Dementia – tips to help care for loved ones at home

Dementia – tips to help care for loved ones at home

Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well  (download PDF here  Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well  Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well )

Having trained in public health I take a particular interest in dementia care and have worked closely with the NHS and care home groups delivering expert advice on how to help older people with dementia to eat well.   I hope to share a little insight and a few tips to keep your loved ones with dementia properly nourished.

 

What is dementia?

Dementia is a word used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly.  This happens to specific areas of the brain, which affect how you think, remember and communicate.

The condition has a huge impact on the lives of someone with the condition and those around them.  Dementia is now the biggest killer of women and third biggest killer of men in the UK.

 

Dementia statistics  

  • 850K people living with dementia in the UK and is expected to increase to over 1 million by 2025
  • 24% of males and 35% of females born in 2015 will develop dementia in their lifetime
  • A person’s risk of developing dementia increases from one in 14 over the age of 65 and to one in six over the age of 80
  • Over 42K people under 65 years old have dementia in the UK

 

Why do older people with dementia need to eat well?

The purpose of a good diet is that someone receives the right amount of energy and nutrients they need to maintain bodily processes and protect against ill health.  There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that a poor diet will increase the chances of illness and many other health conditions as well as lowering someone’s quality of life.  Eating a wide variety of foods regularly will ensure someone’s dietary needs are met although in the case if dementia there are often many challenges that must be overcome to achieve this.

 

How the ageing body changes

Ageing can render the immune system less efficient, which makes older people with dementia more vulnerable to illness and infection.  A slower digestive system make constipation more common and a loss of muscle and bone strength increases the risk of falls and fractures.  Understanding thirst can also occur as less efficient kidneys make urine less concentrated and this can make dehydration more common.

 

Why are older people more likely to become malnourished?

A good diet is important for everyone but even more so for people with dementia who are at greater risk of becoming malnourished.   Not eating an adequate diet can lead to someone becoming under-nourished and this will impact on the greater chance of getting ill, skin problems, muscle weakness, tiredness, confusion and irritability.  There are many reasons why this this may be more common in older people with dementia: 

  • Smaller appetites and eating too little food
  • Chronic disease
  • Increased need for energy and nutrients due to illness or wound healing
  • Chewing and swallowing problems impact no food choices
  • Medicines may contribute to change in appetite, abnormal eating or eating disorders
  • Changes to the senses of sight, hearing, taste and smell make meals less enjoyable
  • Reduced communication skills make it difficult to explain your food preferences or that the temperature of your food is too hot or cold or that you may still be hungry

 

Informal dementia carers in the UK

There are currently 700K informal carers for the 850K people living with dementia in the UK.  Looking after someone with dementia is challenging and often impacts on family relationships and physical and psychological health but at the same time it can be rewarding and strengthen family bonds through the intimate relationship.  Caring for someone at home can allow loved ones to catch glimpses of past personality such as the occasional smile, laugh or a few words that allow an emotional connection to stay alive and that may be missed in residential care.

Whether you’re a sibling, child or family friend, the effects of possible sleep deprivation and carrying out all the household chores, extra cleaning and laundry as well as moving and lifting their loved one can be exhausting and this is even more relevant as 44% of carers have a long-standing illness or disability according to research carried out by NHS digital.

Providing adequate food can be a challenge for home carers.  Budget constraints, lack of food knowledge or cooking skills, managing difficult eating behaviours anda exhaustion means that cooking home-prepared meals from scratch three times a day is often not a reality.  Understanding how to make mealtimes more manageable and quick healthy food fixes can lessen the burden whilst keeping your loved ones with dementia healthy.

 

A few tips to help people with dementia to eat well

Dementia is a fluid condition and every case is different but I hope these tips can offer a little insight and advice to help manage mealtimes.

 

Stimulate the appetite!

If you’re struggling to get someone to eat then try whetting their appetite.  Any increase in activity can help instigate hunger so a short walk or chair-based activity may help (this also helps relieve constipation).  Don’t fill stomachs with excess fluids before mealtimes as this will blunt the appetite. Prepare very flavoursome meals by adding spices or strong flavoured foods such as mature cheese, mustard or tomato puree.  Food should also look appealing and eye-catching with bright colours as we often, ‘eat with our eyes’. 

Try and use simple food cues to help older people with dementia orientate themselves with mealtimes.  The smell of toast or coffee in the morning, the clanking of pans or sight of someone cooking may all help someone with dementia to understand that it’s time to eat.

Mealtimes can be flexible and it may be easier to focus on the times of the day when someone usually has a bigger appetite, whether this is at breakfast, lunch or evening meal.  You should also offer small portions of food if someone has a small appetite as too much can be off-putting.

=============================================================================

Create a calm eating environment

  • Avoid noise from the television or radio at mealtimes
  • Make sure plates are clearly visible on the table opting for red or blue colours or ones with a coloured ring around the edge (you could also try a white plate with coloured placemat)
  • Don’t clutter the table as this can be very distracting
  • Allow plenty of time to eat
  • Eat together

=============================================================================

 

Take account of food preferences

Understanding someone’s food likes and dislikes can make a difference at mealtimes.  Be adventurous with new flavours but not to the point that someone refuses food.  Think about food occasions that the person your caring for may have been familiar with as it may even trigger a memory and connection with that particular food.  A Sunday roast, Christmas dinner, Strawberries during Wimbledon, seasonal foods, Birthday cake or hot cross buns at Easter are all good examples.

Taste and smell diminishes with age and more so with dementia so food preferences may change day-by-day.  It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to prefer sweet foods so try adding a little honey to savoury quiches, pies and omelettes or serve main meals with apple or cranberry sauce.  Fruit chutneys are also great to serve with cheese or cold meats, which also work as finger foods.  You can also add honey to roast vegetables and apples or dried fruit work well in stews, casseroles, curries and other one-pot dishes that can be cooked in batches and frozen.

Be aware that someone may not remember when they last ate and this may cause reluctance to meals.  Listen to what they are saying or trying to communicate and try and work around this with the food you offer. For example, if the person you’re caring for keeps asking about breakfast then you could consider several breakfasts across that day to encourage them to eat.

 

Maintain independence

It’s important that someone with dementia is given the opportunity to feed themselves as this helps retain a sense of independence and dignity.  Don’t worry about neatness as it’s more important that someone is eating independently. This may mean being patient and mealtimes could be lengthy and often require gentle encouragement along the way as well as appropriate supervision to reduce any risks of choking.

As dementia progresses someone may become less dexterous and lose the ability to use cutlery.  You can find specially adapted cutlery, cups with handles and non-slip placemats to make things easier.  If cutlery becomes difficult to use then provide finger foods.  A finger food diet can be just as nutritious and served hot or cold.  Pizza slices, chopped vegetables, fruit, meat pies, boiled eggs, potato wedges, sandwiches, fruit loaf are all good examples.

 

=============================================================================

Recognising weight loss

There are many reasons why someone with dementia may lose their appetite such as suffering with constipation, swallowing issues, depression, mouth ulcers or painful teeth.  It’s important to be aware of weight loss in people with dementia and act immediately to help regain a healthy appetite and reduce the risk of malnutrition.

  • Bones visible under the skin
  • Loose clothing
  • Loose rings
  • Loose fitting dentures
  • Leaving food on the plate

==============================================================================

 

Fortify foods 

If someone is losing weight then you may need to consider fortifying foods as it’s important to get as much nutrition as possible into a small serving of food, especially calories and protein.  Full fat milk, cream, cheese, oils, butter, mayonnaise, crème fraiche, milk powder, coconut milk, avocado, nut butters and pureed tofu are a few ideas of foods you can use. 

Nourishing smoothies can also help to top up someone’s calorie and protein intake.  There’s no end to the different combinations you can use and the best base is full fat milk.  

 

=============================================================================

Planning meals

When you’re trying to think about what food to prepare each day it’s worth paying thought to a few factors that may make mealtimes more enjoyable for people with dementia.

  • Combine colours on the plate to help meals become more visible. Choosing three or four is a good target such as steamed fish with carrots and peas
  • Combine textures to make food more appealing. Mix up crisp, crunchy, chewy, soft and smooth foods (unless someone is having difficulty swallowing)
  • Vary taste but don’t add too many favours to any one meal
  • Have a buffet day with finger foods such as quiche, scotch eggs, vegetable sticks, cocktail sausages and yoghurts

==============================================================================

 

Quick fixes 

If you don’t have the time to prepare something from scratch or are just too exhausted then there is nothing wrong with turning to good quality ready meals as a quick option.  Dishes such as lasagna, cottage pie, fish pie, macaroni cheese and risotto all provide a good soft food option.  Canned foods can also save time and offer a quick nourishing meal.  Canned fruit, fish (watch out for bones that pose a choking risk) or even baked beans are good examples and can be partnered with other ingredients.  Eggs are also a quick food option and can be scrambled with soft vegetables such as tomatoes and mushrooms or made into a simple omelette.

Pre-prepared foods can be used to make an interesting buffet meal that is also suitable for people that require a finger food diet.  You can also cook foods in batches and keep individual portions in the freezer to help save time. 

 

==============================================================================

Food textures

Some older people with dementia may need the texture of their food altered.

  • Difficulty using cutlery or with a tremor may need finger foods
  • Difficulty chewing and poor teeth may need softer foods (mash, tender meats and fish, soft vegetables)
  • Difficulty swallowing may require a pureed diet (you must seek professional advice to assess someone’s potential swallowing problem before pureeing their diet) 

=============================================================================

 

Hydration

Dehydration is common among older people with dementia as they may not recognise they are thirsty, may forget to drink, may be unable to communicate that they are thirsty, or may refuse to drink because they are worried about incontinence.

Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion, irritability and constipation which can contribute to urinary tract infections.  Older people who are incontinent need to drink more, not less, to encourage the bladder to empty regularly to prevent infection and to exercise the bladder muscles.

We get some of our fluids from food, particularly foods such as soup, stews, fruits and vegetables, jelly, sauces, ice Lolli’s and yoghurt.  All drinks help us to remain hydrated, including tea, coffee, water, milk, fruit teas and fruit juices.

 

Caring for someone with dementia is a full time job and mealtimes present a whole new set of challenges however, maintaining a well-nourished body will help someone with dementia achieve a better quality of life and help to deter the onset of other illnesses that may make caring for them even more challenging.

 

More informtation

 

Dementia UK

Caroline Walker trust

Alzheimer’s research UK 

Age UK

 

Download PDF here Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well 

 

Time to join the culture club – your guide to probiotics

Time to join the culture club – your guide to probiotics

Time to join the culture club (download PDF here The culture club)

So, you’re clean eating, gluten free, fasting, eating avocados like their going out of fashion, chugging down green juices with the latest wonder powders and using coconut oil to cook and apply to every part of the body from top to toe to achieve an enviable state of health and wellness.  But health trends come and go, and whether they stand the test of time is usually based on popularity over real results.

One area of health that has always been popular is the gut and the one thing we know for sure is that an efficient gut equals good health.  Probiotics have been hip for a while now and this is one trend with a lot of research to back up the claims. The discovery of how to sequence the bacteria that live in the gut has widened this area of research and allowed scientists to explore it in a similar way to DNA 20 years ago.

Good digestion insures that your body can process foods efficiently and deliver all the essential nutrients without bloating or other digestive complaints that can impact on how you feel day-to-day and the role of gut bacteria in this context is well established.  But these clever microbes are not just about good digestion and new exciting research is drawing associations between the microbiome and areas of healthy you may never have considered before. 

 

What’s the deal with bacteria?

The body is full of bugs that make up one of the most complex ecosystems in the world with over 400 different species living in the gut.  Generally, these bugs are not harmful and many have a beneficial role to play in the body. 

Gut bacteria are essential in the process of breaking down food to extract nutrients that are required for our survival.  Bacteria help to synthesize certain vitamins including B12, folic acid and thiamin that are required for energy metabolism, red blood cell production and maintaining a healthy nervous system.   These microbes also teach our immune systems to recognize foreign invaders and produce anti-inflammatory compounds that fight off disease-causing bacteria.  Clever stuff.

 

Nurture your own culture club

 The community of bacteria in your gut is specific to you and is referred to as your microbiome.  The diversity of your microbiome is especially important to help maintain a healthy gut as bad bacteria are limited and tightly controlled by the good variety.  If your diet is unhealthy and rich in sugary or processed foods then there’s a chance that the good bacteria in your gut will become weakened, impacting on health as you provide an all-you-can-eat buffet for bad bugs to thrive on and take over.   A buildup of bad bacteria may result in a number of health problems such as food allergies, yeast infections or inflammatory bowel disease. 

Interestingly, the trend for carbohydrate free diets could have an impact on the diversity of bacteria in your gut.  A high fat and protein diet is not necessarily the issue as bacteria will find something to live on in the gut but the diversity of bacteria and their activity may change in the absence of carbohydrates.  Like us, bacteria prefer to live on carbohydrates (glucose) and from this they produce short chain fatty acids that are good for your gut.  Once carbohydrates are taken out of the diet, bacteria start to thrive on amino acids that make up proteins, which produces other compounds that are considered more poisonous than beneficial

 

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that contain strains that have been shown to have a positive health benefit.  There seem to be a lot of interesting foods labelled as being probiotics ranging from chocolate through to tea but to get the most benefit you need to look for well researched strains such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium with at least 10 billion bacteria per serving.  Some foods such as kimchi are also touted as being a probiotic and although they may have health benefits for your gut the strains they contain (and there are many strains) are often not well researched and so cannot be classed as such.

 

How do probiotics benefit health?

One of the key benefits of probiotics is in maintaining good digestive health and research has shown how they can help with common digestive complaints such as diarrhoea and constipation.  Probiotics have also been shown to be of benefit for people suffering with IBS and food intolerances such as lactose intolerance. 

Immunity is also a key area of research.  Around 80% of the immune system resides in the gut and studies have shown that probiotics are successful in preventing upper respiratory tract infections (coughs and colds) as well as reducing the infection time.  Probiotics are also essential for anyone that has had to take antibiotics that have an apocalyptic effect on all the bacteria in the gut.   Taking probiotics alongside medication and for a few weeks afterwards should be a common place recommendation to help restore your microbiota.

 

The future of probiotics

Where things get very exciting is in the research that is starting to put science to the concept of that “gut feeling” by exploring the relationship between gut bacteria and how this may impact on behaviour, metabolism and mood via a signaling pathway called the gut-brain axis with early findings suggesting a possible link to conditions such as obesity and depression.

The future of gut bacteria is also fascinating as researchers at Kings College London predict that we may be able to receive individualized probiotic advice relating to the unique diversity of strains that make up our own personal microbiota.  Researchers have commented that it is naive to think that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to probiotics and that in the future.  Metagenomic testing may be able to map your microbiome by sequencing every gene in every living organism in your gut.  This would provide data on the functions of your microbes as well as viruses, fungi, virulent genes and antibiotics resistance.  Understanding this may help link in with the research around the how certain bacteria strains are associated with specific health conditions.

It may also be time to ditch expensive skin care products in place of probiotics to achieve a healthy, clear, glowing complexion.  Whilst the link between skin and gut bacteria is complicated, it has been shown that the health of your microbiome may be a significant player in the quest for healthy skin.  If your gut is overrun with bad bacteria or yeast then this can increase the permeability of the gut, which can result in inflammation as the immune system produces inflammatory cytokines in response to microbial toxins that enter your system.  Inflammation is at the root of skin conditions such as acne and research has shown how probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum may help to regulate the cytokines.  This doesn’t mean you can just pop a probiotic and expect great skin but there is an association with your microbiota.

 

Do we need to take probiotics?

If you have a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet then their maybe no need to invest in a probiotic but there is certainly no harm in taking them daily.  Probiotics are intended to be used in a therapeutic context as they help to deliver a beneficial dose to the gut that you may not be able to achieve by eating foods such as probiotic yoghurt.

 

What is the best way to take probiotics?

This is up to you really.  Probiotics are available in a capsule or tablet form such as Healthspan Super50 Pro (60 capsules for £28.50).  This form of probiotic is freeze-dried and activated on entering the gut. Other sources of probiotic yoghurt and drinks do contain beneficial strains but these are often not in as greater volume as a supplement or with as much variety.  You also need to be aware of the high sugar content of certain probiotic foods as some brands of ‘shot’ drinks have been shown to contain as much as 2 tsp of sugar. Probiotic foods are a good way to help maintain good bacterial levels but to make a real impact on the diversity of your microbiome you need a supplement.  Like all supplements, the key is to take them regularly to get the most benefit and this is even more important with probiotics as you are essentially trying to increase the amount in the gut.

 

What to think about when choosing and taking supplements

 If you’re considering taking a probiotic supplement then there are a few things you should consider when buying and whilst taking them.

  1. To be effective you need to choose a supplement that contains at least 10 million bacteria per serving.   
  2. Don’t take a probiotic supplement with hot food and drinks like tea or coffee as this can lessen the chance of the bacteria getting to your gut unharmed. Give it 30 minutes after taking them before you reach for the teapot.
  3. Alcohol can also render the bacteria in probiotic supplements useless so avoid knocking back with a glass of pinot!
  4. Research suggests that breakfast might be the best time of day as this is when bacteria have the greatest chances of surviving the acidic conditions in the upper part of the gut.
  5. Make sure you check the check the expiry date because once that’s passed there may not be any live bacteria left in the product.
  6. Choose a probiotic that includes a wide variety of strains to get the most benefit.

 

 Download PDF here (The culture club)

When is the best time to eat?

When is the best time to eat?

Mindful eating

I was recently asked by the Daily Mail Online about my favourite go-to breakfast?

This had me thinking a little bit about how my view of breakfast and eating in general has changed over the years.  There was a time when I conformed to the view that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and that you should eat as soon as you get up.  However, as i’ve gotten a little older (heaven forbid I am nearly 40!! – cringe) my food taste and lifestyle has changed.  I’m no longer dashing to the gym at the crack of dawn as stressful deadlines and lack of organization skills have me up early, frantically typing to meet overdue deadlines and for some reason the last thing I feel like doing when I’m stressed or distracted is eating.  Coffee is the only thing that’s going to hit the spot at 6am.

Forget the old adage of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.  Who even came up with this anyway! I now firmly believe that eating should be more intuitive.  Not that you should throw regular meal times out of the window but I do think that we need to learn to listen to our body and eat when we genuinely feel hungry.

Understanding your own hunger and fullness is probably the best thing you can do to help maintain a healthy weight and work in sync with your body.  This doesn’t mean starving yourself because you’re too rushed in the morning to make breakfast or cant be bothered to cook, but satisfying the need for food when your body asks for it.

There’s a whole raft of information out there dictating when, how and what we should be eating, but understanding and listening to your own body is always going to be the best option.  There was a time when we had to hunt for our food and mealtimes were dictated by what you managed to forage or catch.  Although you cant draw comparisons as we have come a long way since then, eating for the sake of eating or at a set times during the day just doesn’t seem to make sense.

It’s really flippant to think this is an easy way to eat as there are wider issues around food that influence how and what people eat but learning to adopt basic mindfulness and intuitive eating skills can help.  Don’t be put off by the sound of these concepts as they really are just common sense.

Whilst a healthy balanced diet is key to good health, the idea of what this is has become very blurred as we have so much access to nutrition advice and media attention on the latest superfood or wonder diet.  Just getting back to basics about healthy eating and focusing your attention more on how you eat and not what you eat will help you to tune into your basic cycle of hunger and satiety.

Tips for mindful eating

Eat slowly

Eating is not a race.  Taking your time to eat and enjoy your food will help you to recognize when you’re full.  Chew your food slowly as this will help with digestion and give your body time to recognize that you are full.  Eating too quickly also leads to indigestion and bloating.  Many fast eaters have adopted these habits from childhood and they often come from large families so trying to educate your children on the idea of eating slowly may go some way in helping to prevent this habit from being passed on.

Switch off! 

Try and make food and eating the main attraction at the dinner table.  Turn the TV off and make dinner time an electronic-free zone.  This doesn’t mean forgoing the Saturday night take-away and movie but just making all other evening meal times about the food without distraction.

Savour the flavour

Eating slowly and savoring every mouthful of food allows you to appreciate the flavours and textures of food, which adds to the enjoyment of eating.  If you wolf down you meal in five minutes then it’s likely you won’t even notice what you’re eating and this can lead to a lack of appreciation making food and eating a mechanical process of eating to live rather than living to eat.

So after all that, what was my favorite breakfast?  Well it was chopped egg and avocado on toast that I actually ate at 11am when I finally felt hungry after a morning of deadlines and coffee.

 

Chopped egg and avocado on toast 

Serves 1

300 calories per serving 

 

Ingredients 

1 egg

1 small avocado

1/2 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely diced

1 spring onions, finely sliced

2 chives, finely chopped

1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

Sea salt

Black pepper

1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 slice of granary bread, toasted

 

Method

  1. Place the egg in a small pan of water set over a high heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 8 minutes then take the pan off the heat and place under cold tuning water to cool.
  2. Once cooled (about 2 minutes), peel the shell from the egg.  Quarter the egg.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (except the granary toast) to a medium-sized bowl and combine well.
  4. Serve the egg on a plate with the avocado mixture and granary toast.

 

Download recipe here Chopped egg and avocado on toast 

 

 

 

Quorn, cauliflower and sultana curry

Quorn, cauliflower and sultana curry

Cauliflower, Sultana and Quorn Curry

Serves 4

535 calories per serving

Rich in: potassium, iron, zinc, B6 and vitamin C

This curry is a brilliant example of how you can replace meat for Quorn.  Using Quorn offers a rich source of protein as well as a source of zinc, which has been shown to help maintain a heathy immune system.  Cauliflower is also one of the most humble superfoods.  Although it may not be the most colorful of foods it is packed with vitamin C and sulphur compounds that hep to protect the body against diseases such as cancer. 

 

Ingredients

300g brown rice

1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

200g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

350g Quorn pieces

3 tbsp sultanas

1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets

½ can of coconut milk (reduced fat)

1 lime, juiced

1 small bunch of mint

1 small bunch of coriander

 

Method  

  1. Set a medium saucepan of water to boil. Once the water is boiling add the rice.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes until tender.
  2. Heat a large deep-sided non-stick pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook gently for 5 minute until softened.
  3. Add the spices to the pan and cook for 1 minute until they become fragrant.
  4. Add 200ml of water to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes. Now add the chilli, salt, pepper, chickpeas, Quorn and sultanas then simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Add the cauliflower florets and a further 150ml of water then simmer for another 5-8 minutes until the cauliflower is tender (keep the cauliflower tender to add texture)
  6. Pour in the coconut milk and add the lime juice, mint and coriander then cook for a further 2 minutes. Check for seasoning and then take off the heat.
  7. Drain the rice and serve in bows with the curry.

 

 Download PDF here Cauliflower curry

 

 

 

How easy is it to get your 10-a-day?

How easy is it to get your 10-a-day?

How easy is it to get 10-a-day? (download PDF How easy is it to get 10)

So, just when you thought you were managing to eat your 5-a-day, new research by Imperial Collage London shows that we should be eating 10-a-day to get the best benefits for our health.  Evidence shows that eating fruits and vegetables can help to protect against diseases such as heart disease and cancer.  The benefits of these plant foods lie in their high fibre content as well as the vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds they contain. 

 

What makes fruits and vegetables so beneficial for health?

As well as vitamins and minerals that are essential for life, fruits and vegetables also contain a good source of fibre, which is lacking in the average UK diet.  Fruits and vegetables also contain phytonutrients, which are not essential to life but have an added health benefit.  These plant compounds are responsible for their bright colours and act as antioxidants in the body that help to reduce inflammation and the damage caused by excess free radicals that can build up because of a poor diet, environmental factors and stress.   Such compounds include beta carotene (found in orange and green varieties), anthocyanins (found in blue and purple varieties) and lycopene (found in red varieties).  Certain phytonutrients have also been linked to specific conditions such as lutein and zeaxanthin (found in yellow and green vegetables), which have been shown by research to help protect against age related macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in older people.

The other significant factor here is that if you’re eating 10-a-day then the chances are you have a very heathy diet, which of course will protect you against diseases as well as help you maintain a healthy weight (a risk factor for many diseases).

 

How much do we currently eat?

The last National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS 2016) showed that the average intake of fruits and vegetables is 4 serving per day.  If you take fruit out of the equation, then this drops to 3.4 servings per day.  On average, it seems that only 27% of adults manage to eat 5-a-day.

The key benefits lie in vegetable intake so it’s this that we need to focus on to glean the greatest benefit to health. 

 

So what counts?

A serving of fruits and vegetables is 80g (40g of dried fruit).  All fruits and vegetables count and some portions may be heavier than 80g such as a whole pepper (160g) or half an aubergine (150g).   Smoothies are classed as 2 servings and juices as 1 serving but only once in the day.   A single portion of pulses and beans (even baked beans!) are classed as 1 serving but only once in the day.  Cook-in-sauces can also count if they’re tomato-based so if you chuck in a few handfuls of frozen peas to your pasta sauce you’re already getting 2 servings.

 

Is 10-a day completely unachievable?

Absolutely not! You could even be eating more than you think.  In relation to the 5-a-day guidance, the NHS says, “evidence shows that there are significant health benefits to getting at least five 80g portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s five portions of fruit and veg in total, not five portions of each.”  So, the new 10-a-day goal is 800g of fruit and vegetables not necessarily 10 individual servings of each, although including lots of different varieties can means a wider range of nutrients.

This may help to ease the daunting thought of 10-a-day as composite dishes add up.  A simple chilli could in fact provide you with 2-3 servings when you count the canned tomatoes, red kidney beans, peppers, onions and garlic.  Serve with guacamole or a tomato salad and you could get as much as 4 servings in one meal.

Some people may feel that cost is an issue but frozen vegetables can provide a cheaper way to add these foods to your diet.  Canned pulses are also a cheap way to add a serving of vegetables as well as bulking out meals and adding protein and key minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc. to your diet.  You can also source cheaper vegetables from local markets and buying in season helps as well.

 

Top ten tips to achieving 10-a-day 

  1. Keep frozen vegetables and canned pulses to hand as they’re a quick way to add a serving of vegetables to your dishes.  Just remember to grab a few handfuls when you’re cooking.
  2. Dried fruit makes for a great healthy snack and 40g counts as one of your five-a-day.
  3. Get creative with toppings at breakfast by adding fresh or dried fruits to cereal or yoghurt.
  4. Toast can either be a breakfast option or a snack and you can add a serving of fruit and vegetables by topping with mashed banana or guacamole (try jazzing this up with lime juice, chillies and spring onions or even a sprinkle of chill powder).
  5. Potatoes don’t count but sweet potatoes do.  Swap them for your usual baked potato or add them roasted and chopped to salads.  They also make great dips!
  6. If your trying to make a dish go further or reduce your food bill by cutting down on meat then replace half the meat in a recipe with canned lentils, which are a good source of protein and key minerals as well as adding a serving of vegetables to your daily intake.
  7. Remember it’s the sum weight of the vegetables that count.  Homemade soups and stir fries can add as much as 3 servings to your daily intake.
  8. Choose vegetables that are the least hassle to prepare.  There’s no point buying squash and beetroots if you don’t know what to do with them and they just end up going off in the fridge.  Green beans, Tenderstem broccoli, frozen peas or soya beans are easy to chuck in a pan of boiling water.
  9. If you find vegetables boring, then explore cuisines such as Indian that make the most of vegetables by using tasty spices.  Dried spices also help to boost your intake of minerals such as iron and have been shown to hold some interesting anti-inflammatory properties.
  10. Get creative!  If you have picky eaters, then try blending vegetables before adding to dishes.  There are also lots of recipes on the internet that provide inventive ways to add vegetables to dishes such as parsnip muffins or beetroot and chocolate cake.

Meeting the new guidance is not as difficult as you think and using the simple tips above can help.  Also, try searching the internet for recipe ideas that float your boat using your favourite flavours and cuisines.

For more information on how to get more vegetables into your diet go to NHS choices.  You will also find lots of recipe ideas at BBC food.

 

Download as a PDF How easy is it to get 10

Favourite recipe ideas from home cooking sessions with clients

Favourite recipe ideas from home cooking sessions with clients

 

Favourite recipes that I cook with clients in their homes (Download as PDF  Favourite recipes

 

Chopped salad with pomegranate

Serves two

Ingredients

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped

1 spring onions, finely chopped

½ fennel bulb, finely chopped

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

100g pomegranate seeds

Small handful each of parsley, mint and dill all finely chopped

Method 

  1. Combine ingredients together in a large bowl and serve with one of the dressings below.

 

Honey and allspice dressing

Serves two 

Ingredients

1 medium lemon, juiced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp smoked paprika

½ garlic clove, crushed

Sea salt

Pepper

Method

  1. Combine in a smal bowl and serve with salad  

 

Tahini dressing

Serves two 

Ingredients

200g soya (or low fat) yoghurt

1 heaped tbsp tahini

1 garlic clove, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, chopped

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (best quality)

1 tsp turmeric

Method

  1. Combine in a small bowl and serve with salad

 

Sweet potato and miso dressing

Serves two

Ingredients

100g sweet potato, peeled and diced

15g ginger, finely chopped

25ml lemon juice

25ml rice wine vinegar

35g sweet white miso

10ml sesame oil

75ml olive oil

5g tamari sauce

Method

  1. Combine in a small bowl and serve with salad

 

Turkey and cashew curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

100g cashew nuts

2 vine tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

400g turkey breast, diced

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 cauliflower, florets

100ml water

200ml reduced fat coconut milk

100g fresh peas

 Method

  1. Place cashew nuts in a blender with the tomatoes, chili, garlic, ginger and lemon juice and blitz to a paste. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl and add in the turkey. Cover with the ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric, cover and leave to marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan on a high heat and add a drop of oil
  3. Add in the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the marinated turkey and cook for 5-7 minutes until sealed.
  5. Add in the cauliflower, water and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Keep the heat low and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Add in the peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes

 

Kale chips with paprika and cashew

Makes 200g

 Ingredients

30g cashew nuts

1 tsp rapeseed oil

50ml water

500g kale (but big fresh leaves not the prepackaged stuff)

1 tsp paprika

1 pinch of Malden salt 

Method  

  1. Preheat your oven to 50°c.
  2. Soak the cashew nuts in water for 20 minutes. Then drain and place them in a blender with the rapeseed oil and 50ml water. Blitz for 5 minutes until completely smooth. Add more water if necessary; the consistency should be like single cream.
  3. Take the kale leaves off the stalk and break the leaves up into bite sized pieces. Place the kale in a large bowl and pour over the cashew cream, toss with you hands to ensure the leaves are coated well.
  4. Place the kale on a baking tray and sprinkle with the paprika and Malden salt.
  5. Place in the oven for 60 minutes until crispy.
  6. You can store these in an airtight contained for up to 2 days.

 

Roasted tikka cauliflower Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

250g Pearl barley

1 large cauliflower

1 level tbsp tikka curry paste

60g flaked almonds

60g dried cherries (or cranberries)

100g pomegranate seeds

2 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds

1 small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Yoghurt and tahini dressing (see above)

Sea salt 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Cook the barley in boiling water until tender (about 30-40 minutes) then drain and rinse under cold water
  3. In a large roasting tin, break the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and add the curry paste, rubbing in well so all the cauliflower is covered
  4. Place the tin in the oven and cook until tender (about 20 mins)
  5. Whilst the cauliflower is cooking make the dressing by adding all the ingredients to the bender and slowly bending until smooth. It should be the consistency of double cream so loosen with a little water if too thick.
  6. Take out the cauliflower and allow to cool.7. In a large bowl combine the barley, cauliflower, almonds, cherries and pomegranate 8. Drizzle a little of the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with onion seeds

 

Lemon salmon

Serves two

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (also, 4 tbsp for the dressing)

1 lemon, halved

1 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp chopped chives

Sea salt

Black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the grill
  2. Coat the salmon with olive oil and a little salt
  3. Place the lemon halves, cut-side down, next to the salmon and grill for about 4 mins each side
  4. Transfer the salmon to a plate and prepare the dressing
  5. To make the dressing squeeze the lemon juice from the charred lemons into a small bowl and add 4 tbsp olive oil, chopped herbs and season.
  6. Pour dressing over the salmon and serve

 

Quinoa, lentil and chicken salad

Serves four

Ingredients 

250g puy lentils, boiled


250g quinoa, boiled

300g chicken breast, thinly sliced

1 ripe mango, sliced

1/2 red onion, finely sliced

1 handful watercress, stalks removed (or pea shoots)

1 small handful mint, chopped

1 small handful coriander, chopped

Dressing

1 lime juiced

1 tsp curry paste

4 tbsp light olive oil

3 tbsp of ½ fat crème fraiche

Sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Wrap the chicken in foil with a little oil and lemon juice.
  3. Place chicken in oven and bake for 20 minutes until cooked through
  4. Cook the grains, drain and leave to cool
  5. Once the chicken has cooled, thinly slice
  6. Add all the dressing ingredients to the blender and blend for a minute until fully combined (add a little water until it is the consistency of single cream – it should be quite runny
  7. Add the grains, chicken, mango, red onion, watercress, mint and coriander  to a large salad bowl 8. Dress salad with dressing

 

Aniseed green juice

Serves two

Ingredients

1 bunch of spinach, washed

1 bunch of mint

1 cucumber

2 green apples, cored

1 fennel bulb 1⁄2 lemon

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
  2. Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

 

Green goddess juice

Serves two

Ingredients

1/2 cucumber

3 kale leaves (take soft leaf off the stem)

1 small handful coriander

1 lime (juice only)

1 head Romaine lettuce

2 apples, cored 

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
    Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

 

Carrot, beetroot, apple and ginger

Serves two

Ingredients

2 carrots

2 beetroot

2 apple
s, cored 

1 inch knob of ginger

1 lemon, juiced

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
    Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

 

Raw cacao cashew milk

Serves two

Ingredients

150g raw cashews

2-3 level tablespoons raw cacao powder (depending on taste. I like 2)

2 Tablespoons pure Maple Syrup

Vanilla pod

Pinch of sea salt

600ml 
water

Method

  1. Add ingredients to a high power blender and blitz for 1 minute
  2. Add more or less water depending on the desired consistency.

 

Shakshuka

Serves two

Ingredients

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 onion, finely diced 

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 red peppers, cut into strips

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 pinch saffron

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Sea salt

Black pepper

4 eggs

Method

  1. Heat up the oil and add the fennel seeds cooking for 1 minute
  2. Add in the onion, garlic and cook for another 3 minutes
  3. Add in the peppers, spices, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 25 minutes until the peppers are soft (you will need to add more water as you go)
  4. make small wells in the tomato sauce and drop in the eggs then put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes until the whites of the egg are cooked

 Serve with spinach or toast

 

Cajun chicken

Serves two 

Ingredients

Marinade

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp olive oil

4 skinless chicken breast

Salad

150g spinach, chopped

A handful each of parsley, mint and coriander (finely chopped)

½ red onion, diced

1 tsp olive oil

2 avocados, cubed

Mango salsa

1 mango, diced

5 cherry tomatoes, diced

A handful coriander, chopped

1 lime, juiced

½ chilli, finely diced

Sea salt

Black pepper

Method

  1. Combine marinade spices and chicken in a large bowl then set aside for 10 minute
  2. Heat up a large non-stick frying pan (or griddle)
  3. Whilst the pan is heating up wrap each marinated chicken breast in cling film and seals at the ends then bash lightly to 1 cm thick
  4. Cook each chicken breast for about 5 minutes each side until cooked
  5. Combine salad ingredients together
  6. Combine salsa ingredients together
  7. Serve the chicken with salsa and salad

 

Download as PDF Favourite recipes

For nutrition and cookery videos click here

Can we eat our way to good health? Most definitely yes!

Can we eat our way to good health? Most definitely yes!

Current state of health and nutrient intake in the UK (Download as PDF Current state of health in the UK)

Two thirds of the UK population are now classed as being overweight or obese.  It’s well established from research that eating the right foods that lower your BMI can help reduce your risk of developing a whole raft of diseases from heart disease to cancer.   UK Food surveys also show that a significant number of people have low intakes of certain nutrients, which may impact on areas of your health including tiredness and fatigue, poor skin and digestion. 

Fibre intake in the UK is low as is intake of omega 3-rich foods such as oily fish, both of which help protect against heart disease and certain cancers.  Women in particular are shown to have low intakes of certain minerals in their diets including magnesium and iron (nearly quarter of women have inadequate intakes of iron) both of which can impact on energy levels and fatigue. One in five Brits are also at risk of profound vitamin D deficiency according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey that can impact on bone health which is especially important for the young and older people (research has also linked this vitamin to helping with symptoms of depression).

 Research shows that in some cases, including or removing certain foods from your diet may help to reduce the symptoms and management of certain conditions including high cholesterol, depression, PMS or menopause.

 

Can you heal yourself with food?

 So, it is possible to heal yourself with food?  Yes, absolutely.  Food has the ability to heal and nurture your health and getting your diet at a place of balance is the way to start, from there you can begin to add or remove certain foods according to your health concerns.  Don’t get me wrong, there is no magic food to suddenly cure you of disease and many conditions require medical intervention but diet may certainly help to compliment a treatment or provide a more holistic approach, it’s also just food so why not give it a go.

 

Restrictive diets

There is a growing trend to follow alternative ways of eating that restrict certain foods groups such as paleo and Pegan but do these ways of eating really improve our health and is the approach of cutting out wheat, dairy and sugar make a difference? I don’t believe that cutting out large swathes of foods is the best approach to take unless you are aware of what foods you have to replace them with to still get a balance of nutrients in the diet.  

Too many people embark on highly restrictive, complicated diets and end up suffering nutritionally, whilst diagnosed food intolerances and allergies are relatively rare for some people replacing dairy with calcium-rich alternatives and cutting down on the amount of refined carbs they eat simply makes them feel better and often helps improve digestion which is why we took this approach with the Detox Kitchen Bible cookbook.  Be realistic and be sensible about removing foods from your diet as they have to be replaced with similar foods to maintain a balanced diet. There’s little benefit removing it if it doesn’t cause a problem!”

 

Top tips for taking a food approach to some of the UK’s top health concerns.

 Weight loss

  • Include a mix of healthy fats, protein and  a little wholegrain carb for a balance of nutrients guaranteed to keep you feeling full between meals
  • Mindfulness and intuitive eating can play a key part in maintaining weight so think before you eat!
  • If you are reducing calories then choose high nutrient dense foods
  • Setting realistic goals and avoiding extreme diets are the best approach for lasting results
  • Fill up on veggies at each meal (fresh or frozen)
  • Choose foods with a high water content such as soups, stews and casseroles to increase fullness

Healing foods: aubergine, quinoa, eggs, brown rice, seeds, broccoli, kale

Recipe: Roasted aubergine and pomegranate

 

 

Heart health

  • High fibre diets (especially oats) are effective for reducing cholesterol, weight loss and risk of T2 diabetes
  • Soy foods are shown to be effective at reducing cholesterol
  • Omega 3 fatty acids help to thin the blood, reduce inflammation and increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
  • Food high in potassium can help to maintain health blood pressure
  • Plant compounds such as beta-sitosterol found in avocados and olive oil effective at reducing cholesterol
  • High sugar and refined carbs just as damaging if not more so than saturated fat in the diet
  • Antioxidants such as flavanoids and polyphenols affective at reducing free radical damage and reducing inflammation

Healing foods:  Avocados, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, berries, beetroot, edamame, brown rice, salmon

 Recipe:  Salmon, green beans, orange and hazelnut salad

 

 

Women’s health – PMS, Menopause

  • High intake of non-meat iron (pulses, dried fruit) may be effective at reducing symptoms of PMS
  • Limit spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol to help with flushes and night sweats
  • Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is an effective strategy for PMS, PCOS and menopause
  • Ganestien, a compound found in soy foods (especially fermented varieties such as miso) may help reduce hot flushes during the menopause as may other phytoestrogen rich foods such as lentils sprouts.
  • Women suffering with PMS are often seen to have low levels of calcium and affective to treat with calcium and vitamin D supplements 
  • Boost intake of the amino acid, tryptophan to increase serotonin production (along with eating Low GI carbs) – low levels are a result of sensitivity to progesterone during ovulation – affect mood and responsible for PMS cravings

Healing foods:  Edamame beans, miso, pumpkin seeds, lentil sprouts, dried fruit, eggs, turkey, quinoa

RecipeAvocado smash with toasted nuts and seeds

 

 

Skin health  

  • Sufficient intake of zinc may help to regulate the production of sebum
  • Omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation and may help with conditions such as psoriasis
  • In the case of eczema and psoriasis, try avoiding foods such as eggs and dairy that are rich in arachidonic acid (a type of omega 6), which promotes inflammation.
  • Eat plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to help fight free radical damage from environmental factors.
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in beta-carotene (orange and green vegetables) as this is converted to vitamin A in the body which is essential for the repair and maintenance of healthy skin.

Healing foods:  Kale, butternut squash, mango, salmon, dried figs, berries, prawns, seeds

Recipe: Cajun chicken with avocado salad and mango salsa

 

 

Tiredness and fatigue

  • Low intake of iron responsible for fatigue (23% of women have low intakes in the UK)
  • Low levels of magnesium and B vitamins may also result in tiredness and fatigue
  • Migraine sufferers faced with fatigue – reducing intake of tyramine foods (red wine, pickled foods, chocolate) and increasing vitamin B2 (mackerel, eggs, mushrooms) can help
  • Low levels of magnesium may lead to insomnia, which can impact on tiredness.
  • Combine foods high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods to boost absorption.

Healing foods: Brown rice, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashew nuts, mushrooms, almonds, mackerel, egg

Recipe: Beetroot falafel

 

You can find more information on health and recipes to help health the body in the new edition of the Detox Kitchen Bible.

Download as PDF (Current state of health in the UK)

Top ten tips to beat a hangover

Top ten tips to beat a hangover

How to cure a hangover:  the good, the bad and the ugly (Download as a PDF how-to-cure-a-hangover_website)

It’s that time of year again when many of us wake up after a busy social event muttering those fateful words, “I am never drinking again”.   Even healthy nutritionists like myself have had to deal with some real corkers!  As the festive season looms closer and your diary fills up, it’s a good time to think about some of the good and more infamous hangover cures that may help to relieve your symptoms the next day.

What is a hangover?

 When you drink alcohol, it gets broken down in the liver to a compound called acetaldehyde, which is a toxic compound that contributes to the feelings associated with a hangover.   Obviously, the more you drink the greater the buildup of toxin and hence worse hangover. The main symptoms of a hangover include headaches from the dilation of blood vessels, dehydration from the increased need to urinate, nausea and stomach aches from the increased acidity.  Sleep also plays a major part in the severity of your hangover and the less you get the worse you will feel across the day. 

Try and prep your liver

 If you know December is going to be a whirlwind of parties, then try and be good to your liver when you’re not out on the town.  Try classic herbal remedies such as milk thistle (try Healthspan, 30 tablets for 12.95) or artichoke extract (try Healthspan, 120 tablets for £8.95) that have been traditionally used to support your liver health. 

Eating healthily at all other times is obviously a good idea too and foods such as bitter green vegetables and globe artichokes have been shown to improve bile flow (helping to remove toxins more efficiently) and help with the detoxification process (1).  Beetroot has also been traditionally associated with liver health by way of a plant compound called betaine (2).  Regardless of their potential to promote liver health, brightly colored fruits and vegetables make a valued addition to the diet and help by reducing the damage cause by excess free radicals as well as adding fibre and micronutrients to the diet.

Hangover cures

There are very few hangover cures that will generally work and in reality the only way to prevent one is to stay sober, which is not much fun during the party season.  Try and make sure you eat before you go out and try and keep hydrated by alternating water with alcoholic drinks.  If all else fails, try the tips below, which are some of the best, the worst and downright ugly of hangover cures.

The good 

  1. Rehydrate

Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, irritable, dizzy and generally not well especially when partnered with a drop in electrolytes that may occur after a heavy session.  Drink plenty of fluids the next day but try and avoid very sugary drinks as this can affect blood sugar levels leaving you feeling even more sluggish.  You could also try adding in an electrolyte sachet to help rebalance your system and replace nutrients commonly depleted by alcohol including magnesium, potassium, calcium and B vitamins.

  1. Go Long!

Try opting for drinks made with soda water or low calorie mixers as these will help to dilute the alcohol and give you a longer lasting drink.  Go for single shots of spirits or small glasses of white or rose wine to top up.

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach

This is a classic mistake, especially if you’re going straight out after work.  Drinking on an empty stomach can kame you much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and is often a recipe for disaster.  Alcohol also acts as an appetite stimulant so you’re more like to end up tucking heavily into the buffet or queuing up in MC Donalds on your way home. Try eating something nourishing before you go out that has a good source of protein and fat to help keep you feeling full and soaking up some of the booze.

  1. Eggs for breakfast

Try something light in the morning that will help to get your blood sugar levels back up and bring a little closer to feeling yourself again.  Something like eggs on toast is a great option as these nutritional powerhouses contain a good source of the amino acid,  cysteine that helps to breakdown acetaldehyde in the liver.

  1. Avoid brown drinks

Conjeners are more concentrated in darker coloured alcohol drinks.  These compounds are a toxic byproduct of the fermentation process and are often added for taste and appearance.   Brown spirits and red wine contain a higher amount of congeners than lighter coloured drinks and can make hangovers more intense the next day

The bad

  1. coffee

If you can tolerate it then sure have a coffee.  However, slugging back high caffeine drinks can leave you a bit jittery especially if you do so on an empty stomach.  This can be a disaster if your stomach is feeling particularly sensitive.  Try ginger tea for nausea or peppermint, caraway and fennel to relieve any bloating.

  1. Energy drinks

However bad you feel try and steer clear of energy drinks.  These are often loaded with sugar that will further upset blood sugar levels and the stimulants such as caffeine and taurine are likely to increase spasms in the bowel, which is not great for a delicate gut.  Caffeine can also increase anxiety and suppress appetite, which is last thing you need when food is required to get you blood sugar leves back up.

  1. The greasy fry-up

 Some people swear by a good old greasy fry-up after a big session but this may not be your best option.  Heavy, fatty foods take a while to digest and can be hard going on sensitive stomachs, whilst also increasing the chances of indigestion and heart burn.  These stodgy types of foods will also leave you feeling sluggish across the day, only adding to your lack of vitality.

The ugly

  1. The Prarie Oyster 

This is not for the faint hearted and its recipe goes back to the early 1920’s (think Sally Bowls in the movie, Caberet).  Combine tomato juice, raw egg, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper then enjoy?

  1. Pickled plums (Umeboshi)

 These taste both salty and sour.  Umeboshi are traditionally viewed as a hangover remedy in Japan given their supposed ability to help relieve nausea, dizziness and fatigue. These are definitely an acquired taste and not sure they’re really what you would want to be eating with a sensitive stomach and nausea but feel free to try!

 

Hangover tonic

Try this Hangover Tonic the next morning to get your blood sugar levels back up and replace the vitamin and minerals depleted by alcohol.

Green vegetables like kale help increase bile flow through the liver to remove toxins effectively.  Cucumbers and lettuce are great foods to help hydrate the body after a boozy night and the fruit sugars in pears can help to raise low blood sugar to help you feel yourself again. 

Serves 2

 1/2 cucumber

3 kale leaves (take soft leaves off the stem)

1 small handful coriander

1 lime (juice only)

1 head Romaine lettuce

2 pears

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
  2. Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

There’s no reason to be a fun sponge during the seasonal festivities and often a hangover is just the price you pay.  It’s important to make sure that you drink sensibly and within the recommended number of units.  For more information go to www.drinkaware.co.uk 

Download as a PDF how-to-cure-a-hangover_website

 

 References 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22010973
  2. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/539.full#sec-4

 

 

 

 

 

Shredded chicken and lemongrass broth

Shredded chicken and lemongrass broth

Shredded chicken and lemongrass broth (Download as a PDF shredded-chicken-and-lemongrass-broth)

Serves 2

 

Ingredients

1 chicken breast on the bone

1 stick of soba noodles

1 red onion, finely sliced

A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1 stick of lemongrass, bashed

1 tsp light olive oil

600ml chicken or vegetable stock

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp tamari sauce

1 head of pak choi, sliced lengthways

2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal

A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish

 

Method  

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes.
  2. Cook noodles until tender then drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  3. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to cool slightly before shredding off the bone (you can also use leftover chicken as a quicker option).
  4. Combine the onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, olive oil and a large splash of stock in a large pan and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining stock and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and add the chicken, cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the noodles along with the lime juice, tamari and pak choi cooking for 1 minute longer.
  7. Remove from the heat, take out the lemongrass and add spring onions and coriander.

You can try serving with cooked prawns instead of chicken breast

 Download as a PDF (shredded-chicken-and-lemongrass-broth)

 

Foods high in zinc

Foods high in zinc

Highest foods and greatest sources of zinc (download as a PDF Foods high in zinc)

Zinc is an essential mineral so you need to obtain it from the diet as your body cannot make it.  This mineral is involved in approximately 100 enzymatic reactions in the body and plays a role in immunity, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division.  Zinc is also required for a proper sense of taste and smell as well as growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence.

This mineral is essential for men’s health.  Zinc plays a role in fertility by helping to improve the quality of sperm (1).  Research has shown that men with lower levels of seminal zinc had lower sperm counts as well as more abnormal sperm, which may be due to the protection of zinc against oxidative damage.

Zinc may also help to protect the health of the prostate.  Men with low levels of zinc in their diet tend to have higher chances of developing and enlarged prostate, which is known as benign prostate hyperplasia or BHP (2).

Zinc has long been associated with immunity and the common cold and some evidence points towards the benefits of this mineral in lessoning the symptoms by way of zinc lozenges (3).  Zinc also not only increases the production of white blood cells that fight infection, but also helps them fight more aggressively. It also increases killer cells that fight against cancer and helps white cells release more antibodies.  Zinc increases the number of infection-fighting T-cells, especially in elderly people who are often deficient in zinc and whose immune system may weaken with age (4).

Skin and hair health may also benefit from gleaning enough zinc from your diet.  Zinc plays an important role in overall skin health, and it may also treat eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, burns and boils (5).  This essential mineral also helps skin wounds heal faster.  Low intake of zinc has also been associated with hair loss (6)

Like many nutrients, zinc also acts as an antioxidant in the body.  Antioxidants help to reduce the damage done by excess free radicals that can increase cell aging and build up as a result of a poor diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. Antioxidants also play a role in reducing inflammation in the body.  Prolonged inflammation is thought to be at the root of many serious health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

 

How much do you need?

UK Adult men require 9.5mg per day

UK Adult women require 7mg per day

 

Average intakes in the UK

Women consume more zinc than men

Most men and women have intakes above 100% of the RNI for zinc

9% of adult men have very low intakes of zinc

10% of teenage boys have very low intakes of zinc

 

Groups most at risk of deficiency  

The bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is lower than from non-vegetarian diets because vegetarians do not eat meat, which is high in bioavailable zinc. Vegetarians and vegans also typically eat high levels of legumes and whole grains, which contain phytates that bind zinc and can inhibit its absorption.

Vegetarians can sometimes require more zinc than non-vegetarians. Certain food preparation techniques can help to reduce the binding of zinc by phytates and increase its bioavailability such as soaking beans, grains, and seeds in water for several hours before cooking them and allowing them to sit after soaking until sprouts form. Vegetarians and vegans can also increase their zinc intake by consuming more leavened grain products (such as bread) than unleavened products (such as crackers) because leavening partially breaks down the phytates; thus, the body absorbs more zinc from leavened grains than unleavened grains.

Alcoholics can have low levels of zinc because alcohol decreases intestinal absorption and increases urinary excretion of zinc.  Alcoholism can also affect food intake, which can limit the amount of zinc consumed.

Be aware that high intakes of zinc intakes can inhibit copper absorption, sometimes producing copper deficiency and associated anemia so be wary of supplement containing very high doses of this mineral.

 

How to increase your intake of zinc 

  • Add seeds as a topping to salads, cereals and porridge
  • Include plenty of dried herbs and spices to your meals
  • Include shellfish in your diet, which can be used to make salads, stews and stir-fry’s
  • Include plenty of pulses and lentils in your diet, which can be added to salads, stews, casseroles, soups or made into dips
  • Cocoa powder is high in zinc so the occasional treat of high cocoa dark chocolate is a good source of try making a cup of cocoa or homemade nut milks flavoured with this ancient ingredient
  • Try switching to wholegrains such as breads, rice and pseudo grains such as quinoa
  • Oats are high in zinc and make great breakfasts or toppings for sweet dishes such as crumbles and even savoury toppings
  • Nuts and seeds are high in zinc so try making your own healthy granola or flapjacks
  • Go veggie a few times each week and swap meat for tofu or Quorn
  • Eggs are the breakfast of champions and also make a great snack when boiled (try serving with smoked paprika, celery salt or tabasco sauce)
  • Don’t skip breakfast! Even a small bowl of your favourite wholegrain cereal can add a useful source of zinc to the diet. You can also use cereals as savoury topping

 

Foods highest in zinc (data taken from McCance and Widdowson)

 

Food Portion size (g) Mg per serving Mg per 100g
Shellfish
Raw oysters 80 47.4 59.2
Boiled lobster 100 5.5 5.5
Boiled lobster 100 2.5 2.5
Cooked mussels 100 2.3 2.3
Boiled prawns 100 2.2 2.2
Sardines canned in oil 50 1.1 2.2
Anchovies canned in oil 10 0.3 3
Meat and offal
Fried calf’s liver 100 15.9 15.9
Lamb neck fillet grilled 100 6.4 6.4
Grilled sirloin steak 100 4.3 4.3
Fried chicken liver 100 3.8 3.8
Grilled pork steak 100 2.9 2.9
Roast turkey 100 2.5 2.5
Grilled gammon steak 100 2.2 2.2
Ham 100 1.8 1.8
Grilled back bacon 50 1.6 3.1
Roast chicken 100 1.5 1.5
Pulses
Cooked aduki beans 80 1.8 2.3
Tempeh 100 1.8 1.8
Cooked chickpeas 80 1.0 1.2
Cooked red kidney beans 80 0.8 1
Cooked pinto beans 80 0.8 1
Cooked lentils 80 0.8 1
Tofu 100 0.7 0.7
Miso 30 1.0 3.3
Grains
Quinoa 180 5.9 3.3
Wheatgerm 30 5.1 17
Wholegrain rice(boiled) 180 3.2 1.8
Wholemeal bread 80 1.3 1.6
Oats 50 1.2 2.3
Oatcakes 40 1.3 3.3
Dark rye flour 30 0.9 3
Cereals
All bran 40 2.4 6
Bran flakes 40 1.0 2.5
Shredded wheat 40 0.9 2.3
Muesli 40 0.9 2.3
Weetabix 40 0.8 2
Special K 40 0.8 2
Fruit n fibre 40 0.6 1.5
Cheese and eggs
Parmesan cheese 30 1.5 5.1
Eggs 100 1.3 1.3
Edam 30 1.1 3.8
Cheddar cheese 30 0.7 2.3
Brie 30 0.6 2
Goats cheese 30 0.3 1
Nuts and seeds
Cashew nuts 25 1.5 5.9
Pecan nuts 25 1.3 5.3
Brazil nuts 25 1.1 4.2
Peanut butter 30 1.1 3.5
Peanuts 25 0.9 3.5
Tahini 15 0.8 5.4
Almonds 25 0.8 3.2
Poppy seeds 5 0.4 8.5
Pumpkin seeds 5 0.3 6.6
Pine nuts  5 0.3 6.5
Cocoa powder 15 1.0 6.9
Sesame seeds  5 0.3 5.3
Sunflower seeds 5 0.3 5.1
Vegetables
Quorn 100 7.0 7
Dried mushrooms 40 1.9 4.8
Frozen peas 80 0.7 0.9
Seaweed (nori) 10 0.6 6.4
Asparagus 80 0.6 0.7
Spinach 80 0.6 0.7
Okra 80 0.5 0.6
Brussels sprouts 80 0.4 0.5
Sundried tomatoes  40 0.3 0.8
Mushrooms 80 0.3 0.4
Parsnips 80 0.2 0.3
Endive 80 0.2 0.2
Herbs and spices
Dried chervil 5 0.4 8.8
Fenugreek 5 0.3 6.9
Dried thyme 5 0.3 6.2
Dried basil 5 0.3 5.8
Mustard seeds 5 0.2 4.7
Dried oregano 5 0.2 4.4
Cumin seeds 5 0.2 4.2
Curry powder 5 0.2 3.7
Dried cardamom 5 0.1 2.6

 

    References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19285597
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114577/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136969/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702361/
  5. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2014/709152/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3870206/

 

Download this document as a PDF  Foods high in zinc