Nutrition

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13 Foods That’ll Give You Stronger Hair And Nails

Are you supplementing your vitamins with actual food?

Meanwhile In Texas: 35kg Three-Year-Old Has Diabetes

In a case that is probably (and unfortunately) not a surprise; a Texas three-year-old girl has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The little girl weighs 35kg (5 stone), and is the youngest case of the disease ever recorded. Her parents, who reside in Houston, are also obese. According to Dr Michael Yafi of the Department of Paediatric Endocrinology at the University of Texas, this was a result of “poor family nutritional habits with uncontrolled [consumption] of calories and fat”. There is no family history of diabetes.

RELATED: Fight Childhood Obesity With Good Nutrition For Kids

Fortunately, the child has been successfully treated; over the last 6 months she has been given the drug Metformin to control her blood sugar levels and a low calorie diet. This has resulted in enough weight loss to return her blood sugar levels to normal, and the diabetes has been reversed/cured temporarily. However, it may return if her nutritional habits descend to their former (non)glory.

This case reveals an explosion of diabetes in children and teenagers. Dr Yafi stated, “The incidence of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically worldwide in children due to the epidemic of child obesity. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of type 2 diabetes even in very young obese children. This highlights how important it is that children get a healthy start to life.”

Children in Texas fare worse than most; 32.2 percent of Texas children are overweight or obese, which is above the national average in the USA. Similar figures have emerged in the UK.  The youngest known case of type 2 diabetes in Britain is a seven-year-old, and approximately 1,300 young people under 18 have been diagnosed with the illness.

Considering the (usually) quick metabolism of children and teenagers, it is a wonder that previously healthy children are able to gain the excess of weight required to trigger type 2 diabetes. The amount of food consumed would have to be astronomical, and the resulting lifestyle so sedentary that there is little hope of turning it around. So how does it get to this point? How do parents look at their severely overweight children and fail to recognise a problem?

Perhaps the first logical answer is lack of education about food and nutrition. The 2004 documentary Supersize Me, in which Morgan Spurlock self-tests the effects of eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month, brings this to the forefront. Spurlock takes to the streets and asks a selection of people whether they know what a calorie is. A disconcertingly large amount of people say they do not. Some give semi-ludicrous examples of what they think a calorie may be, each more inaccurate than the last.

It is very rare to meet a person who knows the specifics of the effect sugar/high GI foods have on insulin levels. Too few people are aware of the recommended daily calorie intake of females vs. males. And the magnitude of food in people’s shopping trolleys (cereals, raisin-bread, yoghurt, etc.) masquerading as healthy is frightening.

The second answer is economics. Healthy, unprocessed, organic food is expensive. The price of peanut butter loaded with salt, sugar and preservatives is often less than half the cost of its just-peanuts healthier counterpart. It is infinitely cheaper and less time consuming to buy the family dinner basket from KFC than shop for, cook, and serve a real family dinner at home.

It seems the obvious solutions are to ditch the idea that pointing out unhealthy weight is “body shaming”. It’s not. Children/their parents should be formally educated on the nature of nutrition. Making healthy food cheaper and more accessible wouldn’t hurt either; but hey, finding an economic way to do that while ensuring distributors don’t go broke is a tricky one. However, if we want to truly combat childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, we must find a way to facilitate any remedy we can.

Image via Hsj.co.uk

Weight Loss Tips For Yummy Mummies

Are you just starting out on your weight loss journey; or have you been trying without much success? Rhian Allen, founder of health and fitness website for mums healthymummy.com, gives her eight tips on what you can do to help start seeing results sooner – all based around healthy eating and exercise: 

Switch to wholegrain everything

At first, this might seem difficult and you might meet with some resistance from family members but you and they will get used to it. That means no more white flour, white bread, white pasta, white rice, all of these are available in wholemeal or wholegrain options. You could also try switching out things like pasta and rice for other options like cous cous or quinoa (you can even get wholemeal cous cous).

Reduce your added sugar intake

Added sugar is a sneaky one and you will find that it’s in so many foods. Instead of trying to cut it out completely it’s a good idea just to reduce it as much as possible. For example, you could switch a low fat strawberry yoghurt for some natural or Greek yoghurt with fresh berries added. Also, avoid keeping sugary foods in your house or make healthy alternatives with The Healthy Mummy’s low fat baking recipes.

Watch out for bad fats

While it’s important to consume good fats from sources such as fish, olive oil, avocado and nuts, it’s also key to reduce or avoid bad fats. Bad fats found in deep fried foods, commercial cakes, chips, chocolate bars, donuts, pastries etc. These are the fats that can hinder your weight loss, make you feel lethargic, and make it hard to keep your skin looking fresh. 

Get moving everyday

If you really want to crank up your results, add some exercise along with your good nutrition – you will see a big difference in your body and fitness levels. You could try a daily walk, a couple of segments from The Healthy Mummy Exercise DVD, a regular swimming session or fitness class, cycling, yoga or pilates. Basically anything that gets your heart pumping and helps you break a sweat is a good thing.

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Alcohol gives you additional calories in your day with no nutritional benefit whatsoever, so it’s an easy one to reduce your consumption to quickly reduce your total calorie intake. Keep alcohol for the weekends or special occasions.

Don’t skip meals and snacks

Your metabolism is responsible for helping you to lose weight, and it’s important that it’s fired up and kept busy throughout the day with healthy meals and snacks at regular intervals. We recommend 3 main meals and 2-3 healthy snacks per day in order to lose weight.

Cut down on bread

If you find that you are having two slices of toast at breakfast and a sandwich for lunch, you could end up eating almost 30 slices of bread per week. While we don’t suggest cutting bread out entirely, it’s a good idea to reduce your consumption if you are trying to lose pregnancy weight. Or replace traditional bread with wholegrain!

Keep healthy convenient foods on hand

Make life easy by keeping healthy convenient foods on hand so that you can easily pull a meal together. For instance eggs, tinned tomatoes, cous cous, bags of salad leaves, tinned chickpeas or kidney beans, tinned tuna, portions of frozen cooked brown rice that you can defrost in the microwave.

The Healthy Mummy’s next online 28 Day Winter Weight Loss Program starts soon, with sign up on June 1.

Why Green Tea Is Great For Your Health

Green tea is a popular beverage choice for health conscious women and for good reason – green tea is great for your health!

Originating from China, green tea is filled with antioxidants and nutrients that work wonders for your body, green tea helps contribute towards improved brain function, fat loss, lower risk for some cancers and much more. Its no wonder women across the world are switching their daily coffee addictions for 2-3 cups of pure green tea per day.

Fat loss is probably one of the health benefits that has got us most excited at the moment. Studies have proven that green tea can boost your metabolic rate and increase fat burning. If you look at the ingredients for fat-burning supplements, there’s a very good chance green tea will be one of them.

RELATED: Wattleseeds: An Alternative To Coffee? 

In one study fat oxidation was increased by 17 per cent indicating that green tea increased the burning of fat. In another study it was shown to improve physical performance by mobilising fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them available for energy use.

However, asides from fat loss, the benefits of green tea are plentiful.

Contributes to the fight against allergies

Adding green tea to your allergy arsenal can actually help ease discomfort. The delicious green liquid is anti-allergenic that according to a 2007 study published by the journal of Cytotechnology found the tea can reduce pollen allergies.

Improves eyesight

Move over carrots because there’s a new kid on the block, science suggests that the antioxidants found in green tea can penetrate the tissue of the eyes and produces antioxidant activity. Catechins, one of the antioxidants in green tea is capable of being absorbed into the eye tissue and can serve to protect your eyes.

Wards off pancreatic cancer

Green tea has been known to target pancreatic cancer, and most recently oral cancer. One of the strongest antioxidants found in green tea is EGCG, which can actually kill cancer cells through the destruction of the cells’ mitochrondria. This sounds awfully complicated, but its basically a jargon filled way of saying scientists believe that the antioxidants in green tea could eventually be used to replace chemotherapy without any of the negative side effects generally associated with intense treatment plans. But, this is still a long way off.

RELATED: Q&A With Michelle Bridges

It lowers cholesterol

Green tea can help to lower your total cholesterol levels by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and inhibiting blood clot formation. With all the health risks associated with high cholesterol, like high blood pressure and heart disease, this is literally music to our ears.

At the end of the day, green tea is the healthier tea choice because of the way it’s processed. Green tea doesn’t go through the same oxidising process as black tea, making it a more natural alternative. Plus, green tea is not only great for your health – it’s also delicious!

Image via leadingahealthylifestyle.com

The Secret To Perfect Breakfast Porridge

Porridge might be one of the most underrated breakfasts ever. Not only is it delicious and filling, but it’s also high in fibre and protein, which makes it ideal for starting the day right.

I have to confess that I usually opt for quick oats prepared in the microwave, but whenever I have a bit more time in the morning, I make sure to prepare the perfect breakfast porridge, which is a million times better than your quick oat sachets.  Here’s how it’s done:

RELATED: 3 Winter Breakfast Recipes

The first important thing is to get the right oats. Rolled oats take longer to cook than quick oats as the grains are not as thin, however the texture of your porridge will be much better with rolled oats. If time is an issue for you, simply soak the oats in water overnight. This will make them cook within 5 minutes.

Use 1/2 cup of oats per person and 3 times the amount of water, so for one person, you would need 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring oats and water mixture to a boil in a pan or pot and then turn down to simmer, all while stirring with the “wrong” end of a wooden spoon. Keep stirring for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the creaminess and texture you like.

Now here comes the secret: salt. Add a pinch of salt to your oats and you’ll be surprised how much more flavour you’ll get from whatever you add to your oats. This could be fruits, peanut butter, cinnamon, nuts – the possibilities are endless!

During cooking, you might have to add some more water if your porridge gets too thick. Remember that it will thicken even after you have turned off the stove so if it’s a bit runny while still hot, it should be perfect once cooled down.

Serve in a bowl and add a splash of milk and whatever topping you feel like. Enjoy your perfect breakfast porridge!

image via the-nutritionista.co.uk

 

Australia Finally Gets A New Food Pyramid

Out with the old in with the new – finally, Nutrition Australia have released a new food pyramid!

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First introduced 35 years ago, the food pyramid has been used as an educational tool to teach people how to have a balanced diet. The thing is, however, it’s been a misleading source of information, says experts, with bread and cereal previously grouped with vegetables and legumes as the primary source of energy.

Using a more realistic and time appropriate approach to nutrition, the new diagram breaks the pyramid up into 4 sections, with vegetables and fruit taking their rightful place at the bottom. Carbohydrate rich foods have been replaced with wholegrains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats, and have moved up on the pyramid because apparently we’re consuming too much in our daily diets. What’s more, junk food has been eliminated altogether!

The Food Pyramid Finally

“The new pyramid cuts through the misleading information and fad diets that are getting so much attention, and provides Australians with a credible, flexible and realistic guide to eating well,” Nutrition Australia executive officer Lucinda Hancock told Yahoo! 7.

“We want to get the message across that for most people the simplest way to eat healthier is to cut down on junk food and sugary drinks and to eat mostly from the core food groups – especially to eat more fruit and vegetables,” she continued.

Dairy – with soy alternatives – and protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes (for vegetarians) have been included as foods to eat in moderation, with healthy fats topping the food pyramid in small doses. Interestingly, herbs and spices are recommended for seasoning food instead of salt. Drinking more water and exercising regularly is also encouraged.

What do you think of the changes?

Images via Daily Mail, Shutterstock

5 Most Wasted Foods (And What You Can Do About It)

According to the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away in the UK every year – and almost 50% of this comes directly from our homes. At a time when households and families are increasingly stretched financially, struggling to cope with essential obligations such as mortgage or rent costs, utility bills and fuel prices – not to mention groceries – it seems incredible that as a nation we’re so casual in the use of our food and the rejection of it.

The UK is not alone. Similar behaviour is present around Europe – the whole EU wastes around 90 million tonnes per annum. We are, in fact, a continent of food wasters.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With a little organisation, preparation and education, food which might otherwise have been tossed away and wasted can be saved and recycled into meals. This interactive guide from ao.com is a useful place to start, suggesting quick and easy recipes for five of the most commonly wasted foods. There are some very simple solutions for food types which are typically trashed.

Bread

The No.1 disposable food item in UK cupboards, according to Defra, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Yet it’s so easy to avoid throwing bread away. The main problem appears to be packs of bread which are opened but then not finished. Avoid this by buying a smaller pack, or freezing half of it. Don’t forget, sliced bread can be frozen. If you forget to do that, don’t worry. Blitz stale bread into crumbs for use in a wide range of recipes or tear it into chunky handfuls to make a bread and butter pudding.

Potatoes

A staple in the UK cupboard but too often chucked prematurely especially when bought in large bags. The main lesson here is not to dispose of spuds too early. Most will last a week or two longer than the use by date on the packaging – if a potato has small sprouts appearing it’s still safe to eat. Just slice them off. However, if they’re turning green or brown, time to go. Again, just like bread, potatoes can be frozen. Rather than getting rid, produce masses of mash which can be used again later.
A quick and simple, yet delicious, recipe for potato cakes can be found here.

Bananas

Bananas go ripe very quickly. A top tip is to always buy the greener ones in the supermarket, as they’ll have a longer shelf life, if only for a few days. But even if the bananas in your fruit bowl turn a dark brown colour they can still be used perfectly well. Mush them up and with just a couple of very simple other ingredients – which many households usually have – you can produce a delicious banana cake; like this one here.

Carrots

Again, regularly bought in large bags and not always completely used. Fortunately, carrots are extremely versatile vegetables and there really is no excuse for wasting a single one. Slice each into batons for quick and healthy snacks, grate them and use in a tasty carrot cake, or blend up with stock and onion to make carrot and coriander soup. That can be eaten immediately, or batches can be frozen and used in the coming weeks. Worried your freezer is getting a little full? It might be worth considering a larger model or even a chest freezer in the garage – the investment will eventually pay for itself in the savings made on food.

Apples

High time to change the attitude when it comes to the humble apple. It has far more potential than just being eaten cold, by hand. Coring and slicing up ageing fruit, then heating it gradually to cook it down, provides a base for crumbles and pies. Same for making apple sauce, which can then be stored and used as an accompaniment to roast pork, which saves you buying a new pot of the stuff from the supermarket every few Sundays. Slice and fry into tasty apple fritters, or bake whole with a filling of raisins and sultanas. These are just a few suggestions – the bottom line is, don’t throw apples in the bin!

Sip The Health Benefits Of Tea

I love walking into the tea aisle in the supermarket. It’s almost like the confectionary aisle for grown ups. It’s no longer just English breakfast and earl grey, tea has come such a long way over the last couple of years. It’s not just for pinky waving nannies anymore; tea is trendy.

RELATED: The Surprise Benefits In Your Morning Coffee

A huge percentage of the population drink coffee, but tea is on the uprising, not just for the taste and flavours, but for the benefits to brings to the body. Teatoxes are a thing and Twinings now have more flavours of tea than Cadbury does of chocolate. It might be time to ditch the double shot soy caramel latte for a nice, hot cuppa tea to rejuvenate and relax.

Black Tea

Black tea contains a lot of caffeine, so it has similar benefits to coffee in relation to giving you alertness, fat burning and more, except that it also contains two types of antioxidants that have been linked to lower cholesterol levels. Drinking two or more cups of black tea per day has also been linked to lowering the risk of a stroke.

Green Tea

Green tea contains lots of antioxidants that may interfere with the growth of some types of cancer. Green tea also prevents clogging of the arteries, thus helping to reduce cholesterol levels and stroke and can also be a fat burner, so grab a cup!

White Tea

No, this isn’t adding milk to your cup of English breakfast. White tea is given its name because of the soft, downy hairs on the buds. White tea is the highest in antioxidants and the lowest in caffeine. It’s also said that white tea has the highest cancer fighting properties.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has been found to lower levels of bad cholesterol, which is one of the great benefits of tea.

Chamomile

Chamomile tea has very soothing benefits and has also been shown to help stop side effects of diabetes like loss of vision and nerve damage. Chamomile is also said to stunt the growth of cancer cells.

Image via rivertea.com

5 Essential Foods For A Better Body

If you want a better body then you need to consider your diet. You need to look at the nutrients you consume and plan for a balanced diet. Cut out excess takeaways, fast foods and products high in saturated fat and boost the number of ‘superfoods’ you consume on a regular basis. Here’s 5 things to get into your diet straight away in your quest for a better body:

Broccoli

This traditional green veg has earned a bit of an image makeover in recent years, with many people realising that the health benefits it possesses make it an essential food for a healthy body. It contains vitamins C, A and K natural folic acid, calcium, fibre, (notably indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane). The British Dietetic Association guards against the more headline-grabbing claims that broccoli can combat cancer, heart disease and diabetes – but says it is a healthy and versatile food, making it an essential part of your diet.

Brown rice

This is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, vitamin B-6 and niacin and also provides you with iron and zinc. It’s filling so will satisfy your hunger for a long time. The ‘polishing’ process of creating white rice removes many of the nutrients that brown rice contains so making a simple switch to this will give you a much healthier option without involving a big change.

Berries

Whether it’s blueberries, cranberries or strawberries – get plenty of berries into your diet for a better body. Strawberries are high in folic acid and contain more vitamin C than oranges, blueberries get their colour from powerful antioxidants while cranberries support healthy bacteria. All berries are a good source of fibre – leaving you feeling full and avoiding the need to snack on sugary treats.

Pomegranate

This fabulous fruit is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols which can help to combat disease, making it one of the most powerful fruits when it comes to health. The seeds are ideal in salads or a host of other dishes while the juice can be a refreshing drink. Avoid buying drinks laced with too much sugar.

Dark chocolate

Yes, chocolate really can be good for you. Dark chocolate – ideally with more than 70% cocoa content since it’s the cocoa that you need – has a number of potential benefits. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. It also contains the antioxidants catechins and procyanidins. Beware some of the grand promises you may have read but dark chocolate can help with blood pressure and stress levels.

These five foods are essential to getting a diet that will help give you a better body but getting the right mix can be very tough. That’s why you should also consider the sensible use of supplements. Don’t use these instead of food but to make sure you get everything you need – particularly if your better body is part of a project to get fitter, more toned or enhance your sporting performance. Fysique Nutrition is the latest brand in this field and has a variety of products that can help towards your better body.

Would You Eat Algae?

As a health writer, I’ve tried my fair share of fitness and nutrition trends. Aerial yoga? Yep. Ancient healing herbs. Uh-ha. But when word of the latest super food landed in my inbox I was taken aback- algae.

RELATED: Top 9 Vitamins For Women At Every Age

Yes, algae. I’m not talking about the slimy, green kind though. Companies such as Queensland-based business Divinita have brought the health benefits of brown algae to Australian shores in the form of a small, odourless and tasteless pill.

Algae supplements are trending globally. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are all said to be fans, thanks to its nutrient dense profile. Britney Spears reportedly eats algae raw (urgh). So, what is this odd health trend and should you try it?

“People can turn up their nose at first, but ocean foods and greens like spirulina and chlorella are becoming much more accessible,” says Adam Danielli, General Manager of Divinita – one of the first companies to introduce organic brown algae supplements to the Australian market.

Brown algae is extremely high in iodine, an element said to be crucial in maintaining a healthy weight that helps regulate the thyroid gland. A recent study found that many Australians are deficient in iodine, which is found naturally in wild fish, seaweed and iodized salt. What’s more, brown algae is also high in nutrients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. A study by Queensland University’s School of Agriculture and Food Science suggests this superfood is a nutrient cocktail.

“Extensive research shows that brown algae seaweed is more rich in antioxidants than acai berry and contain more vitamin A than tomatoes and pumpkin,” says Peer Schenk, professor at the University of Queensland.

While its benefit list reads longer than a queue at Press Juices, accredited practicing dietician Katherine Baqleh isn’t convinced this fad has staying-power. “I don’t believe in extracting nutrients and taking them in capsule form. Whole foods are best, especially because they contain a whole range of other nutritents,” she points out. “Fish, for example, is high in iodine, but eating real fish provides you with healthy fats, poteins and Vitamin D.”

She also stresses that iodine deficiency should first be diagnosed by a health professional. “Iodine is not a magic bullet for weight loss, unless you have a genuinely diagnosed issue,” she says.

Professor Peer Schenk notes that aside from iodine, brown algae is also high in protein. He says it even contains more than eggs. “This is particularly important because it allows the body to slowly digest the contents, which may help with the feeling of satiety and allow for better absorption,” he says.

So will this irksome-sounding supplement make it to superfood status? That remains to be seen. Anything that promises to combat those 3pm cravings and keep weight in check has our attention.

Images via Swiish

Psyllium: The Superfood Which Can Help You Lose Weight

Ladies, there’s someone new and exciting I’d like you to meet: Australia’s latest superfood, psyllium.

RELATED: Why Detox Diets Are Dodgy And Don’t Work

Psyllium (pictured) is a 100 per cent natural source of fibre and can be added to recipes, smoothies or cereal without altering the taste of the dish. You can also get pure, natural psyllium husk from supplements such as Metamucil.

Psyllium, weight loss, superfood

What’s more, we should all be getting more fibre in our diets, especially if we’re trying to shed a few kilos. Why? A recent US study found a higher daily intake of fibre will help us lose weight nearly as much as following a low-calorie diet.

Trial participants who ensured they got the recommended 30g of fibre daily, as part of their normal diet, saw their overall health improve through weight-loss and lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Here, popular and well-regarded Sydney dietitian, nutritionist, author and busy mum, Dr Joanna McMillan (pictured), shares her top knowledge on fibre and easy ways to incorporate more into our diets.

Psyllium, weight loss, superfood

And Dr Joanna should know; she’s vice president of the Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association (ALMA) and is an ambassador for Diabetes Australia and Australian Pineapples.

What is psyllium? Psyllium comes from the outer husk of the seed of a particular plant. It’s an incredible source of fibre and soluble fibre in particular. It’s also gluten-free so ideal for those unable to get fibre from common wholegrains.

What are its health benefits? Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel in the gut. This helps you to feel full and eat less; it stimulates your gut to contract thereby keeping you regular; it slows the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrates present; it helps to lower cholesterol levels; it fuels the gut microbiome (the good bugs in your gut) and it helps to bind and carry out of the body potential carcinogens and other toxins.

Why is psyllium not well-known? Most people have probably heard of the brand Metamucil, but not realised that psyllium is the active ingredient. You can also buy psyllium husks in health and whole food stores, but because it hasn’t been talked about in mainstream media, most people won’t have known what it was useful for.

What is the best way to consume psyllium? You can simply dissolve it in water and drink, or add it to smoothies, yoghurt, pancake or muffin mixes. You can also even stir it through mashed potato.

summerweightloss

Why is fibre important? It’s important primarily for gut health – keeping us regular, feeding the good bacteria in our gut (which in turn boosts immune function) and helping to prevent gut problems. But it also helps with blood glucose and insulin control as well as promoting healthy cholesterol profiles.

What health problems can you encounter without a fibre-rich diet? Principally, poor gut health, but this has a knock-on effect on the rest of the body. If your gut is sluggish and you feel bloated, it affects your energy levels and your motivation to exercise and eat well.

How can fibre, and psyllium, help you lose weight? Fibre-rich meals help to fill us up and feel sated after the meal. This can help to stop you raiding the biscuit tin in-between meals. By lowering blood glucose and insulin, fibre can also potentially boost fat burning and keep your hunger pangs at bay.

Why is psyllium husk the next superfood? Psyllium has so many health benefits and it’s so easy to incorporate into your diet. It has the potential to assist with blood glucose control, reduce constipation, reduce blood levels of “bad” LDL-cholesterol, lower blood pressure and may help in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. It can also help you to lose weight by making you feel fuller for longer.

 the zone diet, eating plan, weight loss, diet plans, womens health

 

How To Get The Ultimate Night’s Sleep

Counting sheep yet staying up all night? Sleep expert and Chairman of the Sleep Health Foundation, David Hillman, shares his top tips to help you get the ultimate night’s sleep!

1. Set the mood for slumber

Your room should be quiet and dark. Before you go to sleep, be sure to turn off the lights and any other stimuli such as the TV and completely close your blinds or curtains.

2. Sleep in a clean and pleasant environment

You know the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Well, a mess-free and uncluttered room will help aide a clear and undistracted mind. Spend just a few minutes each night tidying your bedroom before you get into bed. Instead of throwing your clothes on the floor, hang them up or fold them neatly in a pile to be put away properly later.

3. Get the room temperature right

There’s nothing worse than a freezing cold bedroom at night. An hour before you’re ready to hit the sack, get your room temperature right by closing the windows and adjusting the air conditioner or heater in winter. You’ll sleep better when you have the balance right.

4. Avoid interruptions

Switch your phone to silent mode so if it rings or you get a message you won’t be woken. If your partner is noisy then ear plugs can help block out the snoring or restless noises. Similarly eye masks are a great sleep companion whether at home or away, to help eliminate light and movement.

5. Choose the right bed and bedding 

It’s essential to have the right bed and bedding. Have an expert help you pick your mattress and pillow. You’ll be surprised what a huge difference this can make!

6. Manage jet lag 

If you’re travelling across time zones, help your body clock adapt more quickly to the time at your destination by adjusting your watch and phone as soon as you get on the plane. Try to eat meals and sleep as you will in your new time zone as soon as you can to make the adjustment process easier.

7. Bring a piece of home with you 

For some, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings is difficult, no matter how comfortable it is. Keep to familiar routines. Bringing a few personal items from home (e.g. a photograph, a mug, reading material) may help you to relax and bring familiarity to your new location.

8. Wind down and relax before bed 

Have a buffer zone before bedtime. Sort out any problems well before going to bed. This may mean setting aside ‘worry time’ during the day. Use this time to go over the day’s activities and work out a plan of action for the next day. Try to avoid using your computer within one hour of bedtime, instead pick up a magazine or book to help take your mind off any problems. Exercise is fine, but not too late in the evening. Find a relaxation technique that works for you.

9. Spend the right amount of time in bed

Most adults need about eight hours sleep every night. Many poor sleepers spend much more than eight hours in bed and this makes fragmented sleep a habit. Except if you have lengthy sleep requirements, limit your time in bed to no more than eight and a half hours. If you often take hours to fall asleep, go to bed later or try reading to help you drift off. Remember that children need more sleep than adults.

10. Things to avoid… 

Alcohol may help you to get off to sleep, but will disrupt your sleep during the night. Caffeine (tea, coffee, cola drinks) and the nicotine in cigarettes are stimulants that can keep you awake. Instead, choose special blends of herbal tea that encourage sleep. Steer clear of sleeping pills except in exceptional circumstances and as advised by your doctor, they won’t fix the cause of your sleeping problem.

What’s your best tip for a good night’s sleep?

Are We Being Fooled By The Health And Fitness Industry?

In recent years, the health and fitness industry has experienced rapid growth, with anything and everything deemed healthy or nutritional sparking our interest. But, in the past few months however, the same industry has come under attack by both the public and the media after several allegations surrounding dishonest business ethics.

With obesity and malnutrition rates at an all-time high, there has never been more of a demand for healthy weight-loss programs, but are we being subjected to false and misleading information by health and fitness ‘gurus’ in a bid to capitalise on the problem?

Recently, fitness trainer and clean eating advocate Ashy Bines came under fire after she admitted to some of her recipes had been reproduced from other people’s websites. The Gold Coast workout queen addressed the issue in a YouTube video and admitted: “By outsourcing… to a nutritionist I was trying to give you all something of value and to come up with delicious recipes from the food I suggested.

“Unfortunately, I may have been too naïve to think that I wouldn’t have to check the origins of each recipe, instead trusting that the work would be completed in an honest and professional manner.”

Her admission clearly raises concerns as to why stricter guidelines aren’t being set. Especially after the scandal surrounding The Whole Pantry founder Belle Gibson, who was recently accused of faking her battle with cancer and withholding thousands of dollars in charity donations.

Since reports surfaced, her smartphone app and cookbook – which are based on the story of healing herself from brain cancer – have been pulled from circulation and, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the publisher, Penguin, have admitted to not fact-checking her story.

It doesn’t stop there. Pete Evans’ book Bubba Yum Yum was put on hold after featuring a bone-broth formula recipe that was considered to be potentially fatal to infants. According to Good Food, the claim was slammed as “false and misleading” by health and economics expert at the Australian National University, Julie Smith.

“I think the ACCC should be looking very hard at this particular claim. The commercial publisher aims to make money out of this book and I suspect they would have to consider very carefully the investigation that would ensue if they published it,” she said.

And then of course, there’s the cult-like following in which meal-replacement shakes and supplements are promoted by companies as being healthy and preservative free, yet several nutritionists and dieticians say otherwise, and critics claim most are a scam.

So what’s the deal health and fitness industry? How can we distinguish the fact from the fiction? One minute we’re told to eat kale, then a report surfaces that too much kale can be deadly. The same can be said with the low-carb movement – it’s promoted by some as being the miracle approach to weight-loss, while others slam the diet as being unrealistic and dangerous.

Who’s telling the truth? And at what cost does it come to our health in the long-term? Maybe it’s time the health and fitness industry seriously considered an overhaul because, for all we know, we could be doing more damage than good.

Image via Shutterstock

How To Avoid The PMS Pig Out

For three weeks out of four, following a healthy eating plan can seem like a piece of cake (or celery), but then PMS strikes and all attempts at following a sensible strategy are lost. Here, Ms Colette Heimowitz, nutritionist and vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals Inc, provides five tips to keep you on track.

“The key is putting strategies in place to combat your PMS cravings,” Ms Heimowitz said.

According to Heimowitz, common premenstrual symptoms include feeling bloated and heavy, lethargic, a ‘bit blue’, and powerful cravings for chocolate and sugar laden foods – many of which can be combated by following a carbohydrate-controlled eating program, such as the Atkins Nutritional Approach.

“In the lead up to ‘that time’, many women may find themselves unable to resist reaching for high carbohydrate, starchy foods such as white bread and white pasta, as well as sweet foods such as lollies, chocolate and pastries – all of which may seem to be a quick fix to boost energy levels and ward off the premenstrual blues, but in actual fact will only lead to a vicious cycle of sugar-highs and lows,” Ms Heimowitz said.

So how can we combat the symptoms of PMS – and the (often) resulting pig out?

Colette Heimowitz’s top five tips for battling the bloat and keeping hormones and blood sugar levels in check include:

1. Avoid stepping on the scales

Many women may hold water and experience weight gain in the lead up to and during their menstrual cycle. Normal weight fluctuation is 2.5 kilograms, and some women may experience gains slightly higher than this during ‘that time’. Seeing your weight increase – or, if you are trying to lose weight, seeing weight loss stall – can be disheartening. Stick to healthy eating and exercise and wait to weigh yourself until after your cycle.

2. Carbohydrate control is key

Adopting a carbohydrate-controlled approach (such as Atkins) is an excellent way to curb your carb and sugar cravings – both in the lead up to and during menstruation, and every other day of the year. Not to mention the fact that high-carb foods are often the culprits of belly bloating and weight gain.

By cutting out processed carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods – such as white bread, chips and lollies – and building your diet around fresh, whole foods – such as lean protein (including meat, poultry, fish, tofu and legumes), plenty of leafy green and fibrous vegetables, healthy natural oils ,dairy, nuts, low sugar fruits , and whole grains– you will find your cravings for high-carb, high-sugar foods will decrease, belly bloating will lesson and you will be on your way to a healthier figure and lifestyle.

3. Never skip a meal or snack

A golden rule for weight management in general, ensuring you eat regular meals and snacks is even more important during menstruation. Eating regularly will help keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel, reducing cravings for high-carb and sugar-laden foods.

4. Exercise

Even light exercise, such as walking or jogging, will encourage your body to produce endorphins – a naturally occurring chemical in your body that boosts mood, and is often considered an elixir of happiness. So if PMS has you feeling blue, one of the best cures is to get off the couch and get your body moving!

5. Keep healthy snacks on hand that will satiate cravings

Craving chocolate or sugar? Keep in mind that caving in to the sweet will only result in your blood sugar levels peaking and then dropping, leaving you feeling worse off than before. Reaching for a low GI, whole food snack – rather than a sugar-laden one – will keep you feeling full for longer and keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel.

If you really can’t pass up the chocolate or sweets, try a low-carb option instead, such as a bar or shake from the Atkins range. High in protein and fibre but low in sugar and carbohydrates – they taste like your regular favourites so will satisfy cravings and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Weight-Loss

Are you one of those people who wants to lose-weight, but struggles to keep up with the consistency of working out? It’s a common dilemma that a lot of us face, with too busy, too tired or too lazy being the overriding voice of reason.

RELATED: Why You Start Working On Your Summer Body Now

The harsh reality is you have to move it to lose it, but you also don’t have to run yourself into the ground to do so, either. We chatted to Isowhey sports ambassador and owner of BattleFit Australia, Andrew Pap (pictured below) to find out more realistic ways to approach weight-loss, and all of which require minimal effort!

Be realistic in your planning

First things first, if you’re not used to going to the gym 5-6 days a week or eating impeccably healthy, cut yourself some slack and ease your way into it. “When you make the resolution it’s easy to get carried away, throwing yourself at the gym every day and over restricting yourself from sugar/carbs/fats or whatever ‘fad diet’ seems to be in fashion at that moment,” says Andrew.

Going too hard too soon is usually when failure strikes. It’s also when we’re most likely to get overwhelmed and quit. Instead, “be realistic in your planning, understand that you’re easing your way back into this lifestyle and are not accustom the work load that you will soon experience.”

Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Incorporate ‘easy sessions’ into your workout routine

It’s all too easy to think that being tired or exhausted warrants the excuse to do nothing, but any exercise is better than no exercise. And while it’s important to take a “holistic approach” to training and nutrition, there are still exercises you can do that require minimal effort and which still burn calories.

“If you are feeling tired or exhausted, try doing an active recovery activity such as yoga, walking, swimming or a stretching session. After doing a session like this, you may find that you get a burst of energy and can then go onto do something that is a little more strenuous,” encourages Andrew.

Shorten your workouts

After a long day at the office or running around on your feet, sometimes the last thing you want to do is slog it out at the gym for an hour. This is not an excuse to skip on your workout, however! Stop thinking big and start thinking small. A half hour workout is more than enough time to work up a sweat and burn calories, and is relatively easy to motivate yourself to do.

“I would recommend simple body weight ‘tabata’ style circuits,” says Andrew. “For tabata, you will do an activity, such as rowing, running or cycling at a high speed for 20 seconds, and then a lower speed for 10 seconds and repeat for at least 8 sets if not more.

“This style of training is great as it incorporates the entire body including upper body, core and legs in every session. You’ll be able to enjoy a quick high intensity workout that’ll give you the ‘pick me up’ that you need for the day!”

The Lazy Girl's Guide To Weight-Loss

Rest up

If you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, despite setting four alarms (all of which you’ve clearly snoozed), Andrew says it is okay to have a sleep-in, but advises that you revise your reason for being exhausted. And no, the bed being too warm and cosy doesn’t count! “If you’re waking up exhausted, then either you’re over training, sleeping too little or possibly lacking in your nutrition,” he insists.

“I would suggest sleeping and making sure that you’re well rested for your next session. If you continue to push through those signs of exhaustion you can potentially begin to show signs of chronic fatigue. Too much stress on your adrenal glands could have you sidelined for years!”

Find a spare 10 minutes

Surprisingly, you can achieve a lot in ten minutes, and it’s not a difficult amount of time to free up in your day. So if you really are too busy or too lazy to get in a half hour workout, make a commitment to move for ten minutes and give it all you’ve got. Just think: It’s ten minutes!

“If you are doing a very short session, I would suggest keeping your heart rate high the entire time by incorporating multi-joint movements such as burpees, squats, moving lunges, bear crawls and star jumps,” insists Andrew. “Look at doing an AMRAP session (As Many Rounds As Possible) in ten minutes.”

Here is one of Andrew’s suggested AMRAP workouts:

  • 5 burpees
  • 10 mountain climbers
  • 10m bear crawls forward/reverse
  • 10 lunges
  • 5 jump squats

 Commit, but don’t over commit

For some, working out 5-6 times a week is unrealistic. It’s certainly something you can work up to, but the goal here is consistency. To start out, Andrew recommends doing three hard sessions per week and two active recovery sessions, such as walking, yoga or stretching. Once you’ve become accustom to this routine, “bump it up to 4/5 hard sessions, 2/3 active recovery and at least one day completely rested.” Regardless, Andrew recommends moving at least four times a week to see results.

Keep it fun

Time and time again we’re advised to participate in forms of exercise that we enjoy, and for Andrew, this is partly how he keeps in shape. “I make sure that I am doing what I love. Exercising should not be a chore.”

He explains: “I like to train in many different codes of fitness as I love to try new things. It keeps me entertained and it allows me to learn new techniques and have new ideas that I can then incorporate into my own workouts.”

Not sure where to start? The sports ambassador insists there are many creative and fun ways to keep active, including joining an individual or team sport, pursuing hobbies, gym, boot camps, surfing or rowing. “You should be able to find something that you enjoy doing.”

Shift your focus

Ever heard of the saying “what you resist, persists?” If you continue to focus on the number on the scale or the centimetres around your waistline, the desired results are likely to evade you. Instead, try a more positive approach, such as Andrews: “What I like is to set performance goals rather than goals that are based on weight or measurements.

“I feel that if you become a stronger, faster, fitter version of yourself then you should start not only looking and feeling better, but also being stronger and healthier too. I really like to have events to look forward too as well as it encourages me to stay disciplined and on track.”

Feature Image via Shutterstock

Why You SHOULD Make Friends With Whole Grains

In recent years whole grain foods have been given a bad rep due to their high carbohydrate content. Low-carb eating plans such as the Atkins and Paleo programs – which minimise or completely eliminate grains from our diets – are increasingly becoming the go-to for weight-loss, but there is a great debate among dietitians and nutritionists as to whether this is safe or effective.

RELATED: Zoey Bingley-Pullin’s Top 5 Food Swaps For A Better Diet

With several health benefits to be gained from consuming whole grain foods, should we be ditching fads and opting for balance instead?

“There is a growing trend towards diets that eliminate sources of carbohydrate to aid weight loss. However, the science shows that these diets are no more effective than calorie-controlled diets that include grain foods,” says dietitian and GLNC Nutrition Program Manager, Michelle Broom.

“In fact, people who eat 3-5 serves of mainly whole grain foods each day are more likely to have smaller waists than people who eat less grain foods.”

According to a study by the University of Sydney, a high protein diet that restricts carbohydrates puts a person at a higher risk of diabetes and can reduce their life span. “Eliminating grain foods puts you at risk of missing out on a unique set of essential nutrients and phytonutrients important for good health,” Michelle explains.

“For example, grain foods are the leading source of fibre in the Australian diet, and many people don’t realise that people who eat diets rich in fibre from grain foods are more likely to be a healthy weight.”

Research shows that grains are the leading contributors of seven key nutrients, including zinc for healthy hair and nails, Vitamins B2 and B3 for soft, smooth skin and magnesium for brain function and muscle fuel. “On a daily basis, these vitamins and minerals in grain foods support your metabolism which helps you to feel less fatigued…” Says Broom.

”In the longer term, whole grain and high fibre grain foods promote health and protect against putting on extra kilos and developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”

The recommended amount of whole grains is three to four servings a day, so what grains should you be eating and how can you incorporate them into your diet without going overboard? Michelle suggests “starting the day with oats or a high-fibre cereal, choosing a whole grain sandwich or sushi for lunch, and enjoying a stir-fry with rice for dinner.” Different grains like “black rice, barley, freekeh, quinoa or kamut” also make for great substitutes to mix up your week night recipes.

Before you start to panic and reject the concept of eating more carbs, Michelle insists that it will NOT lead to weigh gain. Of course, individual dietary and nutrition requirements need to be considered, as no one body is the same, but “research shows that people who eat higher intakes of whole grains and high fibre grain foods have a lower risk of weight gain and obesity in the long term.”

Now, before you go tucking into a large big mac or something of the unhealthy sort, there are particular whole grains that should be restricted or avoided altogether. Things like muffins, cakes and pizza are an obvious no-no, but Michelle says that it is okay to indulge in your favourite dish of white rice, pasta, low fibre cereal or white bread “once a day,” as long as you’re “careful to limit foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients.”

Essentially, the key here is balance and moderation. The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council says the healthiest way to boost the whole grains in your day and take the guess work out is to look for foods labelled ‘high in whole grain’ or ‘very high in whole grain.’ They also recommend checking nutritional standards.

Image via Shutterstock

How Important Is That Protein Shake?

When you start to workout and go to the gym, you notice a trend among your fellow gym members that you might not have caught onto yet. Many people carry shaker drink bottles that get filled up and swigged from after the workout is over.

RELATED: Post Workout Do’s And Don’ts

That shaker is full of a protein shake, and once you start your gym journey, there will be so much talk of glutamines, protein and pre-workout that you don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry, we’ve sorted your questions about protein shakes!

Protein powder is often made from high quality whey, soy or casein protein and aims to help your muscles repair themselves after your vigorous workout. This means less soreness for you the following days and your body is provided with the extra nutrients you need after diminishing them during a workout.

If you walk into any supplements shop, you will be told that you need to have a protein shake after you workout because it helps you lose fat, preserve the muscle and improve the immune system. It also helps to build the strength and size of the muscle, making your workout extra beneficial.

But do we really need a protein shake? Or do we get enough in our food to ditch the post-workout drink and have some chicken instead?

Claire Schintler, from Collective Fitness + Training studio is all for finding our protein with in our food.

“Never before have we talked to so many frenzied clients who are worried their standard diets are protein-deficient and inadequate to support their fitness program. They commonly ask: What is the best protein supplement? Our response: Why do you think you even need a protein supplement in the first place?”

Claire and her team at Collective Fitness + Training don’t recommend post workout protein shakes to their clients, instead, encouraging them to eat the right foods.

“You can easily get the protein you need through standard foods. In fact, very few people need any type of protein supplement at all. I know, this might seem hard to digest, but in reality, extra protein is needed only in extreme situations, recovering from starvation or unable to consume solid foods, for example. There is an abundance of natural protein sources when we look at the options – pasture raised meat/game/fowl, fresh seafood and organic eggs, supplementing with colourful vegetables and a small amounts of nuts. We are yet to meet a healthy client who is unable to consume adequate protein through his or her regular diet. It’s time to save money, ditch the shakes and invest in some nutritious REAL food.”

protein shake, post workout

Personal trainer and Raw Til 4 fan, Katie Ingham tells her clients to save their money when it comes to protein powder, especially when it comes to weight loss.

“I have spent the past ten years of my life trying to get skinny. I’ve taken protein powders and never once have I felt they did anything to help me. The shake is basically chalk. In terms of muscle gain, I’m not a big believer, I think it’s your hormones that are what affects your ability to get big. It’s more to do with your training than the supplement you’re taking. In my opinion, save your money. Go buy a bike or go buy good quality organic products and good quality whole foods.”

It has also been said that too much protein consumption, such as that of avid gym junkies and body builders, can lead to problems with the kidneys and pre-mature death.

Personal trainer Andrew Chu doesn’t agree. He believes that have a protein shake post workout is beneficial whether it be for weight loss or muscle gain.

“Having a good quality whey protein is great for you body – sourced from New Zealand and grass fed is ideal, no hormones. I think whey is also good for your immune system and it can help your gut bacteria and flora. There are other benefits besides muscle repair and growth. Another benefit can be a suppression of appetite, if weight loss is your goal then a protein shake can act as a meal replacement as well.”

However, Andrew does admit that excess protein can be a problem.

“Excess protein can be a bit of a problem. You can get high readings in your uric acid content and that results in crystals developing around your joints which can cause gout.”

As you can see, there are two sides to every story, but as more personal trainers jump off the protein shake wagon and onto a focus on balanced eating, should you be ditching that shake for a piece of chicken? Well, that’s just a decision that you will have to make for yourself.

Images via shreddybrek.com and idiva.com

Energy-Boosting Banana Smoothie Recipe

When we’re looking for an energy boost, caffeine is usually the go-to for a quick fix. There are plenty of other natural ways to increase mental awareness however, and this delicious smoothie recipe is packed with the essentials.

RELATED: Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tbsp cacao powder

6 frozen bananas

10 dates

2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds

2 big handfuls of ice

6 bananas

pinch of salt

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined, creamy, icy, and smooth.
  2. Serve chilled!

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Cynthia Louise

7 Ways To Manage Your Health

This week is Healthy Weight Week, so it’s the perfect time to reassess your lifestyle goals and better manage your health. Whether you want to incorporate more greens into your diet, curb your sugar cravings or crank up that exercise regime, we have tips from a variety of health and fitness gurus to help you get there.

RELATED: 10 Tips To Make Your Weight Loss Resolution A Reality

1. Front-load

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Heard the saying? Mandy Bahn, creator of Change Room Foods says: “eating your largest meal upon rising means that you have a longer period of time to use up the energy you’ve consumed, reducing your odds of having it accumulate as fat.” Upon waking your metabolism is also at its fastest, meaning you’ll burn more calories in a shorter period of time, she advises.

2. Go grocery shopping after a nutritious breakfast

They say you should never shop when you’re hungry, and dietitian and nutritionist, Larina Robinson, agrees. Instead, she insists hitting the grocer’s mid-morning after breakfast because “you’re less likely to let hunger, stress or tiredness rule your decisions in the morning.” Not only will you “bypass cravings for a sweet treat or sneaky extras,” you’ll save some extra cash by not buying impulsively out of hunger.

3. Eat intuitively

A nutrition plan that works for your friend won’t necessarily work for you. We all have different types of bodies, so the requirements for losing or maintaining weight differ with each individual. “The key is to listen to your body, and figure out what makes you feel YOUR best,” insists holistic wellness coach Jordanna Levin.

4. Always put fat on your veggies

Low-fat diets have been a popular weight-loss option for many years, but plans such as the Paleo diet and the Atkins program have recently put fat back on our plates. Valeria Ramirez from The Well Nest says: “Adding fat like butter or oil or avocado to your salad or steamed veg will allow your body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins… If you don’t absorb nutrition, you may become nutritionally deficient which will present itself as cravings leading to over eating. ” This isn’t a free pass to add lashings of butter to your baked potato, however. Be mindful of the types of fats you’re putting into your body and remember; everything in moderation.

5. Break the sugar addiction

So it turns out that a spoon full of sugar really doesn’t make the medicine go down. Instead it causes all sorts of health problems, including insulin resistance and weight-gain. Going cold turkey on sugar can be challenging, so it’s best to slowly cut down in order to avoid any nasty withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and cravings.  Nutritionist, Lindsay-Anne Dunsmore suggests: “If you like two teaspoons of sugar in your tea, work on cutting back to one teaspoon for a week or two then try half a teaspoon, working down to eventually none. If you usually have 2 biscuits of an evening, try only having one.”

6. Leave the skin on

The skin that you might peel away from your apple or cut off from a pumpkin before roasting actually has loads of nutrition! It contains concentrated sources of nutrients, including fibre which is essential for gut health, advises Dietitian Larina Robinson. Be sure to give them a good wash before eating to avoid ingesting any nasty pesticides that may be present.

7. Exercise for your brain

We all know that exercising is great for the body, but did you know that it’s also great for the brain? ”Exercise cranks up the body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that are crucial to happy mood, and it boosts levels of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins,” insists former Gymnast, Lauren Hannaford.

Image Via ThinkVidya

Tips Courtesy Of Isowhey

Top 5 Weightloss Superfoods You Need Right Now

Are you determined to get fit and trim this year, in manner of a superhero? Look no further than your fridge, girlfriend, for you’re going to need some superfoods.

RELATED: Make 2015 A Fresh Start

Leading Sydney dietician/nutritionist and author Susie Burrell says rather than spend your hard-earned on expensive detox programs to lose weight, it might be high time for a diet overhaul.

This means investing in your health the easy way: by focusing on nutrient-rich, low-calorie superfoods which make for super-healthy snacks. Susie, (pictured) who just launched her new program: Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, lists her favourite superfoods as: berries, beetroot, salmon, walnuts and broccoli (or broccolini).

“Superfoods are foods that are chock-full of nutrition and, in a world where many of us do not burn as many calories as we would like to eat, in order to maximise our nutrition, targeting superfoods on a daily basis is a good way to help improve our overall nutritional intake,” she says.

superfoods, weight-loss superfoods, weight loss, diets, dieting

And while overhauling your diet isn’t always inexpensive, as good-quality food can be relatively costly, especially if not in season, Susie advises we counter this by making smart choices. “Targeting a few key superfoods, in a budget-conscious way, is a good way to improve your daily nutritional intake,” she says.

“Adding in green tea, tinned salmon and frozen berries for example, won’t break the bank, but will instantly improve your intake of omega-3 fat and antioxidants.”

Let’s examine the goodness in Susie’s top picks: berries, beetroot, salmon, walnuts and broccoli.

Berries: Any berries are great for you, and taste amazing, but Susie says blueberries in particular are packed full of antioxidants, vitamin C and fibre, while also being relatively low in calories and carbohydrates. You can enjoy them as a light snack in between meals; as a fibre boost to smoothies and juices; or as a sweet treat after dinner with a little Greek yoghurt and seeds or nuts. Yum! Another good option is strawberries.

superfoods, weight-loss superfoods, weight loss, diets, dieting

Beetroot: This pretty purple-crimson veggie is of exceptional nutritional value; especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are also an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. And, did you know? The greens should not be overlooked; they can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach. Handy tip: If your hands become stained during preparation and cooking beetroot, rub some lemon juice over them to help remove the colour.

Salmon: This yummy superfood – or should that be superfish – is packed with healthy fats and high-quality protein, plus lots of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12. Of all the different types of fish, salmon has received the most praise for being a nutritional marvel and is said to be perfect “brain food”. Above all, it is salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids content which makes it particularly nutritious – health experts advise us to eat such oily fish (tuna is another) at least three times a week. It also makes for a versatile dish. Sold!

superfoods, weight-loss superfoods, weight loss, diets, dieting

Walnuts: These delicious, brain-shaped little pocket rockets are often called the King of Nuts for their health-boosting properties. Just ten walnuts provides a massive dose of long-chain polyunsaturated fats known to optimise the composition of the cell wall, which can allow our fat-burning hormones to work better. Cool! What’s more, they also contain cancer-fighting properties and boost both your heart and brain health. The unsalted, raw kind are obviously preferable.

Broccoli: Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, whose large flowering head is used as a popular green veggie. And, it’s so nutritious, a slightly health-obsessed former personal trainer of mine used to advise me to eat it raw and often to ward off cold and flues. It’s said to lower cholesterol, particularly when steamed, and contain cancer-fighting properties and a wide range of phytochemicals which protect against many chronic diseases. Broccoli is also a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, folate and fibre. Broccolini, if you prefer, is also similarly nutritious and is smaller, milder and sweeter.

Susie Burrell’s new e-book Change Your Mindset And Lose Weight Fast: The Motivation You Need To Lose Weight is out now. Visit www.shapeme.com.au or www.susieburrell.com.au.

Images, in order, via en.paperblog.com; supplied; www.livingfoodslifestyle.co.nz; and www.thankgodimnatural.com.

How To Calculate The Alcohol Content In Cocktails

Keeping track of how much alcohol you are drinking can be a bit tricky when you are out and about having a good time. Pubs and clubs have measured serves which makes things a bit easier, but what about home made cocktails like the recipes we regularly supply our readers?

A good rule of thumb is that the body absorbs 7-12 ml of alcohol per hour. A standard drink in Australia is considered to be 10 gms or about 12.5mls of alcohol. So, depending on various factors a standard drink per hour should keep you relatively sober. Please be aware though, that the more alcohol you consume the harder it is for your body to absorb. The first drink you have should be absorbed into your body in about an hour, but the second will take longer. It’s all science related and not an exact science at that!

Now, the type of factors which affect alcohol absorption include the following:

  • How fast you drink
  • The amount of food in your stomach
  • Your weight
  • Amount of fat or muscle your body consists of
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Other medications and drugs in your body
  • Other chemicals in the drink. eg: Jäger Bombs
  • Foods consumed
  • Your drinking history and tolerance
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Current emotional state

With all these variables it’s impossible to know how the alcohol is reacting within your body. Cocktails can be especially tricky, particularly if they are created without a measure. They also consist of a mixture and some have chemical ingredients like caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two can have different side effects. This is what makes them so potent and care should be taken when consuming them. The caffeine itself doesn’t have an alcohol content, but it can affect the alcohol being consumed.

Having gotten through that, I’ll fill you in on an easy way to work out how much alcohol you’re consuming in your cocktails as well as giving you a couple of easy examples to follow.

First look at the percentage of alcohol on the bottle used to make the cocktail. Most have at least 1 regular spirit which is usually 40% alcohol. Next, you need the serving size of the alcohol only, not the serving size of the entire drink. A full nip is usually 30 ml so multiply this with the alcohol percentage. Remember when you multiply a percentage it is not a whole number so you multiply the serving size by the decimal point (0.4). To work out the standard drink size, divide it by the Australian standard of 12.5 ml. Viola!

Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Full nip (30ml) of 40% alcohol bourbon = 30 x 0.40 = 12.00ml alcohol
    12.00ml / 12.50ml = 0.96 standard drinks.
  • 150ml glass of 11.5% alcohol wine = 180 x 0.115 = 17.25ml alcohol
    17.25ml/12.50ml = 1.38 standard drinks

You can use this formula to work out the alcohol content in every drink you consume. The final thing I want to mention which will help you with all this is the oz to ml conversion. You don’t need exact figures so, if you remember 1 oz = 30 ml, you’ll be right!

Now you have all the tools you need to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming in your cocktails. A final tip is to do calculations before you start drinking for obvious reasons.

Enjoy!

Image via mymoonbargumbet.com

5 Tips To Improve PMS Symptoms

The majority of women have at least one PMS horror story up their sleeves. Whether it’s mentally attacking your partner for breathing too loudly or having to take two days off work to cope with the cramps from hell, research has shown that eight in every ten women experience PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) symptoms of some kind. But the truth is that although PMS is very common, it’s actually not normal.

What causes PMS?

According to the experts, there are four main categories of PMS:

Type A: The most common type of PMS affecting up to 80 per cent of women, this category is defined as being the ‘Anxiety’ form of PMS and includes mood swings, anxiety, tension and irritability.

Type C: Affecting up to 50 per cent of women in the days before their period, Type C (for ‘Cravings’ includes headaches, fatigue, increased appetite and yep, you got it, longings for sweet foods.

Type D: Labeled as the ‘Depression’ category, this type of PMS can be felt as depression, loneliness, decreased co-ordination, clumsiness and forgetfulness.

Type H: This type of PMS manifests as a water imbalance or ‘Hyperhydration’. Affecting over 40 per cent of women before their period, symptoms include bloating and weight gain, water retention and breast tenderness.

The key? Each of these forms of PMS is linked to hormonal imbalances. For Type A’s (the most common type of imbalance) the cause is excessive oestrogen and decreased amounts of progesterone. For Type D’s, the opposite is true with not enough oestrogen and excessive amounts of progesterone being the cause.

You can determine the exact hormonal imbalance(s) wreaking havoc with your period by visiting your naturopath and asking for a saliva test. Until then, you can follow these five easy steps to support and nurture healthy hormonal balance:

1. Manage stress

Known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol is a vital hormone secreted by your adrenal glands throughout the day. In small doses cortisol can have a positive influence on the body, but when excreted in higher and more prolonged doses, it can negatively impact your cognitive function, sleep patterns, blood pressure, thyroid function, blood sugar levels, bone density, immunity, abdominal fat and more.

And although cortisol doesn’t cause PMS directly, as cortisol production is favoured over progesterone even when oestrogen levels are normal, this sneaky stress hormone can actually manage to make PMS symptoms worse. To help combat this reaction, you can actively engage in activities that calm and relax your nervous system. Our top five relaxation boosting activities are meditating, journaling, practicing yoga, creating a gratitude journal and spending time in nature.

2. Boost your intake of greens

Cruciferous and green veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy contain Indole-3-carbinol, which is a powerful agent used in detoxifying the liver and helping to process hormones along better pathways. Aim for a splash of greens in every meal and you’ll be well on your way to balanced hormones.

3. Eliminate processed foods

Research has shown that simple carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary snacks like croissants, cakes and cookies can increase PMS symptoms such as irritability and water retention.

As a general philosophy for happy hormones, our motto is to eat as close to what nature provides as possible. If you’re feeling stuck (and are really craving something sweet!), you can always try swapping a sweet treat for a healthy raw dessert. Check out the White Zebra blog for some easy dessert ideas.

4. Invest in your sleep

It’s now common knowledge in the medical and wellness world that there is a symbiotic relationship between sleep and hormones. Hormonal imbalances can cause chaos with your sleep patterns and in the same way, disruptions to your sleep quality and length can negatively impact your hormone balance.

The secret to healing your hormones from the inside out? Chomp down on magnesium rich foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, beans and lentils. You can then follow it up with a relaxing sleep ritual that allows you to wind down at least an hour before bed. Next, aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night and you’ll see some positive changes in your health, energy levels and hormone balance before long.

5. Get help from an expert

And finally, consider visiting a naturopath for herbs or supplements to help improve your liver function. A naturopath can also help with herbs for managing stress, improving sleep quality and improving progesterone production.

Healing your hormones needn’t be a difficult task: with the right approach and mindset and by following the above tips you can start balancing your hormones and combating PMS almost immediately. 

By Fiona Caddies, co-designer of WhiteZebra, a health website set to centralize the teachings of a credible suite of esteemed health professionals which feature a high concentration of current news and practical ideas. A yoga, running, dancing and gymnastics fanatic, Fiona naturally flips and moves with electricity through life. She created a thriving Personal Training, Yoga & Nutrition Coaching Studio in NSW and touched the lives of hundreds of people. WhiteZebra was born out of her desire to inspire an unlimited amount of people searching for authentically sophisticated information on holistic health.   

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