural methods for treating inflammation, due to the gingerol found in the root. Ginger tea is also good for reducing menstrual discomfort, weight loss, and enhances brain function. Try some of our ginger teas.
Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on January 14th, 2020 by www.nutritionfacts.org
Recommendations on limiting sugar consumption vary around the world, with guidelines ranging from “limit sweet desserts to one every other day” to keep sugar consumption to 4 or less occasions per day.” In the United States, the American Heart Association is leading the charge, “proposing dramatic reductions in the consumption of soft drinks and other sweetened products” and recommending fewer than about 5 percent of calories a day from added sugars, which may not even allow for a single can of soda.
Why is the American Heart Association so concerned about sugar? “Over consumption of added sugars has long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” meaning heart disease and strokes.
We used to think added sugars were just a marker for an unhealthy diet. At fast-food restaurants, for example, people may be more likely to order a cheeseburger with their super-sized soda than a salad.
However, the new thinking is that the added sugars in processed foods and drinks may be independent risk factors in and of themselves. Indeed, worse than just empty calories, they may be actively disease-promoting calories, which I discuss in my video Does Diet Soda Increase Stroke Risk as Much as Regular Soda?.
At 1:14 in my video, you can see a chart of how much added sugar the American public is consuming. The data show that only about 1 percent meet the American Heart Association recommendation to keep added sugar intake down to 5 or 6 percent of daily caloric intake. Most people are up around 15 percent, which is where cardiovascular disease risk starts to take off. There is a doubling of risk at about 25 percent of calories and a quadrupling of risk for those getting one-third of their daily caloric intake from added sugar.
Two hundred years ago, we ate an estimated 7 pounds of sugar annually. Today, we may consume dozens of pounds of sugar a year. We’re hardwired to like sweet foods because we evolved surrounded by fruit, not Froot Loops, but this adaptation is “terribly misused and abused” today, “hijacked” by the food industry for our pleasure and their profits.
“Why are we consuming so much sugar despite knowing too much can harm us?” Yes, it may have an addictive quality and there’s the hard wiring, but the processed food industry isn’t helping.
Seventy five percent of packaged foods and beverages in the United States contain added sweeteners, mostly coming from sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, which are thought responsible for more than a 100,000 deaths worldwide and millions of years of healthy life lost.
Given this, can we just switch to diet sodas? By choosing diet drinks, can’t we get that sweet taste we crave without any of the downsides? Unfortunately, studies indicate that “routine consumption of diet soft drinks is linked to increases in the same risks that many seek to avoid by using artificial sweeteners—namely type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome heart disease, and stroke.”
At 3:15 in my video, you can see data showing the increased risks of cardiovascular disease associated with regular soft drinks and also diet soda. They aren’t that dissimilar.
“In other words, the belief that artificially sweetened diet beverages reduce long-term health risks is not supported by scientific evidence, and instead, scientific data indicate that diet soft drink consumption may contribute to the very health risks people have been seeking to avoid.”
But, why? It makes sense that drinking all that sugar in a regular soft drink might increase stroke risk, due to the extra inflammation and triglycerides, but why does a can of diet soda appear to increase stroke risk the same amount? It’s possible that the caramel coloring in brown sodas like colas plays a role, but another possibility is that “artificial sweeteners may increase the desire for sugar-sweetened, energy-dense beverages/foods.”
The problem with artificial sweeteners “is that a disconnect ultimately develops between the amount of sweetness the brain tastes and how much glucose [blood sugar] ends up coming to the brain.” The brain feels cheated and “figures you have to eat more and more and more sweetness in order to get any calories out of it.” So, “as a consequence, at the end of the day, your brain says, ‘OK, at some point I need some glucose blood sugar here.’ And then you eat an entire cake, because nobody can hold out in the end.”
If people are given Sprite, Sprite Zero (a zero-calorie soda), or unsweetened, carbonated, lemon-lime water, but aren’t told which drink they’re getting or what the study is about, when they’re later offered a choice of M&M’s, spring water, or sugar-free gum, who do you think picks the M&M’s?
Those who drank the artificially sweetened soda were nearly three times more likely to take the candy than those who consumed either the sugar-sweetened or unsweetened drinks. So, it wasn’t a matter of sweet versus non-sweet or calories versus no-calories. There’s something about non-caloric sweeteners that somehow tricks the brain.
The researchers did another study in which everyone was given Oreos and were then asked how satisfied the cookies made them feel. Once again, those who drank the artificially sweetened Sprite Zero reported feeling less satisfied than those who drank the regular Sprite or the sparkling water.
"These results are consistent with recent [brain imaging] studies demonstrating that regular consumption of [artificial sweeteners] can alter the neural pathways responsible for the hedonic [or pleasure] response to food.”
Indeed, “the only way really to prevent this problem—to break the addiction—is to go completely cold turkey and go off all sweeteners—artificial as well as fructose [table sugar and high fructose corn syrup]. Eventually, the brain resets itself and you don’t crave it as much.”
We’ve always assumed the “consumption of both sugar and artificial sweeteners may be changing our palates or taste preferences over time, increasing our desire for sweet foods. Unfortunately, the data on this were lacking”…until now. Twenty people agreed to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks. Afterwards, 95 percent “found that sweet foods and drinks tasted sweeter or too sweet” and “said moving forward they would use less or even no sugar.”
What’s more, most stopped craving sugar within the first week—after only six days. This suggests a two-week sugar challenge, or even a one-week challenge, may “help to reset taste preferences and make consuming less or no sugar easier.”
Perhaps we should be recommending it to our patients. “Eating fewer processed foods and choosing more real, whole, and plant-based foods make it easy to consume less sugar.”
A new year often signifies a fresh start for many people. For some, this means setting health goals, such as losing weight, following a healthier diet, and starting an exercise routine.
However, more often than not, the health and wellness resolutions chosen are highly restrictive and unsustainable, leading most people to break their resolutions within a few weeks. To break that cycle, it’s important to make resolutions that can add to creating healthy habits for life.
Here are 17 New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep:
1. Eat clean unprocessed whole foods
One of the easiest and most sustainable ways to improve overall health is to eat clean whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish / seafood and lean meats.
Research shows that following a whole-foods-based diet may significantly reduce heart disease risk factors, body weight, and blood sugar levels, as well as decrease your risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
2. Sit less and move more !
Whether it’s due to having a sedentary job or simply being inactive, many people sit more than they should. If you have a desk job that requires long periods of sitting, make a resolution to go for a 15-minute walk at lunch or to get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour.
3. Cut back on sugary drinks even the ones labeled "zero" calories or "stevia" etc..
Cutting back on sugary drinks is really important because sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults.
4. Sleep, sleep and sleep.
Sleep is an essential part of overall good health. Sleep deprivation can lead to serious consequences. For instance, lack of sleep may increase your risk of weight gain, heart disease, and depression.
5. Find a physical activity that you enjoy
To get started, choose an activity based on enjoyment and whether it fits into your schedule.
For example, taking a half-hour walk, jog, or bike ride before work, or swimming at a gym that’s on your way home, are simple and sustainable exercise resolutions.
Then, set an attainable goal, such as planning to walk a few specific days per week instead of aiming for every day.
6. Take more ‘me time’ and practice self-care
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s imperative for optimal health and well-being. This is especially true for those in caretaker roles, such as parents and healthcare workers
Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. It can simply mean taking a bath every week, attending your favorite weekly yoga class, having a cuppa tea with a friend, going for a walk in nature, or getting an extra hour of sleep.
7. Cook more meals at home
Research shows that people who cook more meals at home have better quality diet and less body fat than people who eat more meals on the go.
In fact, a study in 11,396 adults found that those who ate 5 or more home-cooked meals per week were 28% less likely to be overweight, compared with those who ate fewer than 3 home-cooked meals per week. Start by making one meal a day, then increase the frequency over time until you’re making the majority of your meals and snacks at home.
8. Give nature some loving and get outside
Spending more time outdoors can improve health by relieving stress, elevating mood, and even lowering blood pressure. Take walks in the park, on the beach or even go camping !
9. Limit screen time
Many people depend on their phones and computers for work and entertainment. However, spending too much time on electronic devices — particularly on social media — has been linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness in some studies.
10. Try meditation
Meditation is an evidence-based way to promote mental well-being. It may be particularly helpful for people who have anxiety or depression. There are many ways to meditate, and it’s easy to find books, podcasts, and apps that teach you how to start a meditation practice.
11. Cut back on alcohol
Though alcohol can certainly fit into a healthy diet, indulging too often can negatively affect your health. What’s more, drinking alcohol frequently may keep you from reaching your health and wellness goals. Limit yourself to two drinks a week.
12. Take a vacation
Taking a vacation — even a short one — may have significant and immediate positive effects on stress levels and may enhance well-being.
13. Try a new hobby
It’s common for adults to let once-loved hobbies fall by the wayside as they get older due to busy schedules or lack of motivation.
However, research shows that partaking in a hobby that you love can help you live a longer, healthier life (study).
14. Visit your doctor
Getting examined regularly by your healthcare practitioner is important for many reasons. Having regular blood work and necessary screenings can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious.
15. Take care of your teeth
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can help prevent oral conditions like gum disease and bad breath . In addition, recent research shows that gum disease may be associated with serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, making oral care all the more important.
16. Create a sustainable, nourishing diet
Instead of making a plan to follow yet another restrictive fad diet, this New Year, make a resolution to break the dieting cycle and create a sustainable, nourishing eating pattern that works for you. The healthiest diet is one that’s rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods and low in heavily processed, sugary products. A healthy, long-term diet should not only be nutritious but also adaptable, meaning you can follow it for life — no matter the circumstances.
A sustainable eating pattern can be maintained on vacation, during holidays, and at parties because it’s nonrestrictive and suited to your lifestyle. Check out my book to get started.
17. Drink herbal teas
Drinking at least 3 mugs of herbal teas a day will definitely benefit your health. Herbs are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties just to name a few. As they say there is a herb to treat almost every ailment. So make a cuppa of herbal tea… choose from ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, anise, mint, moringa, tulsi, turmeric, cloves and so much more. Get imaginative and make your own mix !
Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to create healthier eating and lifestyle habits for life. It's all about creating a healthier relationship with food and taking better care of your body and mind which can drastically improve your health in various ways.
Are hidden food sensitivities making you fat, fatigued, foggy?
How hidden food sensitivities promote degenerative diseases
Food could be your greatest ally in helping prevent and treat illness.
Statistics clearly reveal heart disease as the leading cause of death for men and women globally.
The number one killer thrives on an arsenal of risk factors, such as hypertension, abnormal lipid profiles, obesity and chronic inflammation. Some of these factors are interdependent.
An adequate supply of healthy essential nutrients is one of the most effective preventative measures against heart disease.
To address the problems of abnormal cholesterol, obesity and hypertension, we are strongly advised to consume heart healthy food groups including fibres, lean proteins, healthy fats and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid the most blatant culprits like trans-fats, sugar, white flour etc.
These are general guidelines and a great start to a better lifestyle. Followed with some consistency, they should allow the body to build healthy tissues and occasion permanent weight loss, reduction of blood pressure and inflammation.
And yet, though 108 million Americans are on diets, a statistical follow up after dieting shows, that two years later 83% weigh more than before they started dieting.
74% of Americans are living with digestive disorders.
What are the causes for the often frustrating lack of response to nutritional therapy? Are you to blame for your weight gain?
The question requires deeper insight into the underlying causes for these conditions. Over time genetic modification, drastic increase of pesticides in our food supplies and environmental stressors in our living environment cause toxins to accumulate in the body and effect changes in its biophysical mechanisms.
The resulting imbalances and disturbances of metabolic processes bring about intolerances known as food sensitivities.
These in turn cause weight gain, because they damage the digestive system, forming holes and leaks in the intestinal walls. Our gut is not just an elimination organ, as commonly assumed. The digestive tract is one of the body‘s largest organ system, designed to move food from one end to the other and make it available as energy, for building tissues etc. In the small intestine, liquids, nutrients and minerals get absorbed into the blood stream through the intestinal walls.
These also produce important hormones and house 70% of the body ‘s immune cells. When the cell walls have holes, undigested food particles get prematurely absorbed into the blood stream, causing the body to react with inflammation.
Inflamed intestines can no longer absorb nutrients.
Therefore the body develops sugar and carbohydrate cravings, as the damaged digestive tract can absorb these more easily.
That means you could be following a perfectly healthy meal plan, or starve yourself on a new fad diet, but the toxins generated by inflammation could still be barring any weight loss or blood pressure improvement.
Toxic damage to the intestines based on food intolerances is a major cause of obesity and high blood pressure. The vicious circle can be broken by approaching the subject of food sensitivities.
Food sensitivity versus food allergy
Food intolerance/sensitivity is different from food allergy.
An allergy is a volatile reaction of the immune system. The body conceives an ingredient in food (usually a protein) as a harmful threat and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it off. A microscopic amount of the allergen is enough to cause potentially life threatening reactions.
The allergic response occurs when antibodies engage in combating the apparent “invader”, usually a protein substance. Such overreactions of the immune system can be quite dramatic and rather easy to detect. The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness.
Food sensitivity is a lower level reaction, which involves the digestive system. It is an abnormal physiological response when the body has difficulty breaking down a particular food. It results in inflammation.
The reaction gets provoked by either natural food compounds or additives in foods and beverages. They produce symptoms in one or more organs and systems.
More chronic, less acute and less obvious, food sensitivities are more challenging to diagnose than allergies. Isolating the poorly tolerated substance can also be difficult, as reactions may be delayed and dose-dependent.
Small amounts of the indigestible food may not cause a problem, but cumulative effects might be detrimental. Symptoms of food sensitivity vary greatly and can begin to manifest about half an hour after eating or with a delay of up to 48 hours.
Symptoms of food sensitivities include weight gain, obesity high blood pressure fatigue mood swings, anxiety bloating sleep problems mid-section weight gain irritable bowel gas skin problems, acne, eczema, psoriasis, intermittent diarrhea, dermatitis, hives constipation headaches abdominal cramps migraines headaches indigestion, nausea, cough, heartburn/reflux, sinus problems, asthma, high cholesterol and more …
Different mechanisms of intolerance
• Mechanical intolerance means certain foods can mechanically obstruct a digestive function or the assimilation of nutrients.
• With functional intolerance a certain type of food comes into conflict and causes dysfunction or lack of specific enzymes and chemicals required to digest the substance.
• In the case of biophysical intolerance, a certain food creates biophysical alteration of frequencies and thus causes an abnormality in the body ‘s intestinal tissues. As a consequence, these tissues become incompatible and lose the ability to absorb this type of nutrient (malabsorption). This mechanism causes true intolerances.
• The psychosomatic mechanism is based on trauma associated with certain foods, which then become incompatible on a psychosomatic level.
Methods of diagnosis
Not all bodies are created equal. Different organisms react to different substances. There is no “one fits all” rule we can establish.
For survival, the body has to function properly and repair tissues needed to convert food into energy.
Difficulty in breaking down certain foods causes the undigested particles to become toxins and promote inflammation.
Identifying food sensitivities can be challenging.
Elimination diets may be used to assist in diagnosing them.
The most common inflammatory foods get eliminated and then added back into one ‘s diet, one by one, to observe whether there is a reaction.
The process might be lengthy and inaccurate, as several different foods may contain the same substance, and symptoms can manifest with a delay of up two days.
Blood tests measure the immune system response to particular foods by measuring allergy related antibodies such as immunoglobulin E.
These tests are capable of creating a clinical picture covering a time span of about 2 days with a reliability of about 50 – 60%.
An advanced methodology
International scientists and doctors at London and Gibraltar based Daphne Labs collaborated in the development of an advanced methodology of food sensitivity testing, employing meta tests. That means combining a great variety of tests, while using cutting edge technologies.
Hair samples get analysed with the use of microscopy technologies (biospectrophotometry), providing a multi-frequency wavelength, allowing to view a 2 months period (rather than 2 days with a blood test).
The resulting wavelength is then compared with those of 600 different foods on file in the laboratory ‘s data base.
The outcome gets further evaluated in other labs with geno-bionics, a method which uses a genetic algorithm and the most advanced form of infinity valued logic, to establish the degree of compliance or resistance for all 600 foods.
Thus it is possible to determine an index of inflammation for all food groups, customised to the individual with an accuracy of 94%.
Food Intolerance Solution With the results of the method described above, the patient receives a colour coded chart of 600 foods, divided in different categories.
Green means completely fine, yellow allows limited intake and red should be avoided for two months.
In the third month these foods get reintroduced. A coach and diet advisor assists with meal planning and answers any questions during that period.
By avoiding the category of high-level inflammatory foods, the organism is no longer confronted with inflow of toxins, and therefore can start healing the holes in the intestinal walls and other damaged tissues.
It can let go of excess water and fat, as it is no longer receiving toxins to be stored away.
This results in reduced inflammation, weight loss, improved blood pressure, less joint pain, more focus etc.
After three months another sample gets submitted.
In most cases the patient is now more tolerant of a greater variety of foods, as the body has had a chance to repair the digestive system.
Novak Djokovic credited his moving from number 5 to the rank of number 1 tennis player in the world to the “secret weapon” of identifying his hidden food allergies. He says with eating foods that enhance his metabolism, he feels mentally sharper, happier and calmer, and physically stronger, faster, more dynamic, more coordinated.
For more information about Food Intolerance
Important Vitamins and Minerals to Keep You and The Kids Healthy Through Winter
Heating systems in our homes and workplaces create dry air, posing a challenge for skin and mucus membranes.
Protect them with sufficient supplies of vitamin A from fresh vegetables like carrots, spinach and broccoli.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, reduces oxidative stress and is one of the requirements for collagen production. Let and abundance of fresh citrus fruits, bell peppers, cauliflower, hawthorn and black currents provide you with an extra boost of this essential nutrient. For maximum benefit these fruits and vegetables should be consumed fresh and raw.
Vitamin D supports calcium household and immune system. While a certain amount can obtained from consuming meat and fish, you should insist on daily exposure to sunlight for the body to synthesise sufficient quantities.
Iron is an important component for the process of oxygen transportation, cell renewal and energy metabolism. Lack of iron can lead to damaged nails and hair, lack of energy and increase the risk of infection. Meat, fish, lentils, red beets, dried apricots and black currents are excellent sources.
Zinc supports healthy hair growth, wound healing and helps prevent infection. Get it from apples, beef, cheese and hazelnuts.
Adequate immune response is based on sufficient supplies of proteins and amino acids from meat, fish, cheese, lean ham, turkey, chicken, plain yoghurt, eggs and nuts.
If your not eating as healthy as you should, it may be best to get the whole family to take a good quality nutritional supplement. They are a great way to obtain the missing nutrients which are of course the vital to an optimum functioning immune system.
Let your creativity run wild and splurge on using these exquisite flavours in foods, snacks and beverages.
Get your senses to indulge in the experience of other places, new sensations and invigorating health.
1. Allspice is the fruit of a West Indian tree and popular in spice mixes for soups, roasts, marinades and mulled wine. It is also known to aid digestion.
2. Cardamom is a pod containing seeds. Its aroma has a hint of eucalyptus and is sweet, strong and heady. The taste is camphor like, a bit lemony, pleasant and warm and pairs well with sweet and savoury dishes, baked goods and tea-spice mixes. It may protect against heart disease and improve digestion.
3. Cayenne is the fruit of a pepper plant originating in Central and South America. The fiery powder infuses lemon or chocolate drinks, soups, meats, rice, vegetables, pastas and fruit with punch and passion. It is highly beneficial for circulation, digestion, and immune defense.
4. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree with a sweet and woody aroma. Its warm and delicately spicy taste is equally suited to both savoury and sweet dishes, and beverages. Use it with fruit, desserts, soups, casseroles, pies, breads or enjoy it as part of tea or coffee blends. The numerous health benefits linked to cinnamon include blood sugar management, weight loss, vasodilation, and many more.
5. Cloves have a camphor-like warm aroma and a hot, peppery taste. They bring seasonal spirit to fruits, soups, meats, breads, desserts and tea blends. Their health benefits include immune-boosting, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Coriander seeds are harvested from coriander plant (you may know its leaves as cilantro). They have a mild, warm flavour with undertones of orange peel and are used in soups, spice mixes, with sausages, cured meats, game and in breads. Their numerous health benefits include support of bone health, eye health and management of cholesterol.
7. Cumin comes from the delicate cumin plant and belongs to the parsley family. It’s warm, spicy aroma and pungent earthy taste make a great addition to vegetables, soups, dressings, roasts and stews. Health benefits include increased absorption of nutrients from other foods, stimulation of pancreatic enzymes, relieves bloating and gas.
8. Ginger is a bulbous root with warming pungent flavour, adding zing and zest to water, tea, soup, vegetable dishes, smoothies and juices. It is also the defining ingredient in the gingerbread spice mix. Numerous health benefits linked to ginger include supporting digestion, promoting energy flow, alleviation of colds and flu symptoms and nausea.
9. Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen Caribbean tree. The original meaning of its name is „nut which smells like musk“. Its warm and spicy, slightly peppery taste is indispensable for creamy vegetable soups, spinach dishes, pumpkin dishes and eggnog. Health benefits include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
10. Saffron is one of the most precious and legendary spices on the market. It comes as thin threads of red and orange, the harvested stigmas from crocus flowers. The exotic, slightly sweet aroma and delicate, mildly bitter taste are exquisite companions for soups, risottos, pastas, fish dishes and cakes. It promotes heart health, digestive function, vitality and memory function.
11. Turmeric the “Golden Goddess” is a bulbous root, dried and ground into golden powder. Aside from its famous anti-inflammatory health benefits it lends an earthy exotic touch to everything from salads, soups, stews, meats, vegetables, fruit and desserts. It is especially beneficial when prepared as a Golden Milk drink.
12. Vanilla is the edible pod of an orchid variety. The most prized kinds come from Reunion Island and Tahiti. Its sweet, indulgent exotic flavour delights in desserts, sweets, baked goods, fish dishes, spice mixes and drinks. Powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol balancing properties some of the numerous health benefits.
Increasing numbers of nutritional experts are praising the incredible effects of an anti-inflammatory diet on long term health. In fact, it’s never been more apparent how powerful overall gut health can be in terms of how we function day-to-day. Gut health also affects how we feel, with our digestive systems responsible for producing a portion of our serotonin – the neurotransmitter which not only helps us feel happier, but also plays a part in mood, quality of sleep, temperature regulation, and more.
Poor gut health then should be avoided, not least because it may lead to chronic inflammation. Long term, chronic inflammation may increase the risk of certain conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, or even heart disease. Signs of inflammation could include constant fatigue, anxiety, depression, and digestive issues like abdominal pain.
What triggers inflammation?
There are many lifestyle attributes that can trigger inflammation – stress, lack of exercise, or over exercising and diet.
Problems in the gut may occur when foods that cause inflammation are regularly consumed. Regularly feasting on irritants like fried foods, refined sugar, and fizzy drinks could aggravate your immune system and may lead to your body working overtime to compensate.
Even those eating an anti-inflammatory diet may unknowingly be increasing their risk of inflammation by eating seemingly harmless foods that they are intolerant to, their bodies then wrongly identifying the food’s proteins as a threat. It’s important to listen to your body and cater your diet to your personal needs in order to avoid inflammation.
What is the fastest way to get rid of inflammation in the body?
While inflammation can be measured by monitoring levels of C-reactive protein, the easiest way to alleviate symptoms and improve gut health is by eating an anti-inflammatory diet packed with natural anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory herbs.
Inflammation could be greatly reduced by following an approach of eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising regularly, minimising stress, and taking supplements that work to fight inflammation such as probiotics and fish oil.
A Mediterranean diet is often recommended by nutritionists due to the fact it is nutritionally dense and balanced, consisting of lots of whole grains, fish, and healthy fats.
Another method of eliminating inflammation is by cutting out foods that you’re intolerant to. If you’re unsure of what these may be, find out more about intolerance tests on my website.
What foods are bad for inflammation?
Foods high in saturated fats should be avoided – these include dairy products, red meat, and many unhealthy snack foods. Eliminate corn, sunflower, and other oils and margarines that are overly processed; favour instead natural anti- inflammatory foods, such as olive oil.
Sugar, artificial sweeteners and certain grains are also foods that may cause inflammation. Nutritionists advise the easiest way to eliminate foods that cause inflammation is to remove anything processed from your diet. It’s important to identify your trigger foods and everyone has a unique food fingerprint.
What is the most effective natural anti-inflammatory?
Here are some natural anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory herbs that are worth knowing:
Ashwaganda: Alongside food intolerances and eating inflammatory foods, stress can be a huge factor when it comes to inflammation. The ancient anti-inflammatory herb Ashwaganda, used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, has been found to help reduce the negative effects of stress, increase the body’s ability to reduce cortisol levels, and lessen chronic inflammation.
Ginger: Ginger is known to reduce nausea and vomiting, but it also serves another holistic purpose. High in gingerol, it is a strong anti-inflammatory. Add ginger to your food as an anti-inflammatory herb, or drink ginger tea to aid your anti-inflammatory diet.
Moringa: Do you know that inflammation is the main cause of pain and soreness after a workout? Moringa has powerful anti-inflammatory properties owing to its high concentration of isocyanates, biophenols and essential amino acids that reduce inflammation and assist in muscle recovery.
Blueberries: Blueberries garner their status as a superfood from their incredibly high levels of phytoflavinoids, antioxidants, and vitamin C – a powerful combination that may help combat stress in the body.
Broccoli: Research shows that the antioxidants within broccoli work powerfully against inflammation in the body. This natural anti-inflammatory food is also rich with minerals, vitamins, and fibre, making it a nutritious addition to any meal – especially for vegetarians or vegans looking for alternative protein sources.
Cinnamon: High in taste, cinnamon originates from trees that grow bountifully in Asia. The sweet spice is antimicrobial, as well as potent in its anti-inflammatory capabilities. Looking to lower your stress levels too? Cinnamon can be added to hot porridge or tea for a relaxing food experience.
Olive oil: Perhaps the strongest of all-natural anti-inflammatory foods on this list, olive oil is great for your heart and for your gut. Antioxidants and oleocanthal are what make it such a beneficial food for an anti-inflammatory diet, with oleocanthal’s effects having been likened to that of ibuprofen but in natural form.
Spinach: When it comes to natural anti-inflammatory foods, leafy greens are perhaps the best known. Spinach itself is an incredibly versatile vegetable – able to be consumed in smoothies, in salads, or on the side of any meal – containing high levels of water-soluble vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, and flavonoids, omega-3s and carotenoids The nutritional and anti-inflammatory benefits of spinach are hard to beat.
Salmon (Wild-Caught): Omega-3 fatty acids may help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases, such as pain and stiffness, may help reduce inflammation and could also prevent its onset. Salmon is renowned by experts as the best food source when it comes to incorporating omega-3s into your life, and is a great place to start with your anti-inflammatory diet.
Turmeric: Curcumin, found in turmeric, is thought to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Supplements will often carry more curcumin than turmeric in its ground form, but the bright yellow spice can be easily added to everything, from regular cooking to turmeric lattes, making it an adaptive and flavourful natural anti-inflammatory food.
Avocado’s: Avocado’s are rich in Potassium, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and more. A great source of healthy fats which reduce the body’s inflammatory response, researchers have been recently speculating about the anti-inflammatory benefits of another part of avocado’s – its seed, which carries high levels of polyphenols.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found naturally within the cells in the body. You need cholesterol to maintain optimum health, but too much in the body may increase your risk of major diseases, such as heart disease. Some cholesterol is found in the foods you eat, but most of it is made in your liver.
If you have a raised cholesterol level, there is an array of treatment options for you, including the use of statins.
Statins are widely used to lower your cholesterol levels and they often work best when paired with a healthy lifestyle.
What is a high cholesterol level?
The NHS recommends that total cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults, and 4mmol/L or less for those at risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease. But there are different types of cholesterol and it can be confusing to establish exactly what your cholesterol reading is.
What types of cholesterol are there?
There are two main types of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol (also known as low density lipoprotein cholesterol and referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’) and HDL cholesterol (known as high density lipoprotein cholesterol and commonly referred to as ‘good cholesterol’).
How do I check my cholesterol?
Your cholesterol can be checked through a simple blood test which can be through a finger-prick or syringe. The test measures for different types of cholesterol and triglycerides, which is another type of blood fat.
It is important your GP or a suitable expert explains the results to you as sometimes they can be confusing to understand.
How to lower cholesterol?
Do you have high cholesterol and looking to improve your health and well-being? Do you have an average cholesterol level but conscious of your health and well-being?
There are simple and natural ways to lower your cholesterol levels. Here are five healthy changes:
• Quit smoking
It is estimated that 7.2 million people in the UK smoke cigarettes. Smoking may cause more of your bad cholesterol to cling to your artery walls, according to Heart UK. Quitting smoking not only helps your overall health but reduces your risk of raised cholesterol and heart disease.
• Increase your physical activity through exercise
It is recommended that adults aged 19 to 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week. 150 minutes sounds like a long time, but to break this down it is only 30 minutes every day for five days.
Exercise can help improve cholesterol and raise the HDL cholesterol (the good kind). We recommend taking up exercise with a friend or loved one to boost motivation.
• Lose weight
Losing weight may not only be beneficial for your overall health and well-being, but this is one of the most important lifestyle factors to improve your cholesterol levels. In fact, sometimes losing weight alone can be enough.
Use a calorie counting app to track your calories as you can be surprised how quickly calories can add up. You will then be able to see where you can cut back.
For example, you could be drinking a 500ml bottle of coke a day after dinner – that’s 1,421 calories a week! Simple calorie cutbacks could make all the difference.
Other weight loss tips include parking your car further away from work or the shops and use the stairs where possible to increase your activity levels.
• Limit your alcohol
Moderate your intake and stick to the advised limit of no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
• Indulge in heart-friendly foods
Diet forms a vital role in actively making a difference to your cholesterol levels. Now more than ever, there is an abundance of dietary advice online on how to eat healthier.
Want to start now?
There’s no better time to start. After all, simple changes are often the ones which easily form a habit.
For most people, stress is inevitable in certain stages of life – starting a new job, buying a house, leaving home for university. For some, however, a high level of stress can be a daily battle, leading to anxiety or depression. This may lead you to searching on the internet, topics such as ‘stress symptoms’, ‘how can I reduce my mental stress?’ and ways to manage it.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
It’s worth noting that anxiety can be a symptom of depression. If you feel as though you’re currently experiencing a high level of emotional stress in your life and you’re concerned you may have depression, it’s worth checking in with your GP to talk to them about your current well-being.
It may feel daunting to open up but be assured that they will have the knowledge and support to help you.
Symptoms of depression can be especially complex.
However they can include:
Can autumn/winter cause anxiety or depression?
As we progress into the final months of the year, it’s safe to say that summer is long gone. The trees are shedding their final few leaves, the chill in the air is ever increasing, and nights are becoming longer and longer. The turning back of the clocks signals autumn’s transition into winter, and a final effort to maximise on those precious few hours of daylight. Here we take a look at the relationship between food intolerances and low mood.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
For many people, this time of year can be difficult. It’s estimated that around 2 million people in the UK experience signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, or winter depression. For sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder, with winter and the lessening of daylight hours comes a lack of interest in life, and a feeling of low mood.
Frequent symptoms include:
Can food trigger anxiety or stress?
The exact causes for SAD are not fully understood, with lack of exposure to sunlight often being suggested as a potential contributor, as well as changes in diet and eating habits during the colder months. The role of diet on mood cannot be understated, and in recent years there has been an increased focus in scientific circles of the relationship between the digestive system and the brain.
Did you know that the gut produces 90% of the body’s serotonin, the hormone responsible for feelings of happiness?
Or that 90% of the fibres that make up the body’s main nerve, the vagus, are responsible for carrying information from the gut to the brain?
This means if the gut is unhappy, it’s likely you’ll be unhappy too. Around a quarter of people will suffer from depression at some point in their life, and according to a leading UK charity* around 45% of people will show symptoms of food intolerance.
Research has discovered that gastrointestinal inflammation, one of the most frequent symptoms of food intolerance, is frequently found in those showing signs of depression. The relationship between gut health and depression has also been suggested to be bi-directional.
This means that if you’re feeling depressed, the health of your digestive system is likely to suffer. Likewise, if you’re suffering from digestive problems, the chance of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety markedly increases.
In the past 5 years, prescriptions for anti-depressants have risen by around 40%...
While these medications may work for many, they potentially represent dealing with the problem of low mood at a surface rather than root level. For those undergoing feelings of anxiety and depression, tackling these problems first hand may be a daunting prospect.
If you find yourself feeling lower than usual at this time of year, it’s a good idea to have a think about what the contributing factors might be, and if changing your diet could help.
What foods cause a reaction for one person may not be the same for another, we refer to this as an individual’s ‘food fingerprint’.
This is one of the main reasons I know offer diagnostic tests to help you find out your own food fingerprint.
I am happy to announce that I now offer tests for food intolerance, intestinal dysbiosis, mineral analysis and many more. These tests have a 94% accuracy level.
There have been studies which show that after changing eating habits after a food intolerance test; mood improvements occurred.
If you notice a low mood, increased feelings of anxiety, or feel tired, stressed and unmotivated at this time of year, you don’t have to suffer in silence. There can be many contributing factors towards the state of your mental health, and it’s always important that you check these out with your GP, but the influence of diet and nutrition is hard to neglect.
If you think food intolerance is having a negative effect on your mood, please contact me to get the process started.
It is painless and only a few cells are collected from your inner cheek and sent away to Daphne Laboratories based in Italy. Results are received in 7-9 days maximum.
Choose the test that's right for you.
Millet adds flavor and nutrition to your diet and work as a versatile alternative to staples like rice and wheat. It is gluten-free, has a low glycemic index, and is a good source of antioxidants. Millet can help reduce the risk of diabetes, prevent heart disease, promote weight loss, lowers cholesterol and fights aging. It may also have a role to play in the prevention and treatment of several cancers.
Millet is a good source of protein, high in fibre and is rich in multiple vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
One cup of cooked millet contains the following nutritional values:
Millet also contains trace amounts of copper, zinc and manganese.
Thanks to its nutritional profile, millet offers several health benefits and here are some of them:
1. Has Antioxidant Properties
All varieties of millets abound in phytochemicals known as polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant properties. Polyphenols flush out harmful free radicals from the body and prevent several potentially fatal conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer. They also reduce inflammation, up your immunity, and help fight viruses.
Millets even outperform rice in terms of antioxidant power. Pearl millet and finger millet pack in 1478 and 612 mcg of phenolic acid per gram, respectively, whereas different varieties of rice contain 197–376 mcg of the phytochemical.
2. Controls Diabetes
Most millets have a low glycemic index and high amounts of soluble dietary fiber, enabling better sugar control and making them a diabetes-friendly cereal. When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, finger millet is considered a superfood with its high magnesium content – 408 mg per 100 gm of cooked grain, which pretty much meets the daily requirement of men (400-420 mg/day) and exceeds that for women (310-320 mg/day).
Magnesium significantly boosts the efficiency of insulin receptors and decreases insulin resistance. Studies even indicate that consuming a diet rich in this mineral can reduce the chance of developing diabetes by 30 percent.
3. Is Good for Your Heart
As a good source of magnesium, millets help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis – a condition where arteries become narrower due to fatty deposits on their inner walls. Millets also contain substantial amounts of potassium, another heart-friendly mineral. Animal studies show that proso and finger millets can even improve the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol.
4. Guards the Gut If You Have Celiac Disease
Some millet breads contain small quantities of wheat flour. So make sure you check for the gluten-free label before picking your millet goodies.
If there is one property that makes millets a nutritional superstar, it is the absence of gluten. Aside from the variety, millets offer the bonus benefits of a host of micro- and macronutrients and phytochemicals. Just the combination you’d want if you are struggling with celiac disease.
5. May Offer Protection against Cancer
Research shows that some of the phenolics found in millets may help prevent the initiation and progression of many types of cancer, including breast and colon cancers. The anti-tumorigenic agents in finger millet have also been found to be particularly effective against chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a rare type of blood cancer.
6. Keeps your Bones Healthy
Finger millets contain 344 mg calcium (which is more than the amount of calcium present in milk) that meets 34% of your DV. Calcium is your body’s bone-building mineral, without which your bones may become brittle and weak. Finger millets are also rich in magnesium, which is another mineral that maintains your bone health. Plus, some studies suggest that magnesium may decrease your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
7. Helps Digestion
If you frequently suffer from digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, and gas, it might be due to your low intake of dietary fiber. Millets, especially pearl millet, have a significant amount of resistant starch and soluble and insoluble fiber, which regulates your digestion process and prevents the food moving too fast or too slow in your digestive tract. Furthermore, since millets are gluten-free, they also reduce the stomach problems that occur due to the celiac disease.
8. Prevents Gallstone
The fiber in millets is also helpful in reducing the risk of gallstones. Foods rich in insoluble fiber can speed up the transit of undigested food through the colon and also reduce the secretion of bile acids which help form gallstones. In fact, a long-term study found that women who ate a fiber-rich diet were 17% less likely to have gallstones than those who had no fiber.
9. Helps Manage Weight
Whole grains that are rich in fiber also assist with weight loss. Millets are no exception. They also increase your satiety and keep you full for longer periods of time. This decreases hunger pangs and keeps you from snacking between meals. In addition they lower cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity which helps you manage your weight.
10. Improves Your Mood and Helps You Sleep Better
A standard serving of millets contains about 120 gm of an amino acid called tryptophan, which meets about 42% of your daily requirement. Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin – a chemical that regulates your overall mood and fights depression. Tryptophan is also shown to increase the quality of sleep and improve morning alertness. Additionally, the amino acid is believed to increase cognitive function by improving memory and facilitates learning.
11. Fights Aging and Improves Skin
Antioxidants and phenolics that millets abound in are renowned for their anti-aging properties. Millets have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce cell damage due to aging. Animal studies indicate that polyphenols found in finger millet and kodo millet may also boost the production of collagen to give you firmer, healthier, and younger-looking skin. Moreover, the benefits of millet for your digestive system as well as your sleep quality are bound to show up on your skin too.
12. Increases Breast Milk Supply
Millets are traditionally used to increase the production of breast milk in breastfeeding mothers. Although there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that millet can increase breast milk supply; there’s no harm in trying to find out for yourselves, provided you stay within dietary limits.
13. Millet is Good for Babies
Millet is a wonderful grain for your baby. It is gluten free, nutritious, versatile, easily digestible and a less allergenic grain suitable as a solid food for your baby. Also, the size and shape of millet resemble barley which makes it an excellent finger food. The smooth texture ensures its easy digestion. You can introduce it from around 7 months of age.
Wondering how to get your daily fix of millets?
Millet flour can replace wheat flour in your cakes and bakes. Millets can also just as easily step in for rice in your meals. Beyond that, since millets are a staple in several parts of the world, you have a variety of traditional and exotic recipes to choose from.
Don’t Overindulge: Millets May Cause Constipation and Impair Thyroid Function
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !