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Social Prescriptions

Social Prescriptions and engaging in nature- the benefits to mental health

 

There are more and more programs that are prescribing nature-based therapy rather than medication.  These programs have shown that they improve well being and could lead to lower NHS costs.

One such program is River Remedies: Improving well -being through nature, this is a scheme run in the South Gloucestershire and Bristol areas on the River Frome.  The individuals in the original scheme their well being scores went from ‘poor’ to being in line with national averages.

Engaging in nature is beneficial for all. Several studies have revealed that exposure to nature has positive associations with well-being.  However Natural England’s last survey of engagement with the natural environment, only 42% of the population had visited the outdoors in the last seven days, and around 50% of these visits were to urban parks.

A report in The Lancet- Planetary Health, found a significant reduction in major depressive disorder in those living in closer proximity to green spaces.

A common factor attributed to the benefits in time in nature is those individuals partake in a greater level of physical activity. However ‘green exercise’ amplifies the benefits of physical activity indoors, being outdoors will also help top up your ‘vitamin D’ levels.

Vegan, Vegetarian

Increase your fibre intake by having a vegetarian meal.

Vegetarian and vegan meals, tend to have higher fibre levels, with both the vegetables and the protein source being good sources of  fibre, and the focus of the meal.

Today Susan made a version similar to Riverford’s Cauliflower Mujaddara,  packed full of vegetables, protein and healthy oils.  The four main ingredients in this dish were onions, cauliflower, kale and lentils.

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Onions

The dish contained a large portion of onions, with a generous 1.5 onions per portion.  Raw onions are nutritionally better due to the sulphur compounds which can be destroyed by heat, however you can still get many of the benefits from cooked as well. Cooked onions tend to taste milder and are often gentler on stomachs.

Onions have been used in folk medicine for the relief of coughs, colds and catarrh, especially asthma (Susan’s great aunt swore by her remedy of Oh Be Joyful which was honey, lemon, onion and whisky! to cure most colds).  One medium onion can provide 20% of RDA of Vitamin C, 4% calcium and 4% of Iron and 12% of your daily fibre requirements.  Most onions are safe to eat, however green onions  (spring onions) contain a high dose of vitamin K, therefore those on Warfarin need to take care.

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Curly Kale

Kale, over the years has been classed as a super food, just one cup will provide you with 3g of protein, 2.5g of fibre, vitamins A.C and K, folate, Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep dark green colouring and may protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.  It also includes minerals such as potassium, calcium and zinc.

Kale being a dark green leafy vegetable, is better cooked than raw due to its indigestible fibre.  Kale is a goitrogenic vegetable and when eaten raw, this vegetable can inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. If it’s eaten in excess, these chemicals can inhibit the incorporation of iodine into thyroid hormone. Also since its a good source of vitamin K those on blood thinner medication need to take this into account.

The body relies on iodine (and tyrosine) to make thyroid hormones, so continually eating these raw greens can cause a thyroid hormone imbalance. Raw kale also contains oxalic acid, which binds with minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the body causing them to crystalize. These crystals can damage tissues, cause inflammation in the body and kidney stones. So, a daily dose of raw kale and other goitrogenic vegetables may not be such a great idea.

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Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is currently a popular  food with cauliflower rice, being a common ingredient for those on diets, it can be boiled, steamed or roasted.

A cup of boiled cauliflower is just 30 calories, provides 4% of daily protein, 92% of vitamin C, 22% of vitamin K, 14% folate, 12% of fibre, 6% potassium and 8% manganese.

 

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Green Lentils

Brown, green, yellow, red or black — lentils are low in calories, rich in iron and folate and an excellent source of protein.  1/2 a cup of lentils provides 12g of protein and 32% of your daily fibre requirements.   Women need 2,320mg of Potassium per day (possible more if on a diuretic), a 1/2 cup portion provides, 12% of your requirement and 15% of your iron requirement. For vegetarians and vegans, getting enough iron  may be particularly challenging. Regularly including lentils in your diet can help boost your iron intake.

If you are not used to eating lentils it is advisable to slowly increase the amount in your diet to give your digestion system time to adjust to the increased fibre in your diet.

The whole meal provided a very nutritious balanced meal, at 600 calories per portion, it provided 55% of daily fibre requirement, 280% of vitamin C, 34% of protein, 17% of calcium and 30% of iron.

Try one or two vegetarian or vegan meals per week, to see if you can increase your vegetable and fibre intake.

Elderly

Nutrition and Dementia

The type of food we eat affects our health and our quality of life. Poorly nourished people get sick more often and recover from injury and illness more slowly. Poor nutrition is a major health problem for many older people.

For people with dementia, maintaining good nutrition presents extra challenges. A person with dementia may:

  • Experience a loss of appetite
  • Develop an insatiable appetite or a craving for sweets
  • Forget to eat and drink
  • Forget how to chew or swallow
  • Experience a dry mouth, or mouth discomfort
  • Be unable to recognise the food and drink they are given

Daily nutritional balance

The nutritional requirements of someone with dementia will be similar to other people of their age. However some people with dementia experience increased physical activity such as pacing, which means they will need larger amounts of food to prevent them from losing weight.

Common nutritional problems

Forgetting to eat

What to try

  • An alarm clock, or a phone call, may be a useful reminder at mealtimes
  • Snacks that are easy to eat and don’t need to be refrigerated can be left out where they can be easily seen

Can’t or won’t prepare meals for themselves

It can be particularly difficult for people with dementia who are living alone when they  can’t or won’t prepare meals for themselves.

What to try

  • Meals should be shared social occasions whenever possible
  • Delivered meals such as meals-on-wheels. However these may not provide all of a person’s daily nutritional needs or may not be what the person is used to eating
  • Home support to assist with meal preparation, serving and to discretely prompt with eating
  • Pre-prepared meals from the supermarket
  • Family and friends helping to prepare meals and or eating together
  • Preparing large quantities of food, then freezing into meal size amounts
  • Home delivered ready-to-eat food from restaurants or fast food outlets
  • Eating out. However check first that the person with dementia will be comfortable with the venue and food
  • Stocking up on healthy snacks such as yoghurt, cheese or dried fruit that do not need preparation or cooking

 

Teenagers

Adolescents and nutrition

One for the teenagers in your lives.

As your body is still growing, it’s vital that you eat enough good quality food and the right kinds to meet your energy and nutrition needs.

Being a teenager can be fun, but it can also be difficult as your body shape changes. These physical changes can be hard to deal with if they aren’t what you are expecting. There can be pressure from friends to be or look a certain way, and this might affect the foods you eat. It’s not a good time to crash diet, as you won’t get enough nutrients, and you may not reach your full potential. Following a sensible, well-balanced diet is a much better option, both for now and in the long term.

What should I eat

Eating three regular meals a day with some snacks will help you meet your nutrition needs. Skipping meals means you will miss out on vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, which can leave you lacking energy or finding it hard to concentrate.

  1. Breads, grains and cereals are carbohydrates that provide energy for your brain and muscles. They’re also an excellent source of fibre and B vitamins. Without enough carbohydrates you may feel tired and run down. Try to include some carbohydrates at each mealtime.
  2. Fruit and vegetables have lots of vitamins and minerals which help boost your immune system and keep you from getting sick. They’re also very important for healthy skin and eyes. It’s recommended you eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day.
  3. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes (e.g. beans and lentils) are good sources of iron and protein. Iron is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body. During your teenage years, you’ll start to menstruate, or get your period, and this leads to loss of iron. If you don’t get enough iron, you can develop anaemia, a condition that can make you feel tired and light-headed and short of breath. Protein is needed for growth and to keep your muscles healthy. Not eating enough protein when you are still growing, or going through puberty, can lead to delayed or stunted height and weight. Not enough protein is common when you go on strict diets. Include meat, chicken, fish or eggs in your diet at least twice a day. Fish is important for your brain, eyes and skin. Try to eat fish 2 to 3 times a week.

    If you are vegetarian or vegan and do not eat meat, there are other ways to meet your iron needs, for example, with foods like baked beans, pulses, lentils, nuts and seeds.

  4. Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt help to build bones and teeth and keep your heart, muscles and nerves working properly. You’ll need three and a half serves of dairy food a day to meet your needs.
  5. Eating too much fat and oil can result in you putting on weight. Try to use oils in small amounts for cooking or salad dressings. Other high-fat foods like chocolate, chips, cakes and fried foods can increase your weight without giving your body many nutrients.
  6. Fluids are also an important part of your diet. Drink water to keep hydrated, so you won’t feel so tired or thirsty. It can also help to prevent constipation.

 

 

 

 

Supplements

Choose your supplements wisely

Bio-availability refers to the bodies ability to absorb and use a particular substance or nutrient.

Vitamins and minerals are manufactured from either ‘organic’ or ‘inorganic’ materials.  Minerals in the form of sulphates, oxides, carbonates or artificial chelates are  inorganic, meaning they  rarely occur naturally in the plant or animal kingdoms.  Minerals in the form of  gluconates, phosphates, citrates, lactates are called ‘organic’ minerals because they do occur in  the plant and animal kingdoms.  Organic mineral forms are believed to be absorbed  easier by the body.

Calcium

One example can be seen in the supplement calcium, in 1987 Maryland University carried out a study to investigate the different forms of calcium  and absorption since it already had been determined that the solubility of many calcium salts, depends on pH, the type of salt used, the condition of the patient and the time of administration.

Previously it was assumed that all calcium supplements were equal, as long as the amount of calcium in each supplement was the same, however it was found that calcium must be in the form of ions to be absorbed. As with many salts the solubility depends upon the pH of the solution its dissolving in.  To be of use in the body first the tablet must disintegrate, It was found that some tablets had coatings on “enteric-coated” that were insoluble in acid, these coatings are of use to other supplements where the disintegration is needed further down the digestion track, or packed too tightly together ‘bed pan bullets’  (The standard laboratory test for disintegration (part of the test known as the United States Pharmacopeia [USP] “Disintegration and Dissolution of Dietary Supplements” method <2040>), is an important test of product quality, although passing this test alone does not assure bioavailability). The research also found that calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate dissolved well at a pH of 1.01(very acidic) but their solubility reduced as pH increased, the average stomach acid  pH of a human is 1.5-3.5, therefore for bioavailability calcium citrate and calcium lactate are better forms.

Susan has a practitioner account with Natural Dispensary where she can offer her clients a 10% discount off their price list.   If you want to discuss any of your supplements, please contact Susan.

 

 

 

 

soup

Soup

Soup is a great way to add additional veg to your diet, and fresh soup tastes far superior than tinned versions and healthier since you control any added salt and sugar.  Soups that are blended down are a great way of hiding veg, and if you slowly add vegetables that you don’t like to a soup you do like, you can slowly retrain your taste buds to like (or at least tolerate) the new foods

Stoup is another version of soup but with really chunky veg, one of Susan’s favourite is from River cottage- ‘much more veg’  a fragrant veg stoup.  This filling stoup is around 339 calories per portion, 105% of vitamin A and 53% of vitamin C and a good 26% of fibre.

There are many tasty soup recipes but many come with a long list of ingredients which puts people off, for a treat Susan purchased a soup recipe bag which came with all the ingredients apart from oil and water, and with many spices involved in this soup, it saves purchasing many different spices.  The soup bags change on a weekly basis and Susan tried their Indian Cauliflower and spinach soup – though the consistency is more of a stoup.  It was a very tasty soup, with the spicy heat not too overpowering. At around 140 calories per portion its more of a light lunch, and with two grown lads Susan would probably add a tin of chickpeas in future to make it more filling. The tomato haters in the family didn’t realise there was chopped tomato on their bowl.    A bowl provides 13% of your daily iron and 15% of your daily potassium, low in carbohydrates and 48% of your daily fibre requirements.

 

weight loss

How sleep can keep you reaching for the junk food

Everything about the human body is interconnected and eating habits are no different. Sleep plays an important role in not only what you eat but how much and when you eat it.

Lack of Sleep Changes Your Hormones

We get our energy from sleep or from food. People who get less sleep tend to snack on high-fat, carbohydrate-rich foods, possibly looking for the energy that they didn’t get from sleep the night before.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your hunger and satiety (fullness) hormones, including leptin and ghrelin get released in different amounts, making you more hungry and less full!

Sleep Gives You the Advantage

Getting adequate sleep 7-9 hours per night for adults, lets you work with your body rather than against it. Stress, long work hours, family obligations, an uncomfortable mattress, and insomnia are only a few of life’s challenges that may get in your way of a good night’s rest.

Here are 4 simple steps you can take to promote good sleep hygiene and get a more restful sleep:

· Turn off the screen. Televisions, laptops, e-readers, and smartphones all give off light that can interfere with your natural sleep cycle. Shut off the screens an hour before you want to go to bed to help your body recognise that it’s night-time and it should be preparing for sleep.

· Limit caffeine and alcohol. While some may believe alcohol can help you sleep, it changes your body’s sleep patterns and can lead to wakefulness. Try to avoid caffeine after lunch and alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.

· Create a bedtime routine. Help set your circadian rhythms with a relaxing bedtime routine. Read a book (not on a screen), try some gentle meditation or yoga, or take a warm bath to help relax your mind and body. As you do your routine regularly, your body recognises when it’s time to prepare itself for resting. If you find yourself dreading bedtime because you feel discomfort or pain in bed, it might be time for a new mattress.

· Go to bed at the same time every day. Try to keep the same sleep schedule every day of the week. Your body prepares to sleep and wake up long before you do. A regular bedtime helps it stay on track, which in turn helps you in your quest for a healthy lifestyle.

 

weight loss

Are you an emotional overeater?

Do you spend all day eating well but comfort eat when you get home? Do you eat healthily during the week but overeat on the weekend? 

You can’t just adopt more willpower to stop emotional or binge eating. Here are some of my favourite tips to stop emotional and binge eating.

1. Give yourself permission to eat the foods you want to eat.

When you don’t give yourself permission to eat certain foods, you’ll feel the need to eat that food in private, in excess and as quickly as possible in case you never get to eat it again.

When your body trusts that you aren’t being deprived, you will stop emotional eating and no longer feel the need to binge on this food.

2. Stop judging food.

Avoid referring to food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

When you ‘try to be good’ and avoid fattening or ‘bad’ foods, you’re only setting yourself up for more emotional and binge eating.

Feeling guilty or getting angry with yourself for overeating will only cause you to binge more – not less.

You can’t shame yourself into bingeing less.

3. Eat treats in front of other people.

Avoiding ‘bad’ foods in front of other people will only cause you to binge on them later in private.

To stop emotional eating, give yourself permission to eat your trigger foods in public.

That means order the peanut butter on toast at a café, say yes to the dessert when offered and grab an ice cream with a pal.

4. Do not eat in front of the TV.

When you eat in front of the TV, you condition your body to get hungry and feel like eating when you turn on the television.

Never eat in front of the TV or any screen, and eat. Give yourself permission to eat – and watch TV, but not at the same time.

5. Stop striving for weight loss.

Ironically, aiming to lose weight will prevent you from reaching your goals.

Shift your focus from trying to lose weight to building a healthy relationship with food.

Because when you have a healthy relationship with food – you’ll stop emotional and binge eating and your body will naturally find it’s healthiest weight.

6. See each binge as an opportunity to learn.

A binge is not a failure it’s simply your body’s way of trying to get your attention and tell you something.

Feeling guilty, angry and promising to ‘get healthy tomorrow’ will make you restrict again, causing another binge.

Stop fighting against your body and learn to listen to what it’s trying to say. This is the only way to stop emotional and binge eating.

7. Get extra support to stop emotional eating

It’s tough to stop emotional and binge eating without support.

You don’t need to ‘just try harder’ – you need to try something different.

 

If you want a personalised diet plan, please contact Susan for further information.

 

 

 

weight loss

Calories versus nutritional intake

Many people on diets when they are trying to lose weight, think about low-fat foods rather than the nutritional value of the foods they are consuming.  Some then may consume large amounts of these foods, because they may be ‘free’ on their particular diet plan, or they perceive them to be heathy, though these foods may not always be the best choice

When just calorie counting, because high fat food are calorie dense they are often avoided,  and you could end up eating a very nutritionally poor diet and even become malnourished, especially if you live on a low-fat diet for long periods of time, and take no additional supplements or minerals. The government recommended 2000 Calories for women is based on nutritional need as well as energy.

Some vitamins are fat soluble in particular A, D, E and  K, and foods that are high sources of these vitamins are often avoided in those following a low-fat diet, and small amounts of theses vitamins are required in the diet to promote growth, reproduction, and health.

Vitamin A – It occurs naturally only in foods of animal origin, such as liver, butter, whole milk, and egg yolks, but the body converts certain carotenoids (found in some fruit and vegetables), especially β-carotene, to vitamin A.

Vitamin D –  occurs naturally only in animal foods such as liver, butter, fatty fish (fish containing high levels of cholesterol or fatty acids as glycerides), and egg yolks. It is also synthesised in the body from sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for bone health since it serves to maintain serum calcium concentrations, which in turn influence bone mineralization.

Vitamin E  –  is an important antioxidant that is thought to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidative destruction in cell membranes. Vegetable oils are the richest source of vitamin E. Other good sources include nuts, seeds, whole grains, and wheat germ.

Vitamin K  – is needed in the liver for formation of several blood clotting factors. Larger amounts of vitamin K are present in dark-green leafy vegetables; lower levels are found in cereals, dairy products, meats, and fruits.

Yogurt itself is a nutritional powerhouse as part of a balanced diet,  yogurt can be a great source of protein, calcium, iodine and vitamin B12. Fermented dairy products have long been considered to be beneficial to digestive health, and yogurt has even been associated with lower risk of obesity and cardio metabolic risk in both children and adults. Natural, ‘plain’ and Greek-style yogurts were found to have a dramatically different nutrient profile from all other types of yogurt, containing much higher levels of protein, lower carbohydrates level and the least amount of sugar, with the average of five grams per 100g, largely made up of naturally occurring lactose.

Take a look at three yogurts, first a low-fat fruit yogurt.  It’s virtually fat-free, provides a good amount of calcium, but if your diet is lacking in vitamin D you won’t see the benefit. Per 100g of this product 7.1g is labelled as sugar, the source of this sugar does not have to be separated so this level will be spread between milk sugar (Lactose), the added strawberries (10% of product), and the added fructose.  A full fat plain yogurt with nothing added tends to have around 4.7g-5g of sugar per 100g, so this low fat yoghurt has over 2g of added sugar per 100g (a pot being 175g), very little of this will be from the strawberry, with the remaining added as fructose and to ensure a sweet tasting product added aspartame. The danger arises when individuals see these as healthy alternatives, they may have 1, 2 or even more per day, but with each pot containing the equivalent of around 1 teaspoon of added sugar, this can soon add up.

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A full fat organic strawberry yogurt, is nearly 100% more calories per 100g, and has 4% fat, with similar protein levels and over 3g more sugar, than a low-fat version. The fat content will help you stay fuller for longer so long-term you may only need one yogurt rather than three, and the fat will contain vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium.  This strawberry yogurt product is honest and specifies they add 4.9% of sugar per per 100g, but many do not ,they just state added sugars just total sugars, making you believe that the sugars are from fruit and therefore healthy. This yogurt is served in 100g portions so not as bad as you may think.

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The third option plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit, nuts, seed, no need to add any additional sugar.

Below, shows that a 100g of greek yogurt with 4 strawberries and 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkins seeds, this is 2g less sugar than the low fat version, but will have more strawberries, and added protein, it also gives you a little fibre. This is a higher fat and calorie version but the fat should help you to feel fuller for longer, making it a suitable breakfast. Greek Yogurts tend to be lower in lactose and higher in protein than other yogurts, but make sure you read the labels since some manufacturers add thickening agents to regular yogurt, and market it as “Greek-style” yogurt, which may not share the same health benefits as Greek yogurt.

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The three strawberry yogurts compared based on their serving size:-

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