It is what we all feel racing when we have moments of joy and pain. It’s what usually wins over logic and reason all of the time. It's the one single thing that everyone should take seriously, yes i’m talking about how healthy is your heart?
The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries with it oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. It also whisks away the waste products of metabolism. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly .
Taking all of this into account, let's look at what literally makes us tick and how we can help maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
The heart works like a pump and beats 100,000 times a day. It has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. The left side of the heart receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body .
Your heart is made up of three tissue layers:
The movement of blood around the body, pumped by the heart, is called circulation. Your heart, blood and blood vessels together make up your cardiovascular system (or heart and circulatory system). Your body contains about five litres (eight pints) of blood, which your heart is continuously circulating .
As your heart muscle contracts, it pushes blood through your heart. With each contraction, or heartbeat :
It is clear that the heart is one of the most important organs in the human body and it should be taken care of literally because your life depends on it! Before we get onto what is essential to keep a strong healthy heart, let us take a look at common things that can go wrong with the heart and cardiovascular system.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading killers, with over 17 million people dying globally from a heart related condition every year according to the World Health Organisation . There are a number of heart conditions that one could experience or be unlucky enough to be diagnosed with. The most common ones are :
So now that i’ve scared you enough with what can go wrong with the heart, let's see what can be done to keep the heart fit and healthy? Firstly, exercise! Get that heart pumping and get some oxygen around your body! The American Heart Association recommend the following :
For Overall Cardiovascular Health:
- At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.
- At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol:
- An average 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.
Remember something is always better than nothing! And everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you've been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don't think you'll make it for 30 or 40 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day.
Nutrients are also essential for your heart. Here are some of the ones that the heart needs to function well :
One crucial topic I have not covered in detail is the role of cholesterol in cardiovascular health. As this is a vast and complex topic, I shall cover it in a blog of its own to do it justice. What I will say is that cholesterol does play a role in cardiovascular health, but not as much as you may think or are led to believe!
It can be seen by exercising, eating a varied and diet rich in vitamins and minerals and having sensible portions of food sizes combined with the occasional supplement can go a long way to helping our heart and cardiovascular system function at its optimum condition. Like the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
If you think you require support with your cardiovascular health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With the shift in weather this time of year for those of us in Europe and North America, common colds, flus and viruses seem to flare up and do the rounds. From using crowded public transport facilities to working in air conditioned offices where the air is ‘recycled’, yes in most cities this time of year it’s a germ fest! So what can be done to ensure that your immune system is at its peak to fight off these nasty bugs and ensure you can have a healthy couple of months going into Christmas and the New Year.
Lets first discuss what is the immune system? The immune system is a collection of structures and processes within the body. It is designed to protect against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies. When functioning properly, the immune system identifies a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and distinguishes them from the body's own healthy tissue .
The immune system is made up of antibodies, white blood cells, and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy substances such as bacteria and viruses that they recognise as foreign and different. The immune system also includes :
Without an immune system, a human being would be just as exposed to the harmful influences of pathogens or other substances from the outside environment as to changes harmful to health happening inside of the body. As long as our body’s system of defense is running smoothly, we do not notice the immune system. And yet, different groups of cells work together and form alliances against just about any pathogen (germ). But illness can occur if the performance of the immune system is compromised, if the pathogen is especially aggressive, or sometimes also if the body is confronted with a pathogen it has not come into contact before (this is how most of us get a common cold or the flu) .
So now that we know what the immune system is and how it works, what can we do to keep it healthy and running in peak condition? Here’s a few quick wins that we should all be doing :
What is almost always overlooked is the importance of exercise and the role it plays in keeping the immune system healthy. There have been many studies done that both say exercise is both good for your immune system and could also be harmful for you if you’re over exercising. Some theories of getting regular exercise to help the immune system are the following :
Exercise is good for you, but, you should not overdo it. People who already exercise should not exercise more just to increase their immunity. Heavy, long-term exercise (such as marathon running and intense gym training) could actually cause harm. Exercise makes you feel healthier and more energetic. It can help you feel better about yourself. So go ahead, take that aerobics class or go for that walk. You will feel better and healthier for it.
Let's also look at foods that can help boost your immune system and keep it in top shape:
Garlic (my favourite) - contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. One ounce of garlic contains 23% of your Manganese RDA, 17% of your Vitamin B6 RDA, 15% of your Vitamin C RDA, 6% of your Selenium RDA and also decent amounts of fibre, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1 .
Green Tea - People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that's responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea, decaf versions have it too. Optimal dose is several cups daily. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved. To get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew .
Sweet Potatoes - To stay strong and healthy, your skin needs vitamin A. "Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin," explains David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre in Derby, Connecticut. One of the best ways to get vitamin A into your diet is from foods containing beta-carotene (like sweet potatoes), which your body turns into vitamin A .
Green Leafy Vegetables - Vegetables come loaded with fibre and nutrients and are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and cabbages are loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants that boost immune system functioning .
Berries - Blueberries are famous for their high antioxidant content, but almost all berries are very healthy. They contain flavonoids and phytochemicals, which are powerful antioxidants. Berries are versatile and can be used to make a range of healthy smoothies, desserts and more for yourself and your kids .
Nuts - Nuts like almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are great sources of fats. They also contain vitamin E and zinc along with a good amount of antioxidants. They are also versatile and easy to mix with different foods. To optimise digestibility of nuts and seeds, soak and dehydrate them first and all nuts and seeds can be easily made into delicious homemade nut or seed butter .
Ginger - Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea. While it's used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal research .
Poultry - When you’re sick, chicken soup is more than just a feel-good food with a placebo effect. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6. Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. It’s also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity .
In addition to consuming healthy foods, it's also critical to stay hydrated in order to help keep your throat and airways clear, says Maxine Yeung, MS, RD, CDN, NASM-CPT and founder of The Wellness Whisk. But not all beverages help fight illness. "Hot tea is a great way to stay hydrated, provide warmth and comfort to an irritated and inflamed throat and help relieve congestion," says Yeung. "Try to avoid sweetened beverages, like sports drinks and juice, as too much sugar in your body can cause inflammation... which further weakens your immune system ."
When you're trying to fight off an illness, focus on consuming foods that are packed with nutrients. "It's not what to avoid, but what to include in your diet that is important for immunity," says Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com. And of course, the old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" always applies. "The best way to stave off the cold and flu is try to stay as healthy as possible by maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active and practicing good hygiene," says Yeung. "There is no magical food that can help prevent a cold, but lacking in certain nutrients can contribute to a compromised immune system." So for the best cold prevention, focus on eating balanced healthy meals all year-round .
Lastly, supplements can also be used to help boost and maintain the immune system. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D-3, Freeze Dried Garlic, Ginger Root, Zinc, Magnesium and Olive Leaf Extract are some of my favourite ones to use to boost the immune system. Whilst i’m not affiliated with any supplement companies, if you require guidance on which brands to use, contact me! If you’re using supplements, make sure they are ethically sourced with organic and food based ingredients and are not filled with fillers and preservatives. You should always take supplements on a short term basis.
In conclusion, I would suggest that staying hydrated, avoiding sugary foods, having foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and different colours as well as having the foods I mentioned above and exercising will help you maintain good, healthy and thriving immune system. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. If you think you require support with your immune system or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
For those of us in the Western part of the world, Autumn and the fall season has started to creep up on us. The days are getting shorter, the weather a lot cooler, leaves have started falling and in the UK especially the rain has started, nothing new there then! For those amongst us that are getting on in their age, it's also the time of year where those bones start aching more and joints start to feel a lot stiffer than they are over the summer months.
Bone health is one of the most common issues for the elderly. With conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis being the most common ones. Of course there are many others, but the ones mentioned above are the most common ones that are diagnosed. So why are so many of the elderly generation suffering from bone issues? We shall explore these (mainly osteoporosis) later in this blog, but first let me go into what is a bone and why it is so important for our long term health to have strong functioning bones.
Bones in our body are living tissue. They have their own blood vessels and are made of living cells, which help them to grow and to repair themselves. Proteins, minerals and vitamins also make up the bone. We are born with about 300 soft bones. During childhood and adolescence, cartilage grows and is slowly replaced by hard bone. Some of these bones later fuse together, so that the adult skeleton has 206 bones .
The major functions of bones are to:
Think of bone as a bank account where you “deposit” and “withdraw” bone tissue. During childhood and the teenage years, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. For most people, bone formation continues at a faster pace than removal until bone mass peaks during the third decade of life. After age 30, bone “withdrawals” can begin to exceed “deposits.” For many people, this bone loss can be prevented by continuing to get calcium, vitamin D, exercise and by avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use .
There are different types of bones in the human body. These are mainly defined by the shape they are. They can be described as long, short, flat, sesamoid and irregular . They all serve a purpose. Some bones are designed for movement, others for protection. As mentioned earlier in this blog, bones are also essential for creating marrow. This is important for creating blood cells. Red blood cells start as immature cells in the bone marrow and after approximately seven days of maturation are released into the bloodstream. The functional lifetime of a red blood cell is about 100–120 days, during which time the red blood cells are continually moved by the blood flow push (in arteries), pull (in veins) and a combination of the two as they squeeze through microvessels such as capillaries. They are recycled in the bone marrow .
Your bones are continuously changing, new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you're young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain. How likely you are to develop osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle — depends on how much bone mass you attain by the time you reach age 30 and how rapidly you lose it after that. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have "in the bank" and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age .
There are a number of factors that can also affect bone health. The amount of calcium in your diet, the amount of exercise you do, the amount of tobacco and alcohol you consume, your age, hormone levels, eating disorders and use of medications can all have an affect on your bone health . It's clear to see that having bad eating habits with a lack of exercise can be a major contributing factor to the long-term effect of your bones. Note that as your bones get weaker, the amount of blood cells being produced get limited. This then leads to a number of other issues such as a weaker immune system, lack of muscle growth and lack of energy to name a few. What happens then is that the body goes more into a survival mode of protecting its vital organs and blood flow is reduced to the distal parts of the body. You can see how this can have a dramatic affect on the elderly as they clearly complain about joint issues, lack of mobility, lack of energy and concentration.
The ever growing Osteoporosis problem
If you have osteoporosis it means that you have lost some bone material. Your bones become less dense. This makes them more prone to break (fracture). 'Thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis) mainly affects older people but it can affect someone of any age. Some people have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis in later years. In England and Wales, more than two million women are thought to have 'thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis). Women lose bone material more rapidly than men, especially after the menopause when their levels of oestrogen fall. Oestrogen is a hormone and helps to protect against bone loss. At the age of 50, about 2 in 100 women have osteoporosis. This rises to 1 in 4 women at the age of 80. But, osteoporosis can also affect men. Over a third of women and one in five men in the UK have one or more bone fractures because of osteoporosis in their lifetime. There are estimated to be 180,000 fractures every year in England and Wales caused by osteoporosis .
Whist there are many treatment options for osteoporosis, by far in my opinion using nutrition and supplements is the best way of preventing osteoporosis. Although most of the bone strength (including bone mass and quality) is genetically determined, many other factors (nutritional, environmental and lifestyle) also influence bone. Nutrition is important modifiable factor in the development and maintenance of bone mass and the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Approximately 80–90% of bone mineral content is comprised of calcium and phosphorus. Other dietary components, such as protein, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, fluoride, vitamins D, A, C, and K are required for normal bone metabolism, while other ingested compounds not usually categorized as nutrients (e.g. caffeine, alcohol, phytoestrogens) may also impact bone health .
When it comes to osteoporosis, prevention is the best cure. Lifestyle and diet also contribute. Whilst there are a lot of conventional drugs available, the following Naturopathic approaches as written by Kamhi, E  can also help patients to prevent and help improve osteoporosis:
• Effective dietary interventions
- Making consistent healthy food choices to ensure the body is getting sufficient nutrients to build and maintain strong bones.
- Limit alcohol consumption to a minimum amount.
- Avoid or stop smoking.
- Calcium is the most abundant material in the human body. It is well recognized for its importance in the development of bones and teeth in additional to many other functions.
- The best food sources of calcium, other than dairy, include whole grains, beans, almonds and other nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale.
- Magnesium is the second most common mineral in the body, after calcium. It is important for many metabolic processes including building bones, forming adenosine triphosphate and absorbing calcium.
- Dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, whole grains, dark green vegetables, fish, meat and legumes.
- Magnesium deficiency may impair the production of parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which negatively affects bone mineralization.
• Vitamin D
- Vitamin D is essential for the formation and maintenance of bone tissue.
- Vitamin D is synthesized when sunlight hits the skin and transforms 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
- Food sources of Vitamin D include fish and fish oil.
- Vitamin D is also available as a supplement in several forms. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and alfacalcidol are 3 common forms.
- Boron is ubiquitous throughout the human body, with the highest concentrations found in the bones and dental enamel.
- Fruits, vegetables, soybeans, and nuts can be rich sources of boron, but the level depends on the soil in which it is grown.
- A safe daily intake is estimated to be between 1 and 10mg.
- Strontium is a naturally occurring mineral present in water and food.
- It is believed to be able to decrease bone re-absorption and increase bone formation which increases bone mass, microarchitecture and strength.
- In the United States, strontium is available as a dietary supplement in the form of strontium citrate.
• Vitamin K
- Vitamin K can help maintain healthy bone mass as it is important in the formation of osteocalcin by osteoblasts.
- Green vegetables, chili powder, prunes, sun-dried tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and figs are all good sources of vitamin K.
Yoga is another valuable tool for everyone's bone health. Not only is yoga weight-bearing, it's the far greater pressure created by one group of muscles opposing another that makes the difference.
So as can be seen, by having a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds as well as some good quality supplements and staying hydrated can have a very positive long term impact on your bones and your overall health.
If you think you can benefit from a diet tailored to good bone health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
The summer is over for most of us in Western hemisphere part of the world. Those memories of relaxing at the beach or hiking up a mountain are just that for most of us now, memories. Schools have reopened and the majority of us are back to work. It’s the middle of September (2017) and the next build up of holidays is already on some people’s mind. Yes you guessed right, as of today it’s 100 days till Christmas 2017!!!
Statistically speaking, for most people the build up to Christmas and the Christmas holiday season is the most stressful time of the year. With the pressure from work to deliver results or meet targets before the end of the year, the pressure to get all of the presents and Christmas plans all arranged and ensure travel plans, holidays and other schedules are all booked can all be overwhelming. Financially this can also be very stressful as most people's credit card takes a hammering at this time of year too. Over the Christmas holiday period the number of internet searches for divorces also increases, with those filings coming into fruition around March the following year sadly. So what can be done to cope with the stress of this busy period of the year, the stress of family, partners, distant relatives as well as coping with work demands too?
Before getting into that, let's take a step back and actually see what stress is, what it does to the body and how you can get stress to work for you rather than against you.
Firstly, let’s debunk one myth: stress is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Without this brilliant ability to feel stress, humankind wouldn’t have survived. Our cavemen ancestors, for example, used the onset of stress to alert them to a potential danger, such as a sabre-toothed tiger .
Stress is primarily a physical response. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion and urine secretion .
When it comes to stress there are two parts of the autonomic nervous system that are very important. The Parasympathetic and Sympathetic systems. Let’s explore these in a little detail as they are important in figuring out why they play an important part in stress, survival and other essential functions necessary for the human body.
The Parasympathetic system is the body’s relaxed system. It is also known as the ‘rest and digest’ system as that is its primary aim. Its main functions are to control the body at its resting rate, the neurons have longer pathways and slow down, heart rate slows down and a sense of calm is over the body. Also the Bronchial tubes in the lung constrict, stomach movements, especially digestion and urine secretions increase. The Parasympathetic system is essential for the body to be able to digest food at its optimum and ensure that the body can unwind and relax. If it wasn’t present, we would be constantly wired and on the go 24/7 (some of us are) !
This brings us nicely onto the Sympathetic system. It’s general action is to mobilise the body's fight-or-flight response. It’s main function is to control the body's response during a perceived threat. In this system the neurons are shorter and fire rapidly. The body tenses up, speeds up and becomes more alert. Functions not critical to survival slow down. The body’s heart rate increases, the Bronchial tubes in the lungs dilate, pupils dilate, stomach movements decrease. Adrenaline is released and glycogen to glucose for muscle energy is increased. All of this happens so that your body is ready for a perceived threat, such as coming face-to-face with a sabre-toothed tiger or to get out of the way of a moving car as quickly as possible .
As mentioned before in this blog, feeling stressed can be a good thing sometimes and perfectly normal. You might notice that sometimes being stressed-out motivates you to focus on your work or perform at a higher level. Professional athletes such as Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton and Cristiano Ronaldo all feel stressed when performing! They have thousands of fans watching them, with millions of others around the world watching them via TV, so when it comes to crunch time and they have to score a point, get a goal or cross over the finishing line first, they all use that stress in a positive way to help boost their performance. They turn the stress to their advantage and know that it helps them boost their performance.
Stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory. In addition, there are various health benefits with a little bit of stress. Researchers believe that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. For instance, stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. In one study, individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery were able to recover faster than individuals who had low or high levels .
So what is the bad side of stress? We have seen what the side effects of being stressed, or medically speaking, being in a sympathetic state can do to the body. Stress is key for survival, but too much stress can be detrimental. Emotional stress that stays around for weeks or months can cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease. In particular, too much epinephrine can be harmful to your heart. It can change the arteries and how their cells are able to regenerate .
There is no doubt that under stress the immune system is suppressed, making you more vulnerable to infections. Allergies and autoimmune diseases (including arthritis and multiple sclerosis) may be exacerbated by stress. This effect can be partly offset by social support from friends and family. Being stressed also slows the rate at which you recover from any illnesses you already have. Stress is known to aggravate skin problems such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. It also has been linked to unexplained itchy skin rashes. These skin problems are themselves intensely stressful . For more info about skin health, read my skin blog.
Continued stimulation of muscles through prolonged stress can lead to muscular pain such as backaches. Together with our sedentary lifestyles and bad posture, this makes back, shoulder and neck ache extremely widespread. Stress also is thought to aggravate underlying painful conditions such as herniated discs, fibromyalgia and repetitive strain injury (RSI). Furthermore, most migraine sufferers say that stress contributes to their headaches, which can last for days. Stress does not normally cause infertility, but the two have been linked many times. People who are trying for a baby are more likely to conceive when on holiday or when facing little stress, and fertility treatment is more successful at these times too .
When you're stressed, you may eat much more or much less than you usually do. If you eat more or different foods, or increase your use of alcohol or tobacco, you can experience heartburn or acid reflux. Stress or exhaustion can also increase the severity of heartburn pain. Your brain also becomes more alert to sensations in your stomach. Your stomach can react with "butterflies" or even nausea or pain. You may vomit if the stress is severe enough. And, if the stress becomes chronic, you may develop ulcers or severe stomach pain even without ulcers. Stress can affect digestion, and what nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how fast food moves through your body. You may find that you have either diarrhea or constipation .
Essentially, long term stress is for most people a cycle. They are stressed, so their body is constantly secreting adrenaline, keeping them wired and worried. This then leads to bad food choices or as we have known the phenomenon to be called, ‘comfort eating’. It's easy to grab a donut, potato chips, pizza, fries, candy, sugary drinks, coffee and alcohol to make ourselves feel better. What is happening is that we are starving our body of essential nutrients from nutrient dense plant based foods, coupled with a compromised digestion system, we cannot digest food properly. This leads to a nutrient deficiency that keeps the body unwell and not in balance. This in turns makes the body more stressed as its not getting better and the cycle continues.
Before I give my opinions on stress management, lastly i’d like to cover something that is more common with stress than is given credit, and that is depression. Whilst I will cover depression in detail in a future blog post, I do believe it is important to cover briefly now.
A recent study published by Dr. Shervin Assari of the School of Public Health Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, and the U-M Department of Psychiatry has claimed that stress long-term can lead to depression and that long-term effects of stress affects men more than women. This could partly be because men are less open to talking about their health issues.
"In our society, as men, we learn to see this as a weakness, as suggested by gender role identity theorists," Assari said. "Hegemonic masculinity is a barrier to seek care and talk about emotions. This at least in part explains why men less frequently seek help, either professional or inside of their social networks. Our research suggests this may come with a price for men."
In addition to how men and women cope with stress, other distinctions may be due to gender differences in resilience, risk perception and general exposure, he said. "Differential exposure to stress may help women better mobilize their psychological resources, which protect them when needed," he said. It's also possible that men may under report their stresses, and that those who do acknowledge them are the ones who are most affected by depression later, Assari said.
"Men should improve the way they cope and the way they mobilize their resources when they face stressful events," he said. "They should learn from women on how to talk about emotions and use resources. Men exposed to a lot of stress should take it seriously. They should know being a man is not all about power. It also comes with vulnerabilities." .
So what can be done to combat stress and keep the body balanced? Well there are a few quick wins that can be addressed to get things in order.
Avoid, or at least reduce, your consumption of nicotine and any drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so will increase your level of stress rather than reduce it. Alcohol is a depressant when taken in large quantities, but acts as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Therefore using alcohol as a way to alleviate stress is not ultimately helpful. Swap caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices and aim to keep yourself hydrated as this will enable your body to cope better with stress. You should also aim to avoid or reduce your intake of refined sugars - they are contained in many manufactured foods (even in savoury foods such as salad dressings and bread) and can cause energy crashes which may lead you to feel tired and irritable. In general, try to eat a healthy, well-balanced and nutritious diet .
Indulge in physical activity. Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body. These are the “fight or flight” hormones that evolution has hardwired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat. However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response, and so physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep .
A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately though, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximise your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm epsom salt bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you. You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine .
Relaxation techniques, meditation and yoga are all great at combating stress. There is a wonderful app called ‘Headspace’ which is great for meditating. It's just 15 minutes of your day, where you shut off from the world, sit somewhere comfortable, plug your headphones in and listen to the app. Other things such as adult colouring, staring at a fish tank, stretching, walking at a comfortable pace and anything else you find relaxing and therapeutic can help with combating stress. For some this could be house cleaning, cooking or shopping. Whatever works for you.
Talking to someone about stress is very important. It doesn’t matter what type of stress it is. For work stress, speak to your HR department if you feel overwhelmed at work. If you don’t say anything, the work won’t get any less or easier. If you are stressed with your family or your partner, speak to them. Get whatever is making you stressed off your chest. You’ll find that most family members and partners are supportive. Plus if you’re a man you’ll get brownie points for opening up to your partner. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your family or even friends, there are lots of other services you can go to. Speak to your GP, or Google to see if there is a local support group nearby where you can speak to anyone. Or why not contact me, i’m a great listener :-)
Other things you can do are to learn to take control of your mind and actions. We often make a bigger deal of things than they are. Then we push back on them until the very last minute and the anxiety of dealing with them makes us stressed. I have a great technique that I personally use, feel free to use it:
As you can see, there are a lot of tasks that can get completed in 5 minutes or less from my example list. I get them done really quick, and then have more time and motivation to focus on the bigger things I have planned. Having completed some tasks quickly, releases serotonin. This is known as the happy hormone in the body. When you are happy, you want that feeling again and again. So completing another task releases more serotonin which keeps me happy. And if i’m happy, i’m less stressed and more relaxed. Lastly, rewarding yourself for your achievements can be a great way to combat stress too. If I complete all of my tasks for the week, I’ll go to my local Indian restaurant and have a curry. I may also have a slice of cake or go for a meal or watch a movie with friends. Rewarding yourself can do great things for your self confidence and relieving stress. If I don’t get all of the tasks on my list done that week, I don’t beat myself up over it or get worked up. I add them to next week's list and ensure I work even harder to get them completed. With this blog done, i’m off for a slice of cheesecake! Thanks for reading and good health to all.
If you feel you need help managing your stressful life or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
There has been a lot of negative news in the media over the last 30 years about fat and how fat is bad for you. Let me explain this in detail and put some of the common misconceptions to bed in this week's blog.
To start with, consuming the right fats does not make you fat, consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and the wrong fats makes you fat. Carbs can cause weight gain as they cause your blood sugar to cycle up and down. Please note that carbs alone cannot make you gain weight, unless you consume more calories from carbs than you can burn off in a day .
After carbohydrates are digested into glucose, sugar goes to the cells that need it for energy. If the blood levels of sugar are too high, sugar goes to the liver where it’s converted into a storage form of glucose called glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and skeletal muscles, so they will have an immediate source of energy when your activity level increases. The body can only store a limited amount of glycogen, although endurance training enhances the amount of storage. Depending on your body’s capacity and the intensity of activity, glycogen can be depleted in about 20 to 90 minutes .
Glycogen molecules hold a significant amount of water. Each gram of glycogen that’s stored in your body is attached to 2.7 grams of water, reports the American Council on Exercise. This isn’t the same as water retention. When you retain water, the water is held between cells and makes you feel bloated. The water in glycogen is part of its molecular structure. But water still adds weight, so as you load up on carbs and refill your glycogen stores, it can increase your weight by as much as 3 to 5 pounds .
So what could be the alternative if consuming too many of the wrong carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain? Well let’s look at the other other two main food groups, protein and fats.
Protein, in all its essence is the building block for our body. It's not only used for muscle growth. Protein is used to make organs, tissues, hormones as well as muscles in the human body. The protein found in foods is used by every part of the body to develop, grow and function properly. It can be argued that nothing is more important than consuming protein foods, and because proteins are involved in just about every body function, it’s important that you consume foods high in protein every day, during every meal to prevent protein deficiency, which can wreak havoc on the body .
Studies show that eating a high-protein diet has a number of health benefits. Not only does it help you maintain and lose weight, but it also works to stabilize your blood sugar levels, improve your ability to learn and concentrate, reduce brain fog, boost your energy levels, support your muscles and bones and support the absorption of important nutrients .
This brings us nicely onto the main topic of this blog, fats! There are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats. You still have to watch how much of these fats you consume, as an excessive intake of any food group will contribute to weight gain if you cannot burn off more calories than you consume.
‘Good’ fats are unrefined animal fats, fat from fish, some fats from plants such as avocado, nuts, olive and some tropical oils. These fats tend to include a higher proportion of saturated and monounsaturated fats or be higher in omega-3’s. ‘Bad’ fats are vegetable fats, such as soy, peanut, corn, sunflower and canola oils that have been refined. They tend to be high in omega-6 fats and are highly susceptible to oxidation during processing, which makes them reactive and damaging to the body .
You’ll generally get greater benefits from eating good fats when you limit your carbohydrate intake. A good and way to do this is to adapt a ketogenic diet. Also referred to as a keto diet, it has become very popular of the last few years, but has actually been around for almost 100 years! It was originally introduced as a potential treatment for epilepsy in the 1920’s .
The way a ketogenic diet works is to ensure that the body goes into ‘fat’ burning mode and using fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar). Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose or ketones .
On a ketogenic diet your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, like for example less hunger and a steady supply of energy. When the body produces ketones it’s said to be in ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting, not eating anything, but obviously it’s not possible to fast forever. A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinitely and also results in ketosis. It has many of the benefits of fasting, including weight loss without having to fast .
Other benefits of the ketogenic diet are reduced dependence on medication, improvement on blood glucose control, improvements in insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure and usually improvements in cholesterol levels . It's common to experience improvements in your skin when you switch to a ketogenic diet. One study that showed drops in lesions and skin inflammation when switching to a low-carb diet. Another study that shows a probable connection between high-carb eating and increased acne, so it’s likely that keto can help. For acne, it may be beneficial to reduce dairy intake and follow a strict skin cleaning regimen .
So what can be eaten on the ketogenic diet? Here is a list of foods that can be eaten:
What foods need to be avoided:
For liquids, water and herbal teas can be consumed freely. Coffee and dry wines should be consumed moderately and spirits, beers and other alcohols should be consumed rarely .
Whilst the medium to long term benefits of the ketogenic diet for most people will have very good implications for their health and lifestyle, the short term side effects of the ketogenic diet can be off putting and annoying whilst they last.
Within the first couple of weeks, the loss of salts whilst the body adjusts can take its toll. This happens as the body uses up its stored sugar (glycogen) which releases water into the blood that gets passed out of the body through urine. As fluid is passed out of the body, salts in the body can get depleted too. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated through the day. Water is the best drink for hydration but herbal teas are also fine. Ensure you have enough salt as this can prevent side effects such as headaches and dizziness. You are free to add sea salt to your food and can take salts by drinking vegetable or bone broths and bouillons too. Potassium and magnesium are other important salts. As long as you are eating healthy, natural foods (such as nuts, meat, fish and a range of vegetables), you shouldn’t have a problem getting enough magnesium and potassium . Electrolytes can also be added to your water to ensure you stay hydrated.
‘Keto-flu’ can also be an issue. The first few weeks of transitioning to a ketogenic diet can be challenging for some people. Whereas others adapt to it more easily. Your body may be used to relying mainly on glucose for energy and so it will need to switch to using ketones for fuel. This adaptation process is known as keto-adaption.
Keto-adaption may result in some initial ‘brain fog’, but this will disappear once the body has fully adapted and some people feel sharper at this point. It is estimated that keto-adaption takes around four weeks on average but the side effects themselves often disappear sooner. During that time, and especially at the end of the first week, it is likely that you may feel some symptoms that are similar to the flu, such as:
Brain fog / slow thinkingDizziness
Racing heart rate when lying down
You may find that allowing your body to ease into ketosis helps to lessen the effect of side effects. This can be done by gradually lowering carbohydrate intake over a few weeks .
Other short term side effects of adapting a ketosis diet can be frequent urination, dizziness, drowsiness, cravings for sugar, constipation, muscle cramps and smelly breath . However by ensuring you have enough sea salt, fluids and the correct ‘keto’ balance of protein, fats and vegetables these side effects can be limited to a few weeks, days for some people. I would not let these short term side effects deter you from the long term benefits of the keto diet.
I have personally done the ketosis diet for weight loss and it did amazing things for me. Over 12 months I lost over 4 stone, gained about 4kg of muscle and had so much energy. I had clarity of thought and had the most amazing sleep! After a hard 3 weeks of side effects I started to see the benefits and for my lifestyle at the time was the perfect diet for me. I would encourage anyone that is serious about losing weight and keeping it off long term to try the ketosis diet.
Of course exercise is important for weight loss. By combining cardio and resistance exercise with a keto diet and ensuring you get 7-9 of sleep a night and stay properly hydrated will dow wonders for weight loss. Lastly for all you sweet tooth lovers out there, having dark chocolate that is 80% or above dark chocolate will be high in fat naturally and can be used as a snack when on a ketosis diet!
If you think you can benefit from a ketosis diet for weight loss or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
Nuts are typically a dried fruit with one or two seeds. Botanically speaking, nuts are a composite of seed and dry fruit found inside of a hard outer shell . Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, horse chestnuts and pine nuts are not nuts. So the health warning on a packet of peanuts (“may contain nuts”) is, strictly speaking, untrue .
Most nuts are dense in energy and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. Due to this they have been a favourite food group amongst vegetarians and health conscience individuals. Nuts are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and provide other cardioprotective properties. In addition to providing healthy fats, nuts also contain high amounts of fiber, protein, Vitamin E, and a variety of essential minerals.
Raw nuts contain the highest amounts of these healthy nutrients. Roasting nuts reduces the antioxidant content and can reduce the amount of healthy fats. In addition, some roasting methods add other oils which may not contain the same health benefits as the oils found naturally in the nuts .
A golf ball-sized portion (about 30g) of unsalted nuts makes a vitality-boosting snack and, unlike most other options, contributes a mix of valuable vitamins and minerals. All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits .
What makes nuts so good is that different nuts have different properties of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. So consuming say just one Brazilian nut a day will ensure you get more than 100% if your recommended daily allowance of Selenium.
Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse. Antioxidants help control free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced as a normal part of metabolism. Free radical production increases in response to heavy sun exposure, stress, pollution and other causes. Although free radicals can play a beneficial role in immune response, having too many can lead to cell damage. When your level of free radicals is too high, your body is said to be in a state of oxidative stress, which increases disease risk .
Although they're considered a high-calorie food, research suggests that nuts may actually help you lose weight. One large study called the PREDIMED study assessed the effects of the Mediterranean diet. Analysis of data from a subgroup of the study found that those assigned to eat nuts lost an average of 2 inches (5 cm) from their waists, which is significantly more than those assigned to eat olive oil. Almonds have consistently been shown to promote weight loss rather than weight gain in controlled studies. One study found that pistachios may also be helpful for weight loss .
In one study of overweight women, those who consumed almonds lost nearly three times as much weight and experienced a significantly greater decrease in waist size compared to the control group. What's more, even though the calorie counts listed for nuts are quite high, studies have shown that your body doesn't absorb all of them. This is because a portion of fat stays trapped within the nut's fibrous wall during digestion .
Although a great deal of research suggests that nuts can benefit heart health and reduce the risks of dying early from heart disease and other causes, the evidence is still inconclusive. But unless you're allergic to nuts, there's no real danger in eating nuts, so you can certainly include nuts as part of your heart-healthy diet. One way nuts may help your heart health is by lowering the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels. LDL plays a major role in the development of plaque that builds up on the blood vessels. Eating more nuts has also been linked to lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease. Eating nuts may also reduce your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also appear to improve the health of the lining of your arteries .
Many of the bad nuts in this world actually come from the way humans process them and not so much the nuts themselves. Avoid the following:
Buying nuts in bulk can help you save money but be careful when you go snacking that you don’t sit down with the huge package and start munching away, chances are really good that you are going to overeat. Grab a handful, and then put the package away !
There has been much talk of peanuts containing carcinogens and that they should be avoided at all costs. The carcinogen you’re referring to is aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by certain strains of the mold Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus that grow on peanuts stored in warm, humid silos. Peanuts aren’t the only affected crops. Aflatoxins have been found in pecans, pistachios and walnuts, as well as milk, grains, soybeans and spices. Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen, known to cause liver cancer in laboratory animals and may contribute to liver cancer in Africa where peanuts are a dietary staple .
If you love peanuts, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to eat them – and peanut butter – in moderation. While they’re really legumes, not true nuts, peanuts (and peanut butter) do contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. However, I still prefer almond butter and cashew butter, because they have a better fatty acid profile. And for snacking, I tend to choose raw, unsalted cashews, almonds or walnuts (which are Omega 3 sources). If you do go for peanut butter, look for brands containing only peanuts or peanuts and salt. Avoid those with hydrogenated oils, sugar and other additives .
In conclusion, I would suggest that having a handful of nuts daily as a snack is a great way to intake ‘good’ calories and help ensure that you’re fuller for longer. They are certainly a better choice than a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps. As always, processed nuts and foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. If you think you require support with good snacking habits or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
Last Saturday was a typical day for me. I woke up late, not because I was out partying all of Friday night, but because it has been a very long week of grinding and I spent most of my Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning working on my businesses. Popular to contrary belief, being an entrepreneur is not all cocktail parties, book signings and event speaking in front of large crowds. After waking up and looking into the bathroom mirror, it dawned on me that my face looked more tired than usual. The skin on my face felt dry and not as stretchy as usual. A classic sign of water dehydration.
After booting up my laptop and starting to research on what to write for this blog, I needed a break and decided to put the television on for few minutes. Within 10 minutes I had viewed 3 different adverts for products that promised clearer skin. Whilst there is nothing wrong in applying products topically to your skin, it got me thinking about how the outside of your body is expressing what is going on in the inside. Indeed beauty is truly deeper than skin. It is physical, physiological, psychological and emotional.
So before I get into the details of this blog, let me explain what skin is! The skin is the largest organ in the body with a total area of approximately 20 square feet. Skin is designed to protect our microbes, regulate body temperature and permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold. It has three layers :
The skin's colour is created by special cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin. Melanocytes are located in the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) . The skin also also acts as a reservoir for the synthesis of Vitamin D .
So what is that is so important about our skin? Why do most people fascinate with having good, clear skin? Why do some people freak out at the first sign of wrinkles and run to the nearest botox clinic? The answer is simple. As human beings, we want to project the best version of ourselves. We want to look good, have the appearance of being attractive and skin is a major factor in this. It is after all not hideable and seen by everyone.
There are some things that are commonly known to cause bad skin. Sugar is most certainly one of them. Sugar or high-glycemic foods quickly convert to sugar. This in turn raises insulin levels and puts unnatural demands on your body to deal with the food you just ate. Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread and soda, cause your insulin levels to spike, which leads to what Dr. Nicolas Perricone describes as “a burst of inflammation throughout the body .”
Digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen in your skin through a process known as glycation. Aside from increasing the effects of aging, glycation can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Plus, the more sugar you eat, the more likely it is you’ll develop insulin resistance, which can manifest as excess hair growth (hirsutism) and dark patches on the neck and in body creases.
Simple carbohydrates are the worst offenders : white bread, candy, fried food, ice cream, fruit juice, pasta, ketchup, cream cheese, jam, pizza, sugar (white and brown), packaged snacks and sodas. Common and uncommon names for sugar – see all the “other” names for sugar that you may be unaware of .
In addition to this there is another culprit that is known to contribute to ‘bad’ or what I call ‘not optimal’ skin. This culprit is consumed by hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis. Yes you guessed it, it's coffee! Why is coffee the culprit? Long, scientific story short: It’s because coffee is highly acidic. High doses of acidic caffeine mess with your hormones, namely your stress hormones, which control your skin’s oil production. On top of that, it can act as a diuretic, dehydrating your skin if you drink too much .
Dehydration is a very common skin condition. Dehydration is the loss of water from the body. Dehydration, is the skin’s inability to retain its limited moisture in the epidermis. The quantity of water transmitted from the inside (dermal reserve) to the outside layers (epidermal) of the skin, is dependent on the level of internal hydration. Trans-dermal water loss or flow (TEWL) is the movement of water through the epidermis. People often get confused between dehydration and dryness. DRYNESS is lack of oil on the skin and DEHYDRATION is lack of moisture in the skin. Skin feels a little like tissue paper. If you feel a baby's skin, it feels soft and plump. Whilst dehydrated skin feels less dense and dull . To see tips on how to stay hydrated, read my blog on water and hydration.
Another factor that is close to most people’s hearts is the amount of sun exposure the skin can be exposed to. The sun is the source of all energy, and it brings with it many benefits, from sustaining life by plant photosynthesis to aiding the production of vitamin D in humans. However, as with most biological processes, there is a balance; sun exposure is good, but there is a limit, and too much sun exposure can be harmful, especially for the skin . Like its been stated, there needs to be a balance.
For years we have been told to cover up in the sun to cut the risk of getting skin cancer. But now it seems that a little bit of sunshine on your body is actually good for you. Studies have shown that a sensible amount of sun reduces your risk of several cancers and other serious health conditions. And it's all thanks to vitamin D, which is made by our bodies through the action of the sun's UVB rays on our skin.
Professor Michael Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine and author of The UV Advantage, says: "We get about 90 to 95 per cent of our vitamin D from the sun. It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many common cancers." He advises that we should go out in the sun without sunblock for between five and 15 minutes a day, at least three times a week in spring and summer, to boost our vitamin D levels .
In addition to this, let's look at what else can be done to help with keeping our skin looking young and healthy. As always, I always begin with food! So here’s some foods that will help with your skin; firstly my favourite, oily fish! Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring are excellent foods for healthy skin. The Omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation and make your skin less sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays [8,9]. Fatty fish are also a source of vitamin E, which is one of the most important antioxidants for the skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for protecting the skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation .
Secondly, I would recommend avocados. Avocados are a great source of antioxidant carotenoids like alpha-carotene, beta carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. These free radical quenching compounds provide significant protection for your skin from the environmental damage that leads to fine lines, wrinkles and other visible signs of aging. High amounts of carotenoids in your diet have been shown in scientific studies to improve your skin’s density, thickness, tone and general appearance.
A diet high in avocado is good for your skin, and particularly your face, in the way its fatty acids moisturize and soften your skin cells. When you eat avocados you are also giving your body a lot of skin protecting antioxidants, like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, to prevent wrinkles and slow down the visible signs of aging. If you need any more reasons to eat them, there are 9 more health benefits of avocado here, including losing weight, better digestion and lowering your risk of serious health problems like heart disease and cancer .
Sweet potatoes are also an excellent food to keep your skin healthy. Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in plants. It can be converted into vitamin A in the body, and it’s found in orange and dark-green vegetables such as carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of it. One 1/2-cup serving (100 grams) of baked sweet potato contains enough beta-carotene to provide nearly four times the RDI of vitamin A . Carotenoids like beta-carotene help keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock. When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and protects your skin cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death and the resulting effects of dry, wrinkled skin. Interestingly, beta-carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier look .
Other good sources of food for the skin are walnuts, seeds, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, dark chocolate, red wine, green tea and extra virgin olive oil. What do all these have in common? They are packed full of nutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, lycopenes, carotenoids and isoflavones. All of these help the body function and some such as vitamin C are not stored by the body. Therefore consumption of these daily and even with every meal is required for good skin health.
As well as getting avoiding sugary and processed foods, keeping coffee intake to a minimum, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and eating a diet rich in nutrients, etc. as mentioned above, the following are also good tips for healthy skin:
EXERCISE! Yes exercising is great for your skin. The toxins and excessive secretion of oils by skin glands are the prime causes for your skin problems. Exercising regularly does not only help in keeping your weight under control, but it also stimulates blood circulation throughout your body including face. Sweating during exercise results in to opening up of the pores of your body including face. After exercising, take shower and wash your face to get rid of sweat and toxins. This will help in getting clear skin. During teenage years, acne is developed mainly because of an escalation in the work of hormones. Exercising regularly helps in regulating the surge of hormones .
Washing your clothes using environmentally friendly washing powders can also help those with sensitive skin. Regular washing powders are made using chemicals. Not all of these are natural and the side effect of these is that they can cause skin rashes, itching and other adverse reactions. Using environmentally friendly brands such as eCover can help with your skin conditions. They do a range of products that range from washing powders, dishwashing soap, household sprays, fabric conditioners and hand soaps too. I have personally been using them for over a year now and am very happy with their products. They are available online and in most supermarkets and health food shops.
The last thing I wish to cover in this vast topic of the skin which could be discussed in detail for a long time, is topical things that are applied onto skins. Mostly makeup that is used on the skin. If I ever get the train into London during peak times in the morning, I see an army of girls sitting down on the train, their faces getting plastered with mascara, foundation and lipstick. That’s about as far as my makeup knowledge goes. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy looking at a pretty looking face that has a ‘regular’ amount of makeup as much as the next red blooded male. I’m not advocating that women stop wearing makeup to clear their skin, that is a personal choice for every person to make themselves. What I am advocating is using good, organic and harmful chemical free products.
The problem with traditional makeup is that it causes a number of skin conditions . So their is a vicious circle here. The average woman working in a western city, will wake up and not be happy with her skin. So she’ll wear makeup, drink a few cups of coffee a day, have a very ‘western’ diet. All of this leads to further damage to her skin. So what does she do? Yes, apply more makeup to hide the bad skin! To break this cycle, I would suggest using good organic brands of makeup and skincare. Neal’s Yard Remedies is an organic based company in the UK that prides itself on creating makeup and skincare that is fully sourced from organic ingredients that are gentle on the skin. They are a truly green company that take pride in organic health and beauty.
In conclusion, I would suggest that staying hydrated, avoiding sugary foods, cutting down on the coffees, having foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and different colours as well as using ethical and organic sourced beauty and skin care products, absorbing sunlight safely and exercising will help you maintain good, clean and healthy skin. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. If you think you require support with your skin or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
It’s half past three on a Friday afternoon. You’re stuck in an office, hot, stuffy and stressed as you have a five o’clock deadline to meet. Your stomach is grumbling and you decide to go for a candy bar or some potato chips and a coffee. This is a typical scenario for millions of people across the globe. The signals your brain is processing are most likely for thirst rather than hunger. Yes correct, next time you feel hungry have a glass of water rather than a snack/meal and see how you feel 15 minutes later.
Water is one of the most essential things we can nourish our bodies with and there is a significant amount of the world that do not drink enough! I often get frustrated when I turn the tv on and see an advert for a child in Africa somewhere having to walk for miles everyday to collect dirty water. One in ten globally lack access to clean water (1). It is a basic human need and more needs to be done to get this major global issue eradicated. But that is not what this blog is about. However, if you’re feeling generous, feel free to donate to Charity: Water. It’s a great cause where they will prove every penny of your donation goes to giving access to clean disease free water to those who are less fortunate than us.
So why water? What is so important about this clear liquid that most of us in the western world take for granted? Firstly, I think it’s time for a reality check for some people. We live on a planet that is approximately seventy percent water. Out of all the planets that are in the vast cosmos of space, humans have found habitat on a planet we call Earth. I do not think it’s a coincidence that we’re on a planet that is approximately seventy percent water and that the human body is also approximately sixty to seventy percent water too (2), depending on what source you read and the body size in question. For those of you who think you have problems in the world, try fasting for one day and go without water to see how long you last! Muslims at the moment are observing Ramadan and are going without food and water (all liquids) from when the sun comes up until the sun sets. I can say from personal experience, your priorities and needs change very quickly when denied basic human requirements such as drinking clean water!
Back to why water is essential for the human body. Water is used for many functions that the body needs to carry out everyday to survive. Some of these are regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting organs and tissues, lessening the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out toxins, helping prevent constipation, helping dissolves nutrients and other nutrients and making them accessible to the body and carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells (3). As you can see a lack of water will cause some of the functions that the body needs to slow down or stop. Long term this will cause the presence of chronic illness and an increased chance of major illnesses such as cancer. Bladder cancer has been heavily linked to a lack of drinking water on a rugular daily basis. Water helps the bladder flush out toxins by regular urination (4).
Drinking 1.5-2 litres of water a day should be the aim for most individuals. This can be done by consuming clean water as well as herbal teas. Foods such as cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, broccoli, spinach and grapefruit all have a high water content in them and will help your body absorb water from these foods too (5). These foods also have a high vitamin and mineral content in them. This will help the body stay hydrated and functioning well in combination with having clean water and lots of hydrating foods.
Can drinking water keep our heart healthy? There seems to be a link between risk of death from coronary heart disease and water intake: research has shown both that consuming more water means a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and that risk of death rises when intake of “high-energy fluids” (like soda and juice) increases (6).
If you often feel tired, there is a high chance that it could be due to inadequate consumption of water which makes the body function less efficiently. In fact, fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration. When there is less water in the body, there is a drop of blood volume, which causes the heart to work harder to pump oxygenated blood out in the bloodstream, and other major organs also work less efficiently. Thus, drinking adequate water can help your body function better and reduce fatigue (7).
I often hear that my clients drink lots of fluid. When I ask what fluids these are, the reply I often hear is juices, coffee and alcohol. All of these fluids are proven to do the opposite of what water does. Juices are very high in sugar and coffee/alcohol are very dehydrating on the body.
With alcohol-containing drinks, the common belief that alcohol consumption results in dehydration is fully supported by scientific research. When we consume an alcohol-containing drink, the alcohol level in our bloodstream can rise very rapidly. When our blood alcohol level rises, a metabolic regulatory mechanism kicks in and our pituitary gland stops releasing one of the hormones that it stores up - a hormone called antidiuretic hormone, or ADH. When release of ADH is blocked, our kidneys know to start increasing the release of water from our body in the form of increased urination. Unless we compensate for this increased loss of water, we will become partly dehydrated. The metabolism of alcohol can also interfere with our water balance in other ways - all of them pointing in the direction of increased dehydration. Dehydration is one common contributing factor to hangovers (8).
With coffee, the research findings are surprisingly different than most of us would expect. It's been a common assumption that coffee and alcohol are equally dehydrating, and that caffeine is the substance in coffee that causes additional loss of water (diuresis) from the body. However, thanks to some high-quality studies (especially in the area of exercise science), researchers have determined that coffee is not as problematic in terms of dehydration as commonly believed (8).
There are definitely differences in the ability of different people to metabolize caffeine. In general, however, low to moderate amounts of caffeine consumption do not appear to increase water loss very significantly. By "low to moderate" we mean a consumption level that keeps caffeine under 250 milligrams. A "standard" 8-ounce cup of coffee would usually contain at least half this amount, and in many cases would contain this entire amount. And a large, specialty coffee (like a 16-ounce "grande") might contain over twice this level (8).
So next time you’re in a nice beer garden on a warm sunny day, alternate with a glass of water between drinks. Your body will thank you and your hangover the next day won’t be as bad too!
So how can you tell if you’re hydrated or not? The most common way is by the colour of your urine. The lighter your urine is, the more hydrated you are. The darker the urine, the more water your body needs. If your urine is incredibly dark, I suggest you go to your GP or the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Here is the urine chart I use to determine how hydrated you are: http://www.urinecolors.com/themes/uctheme/assets/dehydration-chart.pdf
We live in a world where resources are dwindling and everyday there are more mouths to feed and hydrate. There are currently 7.5 billion people on the planet. By 2030 this is estimated by go up to 8.5 billion! That’s another billion people in the next 13 years to feed and support. Here is a good website to see real time population growth and estimates: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/
I am a firm believer that we will make lots of technological advancements in moving to clean energy and away from coal/oil. However, I do estimate that future wars will be over food and water rather than for what I call luxury resources such as metals and fuel. If you think i’m wrong, I suggest you do some Googling. Billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet have already moved a lot of their wealth into foods and water stocks. Warren Buffet has stocks in both Coca-Cola and Kraft Heinz (9). High network investors see the need for where the growth and needs of humans will be in the future and have purchased stocks to cater for this.
As soon as 2025, large parts of the world could experience perennial water shortages, says Dr. Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center and a leading expert on hydroclimatology, climate change adaptation, and risk analysis. On a humanitarian level, the possibilities are as devastating as climate change. "If you are looking at a world population of seven billion and four to five billion of those people live under a situation where they don’t have water for food, for generating electricity, for consumption, then we have to pay attention to it. We have to do something about it (10)."
So in conclusion, I would suggest to drink more water and avoid dehydrating foods. Look at where you can save water and help those that do not have access to clean water. Your diet should be vast and should be rich in vitamins, minerals and you should always stay hydrated. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. If you think you require support on hydration or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
So vitamin D is the latest trend in the news at the moment. Recently the NHS in the UK announced that increasing vitamin D intake, especially in the winter months can help prevent millions of colds and flu cases and possible save lives (1). So why the sudden trend in Vitamin D and its importance? This is mainly due to recent studies that have come out, especially in places where sunshine is not common and linking this to underlying health conditions. Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor semen quality, depression, and osteoporosis. There seems to be no limit to the illnesses that vitamin D can affect. Even though knowledge connecting low levels of vitamin D with severe health issues is available, people are still getting far too little of the vital vitamin (2).
To take a step back what is vitamin D and why is it so important for your health? Vitamin D refers to a group of fat soluble steroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) (3). This was first made present in the late 1800’s when it was discovered that bathing children in sunshine helped improve bone structure and prevent rickets.
Anyone taking calcium knows that you need to take it with vitamin D. It's needed because vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains blood calcium levels to enable normal mineralisation of bone and prevent abnormally low blood calcium levels that can then lead to tetany. Vitamin D insufficiency leads to secondary hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid glands) that causes increased bone loss, osteopenia, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and increased fracture risk (4).
So what is the best way to get vitamin D?
Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight in the UK. We also get some vitamin D from a small number of foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs. Vitamin D is also added to all infant formula milk, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives. The amounts added to these products can vary and may only be added in small amounts. Manufacturers must by law add vitamin D to infant formula milk. Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements (5).
The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the colour of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced.
You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin. Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as liquids, tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it.
Different organisations recommend different amounts of vitamin D supplement to take each day. The Vitamin D Council recommends taking larger amounts of vitamin D each day than other organisations, because smaller amounts aren’t enough to give you what your body needs. Most people can take vitamin D supplements with no problems. However, if you have certain health problems or take certain medicines, you may need to take extra care (6).
Can you get take too much vitamin D?
Vitamin D toxicity implies that vitamin D levels in the body are so high that they cause harm. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. In contrast to water-soluble vitamins, the body has no easy way of getting rid of fat-soluble vitamins. For this reason, excessive amounts may build up inside the body. The exact mechanism behind vitamin D toxicity is complicated and isn’t fully understood at this point. However, we know that the active form of vitamin D functions in a similar way as a steroid hormone. It travels inside cells, telling them to turn genes on or off. Usually, most of the body’s vitamin D is in storage, bound to either vitamin D receptors or carrier proteins. Very little “free” vitamin D is available. However, when vitamin D intake is extreme, the levels can become so high that there isn’t any room left on the receptors or carrier proteins.
This may lead to elevated levels of “free” vitamin D in the body, which may travel inside cells and overwhelm the signalling processes affected by vitamin D. One of the main signalling processes has to do with increasing the absorption of calcium from the digestive system. As a result, the main symptom of vitamin D toxicity is hypercalcemia – elevated levels of calcium in the blood. High calcium levels can cause various symptoms, and the calcium can also bind to other tissues and damage them. This includes the kidneys (7).
So to summarise, spending more time outdoors with your skin exposed to the sun as well as having eggs and oily fish will ensure that during the summer months you have a good level of vitamin D is your body. IN the winter months when most people spend time indoors and wrapped up in jumpers and hats, I recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement. Your diet should be vast and should be rich in vitamins, minerals and you should always stay hydrated. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites.
If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With the recent rise in heavy metal exposure, it's no wonder that chronic diseases and illnesses are also on the rise. The most common metals that are currently affecting the general population are mercury, aluminium, lead and copper. There are a number of ways that these metals can be present in a person and it is well noted that these metals do more harm than good for you!
Mercury used to be the most common one, but in recent years aluminium has also been on the rise. Chemtrails has been the biggest way that aluminium is affecting the general population. In an article by Siobhan McFadyen in the Daily Express, it is claimed that Chemtrails could wipe out the human race (1). Chemtrails are reportedly contributing to killing bees and could also potentially affect humans too. They certainly seem to contribute to affecting humans and the soil with excessive aluminium exposure according to US eco expert, Michael Tamez (1).
Aluminum is also present in many everyday products such as kitchen foil, soda cans, deodorant sprays and is even found in vaccinations, aspirin and foods! As Dr. Edward Group mentioned in his dangers of aluminium article: “unlike vitamins, minerals and other trace elements, the body does not need aluminium. And aluminum is no innocent or benign participant. Aluminum accumulates in the kidneys, brain, lungs, liver and thyroid where it competes with calcium for absorption and can affect skeletal mineralization. In infants, this can slow growth. Animal models have linked aluminum exposure to mental impairments. (2)”
Aluminium attacks the central nervous system and studies show that aluminum is linked to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Not all aluminium that a person is exposed to is absorbed (3). Absorption depends on factors such as the levels of competing minerals and parathyroid hormone levels. It is virtually impossible to avoid exposure to aluminum, however measures can be taken to reduce your exposure to this metal. Simple measures such as using glass cookware instead of aluminium foil, avoiding processed foods and foods stored in aluminium as well as using alternative options to aluminium deodorants will all reduce your exposure to this metal. Eat fresh organic vegetables and foods that have sensible and sustainable packaging (4).
Mercury is a natural occurring element found in air, water and soil. A highly toxic form called methylmercury builds up in fish and animals that eat fish (including humans). Fish that have higher levels of mercury include tuna, king mackerel, shark and swordfish. Evidently these are some of the most common fish found in sushi. Mercury toxicity can also be present mainly with mercury amalgam dental fillings in your teeth. These fillings can contain up to 50% mercury by weight and release mercury vapour (5).
The reason some people are affected more than others is due to a number of factors. The level of good minerals, fats, electrolytes, electromagnetic exposure and how good your body can detoxify will all determine how much mercury toxicity you hold onto. Of course if you have more mercury amalgam fillings and have a diet high in fish that contain high levels of mercury then you will have a greater presence of mercury and your body will have to use more energy, vitamins and minerals to detoxify mercury. These essential vitamins and minerals would otherwise be used for other processes the body requires, hence this is where a potential disease state could take place.
Signs and symptoms of mercury poisoning could be mood swings, nervousness, irritability, and other emotional changes, insomnia, headaches, muscle twitching, tremors, weakness, peripheral vision impairment, loss of coordination and decreased cognitive functions. Inorganic mercury toxicity often causes skin rashes and inflammation (dermatitis). If ingested, it can dissolve tissues and some may be absorbed by the intestinal tissue. Large amounts of ingested inorganic mercury may cause bloody diarrhea. Absorbed mercury can spread to other organ systems resulting in mental changes including mood swings and memory loss or renal damage. (6).
So what can be done to detoxify the body from mercury? Dr. Mercola as well as Dr. Klinghardt both recommend the following steps. Increase Glutathione, have agents that can mobilise the mercury out of the cells and then have intestinal binders that can bind to the mercury so it can be safely transported out of the body (7, 8). You should also have a diet that is high in B vitamins, lots of coriander/cilantro, lots of fresh pure water and a high quality vitamin C supplement which is a powerful detoxing agent.
Whilst lead and copper poisoning are not as common as aluminium and mercury, they are also on the rise mainly due to environmental factors. Copper can be found in birth control pills, copper IUDs, copper cookware, copper pipes, dental alloys, foods, fungicides and insecticides. Excessive copper wrecks havoc on our metabolism, especially for those suffering from allergies, chronic inflammation, immune disorders such as autism, ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, OCD, arthritis, thyroid disorders, skin disorders such as eczema, and adrenal insufficiency. Where excessive copper may not be the sole causative agent in disorders, it certainly does play a significant part in delaying the progress of any therapeutic program as well as aggravating and complicating symptoms (9).
Lead is found in wall paints of old houses, old childrens toys, art supplies, contaminated dust and gasoline (10). A heavy metal, lead is ubiquitous in our environment but has no physiologic role in biological systems. Lead toxicity is a particularly insidious hazard with the potential of causing irreversible health effects. It interferes with a number of body functions primarily affecting the central nervous, hematopoietic, hepatic and renal system producing serious disorders (11).
So what can be done to avoid and detoxify these heavy metals from the body?
Firstly, taking sensible measures such as avoiding heavy metal exposure to start with will go a long way. So avoid unnecessary time in chemical plants, around ‘raw’ metals and avoid toxic smells such as paint smells and excessive time around industrial fumes. If employment in these environments cannot be avoided then protective measures such as masks and clothing should be worn every time exposure to these environments is taking place.
Secondly, avoid dental fillings that have mercury, aluminium and other metals in them. Ask for plastic fillings that are much safer and better for you long term. If your dentist won’t provide this then seek alternative dentists that will. You may have to look in other countries if the dentists in your own country are heavily regulated.
Foods and cookware that are lined with these metals should also be avoided. Avoid aluminium foils and store food in glassware jars and tubs. Ensure that the water you are drinking is filtered and ensure that your diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and protein. Taking a multi-mineral supplement is required is also a good idea. Metals usually use the same channels as minerals to be stored in the body. So where the body say stores calcium, if the body is weak and deficient in any trace minerals or vitamins, it could store metals as it feels it needs to hold onto as much as it can to remain healthy (12).
Your diet should be rich in vitamins, minerals and you should always stay hydrated. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. Complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, quinoa and brown rice as well as organic proteins if your diet/lifestyle/beliefs allow this should be consumed on a daily basis. Nuts and seeds are also rich in essential fats and minerals, so these should be consumed in moderation and daily too.
If you think you may have exposure to heavy metals and require a safe detoxifying protocol or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
1. Chemtrails 'will wipe out humans' causing biblical-style floods, says expert - http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/731823/Chemtrails-will-wipe-out-humans-causing-biblical-style-floods
2. Dr. Edward Group, Why I’m Concerned About the Dangers of Aluminum - http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/concerned-about-aluminum-dangers/
3. Kumar V, Gill KD. Aluminium neurotoxicity: neurobehavioural and oxidative aspects. Arch Toxicol. 2009 Nov;83(11):965-78. doi: 10.1007/s00204-009-0455-6. Epub 2009 Jul 1. Review.
4. Analytics Research Lab on Aluminium Toxicity - http://www.arltma.com/Articles/AlumToxDoc.htm
5. Mercury poisoning facts by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP - http://www.medicinenet.com/mercury_poisoning/article.htm
6. Mercury poisoning signs and symptoms - http://www.emedicinehealth.com/mercury_poisoning/article_em.htm
7. Revised Protocol for Detoxifying Your Body from Mercury Exposure - http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/13/mercury-detoxification-protocol.aspx
8. Klinghardt Detox Support Protocol - http://klinghardtinstitute.com/protocols/klinghardt-detox-support-protocol/
9. Chronic Fatigue & Nutrition, Excessive copper, iron & lead - http://chronicfatigueandnutrition.com/heavy-metals/excessive-copper-iron-lead/
10. Lead Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis - http://www.healthline.com/health/lead-poisoning#Overview1
11. Lead Toxicity: Background, Pathophysiology, Etiology - http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1174752-overview
12. Absorption of Minerals and Metals - http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/smallgut/absorb_minerals.html