Category Archives: healthy diet

Back to School: Children’s Nutrition Tips

The month of September means Back to School for children, and is a good time to think about your children’s nutritional needs to see them through the academic year in good health. After all healthy children are not only more likely to grow into healthy adults, but are more likely do better in school too (1). We all know that children need a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg, but putting this into practice can be a struggle for many parents. Fortunately there are a few lunchbox ideas that can encourage even the fussiest of eaters.

Healthy packed lunches for kids
Healthy packed lunches for kids don’t have to be “obvious”. Trying hiding grated carrots with grated Red Leicester cheese in a sandwich for example!

Suzannah Olivier, author of “Healthy Food for Happy Kids” suggests that making food fun and offering variety is key to encouraging your child to eat healthily (2). “The best way to avoid faddiness is to give your child a variety of foods, tastes and flavours from a young age”. Here are some quick and easy alternatives to the traditional sandwich:

• Use leftover pasta, couscous or rice for a salad in a box with chopped sausages, tomatoes or black-eyed beans and red peppers.
• Try oatcakes with hummus and cherry tomatoes
• Make some Bircher Muesli: in a container mix 2 tablespoons of oat flakes, chopped nuts (if your school allows these), half a grated apple and some milk or soya milk and seal. By lunchtime the mixture will be soft and sweet and utterly delicious.
• As most kids love finger foods, this can be great way of boosting their veg intake. Try baby carrots or carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber wedges, baby sweetcorn, cooked green beans, red and yellow pepper strips, cooked asparagus spears, raw sugar snap peas. Provide a dip to dunk them into, such as hummus or a yoghurt dip.

Even ‘anti-veg’ children can be persuaded to eat their greens with a few inventive lunch options. Suzannah suggests small cubes of vegetable omelette, onion bahjis, mini vegetable pizzas or quiches, vegetable samosas or spring rolls and mushroom pate.

Karen Bali, author of “The Art of Hiding Vegetables” agrees that when dealing with fussy kids, a little stealth can go a long way (3). “All you need to do is disguise or conceal healthy food and your children’s won’t notice – or even know – they’re eating it.” Karen offers the following ideas for packed lunches:

• Include smoothies made with yoghurt and fresh fruit (and no added sugar)
• Warm some vegetable baby food and add to tomato soup, for veggies with ‘no lumpy bits’. Keep it warm until lunch in a flask.
• Disguise carrots by grating them finely and mixing them with finely grated red cheese (such as Leicester) in sandwich fillings
• Choose vegetables with mild flavours – watercress, thinly sliced cucumber and finely shredded lettuce can work well.

For parents interested in nutritional supplements for their children, there are a number of ranges now specifically designed with children’s nutritional needs in mind. While supplements are not intended as a replacement for healthy food, they can help to ensure that your child is meeting his or her nutritional requirements. Parents often ask me which supplements I recommend for children. There are in fact three types of supplements that I have come to refer to as the Children’s Healthy Trinity: probiotics, essential fatty acids and a broad spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral formula. Alongside a healthy diet, these basic supplements can go a long way towards supporting your child’s digestion and immune system, and safeguarding against any nutritional deficiencies in his or her diet.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. Kleinman et al (2002) Diet, Breakfast, and Academic Performance in Children. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002; 46(Suppl 1): 24–30
2. Suzannah Olivier. Healthy Foods for Happy Kids. Simon & Schuster 2004.
3. Karen Bali & Sally Child. The Art of Hiding Vegetables: Sneaky Ways to Feed Your Children Healthy Food. White Ladder Press 2005.

 

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Food Revolution Day

May 19th marked the first ever Food Revolution Day. The aim of this global event, headed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, is to promote healthy eating and nutrition education, to inspire change in people’s eating habits and to curb the rise in obesity that is sweeping the western world.

The event has been spreading awareness through local activities at schools, restaurants, businesses, dinner parties, street parties and farmers’ markets. Anybody can get involved where we saw people create & attend local food events or hosting dinner parties.

Food Revolution Day
Food Revolution Day is to promote healthy eating and nutrition education, to inspire change in people’s eating habits and to curb the rise in obesity that is sweeping the western world.

The heart of Food Revolution Day is encouraging people to cook from scratch at home. Eating fresh, healthy meals helps protect from diet-related diseases. Cooking together at home brings the family together. It helps to learn about healthy eating, and teaches them valuable cooking skills which they can then to pass down to their own family later on.

To support families in making these healthful changes, the Jamie Oliver Foundation has created a Family Toolkit, filled with ideas to get started. Follow these ideas to create your own Food Revolution at home:

Make a grocery list and stick to it
Plan ahead and prepare a list of what you would like to cook for the week. You’re less likely to resort to ready meals or tempting junk food in the supermarket isles.

Get children involved in the shopping
Bringing your children along on the weekly food shop gets them involved, so they are more likely to eat the foods you prepare. It’s also a great opportunity for them to learn about different fresh foods, and to teach them how to read food labels.

Grown Your Own
You don’t need a huge garden to grow your own food. Reconnect with real food by keeping some pots of herbs on the kitchen window sill, or growing a tomato plant. It helps children to understand where food comes from and teaches them the basics about natural ingredients and flavours.

Learn to cook and get the whole family in the kitchen
There are hundreds of books to help you to learn to cook from scratch. And there are plenty of easy and fun ways to get your kids involved too. Kids love making their own fruit smoothies. You could also make your own probiotic fruit yoghurt for the whole family. It’s also cheap and easy to sprout your own seeds, and children love watching them grow.

and finally….Persevere!

Changing our eating habits isn’t always easy. Habits can be hard to break and familiar food is comforting. Research shows that it might take as many as 8-10 attempts before a child will like a new food. Start with small changes, and begin with small portions and tasters. The Food Revolution starts with small steps. Celebrate small victories and don’t give up!
For more information on the Food Revolution, visit their website.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

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Micronutrients before pregnancy boost baby’s immune system

Women who supplement with micronutrients before pregnancy may be boosting the immune health of their baby from birth to adult life, a new study suggests.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins and the minerals zinc and selenium, that are required by the body in very small quantities in order to perform many crucial bodily processes.

Micronutrient supplementation before pregnancy can improve your child's immune system
Micronutrient supplementation before pregnancy can improve your child's immune system

The new research took place in Gambia, where individuals born during the ‘wet’ season (when there is less food and nurients available), have higher rates of infection and disease. The women in the study were given either a micronutrient supplement or a placebo until they became pregnant. The study then tested samples of DNA from babies at birth again at 9 months old.

The results suggested that the supplemented mothers had babies with healthier immune systems as a result of methylation changes. “These changes are part of the normal development of the immune system provided adequate nutrition is available.” Explained lead researcher Professor Affara. “Where this is not the case, the result is likely to be reduced ability to fight infection and hence susceptibility to infectious diseases.”

The type of changes in the supplemented mothers were created by a better rate of ‘methylation reactions’. Methylation refers to a special set of chemical reactions in the body. These reactions work like a ‘switch’ in your body, activating beneficial chemicals, and deactivating harmful ones. The methylation cycle is important for immune function, and so if methylation is not working optimally, then our ability to fight infection is impaired.

Professor Affara added: ” If we have an improved understanding of what nutrition is important, we can target nutritional intervention to improve health in later life.”

While many of us are aware of the importance of nutrients such as folic acid in pregnancy, it is becoming increasingly evident that the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals have an important role to play. The current study certainly indicates that mothers who ensure optimum nutrition before pregnancy are supporting the immune health of their children not only at birth, but throughout their child’s life.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

The paper ‘Periconceptional maternal micronutrient supplementation is associated with widespread gender related changes in the epigenome : a study of a unique resource in the Gambia’ will be published in the April 2012 edition of Human Molecular Genetics.

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Look after your heart this February

February is National Heart Health month which is an initiative supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). It is aimed at increasing individuals’ awareness on how to look after the health of their hearts and to ultimately reduce the number of heart disease related deaths. BHF state; “Our vision is of a World where people do not prematurely die of heart disease.”

Look after your heart this February
Eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables is good for supporting a healthy heart (5.)

There are many ways in which we can protect our heart, and bodykind‘s Nutritionists have often written about these. Back in March, Ani Richardson wrote about the benefits of eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables and the benefits of Pecans in relation to heart disease. Nadia Mason wrote about how a daily nutritious smoothie may reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease in August and in September wrote about Turmeric and Cinnamon being excellent spices for a healthy heart. There is continuous research conducted on heart health and it’s more important than ever to take actions to protect it.

In January this year, the BHF released some statistics (1.) that show heart attack death rates dropped dramatically in the early years of the new millennium, falling by more than half. The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation (which is important to note), showed an average of 5% drop in heart attacks each year from 2002 through to 2010. Whilst these figures are impressive, there are still over 30,000 people who have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital each year – many of who die before medical help arrives. That is why is it so important to prevent a heart attack in the first place – as they say; “prevention is better than cure”.

There are many nutrients that can benefit heart health and an overall balanced and wholefood-based diet full of fruits and vegetables are essential for this. One study (2.) published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011, found that there was a large reduction in coronary heart disease risk in men and women that had a diet rich in green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale) as well as olive oil (often associated with the Mediterranean lifestyle).

More specifically, one of the main nutrients which you can include in both your diet and in supplement form for heart health are omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are generating a large amount of popularity for their multitude of beneficial health effects. They are found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring and sardines as well as in flaxseeds, walnuts and soya beans. If you don’t eat fish on a regular basis you may want to consider a fish oil supplement (or flaxseed if you cannot eat fish) in oil or capsule form . One recent study (3.) published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011, investigated circulating Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and the incidence of coronary heart disease in 2,735 older adults between 1992 and 2006. The researchers found that the total level of fatty acids circulating in the blood systems of these patients was associated with lower levels of coronary heart disease.

Another study (4.), also in 2011, looked into the possibility that early menarche (a risk factor for developing cardio-metabolic diseases) could be related to vitamin D deficiency in early age. After investigating the plasma vitamin D concentrations for 242 females for an average of 30 months, they found that early menarche was indeed twice as likely in vitamin D deficient females as those that were not vitamin D deficient. The authors concluded that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with earlier menarche and therefore the possibility of increased risk of developing cardio-metabolic diseases. Vitamin D is found in oily fish (again), cod liver oil, eggs and dairy products as well as in supplement forms.

As well as these nutrients, B vitamins (more specifically folic acid, B6 and B12) which are found in whole grains, meat and eggs, help to keep our arteries healthy. Vitamins E and C can also keep our heart healthy and antioxidants and bioflavonoids found in a variety of fruit and vegetables are also a great addition to any diet or supplement regime to reduce the level of free radicals in the body that can harm the heart.

Exercise is also must, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the office car park on your lunch break to get the blood circulating. Aiming for 30 minutes 3-5 times per week is the ideal. Perhaps try walking to the shop instead of driving or take the steps instead of the lift. Why not consider getting a group of friends together and organising a walking or bike-riding club? The possibilities are endless with exercise and it doesn’t have to mean slogging away on the treadmill for hours in the gym!

Written by Katie Guest and Lauren Foster

References

(1.) BHF

(2.) Benedetta, B., Masala, G., Saieva, C. et al (2011) Fruit, vegetables, and olive oil and risk of coronary heart disease in Italian women: the EPICOR Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 93, no. 2, 275-283.

(3.) Mozaffarian, D., Lemaitre, R.N., King, I.B., Song, X., Spiegelman, D., Sacks, F.M., Rimm, E.B. & Siscovick, D.S. (2011) Circulating Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and Incidence of Congestive Heart Failure in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study. A Cohort Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 155: 160-170.

(4.) Villamor, E., Marin, C., Mora-Plazas, M. & Baylin, A. (2011) Vitamin D deficiency and age at menarche: a prospective study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 94, no. 4, 1020-1025.

(5.) Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane

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The benefits of diet on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common female endocrine (hormone secreting glands) condition which is characterised by excessive androgens (mainly the male hormone testosterone) in the blood and anovulation (no ovulation). This leads to underdeveloped ovary follicles which are unable to fully release their eggs, then becoming attached to the ovary edges and developing into excess amounts of egg filled cysts (polycystic). Symptoms of PCOS often include sub-fertility, irregular periods, acne, excessive hair, insulin resistance and obesity which can all be extremely distressing for the individual. Consequently, low self esteem and depression are also common for sufferers.

PCOS can be positively influenced by a healthy diet
Diet has been shown to be a powerful influence on the symptoms of PCOS

A review (1) on PCOS published last year (2010) in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society journal looked into the roles that diet and weight have on the symptoms. The review reports on the great impact weight loss has for those that are obese as it helps with insulin resistance and reduces the male hormone testosterone, which then improves ovulation and fertility. However, weight is not the only concern with PCOS and diet has also been shown to be a powerful influence on the symptoms. Due to the link between PCOS and insulin resistance, low glycaemic index diets (which include foods which release glucose in to the blood slowly and steadily to prevent sugar highs and lows) have been shown to benefit insulin sensitivity and the menstrual cycle for sufferers. These foods include beans, lentils, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, nuts, salmon, meat (excluding red meat), all vegetables except green peas, sweet corn and carrots and fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes and pears among many others. As you can see from this list of healthy foods, low G.I foods are a great addition to any diet as they also keep you fuller for longer, are packed with nutrients, and can help with weight management as well. In addition to these foods, the authors of the review also commented on reports that fatty acids may help with the symptoms of PCOS as they reduce the levels of abdominal fat and liver fat, and new research suggests that fatty acids may also reduce androgen secretions, which again can benefit PCOS symptoms.

The fantastic effects of food on PCOS was also recently addressed on the Channel 4 programme Food Hospital which many of you may have seen, where a young lady was suffering with the classic symptoms previously described. After 12 weeks of improving her diet aiming to reduce the amount of testosterone in her body (by including the foods mentioned earlier, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and limiting junk food), the sufferer significantly reduced her symptoms. She also had a considerable boost to her self esteem as her facial hair had reduced and she had lost weight. The results were positive and are a good representation of how powerful food can be for our health, and supports any efforts to make more healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

Written by Lauren Foster

References

(1)  O’Connor, A. Gibney, J.  and Roche, H.M. (2010) Metabolic and hormonal aspects of polycystic ovary syndrome: the impact of diet. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69, 628–635.

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Natural solutions for more energy

Are you the type of person that jumps out of bed every morning with a smile on your face as soon as your alarm goes off, ready and waiting to face the day? Do you remain full of energy and on full pelt for the rest of the day before having a great night’s sleep every night? Or are you more likely to hit snooze on your alarm as much as possible before you absolutely have to get up? Then day-dream about your bed as your energy levels drop through the floor throughout the day?! If you are more likely to be the latter, you are most certainly not alone.

A persistent lack of energy is one of the most common complaints in both men and women across the nation. Daylight, and more importantly sunlight, has a great effect on our overall energy levels.  Historically we are used to being outside all day benefiting from the effects of sunlight. Modern living, however, results in the majority of us spending large amounts of time indoors, deprived of sunlight and this causes problems with our body’s natural rhythm and well being.

Officially summer comes to an end this weekend with clocks going back an hour. This signals the start of dull days with very limited and less intense sunlight and even less opportunity to benefit from the sun. This can bring about a reduction in energy levels for much of the population and reduced daylight can, in some cases, cause Season Affective Disorder (SAD) – sometimes known as Winter Depression. As a result many people begin to dread the winter months. There are, however, many natural ways to combat low energy and SAD. Balancing your circadian rhythm is a great way to do this.

Below we have drawn up a brief guide on how you can boost your energy levels and prevent the frequent desire for those 3pm snoozes!

Early Morning (approx 6.30am – 9am)

A healthy start to the day
A boiled egg with wholemeal toast will provide you will a slow and sustained release of energy throughout the morning. (1)

Your Internal Bodyclock is in its “awakening” mode at this stage. Your metabolism is slow and rising. Your body temperature, blood pressure and cortisol levels are all also increasing, signalling to your body to wake up. You may feel ‘groggy’ first thing and crave that morning cup of coffee or a bowl of sweet, sugary breakfast cereal. This may give you a rapid increase in energy, but it will also leave you with an energy slump once the initial effects have worn off. This is where people can fall into the habit of regular caffeine or sugary snacks in an attempt to maintain this feeling.

There are better ways to boost your energy and replenish the low blood glucose levels that have developed during sleep. Try adding a slice of lemon to hot water – this has natural sugars and also helps cleanse the digestive system (having the effect of a bit of a mini detox) ready for the day ahead. Also opt for high fibre breakfasts such as 100% pure rolled porridge oats with a handful of fruit and seeds or a boiled egg with wholemeal toast. These kinds of foods will provide you with a slow and sustained release of energy throughout the morning, keeping you full for longer and reducing those energy slumps.

Try to get out in the daylight as much as possible in the morning as this will wake your body up for the day. The winter days will prevent many people from being able to do this, therefore you may wish to try using a sunrise alarm clock, like the Lumie Bodyclock Starter in the mornings. This will stimulate your brain into waking gradually, balancing your circadian rhythm and your cortisol levels, which has the added bonus of being able to also support your immune system and stress levels.

Morning until Lunch (approx 9am – 2pm)

As your cortisol levels are still increasing you are more alert and efficient and your mental capability has reached its peak of the day. This means your concentration, memory and focus are all waiting to be utilised. So use this time to get all your lingering tasks done!

You could also try using a SAD light for 30 minutes every day for energy stimulation. The effectiveness of SAD Lights is measured in lux, which is the level of light intensity that you would normally get from the sun. A SAD light with 10,000 lux is recommended for those who want to see the most benefits.

Also avoid drinking coffee at this time as this can cause the swift rises and falls in energy levels. Instead you could try green tea, which is packed with antioxidants and contains much less caffeine per cup. Other teas are also great options such as ginger tea, which is good for digestion. Peppermint, fennel and camomile are also good options.

Females should take extra care too. A lack of energy can be due to low iron levels and coffee has been shown to reduce iron stores in the body. Make sure your levels are topped up by eating foods rich in iron such as meats, some fish and leafy greens such as spinach. Consider taking an iron supplement and remember to take this with vitamin C to help its absorption. B vitamins are also great for energy – You could try adding a multivitamin with extra B Complex, such as Viridian High 5 Multi Vitamin to your daily routine.

Another helpful tip is to try to get outside during your lunch break – the fresh air and daylight can do wonders to prevent that mid-afternoon slump. When choosing your lunch, choose slow-release carbohydrates such as brown rice or wholemeal bread rather than refined carbs such as white bread or crisps. Also ensure you have some protein in your meal too – such as lean chicken, fish, beans or pulses.

Afternoon (approx 2pm – 5pm)

Your cortisol levels start to drop which can often lead to drowsiness or that mid-afternoon slump. It’s best to avoid the temptation for biscuits or chocolate for a sugar boost at this time. If you must have a snack, try a small piece of minimum 70% quality dark chocolate or some dried fruit, nuts or seeds. Make sure you prioritise your tasks for the afternoon so you know exactly what you need to achieve before home time. That way you can go home happy and content with the day. ‘A well spent day brings happy sleep’ after all. Also taking in deep breaths is great for energy levels and can help reduce stress and aid concentration.

Lumie Bodyclock Active
The Lumie Bodyclock Active, which gradually dims helping your brain to naturally switch off

Evening (approx 5pm – 10pm)

As the evening progresses your melatonin levels start to increase (the hormone that prepares your body for sleep) and your digestion slows. Try to avoid snacking in the evening and heavy meals before bed time. This will require a lot of digestion as insulin is less effective at night. Also your digestive system will struggle to cope with excess amounts of food before bed and this can lead to weight gain as well as disruptive sleep – contributing to an imbalanced circadian rhythm. It is best to avoid all stimulants such as coffee, tea and alcohol as much as possible at this time as these can also disrupt your sleep.

A bad night’s sleep can cause low energy the following day and contribute to reduced mental performance. This can cause stress and lead to a spiral of stress and disrupted sleep which is hard to get out of. If you have trouble drifting off at night, try a sunrise alarm clock with a sunset feature like the Lumie Bodyclock Active. The light gradually dims helping your brain to naturally switch off. If a sunset feature is not for you, then try spraying lavender on your pillow or rubbing some lavender sleep therapy balm on your body to help you switch off.

In addition to these helpful tips, specific nutrients that can support energy levels are:

  • Magnesium – found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale
  • Vitamin B Complex – found in brown rice and wholemeal bread. If you supplement this, it is best taken as a “complex” of B Vitamins
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) & Acetyl-l-Carnitine (ALC) – Found in green foods such as broccoli, spinach and some red meats
  • Co-Enzyme Q10 – found in fish, organ meats such as liver and whole grains
  • Iron – found in a multitude of food sources, such as red meat, beans and pulses, leafy green vegetables, tofu and fortified breads and cereals
  • Ginkgo Biloba – a widely available supplement or combined in an energy supplement such as Femergy

Consistent poor energy levels should be treated seriously. If you think the cause of your low energy levels is more than poor diet you should always consult your GP or Natural Health Practitioner.

 

Written by Katie Guest and Lauren Foster

 

References

1.  Image courtesy of Simon Howden.

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Back To School – Part 2- Healthy Lunch Boxes & Nutritious Snacks

Following on from our last blog on ‘Back to School Children’s Nutrition‘, this time we are looking at some healthy ideas for lunch boxes which can often be somewhat of a headache for busy mums and dads.

Take a look at some of our ideas and try them out this term.

Healthy Sandwich
Add some salad to a sandwich and go for different types of bread such as pitta bread, wraps and baguettes, and always go for wholemeal seeded rather than white bread. (2)

Adding a piece of fruit or two such as an apple, banana, orange, or a handful of grapes to your child’s lunch box is just as easy as adding a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar and no more time consuming.  Try testing out different fruits with your kids especially if yours are particularly fussy to see which ones are for them.  Vary the fruits so that your kids don’t get bored and you can even experiment with trying some unusual fruits such as dragon fruit, passion fruit, star fruit, lychee or any other exotic fruits you can get your hands on.  Kids love these as they are so unusual and intriguing to look at. Also give a thought to growing your own fruit and vegetables as your kids will be dying to try the fruits of their labour.  Getting your kids to squeeze the juice out of fruit to make lollies or blending them to make a smoothie is also a very enjoyable way for your kids to get more of their 5 a day.

According to the School Foods Trust (1) packed lunches should include:

  • Fruit and vegetables (at least one portion of each every day).
  • Meat, fish or other non dairy protein (e.g. lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, hummus, peanut butter) every day.
  • Oily fish at least once every three weeks.
  • A starchy food such as bread, pasta, rice, couscous, noodles, potatoes or other types of cereal every day.
  • Dairy such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, or custard every day.
  • Drinks: non flavoured water, fruit juice, yoghurt or milk drinks, smoothies.
  • No snacks such as crisps. Instead nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit (with no added salt, sugar or fat.) are acceptable.  Cakes and biscuits are to be limited and preferred only as part of a balanced meal.
  • No processed items such as dippers and cheese strings etc.

Using this method will help you to come up with ideas for your child’s lunch boxes.  For example you could try different salads such as pasta salad or potato salads with fish (especially oily fish like salmon or mackerel to provide fatty acids which are great for brain function, concentration and learning) or chicken or tinned fish for those wishing for the quick and easy.  Alternatively, beans such as pinto or kidney beans make a great addition to salads and provide both protein and fibre.  Mixing with a little light salad cream or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, makes for a really tasty and easy lunch.  You could even just use some of the left over pasta (especially wholemeal for balanced blood sugar levels) or potatoes from dinner the day before to make the lunches, and even make enough for your lunch too. Add an apple (for fibre, vitamin C and the antioxidant quercetin known to benefit hayfever and lower health risks) and a yoghurt (for dairy to help build strong bones and teeth) to the box and your good to go.

Also, if it has to be a sandwich, then mix it up a bit, add some salad, and go for different types of bread such as pitta, wraps and baguettes, and always go for wholemeal seeded rather than white bread to ensure blood sugar levels are balanced and kids are fuller for longer. The fibre content will also ensure that our kid’s digestive systems are functioning correctly and they are warding off risks of illnesses and diseases.

Pieces Of Apple
Adding a piece of fruit or two to your child’s lunch box is just as easy as adding a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar and no more time consuming. (3)

As kids love to use their hands when they are eating, including dips such as hummus or cottage cheese are fun additions and also a healthy option as they contains lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  Include some vegetables such as chopped carrots (for vitamin A, providing benefits to eyes and skin) and peppers (for vitamin C and beta carotene), or even breadsticks or crackers for dipping and they will have a great time at lunch.

Food enjoyment is an important part of eating especially for children therefore it is worth experimenting with different methods.  Making the foods look appealing or adding a sauce or a dip to the dish are great ways to introduce a new food to their diet.  Once they’ve eaten the particular food a few times, they generally start to enjoy it and you never know you may find them asking for it in their packed lunches rather than you suggesting it to them.

Processed foods such as packaged ready meats, chocolate, crisps, biscuits and cakes should be kept to a minimum throughout the whole family for consistency.  Also, remember that you as a parent are a role model, so try to eat healthy foods in front of them so they can see how much you enjoy them (even if you may not).

It may be a time consuming process getting your child to try and enjoy eating healthy foods but it is definitely worth it for the wide range of health benefits provided.

Written by Lauren Foster

References

1. School Foods Trust (2008) Oldfield Park Infants’ School Packed Lunch Policy and Guidelines (Online):

2. Image courtesy of healingdream.

3. Image courtesy of Ambro.

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The Sun Chlorella guide to a healthy gut – Part 2

Continuing from Wednesday’s blog post on gut health, the team at Sun Chlorella follow on with the second part of their 10 point guide to the facts and fictions of gut health.

Sun Chlorella - The Ultimate Superfood
Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ is a natural green algae whole food supplement from Japan.

Sun Chlorella expert nutritionist Nadia Brydon, is on hand to separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to keeping your guts healthy.

“The most important thing when managing your digestion is to identify the causes and stop the patterns that lead to pain and discomfort.  Once you know how healthy your gut is you’ll be able to prevent any bloating.” says Nadia.

Don’t eat fruit – FICTION!

Candida overgrowth is a major cause of bloating and is essentially fermentation inside the gut.  Foods that encourage fermentation include sugar and that means sugar in fruit too.  However, not all fruit causes bloating.  Avoid citrus fruits but stock up on bananas, figs, blueberries, mango and papaya instead.

Supplements don’t work – FICTION!

If you are susceptible to bloating and trapped wind there are a number of effective and natural solutions.

Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ – a natural green algae whole food supplement from Japan – is Nadia’s number one choice for bloating as it contains a staggering range of nutrients including around 10% fibre, to help move food through the system more effectively.  Due to its special component – the Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) – Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ re-stimulates the growth and repair of cells, including the growth of good bacteria (Lactobacilli) four-fold once it’s absorbed, which aids digestive health*.

Nadia explains, “Taking Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ on a daily basis helps to keep the gut healthy and happy by acting as an ‘intestinal broom’ and cleansing the bowel.  Chlorella has the highest known concentration of chlorophyll – the green pigment found in plants that converts water, air and sunlight into energy – and this helps to bind to any toxins in your intestines, preventing absorption and eliminating them as waste.”

Other options include activated charcoal – an age old remedy to help ease the feelings of trapped wind.  Peppermints or warming peppermint tea will ease digestion whilst fennel seed tea or chewing fennel seeds or dill seeds after a meal can also help prevent bloating.

Increase your fibre intake – FACT!

Diet is really important.  Avoid bread and any processed or low glycemic foods and try to eat fresh foods instead.  Cutting down your intake of foods which are low in fibre – and therefore ‘bind’ inside your gut – such as eggs, chocolate, red meat, cheese and processed foods will help reduce bloating too.  A supplement such as Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ also contains fibre which can help to move food through your system.

Sun Chlorella 'A'
“Taking Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ on a daily basis helps to keep the gut healthy and happy by acting as an ‘intestinal broom’ and cleansing the bowel.

Food mixing can lead to bloating – FACT!

Bloating can often be caused by the slowing down of digestion caused by mixing incompatible foods (such as protein and carbohydrates) at meal times – which have different digesting times.  Bread, along with lactose and gluten, is also high on the list of causative factors.

Stress can lead to gut discomfort – FACT!

Stress is a huge factor as it can cause tension in the body which in turn interrupts the digestion process.  Try to find time to unwind at the end of each day – simple breathing exercises, a relaxing bath or even meditation could help the body to de-stress.

* a recent review of research concluded that the potential of chlorella to relieve symptoms, improve quality of life and normalize body functions in patients suffering with ulcerative colitis (a long-term (chronic) condition affecting the colon and causing inflammation of the intestines), suggests that larger, more comprehensive clinical trials of chlorella are warranted; A Review of Recent Clinical Trials of the Nutritional Supplement Chlorella Pyrenoidosa in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia, Hypertension, and Ulcerative Colitis, Randall E Merchant, PhD, and Cynthia A. Andre, MSc

 

Written by Nadia Brydon

 

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The Sun Chlorella guide to a healthy gut – Part 1

Todays blog is provided by the experts at premium supplement brand Sun Chlorella.  In parts 1 and 2, their expert nutritionist discusses the fact and fiction surrounding the topic of gut health.

‘Beat the bloat’  How healthy is your gut?  Fact & Fiction

Many aspirations to get more energised and active in the summer months are often thwarted by the common issue of bloated bellies.  To help our collective tummies beat the bloat, nutritionist Nadia Brydon from premium supplement brand Sun Chlorella, is on hand to separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to keeping your guts healthy.

“The most important thing when managing your digestion is to identify the causes and stop the patterns that lead to pain and discomfort.  Once you know how healthy your gut is you’ll be able to prevent any bloating.” says Nadia.

NADIA BRYDON’S GUT HEALTH FACT & FICTIONS

Sun Chlorella A1
Breathing and exercise are particularly important to help the digestion process and ‘burn’ off the food we eat.

Exercising when bloated will aggravate the condition – FICTION!

Breathing and exercise are particularly important as the gut needs air to help the digestion process and ‘burn’ off the food we eat.  Try to take exercise in the open air for half an hour each day.  If you’re bloated, a gentle walk will give you energy and the movement will facilitate your digestion.  Exercise that focuses on the abdominal muscles or uses controlled breathing is excellent as it strengthens the muscles in this area.

Don’t drink alcohol – FICTION!

If you are heading out for a few drinks just make sure you go prepared. Take Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ to help balance the pH in the gut before you head out, drink plenty of water throughout the night, and try to keep food simple and light.  Keep peppermints and chamomile teabags in your bag to have after your meal.

Eight hours sleep a night will help your tummy – FACT!

Sleep is a must and a good eight hours a night will give optimum benefit. It has been found that those sleeping less than this develop an increased desire for sugary type foods – due to lack of energy – which can ferment in the digestive tract and cause bloating.

Keep hydrated – FACT!

Always remember to drink lots of water throughout the day and try to drink before or after a meal rather than during.  Drinking up to eight glasses of water a day is the best ‘laxative’ nature can provide!

Visit the loo regularly – FACT!

Irregular bowel movements can cause bloating and it is important to empty the bowels on a daily basis.  For each main meal taken in, there should be a bowel movement to make space for the next meal.  Otherwise foods ‘back up’ and ferment leaving the gut feeling full and bloated.  To help keep the bowels regular, eat fibre-rich fresh fruit, vegetables and seeds such as flaxseeds, hemp seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Don’t miss the second part of Sun Chlorella guide to a healthy gut in the next bodykind blog on Thursday 4th August 2011.

Written by Nadia Brydon

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A protein-rich breakfast may prevent food cravings and overeating

A recent study has found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces feelings of hunger throughout the day (1).  Skipping breakfast has been linked with overeating, weight gain and obesity. Those who regularly skip breakfast have 4.5 times the risk of obesity as those who consume breakfast regularly (2).

Protein Rich Breakfast
A recent study has found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces feelings of hunger throughout the day. (3)

Researcher Heather Leidy recently conducted a study to determine whether the type of breakfast we eat might also affect hunger and feelings of fullness.  She assessed hunger and satiety by measuring self-perceived appetite sensations. The researchers also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify activity in specific areas of the brain related to food motivation and reward.

The study was conducted on overweight teenage girls who habitually skipped breakfast. One group of participants was given a regular breakfast of cereal and milk for seven days, while a second group ate a higher protein breakfast. On the seventh day, the participants completed appetite and satiety questionnaires. They were also given a brain scan which recorded the brain’s response to images of food prior to lunch.

Compared to skipping breakfast, both types of morning meal led to increased fullness and reduced appetite before lunchtime. The brain scan confirmed that activity in regions of the brain that control ‘food motivation and reward’, or the desire to eat, was reduced at lunchtime when breakfast had been eaten earlier.  Additionally, the protein-rich breakfast led to even greater changes in appetite, feelings of fullness and desire to eat.

Leidy advises caution in interpreting the results of this preliminary study, as the sample size was small. The initial findings indicate that eating a protein-rich breakfast might help to control appetite and prevent overeating in young people.  “People reach for convenient snack foods to satisfy their hunger between meals, but these foods are almost always high in sugar and fat and add a substantial amount of calories to the diet.” Liedy said. “Incorporating a healthy breakfast containing protein-rich foods can be a simple strategy for people to stay satisfied longer, and therefore, be less prone to snacking,”

Protein-rich breakfasts can be simple and quick to prepare. Try a couple of poached eggs on a slice of wholegrain toast, unsweetened museli with natural yoghurt, or a couple of slices of rye bread spread with peanut butter. Or for those who love their usual breakfast cereal, you can boost the protein content by sprinkling on a protein powder such as Higher Nature’s Hemp Protein.

References

1.  Heather J. Leidy, et al. Harris. Neural Responses to Visual Food Stimuli After a Normal vs. Higher Protein Breakfast in Breakfast-Skipping Teens: A Pilot fMRI Study. Obesity, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/oby.2011.108.

2.  Ma, Y., Bertone, E., Staneck, EJ., et al. Association between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-living US Adult Population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2003; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwg117.3.

3.  Image courtesy of  Simon Howden.

Written by Nadia Mason

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