August 2017:

Post-workout Recovery Snack Ideas:

As part of my work for Nuffield Health read my latest guest blog post on snacks for post-work out recovery: https://www.pulsin.co.uk/blog/nutrition/good-health-post-workout-recovery/

March 2017:

Lecturing for the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM):

After nearly two years of lecturing for this leading UK-wide college - www.naturopathy-uk.com I've recently taken a break from lecturing in order to suppport Nuffield Health deliver more corporate nutrition events. I've found lecturing very rewarding - the students are a great bunch and its been very rewarding supporting and helping them understand the world of nutrition - I'm sure some will become leading names in the nutrition field of the future

January 2017:

Shirley’s Top 5 Health Rules for 2017:

  1. Eat More Veg… predictable? But there’s no getting away from these nutritional power-houses – research show filling up more on veg = eating less and feeling fuller 

  2. Get Moving – more of us now work in sedentary jobs when we’re sitting at computers for long periods.  Over time this can lead to slow digestion and low energy – help yourself by taking regular breaks from your desk to move around.  We need regular movement for food to move through the digestive tract

  3. Relax More – find a relaxing activity to do each day – even 10 minutes helps your body to calm down and function more efficiently.  Research confirms meditation and mindfulness are excellent ways to reduce anxiety and stress

  4. Drink Drink Drink – to sharpen up we need to top up our daily water intake to at least 1.5 litres – our brain contains 85% water…

  5. and finally… avoid eating at your desk or “on the run” – the digestive process begins in the brain when we see, smell, prepare or think about food, so take time eating and chew food thoroughly to aid digestion

I hope these rules are helpful – more bespoke advice is available through a private consultation / corporate workshop/seminar

April 2016:

"Sugar Swap" for Easter:

Being slightly obsessive with reading food labels I was still very disappointed to see that in my local supermarket every easter egg I checked, targeted at children, had the first ingredient as sugar... come on chocolate manufacturers if you make a chocolate product surely it should contain cocoa as the first ingredient??? We are all aware of the health issues associated with sugar but cocoa actually contains some pretty good health benefits - being a good source of the key energy-mineral magnesium plus containing a range of flavonoids, which may help protect against stress.  If you're a real chocolate fan there's a range of "raw" chocolate goodies available which don't contain refined sugar but contain cocoa, not sugar, as their main ingredient, so try these - available at most health stores - raw chocolate is very rich so you don't need much - a win, win situation!

So the moral of this blog post is choose your and your child's easter egg carefully this Easter or even better still donate your easter egg money to the childrens food campaign

July 2014:

Sun-Protection Foods:

 With this great sunny weather set to continue it's worth thinking how you can help your skin protect itself and stay supple and healthy.  Staying out of the sun between the hours of 12- 3pm is an obvious way to avoid sunburn, but there has been enough research to prove that sun upon our skin is essential to promote our Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is necessary for any inflammatory condition, pre pregnancy, supporting mood balance, strengthening bones, improving our immune system and balancing blood sugar levels

So how do we get the happy balance of sun protection with no burning or peeling skin and sufficient levels of Vitamin D?  Well apart from being sensible when applying sun screen, eating certain foods can help protect the skin

Antioxidants:

These are nutrients within foods that protect cells from damage

The two big vitamins which help are Vitamin C and E, they help to mop up free radicals produced by the sun’s UV rays. Vitamin C rich foods include kiwi, citrus fruit, berries, blackcurrants, watercress, peppers and parsley. Vitamin E foods like avocado, nuts (pecan, hazelnut, cashew, brazil, walnut), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, linseeds and sesame seeds), and olive, sunflower and corn oils have also been shown to reduce the risk of sun damage to skin cells

Carotenoids are the highly nourishing nutrients in yellow and orange foods, like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, peaches and cantaloupe melon. It is also in broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and watercress. Lightly steaming the vegetables helps us to access the protective beta carotene

Lycopene is the anti-oxidant within tomatoes that helps protect the skin from sun damage. Slow roast or pan cook in a little oil increases their content. Tinned tomatoes and tomato puree are also beneficial. Researchers have found that cooked tomato boosts levels of pro-collagen, a loss of which leads to wrinkles, skin aging and loss of elasticity. Some lycopene is found in pink grapefruit and watermelon

Essential fats found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel; seeds and nuts give the skin a plumper feel and moisturise from a deep level to protect the cell from damage. Essential fats are also anti-inflammatory so will calm the skin after exposure. Brazil nuts in particular are high in selenium which according to the University of Edinburgh showed that it “protects the skin from much of the damage caused by UV radiation”. Fish, shellfish and eggs are other good sources of selenium

So while you enjoy the sunshine, also enjoy smoothies, juices, salads and vegetables, along with nuts, seeds and fish to help protect your skin

June 2014:

White Bread is Good for us!! Umh... Don't Believe The Hype!

 Have they finally managed to find a nutritional benefit in white bread??  But is this really the case?  Let’s look a little closer - this recent Spanish study used a very small group of 38 healthy participants – it’s unclear how they were able to conclude that it was white bread that specifically improved production of Lactobacillus – one of our beneficial bowel bacteria strains.  Whilst any food that helps us produce beneficial bacteria is helpful we need to look at the food’s full nutritional profile to come to a balanced conclusion.  White bread is made from wheat.  Commercially produced wheat has been highly cultivated to contain high levels of gluten, the protein in wheat.   This protein is hard to digest and is a well-known intestinal irritant. Wheat also contains substances called phytates, which can inhibit absorption of key vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.  White bread is highly refined – the refining process removes the husk of the grain and with this it’s fibre content.  Fibre adds bulk to food as it moves through the digestive tract – without fibre adding this bulk food can remain in the digestive tract, unable to move through.  This can lead to digestive issues from food remaining in the digestive tract, which over time can lead to issues like constipation, with un-digested food producing toxins and toxic gases which can irritate the digestive tract

The food refining process also removes most of the vitamins and minerals the wheat would have naturally contained.  Eating white bread therefore uses up stores of vitamins and minerals from the body, which are needed for digestion.  Heard enough?  Therefore the small benefit this study suggests would seem to be hugely outweighed by it’s disadvantages.  All in all white bread is therefore NOT a good nutritional choice

So do yourself a favour by cutting down on the amount of wheat you eat - it’s easy to consume wheat at every meal if you’re not careful – toast/cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pasta/pie for dinner.  Cutting down on all wheat in the diet, not just bread, is a really good start to improving your health – choose instead gluten-free grains such as amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat – all contain good levels of energy, fibre and easily digestible protein combined with lots of seasonal vegetables to add to fibre content.  Fibre tones and exercises the bowel.  Therefore consuming a high fibre diet is the best start for bowel health, rather than compromising this with low fibre, nutritionally depleted white bread.  See my “recipes” page for some wheat-free meal and snack suggestions to get you started

June 2014:

Inactivity = Poor Health!!

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has urged employers to encourage staff to take lunch breaks, stating that inactivity results in ill-health and therefore more time off sick. A survey they have conducted for Workout at Work Day shows one in five employees work through their lunch. Of those who do manage to take a break, half said they ate at their desk. Only one in five left their workplace to go outside for a break, and only 3% went to the gym...

As well as helping with fitness levels regular activity is crucial for efficient food digestion and energy levels.  Food can only move through the digestive tract by muscle movement, a process call “peristalsis”.  Therefore regular movement is needed to achieve this.  If you stay glued to your PC/eat at your desk over lunch you’re increasing your risk of poor digestion.  If food remains in the digestive tract for long periods it can start to produce toxins and toxic gases which can contribute to bloating,  flatulence and low energy.  Help yourself by ensuring you take regular breaks from your desk, eat away from your desk, take your time eating and chew thoroughly to aid digestion.  Take a walk outside at lunchtime whenever you can – all such easy ways to reduce your risk of ill health

May 2014:

In the news today: Scientists warn Cutting Sleep is leading to Serious Health Issues

Eating at the wrong time and poor food choices can have a big impact on sleep, read my latest advice in Women's Health magazine May edition:

Does hunger stop us sleeping?

If you’re hungry, this doesn’t only affect your physical energy levels but will also affect your mood as your brain uses over half the energy we receive from carbohydrates.  Therefore if you are hungry and trying to get to sleep, your poorly functioning brain may well be compromising this.  When we sleep, as well as refreshing the body for the next day’s activities, the sleep process actually uses a lot of energy to repair and replace damaged/worn-out cells – so if you go to bed hungry where is the energy going to come from?

Is it bad to go to bed on a full stomach?  In a word, yes!

Well as we’ve said you need energy to digest food, but you need to give your digestive system time to work properly after eating, so wherever possible avoid going to bed on a full stomach.  The digestive system has less energy available in the evening as the body begins to divert this away as it prepares for sleep, for cell repair and replacement.  Therefore you’ll struggle to digest food efficiently and won’t make the best use of the nutrients and energy from food, as there simply isn’t the energy available to utilise these.   In addition, lying down is not a good position for helping food travel through the digestive tract, so food may remain partly-digested.  If this happens regularly this may lead to a wide range of symptoms such as bloating, food intolerances, low energy and constipation.

If you don’t have much time between eating and sleeping, think about choosing lighter, easier to digest meals.  For example, scrambled eggs with sesame rye crackers or a banana with a handful of un-salted almonds.  Bananas, eggs and sesame seeds are good dietary sources of one of the essential amino acids, Tryptophan - this is needed to produce the hormone Melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.  Almonds and bananas also contain magnesium, which is a relaxing mineral.

Is this body more likely to store the food as fat?

In general yes, though food choice and amount will have an impact.  For example, if you choose refined carbohydrates such as white bread / rice / pasta / sugary foods more of their quick-release energy will be converted to fat stores for future energy needs, as this is not needed whilst we are less physically active during sleep.  Whereas smoked mackerel with oat cakes contains easily digestible protein in the mackerel (which helps keep you fuller for longer) and good fibre levels in the oat cakes (which slows down release of energy so less is available for fat storage).  Remember though, whatever food you choose, there is less energy available to digest this during sleep.

If you can’t avoid eating close to sleep, as always eat slowly and chew food thoroughly to help the digestive process

May 2014:

CAM Anti-Ageing Conference:

I was lucky enough to attend this full day CPD conference - very thought provoking, discussing the analysis of "blue zones" where most centenarians live.  Key links to longevity were low stress, constant regular physical activity, low calorie diets (not over-eating), living within family structures and regular social engagement and living in a natural (non-urban) environment - it struck me how many today are far removed from these factors - good reminders to us all???

February 2014:

Statins Again!!

Well the statin issue raises it's head again in the news... we're now being advised to take these as a preventative measure when we have just a 10% risk of heart/arterial disease from diet and lifestyle factos - are the big pharma companies behind this push I wonder?

Although statins are proven effective in lowering LDL cholesterol, they have not been proven to reduce mortality from heart disease.  Remember, various studies show statins deplete a crucial energy cycle nutrient, Co-enzyme Q10.  A healthy fully functional heart requires a lot of energy - along with magnesium, ironically, Co-enzyme Q10 plays a key role in preventing heart disease

Some studies suggest more reliable markers for heart disease, such as testing levels of a substance called Homocysteine.  This seems to damage arteries by changing blood vessel composition.  Homocysteine is a waste-product of the body’s producton of a key amino acid, Methionine.  As long as nutritional status is good, this is then converted to beneficial elements for health.  If not, and homocysteine levels rise then the potential to damage blood vessels increases

B vitamins, folic acid and zinc are all needed in order to convert methionine to it’s healthy bi-products, so reducing the risk of homocysteine levels rising.  It is now widely accepted that increased homocysteine levels are a marker for heart disease, so it would make sense to ensure optimal nutritional status to reduce this risk

Some proven factors that reduce status of B vitamins and zinc? Stress, in all it’s forms, poor digestive health and too much tea, coffee and wheat can all be contributory factors.  So if you want to reduce your risk of heart and arterial disease and want to avoid statins, looking at ways to improve your diet can be a really great first step  

Diet can have a significant beneficial impact on heart and arterial health, read my healthy heart article for some tips on how you can take back control of your heart and arterial health   

April 2013:

Wellbeing Event

Despite a miserable day of driving rain we had a varied audience attending Sundial Clinic's wellbeing day.  I delivered a talk on healthy eating and weight management which generated lots of good questions and got the audience discussing how to create balanced meals, plus tips for improving energy levels and ways to avoid cravings.  Keep checking Sundial's website (www.sundialclinics.co.uk) to view my "nutrition bites" on youtube from this talk

December 2012:

NoroVirus

The norovirus vomiting bug has hit early this winter. infecting over 700,000 people [http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/04/norovirus-winter-vomiting-bug-peaked]in the UK - a 64% increase in reported cases compared to this time last year.

Highly contagious, this virus causes distressing symptoms such as projectile vomiting, explosive diarrhoea, high temperature, headaches and stomach cramps leaving people unable to function normally for several days. Though short lived the consequences of this virus, such disruption to gut and immune function can leave you feeling under the weather for many weeks, and for some, even months later.

The Health Protection Agency's advice is avoid spreading norovirus if you have this. If you have any symptoms or suspect you're coming down with norovirus then avoid visiting friends and relatives especially those who are sick,in hospital or elderly. If you fall ill then it's essential to remain hydrated by consuming plenty of fluids.

But is there more you can do to help support your gut and immune system?

• Probiotics – beneficial gut bacteria help support gut and immune system health. It is wise to take a high strength, proven potency supplement with numbers of viable organisms proven at time of consumption. This ensures an effective and value for money product. High strength probiotic formulations mean taking just 1 capsule a day. Look for formulae that are stable at room temperature to avoid inconvenient refrigeration. Probiotics can be taken to support health and also during illness, such as the norovirus infection.

• Vitamin D – this essential nutrient is scarce at this time of year, especially in the UK! due to the lack of sunlight. Research shows that Vitamin D3 supports normal immune system function.  A handy Vitamin D spray is a convenient and cost effective way of getting your daily dose.

So you can help yourself to keep healthy this Christmas by supporting your immune system with Vitamin D and probiotics – these supplements could be said to be Santa's Little Helpers!

(source: Nutrigold Ltd)

October 12:

Great day providing nutritional advice at a corporate staff wellbeing event  Lots of interesting questions on how to improve health through diet and lifestyle.  My focus was on ways to reduce salt in the diet.  My example daily menu of convenience foods proved popular, with many being shocked at how much additional salt could creep into their diet through making the wrong food choices.  Want to know about how to reduce salt in your diet? See my fact sheet: Salt_Facts.pdf

September 12:

Still struggling with losing weight? then read my advice for Cosmo on choosing the right carbs:

Weight Loss: Are All Carbs Bad? 

Think you know your good carbs from your bad carbs? Want to lose weight but can't face a another failed low carbohydrate diet? Then read on... 

“Low Carbs Diet” and the “Dukan Diet” are just some of the recent headlines that promise quick weight loss.  But does a low carbohydrate diet really work for long-term weight control and good health?  Our nutrition expert Shirley Ward gives us the facts:

What Are Carbohydrates & Do I Need Them?

For weight control and good health we need a regular supply of energy to fuel our body and brain.  As we can’t produce energy ourselves, the only way is to obtain it from the food we eat.  So choosing the right foods is crucial.  

Our body’s are designed to run on carbohydrates; although fats and protein provide  energy too, the quickest source is carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates are foods that contain starch and sugars; which when eaten are converted to energy.  

So a regular supply of carbohydrates in your diet is essential for providing energy.  

Not All Carbohydrates Are Good: Make The Right Choices For Weight Control & Good Health:


Carbohydrates are divided into two groups. Choose “Complex” carbohydrates for weight control and good health, as these contain both energy and high levels of fibre, which crucially balances energy release and keeps you fuller for longer.  Good carb choices are oats, brown rice, whole grains such as whole wheat, barley, corn and millet, wholemeal pasta, beans and lentils, fruit and vegetables. 

Whereas “simple” carbohydrates contain excess energy and are linked with weight gain and poor health, as most of their fibre, vitamins and minerals are removed by food processing.  Lack of fibre means their energy is used up quickly, causing energy dips and cravings, with excess being stored as fat…  Avoid white rice, white bread, white pasta, white pastry products, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks. 

So as well as choosing the right type of carbohydrate, ensuring you consume regular supplies is also crucial for maintaining energy levels.

Nutrition Fact: Our brains are fuelled by the energy we obtain from carbs and use up a whopping sixty percent.  Therefore following a low carb diet for any period of time can leave you feeling tired and irritable, with poor motivation and concentration levels, as your brain simply doesn’t have the energy to work properly.

Nutrition Fact: Significantly reducing carbohydrate intake in order to reduce calorie intake can work against weight control, as your body is programmed to store more food as fat, for future energy reserves, when you do start eating more.

Nutrition Fact: When energy levels drop cravings for sweet, fatty foods can occur, as your brain becomes low in energy and craves the wrong food choices to produce an instant energy hit.  

Should Carbohydrates Be Eaten With Other Foods for Weight Control & Good Health?

Yes! Carbohydrates are just one of the three key food groups we need for good health and weight control.  Balance carbohydrates with Protein sources, such as fish, chicken, eggs and tofu as protein helps balance energy release and is essential for producing brain chemicals, which balance mood and appetite control.

And finally, balance carbohydrate and protein with foods containing Essential Fats, such as oily fish, avocados, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, olive and flax oils.  These are crucial for mood balance and aid weight control by converting more food into energy rather than fat.

HEALTHY READY MEALS REALLY DO EXIST! read my article for Cosmo listing my top 5 ready meals
 

When Should I Eat Carbs?


“Complex” carbs should be a part of every main meal and snack.  But some “complex” carbs are more suitable, depending on how physically active you are.  For example, the more “starchy” complex carbs such as rice, whole-wheat pasta, wholemeal bread and cereals are best eaten at breakfast and lunch if you are more active during the day when their energy will be used up.  Whereas a mixed salad or a selection of three vegetables could make up your carbohydrate content for your evening meal, if you are less active in the evening.  But if you were more active in the evening/at the gym, then “starchy” carbs eg whole-wheat pasta or brown rice would be a better choice to replenish energy levels.

So to summarise not all carbs are bad.  Knowing which ones to choose, what to balance them with and when to eat them, combined with regular exercise, should help you achieve weight control and good health.

For a direct link to Shirley’s Cosmo article visit: http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/diet-fitness/weight-loss-are-all-carbs-bad

September 12:

BPA-free Water Bottles & Food Storage Containers, Choose for Good Health:

Drinking enough water daily is a great start on the road to good health.  But beware, your choice of water bottle really can improve health too!  I thought it would be interesting to summarise the various options available and what's best.

Which Water Bottles Are Best for Good Health?

Single-use and re-usable bottles: Research has shown choosing single-use and some ‘re-usable’ plastic bottles made from plastics containing Bisphonol A (BPAs) could pose health risks. These chemicals can leach into the water and this risk increases through re-use of ‘single-use’ bottles and when the plastic is exposed to heat, acidic foods/drinks or cleaned with harsh detergents. Furthermore, these chemicals contain oestrogenic properties, so a build-up of BPAs can cause also hormone disruption in the body, according to studies.

Re-using bottles made from a polyethylene terephthalate plastic (also known as PET or PETE), including most disposable water, soda and juice bottles is also not recommended. According to The Green Guide, such bottles may be safe for one-time use, but studies indicate regular re-use may cause leaching of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) chemical, which is added to PVC for flexibility. Studies have linked large doses of DEHP to gastrointestinal distress.

A good solution is to buy a BPA-free water bottle; a rough guide is to check the bottom of the bottle; if a ‘7’ appears within the triangular recycling symbol, then it’s likely a BPA-containing polycarbonate has been used in the plastic making process.

There is a wide range of BPA-free re-usable water bottles to choose from. A recent addition are Hydropal’s water bottles, which have the added advantage of carbon filters in the cap to reduce chemical levels. Their ‘crypto’ filter traps both Giardia and Cryptosporidium bacteria, both of which can cause severe gastrointestinal upset. So a good choice if you’re a regular swimmer or travel abroad regularly.

‘Tritan’ is a new copolyester material developed by the re-usable water bottle industry to address BPA health issues. Tests so far show no leaching and it’s BPA-free.

If you're not a fan of plastic, there are are also many metal water bottles available now. But beware with aluminium water bottles unless they're lined (as with Sigg bottles)! The jury is still out on whether this can leach into water/food; stainless steel bottles are a better choice.

To sum up, a good choice for keeping hydrated and reducing chemical contamination is to avoid re-using ‘single-use’ plastic water bottles, instead opting for BPA-free options listed above.

Useful Websites for BPA-free water bottles: www.onegreenbottle.com; www.hydropal.com

December 11:

Over 40% Of Cancers Due To Lifestyle are the headlines (again) in the media today.  Well, together with factors such as smoking its good to see the message is getting out.  Its simple, if you don't give your body what it needs to remain healthy, through a balanced diet and active lifestyle then you're significantly increasing your risk of a variety of chronic health issues occuring... Interestingly, this message was given by the media back in July this year, read my view back then:

November 11:

Cheapest, most nutritious lunch a toast sandwich? http://bbc.in/rCpSv2; I don't think so! this gives way too much carbohydrate, little protein and no essential fats; eating this regularly will increase obesity levels!!

Instead go for my cheap, nutritious lunch option for 79p: 

Tuna & Avocado on Wholemeal Bread:

½ can of drained tuna in olive oil, mixed with squeeze of lemon juice & black pepper (1/2 can = 54.5p)

spread on 2 slices of Tesco’s Thick sliced wholemeal bread (5.5p for two slice)

Topped with ½ avocado (Sainsbury’s baby avocados, 4 per bag = 37.5p each = 19p per ½ avocado

Total cost: £0.79

Why is this sandwich good for me? Contains a good balance of easily digestible protein (tuna), complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread) and essential fats (tuna and avocado), plus a good level of fibre to keep you fuller for longer (wholemeal bread)

Nutrition info:

Carbohydrates: 30.4g; Protein: 35.4g; Fibre: 6.8g; Salt: 1.6g; Saturated fats: 5.6g

Kcals: 451

July 11:

4 in 10 Brits Will Get Cancer Due To Unhealthy Lifestyle

Diet & lifestyle change really can improve health & reduce risk.  Increasing fibre content is a really good start; stats show most Brits don't consume close to the recommended daily amounts of fibre (24g daily). How can this help? Fibre provides bulk to food as it moves through the digestive tract and helps improve bowel health by reducing the risk of constipation and aids the removal of toxins and food waste.  Regularly including brown rice, oats, wholegrains such as barley, corn, millet and a wide range of fruit and vegetables is a great start, what are your waiting for?!

November 11:

Are Superfoods Really Worth The Money?

Good to see Channel 4's The Food Hospital's Dr Dixie agreed with my view on Superfoods: are they worth they money? Read my view for Cosmo: The British Public's Perception of "Superfoods

October 11:

Latest Health Legislation Will Help Protect Public from "Cowboy" Therapists:

Attended a great seminar by Bionutri, who gave an update on the latest legislation for health claims and the EU Supplements Directive.  I agreed with their view that by working WITH the Advertising Standards Authority and EU Commission is the way forward for achieiving a fair compromise between safety and effectiveness of therapies and supplements.  This can only be a good thing; un-qualified and "cowboy" practitioners will be found out and disappear, leaving us fully qualified and regulated therapists to do what we do best; give our clients effective support to improve and maintain their health

July 11:

4 in 10 Brits Will Get Cancer Due To Unhealthy Lifestyle

Diet & lifestyle change really can improve health & reduce risk.  Increasing fibre content is a really good start; stats show most Brits don't consume close to the recommended daily amounts of fibre (24g daily). How can this help? Fibre provides bulk to food as it moves through the digestive tract and helps improve bowel health by reducing the risk of constipation and aids the removal of toxins and food waste.  Regularly including brown rice, oats, wholegrains such as barley, corn, millet and a wide range of fruit and vegetables is a great start, what are your waiting for?!

May 11:

Look at Your Nails for suggestions of nutritional deficiencies!

A busy but really enjoyable day providing nutritional consultancy services for Coty UK's launch of Sally Hansen nailcare range.  Analysing clients' nails and providing nutritiional advice proved very popular.  Nice review of my nutritional advice & nail analysis services

Feb 11:

Choose Nutritious Buckwheat for Pancake Day!

Made the most tasty buckwheat pancakes last night; simply swap wheat flour for buckwheat flour (available in health food stores and most supermarkets).  Its actually produced from a fruit and unlike its name it doesn't contain wheat! buckwheat is actually gluten-free and provides a great source of both sustainable energy plus vegetable protein.  Its a rich source of iron, zinc and magnesium and contains good levels of fibre.  All in all a great food to have in your diet!  Buckwheat is available as flour/pasta and as a grain

February 11:

Water, Water & More Water!!

Provided content for my clinic Sundial's blog on the benefits of water: Keep Hydrated To Reduce Risk of Headaches & Joint Pains

January 11:

Which Are The "Right" Fats For Weight Loss?

Many of my clients come to see me for weight loss advice at this time of year.  Gave some useful tips for Sundial's blog: The "Right" Fats For Weight Loss

October 10:

Balancing Women's Hormones

Really interesting seminar from Biocare with the latest studies on diet and lifestyle factors that work against, and importantly towards, hormonal health.  Stress is highlighted yet again as a key contributory factor and stats show many women have too many carbohydrates and not enough protein; showing how simple tweaks to diet and lifestyle can really help toward health improvement 

May 10:

Update on Allergies:

Attended a really interesting talk at the Allergy & Gluten-free Show at Olympia.  Latest Australian research showed how kids with eczema are more likely to suffer from food allergies.  Reminded me how the mother's diet can hold important triggers for her child's eczema when breastfeeding and how compromised gut function is linked with kids with milk allergy; makes sense as milk protein is very hard to digest... a really worthwhile seminar and show to attend

October 09:

Manual Lympthatic Drainage (MLD):

It was great to have the chance to attend a really interesting seminar on lymphatic drainage at CamExpo this weekend. 

 I've seen the benefits when advising certain cients to skin brush regularly, to help support the immune system for certain skin issues and to aid liver support.  Although MLD is a big leap from skin brushing it was interesting to hear how effective this can be for lymph oedemas and really chronic water retention conditions such as Elephantitis. This seminar gave me a really good refresher on beneficial factors that help support the lymph system to improve health.  Studies show this can also help support improvement with arthritic joints, rhinitis and sinusitis.  This therapy is still quite a new concept in the UK but is more widely available in Austria, where most studies are currently based.  www.mlduk.org.uk

October 2009:

Professor says he was misquoted on supplements

http://www.camexpo.co.uk/camexpo2009/public/Content.aspx?ID=1398#1

The academic recently quoted by several newspapers as saying supplements may harm health has told the Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) he was misquoted by the media.

Professor Brian Ratcliffe was reported to have dismissed popular multivitamin and mineral supplements as “a waste of money”.  He was also said to have commented — in a talk at the British Festival of Science — that safe levels of vitamin A and vitamin D can easily be exceeded when multivitamins are taken in combination with fish oil supplements. One report in the Daily Mail even suggested that taking more than 400IU of Vitamin D per day could be ‘lethal’.

HFMA executive director, Graham Keen, said it was important that the “inaccuracies” in Professor Ratcliffe’s reported claims were challenged by industry. Following an approach by the HFMA professor Ratcliffe issued the following statement:

“I am well aware of the content of fish oil supplements and my comments at the British Science Festival and the press conference were in no way, or at no time, addressed to those.

“I clearly referred to the combination of 'fish liver oils' taken with multivitamins, but unfortunately subsequent media reporting has failed to include the vital ‘liver’ part. Clearly, those taking fish oils with multivitamins would not be at risk from exceeding the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A or D.

Graham Keen concluded, “The HFMA was extremely disappointed to learn that, once again, the media has failed to responsibly report on the significant role that supplementation, alongside other healthy lifestyle choices, has to play in safeguarding the nation’s nutritional sufficiency.

Shirley comments “another instance where the media have in-accurately reported and caused even further confusion for the public in relation to nutritional supplements and the beneficial role they play in helping to improve health.  At least the HFMA put the record straight”

New research “another nail in the coffin” for HRT

http://www.camexpo.co.uk/camexpo2009/public/Content.aspx?ID=1398#1

A leading medical academic has said that the time has come to “seriously question” whether hormone replacement therapy should have any role in modern medicine, reports The Guardian.

Writing in The Lancet Apar Kishor Ganti says that new research linking a form of HRT to higher mortality rates in lung cancer adds further to growing evidence of serious risks associated with the therapy.

In the Lancet article Ganti argues that the results of the new research could be another "another nail in the coffin for hormone-replacement therapy".

Commenting on the study, carried out by Ganti and his team at University of Nebraska Medical Center, Karol Sikora, a leading cancer specialist, told The Guardian: “It is scientifically plausible that changing the hormonal environment of a woman's body could lead to a different response to treatments for lung cancer.” 
However he acknowledged that prescribing guidelines had changed in recent years, commenting: “I think HRT has been widely overused in the past, but now it is (prescribed with) much more (caution) and only for women with severe menopausal symptoms – and then only for a short time.”

Dr Marilyn Glenville commented: “It’s important to be aware that bioidentical hormones are chemically identical, they are still using hormone replacement — so the breast cancer risk is still there.”

Shirley comments: “its good to hear orthodox medicine finally questioning the use of synthetic hormones and their potential detrimental side effects.  Many women experiencing adverse menopausal symptoms find nutritional therapy can be very effective at addressing and improving various menopausal issues, without any detrimental side effects.”

August 2009:

5 A Day: Choosing the “wrong” fruit and vegetables may actually lead to poor health!  The “Toxic 12” Fruit & Veg To Avoid:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=8315670&page=1

 

According to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), a non-profit research organization in Washington, D.C, the following conventionally grown fruit and vegetables contain the highest levels of pesticide: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.  Up to 20 different pesticides are used in the production of these foods; simply washing or peeling your fruits and vegetables doesn't guarantee elimination. The pesticides used are often absorbed into the plants, which allows them to bind to the fruits and vegetables, making it impossible to eliminate their presence.

According to findings from 87,000 government tests, the Environmental Working Group dubbed 12 vegetables the "dirty dozen." They are the fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticide.

They also produced a “clean” list; those with the least amount of pesticides which include - onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya, according to the EWG study. 

 

The chemicals within these pesticides are reported to disrupt your immune system, nervous system, reproductive system and hormonal system.

According to EWG, consumers who switch to organic versions of these foods could cut their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent,  It analysed nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004.

Shirley comments: “Being more aware of food production methods and what is actually contained in the food you eat, ensures you are responsible for improving and maintaining your health.  The use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers in conventional farming methods may increase product yield but unfortunately this is achieved at a cost to health.  By choosing organic versions of the “toxic 12” and consuming more foods on the “clean” list can help to ensure you keep your exposure to food toxins to a minimum, thereby helping maintain good health.”

July 09:

Dairy For Children Extends Life; Really??

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8170002.stm

This was one of the health headlines in today's Daily Mail.  Recent research by journal Heart suggests a diet high in dairy for children can help them live longer; this research looked at diets of over 4,000 children, from the 1930s to present.  From a nutritional point of view this doesn’t really make sense; I’d be interested to know how they isolated dairy as the factor for prolonged life in this group!

Lets look at the facts:

Although dairy is a good source of calcium, the body can only absorb and use this to strengthen bones when a range of co-factors are present; the mineral magnesium and vitamin D being key factors.  Without their presence calcium is unable to be absorbed effectively.  Dairy contains little magnesium and its vitamin D content is easily destroyed through storage and exposure to artificial lighting

Therefore when consuming dairy, the body cannot detect the un-absorbed calcium, so is tricked into believing its calcium stores are low.  The body tries to correct this perceived imbalance, by stealing stores of calcium from the bones; over time this can produce brittle, poor quality bones and increase the risk of conditions like osteoporosis occurring.  Un-absorbed calcium is a difficult mineral for the body to excrete; its solution is to dump it in joints, which can cause irritation and inflammation and lead to arthritic conditions if un-addressed.  It can also be dumped in the gall bladder and kidneys, which can increase the risk of gall and kidney stones in some

Did the study consider other factors like increased physical exercise, that could have contributed to longer life? Growing up in the 1930s people obtained more physical exercise, both socially and at work; computers hadn’t been invented and cars were not commonplace.  A larger percentage of people would work outside/be in the outdoors more often than many people today.  The body can produce vitamin D, but only through regular exposure to sunlight.  Many today drive/take public transport to work and work inside in sedentary office based roles; therefore less time outside reduces the body’s ability to produce vitamin D

Foods grown back in the 1930s were more locally produced; transport links from Europe and beyond were future dreams, as were “food miles” and refrigerated holds.  Chemical pesticides and fertilisers were not widely used, so nutritional value of food tended to be higher.  Ingested toxic load would have been lower as foods were grown without pesticides and fertilisers, so contained higher levels of important minerals like magnesium.  So factors such as higher levels of vitamin D and magnesium intake could well be relevant, in order for calcium contained in dairy to be better absorbed by the body The next time you think about increasing your intake of dairy think again; its not the healthy option the dairy industry would have you think it is

Better food choices that contain balanced amounts of calcium and magnesium are dark green leafy vegetables (especially kelp, kale and turnips), almond and brazil nuts, fresh parsley and watercress

“What’s Really In Our Food”, BBC1, 14th July:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lrjk4

A very interesting programme, highlighting again the importance of knowing where your food comes from!  Dubious practices used in the food processing industry were highlighted, such as injecting chicken with water to increase weight and using protein powder from other animal sources to hold this water in... would you really expect to eat chicken with added water and other meat sources? 

How to avoid this happening?  Cook your meals from scratch whenever possible rather than choosing processed foods.  You are then in control of what the ingredients are and where they have come from.  Buying local produce can help ensure higher nutritional value as this hasn’t been reduced by having travelled thousands of miles from other countries in refrigerated containers.   Farmers markets and farm shops are available in most areas, supplying locally grown and produced food

If you do buy processed foods read the label; food manufacturers are required to state on the label where ingredients have been sourced from

Try cooking homemade curries, chinese recipes and pizzas rather than takeaways, so you don’t have the risk of eating such dubious meats.   Many takeaway choices will be high in saturated fats and flavourings.  By cooking at home and choosing low fat options this can be avoided; you’ll be surprised how much better your food tastes too!

A final tip.  When choosing chicken organic or free range options are a better nutritional choice.  Various studies (cite soil association study) have confirmed these contain much lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of protein.  Intensively farmed chicken contains high levels of saturated fat and much lower levels of protein; think again if you regularly eat intensively farmed chicken; you’re not eating the “healthy” choice you think you are

May 09:

UK Workers Reduce Exercise & Healthy Eating & Increase Smoking & Drinking During Recession (Occupational Health Magazine, 22nd May 09)

http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/05/22/50817/recession-increases- unhealthy-lifestyle-choices.html

A recent survey by PruHealth confirmed the above.  The perceived cost of exercise and healthy eating has caused many to remove this from their lifestyle.  However, with a little thought healthy eating and exercise do not have to cost much at all

Increasing the amount of locally grown, seasonal fruit and vegetables in your diet and reducing the amount of meat and dairy can certainly help to improve health and improve your finances.  Locally grown food tends to be cheaper, not having transport and refrigeration costs to add on.  Instead of buying soft drinks that are full of sugar and/or chemical nasties swap to water; its free! 

Getting off the bus one or two stops before work/home and walking the rest of the way, jogging and walks in the countryside are free, as are games of football with friends; you really don’t need to go to an expensive gym to get fit! 

Shaun Matisonn, chief executive at PruHealth, commented: "Not only are increased financial and time pressures taking a toll on our stress levels, but they are also having an impact on the amount of exercise people are doing and the content of our diets too

There are many factors in diet and lifestyle that can contribute to increased stress levels.  Increasing stress levels with no regular exercise to counter this, is a recipe for disaster.  The irony is that the classic foods people reach for when stressed, such as cake, biscuits, crisps and convenience foods can all help to increasestress levels, with regular consumption

You are in control of and responsible for your health; you decide what to eat and what exercise to do.  Do you really want to wait until health issues such as diabetes and obesity occur?  Be proactive, choose low cost options to eat healthily and exercise regularly to reduce your risk of such issues occurring.  If you want to read more about the link between obesity and diabetes read my article at http://www.downtoearthnutrition.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=60

20th May:

Miracle Bugs: Fancy Probiotic Yoghurt Drinks Really Are Good For You Scientists Say:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1184283/Miracle-bugs-Fancy-probiotic-yoghurt-drinks-really-ARE-good-scientists- say.html

How refreshing to find an article confirming what we Nutritionists have known for years!  Levels of beneficial bacteria are needed in the bowel to maintain good health; probiotics can certainly help re-populate these when levels have reduced.  However, probiotics can only survive and multiply in the right internal environment i.e. slightly acidic.  They also need to be of sufficient strength, containing at least one billion viable organisms.  Unfortunately probiotic drinks and yoghurt contain nowhere near this amount and the probiotics they contain generally only survive for a couple of days.  There is also some doubt as to whether they are able to withstand stomach acid and reach the intestines and bowel.  On checking all brands of probiotic yoghurt drinks in my local supermarket recently, all but one contained sugar as the second listed ingredient…

Good quality probiotic supplements are of much higher strength (and certainly don’t have added sugar!); choosing “enteric” coated capsules ensures they are not destroyed by stomach acid

Factors in diet and lifestyle can easily reduce levels of beneficial bowel bacteria i.e. stress, overly acidic diet, antibiotics.  Therefore in order to get the most benefit from taking probiotics, ensure you have first addressed the cause of what has reduced levels.  Then beneficial bacteria are able to survive, otherwise levels will continue to be compromised and probiotics will struggle to repopulate

19th May:

Beyonce’s Maple Syrup Diet Won’t Help You Keep Weight Off!

Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup / The Maple Syrup Diet: I had an enquiry recently from a lady to see if she could buy this product from me.  I do not recommend any of these “quick fix” products and would not recommend this product, either for weight loss nor detoxing.  The “diet” advises 5 days of drinking this syrup, mixed with lemon juice and cayenne pepper or ginger.  This is supplying no protein, essential fatty acids or fibre sources.  The body simply can’t function effectively without these food groups

Diets Don’t Work!  As soon as you start eating again the body will actually store more of this food as fat, for future energy supplies, in case this lack of food continues

You are therefore back to square one, putting on more weight

The better option is to identify the causes of imbalance in the body that are causing weight gain and/or toxin levels to rise and address these through diet and lifestyle changes.  By learning to understand and feed your body so it can function effectively is the only way to manage your weight and improve your health.  Nutritional therapy educates you how to achieve this and gives you the tools to improve and maintain your health for the long term; rather than some “quick fix”, expensive product, which does nothing to achieve long-term weight management

Coca Cola/Pepsi is Bad For Your Health states various reports in the news today

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1184475/Drinking-cola-cause-weak-bones-paralysis-experts-warn.html

Well a good topic to start off with for me as these drinks have been a bug-bear of mine for years, being closely linked to childhood obesity and hyperactivity in some children.  How can a drink packed full of either sugar (standard coke) or artificial sweeteners (diet coke), caffeine (major stimulant) and carbonisation be good for your health?  

Both sugar and caffeine create blood sugar surges followed by lows, increasing the body’s appetite for quick-release energy foods such as cakes, biscuits, white pasta and bread; all containing energy way in excess of the body’s needs, so much of this is stored as fat

Studies show artificial sweeteners like aspartame are actually broken down into highly toxic products in the body, formaldehyde being one.  Studies suggest these sweeteners are able to actively stimulate the brain, hence their link with hyperactivity and restlessness in some children.  Combined with the stimulant properties of caffeine, this is a recipe for mood imbalance

Caffeine is also a mild diuretic, so is actually encouraging water loss from the body.  If you think drinking a can of coke will quench your thirst, think again!  The carbon and phosphoric acid contained in fizzy drinks are linked with reducing levels of key minerals such as calcium and magnesium: essential for bone and joint growth and strength, especially in children.  Finally, these drinks are highly acidic; regular consumption can tip the body’s balance away from its healthy, slightly alkaline state.  Do you really need any more reasons to stay away from these drinks?  By reducing consumption of these so called “drinks” and replacing with water is the easiest way to start to improve your health

17th May:

Welcome to my blog which aims to provide (hopefully!) interesting and informative views on nutrition topics in the news and my clinical experience of what works and why

10th September 12:

BPA-free Water Bottles & Food Storage Containers, Choose for Good Health:

Drinking enough water daily is a great start on the road to good health.  But beware, your choice of water bottle really can improve health too!  I though it would be interesting to summarise the various options available and what's best.

Which Water Bottles Are Best for Good Health?

Single-use and re-usable bottles: Research has shown choosing single-use and some ‘re-usable’ plastic bottles made from plastics containing Bisphonol A (BPAs) could pose health risks. These chemicals can leach into the water and this risk increases through re-use of ‘single-use’ bottles and when the plastic is exposed to heat, acidic foods/drinks or cleaned with harsh detergents. Furthermore, these chemicals contain oestrogenic properties, so a build-up of BPAs can cause also hormone disruption in the body, according to studies.

Re-using bottles made from a polyethylene terephthalate plastic (also known as PET or PETE), including most disposable water, soda and juice bottles is also not recommended. According to The Green Guide, such bottles may be safe for one-time use, but studies indicate regular re-use may cause leaching of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) chemical, which is added to PVC for flexibility. Studies have linked large doses of DEHP to gastrointestinal distress.

What does BPA-free mean and why is it healthier?

A good solution is to buy a BPA-free water bottle; a rough guide is to check the bottom of the bottle; if a ‘7’ appears within the triangular recycling symbol, then it’s likely a BPA-containing polycarbonate has been used in the plastic making process.

There is a wide range of BPA-free re-usable water bottles to choose from. A recent addition are Hydropal’s water bottles, which have the added advantage of carbon filters in the cap to reduce chemical levels. Their ‘crypto’ filter traps both Giardia and Cryptosporidium bacteria, both of which can cause severe gastrointestinal upset. So a good choice if you’re a regular swimmer or travel abroad regularly.

‘Tritan’ is a new copolyester material developed by the re-usable water bottle industry to address BPA health issues. Tests so far show no leaching and it’s BPA-free.

If you're not a fan of plastic, there are are also many metal water bottles available now. But beware with aluminium water bottles unless they're lined (as with Sigg bottles)! The jury is still out on whether this can leach into water/food; stainless steel bottles are a better choice.

To sum up, a good choice for keeping hydrated and reducing chemical contamination is to avoid re-using ‘single-use’ plastic water bottles, instead opting for BPA-free options listed above.

Useful Websites for BPA-free water bottles: www.onegreenbottle.com; www.hydropal.com

10th July 12:

Can Spending Less Time Sitting Down Add Years To Life, latest research out today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18767278. Well from a digestive point of view yes it can! Its no surprise to me that a more sedentary lifestyle can reduce longevity.  Lets look at some basic facts: ee need energy to fuel all our systems to stay healthy.  We can only get energy from food and that food can only move through the digestive tract by muscle action, known as "peristalsis".  We need to move regularly to achieve this.  Such a simple way to improve your health!!  Give your body a chance and keep moving!

30th May 12:

Digestive Enzymes & Connective Tissue Seminars a Great Refresher: Really interesting day beginning with the latest research on connective tissue issues from Biocare.  It reminded me just how important it is to be able to produce healthy connective tissue for good health, for producing good quality blood, a strong digestive tract, for bone and joint strength, for providing a protective layer to all key organs and being a transport medium for our immune system.  Many today have weak connective tissue with an excess of toxins being a key contributory factor.  Choosing the right diet can really have a beneficial impact, providing the key nutrients to protect against toxins and those needed for producing healthy connective tissue.  Interestingly connective tissue is concentrated in the heart, brain and gut, no coincidence then these are key areas affected by stress... and the importance of regulary resistance training for muscle and bone strength.  Was really impressed with the healthy selection of smoothies, nuts and seeds offered in the break; well done Sussex University catering team! 

Followed by an excellent afternoon session from Bonusan, with the latest research and importance of producing sufficient digestive enzymes.  Yet again stress comes up as a key contributory factor, by using up key nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are not then available to produce digestive enzymes.  With stress depleting energy levels there's simply not enough left for the digestive process... the effects of stress begin way before reaching the stomach as stress actually changes how saliva is produced, reducing its digestive enzyme production.  Also good refresher on the role of gut flora for producing the protective mucus lining, plus how a carb heavy diet can reduce digestive enzyme production due to the lectins they contain.  These are just a few of the interesting facts learnt during this really worthwhile seminar.

24 & 25th April 12:

Digestive Health Events A Great Hit: Really enjoyable days providing nutritional advice on-site at client gyms.  It was great to see so many came along who were keen to find out how to improve digestive issues through diet and lifestyle change. Interesting how many people I saw who were suffering from either acid reflux or IBS and how relieved many were to find they could improve these through dietary changes and stress management.  

7th & 9th February 12:

Company Wellbeing Day A Great Success: Despite freezing temperatures outside, a great couple of days spent providing nutritional advice and how to understand food labelling and GDAs to a large manufacturing company as part of their staff wellbeing event.  It was great to see so many of their workforce interested in nutrition and how to improve their diet and energy levels, especially those on the night shift.  Our variety of freshly made veg juices and herbal teas were really popular and are now on the menu for their new restaurant that opens shortly.  Despite a 5am start, in order to catch the end of the night shift, our warming porridge with nuts and berries went down really well. Hats off to this great company for pioneering health improvement and wellbeing of their workforce in the manufacturing sector.

7th December 11:

Over 40% Of Cancers Due To Lifestyle are the headlines (again) in the media today.  Well, together with factors such as smoking its good to see the message is getting out.  Its simple, if you don't give your body what it needs to remain healthy, through a balanced diet and active lifestyle then you're significantly increasing your risk of a variety of chronic health issues occuring... Interestingly, this message was given by the media back in July this year, read my view back then:4 in 10 Brits Will Get Cancer Due To Unhealthy Lifestyle

Diet & lifestyle change really can improve health & reduce risk.  Increasing fibre content is a really good start; stats show most Brits don't consume close to the recommended daily amounts of fibre (24g daily). How can this help? Fibre provides bulk to food as it moves through the digestive tract and helps improve bowel health by reducing the risk of constipation and aids the removal of toxins and food waste.  Regularly including brown rice, oats, wholegrains such as barley, corn, millet and a wide range of fruit and vegetables is a great start, what are your waiting for?!

November 11:

Cheapest, most nutritious lunch a toast sandwich? http://bbc.in/rCpSv2; I don't think so! this gives way too much carbohydrate, little protein and no essential fats; eating this regularly will increase obesity levels!!

Instead go for my cheap, nutritious lunch option for 79p: 

Tuna & Avocado on Wholemeal Bread:

½ can of drained tuna in olive oil, mixed with squeeze of lemon juice & black pepper (1/2 can = 54.5p)

spread on 2 slices of Tesco’s Thick sliced wholemeal bread (5.5p for two slice)

Topped with ½ avocado (Sainsbury’s baby avocados, 4 per bag = 37.5p each = 19p per ½ avocado

Total cost: £0.79

Why is this sandwich good for me? Contains a good balance of easily digestible protein (tuna), complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread) and essential fats (tuna and avocado), plus a good level of fibre to keep you fuller for longer (wholemeal bread)

Nutrition info:

Carbohydrates: 30.4g; Protein: 35.4g; Fibre: 6.8g; Salt: 1.6g; Saturated fats: 5.6g

Kcals: 451 

9th November 11:

Are Superfoods Really Worth The Money?

Good to see Channel 4's The Food Hospital's Dr Dixie agreed with my view on Superfoods: are they worth they money? Read my view for Cosmo: The British Public's Perception of "Superfoods

October 11:

Latest Health Legislation Will Help Protect Public from "Cowboy" Therapists:

Attended a great seminar by Bionutri, who gave an update on the latest legislation for health claims and the EU Supplements Directive.  I agreed with their view that by working WITH the Advertising Standards Authority and EU Commission is the way forward for achieiving a fair compromise between safety and effectiveness of therapies and supplements.  This can only be a good thing; un-qualified and "cowboy" practitioners will be found out and disappear, leaving us fully qualified and regulated therapists to do what we do best; give our clients effective support to improve and maintain their health

July 11:

4 in 10 Brits Will Get Cancer Due To Unhealthy Lifestyle

Diet & lifestyle change really can improve health & reduce risk.  Increasing fibre content is a really good start; stats show most Brits don't consume close to the recommended daily amounts of fibre (24g daily). How can this help? Fibre provides bulk to food as it moves through the digestive tract and helps improve bowel health by reducing the risk of constipation and aids the removal of toxins and food waste.  Regularly including brown rice, oats, wholegrains such as barley, corn, millet and a wide range of fruit and vegetables is a great start, what are your waiting for?!

May 11:

Look at Your Nails for suggestions of nutritional deficiencies!

A busy but really enjoyable day providing nutritional consultancy services for Coty UK's launch of Sally Hansen nailcare range.  Analysing clients' nails and providing nutritiional advice proved very popular.  Nice review of my nutritional advice & nail analysis services

Feb 11:

Choose Nutritious Buckwheat for Pancake Day!

Made the most tasty buckwheat pancakes last night; simply swap wheat flour for buckwheat flour (available in health food stores and most supermarkets).  Its actually produced from a fruit and unlike its name it doesn't contain wheat! buckwheat is actually gluten-free and provides a great source of both sustainable energy plus vegetable protein.  Its a rich source of iron, zinc and magnesium and contains good levels of fibre.  All in all a great food to have in your diet!  Buckwheat is available as flour/pasta and as a grain

February 11:

Water, Water & More Water!!

Provided content for my clinic Sundial's blog on the benefits of water: Keep Hydrated To Reduce Risk of Headaches & Joint Pains

January 11:

Which Are The "Right" Fats For Weight Loss?

Many of my clients come to see me for weight loss advice at this time of year.  Gave some useful tips for Sundial's blog: The "Right" Fats For Weight Loss

October 10:

Balancing Women's Hormones

Really interesting seminar from Biocare with the latest studies on diet and lifestyle factors that work against, and importantly towards, hormonal health.  Stress is highlighted yet again as a key contributory factor and stats show many women have too many carbohydrates and not enough protein; showing how simple tweaks to diet and lifestyle can really help toward health improvement

May 10:

Update on Allergies:

Attended a really interesting talk at the Allergy & Gluten-free Show at Olympia.  Latest Australian research showed how kids with eczema are more likely to suffer from food allergies.  Reminded me how the mother's diet can hold important triggers for her child's eczema when breastfeeding and how compromised gut function is linked with kids with milk allergy; makes sense as milk protein is very hard to digest... a really worthwhile seminar and show to attend

October 09:

Manual Lympthatic Drainage (MLD):

It was great to have the chance to attend a really interesting seminar on lymphatic drainage at CamExpo this weekend. 

 I've seen the benefits when advising certain cients to skin brush regularly, to help support the immune system for certain skin issues and to aid liver support.  Although MLD is a big leap from skin brushing it was interesting to hear how effective this can be for lymph oedemas and really chronic water retention conditions such as Elephantitis. This seminar gave me a really good refresher on beneficial factors that help support the lymph system to improve health.  Studies show this can also help support improvement with arthritic joints, rhinitis and sinusitis.  This therapy is still quite a new concept in the UK but is more widely available in Austria, where most studies are currently based.  www.mlduk.org.uk

October 2009:

Professor says he was misquoted on supplements

http://www.camexpo.co.uk/camexpo2009/public/Content.aspx?ID=1398#1

The academic recently quoted by several newspapers as saying supplements may harm health has told the Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) he was misquoted by the media.

Professor Brian Ratcliffe was reported to have dismissed popular multivitamin and mineral supplements as “a waste of money”.  He was also said to have commented — in a talk at the British Festival of Science — that safe levels of vitamin A and vitamin D can easily be exceeded when multivitamins are taken in combination with fish oil supplements. One report in the Daily Mail even suggested that taking more than 400IU of Vitamin D per day could be ‘lethal’.

HFMA executive director, Graham Keen, said it was important that the “inaccuracies” in Professor Ratcliffe’s reported claims were challenged by industry. Following an approach by the HFMA professor Ratcliffe issued the following statement:

“I am well aware of the content of fish oil supplements and my comments at the British Science Festival and the press conference were in no way, or at no time, addressed to those.

“I clearly referred to the combination of 'fish liver oils' taken with multivitamins, but unfortunately subsequent media reporting has failed to include the vital ‘liver’ part. Clearly, those taking fish oils with multivitamins would not be at risk from exceeding the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A or D.

Graham Keen concluded, “The HFMA was extremely disappointed to learn that, once again, the media has failed to responsibly report on the significant role that supplementation, alongside other healthy lifestyle choices, has to play in safeguarding the nation’s nutritional sufficiency.

Shirley comments “another instance where the media have in-accurately reported and caused even further confusion for the public in relation to nutritional supplements and the beneficial role they play in helping to improve health.  At least the HFMA put the record straight”

New research “another nail in the coffin” for HRT

http://www.camexpo.co.uk/camexpo2009/public/Content.aspx?ID=1398#1

A leading medical academic has said that the time has come to “seriously question” whether hormone replacement therapy should have any role in modern medicine, reports The Guardian.

Writing in The Lancet Apar Kishor Ganti says that new research linking a form of HRT to higher mortality rates in lung cancer adds further to growing evidence of serious risks associated with the therapy.

In the Lancet article Ganti argues that the results of the new research could be another "another nail in the coffin for hormone-replacement therapy".

Commenting on the study, carried out by Ganti and his team at University of Nebraska Medical Center, Karol Sikora, a leading cancer specialist, told The Guardian: “It is scientifically plausible that changing the hormonal environment of a woman's body could lead to a different response to treatments for lung cancer.” 
However he acknowledged that prescribing guidelines had changed in recent years, commenting: “I think HRT has been widely overused in the past, but now it is (prescribed with) much more (caution) and only for women with severe menopausal symptoms – and then only for a short time.”

Dr Marilyn Glenville commented: “It’s important to be aware that bioidentical hormones are chemically identical, they are still using hormone replacement — so the breast cancer risk is still there.”

Shirley comments: “its good to hear orthodox medicine finally questioning the use of synthetic hormones and their potential detrimental side effects.  Many women experiencing adverse menopausal symptoms find nutritional therapy can be very effective at addressing and improving various menopausal issues, without any detrimental side effects.”

August 13th 2009:

5 A Day: Choosing the “wrong” fruit and vegetables may actually lead to poor health!  The “Toxic 12” Fruit & Veg To Avoid:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=8315670&page=1 

According to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), a non-profit research organization in Washington, D.C, the following conventionally grown fruit and vegetables contain the highest levels of pesticide: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.  Up to 20 different pesticides are used in the production of these foods; simply washing or peeling your fruits and vegetables doesn't guarantee elimination. The pesticides used are often absorbed into the plants, which allows them to bind to the fruits and vegetables, making it impossible to eliminate their presence.

According to findings from 87,000 government tests, the Environmental Working Group dubbed 12 vegetables the "dirty dozen." They are the fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticide.

They also produced a “clean” list; those with the least amount of pesticides which include - onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya, according to the EWG study. 

 

The chemicals within these pesticides are reported to disrupt your immune system, nervous system, reproductive system and hormonal system.

According to EWG, consumers who switch to organic versions of these foods could cut their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent,  It analysed nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004.

Shirley comments: “Being more aware of food production methods and what is actually contained in the food you eat, ensures you are responsible for improving and maintaining your health.  The use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers in conventional farming methods may increase product yield but unfortunately this is achieved at a cost to health.  By choosing organic versions of the “toxic 12” and consuming more foods on the “clean” list can help to ensure you keep your exposure to food toxins to a minimum, thereby helping maintain good health.”

July 09:

Dairy For Children Extends Life; Really??

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8170002.stm

This was one of the health headlines in today's Daily Mail.  Recent research by journal Heart suggests a diet high in dairy for children can help them live longer; this research looked at diets of over 4,000 children, from the 1930s to present.  From a nutritional point of view this doesn’t really make sense; I’d be interested to know how they isolated dairy as the factor for prolonged life in this group!

Lets look at the facts:

Although dairy is a good source of calcium, the body can only absorb and use this to strengthen bones when a range of co-factors are present; the mineral magnesium and vitamin D being key factors.  Without their presence calcium is unable to be absorbed effectively.  Dairy contains little magnesium and its vitamin D content is easily destroyed through storage and exposure to artificial lighting

Therefore when consuming dairy, the body cannot detect the un-absorbed calcium, so is tricked into believing its calcium stores are low.  The body tries to correct this perceived imbalance, by stealing stores of calcium from the bones; over time this can produce brittle, poor quality bones and increase the risk of conditions like osteoporosis occurring.  Un-absorbed calcium is a difficult mineral for the body to excrete; its solution is to dump it in joints, which can cause irritation and inflammation and lead to arthritic conditions if un-addressed.  It can also be dumped in the gall bladder and kidneys, which can increase the risk of gall and kidney stones in some

Did the study consider other factors like increased physical exercise, that could have contributed to longer life? Growing up in the 1930s people obtained more physical exercise, both socially and at work; computers hadn’t been invented and cars were not commonplace.  A larger percentage of people would work outside/be in the outdoors more often than many people today.  The body can produce vitamin D, but only through regular exposure to sunlight.  Many today drive/take public transport to work and work inside in sedentary office based roles; therefore less time outside reduces the body’s ability to produce vitamin D

Foods grown back in the 1930s were more locally produced; transport links from Europe and beyond were future dreams, as were “food miles” and refrigerated holds.  Chemical pesticides and fertilisers were not widely used, so nutritional value of food tended to be higher.  Ingested toxic load would have been lower as foods were grown without pesticides and fertilisers, so contained higher levels of important minerals like magnesium.  So factors such as higher levels of vitamin D and magnesium intake could well be relevant, in order for calcium contained in dairy to be better absorbed by the body The next time you think about increasing your intake of dairy think again; its not the healthy option the dairy industry would have you think it is

Better food choices that contain balanced amounts of calcium and magnesium are dark green leafy vegetables (especially kelp, kale and turnips), almond and brazil nuts, fresh parsley and watercress

“What’s Really In Our Food”, BBC1, 14th July:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lrjk4

A very interesting programme, highlighting again the importance of knowing where your food comes from!  Dubious practices used in the food processing industry were highlighted, such as injecting chicken with water to increase weight and using protein powder from other animal sources to hold this water in... would you really expect to eat chicken with added water and other meat sources? 

How to avoid this happening?  Cook your meals from scratch whenever possible rather than choosing processed foods.  You are then in control of what the ingredients are and where they have come from.  Buying local produce can help ensure higher nutritional value as this hasn’t been reduced by having travelled thousands of miles from other countries in refrigerated containers.   Farmers markets and farm shops are available in most areas, supplying locally grown and produced food

If you do buy processed foods read the label; food manufacturers are required to state on the label where ingredients have been sourced from

Try cooking homemade curries, chinese recipes and pizzas rather than takeaways, so you don’t have the risk of eating such dubious meats.   Many takeaway choices will be high in saturated fats and flavourings.  By cooking at home and choosing low fat options this can be avoided; you’ll be surprised how much better your food tastes too!

A final tip.  When choosing chicken organic or free range options are a better nutritional choice.  Various studies (cite soil association study) have confirmed these contain much lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of protein.  Intensively farmed chicken contains high levels of saturated fat and much lower levels of protein; think again if you regularly eat intensively farmed chicken; you’re not eating the “healthy” choice you think you are

May 09:

UK Workers Reduce Exercise & Healthy Eating & Increase Smoking & Drinking During Recession (Occupational Health Magazine, 22nd May 09)

http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/05/22/50817/recession-increases-unhealthy-lifestyle-choices.html

A recent survey by PruHealth confirmed the above.  The perceived cost of exercise and healthy eating has caused many to remove this from their lifestyle.  However, with a little thought healthy eating and exercise do not have to cost much at all

Increasing the amount of locally grown, seasonal fruit and vegetables in your diet and reducing the amount of meat and dairy can certainly help to improve health and improve your finances.  Locally grown food tends to be cheaper, not having transport and refrigeration costs to add on.  Instead of buying soft drinks that are full of sugar and/or chemical nasties swap to water; its free! 

Getting off the bus one or two stops before work/home and walking the rest of the way, jogging and walks in the countryside are free, as are games of football with friends; you really don’t need to go to an expensive gym to get fit! 

Shaun Matisonn, chief executive at PruHealth, commented: "Not only are increased financial and time pressures taking a toll on our stress levels, but they are also having an impact on the amount of exercise people are doing and the content of our diets too

There are many factors in diet and lifestyle that can contribute to increased stress levels.  Increasing stress levels with no regular exercise to counter this, is a recipe for disaster.  The irony is that the classic foods people reach for when stressed, such as cake, biscuits, crisps and convenience foods can all help to increase stress levels, with regular consumption

You are in control of and responsible for your health; you decide what to eat and what exercise to do.  Do you really want to wait until health issues such as diabetes and obesity occur?  Be proactive, choose low cost options to eat healthily and exercise regularly to reduce your risk of such issues occurring.  If you want to read more about the link between obesity and diabetes read my article at http://www.downtoearthnutrition.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=60

20th May:

Miracle Bugs: Fancy Probiotic Yoghurt Drinks Really Are Good For You Scientists Say:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1184283/Miracle-bugs-Fancy-probiotic-yoghurt-drinks-really-ARE-good-scientists-say.html

How refreshing to find an article confirming what we Nutritionists have known for years!  Levels of beneficial bacteria are needed in the bowel to maintain good health; probiotics can certainly help re-populate these when levels have reduced.  However, probiotics can only survive and multiply in the right internal environment i.e. slightly acidic.  They also need to be of sufficient strength, containing at least one billion viable organisms.  Unfortunately probiotic drinks and yoghurt contain nowhere near this amount and the probiotics they contain generally only survive for a couple of days.  There is also some doubt as to whether they are able to withstand stomach acid and reach the intestines and bowel.  On checking all brands of probiotic yoghurt drinks in my local supermarket recently, all but one contained sugar as the second listed ingredient…

Good quality probiotic supplements are of much higher strength (and certainly don’t have added sugar!); choosing “enteric” coated capsules ensures they are not destroyed by stomach acid

Factors in diet and lifestyle can easily reduce levels of beneficial bowel bacteria i.e. stress, overly acidic diet, antibiotics.  Therefore in order to get the most benefit from taking probiotics, ensure you have first addressed the cause of what has reduced levels.  Then beneficial bacteria are able to survive, otherwise levels will continue to be compromised and probiotics will struggle to repopulate

19th May:

Beyonce’s Maple Syrup Diet Won’t Help You Keep Weight Off!

Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup / The Maple Syrup Diet: I had an enquiry recently from a lady to see if she could buy this product from me.  I do not recommend any of these “quick fix” products and would not recommend this product, either for weight loss nor detoxing.  The “diet” advises 5 days of drinking this syrup, mixed with lemon juice and cayenne pepper or ginger.  This is supplying no protein, essential fatty acids or fibre sources.  The body simply can’t function effectively without these food groups

Diets Don’t Work!  As soon as you start eating again the body will actually store more of this food as fat, for future energy supplies, in case this lack of food continues

You are therefore back to square one, putting on more weight

The better option is to identify the causes of imbalance in the body that are causing weight gain and/or toxin levels to rise and address these through diet and lifestyle changes.  By learning to understand and feed your body so it can function effectively is the only way to manage your weight and improve your health.  Nutritional therapy educates you how to achieve this and gives you the tools to improve and maintain your health for the long term; rather than some “quick fix”, expensive product, which does nothing to achieve long-term weight management

Coca Cola/Pepsi is Bad For Your Health states various reports in the news today

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1184475/Drinking-cola-cause-weak-bones-paralysis-experts-warn.html

Well a good topic to start off with for me as these drinks have been a bug-bear of mine for years, being closely linked to childhood obesity and hyperactivity in some children.  How can a drink packed full of either sugar (standard coke) or artificial sweeteners (diet coke), caffeine (major stimulant) and carbonisation be good for your health? 

Both sugar and caffeine create blood sugar surges followed by lows, increasing the body’s appetite for quick-release energy foods such as cakes, biscuits, white pasta and bread; all containing energy way in excess of the body’s needs, so much of this is stored as fat

Studies show artificial sweeteners like aspartame are actually broken down into highly toxic products in the body, formaldehyde being one.  Studies suggest these sweeteners are able to actively stimulate the brain, hence their link with hyperactivity and restlessness in some children.  Combined with the stimulant properties of caffeine, this is a recipe for mood imbalance

Caffeine is also a mild diuretic, so is actually encouraging water loss from the body.  If you think drinking a can of coke will quench your thirst, think again!  The carbon and phosphoric acid contained in fizzy drinks are linked with reducing levels of key minerals such as calcium and magnesium: essential for bone and joint growth and strength, especially in children.  Finally, these drinks are highly acidic; regular consumption can tip the body’s balance away from its healthy, slightly alkaline state.  Do you really need any more reasons to stay away from these drinks?  By reducing consumption of these so called “drinks” and replacing with water is the easiest way to start to improve your health

17th May:

Welcome to my blog which aims to provide (hopefully!) interesting and informative views on nutrition topics in the news and my clinical experience of what works and why


Latest Blog News:

August 2017:

Healthy Snacks for Post-workout Recovery

Read my guest blog for Pulsin:

https://www.pulsin.co.uk/blog/nutrition/good-health-post-workout-recovery/

April 2016:

Sugar Swap for Easter - donate to the Children's Food Campaign

June 2015:

Inactivity = Poor Health!!

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has urged employers to encourage staff to take lunch breaks, stating that inactivity results in ill-health and therefore more time off sick...

Feb 14: Statins Again!!

Well the statin issue raises it's head again in the news... we're now being advised to take these as a preventative measure when we have just a 10% risk of heart/arterial disease from diet and lifestyle factos - are the big pharma companies behind this push I wonder?...

April 13:

My healthy eating for weight management talk at Sundial Clinic's wellbeing day - see their website for my "nutrition bites" excerpts from my talk on youtube

September 12:

Still struggling with losing weight? then read my advice for Cosmo on choosing the right carbs: 

Weight Loss: Are All Carbs Bad? Think you know your good carbs from your bad carbs? Want to lose weight but can't face a another failed low carbohydrate diet? Then read on... 

September 12:

BPA-free Water Bottles & Food Storage Containers, Choose for Good Health:

Drinking enough water daily is a great start on the road to good health.  But beware, your choice of water bottle really can improve health too!  I though it would be interesting to summarise the various options available and what's best.

Which Water Bottles Are Best for Good Health?...

July 12:

Can Spending Less Time Sitting Down Add Years To Life, latest research out today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18767278. Well from a digestive point of view yes it can!...

May 12:

Digestive Enzymes & Connective Tissue Seminars a Great Refresher: Really interesting day beginning with the latest research on connective tissue issues from Biocare.  It reminded me just how important it is to be able to produce healthy connective tissue for good health, for producing good quality blood, a strong digestive tract, for bone and joint strength, for providing a protective layer to all key organs and being a transport medium for our immune system...

Digestive Health Events A Great Hit: Really enjoyable days providing nutritional advice on-site at client gyms.  It was great to see...