As the Winter season settles in, we notice that the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, many of us may be concerned with fending off the dreaded flu or a cold. Flu viruses can affect us mostly during the Autumn/winter months, in particular during October and November, and then peaking between December and February. Influenza is an acute viral respiratory infection caused by RNA viruses and results in fever and myalgia in infected people, whilst colds are caused by different viruses, and symptoms are usually much milder.Although we can’t prevent cold and flu viruses from making their winter appearance, however we can make sure we are consuming a healthy diet (rich in vitamins and minerals, good fats), taking regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and reducing stressor and stress in order to help to bolster the immune system. Furthermore, practicing good personal hygiene, and good health habits such as covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands, can help stop the spread of germs. If you are already unwell, a healthy diet and certain supplements can help ease cold and flu symptoms (see lsit below).
Other alternatives to consider
• Adaptogens (holy basil, reishi, ginseng)
• Herbal teas and preparations for symptom control (pelargonium sage, thyme, oregano, ginger, wild cherry bark, yarrow, elder flowers, honey, etc.)
Most people with the flu, usually have the ‘mild’ illness and do not require any medical care or antiviral drugs, in most cases, it is advised that they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they are better.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two main forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). It is estimated that around one billion people worldwide (almost 50% of the population) across all ethnicities and age groups may have insufficient Vitamin D levels. For many people, the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency may be subtle. However, even without symptoms, low levels of vitamin D can pose many health risks.
Avocado fruits (Persea Americana) are deliciously creamy in texture and taste and are incredibly versatile as they can be added to salads, soups, pasta dishes, made into pancakes, and added to smoothies and are now available frozen as a quick and easy option. Avocados are a great source of fibre, they are rich in vitamins including the B vitamins, vitamin K, E and C, and mineral’s potassium and copper as well as being rich in monounsaturated fats.......
what’s there not to love Confused about what oils to cook with.......try avocado oil
As well as avocados being a delicious and nutritious food, their additional benefits can also be obtained by using the avocados natural pressed oil as a tasty and healthy option in the kitchen for cooking, baking, grilling and roasting. Avocado oil is made from the fruit pulp and not the seed, whilst most other popular oils are made from the seed including, sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseed oil, whilst Olive oil is made from both from the fruit and seed.
What makes avocado oil so great
Avocado oil contains beneficial levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (9 omega) as well as containing other fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) all found to offer many health benefits – see below . Furthermore, Avocado oil has a stable structure with a high smoke point (520 degrees Fahrenheit), which means it to be used for high temperature cooking. No other oil, including ghee, tallow or lard has a higher smoke point, making avocado oil the best choice for high heat cooking. Furthermore, Avocado Oil is thought to be a good replacement for extra virgin olive oil, especially since olive oil is best when cooked at lower temperatures.
Other oils including soy, canola, flaxseed, pumpkin seed and corn oils that have been found to break down and burn at high temperatures which means that the flavour from the oil is lost, and its beneficial nutrients are destroyed.
How to Use Avocado Oil
Avocado oil can be used for roasting and grilling root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips. It can also be used in salad dressings, marinades, soups, stir-fries, baked goods, sauces, smoothies, pesto, pizza, and kale chips and you can drizzle it on just about anything.
The many health benefits associated with avocado oil
Recent research shows avocado oil’s fat and plant pigments may offer
Antioxidant protection by fighting against free radicals whilst decreasing oxidative stress, avocado oil has been shown to improve energy production for cell function and prevent mitochondrial dysfunction (1).
Improved skin health: avocado oil can treat skin wounds by increasing collagen and reducing inflammatory cells (2). It’s a great moisturiser for skin and hair
Improved Psoriasis: a combination of vitamin B12 and avocado oil effectively treated patients with psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory properties in avocado oil can also provide relief to those with other skin conditions, including eczema and keratosis pilaris (3).
Reduction in Periodontal disease: avocado oil and soybean oil was found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting por-inflammatory cytokines molecules in periodontal ligaments and bone cells when used as a mouthwash (4)
Improved Symptoms of Arthritis: Extracts from avocado and soy bean oil may reduce the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Avocado oil has even received prescription drug status in France because of its proven ability to counter the negative effects of arthritis! (5)
Lowers cholesterol and heart health: The beta-sitosterol in avocado oil has been found to reduce cholesterol and heart disease in various studies. The oil has been found to improve the overall blood lipid count and reduce the concentration of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol (6)
Helps improve weight loss avocados support weight control, through its oleic acid content. Diets that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid can protect against abdominal fat accumulation. (7)
Oats are a species of cereal grain, that are renowned for their seeds. Oats are a popular breakfast choice as they are sugar free, contain high fibre levels (One cup 81 grams of dry oats contains 7.5 grams of fibre, the recommended daily intake of fibre is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men), helping to slow down digestion and to keep you fuller fore longer. When broken down the sugar is released slowly into the bloodstream, preventing a ‘big blood sugar spike’.
Why not add some berries and nuts to your breakfast porridge for additional health benefits
Oats are rich in a range of important vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, folate, Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. Oats contain many molecules including polyphenols that act as antioxidants.
A great source of fibre
Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan, which has been found to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol, reducing the’ bad ‘LDL cholesterol as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory diseases. Its rich fibre content may help to ease constipation and help aid weight loss as well as supporting healthy weigh maintenance.
Oats are so versatile
When you shop for oats, you may discover several types on the supermarket shelves. It is important to choose the right variety which are either the: whole oat groats, steel cut, Scottish and rolled as these contain the whole oat kernel, as well as the same nutritional value. In contrast Instant, or flavoured varieties often contain sugar, artificial flavouring and colouring. NOTE Although oats themselves do not contain gluten, in rare cases, they are grown in the same fields as wheat or barley, and these crops can sometimes contaminate oats with gluten.
January is love your liver month
The Love Your Liver campaign is a national awareness initiative regarding liver health, run in January by the British Liver Trust – which is the UKs charity for adults with liver conditions. This is good timing, especially after all the Christmas festivities which may have led to overindulgence and weight gain, which could have a detrimental effect on our health. Any weight gain may result in extra fat stored in the liver, whilst increased caffeine and alcohol intake as well morning-after painkillers, may also place additional pressure on this hardworking organ. Giving up drinking in January is more popular than ever, and abstaining and/ or reducing intakes has been found to be beneficial for health. Excess alcohol intakes can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, depression, dementia as well as certain cancers, as well as being an ‘empty’ calorie.
How does overindulgence damage the liver?
The liver filters around one and a half litres of blood every minute, working hard to rid the body of toxins such as: alcohol, caffeine, drugs and food additives. Oxidative stress can increase when the liver tries to break down alcohol and other toxins, which may cause damage to the cells in the liver. Furthermore, alcohol can damage the intestines, which means that toxins from the intestine can get into the liver, leading to potential inflammation and scarring. The liver also turns glucose into fat, which is sent round the body, and it is stored for use when we need it. Alcohol affects the way the liver handles fat, increased intakes lead to fat being build up in the liver. If the liver is being bombard with too many toxins we can eventually overstretch our liver’s resources. Furthermore, excess body weight, and obesity are risk factors for a Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease NAFLD, which is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome
How to protect and repair the liver? The good news is that the liver has the remarkable ability to repair itself. In order to support your liver, The Love Your Liver campaign suggests :
Reducing alcohol intake – abstaining for 2-3 days in a row each week;
Increasing physical activity - take more exercise and stay fit;
Reducing intake of sugar and saturated/trans fats.
There are a number of dietary measures that may also to help to support an overburdened liver. Foods and beverages that may help to promote healthy liver function include:
Increasing intakes of sulphur rich foods including garlic, legumes, onions and eggs and the Cabbage family such as cauliflower, cabbage and sprouts
Increasing intakes of (soluble) fibre rich foods such as pears, oat-bran, apples and legumes
Increasing your intake of water, keeping hydrated with 8-10 glasses of water a day.
Supplements may offer additional liver support, and support the livers detoxification process
Highfields Vitamins MSM Methyl Sulphonyl Methane - 120 tablets - £9.95 – This supplement is a form of sulphur – and may help to support the sulphation process in the liver, which is the chemical process used to detoxify substances such as alcohol and Paracetemol
Viridian Organic Milk Thistle – 30 tablets - £8.85 – An antioxidant supplement that may help to support and repair the liver, with much research supporting its benefits in diseases of the liver
1 in 5 people in the UK have a fatty liver, and rates of liver disease in the UK are rising NHS.
it can be hard to notice the first signs of liver issues as the liver has no nerve endings. However, if you feel you have been overindulging over a long period of time and are worried you can ask your GP for a liver function test.The Love Your Liver Roadshow is touring throughout the month of January and offers free liver assessments to the public. Stopping at Portsmouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Glasgow. Visit the British Liver Trust’s Love Your Li
January 16th is National ‘Nothing Day’
This day is literally about doing nothing at all , which is not a bad thing considering that we all often lead such stressful lives. During stressful times it is important to take some time out and be kind to yourself, eat well, rest and sleep, allowing your body to recover. Chronic (long -term) stress has been linked to the body storing fat around the middle area (stomach) therefore often stress management may be the most significant steps to help aid weight loss. Managing stress levels as well as consuming a nutritious diet and/or taking supplements my help to support the immune system as well as minimise the negative effects such as weight gain during stressful periods. Consider increasing intakes of fruit and vegetables each day and focus on foods containing:
B Vitamins . Bananas, leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds and also meat, fish and dairy products to help support your energy levels.
Vitamin C . Oranges, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi fruit, leafy green vegetables, broccoli are rich in Vitamin C, important in supporting the adrenal glands, which contain the largest store of vitamin C in the body.
Magnesium. Nuts, Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, especially oats, brown rice and beans are good sources. You can also take a relaxing bath with Epsom salts as these contain magnesium that can be absorbed through your skin, which can help to relax muscles and reduce anxiety.
Reduce Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and salt and smoking as these put stress on the adrenal glands, and strip the body of essential nutrients
Increase exercise , even gentle exercise can help reduce stress levels, including Yoga and tai chi, swimming, breathing exercises, meditation may also help reduce stress. Taking time out just to relax can help you manage your stress more effectively.
Sleep: Getting sufficient and quality sleep, whilst eating healthier and avoiding excessive caffeine may help you sleep well and for longer periods.
Coconut oil - The bigger picture
the American Heart Association released a report warning against coconut oil due to the high amounts of saturated fat. This goes back to the current debate over the health of saturated fat and eating fat
it is important to look at the whole picture rather than an isolated ingredient.
Indeed, high saturated-fat consumption in a diet that is low in fibre and leafy greens, and too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases
However high fat consumption from clean sources such as mono-unsaturated fats (olive oil) and even saturated fat (organic coconut oil) eaten alongside a healthy diet that is low in refined foods and sugars and high in vegetables and fibres has in fact been found to improve cholesterol composition, and be heart protective.
Coconut oil is unusual as it contains medium-chain triglycerides that have been shown to speed up metabolism and assist in fat loss, as well as lauric acid, a component found in breastmilk, which is anti-microbial .
In essence coconut oil is a great health food that can be used for cooking as it has many benefits, however it needs to be consumed as part of a healthy diet in order not to cause additional inflammation in the body.
A Further recent study has reported the benefits of eating Coconut oil, as reported in the Daily Mail.
Drink to your health this January
National ‘hot tea’ month falls in January, one of the coldest and wettest months of the year, so enjoying a hot cup of tea may be a great way to warm up, whilst also potentially benefiting your health.
The Antioxidant activity in tea has been found to help protect the body from free radical attack as well as beneficially modulating detoxification enzymes; positively stimulating immune function as well as decreasing platelet aggregation. The health benefits ascribed to the consumption of teas may be related to the high content of bioactive ingredients such as polyphenols, which have been reported to possess antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory activities.
What are the health benefits of drinking tea?
Regular tea consumption has been found to provide health benefits, offering hydration and is a great alternative to drinking coffee as it contains less caffeine. There are a variety of different kinds of teas available on the market, each with a different strength and flavour. Green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea all derive from the Camellia sinensis plant , which is native to China and India. These teas contain caffeine and the amino acid theanine as well as antioxidant flavonoids which may help to protect against free radicals. Each tea undergoes varying degrees of oxidation which affects their health-promoting capacities.
Black tea , is fully fermented and research shows that when drunk regularly (3 cups per day) may help to reduce blood sugar levels, lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, whilst increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, as well as potentially reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, improving endothelial function and blood pressure leading to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Green tea is unfermented and contains high concentrations of EGCG, which offer powerful antioxidant benefits that have been shown to reduce the build-up of atherosclerosis, as well as lowering total cholesterol, and triglycerides levels, whilst increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, leading to a reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as potentially reducing the risk of cancer
White tea is the least processed and is made from buds and certain leaves which are steamed, and dried, regular intakes may help to boost cardiovascular health, helping to lower cholesterol, whilst potentially reducing the risk of cancer and enhancing weight loss.
Oolong or Pu-erh tea is partially fermented and has been found to reduce the risk of Heart Disease, potentially promoting weight loss, decreasing inflammation, as well as reducing the risk of cancer.
Studies have found that drinking six cups of black tea per day is associated with a 36% lower risk of developing heart disease
Herbal teas can be made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or even the roots of plants or flowers, this means that they vary in potency and chemical compositions, depending on the plant used. Herbal teas come in hundreds of different varieties and they offer a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and most do not contain caffeine. Although herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea, they still have many health benefits, especially if they are drunk frequently throughout the day, thereby increasing antioxidant levels in the bloodstream.
Dandelion, hibiscus, green, hawthorn, and juniper teas are considered to be ‘Diuretics’ teas, as they may help to eliminate toxins from the body, whilst supporting the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver.
Elderberry, echinacea, ginger, and liquorice root teas contain antioxidants and vitamins that have been found to boost the immune system , and may help to prevent infections, whilst protecting against oxidative stress.
Valerian, kava root, chamomile, and lavender teas may help to balance neurotransmitter levels, helping to reduce anxiety and to improve sleep.
Allspice, bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, and kava root teas have been found to have ‘analgesic’ properties , and may help relive discomfort and pain, or support recovery from surgery illness and injury.
Peppermint, ginger, turmeric and eucalyptus teas have been found to help reduce inflammation , including arthritic inflammation and haemorrhoids, whilst reducing gastrointestinal discomfort.
Kava root, valerian, St. John’s Wort and chamomile tea consumption has been found to help to lower stress, depression and anxiety levels, whilst also boosting energy levels.
Dandelion, chamomile, cinnamon, peppermint and ginger teas have been found to help aid digestion by improving symptoms of Indigestion, cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhoea.