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Why Diets Fail You

Nowhere is hope over experience more prevalent than in the world of the multimillion-dollar diet industry.

There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that for many people going on a diet which restricts what you eat as a way of achieving enduring weight loss does not work and is not sustainable in either the mid or long term.

If restrictive or calorie-controlled diets worked, then by now one ‘super diet’ would have emerged and it would work for everyone, but this is definitely not the case. Hundreds of diet books are published every year and no doubt this trend will continue.

Any diet that encourages you to eat fewer calories, or to radically cut out whole food groups, in order to achieve weight loss is scientifically flawed. Denying yourself food to the point of going hungry convinces your subconscious mind that you are living in a time of food shortage or famine and passes messages to your body to hold onto its fat as your mind is not sure for how long the food shortage will continue. As you can imagine, this is counter-productive to good health as the body feels under stress.

If you have dieted in the past, and most people have, your mind will have a ‘memory’ of experiencing those periods of reduced food intake. Periods of self-induced calorie reduction where you experience hunger pangs are very difficult to maintain and are often the trigger for a stint of bingeing or excessive eating. This is what is meant by ‘yo-yo dieting’. Yo-yo dieting like this can negatively affect your metabolism, making it even harder in the future to regulate your weight. If you recognise you have a pattern of dieting and bingeing, then it is even more vital that when you commit to eating real food as part of nutritionally balanced meals that leave you satisfied, and that you do not go hungry, as this will quickly plunge your metabolism back into fat-storing mode.

A holistic, all-body approach to eating real food means that there is no advantage to going hungry or feeling deprived. This approach is diametrically opposed to the usual diet model. In How to Feel Differently about Food, we encourage a way of eating that promotes reassuring your mind that nutritious food is available to you and that your body is no longer under threat of impending food shortage. This reassurance enables habitual stress levels around food to be reduced and when the stress symptoms of emotional eating are reduced, your body reduces its production of cortisol – the stress hormone that can also inhibit weight loss. Feeling less stressed also ensures that the nourishment in the foods that are eaten becomes more ‘bio-available’ and advantageous. Later in the book we explain how stress shuts down many of the processes of digestion, leaving sufferers deprived of essential nutrition.

Our methodology promotes resetting your metabolism into fat-burning mode instead of fat-storing mode and this is achieved through selecting appetising and tasty foods that encourage satiety. In addition, this approach HOW TO FEEL DIFFERENTLY ABOUT FOOD 10 focuses on the effect of refined sugar as a key cause of weight gain. Sugar and simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream and affect your body’s production of insulin. Rapid spikes in blood sugar cause insulin levels to rise and take sugar out of the bloodstream and into storage in the liver, muscles and (if they are full) fat cells; the high glucose level is therefore followed by a rapid drop in blood glucose levels. This in itself can be the cause of sugar cravings and the trigger for compulsive eating. The cumulative effect of eating in ways that spike insulin production eventually leads to what is called ‘insulin resistance’. This is a condition in which the cells of the body become unresponsive to increasingly high levels of insulin and this is a key predictor of diabetes.

The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2014) in the US show that almost 10 per cent of the US population has been diagnosed with diabetes. The equivalent figures from Diabetes UK (2015) show figures approaching 3.5 million in 2015 and all predictions expect these numbers to grow year upon year. In addition, many, many more people the world over have ‘pre-diabetes’ (also known as metabolic syndrome) and remain undiagnosed until their health deteriorates with associated serious health problems – heart, circulation, eyesight and kidney damage – that bring them to medical attention and the confirmation of type 2 diabetes. Going back to health risks associated with being overweight, the incidence of pre-diabetes and diabetes itself is higher in patients who are classed as obese.

There are two other important hormones found to affect a person’s ability to manage his/her weight. The first is called leptin. It is made by fat cells and works to decrease appetite. This can become unbalanced in response to insulin resistance caused by spikes in blood sugar levels. Leptin is responsible for sending messages to your brain that you’ve eaten enough and feel sated. When leptin’s signalling goes awry, the hormone stops being produced so the messages that you have eaten enough are no longer sent, which leads to an inability to determine satiety. This is called ‘leptin resistance’. Medical professionals are now focusing more on the part leptin plays in the development of obesity, and how the hormone responds may actually be the result of obesity.

The second key involved with appetite is called ghrelin and its job is to signal to you that you are hungry. It also influences how quickly you feel hungry again after eating. Ghrelin naturally increases before meal times and is then designed to reduce after eating for around three hours until it once more naturally increases to signal the need to eat again. However, this hormone too can become unbalanced and send hunger signals more frequently, encouraging a reduction in the time between meals or even promoting the habit of constant grazing on food. One way that ghrelin becomes out of balance is through stress, which disturbs sleep patterns. This can affect workers who work unnatural hours such as night shifts. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to increase levels of ghrelin and cause an increase in appetite.

In simple terms, the hormonal responses that help manage appetite and weight are like a house of cards that are all interdependent on each other to maximise your health, weight management and wellbeing. Although designed to be perfectly in balance, a key element that can cause the whole house of cards to collapse is the eating of sugar and simple carbohydrates. It doesn’t take long before sugar spikes begin to undermine the complex hormonal interactions.

The good news is that by reducing stress levels, improving sleep patterns and changing the types of food eaten it is possible to re-calibrate the hormones’ signals to the brain to promote a feeling of fullness and enhanced wellbeing. On the food front this is achieved by cutting out refined sugars, simple carbohydrates and processed foods and replacing them with real foods, including plenty of good fats, such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts that your body can naturally process.

 

This blog was taken from Sally Baker and Liz Hogon’s book How to Feel Differently About Food

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Eating the rainbow part 2: The health benefits of the nutrients that colour foods

health-benefits-of-the-nurtients-that-colour-food

The following list of nutrients in foods, that produce their colours, is by no means complete as more are being discovered all the time.  However, it provides the reader with some reasons why the consumption of colourful foods is vital for ultimate health.

Anthocyanins (blue to black)
Anthocyanins are a water-soluble bioflavonoid pigment and the colour will depend on the pH of the solution they are in. They are red when the pH is below three (highly acid), blue at pH ghihger than 11 (very alkali) and violet a neutral pH 7.
Bioflavoniods have been found to help slow down age-related motor changes, such as those seen in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, prevent the oxidisation of certain compounds and fight attacks on the body from harmful chemicals.
They also increase vitamin C levels within cells, decrease the breakage of small blood vessels, protect against free-radical damage and help prevent destruction of collagen by helping the collagen fibres link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix. They also reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity due to the reduction of retinol-binding-protein-4 so are useful in preventing diabetes and can help with treating obesity.

Anthoxanthins (cream and white)
Anthoxanthins are water-soluble pigments which range from white or colourless to a creamy yellow and red, often in the petals of flowers. These pigments are generally whiter in an acid medium and yellower in an alkaline medium. Consuming foods rich in anthoxanthins has been found to reduce stroke risk, promote heart health, prevent cancer and reduce inflammation.

  • Those undergoing treatment for complex corneal diseases, whose underlying eye health condition is caused or aggravated by inflammation, might find increased symptom relief by including more anthoxanthin-rich foods in their diets.

Astaxanthin (red)
Astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant to man and is capable of crossing the blood/brain barrier to protect the brain cells from free radicals. It also increases the activity of the liver enzymes that detoxify carcinogens and stimulates and enhances the immune system.

Betalains (orange and yellow and blue to black)
Betalains are found in the petals of flowers, but may colour the fruits, leaves, stems and roots of plants that contain them. Betalains are aromatic indole derivatives synthesised from the amino acid (building block of proteins) tyrosine. There are two categories, Betacyanins (red to violet) and Betaxanthins (yellow to orange). Betalains provide a higher antioxidant value than most other vegetables containing beta-carotene and have anti-inflammatory anti-cancer and detoxifying properties and support the making of red blood cells.

Health benefits of betaxanthins

  • Stop the spread of cancerous tumours
  • Prevent diseases of liver, kidney and pancreas
  • Help reduce ulcers in the stomach
  • Strengthen the lungs and immune system
  • Improve vision and are good for treating eye redness
  • Reduce pain after intense physical training and also menstrual pain
  • Eliminate hard stools and prevent constipation
  • Positively affect the colon
  • Regulate high blood pressure
  • Eliminate bad breath
  • Help to treat acne and create healthy skin.

Health benefits of betaxanthins

  • Can cross the blood-brain, eye and spinal barriers to help arrest free-radical damage in cell membranes, mitochondria and DNA
  • Enhance immune cell strength and antibody activity
  • Improve gastrointestinal health
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Help to maintain peak performance in athletes
  • Protect the heart.

Carotenoids (deep green, yellow, orange and red)
The carotenoids are a group of more than 700 fat-soluble nutrients. Many are proving to be very important for health. They are categorised as either xanthophylls or carotenes according to their chemical composition. These compounds have the ability to inhibit the growth of many pre-cancerous tumours.

  • Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Alphacarotene, betacarotene and cryptoxanthin are types of carotenoids, and the body can convert all of these to vitamin A which helps keep the immune system working properly and it is needed for eye health.
  • Other types of carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin and, when consumed regularly, protect the retina from damage caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays and high-energy visible light. Lutein and zeaxanthin can also reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.
  • These antioxidants also have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from the harmful effects of free radicals.
  • Lutein can also help to reduce the risk of breast cancer and heart disease and supports healthy skin, tissue, blood and the immune system.
  • Lycopene is the bright red carotenoid that is found in fruits and vegetables. Consuming lycopene regularly helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, cancers of the prostate, stomach, lungs and breast, and osteoporosis, and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which prevents heart disease.

Chalcones (yellow), Chlorophyll (green), Curcumin (yellow), and Flavins (pale-yellow and green fluorescent) are further nutrients founds in foods that produce their colours. For more information on these nutrients, you can purchase the book here.

This extract was taken from “Nature’s Colour Codes” from the Nature Cures pocketbook series by Nat H Hawes.

 

 

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Eating the rainbow part 1: The six colour categories of natural foods

eat-the-rainbow

Why we should “eat the rainbow”
Nature’s colours give strong clues about the nutrient content of foods which we should not ignore. For instance; beetroots are rich in betacyanins and iron which gives them their deep red colour and provides the essential ingredients for optimum health. Iron is essential to the production of red bloods cells that carry vital oxygen to all parts of the body and betacyanins have a whole host of amazing health benefits.
Some vegetables contain more than one colour. For instance, spring onions have green leaves and white roots. This means there are the nutrients associated with both these colours present so the whole of the plant should be eaten and will provide the nutrients listed for green and white below. The same goes for beetroot and beetroot leaves and turnips and their leaves.
Some vegetables, fruits and nuts contain different healthy nutrients in both their flesh and skins so both should be consumed. Apples, aubergines, potatoes and sweet potatoes are examples. Orange, lime and lemon peel has powerful antioxidant properties and can help to protect the brain and heart and therefore should be included in the diet. Skins should only ever be discarded if they are completely inedible, such as those of bananas, watermelons or pumpkins.
The colour of foods can also indicate the ripeness, which again has an impact on the nutritional content. For instance, green unripe bananas are richer in resistant starch and fibre than ripened yellow bananas while Japanese scientists have found that a fully ripe banana produces a substance called tumour necrosis factor (TNF). This compound has the ability to combat abnormal cells and protect against cancer. They discovered that as the banana ripens and develops dark brown and black spots and patches on its skin, the concentration of TNF increases. They say that the degree of anti-cancer effect corresponds to the degree of ripeness of the fruit.

The six colour categories of natural foods
Choose at least one small serving of each of the following six colour categories each day if you can. Make two of them fruit and four of them vegetables and at least one should be a leafy green.
• Green
• Orange/yellow
• Red
• Black/blue/purple/violet
• Cream/white
• Brown/gold

1. Green
Chlorophyll and carotenoids give the green pigment found in: apples, alfalfa, algae, artichoke (globe), ashitaba, asparagus, avocado, bell peppers, broad beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, chilli peppers, chives, chlorella, cress, courgettes, grapes, olives, herb leaves, kale, kiwi fruit, lettuce, lime and peel, mung beans, okra, peas, pumpkin seeds, rhubarb, rocket, runner beans, seaweed, spinach, spirulina, spring onions, watercress, winged beans and sprouted seeds, grains, nuts and legumes,

2. Orange and yellow
Curcumin gives turmeric its yellow colour and anthoxanthins, betaxanthins, carotenoids and/or chalcones give the yellow and orange colours found in: apricots, bell peppers, butternut squash, carrots, chick peas, chilli peppers, corn, ginger, lemons, lentils, mango, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, prickly pear, pumpkin, swede, sweet potato, tangerines, turmeric, the peel of yellow and orange citrus fruits and whole grains.

3. Red
Anthoxanthins, betacyanins, carotenoids and/or lycopene provide the red pigment in: apples, asparagus, bell peppers, cabbage (red), cherries, chilli peppers, cranberries, goji berries, grapefruit (pink), grapes (red and black), guava, oranges (blood), pears (red), mung beans, persimmons, pinto beans, prickly pear, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, red chokeberry, kidney beans, onions (red), pomegranates, rose hips, saw palmetto berries, strawberries, sumac, Swiss chard, tomatoes and watermelon.
Astaxanthin causes the pink/red colour in seafood, such as lobster, prawns, salmon and shrimp. The highest concentration is found in red krill oil. (Note that in farmed salmon the pink colour is produced by feeding them with lab-produced astaxanthin as they would otherwise be grey).

4. Black blue, purple and violet
Anthocyanins and betacyanins (never together) give the blue to black colours and are often most concentrated in the skins and/or stems of food crops such as: acai berry, purple aubergine, beetroot, bilberries, black bananas, black beans, blackberries, black chokeberry, blackcurrants, black tea, blueberries, broccoli (purple variety), cherries, chokeberries, cranberries, dates, elderberry, figs, black grapes, black olives, kidney beans, maqui berries, mulberries, onions (red), navy beans, plums, poppy seeds, potatoes (red-skinned), prickly pear, prunes, purple broccoli tops, radishes, raisins, sweet potato (skins), Swiss chard and winged beans.

5. Cream and white
Anthoxsnthins give the cream and white colours found in: white aubergines, just-ripe bananas, Brazil nuts, butter beans, cauliflower, celery, chestnuts, coconut, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, macadamia nuts, mung beans, mushrooms, navy beans, onions, parsnip, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, potatoes, radishes, soya beans, spring onions and turnips.

6. Brown and gold
Brown and golden foots can contain a variety of the above pigment nutrients. Examples include: brown rice, cocoa beans, dates, mushrooms, nuts, potato skins, seeds and whole grains.

This extract was taken “Nature’s Colour Codes” from the Nature Cures pocketbook series by Nat H Hawes.

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Psoriasis: Natural Remedies

Natural remedies for Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that affects 1% to 3% of the world’s population. It is characterised by periodic flare-ups of well-defined red patches covered by a silvery, flaky scale on the skin and the scalp. There are several variations of psoriasis, but the most common type is chronic plaque psoriasis. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that a combination of several factors contributes to the development of this disease. In a normally functioning immune system, white blood cells produce antibodies to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. These white blood cells also produce chemicals that aid in healing and fighting infective agents. With psoriasis, though, special white blood cells called T-cells become overactive; they attack the skin and set off a cascade of events that make the skin cells multiply so fast they start to stack up on the surface of the skin. Normal skin cells form, mature and then are sloughed off every 30 days, but in plaque psoriasis the skin goes through this whole process in three to six days.

DAMAGE
Sometimes an injury to the skin can cause the formation of a psoriasis patch. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon, and it can occur in other skin diseases, such as eczema and lichen planus. It can take two to six weeks for a psoriasis lesion to develop after an injury. Types of damage that can trigger a flare include: abrasion – even mild abrasions; increased friction from clothing or skin rubbing against skin in folds, such as armpits or under breasts; sunburn; viral rashes; drug rashes and weather damage.

DIET
Alcohol, sugar, coffee, fatty meats, refined processed foods, additives and deficiencies in minerals and phytonutrients can induce attacks of psoriasis.

DRUGS THAT CAN INDUCE OR WORSEN PSORIASIS

  • Chloroquine – used to treat or prevent malaria.
  • ACE inhibitors – angiotens in converting enzyme inhibitors, used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include fosinopril, captopril, and lisinopril.
  • Beta-blockers – used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor) and atenolol (Tenormin).
  • Lithium – used to treat bipolar disorder.
  • Indocin – an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat a variety of conditions, including gout and arthritis.

INFECTIONS
Infections caused by bacteria or viruses can cause a psoriasis flare. Streptococcal infections that cause tonsillitis, or strep throat, tooth abscesses, cellulitis, and impetigo, can cause a flare of guttate psoriasis in children. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does not increase the frequency of psoriasis, but it does increase the severity of the disease.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS
This has long been understood as a trigger for psoriasis flares, but scientists are still unclear about exactly how this occurs. Studies do show that not only can a sudden, stressful event trigger a rash to worsen; the daily struggles of life can also trigger a flare. In addition, one study showed that people who were categorised as ‘high worriers’ were almost two times less likely to respond to treatment compared to ‘low worriers’.

WEATHER
Weather is a strong factor in triggering psoriasis. Exposure to direct sunlight, which usually occurs in the warmer months, often improves the rash. On the other hand, cold, short days seen in the winter months can trigger the rash to worsen.

NATURE CURES FOR PSORIASIS
Raw juice therapy can effectively improve psoriasis. The best organic natural foods to juice are: apricot, beetroot, carrot, celery, cucumber, grapes, lemon, spinach and tomato.

EXTERNAL REMEDIES FOR PSORIASIS
The following can be used as external remedies for psoriasis: burdock root, Chinese rhubarb root, egg white (beaten to fluffy stage), mango, oats, parsley, pine needle tea bath and tamanu oil.

 

This extract was taken from Nature Cures by Nat Hawes. Check out her website at http://www.naturecures.co.uk/about.html

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The PK Cookbook: PK bread recipe

PK Cookbook

The single biggest reason for lapsing from the PK diet (Paleo-ketogenic) is the absence of bread. To secure the diet for life you must first make PK bread. I have searched and nothing is currently available commercially which passes muster. Loaves will become available as demand builds, but in the meantime you have to make your own bread. If you do not have the energy to do this yourself but have any friends or family offering to help you, then top of the list must be, ‘Please make my daily bread’. PK bread consists of just linseed, sunshine salt (see Chapter 13, page 93) and water.  Americans, and others, may be more familiar with linseed being referred to as flax or flaxseed or common flax. There is technically a subtle difference – flax is grown as a fibre plant that is used for linen.  Linseed is grown for its seed. The flax plant is taller than linseed and is ‘pulled’ by hand, or nowadays by machine.

How to make a PK bread loaf in five minutes

Please forgive the tiresome detail, but you must succeed with your first loaf because then you will be encouraged to carry on. I can now put this recipe together in five minutes (proper minutes that is – not the ‘and this is what I did earlier’ TV version). I have spent the last six months making a loaf almost every morning – there have been many revisions and the version below is the current recipe which I think is perfect!

Equipment needed:

  • Cooking oven that gets to at least 220 degrees Centigrade
  • Weighing scales
  • Nutribullet (or similarly effective grinding machine – do not attempt to do this with a pestle and mortar; I know – I have tried and failed)
  • Mixing bowl
  • A 500 gram (or one pound in weight) loaf baking tin
  • Measuring jug
  • Cup in which to weigh the linseed
  • Wooden spoon
  • Wire rack for cooling
  • Paper towels

Ingredients needed:

  • 250 grams of whole linseed (use dark or golden linseed grains)
  • One teaspoon of sunshine salt (can be purchased from www.sales@drmyhill.co.uk) or unrefined sea salt
  • Dollop of coconut oil or lard
Actions Notes
Take 250 grams of whole linseed You could purchase linseed in 250 gram packs and that saves weighing it. Use dark or golden linseed grains – the golden grains produce a brown loaf, the dark a black one.Do not use commercially ground linseed – the grinding is not fine enough, also it will have absorbed some water already and this stops it sticking together in the recipe.If you purchase linseed in bulk then you must weigh it really accurately in order to get the proportion of water spot on.
No raising agent is required.
Pour half the linseed into the Nutribullet/grinder together with one rounded teaspoon of PK ‘Sunshine’ salt (see page 93).
Grind into a fine flour.
Use the flat blade to get the finest flour.Grind until the machine starts to groan and sweat with the effort! You need a really fine flour to make a good loaf. This takes about 30 seconds.The finer you can grind the flour the better it sticks together and the better the loaf.I do this in two batches of 125 grams or the blades ‘hollow out’ the mix so that half does not circulate and grind fully.
Pour the ground flour into a mixing bowl.
Repeat the above with the second half of the seeds and add to the mixing bowl. Whilst this is grinding, measure the water you need.
Add in exactly 270 ml water (not a typo – 270 it is). Chuck it all in at once; do not dribble it in.Stir it with a wooden spoon and keep stirring. It will thicken over the course of 30 seconds.Keep stirring until it becomes sticky and holds together in a lump. The amount of water is critical. When it comes to cooking, I am a natural chucker in of ingredients and hope for the best. But in this case, you must measure.Initially it will look as if you have added far too much water, but keep stirring.
Use your fingers to scoop up a dollop of coconut oil or lard. Use this to grease the baking tin. Your hands will be covered in fat which means you can pick up your sticky dough without it sticking to your hands
Use your hands to shape the dough until it has a smooth surface.
Drop it into the greased baking tin
Spend about 30 seconds doing this. Do not be tempted to knead or fold the loaf or you introduce layers of fat which stop it sticking to itself. This helps prevent the loaf cracking as it rises and cooks (although I have to say it does not matter two hoots if it does. It just looks more professional if it does not!)
Let the loaf ‘rest’ for a few minutes …so it fully absorbs all the water and becomes an integral whole. This is not critical but allows enough time to…
…rub any excess fat into your skin, where it will be absorbed There is no need to wash your hands after doing this – the basis for most hand creams is coconut oil or lard. (Yes, lard. It amuses me that rendered animal fat is a major export from our local knacker man to the cosmetic industry.)
Put the loaf into the hot oven – at least 220°C (430°F) – for 60 minutes Set a timer or you will forget – I always do!I do not think the temperature is too critical – but it must be hot enough to turn the water in the loaf into steam because this is what raises it. I cook on a wood-fired stove and the oven temperature is tricky to be precise with. That does not seem to matter so long as it is really hot. Indeed, I like the flavour of a slightly scorched crust.
Wipe out the mixing bowl with a paper towel. This cleaning method is quick and easy. The slightly greasy surface which remains will be ideal for the next loaf. The point here is that fat cannot be fermented by bacteria or yeast and does not need washing off mixing and cooking utensils. My frying pan has not been washed for over 60 years. I know this because my mother never washed it either.
When the timer goes off, take the loaf out of the oven, tip it out and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
Once cool keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
It lasts a week kept like this and freezes well too.It is best used sliced thinly with a narrow-bladed serrated knife.

Fry your freshly made PK bread in coconut oil or lard and add the following for a delicious PK breakfast;

  • 2-3 boiled eggs
  • Smoked fish, tinned fish, tinned cod’s roe
  • Paté or rillette
  • Nut butter
  • Vegan cheese (check the carb content of this) and tomato
  • Coyo yoghurt

This blog was taken from Sarah Myhill and Craig Robinson’s new book The PK Cookbook

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How food influences your mood

How Food Influences Your Mood

Learning to feel differently about food includes recognising the link between nutrition and mental wellbeing. There is no point in achieving a slimmer body if the price is depression and increased anxiety. Scientific researchers suggest people should be cautious in how they reduce their calorie intake while attempting to slim down as research findings show that sudden changes in nutrition, or reducing certain nutrients in a diet, can result in a worsening of depressive symptoms. (Sathyanarayana et al, 2008)

A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Akbaraly et al, 2009) also found evidence that eating a wide range of real foods versus processed foods of poor nutritional quality increased the likelihood of depression.

When people abruptly stop eating large amounts of processed foods containing unhealthy fats, and loaded with sugar, they can often experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those of going “cold turkey” from drugs. The withdrawal symptoms can last for several days and for some people the symptoms of headache, muscle pain and feeling below par can be powerful enough for them to return to their old eating habits just to make them feel “normal” again. Stick with the process, though, as the rewards will far outweigh any temporary discomfort.

Other nutritional deficiencies have a part to play in feeling low or even depressed. These include deficiencies in zinc, omega-3 fats, B vitamins, B6 and B12 especially, and vitamin D.

Missing meals can cause a dip in blood sugar levels, resulting in the release of adrenaline which increases feelings of anxiety and can even be a trigger for raised levels of anxiety generally.

Disordered eating often involves binge eating. This causes physical discomfort but can also often be a trigger for feelings of despair and shame. If overeating happens late at night, the inevitable bloating can interfere with the ability to sleep, again lowering mood.

Following a restrictive diet where carbohydrates are eliminated has an impact on serotonin levels in the brain that can lead to feelings of depression. We encourage eating a balance of complex, unrefined starchy carbohydrates such as vegetables and protein and healthy fats to maintain a positive mood, and promote satiety.

Making changes towards healthier food choices is obviously beneficial on many different levels. The changeover can happen during a radical period when mass changes are made, or one meal at a time, gradually reducing the amount of processed sugars and high fat foods that are eaten. How this is tackled is down to personal choice, and what best suits each individual.

In essence, a healthy diet will not cause ecstatic happiness but a poor diet could be a contributing factor to feeling low, so it’s important for mental wellbeing to eat a wide variety of real foods.

This blog is taken from How to Feel Differently About Food by Sally Baker and Liz Hogon. You can read the first chapter here!

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Super Fruity Flapjack Recipe

Fruit is a great cleanser of the liver and blood and provides many essential nutrients, such as Vitamin C, which is required on a daily basis. Fresh or home-juiced fruit will aid in weight loss and improve metabolism and the immune system. Juicing one lemon and consuming the juice throughout the day in teas, on fish and salads and in drinks will give the system an enormous cleansing boost. Berries are also highly nutritious. Cherries are anti-inflammatory so can provide pain relief.

Most fruits are diuretic and have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties so can relieve many ailments. They will also clean the blood, kidneys and liver, protect the heart, lungs and eyes, and clear the skin. Tangerines and raspberries possess properties which metabolise fat so can help with losing weight. Pineapple rehydrates the system so is good to consume after sweating or during fever. Try to eat at least three fruits of different colours every day.

Dried Fruit

This is an important part of the diet as it provides a concentrated form of fresh fruit’s nutrient and mineral content. Dried fruit can help avert cancerous tumours and aid digestion. One tablespoon of powdered maqui berry, from a reliable source, per day can help protect against cancer as it is very high in antioxidants. All dried fruits replenish energy and should be added to breakfasts, meals or eaten as snacks throughout the day instead of unhealthy, processed, sugary food bars. Making flapjacks with oats, honey, coconut, nuts, seeds and dried fruit can provide a way to stop hunger and revitalise the body instantly during the day. Consume a small handful of different dried fruits or a mix of them once or twice a day.

Healthy Heart Flapjacks

Flapjacks are a great way to gain the fibre and nutrients required throughout the day and this version also helps lower cholesterol, improve the digestive and immune system and nourishes and protects the bones, brain, eyes and heart. Because flapjacks take time to be digested, they will also stop hunger for a long time after consumption. They make a great breakfast, mid-morning or evening snack. Ingredients do not need to be measured exactly. Experiment and mix and match fruit, nuts and seed ingredients for personal taste and availability.

Ingredients

  • 500g porridge oats (other grains can also be added if required)
  • One table spoon of honey
  • One tablespoon of rapeseed oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Quarter of a teaspoon of nutmeg
  • One tablespoon of maqui berry powder
  • Pinch of ground unrefined sea salt
  • Five stoned and chopped dates
  • One handful dried chopped apricots
  • One medium peeled mashed banana
  • One small handful of raisins
  • One tablespoon of dried goji berries
  • One small handful of chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts etc.)
  • One small handful of mixed seeds (flaxseeds, hempseeds, poppy, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and watermelon)
  • One tablespoon desiccated coconut

Any or all of the following but add more oats to the mixture so it is not too wet

  • One handful of stoned cherries
  • One handful of raspberries
  • One handful of cranberries or blueberries

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F 180°C/160°C fan, Gas 4
  • Place all ingredients (except berries and cherries) into a food processor and mix to a very stiff paste-like consistency
  • If too dry add a little water and mix further
  • If too wet add more oats
  • Then add the cherries and berries gently folding them into the mixture
  • Press the mixture into a non-stick (rapeseed oil greased) shallow baking tin or tray
  • Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until set with a brown crispy top. Use a skewer to test the middle. It may take longer if fresh fruit has been added
  • Take out of the oven and cool slightly before cutting into portion sizes then leave to get cold in the tray. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Nutrients and Benefits of The Flapjack Ingredients

  • Apricots (protects the heart and eyes)
  • Bananas (adds fibre and potassium)
  • Cherries (adds anti-inflammatory pain relief especially sour cherries)
  • Coconuts (adds lots more fibre and has antimicrobial, antifungal, antivirus and rehydrating properties)
  • Cranberries and blueberries (protects the eyes, liver and the whole body against arthritis, cancer and urinary tract infection)
  • Dates (protects against heart and eye diseases)
  • Lemon (adds vitamin C, cleanses the liver, pancreas and intestines and helps with weight loss)
  • Raisins (protects against heart disease and arthritis)
  • Raspberries (increases metabolism of fats)

This recipe and blog is taken from Nature Cures: The A to Z of Ailments and Natural Foods by Nat H Hawes. For more natural nutrition and home remedies from Nat visit Nature Cures.

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5 Unexpected Health Benefits of Lemons

Our latest release, Nature Cures, is full of amazing alternative remedies for many of the common ailments that cause us malaise in this modern age. Many natural foods have unexpected healing properties and surprising applications around the house, as author Nat H Hawes shares in her research on lemons.

What few people know about lemons (citrus limonum) is that they were originally developed as a cross between the lime and the citron. They are thought to have originated in China or India, having been cultivated in these regions for about 2,500 years. Although acidic, lemons can act as an anti-acid for digestive problems and as a liver tonic. They have antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties. They also work to cleanse the blood, lymph glands and kidneys, and act as a natural diuretic.

Traditionally, lemon peel oil has been used to discourage intestinal parasites, while the vitamin C-rich juice and rind can increase bone mineral density. The abundance of phytochemical antioxidants and dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble, is helpful in reducing the risk for cancers and many chronic diseases. Lemons contain 22 anti-cancer properties which slow the growth of tumours. Lemons can help to treat and protect against acne, anxiety, arthritis, bacterial infections, constipation and fungal infections, amongst other ailments.

When lemon juice is added to green or herbal teas it can increase the beneficial properties tenfold. It is recommended that the juice of at least half a lemon is consumed every day (including the rind and the pith) in teas and on brown rice, fish or salad dishes, to gain the health benefits they possess. Lemons are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C and K, but it is important to remember to add lemon juice after cooking so that the vitamin content is not destroyed. They are also rich in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.

5 Unexpected Ways to Use Lemons for Health and Wellbeing:

  1. Helping to stop bleeding
  2. Rebalancing greasy skin (as an essential oil)
  3. Treating a verruca
  4. Mosquito repellent (a slice or two of lemon in a bowl of water next to the bed can deter mosquitos during the night)
  5. Cleaning dishcloths (the antibacterial properties of lemon juice can keep dishcloths clean, instead of using bleach, if soaked in a bowl of water and lemon juice overnight)

For more natural health remedies buy Nature Cures: The A-Z of Ailments and Natural Foods from £14.99 and follow @NatureCuresAll on twitter.

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Give the gift of health this Mother’s Day

We love our mums. They spend all year looking after us, but how often do we go the extra mile to make them feel special? What better time than Mother’s Day to show our mums we care about them, and what better way of showing them than giving the gift of health. Our books help all kinds of people look after their own health and happiness, so we’ve put together our Top 3 Health Books for Mums…and we’re offering a 16% discount with code ‘HEALTHY16’.

Top 3 Health Books for Mums this Mother’s Day

Love Your Bones 9781781610718

 

Love Your Bones by Max Tuck from £4.99

Millions of women and increasing numbers of men worldwide are suffering the pain and debility associated with osteoporosis. For the 1 in 3 women over age 65 already affected by the disease, the cost in both financial and personal terms is astronomical. In this thought-provoking book, Max Tuck shows not only how we can prevent bone loss but also how we can rebuild bone density, giving detailed guidance on how to do this, including essential specific exercises. Based on proven science, the latest technological developments, a passion for nutritious food and her long experience as a Health Educator and Veterinary Surgeon, Max’’s comprehensive action plan will enable you to slash your fracture risk and improve your health, even into advanced age. With an easy to follow and entertaining writing style, she provides new hope and inspiration for a stronger and more vibrant future.

 

 

Nature Cures 9781781610398Nature Cures by Nat H Hawes from £14.99

Nat Hawes has spent more than 10 years researching and compiling this fascinating compendium of foods and their health-giving-properties. Her sources range from a lifetime of experience travelling abroad to research via libraries and university websites and include a vast range of scientific papers which she has analysed and summarised in everyday language. She reviews both the health problems that can be helped by nutritional interventions and the healing properties of the full spectrum of natural (as opposed to processed) foods and drinks. The book complements and is supported by Nat’s internationally popular website  www.naturecures.co.uk, which has been re-launched for the publication of Nature Cures and has received more than one million hits, and counting.

 

 

The Mediterranean ZoneThe Mediterranean Zone by Dr Barry Sears from £3.50

In The Mediterranean Zone, Dr Barry Sears, founder of The Zone Diet, shows you how to eat a delicious and sustainable diet that will: Stop weight gain and strip away ‘toxic’ fat; Free you from inflammation and hormonal chaos; Reverse diabetes and protect you from Alzheimer’s; Lighten your mood as well as your body; Allow you to break out of the diet-and-exercise trap for good! Incorporating the principles of the Zone diet and the fundamental benefits of the much-loved Mediterranean diet, the Mediterranean Zone offers an easy-to-follow guide to eating and living better, based on the latest scientific research.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to enter coupon code HEALTHY16 at checkout for 16% off all last minute Mother’s Day orders!

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Healthy Christmas ideas from The Zone Diet

Dr Barry Sears’ latest book, The Mediterranean Zone, is packed full of recipes, meal ideas and healthy eating habits that combine the Mediterranean style diet with the principles of the Zone Diet. No matter what time of year, following the simple trick of balancing lean protein and colourful carbohydrates can help reduce inflammation in the body. This not only helps you achieve hormonal balance and maintain a healthy weight but improves immune function and helps ward off many common diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

zone-diet-plateBy staying in ‘the zone’ you needn’t worry so much about restricting food or counting calories – and if you do give in to starchy carbohydrates or sugary treats, you’re only a few hours away from getting back into the healthy, anti-inflammatory zone. Never is temptation more difficult to resist than over the Christmas period, so here are some tasty foods you can enjoy over the festive season and stay ‘in the zone’!

Buffet Table
Choose several items from each category. Garnish your dishes with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for a festive, holiday look. Holly and poinsettias are toxic plants. It’s best to keep them off the table, especially when children are around.

 

Meats, fish, eggs
Deli style turkey
Lean deli-style ham or prosciutto
Poached wild-caught salmon, served cold
Smoked salmon
Smoked trout
Sardines (packed in water)
Herring (avoid those with added fats and sweeteners)
Shrimp cocktail platter garnished with lemon wedges
Tuna salad: Canned water-packed tuna, drained and mixed with some olive oil and capers
Egg whites filed with hummus (discard yolks)

Vegetables and Salads
Crudites; colorful peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, served with a dip of plain yogurt with garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs mixed in.
Fennel salad: Toss 2 heads raw fennel thinly sliced, 1 chopped green apple and two chopped stalks celery with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, 1 minced clove garlic and salt and pepper
Cherry tomatoes, halved and tossed with a little olive oil, torn basil and cracked pepper
Antipasto platter of roasted red and yellow peppers, a variety of olives, marinated mushrooms, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts, marinated asparagus spears, cherry peppers and bite-sized ovals of fresh mozzarella (avoid items packed in oil)
Caprese salad: Slices of fresh mozzarella and flavourful tomatoes layered overlapping on a platter and topped with torn basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Condiments
One bottle each of extra-virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with spouts appropriate for drizzling
Peppercorns in a grinder
Crumbled reduced-fat feta
Hummus
Dijon mustard

Drinks
Still water
Sparkling water, plain or a variety with fruit-flavored essences added (avoid sweetened water)
Water with thinly sliced lemon served in a drink dispenser
Red wine
White wine
Lemon and lime wedges
Ice bucket filled with spring-water ice cubes

Dessert Table
Fresh pears cut in thick wedges, served with reduced-fat fresh goat cheese
Assorted varieties of grapes paired with several-reduced fat cheeses
Oversized strawberries served with the green tops on raw or roasted almonds, marcona almonds, spiced or curried almonds, macadamia nuts and cashews (avoid those with added fats and sweeteners)
An assortment of herbal teas — ginger, peppermint and chamomile are good choices, also the candy-cane green teas
Baked custard — If desired, serve raspberries or sliced strawberries alongside as a topping.

Baked Custard
Makes 8, 1-block servings of balanced protein, carbohydrate and fat. Serve warm or cold.

Ingredients

2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups 2% milk
A few dashes of ground nutmeg

Optional, you can substitute 4 egg whites for the two whole eggs, giving a total of 8 egg whites in the whole recipe.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C.

2. In a large mixing bowl using a whisk vigorously beat together the eggs, agave syrup and vanilla.
3. Whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
4. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.
5. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
6. Bake at 325 in a pan of hot water for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the custard comes out clean.

For more information on the Zone Diet and the health benefits of anti-inflammatory food buy The Mediterranean Zone, available now as paperback or ebook.