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
There's a few simple steps to help you get started:
1. Decide on your motivation – anything you like.
2. Decide on your goal this can be a weight, measurement, clothes size or just to feel better.
3. Start eating sensibly immediately (not tomorrow).
4. Start exercising as soon as possible, just a small amount, as often as you can manage.
Motivation – this should be easy to decide on. There should be plenty of reasons to lose weight.
Here are a few suggestions:
● Improve relationship/sex life
● Gain confidence
● Enjoy more time with kids
● Live longer
● Reduce illness
● Increase energy
● Improve your mind
● Improve mood
Goal – you can use anything for your goal.
It can be easier to use a number such as waist size or weight, but anything can be used to set your goal.
I personally set myself a goal weight, which motivated me to do more to reach the goal quickly yet steadily.
Eating – When choosing an effective diet, you need to consider the following criteria. The diet
● Allow you to eat enough food without being hungry.
● Encourage eating of a healthy variety of foods.
● Be a sensible diet that you can continue for the rest of your life.
Exercising – Try going for a short walk. Perhaps half an hour, maybe more if you
can... or simply aim for 5,000 steps a day to start with and increase to 7,000 or even 10,000 !
A new report highlights the extent to which medicines, lifestyle and poor diet are “killing” vitamin and mineral levels, leading to potentially serious health issues for women.
The UK National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) has revealed a marked drop in women’s intake of most vitamins and minerals, with deficiencies being linked to a host of health issues, some potentially very serious.
Adults from across the UK were quizzed on their diets and only 20% said they eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – leaving eight out of 10 failing even the minimum dietary standards. Over one third (37%) said they only managed to eat five portions of fruit and veg for two or fewer days in a week.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer says: “There’s been a marked – and hugely worrying – drop in women’s intake of most vitamins and minerals. This is due to the fact that many people have little time for cooking from scratch and rely on fast food, takeaways and ready meals.
In addition, the trend for popular exclusion or weight-loss diets, together with social media ‘influencers’ pushing potentially unhealthy eating regimes, has meant whole food groups can be missed out on. It’s perhaps no surprise that so many of us are failing to manage an adequate nutrient intake, with gaps and deficiencies in a host of crucial vitamins and minerals.”
The pill and hormone-related issues
Since the pill – the oral contraceptive for women – first became available in Britain in 1961, its use has spread rapidly and it has gained widespread acceptance. However, the new report reveals that many women are unaware of the potential side effects from use of the contraceptive pill or HRT, in particular issues with nutrient status.
Clinical pharmacist and researcher Mike Wakeman says: “Research from as far back as the
1970s clearly demonstrates that oral contraceptives are linked with depletions of a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A variety of reports have also identified these effects might possibly contribute to several common side effects. This aspect is particularly relevant to those women who may not have an adequate diet.
Furthermore, women whose lifestyle is unhealthy and those with problems absorbing or metabolising certain nutrients will also be at risk.” “This means that for many individuals nutrient intake is already sub-optimal, and that taking the pill – with the potential negative impact on nutrient levels – is likely to further compromise the situation. The use of supplements, for women taking the pill – especially those with a poor diet or pre-existing health issues – would appear to play a key role in targeting this issue.”
The use of oral contraceptives can affect oxidative stress and disrupt the way the body metabolises fats and carbohydrates and processes sugars.
Another important fact to take into account is that the use of the pill can negatively affect a woman’s folate status – crucial for protecting against neural tube defects in early pregnancy – and how folic acid supplements can be an important strategy for women looking to become pregnant.
The latest data revealed in the report would seem to be at odds with many women’s knowledge of the risks and issues of taking the pill. Of more than 1,000 women aged 18 to 64 across the UK, every single woman questioned by the researchers had either taken the contraceptive pill, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or both at some period in their life. Nearly nine out of 10 (88%) had taken the contraceptive pill, a further 5% had taken just HRT and 7% had had both.
Just half (50%) of those quizzed said that they were not given advice on the possible side effects of taking the pill while 94% said they were not told about potential side effects of HRT. Just 4% of those taking the pill and 3% of those taking HRT were advised to change their diet because of worries that vitamin and mineral levels can be depleted. Just 10% said that they had changed their diet to compensate specifically for taking the pill – with only 6% saying the same for HRT.
Changes included a ‘generally healthier diet’ (19%), eating more vegetables (12%) and taking a vitamin and mineral supplement (11%). Most – 70% – of women had either been pregnant or had tried to conceive, and 64% felt their diet and nutrition status were ‘very important’ when planning to get pregnant, and a further 23% felt they were ‘quite important’. Folic acid is essential for the early part of a pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects, yet a third of those questioned (34%) didn’t know this and the same number (33%) admitted they had never taken folic acid supplements.
Spotlight on vitamin D
The last part of the report focused on issues around vitamin D. Vitamin D is synthesised in our bodies from sunlight and plays a huge role in maintaining good health, particularly bones and muscles.
In addition, researchers have found new evidence linking the vitamin with far more than just bone health – it’s thought that heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, asthma, depression and type 2 diabetes, to name just a few, may be associated with poor vitamin D levels. It’s particularly worrying as figures show that nearly a third of adults have intakes so low as to risk deficiency.
A key problem is that the main source of vitamin D is sunshine rather than from food – even in a healthy diet it’s hard to get the recommended amounts of the vitamin. But in the UK we often have poor levels of sunshine, especially in the autumn and winter months, and this can leave vitamin D levels in the body severely depleted.
Such is the concern over the issue, Public Health England changed its recommendations in 2016, saying that all adults and children over the age of one year old should consider taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement, especially during autumn and winter when there is limited sunlight. In addition, the DoH says all babies from birth to one year old, all children aged one to four and people who aren’t exposed much to the sun should take daily supplements to make sure they get enough vitamin D.
A recent analysis of UK diet data by the Health Supplement Information Service found:
Only 27% of the 1,000 respondents polled knew that a healthy diet alone does not provide optimum levels of vitamin D, with nearly half (47%) of respondents believing it was a possibility, despite this being almost impossible in practice. There were big gaps in understanding and knowledge in the workings of vitamin D. Half (50%) of respondents didn’t know that some over the counter and prescribed medicines can reduce levels of vitamin D in the body, rising to 71% in the over 60s.
GP Dr David Edwards says: “Healthy levels of vitamin D are key to day-to-day health. However, this is also problematic because many people in the UK (may I add that in Cyprus as well due to many people working in doors and have minimum exposure to sunshine) appear to have low levels of vitamin D – it’s thought that more than 50% of adults have insufficient levels of vitamin D and that 16% have severe deficiency during winter and spring.
The worry is that this shortfall will leave many of these people more vulnerable to health problems, some of which may be very serious. Both the poor level of vitamin D status and the importance of the nutrient in good health mean it would be prudent for many people to take a daily vitamin D supplement, particularly during the winter months when sunshine levels are low. It’s a simple and easy change that may well bring substantial benefits.”
Watermelon is a refreshing and delicious fruit that is ideal in those hot summer months.
It contains only 46 calories per cup but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and many healthy plant compounds.
Here are some of the top health benefits of eating watermelon.
1. Helps You Hydrate
Drinking water is an important way to keep your body hydrated.
However, eating foods that have a high water content can also help. Interestingly, watermelon is 92% water (1Trusted Source).
What’s more, the combination of high water content and fiber is one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables help you feel full, without eating a large volume of food and it is also low in calories.
2. Contains Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds
As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup (154 grams). That's lower than even low-sugar fruits such as berries (2).
One cup (154 grams) of watermelon has many other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:
Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid.
Here's an overview of watermelon's anti-ageing antioxidants:
Vitamin C: is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals.
Carotenoids: Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.
Lycopene: Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn't change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon and is linked to many health benefits.
Cucurbitacin E: Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
3. Contains Compounds That May Help Prevent Cancer
Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their cancer preventative effects. The strongest link so far seems to be between lycopene and cancers of the digestive system (1Trusted Source).
It appears to reduce cancer risk by lowering insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein involved in cell division. High IGF levels are linked to cancer (3Trusted Source).
In addition, cucurbitacin E has been investigated for its ability to inhibit tumor growth (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
4. May Improve Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide (6Trusted Source).
Lifestyle factors, including diet, may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Several nutrients in watermelon have specific benefits for heart health.
Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol (1Trusted Source).
According to studies in obese, postmenopausal women and Finnish men, lycopene may also reduce the stiffness and thickness of artery walls (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, which lowers blood pressure (9Trusted Source) and boosts performance in athletes.
Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart. These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium and potassium (1Trusted Source).
5. May Lower Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases.
Watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage, as it's rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C (1Trusted Source).
In a 2015 study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet. Compared to the control group, they developed lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and less oxidative stress (10Trusted Source).
In an earlier study, humans were given lycopene-rich tomato juice with added vitamin C. Overall, their markers of inflammation went down and antioxidants went up. Watermelon has both lycopene and vitamin C (11Trusted Source).
As an antioxidant, lycopene may also benefit brain health. For example, it may help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease (12).
6. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
Lycopene is found in several parts of the eye where it helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation.
It may also prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults (1Trusted Source).
Lycopene's role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.
7. Athletes: May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness
Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, may reduce muscle soreness. Interestingly, watermelon juice appears to enhance the absorption of citrulline.
One small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline or a citrulline drink. Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline on its own (13Trusted Source).
The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment, investigating the absorption of citrulline. Their findings suggest that citrulline absorption is most effective when it's consumed as a component of watermelon juice.
Other research has also looked at citrulline's potential to improve exercise endurance and performance.
Tip: You could blend watermelon with moringa powder a powerful combination for athletes.
So far, citrulline doesn't seem to improve exercise performance in the amounts studied, but it's still an area of research interest (14Trusted Source).
8. Is Good for Skin and Hair
Two vitamins in watermelon — A and C — are important for skin and hair health.
Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.
Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells.Without vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky.
Both lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn (15Trusted Source).
9. Can Improve Digestion
Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fiber — both of which are important for healthy digestion.
Fiber can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently, hence combating constipation.
Robert Elias Najemy - Founder of Armoniki Zoi, Athens.
Four points that gave his life meaning:
Evolution: the idea that i could better myself, become more loving, kinder, healthier, happier. It was an interesting challenge, that I could in some way control my life and become a better person.
Creativity: I explored a wide variety of creativity - forms of expression - all of which gave me pleasure and fulfillment.
Service: I discovered the joy of serving others and in some way contributing to their well-being and happiness.
Relationships: I began to perceive relationships as growing opportunities in which I am challenged to be honest, understanding, forgiving, loving and to communicate clearly.
All these purposes gave meaning to my life and still do.
If I asked you to make a list of the top 10 healthy foods, I bet gelatin would not be one of them.
Gelatin is a great health food in its natural form, not the artificially, sugar packed like jelly.
Gelatin may keep osteoporosis at bay, heal your gut if you suffer from IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), leaky gut or acid reflux, may help you sleep better among many other valuable health benefits.
Gelatin is the key ingredient in Jelly and other similar products. It is the ingredient that makes it wobbly.
Gelatin is derived from collagen, the most plentiful protein in humans and animals. Once simmered, the decomposition of collagen into gelatin is irreversible; its long protein fibrils, or tiny fibers, are broken down into small amino acid compounds.
Eating gelatin boosts our collagen levels. Collagen is found almost everywhere in the body, but it is most abundant in the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It holds our tissues together, providing the skeleton with a sturdy yet flexible structure (just as it does wobbly desserts); some types of collagen fibrils are gram for gram, stronger than steel. (1)
Although the gelatin we consume comes from collagen in animal skin, bones, ligaments, and tendons, it increases human collagen stores, which leads to the impressive health benefits below.
It’s Made Almost Entirely of Protein (98 to 99 Percent)
One half-cup of gelatin provides nearly two grams of protein a macronutrient, your body needs to function.
Gelatin Is Rich in Vital Amino Acids
It doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids, making it an incomplete protein. But the amino acids it does include are particularly important for health, especially glycine. Other notables include: (2)
Our ancestors ate much more gelatin than we do today. That’s because they widely practiced nose-to-tail eating, meaning they cooked with and consumed the entire animal, including its skin, tendons, and other gelatinous features.
In the Cypriot diet we still have a dish called “Gelatina” which is mostly made of pig’s ears, hooves and is jam packed with gelatin. It is still available in most supermarkets. I for one am not a fan of this and have invented a fruity, yogurt, chia pudding where I add gelatin in powder form to give it a firm texture rather than a runny one.
Six Reasons to Eat Gelatin.
1. Gelatin May Lower Your Risk for Cardiovascular and Other Diseases.
Eggs and muscle meats—as opposed to organ meats and meaty bones—are high an amino acid called methionine. In some people, eating too much methionine can lead to a buildup of a toxic compound called homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for a variety of serious concerns, from dementia and Alzheimer’s to heart disease and it also increases the risk of fracture. (3, 4, 5) This might explain why researchers sometimes find a correlation between high meat intake and chronic disease.
What helps keep methionine and homocysteine levels in a healthy balance? Glycine, a compound found in gelatin and for which it accounts for roughly 27 percent of gelatin’s composition, making gelatin the richest food source of this amino acid. Although your body can make glycine, you usually don’t produce enough to cover your needs, meaning you need to obtain ample amounts from your diet. (6, 7)
2. It Protects Your Bones and Joints
Bone is living, growing tissue, comprising mostly of collagen which is the glue that holds our tissues together, hence getting more collagen in the form of gelatin is good for bone and joint health.
Research shows that gelatin may have a beneficial effect on cartilage metabolism and inhibit the breakdown of collagen in bone. It may be effective in treating both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. (8, 9, 10) Its amino acids glycine and proline are anti-inflammatory and are likely responsible for research results finding gelatin effective in reducing arthritis-associated joint pain.
Lysine, also in gelatin, strengthens bones by helping the body absorb calcium and form collagen. The body can’t make this amino acid, so it must come from diet. Lysine has also been shown, in animal studies, to quicken fracture healing. (11)
3. It Preserves Your Muscle Mass
Glycine is the hero again here: research has found that increasing glycine intake, either through supplementation or high-glycine foods such as gelatin, can help slow or reduce the age-related loss of muscle. Supplemental glycine can protect muscle in a variety of wasting conditions brought on by serious illness such as cancer or due to reduced calorie intake. (12, 13)
4. Gelatin Is Good for Your Gut
Thanks to the amino acids glycine, proline, and glutamine, gelatin can improve gut integrity and digestive strength by enhancing gastric acid secretion and restoring a healthy lining in the stomach. (14, 15) Gelatin also absorbs water and helps keep fluid in the digestive tract, promoting good intestinal transit and healthy bowel movements. (16)
5. It Makes Your Skin Shine and Your Hair Long and Lustrous
Collagen is one of the primary structural elements of skin. As we age, we naturally lose collagen, causing our skin to sag and wrinkle. Gelatin provides glycine and proline, building blocks for collagen, and can help your body create enough of this important protein to improve your skin’s health and appearance.
In particular, several studies have shown improved skin elasticity and hydration, as well as a reduction of deep wrinkles, with collagen hydrolysate supplementation. (17, 18) A diet rich in gelatin may also protect against the aging effects of sunlight, preventing wrinkles in the future. (19) And gelatin appears to induce hair growth and even lead to thicker, fuller locks. (20, 21)
6. It Can Help You Sleep
Gelatin has been found to help with sleep due to its abundance of glycine. Just a few tablespoons can provide roughly three grams of glycine, which is enough to cause measurable improvements in sleep quality. (22, 23) Glycine is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it can decrease anxiety and promote mental calmness to let you sleep through the night. (24)
7. Other Benefits : Research suggests that gelatin may also aid in weight loss, help control blood sugar, improve cognitive and mental health, slow the growth of certain cancers, and much more. (25, 26, 27, 28, 29)
While gelatin isn’t acceptable to vegans, who shun all animal products, it may be to vegetarians who are open to eating some animal-derived foods, such as eggs and dairy.
Vegetarians Often Have Low Glycine Levels
Some Paleo followers who eat mainly muscle meats and ignore the nose-to-tail philosophy can also be susceptible to low glycine intake.
You Might Be at Risk for Cardiovascular Problems
Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans have significantly higher homocysteine levels, on average, than omnivores, putting them at significant risk for cardiovascular trouble. (30) This is possibly due to nutrient deficiencies in vitamin B12 and choline, which help keep homocysteine in check.
How to Incorporate Gelatin into your diet ?
An important note: Some people report a histamine reaction after consuming gelatin or gelatin powders and supplements, so gelatin may not be appropriate for those with severe histamine intolerances.
One of the worst single ingredients in the modern diet is added sugar.
It provides calories with no added nutrients and can damage your metabolism in the long run.
Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain and various diseases like obesity, type 2-diabetes, insulin resistance and heart disease.
But how much is too much?
Can you eat a little bit of sugar each day without harm, or should you avoid it as much as possible?
It is very important to make the distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables.
These are healthy foods that contain water, fiber and various micro-nutrients. Naturally occurring sugars are absolutely fine, but the same does not apply to added sugar.
Added sugar is the main ingredient in sweets and is plentiful in many processed foods, such as soft drinks and baked products such as bread, cakes and biscuits.
The most common added sugars are regular table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup.
If you want to lose weight and optimize your health, you should do your best to avoid foods that contain added sugars. Sugar that’s added to processed foods is much worse than natural sugar in whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
How Much Sugar is Safe to Eat Per Day ?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Some people can eat a lot of sugar without harm, while others should avoid it as much as possible.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are (7Trusted Source):
Personally I believe the above guidelines are still too much for a daily allowance !
To put that into perspective, one 12-oz can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar.
In contrast, the US dietary guidelines advise people to limit their intake to less than 10% of their daily calorie intake. For a person eating 2,000 calories per day, this would equal 50 grams of sugar, or about 12.5 teaspoons (8Trusted Source).
If you are healthy, lean and active, these seem like reasonable amounts. You’ll probably burn off these small amounts of sugar without them causing you any harm.
But it’s important to note that there is no need for added sugars in the diet. The less you eat, the healthier you will be.
If you are overweight, obese or diabetic, you should probably avoid sugar as much as possible.
In that case, you should not be consuming sugar every day, more like once per week or once every two weeks (at most).
If You're Addicted to Sugar, Perhaps You Should Avoid It Completely
Sugary junk foods stimulate the same areas in the brain as drugs of abuse.
For this reason, sugar can cause people to lose control over their consumption.
That said, sugar is not nearly as addictive as drugs of abuse, and “sugar addiction” should be comparatively easy to overcome.
If you have a history of binge eating, failure at setting rules about your eating (like cheat meals or days) and repeated failures with the "everything in moderation" approach, then perhaps you are addicted..
In the same way that a smoker needs to avoid cigarettes completely, a sugar addict needs to avoid sugar completely.
How to Reduce Sugars in Your Diet
Avoid these foods, in order of importance:
Drink water instead of soda or juices and don't add sugar to your coffee or tea.
Instead of sugar in recipes, you can try things like cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla, ginger, lemon or stevia (which is a natural zero-calorie alternative).
Just be creative and find recipes online. You can eat an endless variety of amazing foods even if you eliminate all sugar from your diet.
What About Sugar in Processed Foods?
The best way to cut back on sugar is to simply avoid processed foods and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead.
However, if you're simply unable to stick to unprocessed foods, then here are some tips on how to make the right choices:
Warning: You MUST read nutrition labels! Even foods disguised as "health foods" can be loaded with added sugars even if they are “organic”.
At the end of the day, it's important to figure out the sugar intake that’s right for you.
Some people can handle a little bit of sugar in their diet, while for others it causes cravings, binge eating, rapid weight gain and disease.
Every individual is unique and you need to figure out what works for you.
We are in an epidemic of osteoporosis. There can be no doubt about that.Ten million Americans have it, and one in three older women will get it. We urgently need public health strategies to maintain bone health throughout the life cycle and to prevent osteoporosis in later life.
Might fruits and vegetables be the unexpected natural answer to the question of osteoporosis prevention?
Evidence from a variety of studies strongly points to a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and indexes of bone health, such as bone mineral density, and the size of the effect in the older women is impressive: doubling the fruit intake is associated with a 5 percent higher spine mineralization. The same relationship exists with young women, too. And, eating lots of fruit in childhood may protect bones throughout life—something that was not found for milk intake.
Bone health isn’t just about calcium. There are several key nutrients found in vegetables, fruits, and beans that are associated with better bone mineral density, but does that translate into lower hip fracture risk? The Singapore Chinese Health Study found that a “diet rich in plant-based foods, namely vegetables, fruit, and legumes such as soy, may reduce the risk of hip fracture.” But,why?
“The underlying mechanism in postmenopausal osteoporosis (PO) is an imbalance between bone resorption [disappearance] and formation,” and oxidative stress may play a role in this balance.
There are two types of bone cells: “the bone-forming osteoblasts and the bone-dismantling osteoclasts.” Osteoblasts are continually laying down new bone, while osteoclasts chisel away old bone, using free radicals as the molecular chisel to chip away our bone. Too many free radicals in our system, though, may lead to excessive bone breakdown. Antioxidant defenses appear “markedly decreased in osteoporotic women,” and “elderly osteoporotic women had consistently lower levels of all natural antioxidants tested than controls.”
“Because excessive [free radicals] may contribute to bone loss, it is important to elucidate the potential role antioxidant-rich fruits play in mitigating bone loss that leads to the development of osteoporosis.” The thought is that fruits up-regulate the bone building cells, and down-regulate the bone-eating cells, tipping the balance towards greater bone mass. So, let’s put a fruit to the test.
Which one do we pick? Dried plums were chosen because they have among the highest antioxidant ranking among commonly consumed fruits and vegetables—and because the researchers received a grant from the California Dried Plum Board!
When you think of prunes, you think of bowels the classic constipation buster, not bones, but, over a decade ago, researchers at Oklahoma State tried giving a dozen prunes a day to a group of postmenopausal women, using a dozen dried apple rings as a control. After three months, only the subjects who consumed the prunes had significant elevations in an enzyme marker of bone formation, although prunes didn’t seem to affect markers of bone breakdown.
So, prunes may help more with building bones than preventing bone loss. However, the reverse was found with almonds, so maybe a little prune-and-almond trail mix is in order.
With this bump in bone formation indices, one might expect that if they did a longer study, we would actually see an impact on bone mineral density. And nine years later, just such a study was done: 12 months on dried plums versus apples. Both dried fruit regimens appeared to have “bone-protective effects,” though the prunes seemed to work better in the arm bone and spine.
So, the dried plum marketing board wants everyone to know that dried plums are “the most effective fruit in both preventing and reversing bone loss,” but only two fruits have ever been tested: plums and apples. If this pans out for other plants, though, “a ‘fruit and vegetables’ approach may provide a very sensible (and natural) alternative therapy for osteoporosis treatment, one that is likely to have numerous additional health-related benefits.”
All we have to do is convince people to actually do it !
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 !