Monday, 27 October 2014

Green Smoothies


A study at Lund University in Sweden has shown that a drink containing spinach extract suppressed food cravings for sweets and unhealthy foods and also promoted weight loss in participants. Substances in spinach called thylakoids induced satiety hormones enabling better appetite control and the green drink before breakfast allowed the participants to feel more satisfied during the day.

We all know that we should be maximising our consumption of vegetables and fruits, but sometimes it is difficult to actually consume the sheer amount and variety that we need. Green smoothies are a great way to enjoy vegetable and fruits in quantity, flooding your body with the phytonutrients from plants. All plants produce phytonutrients as part of their normal metabolic activities and they make a huge impact on our health, reducing the likelihood of our developing chronic disease. Remember organic fruit and vegetables produce more phytonutrients than non-organic produce. Smoothies are different to juices. Juices can also provide you with intensive nutrition but all the fibre is stripped away. A green smoothie grinds up all the beneficial aspects of the plants with nothing lost. Try combinations of avocado, pears, spinach, apple, berries, kale or any other vegetables and fruit that you choose. Search the internet for recipes by entering green smoothies into a search engine and you will see many interesting combinations. They take only a few minutes to make and unlike juices don't have to be consumed immediately. My favourite at the moment is spinach, pear, kiwi fruit, ginger, tumeric and coconut water, with a squeeze of lemon added, but they can be made with any fruit or vegetables to hand. Try to keep a proportion of sixty per cent vegetables and forty per cent fruit.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Bulletproof Coffee


The idea of bulletproof coffee came into being from a traveller experiencing the rejuvenating effect of yak butter tea in Tibet. In our quest to get more healthy fats into our diets, we could try bulletproof coffee. Devotees have their coffee blended with 1-2 tablespoons of butter and 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil. I tried it with a toned down version of 1 dessertspoon of butter and 1 dessertspoon of coconut oil blended into hot coffee and had to admit that it was delicious, if unusual. Another variation is one dessertspoon of coconut oil stirred into hot green tea – again unusual but palatable. I imagine it is a taste that grows with familiarity.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Coconuts

Is there any limit to the extraordinary health benefits of coconut oil?  Coconut oil, milk and water have recently been extolled in the media for numerous health benefits.  In the past coconuts were demonised for the high saturated fat content, which was assumed to convey health risks.  Those of you who have seen me for consultations know that this was a simplistic view with no real basis in the science.

The fat in coconut oil is one of the few examples of medium chain fatty acids, specifically lauric acid, which we convert in the body to monolaurin.  Coconuts have the highest component of lauric acid by composition after human breast milk. This is a potent infection fighter and toxic to viruses, fungi and bacteria.  These medium chain acids are easier to convert to energy so it is a metabolism booster and an aid to weight loss.  The molecular structure of these fatty acids is small so they are more easily able to penetrate and nourish the hair and skin.

Coconut oil can fuel your metabolism.  There is a growing evidence base (PubMed) that eating 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day can reduce adipose tissue, specifically the fat around the middle of our body which is associated with adverse health outcomes.   The fat in coconuts also increases our feelings of satiety and so we feel satisfied longer and are less likely to reach for the sugars and carbs.

My daily smoothie made with my wonderful Nutri Bullet always contains these items as a base – avocado, coconut oil, coconut milk, chia seeds, flax seeds, and then whatever combination of fruits or vegetables I feel like at that moment. It is delicious as well as truly nutritious.  Try it  and I'm sure you will agree. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

New Study Finds Significant Differences between Organic and Non-Organic Food

An important new study conducted by the University of Newcastle has shown that organic crops – e.g. fruit, vegetables, and cereals, and the foods made from them – contain significantly higher levels of antioxidants than conventionally grown equivalent crops.  A meta analysis of 343 studies showed that organically grown crops are up to 60% higher in beneficial antioxidants and almost 50% lower in heavy metals including cadmium, for which the European Commission has set maximum permitted levels in foods.  This peer reviewed study published in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition is the most extensive analysis of the nutritional value of organic and non-organic crops ever undertaken.  The extra antioxidants in organic crops would also provide the average consumer the equivalent of eating an additional 1-2 portions a day of fruit and vegetables when compared to eating conventionally grown crops.  

 At a time when many of us are increasingly concerned with the contamination of the food chain, and the harmful effects on health of dousing conventional crops with herbicides and pesticides this study is a welcome refutation of the frequently repeated claim that organic foods are not worth the additional cost.  Yes, organic foods are generally more expensive, but the real cost to our health and the impact on our environment is far, far higher.  As the evidence grows on the harmful health effects of cadmium, mercury, lead and other heavy metals the consumption of organic foods can only grow.

To read the full study see http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9289221&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0007114514001366

The researchers have made all the data available on their website.

 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Detox Summit

I have been busy this week with the Detox Summit, hosted by the Institute of Functional Medicine.  Thirty world experts from medicine and scientific research are presenting studies on the influence of environmental toxins on chronic disease.  It's sobering to know that tens of thousands of chemicals have been unleashed on the public, with only 5-10% tested for human safety.  The evidence for connection with chronic diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune disease and cancer is also mounting. The emerging science of molecular toxicology focuses on the continual low level exposure poisoning us on the cellular level, rather than episodes of acute poisoning.  Although detoxification is often a much derided term in the media it is fortunate that we do have strategies to support our innate detoxification mechanisms.  As always, prevention is more important than the cure.  Eat a nutrient dense diet of only organic foods and use only organic personal care and household products to minimise initial exposure.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Barbecue Summer

Whether or not the met office promises us a barbecue summer, many of us use these months to enjoy grilled meat.  If you have heard of hazards associated with grilling meat at high temperatures, you might have come across Advanced Glycation End products (AGE) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH's).  A bit of a mouthful, but essentially these compounds occur when we grill at high temperatures, particularly when meat or fish forms a crust on the outside.   These compounds have been associated with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, so it is important to know how to avoid them.  Fortunately, marinating meat prior to cooking has been shown to reduce these compounds by up to 97% as well as rendering food easier to cook and far more delicious.  The most effective marinades are citrus fruits such as lemon or lime.  Combine this with aromatic herbs and spices such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, turmeric, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, or cumin. The longer you marinate the better, but even ten minutes makes a significant difference.  Accompany your meal with onions, garlic, and a salad containing apple cider vinegar in the dressing.  If you finish your meal with a fruit salad containing berries you have little to fear from AGE compounds and PAH's.  Enjoy.