Blog

Mental Health Awareness Week

photo of a woman thinking

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and  I was pleased to be involved in speaking at the Cardiff Junior Lawyers Health and Wellbeing breakfast seminar to share how Good Nutrition can support Resilience to Stress

Everyone in the legal profession will be aware of the stress placed upon all levels of the profession in the current workplace environment. As a former solicitor, married to a senior lawyer, I am acutely aware of how the pace of business has increased to frantic levels, adding to the stress of living in our constantly connected 21st century. There are no surprises then that mental health issues are increasing in the profession. In 2018 LawCare received its highest ever level of helpline calls.

And of course, this issue is not limited to the legal profession – it exists in all areas of work, from accountancy, advertising and marketing, insurance, call centres, to  teachers, NHS workers and more….

As a Nutritional Therapist I see many clients suffering from conditions such as chronic headaches and migraines, IBS, weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and low mood. Most if not all of these conditions are driven by stress.

There are a number of ways that food – both what you eat and how and when you eat it, can help reduce the effects of stress in the body. Sadly, the Standard Western Diet that many of us eat today is devoid of fibre and nutrients and fails to give our body what it needs to work well.

What can we all do to mitigate against this? The main strategies that I suggest are:-

  • Balancing blood sugar – eating natural unprocessed wholegrains – eat brown and seeded not white and refined, complex carbohydrates – including the carbs in vegetables; and protein with every meal. This strategy ensures that glucose enters the bloodstream in a gradual way, avoiding energy highs and lows which have a massively detrimental effect on energy and mood
  • Replacing depleted nutrients like Vitamins B and C, magnesium, zinc and iron. Easily obtained from vegetables, fruit and other plants – so eat a rainbow of these, aiming for 10 portions a day. It’s a lot, so work up to this gradually! Without these nutrients our body just cannot perform its metabolic functions -its not surprising that we can feel unable to cope with the stresses of daily life
  • Eating good fats to support a favourable Omega 3/6 ratio:- olive oil, oily fish, nuts, avocados. These all support the manufacture of hormones, cell walls, absorption of certain Vitamins and help our nervous system work well
  • Eating good proteins to provide the building blocks of neurotransmitters – especially plant proteins like beans, pulses, nuts and seeds
  • Supporting your gut microbiome by eating the 3 Ps:- Prebiotics –soluble fibre found in plants like leeks, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, lentils and oats; Probiotics – the live bacteria in fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso. Finally, Phytonutrients – the plant chemicals found in, yes, plants. Research is showing that plants contain thousands of different nutrients that have a positive function on the gut and therefore on the rest of the body. I’m talking about things like the polyphenols in coffee, chocolate and red berries; the lycopene in tomatoes and quercetin in apples and onions. There is a massive amount of research into the Gut – Brain link at the moment. It’s showing that a healthy microbiome supports not only our digestion and nutrient absorption, but also our brain health. The key is Diversity – eat as many different natural foods as you can each day. Research shows that a diverse diet leads to a diverse microbiome which correlates with good health

assorted vegetable lot

Contact tricia@goodnutritionfirst.co.uk for more information on my Talks and Workshops

Spring into Summer

 

salmon summer

Summer is coming and our thoughts are turning to the warm sunny days ahead. We need to start thinking about taking off the layers of comfortable winter clothing- but might find that our bodies have gained their own ‘extra layer’ of padding!  What can we do to get rid of the extra pounds so that we can fit back into our summer wardrobe again?.

While its good to be mindful of the health issues linked with being overweight, I am also aware of the adverse metabolic effects of crash and yo yo dieting on your body. Its important to support your body nutritionally to ensure that you are providing it with the nutrients it needs to enable it to function properly. So, if you are trying to lose weight,  doing it by  simply reducing calories is not the best approach. Remember that there are about the same calories in two Jaffa cakes as there are in an egg. The Jaffa cakes have very little nutritional value, but the egg is full of good quality protein, very rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which support our vision, as well as being rich in iron, phosphorus, selenium, Vitamins A, B12 and B5. To top it all it is a rich source of choline which is good for our brain!

So, what is the best way of losing weight healthily? As a Nutritional Therapist I am trained to treat every person as an individual – and I know that an eating plan that works for one person may not work as well  for another. This is why when seeing a client who wishes to lose weight, I will spend time in the consultation, analysing a detailed questionnaire of current and past health, as well as discussing your current eating routine,  in order to help work out the best nutritional plan for that person. I will support that plan with at least 7 different breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and lots of tasty nourishing recipes.summer fruits

However, there are some basic rules for healthy weight loss that work for many people – providing there are no other ongoing health conditions. Here are my six  top tips

  1. Eat your vegetables – this is a no brainer. Plant foods are full of healthy vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that support a healthy metabolism. Studies show that a plant based diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat. Focus on those vegetables that grow above the ground and try to eat as many different coloured veggies as you can every day. Eat a rainbow! A few portions of fruit a day are fine, but if you’re trying to lose weight focus on berries, apples and pears as these offer the least disruption to your blood sugar.carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoes.jpg
  2. Eat a small amount of protein with every meal. Protein provide us with the amino acids needed to repair and replace your cells. Protein is also satiating – so you are less likely to feel hungry between meals. As well as animal proteins like lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and live yoghurt, try eating more plant proteins like nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses. There are lots of great recipes around that focus on foods like chickpeas, black eyed beans and lentils – so give them a try
  3. Eat Complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and root vegetables like sweet potato. These are much slower to digest than the refined carbohydrates found in refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugary cakes and biscuits, pasta and white rice. Being unrefined they have avoided the manufacturing processes which removes most of their nutrients. These complex carbohydrates, along with vegetable fibre will help keep your bowels moving and will also provide food for your microbiota – the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and work hard to support your digestion and immune system.
  4. Eat good fats. Please don t eat ‘low fat’ manufactured foods. These tend to be full of sugars and additives. Your body needs fat to help you absorb vitamins A D E and K; to help make hormones and to keep your cell walls flexible enabling your neurotransmitters to work efficiently. Just avoid trans fats and too many saturated fats. Focus on the healthy fats in olive oil, nuts, avocados and oily fish.
  5. Drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day. If this is a bit boring try adding fruit or herbs. Some good combinations and lemon and lime slices, cucumber, berries, mint and even rosemary. (Rosemary also reputed to help you concentrate better – so add a few sprigs to your work water bottle and stun your colleagues with your efficiency!)
  6. Give it a rest. Research shows that leaving around 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your breakfast can really help weight loss, as well as giving the cells of your body some ‘spring cleaning’ time.

Here is a  great recipe for a Detox rainbow salad. This can be made in bulk as it lasts 2 or 3 days in the fridge. It’s tasty, nourishing and filling and really useful for work lunches. Just add some protein in the form of salmon, (red tinned salmon is very nutritious), chicken, hummus or feta and olives. A few sweet potato wedges left over from last nights dinner can also be added for some healthy carbs.

rainbow salad 

Rainbow Detox Salad

½ red cabbage, thinly sliced

Red onion, chopped

Orange or yellow pepper, chopped

2 carrots, grated

1/4 cucumber chopped

Large handful coriander or flat leaf parsley chopped

Salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar

Finely chopped red chilli pepper (optional)

½ – 1 pomegranate, seeds

Contains the following anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrients:-

Red cabbage- vitamins A and C, B6, magnesium, anthocyanins (cancer fighting), fibre
Red Onion – quercetin, Vitamin C, potassium, fibre
Carrots – vitamin A from beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fibre
Peppers – Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin E and K, beta carotene
Cucumber- potassium, vitamin C, lowers blood sugar
Coriander – quercetin, kaempferol – good for detox, vitamins A,C,K
Olive Oil – good source of Omega 9 and 3; Apple cider Vinegar – probiotic – good for gut bacteria
Pomegranate – very high antioxidant, fibre, vitamins C and K, 124 phytonutrients
Chilli pepper – fibre vitamins, Vitamin C and K, capsanthin -anti cancer

If you would like a little more personalised nutritional support on weight loss or any other matter then please contact me tricia@goodnutritionfirst.co.uk

Workplace Wellness

Nutrition for Corporates

green apple cut

Wellbeing at work

  • Do your staff suffer from stress at work?
  • Is the health and wellbeing of your employees important to you?
  • Would a healthy workforce be a more productive workforce?
  • Do you want to play a positive role in your employees’ lives?

 If so, targeted nutritional education in the workplace can help, providing positive results for staff health and wellbeing, motivation, attendance and morale

Good Nutrition First offers practical, non-judgemental guidance on healthy eating, supported by current research not fads, with effective strategies for implementation including food ideas, recipes with a down to earth approach

We can provide

  • Breakfast and lunchtime seminars
  • Workshops as part of a Staff Wellness Programme
  • One-to-one nutrition consultations

All  tailored to the specific needs of your workforce 

Here are some of the talks that we deliver:

  • Healthy eating – What it means and how to achieve it
  • Good Nutrition – building resilience to stress
  • Eating for energy – How food can improve energy and performance
  • Eat to beat 21st century diseases like type 2 diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
  • Good Gut Health – How your microbiome influences your health and how to harness it
  • Sleep – Why we need it and the impact of our Circadian clock on how, what and when you eat.

Testimonials

 “Tricia provided a thorough and interesting seminar explaining stress and the importance of nutrition in a comprehensible understandable way, with realistic steps and guidance to improve areas of my life that I often struggle with including stress, sleep and physical fitness” – A L seminar attendee – January 2019

“Tricia gave us a very interesting and informative talk on healthy eating. She came to our meeting complete with healthy snacks, and some of the messages she gave us have stayed with us and are still a source of conversation with… [us.]” – C R February 2109 

Tricia Lowe, a former solicitor, now a qualified Nutritional Therapist, has a clear understanding of the pressures on today’s workers. GP appointments for health conditions related to stress are at an all-time high – they adversely impact performance. Improving health through diet and lifestyle changes can have a beneficial effect on people’s resilience to stress both in the workplace and outside. All you need is the knowledge ……….. Contact us at:

 

Gut Healthy Recipes

 

Rainbow Detox Salad

½ red cabbage, thinly sliced

Red onion, chopped

Orange or yellow pepper, chopped

2 carrots, grated

1/4 cucumber chopped

Large handful coriander or flat leaf parsley chopped

Salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar

Finely chopped red chilli pepper (optional)

½ – 1 pomegranate, seeds only,

Method

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Serve with any fish or meat. Delicious in a wholegrain flatbread with dollops of home made hummus

Will make enough for 6-8 people.

You can keep this in a covered container in the fridge for 4-5 days

Contains the following anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant nutrients:-

Red cabbage- vitamins A and C, B6, magnesium, anthocyanins (cancer fighting), fibre

Red Onion – quercetin, Vitamin C, potassium, fibre

Carrots – vitamin A from beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fibre

Peppers – Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin E and K, beta carotene

Cucumber- potassium, vitamin C, lowers blood sugar

Coriander – quercetin, kaempferol – good for detox, vitamins A,C,K

Olive Oil – good source of Omega 9 and 3; Apple cider Vinegar – probiotic – good for gut bacteria

Pomegranate – very high antioxidant, fibre, vitamins C and K, 124 phytonutrients

Chilli pepper – fibre vitamins, Vitamin C and K, capsanthin -anti cancer

Be Good to Your Gut

How to Feed Your Gut

carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoes.jpg

Ten years ago, nobody knew they had a microbiome. Today the health of the community of microbes living in and on our bodies has become very important as we become increasingly aware of its role within our body.

Our gut microbiome regulates many of our body functions, e.g. :-

Creating Vitamins B and K

Controlling our immune function

Acting as a messenger to our nerves and brain

And supporting our metabolism and weight

They are critical to our long term health

Unfortunately, our 21st Century lifestyle is a little unkind to our microbiota. The Standard western diet is very processed and refined, starving them of the fibre they need. The chemical and environmental toxins we are exposed to makes things worth. In addition, the antibiotics and other drugs we take not only deplete or beneficial bacteria (along with the pathogens) but they also can damage our delicate gut lining causing inflammation and the activation of our immune system. This is understandable when we realise that @70% of our immune system lies in the gut.

We need to find ways of supporting our beneficial gut bacteria so that they can ensure that the pathogens don’t take over!

Here are some top tips:-

 

  1. Remember the 3 Ps

Prebiotics     Probiotics     Polyphenols

Prebiotics are found in plant foods and provide the gut flora with insoluble fibre to chew on. These are found in plant foods especially leeks, onions, garlic, chicory, artichokes, asparagus, oats and lentils

Make plants the basis of your meals and you won’t go too far wrong

Probiotics are found in foods that have been fermented. This is a way of adding beneficial bacteria to your existing internal stock. Look for foods like yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, Apple Cider Vinegar and even sourdough bread.

Polyphenols are a type of phytochemical (plant chemical) that are part of the plant’s defence system. They add important nutritional content to our food. Many of the health benefits associated with polyphenols may be related to their role as antioxidants. Antioxidants are known for their ability to combat cell damage. Polyphenols may also impact genes and gene expression. Polyphenols seem to act as a prebiotic-type substance, meaning that they increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains. They often have an astringent mouth puckering quality. You will find them in most plants but some that are especially good for the gut are found in dark berries-anthocyanins, dark grapes- resveratrol ; cacao- flavanols and apples – quercetin. So, it seems that red wine, chocolate and cider must be good for us! ….Well, in moderation maybe! Even coffee contains a good dose of polyphenols

2. Try to keep your intake of refined foods to a minimum. This should also reduce your sugar and fat consumption which adversely affects our gut bacteria. Artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives are also very bad for our microbiome.

3. Exercise, but don t over exercise as this produces excess cortisol which can harm your gut lining. Similarly, stress produces cortisol which will affect not only the gut lining but your balance of gut bacteria, so try to find ways to relax.

4. Avoid antibiotics if you can, as these have a habit of damaging the good as well as the bad gut bacteria. If possible consider taking probiotic supplements while you are taking them or just after a course. Remember to take the probiotics with food and 2 hours away from your medication. Excess over the counter NSAIDs can have a similar damaging effect.

5. Give your bugs a break. This means taking a rest from eating – ensuring you give them a break of about 12 hours after your evening meal. Studies show that this helps beneficial bacteria establish themselves within your gut

6. Diversity – eat as wide a range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, as you can. This will help you a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Research shows that a diverse wholefoods diet produces a diverse gut bacteria colony, and this equates with good health.

Cortisol and Fat

salmonAs Christmas approaches, it is easy to become stressed and anxious about all the things you have to do -on top of your normal workload. Its worth taking time to consider how stress can actually impact upon your weight – almost as much as what you eat. See the article below for an explanation as to what happens – and how to deal with it

How Cortisol can make you fat

When you’re stressed, you feel the positive effect of cortisol – the rise of energy, the focus, and control.  Cortisol is the main stress hormone made in your adrenal glands and it’s designed to get you out of danger. It has 3 main jobs:

  • raise blood sugar to feed muscles so you can run or fight,
  • raise blood pressure, and
  • modulate immune function.

However, if the cortisol tap is constantly set to ‘on’ our body ceases to register the positive aspects of cortisol, and you switch to the negative aspects of cortisol

Initially, as cortisol is secreted from the pancreas you feel great. Then you become jittery and anxious, and your thinking can become fuzzy. Your blood sugar will drop as the pancreas secretes insulin to get the energy into your cells.

Over time, high cortisol, when sustained, is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, increased belly fat, brain changes such as shrinkage of the hippocampus the memory centre of the brain, depression, insomnia, and poor wound healing. Fat cells in the abdominal area have four times more cortisol receptors than fat cells elsewhere, so fat storage increases as your cortisol climbs and stays high. A vicious circle.

Most people suffering from weight gain and leading a highly stressed life will find that conventional medicine can’t really offer a cure. People are often told to just to exercise more. That is probably the worst advice you could give to someone with high cortisol, as it causes the body to produce even more cortisol.

What you can do about the problem of cortisol.

Here are some ideas to adopt as regular practices – make them a part of your way of life

  1. Eat nutrient dense food – plants like vegetables, fruit, pulses, nuts and seeds are the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. Avoid refined carbs and sugar like the plague. Craving sugar or alcohol could be a symptom of high cortisol. Try not to give into this craving – it won’t make you feel better. Instead eat some nuts and seeds, a piece of fruit or some hummus with chopped vegetables as a snack
  2. Eat oily fish 2-3 times a week or take fish oil. 2000 mg per day can lower your cortisol level. See the recipe from Dale Pinnock – the Medicinal Chef, below
  3. Mindfulness/mediation . This is especially true if you are struggling with weight. A study from The University of California at San Francisco, showed that obese women who began a mindfulness program and stuck with it for 4 months lost abdominal fat. If you can’t do any of these then just try closing your eyes and listening to calming music for 15 minutes a day
  4. Change, or at least mix up your   Running raises cortisol. Switching to yoga and Pilates makes all the difference. Or just  try a daily walk outside, especially good if you can walk away from city noise and traffic
  5.  Try rhodiola. Rhodiola is an adaptogen herb from the ginseng family, and a proven botanical treatment for lowering cortisol.

Try this tasty and simple recipe – a great way to boost your Omega 3 intake

Salmon foil parcels with sweet potato wedgessalmon

Serves 1

1 sweet potato, skin on, cut into wedges
Olive oil
1 salmon fillet
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 cm piece of fresh root ginger, sliced
Juice of half a lime
2 tsp soy sauce
Small handful of fresh coriander, coarsely torn

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Place the sweet potato wedges on a baking tray and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until soft and turning golden at the edges.
2 While the wedges are in the oven, make the parcels. Using tin foil or grease proof paper, create a boat shape. It needs to be big enough to hold the salmon fillet and leak-proof so the liquids don’t escape. Place the parcel on a baking tray.
3 Place the salmon fillet in the parcel, along with the garlic, chilli, ginger, lime juice and soy sauce. Seal the parcel by scrunching the edges of the foil or paper together.
4 Move the sweet potato wedges down a shelf if necessary and place the salmon parcel in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Both the salmon and the sweet potato wedges should be done at the same time. The salmon should be lightly cooked and sitting in a well-flavoured broth. Scatter over the coriander just before serving.

This would also work well with a firm white fish like cod. Cod has less anti inflammatory Omega 3 but is a great source of iodine.