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Mediterranean diet

Susan has returned from a lovely week in Crete, the original home of the Mediterranean diet, this diet has been researched for many years and has shown many positive effects for health.

For thousands of years Cretans have eaten only what their land produced – which was lots of fruits, vegetables, olives, whole grains and pulses.  Cretans consume a great deal of olive oil, significantly more than any other Mediterranean people and they don’t use any other type of oil. Todays diet can not be exactly replicated since lifestyles have changed since the 1950’s.

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Fat makes up about 35%-40% of daily calories in the Cretan diet. Cretans get their fat from olive oil and olives instead of butter, meat and other oils .

Cretans ate more fruit than any of the other Mediterranean countries and much more than other countries in the study

The average Cretan consumed 9-12 servings of fruits and vegetables each day compared to the current USDA recommendations of about 4.5 servings combined. Wild Greens were popular during the study but are very hard to find now.

The main grains consumed were the whole grains barley and wheat in the form of bread, rolls and rusk. Bread was typically made from all barley or a combination of barley and wheat, rusks from a barley and wheat mixture, Bread was eaten daily (usually with lots of olive oil).

Pulses – Were consumed about 3 times per week

Nuts – Nuts consumed in Crete are most often almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts.

Eggs – While eggs were not a huge part of the Cretan diet, they did consume 2-3 eggs a week. The biggest difference is that the chickens that produced the eggs were all free-range chickens that instead of eating grains like chickens in the US, lived on figs, grasses, insects, worms and purslane. This not only made the chickens healthier, but meant that the eggs are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids

Fish and chicken is eaten a few times a week with red meat saved for special occasions.

Food is flavoured with lots of herbs, all vegetables we ate were flavoured with herbs, as with the fish. Meat portions were small, and lots of vegetable were available – The hotel made the tastiest courgette Ive ever tasted, and tomato grown in the sun tastes so different than ones grown in a green house.

Susan was there for only 6 days, having a breakfast of Greek Yoghurt and fruit, followed by a small meat free cooked breakfast. Evening meal always started with a large selection of salad, with some feta cheese. Main meal fish and vegetables and potato cooked in olive oil, since she was on holiday she did try the delicious deserts. Midday snack my sons favourite, frozen greek yoghurt with strawberries and kiwi (highly recommend Andriani’s Homemade Ice and Frozen Yoghurt) and came back 1llb lighter, I never went hungry and felt really nourished. Susan will certainly will be eating this way more at home.

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Supplements

Better You Products

Better You products are popular with many being in a convenient spray form.

Vitamin D

Essential for calcium absorption, maintaining healthy bones and teeth, supporting a healthy immune system and contributing to normal muscle function.  Vitamin D is recommended in the UK for many individuals, during the winter months.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a notoriously difficult to absorb through diet alone for many individuals. It is essential to support cognitive function and plays an important role in ensuring healthy red blood cell formation, proven to help reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Vegans often need to supplement B12 if not consuming fortified products.

Magnesium

Very popular with runners to help their muscles after a run and for individuals with restless legs.

 

Note: Information on products does not constitute advice, if you require personal recommendations on products and dosages please make an appointment with Susan.

 

 

 

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The sugar tax

Earlier this year the UK introduced a sugar tax, with the government stating                 ‘The ‘Sugar Tax’ will help to reduce sugar in soft drinks and tackle childhood obesity’  While many companies have reduced their formulas to now be exempt from the tax,  some products are shown as price includes sugar tax, so you would assume that those products in the same store  that don’t have this labelling on are better for you.

One such example is a popular fast food outlet.  One of their frozen drinks has the sugar tax added, it contains Sugar, glucose syrup, dextrose, fructose and lactose.   This drink equates to 37% of an adults daily intake of sugar.   Another drink they sell does not attract the sugar tax since its a frozen fruit smoothie, the sugar is all derived from fruit and lactose in the milk, and whilst this drink has less fat and therefore calories it contains 44% of an adults daily sugar intake.

At the end of the day sugar is sugar, its better for you when taken as a whole fruit since you are then also having the fibre. Over consumption of both glucose and fructose, will lead to weight gain and associated medical conditions.  Sucrose, often referred to as “table sugar”, is composed of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule joined by chemical bonds. This means equal amounts of glucose and fructose are released into the bloodstream when sucrose is digested.  In Australia  most drinks are sweetened by sucrose from cane sugar, while soft drinks are sweetened with sucrose-rich sugar beet (Europe) or high-fructose corn syrup (US). High-fructose corn syrup is also made up of glucose and fructose, but contains a higher fructose-to-glucose ratio than sucrose.

Do they have different health impacts?

Yes over consumption of fructose has been shown to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and whilst fruit and vegetables in their natural form contain fructose due to the fibre  when eaten as a whole fruit or vegetable its very difficult to over consume.

High glucose consumption rapidly elevates blood glucose and insulin. This may affect brain function, including mood and fatigue. Because high blood glucose is linked to diabetes, consumption of high-glucose drinks may also raise the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease.

So choosing  a fruit smoothie may not be the best healthy option in terms of sugar.

 

 

 

weight loss

Its not all about the calories

Today the headlines are about reducing calories in processed and takeaway foods, and encouraging people to choose the lower calorie options.

The report also states that women should not consume more than 2000 calories per day, however everyone is not equal and into todays more sedentary life styles, daily calorie requirement are actual lower for the majority of people.  Height and age also effect the calories required, for example Susan burned 2200 calories last Sunday, but that included a 10k run, compared to Thursday where the only exercise was a 2 mile dog walk and she burned 1600 calories, so without the exercise Susan’s daily calorie requirement would be much lower than the average quoted.  It’s not good to get too worried about daily calories but look at it on a weekly basis as quite often it will all balance out and stop any unhealthy relationships with food.

Every person has an individual daily requirement, your basic metabolic rate (BMR) this is the daily calories that your body requires to stay healthy and not lose weight assuming you didn’t leave your bed all day, however these calories should be nutritious and not empty calories.  Your  individual total calorie requirement will then be based on how active you are in the day, the more active the more calories you will require to stay at your current weight, if you are trying to lose weight lower your calorie requirement by 200/300 calories per day.  Apps such as fitbit or my fitness pal, allow you to calculate your BMR and then track your food intake to allow you to have a rough idea (they will not be scientifically accurate) of your calories in compared to your calorie out, tracking food over the course of a week is a good idea, it makes your more mindful of foods that you are eating and looks at the macro nutrients balance as well. The three macronutrients (Carbohydrates, protein and fat) all have their own specific roles and functions in the body, and all supply us with calories or energy. For this reason, the body requires these nutrients in relatively large amounts to grow, develop and continually thrive. Remember macro means large, though many diets the proportion is out we eat far higher carbohydrates and proteins than required and too little fats. Healthy fats are an essential part of our diets, good fats come from nuts and seeds and their oils and oily fish.

If you rely on processed meals, its important to not just go for the lowest calorie option, in the long run this may not be the best for your health.   For example a ham sandwich on white bread is 275 calories, this is processed meat, giving 42% of your daily sodium, 9% of fibre, 33% of your protein, wheres as a wholemeal chicken sandwich with lettuce is 328 calories per serving, however sodium is 6% of daily requirement, fibre 22% of daily requirement, 60% of daily protein, along side having a portion of salad and benefits of B vitamins in the bread a far better choice.

 

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Prescription medication, vitamins, supplements and food.

When you take prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, do you take also a vitamin, mineral, or other dietary supplements? Have you considered whether there is any danger in mixing medications and dietary supplements?  It is  widely highlighted that grapefruit juice affects the way your medicines work, especially if you have high blood pressure or arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat).  It can effect other drugs a swell,  but the severity of the interaction can be different depending on the person, the drug, and the amount of grapefruit juice you drink.

Many drugs are broken down (metabolized) with the help of a vital enzyme called CYP3A4 in the small intestine. Grapefruit juice can block the action of CYP3A4, so instead of being metabolized, more of the drug enters the blood and stays in the body longer. The result: too much drug in your body.

There is now further research that shows that grapefruit juice can also have the opposite effect.  Fexofenadine an anti-histamine, instead of changing metabolism, grapefruit juice can affect proteins in the body known as drug transporters, which help move a drug into our cells for absorption. As a result, less of the drug enters the blood and the drug may not work as well.  Orange Juice and apple juice also have the same effect with this medication so its important to always read the leaflet that comes with your medication.

St. John’s wort can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, leading to breakthrough bleeding and an increased risk of unintended pregnancy. It also interacts with anti – depressants, statins, and many others.

Herbs that decrease blood sugar may interact with anti-diabetes drugs to cause blood sugar to drop too far.

Echinacea a popular supplement at this time of year, but there are many interactions, especially with medications that follow the CYP3A4 pathway since these all have  toxic effects on the liver.

There are lots of reports in news that as well as vitamin D being a common deficiency in the UK this is closely followed by magnesium, however magnesium tablets can interact with blood pressure tablets and antibiotics.

The list is not exhaustive,  before you take any medication either prescribed or over the counter , vitamins, supplement or herbs please check for any interactions.  Please also mention all medication, herbs, supplements and vitamins, to medical staff and your nutritionist.

© 2018 – Susan Monk BSc (Hons) Open,  MFNTP.

 

 

soup

Meat Free Monday, veganary or just looking to reduce your meat consumption.

Many people are looking to reduce their meat consumption after the festive period, some are looking to become vegetarian or vegan for a month, some will follow meat free Monday for the whole year, whatever your reason there are lots and lots of tasty recipes easily available on the web for you to try.  For some they choose to ty meat substitutes or ready meals, but remember a highly processed diet is unhealthy in the long term it doesn’t matter if it comes with a ‘healthy’ label.

First thing most people find difficult when they swap to no meat is that there is no centrepiece to their meal, the meat was the focus, the whole meal is the focus with many vegetarian dishes, also many people are soon put off eating dishes with lots of vegetables since they find the preparation time consuming, if need by when changing your diet cheat, use ready made curry paste, ginger/ garlic purees and ready prepared vegetables.

Susan’s Meat Free Monday meal for her family today is River Cottage’s Fragrant Veg stoup served with brown basmati rice, it took about one hour to cut, chop and cook but the kitchen smells lovely.

For just the soup it comes in at around 340 calories per serving, this was made using full fat coconut milk so you can reduce the calories if you use a lower fat version.   It is high in saturated fat due to the coconut milk so not a meal to have every day.  The stoup provides 15% of your daily protein, 105% of your vitamin A, 10% of your potassium requirements, handy for those on diuretics that tend to be low in potassium due to the medication, low in carbohydrates 9%, high in fibre 26% of daily requirements  and 50% of your daily vitamin C, with 5% of your daily iron.

Add in 100g of cooked Basmati Rice – Basmati rice is lower GI than all other rices so better to help keep blood sugar levels stable.  Basmati has the highest content of all rice for amino acids and essential nutrients.

Percentage daily values are based on a 2000 Calorie per day diet.