Fire in the belly

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine (January 2020)

Eve Kalinik explores the link between our gut and mood and how the health of our microbiome plays a role in our emotional wellbeing.

Research and a greater understanding of depression have highlighted that it is not solely a disease of cognitive origin. Indeed, studies reveal the role of inflammation as an underlying pivotal development factor. This management process is one that, in part, relies on the health of the gut. Having a healthy microbiome – the trillions of microbes in the gut – helps keep the barrier of the gut functioning well. This means allowing substances that should be moving in and out of the gut to pass by without hassle, while blocking those that should stay within the confines of the gut. If this is breached, it can lead to substances such as bacteria and proteins from food sneaking out of the gut and creating a wide inflammatory reaction from the immune system, which has a more systemic effect.

Somewhere, over the rainbow

That can mean an almost constant state of inflammation which, it is thought, can result in mood disorders. The other way our microbiome manages inflammation is via the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that has an anti-inflammatory effect but also provides energy for the cells in the lining of the gut to help maintain a healthy gut barrier. Further to this, it is also important for the blood-brain barrier and butyrate can enter the brain and act as an antidepressant. Mood disorders are multifaceted, so gut health is just one consideration. However, supporting the gut positively contributes to wellness and the more heterogenous our microbiome the better.

A rich, colourful and varied collection of microbes leads to a healthier, stronger and happier gut. Reflect this on your plate with colour and diversity of fibre sources, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts and seeds. It sounds like a cliche, but eating the rainbow can provide bountiful joy for your microbes. Try one new veg, fruit and / or whole grain a week. If you usually have potato mash, swap it for sweet potato; mix up your berries, frozen are great as they keep for longer, or have buckwheat or quinoa instead of oats for breakfast. The possibilities are endless and with variety comes the spice of life, not least for our microbiome.

Feelgood food:

A pioneering look at the role of inflammation in mood disorders.

*The Inflamed Mind: A radical new approach to depression by Edward Bullmore.

Eat to treat Endometriosis

Article taken from Psychologies Magazine (October 2019)

Henrietta Norton*, author and leading expert on women’s wellbeing, helps us find the best ways to nourish ourselves to combat disorders of the reproductive tract.

Endometriosis and Adenomyosis are complex disorders of the female reproductive track whereby cells, similar to those found in the lining of the womb, are found elsewhere in the body. However, they develop differently and can have varying symptoms: In adenomyosis, rogue cells grow within the wall of the uterus; in endometriosis they grow outside the uterus. Endometriosis is more common in adolescents and women of reproductive age and adenomyosis in women who have had more than one child. You can have one or both of these disorders and, in fact, 42.3 per cent of women with endometriosis have a dual diagnosis.

You can help yourself

Endometriosis and adenomyosis are both progressive and oestrogen-dependent, influenced by the fluctuation in hormones during the menstrual cycle, which stimulates these cells to grow, then break down and bleed as they would in the lining of the womb, leading to inflammation and pain. Studies demonstrate that nutritional therapy is an effective approach to both conditions – in fact, research shows that it can be more effective at obtaining relief of pain and improving quality of life than medical hormonal treatment after surgery for endometriosis.

Nutrient deficiencies occur if you are not having enough food or having too much of the wrong food. You may be eating well, but not well enough to provide the specific nutrients you need to heal from a specific condition. Some gentle changes can help you make strides in your experience of endometriosis.

Lifestyle support

Consider these tweaks to help your body deal with the symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis

  • Eat colour : Women who ate green vegetables 13 times or more a week (roughly twice a day) were 70 per cent less likely to have endometriosis. Carotenoid-rich foods, especially citrus fruits, also positively affected symptoms. Use smoothies, juices and soups to nourish.
  • Befriend your gut : Beneficial gut bacteria can reduce production of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that remakes oestrogen in the gut and can contribute to its dominance. Add natural, organic yogurt to your diet, either on its own or in dressings and sauces. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir, are excellent sources of beneficial bacteria, or take a pribiotic supplement (minimum 10 billion CFU, or colony forming units).
  • Keep up your minerals : Zinc and magnesium are used up in states of physical imbalance. Women can lose up to half their supply of magnesium during menstruation. Women with endometriosis often suffer from heavy bleeding, which reduces their iron stores.
  • Be conscious of intimate products : Tampons use bleached paper products that contain dioxins, proven to have an adverse effect on the hormonal system.
  • Rethink gluten : Research that categorises endometriosis as an autoimmune condition documents an improved response in those following a gluten-free diet. Three quarters of women on a gluten-free diet for a year reported a significant decrease in symptoms.

*Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, women’s wellbeing writer and co-founder of food-grown supplements brand Wild Nutrition. wildnutrition.com; @wildnutritional.

Food Facts : Magic Tea

Article courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (October 2015)

IMG_1819

The Hype

A foreign princess is responsible for the Brits’ love of tea – in the 17th century, Catherine of Braganza, in Portugal, brought her tea-drinking custom to the English court, as the queen of Charles II.

Today, we drink 165 millions cups of tea every day in the UK (compared with 70 million cups of coffee), and the number of different varieties of tea, from rooibos to camomile and lapsang to matcha, has risen by 82 per cent in the last 10 years.  When once you just had to choose between milk or sugar with your cuppa, today, the myriad herbal, flower, fruit, black, white and green options has meant that supermarkets now dedicate half an aisle to tea.

The ancient Chinese proverb attests that it is ‘better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one’.

The Facts:

  1. ‘All tea starts its life as a leaf from the same plant: the Camelia sinensis’, say Krisi and Mike, founders of Bluebird Tea Co. ‘The type of tea those leaves eventually end up as (black, green, white) is influenced by which part of the plant they are picked from, and what treatment they have been through once they are picked.  This also influences the caffeine content.  The amount of caffeine that actually ends up in your body is on a wide varying scale with many influencing factors such as age of leaf, water, temperature, steeping time and so on.’
  2. ‘Green and white tea is usually steeped at a lower temperature and for a shorter time, which gives the caffeine less chance to dissolve into the water.  This doesn’t mean the original tea had less caffeine, just that less of it was released into the water,’ say Krisi and Mike.  If you’re looking to avoid caffeine, it’s best to choose a naturally caffeine-free tea such as rooibos, which still contains catechins and polyphenols – potent antioxidants that mop up free radicals and help boost health.
  3. For the latter benefits however, it’s the new breed of ‘superteas’ that are really causing a stir.  Matcha is a 100 per cent green tea that has been ground to form a very fine powder.  Doing so concentrates the potency of the leaves, giving matcha its vivid green hue.  As the whole leaf is ingested, matcha is a far more potent source of nutrients than it’s steeped counterparts.  It also contains a naturally occurring amino acid called L-theanine which, together with caffeine, appears to increase alertness.

TeaThe Verdict

  • A study in 2011 also showed that decaffeinated tea hydrates you just as efficiently as water – with the added benefits of those antioxidants, too.
  • Fluoride is important for dental health and tea is one of the best sources of fluoride in the diet.  Research presented by Dr Carrie Ruxton to the UK Nutrition Society shows that the current average intake of tea falls short of the European fluoride recommendation, suggesting that tea intake should increase to access the benefits of fluoride for dental health.
  • Both black and green tea have been linked with improved cognitive function, according to a new study.  Commenting on the new research, Dr Tim Bond from the Tea Advisory Panel notes, ‘Tea has been associated with many mental health benefits such as improved mental attention, clarity of mind and relaxation.’
  • The polyphenols and flavonoids in camomile tea have been proven to protect against thyroid cancer, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Public Health.  Researchers found that camomile tea consumed two to six times a week reduced the risk of thyroid cancer by 700 per cent and benign thyroid disease by 84 per cent.
  • Matcha contains a unique polyphenol called EGCG which has been shown to boost metabolism and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.
  • The evidence is clear; our ancestors were on to something.  Drink tea for its abundant health benefits – just be sure not to consume too much of the caffeinated variety.

 

Food Focus : Bounteous broccoli

Article courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (March 2019) and written by Eve Kalinik. (evekalinik.com)

broccoliBroccoli may be dubbed the ultimate ‘green machine’.  Indeed, this cruciferous powerhouse has a whole lot of natural ammo.

Firstly, broccoli contains a compound called idole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is derived from a type of phytochemical present in all cruciferous vegetables that becomes active when we chop or chew them.  This compound helps to support detoxification pathways in the liver and may have beneficial effects on hormone balancing.  Chewing broccoli also releases sulforaphane, which gives it that distinct ‘sulphurous’ taste and smell, that supports healthy cell turnover, including arresting the development of what could turn into potentially unhealthy cells.  If that’s wasn’t amazing enough, broccoli is also a massive boost for our gut since it contains plenty of fibre, which is welcome news for our gut microbes as they love the stuff.  Additionally, some of the active chemical antioxidant compounds mentioned above also support a healthy microbiome.

Let’s also not forget that broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, important for bone and cardiovascular health; vitamin C to provide antioxidant ‘protective’ support for our cells and a wealth of B vitamins, which have a role in energy production as well as working as co-factors for hormonal health and neurotransmitter functioning for brain power … come to think of it, broccoli does have somewhat of a cerebellum look!

You can get broccoli in numerous varieties including purple (or yellow) sprouted, Tenderstem, in shoot-like sprout form (also the highest form of sulforaphane) or in just the regular green variety.

Purple sprouted works really well with a dressing of sesame oil and tamari; broccoli sprouts are excellent toppers for salads, whereas the regular florets pan-fried with some thin slices of garlic, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil are simply heavenly.  Generally, it is better eating your broccoli lightly cooked rather than eating lots of it raw, since cooking negates the possible effects it can have on thyroid functioning, particularly if you have any underactive thyroid issues.  It’s tastes better that way, too.

Grow:
You can grow your own sprouts at home.  Get yourself a germinator like below A Vogel BioSnacky Germinator Seed Jar.

Source:
Broccoli is a veg that we have in abundance in the UK and it’s great if you can get to your farmers’ market and check out the varieties in season.  For farmers’ markets, see http://www.farma.gov.uk

Cook:
Anna Jones has taken veg-centric food to another level with her book, “The Modern Cook’s Year”.  And her broccoli recipes do not disappoint!

Food Focus : Mushy for Peas

Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (August 2019)

Peas

The bright garden hue and punchy sweet flavour of garden peas win favours with even the most veg-phobic people.  Indeed, peas will happily be consumed and even relished when other veggies fail to make the cut.  Fresh green peas invoke a sense of cheeriness in their appearance and within the pod there is much to rave about.

Garden peas are part of the legume family, which means they have some of the same benefits as green beans.  They provide a decent serving of plant-based protein, as well as fibre, which helps support energy, blood sugar levels and gut health.  Peas are also bursting with vitamins C and A – important for immunity and skin as well as providing protective antioxidant benefits.  They contain vitamin K and B vitamins that can support a healthy heart and, since they are a good source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, they also have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Peas are considered environmentally friendly, given that they essentially give back to the soil in which they are grown, which helps with the rotation of other crops.  Impressive nutritional stats and generous, given their small, or petits, size.

Peas are encased in pods and need to be shelled before eating and, while best fresh, frozen peas can also be enjoyed in which case I urge you to have petits pois for more flavour and less starch.  When peas are in season, from late spring to the end of autumn, you can often find them at farmers’ markets.

The ways in which to enjoy peas are myriad and marvellous.  Simply prepared – lightly steamed and served with fresh mint, butter and black pepper – peas are a game-changing veggie side dish.  Add them to an omelette with feta for a delicious quick meal or chuck them into stir-fries for a pop of sweetness.  You can even turn them into fun and flavoursome desserts.  (Pea mousse, anyone?)  Like peas in a pod, the saying goes …. I, for one, want to be in that gang!

Cook:
If cooking, your peas from frozen, opt for petits pois and add at the last moment – frozen peas thaw quickly and you will want to maximise their delicious flavour in your dish.

Create:
Poisfection!   There is a recipe for Pea and Mint Ice Lollies with Chocolate from The Art of Eating Well by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley. Everyone will be licking their lips!

Drink:
Try: Seedlip Garden 108 Non-alcoholic Spirit, which highlights hand-picked peas as one of the key ingredients. Serve with tonic for a refreshing and uplifting summer drink.

Article by Nutrition editor: Eve Kalinik evekalinik.com; @evekalinik

Bone Broth

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (September 2015).

Health trends – Bone broth ?

IMG_1818The Hype

Despite having been a staple in cooking pots for centuries, bone broth has recently gained new momentum.  It’s revival can be partly attributed to the growing popularity of the Paleo diet and its superfood status is believed to be due to its easily digestible protein composition.  The protein comes from collagen found in the bones and connective tissue, which transforms into a nutrient-dense gelatin as it cooks.  A cupful is said to ensure a hit of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium and minerals that are known to help strengthen hair and nails, improve skin texture, heal your digestive system and prevent insomnia, fatigue and anxiety.

The Facts

    1. Foodies argue that bone broth is simply stock that’s had a fashionable makeover, but bone broth takes much longer to cook than stock; chicken carcasses simmer between six and 12 hours, and beef bones for up to 24 hours to ensure they fully dissolve into the water, providing bioavailable minerals to the body.
    2. Cassandra Barns, from NutriCentre, believes that bone broth an live up to the hype. ‘The minerals it contains can directly support healthy hair, skin and nails.  In addition to glycine and proline, the gelatin in bone broth is a source of substances like glucasamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid.  These are known to support the joints, ligaments and tendons’.
    3. Lily Simpson from The Detox Kitchen Bible, points out that bone broth is often treated as a meal replacement, yet it’s not a sufficient meal in itself, as it’s so low in calories. ‘I would treat bone like miso soup and serve as a nourshing low-calorie snack during the day to boost your nutrient intake.’

The Verdict

Bone broth is a great source of bio-available nutrients.  Rob Hobson from The Detox Kitchen Bible says, ‘There isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest bone broth can treat conditions such as IBS.  However, gelatin found in bone broth forms a key component of the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) diet designed to improve digestive health.  Collagen makes up connective tissue in joints, so that may help in the case of osteoarthritis, but I wouldn’t consider it a reliable treatment.’

Carrots !

Some interesting facts about carrots …

  • IMG_1817The British eat their way through around 700,000 tonnes of carrots every year – that’s roughly 100 carrots per person.
  • The world’s longest carrot was grown by Joe Atherton from Nottinghamshire in 2007.  It measured in at 5.84 metres – over 19 foot long.
  • An 80g serving of carrots
    • that’s around half a medium-sized carrot
    • counts as one of your five a day.
  • Today purple carrots seem quite exotic, but when carrots first arrived in Britain from Afghanistan sometime around the seventh century AD, they were actually purple.

Recipe ideas with Carrots:-

Carrot and Spring Onion Latke
Latkes are normally made with potatoes.  Carrots give them a delicious hint of sweetness.
Whisk 2 eggs in a large bowl.  Add 500g grated carrots and 3 chopped spring onions; mix, then stir in 5 tblsp matzo meal and season with salt and pepper.
Scoop a large tblsp of the batter into a hot pan and fry at a medium heat until crisp and brown.  When ready, leave to drain on a paper towel and repeat until all of the batter has been used.  Serve with sour cream or crème fraiche.

Carrot Martini

It might not be as cool as 007, but this cocktail is very refreshing.  Blend 500g carrots with 200ml pineapple juice to a puree, then strain.  Add equal part of the carrot puree and orange-flavoured vodka or marmalade vodka to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, give it a good shake and pour into martini glasses.  Garnish with a twist of orange.

Balsamic Glazed Baby Carrots

This sweet and sticky dish goes brilliantly with roast lamb.  Saute 300g baby carrots on a medium heat in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 10 mins, or until tender.  Stir in 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tblsp brown sugar, stir to coat and serve.

(Article from Ocado Life)