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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Eat well and keep healthy at Christmas – put Good Nutrition first

The Festive season is upon us again, and its all too easy to succumb to the temptations of the mince pies, slices of Christmas cake and the glasses of mulled wine. We all know that the parties play havoc with our weight, skin and sleep, yet nobody wants to be the party pooper with a glass of water staring wistfully at all our friends carousing around us.

Oranges

What can we do to keep healthy and still have fun? Here are some tips:-

  1. Keep eating our vegetables. Piling up our plates with a rainbow of vegetables is a great antidote to the sausages and stuffing! Each different coloured vegetable is full of healthy fibre and contains antioxidant vitamins A and C as well as a multitude of different phytonutrients which nourish our body in so many different ways. If you can manage to eat 5 or 6 portions of vegetables each day (sorry, fries don’t count- not even sweet potato ones) then you know you are providing your body with good nutrition. Your liver relies on these vitamins to help your body detoxify. Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.) improve levels of potassium and contain indole compounds, a by-product that’s known to eliminate carcinogens from the body while leafy greens, a great source of folate may also help you lose weight . Greens are low in calories while still being packed with nutrients and other active compounds. Their effect on weight loss goes beyond just calories. Greens contain nitrites, which are linked with converting fat-storing white cells into fat-burning brown cells. This creates extra fat burning and ultimately, weight loss.
  2. Say yes to the turkey. Turkey is a protein filled, lean meat which contains the amino acid tryptophan. Your body changes L-tryptophan into a brain chemical called serotonin which helps control your mood and sleep. Some might use the turkey as an excuse for the post-Christmas lunch snooze (or could that be the sherry??) but eating it will provide you with satiating protein as well as helping you get to sleep. Tryptophanis present in most protein-based foods or dietary proteins. It is particularly plentiful in, oats, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, spirulina, and peanuts. Its also contained in chocolate – but more on that later!
  3. Drink plenty of water. I know you’ll have heard this many times before, but we can get dehydrated even when the sun’s not shining. Drinking alcohol, and the dry air caused by central heating lead to dehydration. Also, in cold weather, the body’s thirst response is diminished This happens because our blood vessels constrict when we’re cold to prevent blood from flowing freely to the extremities.  This enables the body to conserve heat by drawing more blood to its core. So, keep your fluids up and aim for 2 litres a day. It doesn’t have to be plain water, you can add citrus fruits to sparkling water and drink this instead of alcohol. If you choose to drink, then alternate with water or add some sparkling water to your wine. If a hot drink is needed then try a spicy ginger tea or a liquorice and peppermint one which will give you a little taste of sweetness.
  4. Concentrate on the clementines – and all the other juicy citrus fruits around. Clementines are really good for the skin, owing to the presence of significant amount of vitamin C. Scientific studies have validated the role of Vitamin C in the synthesis of collagen, a structural component vital for the maintenance of healthy skin. Antioxidantproperties of vitamin C present in clementines help in protecting the skin against the damage induced by UV radiations and helps in revitalizing the aging skin. Furthermore, it aids in reducing the formation of wrinkles, supports in repairing damaged skin, and assists in keeping the skin healthy and They also boost the immune system, strengthen bones and muscles due to their calcium content, and are good for your heart due to the potassium they contain. Clementines , tangerines and oranges are a part of the Christmas tradition and ones that we can enjoy to our heart’s content.
  5. Go Nuts! We often avoid nuts because they tend to be high in fat and calories, but in actual fact they can help weight stabilisation. Recent studies have shown that nuts can prevent weight gain in adulthood. The researchers discovered that replacing foods that had less nutritional value with a 1-ounce serving of nuts and peanuts lowered the risk of weight gain and obesity over the 4-year follow-up intervals. Nuts have great nutritional value and are an important part of the so called Mediterranean diet known for its health giving benefits. Nuts are a source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids which are good for our brain, as well as being a fantastic source of insoluble fibre – which can feed our microbiome. Eat a variety:-Almonds are a great source of calcium, brazil nuts contain selenium while walnuts contain one of the best plant sources of Omega 3. And if you eat the ones that need to be shelled first, and risk of over eating them is reduced by the time it takes to shell them!
  6. Ok have some chocolate – but make sure it’s dark – at least 70% cacao. Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content the more benefits there are – but check that it doesn’t contain lots of fat and sugar.

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Chocolate is an abundant source of phytonutrients called flavanols which  may offer protection to the heart in various ways:- reducing Blood pressure, reducing clotting, and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. A number of studies have concluded that these flavanols might have a beneficial effect on heart and blood pressure. But don’t eat too much – a couple of squares of dark chocolate not a whole selection box.

A great way to have your chocolate fix is by making your own healthy snacks which contain cacao – unprocessed chocolate – as well as other nutritious ingredients like goji berries, dates, nuts and cinnamon.

See the recipe below for my Bounty Bites

HEALTHY ‘BOUNTY’ BITES

Ingredients

100g medjool dates

25g dried goji berries

25g pistachios

50g almonds

100g shredded coconut

2 tbsp cacao powder

30g coconut oil

Method

Soften dates in warm water for @15 mins. In food processor add the dates, nuts, goji berries. Add cacao and coconut. Melt the coconut oil then blend with the mixture.

Form into round balls – they look nicer rolled in a little coconut. Put in fridge to cool. Can be stored in freezer to avoid over consumption!!

(You can vary the nuts and berries depending on what you have in your larder. E.g. at Christmas I added dried cranberries, cinnamon and orange zest for a festive flavour)

So, enjoy your Christmas festivities – just remember that having fun and spending time with friends and family is a great stress reducer, and the benefits of that can outweigh the occasional bit of over indulgence.

 

Spring

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Spring is the time of year when many people start to notice seasonal allergy symptoms or hayfever. Studies have found that symptoms of seasonal allergies can be helped by eating plant foods which have a high content of  Quercetin . Quercetin  is a flavonoid  compound  which can act as an antihistamine in the body. It does this by stabilising  mast cells which release histamine and trigger allergy symptoms. Fruits and vegetables are the main source of  Quercetin in the diet especially kale, asparagus, apples and many types of berries.