Author Archives: Michela DiTocco

Health Benefits Of The Humble Egg

Eggs are considered a complete protein food, as they contain all the 9 essential amino acids that your body needs to produce proteins, and each serve contains 6 grams of protein. They are also one of the only foods that have vitamin D naturally occurring in the product. This allows you to get your daily dose, without having to rely on getting outside in the sun. Eggs are a great source of Choline; this is an important nutrient that is used in many ways to help the brain, nervous system and the cardiovascular system function.

Another great benefit of eggs is that they are good for eye health; eggs contain a high level of 2 important carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. They are essential for our body and help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, eye diseases that come with age.

Eggs are also great for healthy hair and nails. As they contain a high amount of the compound sulphur (and other vitamins and minerals), they are reported to help your hair grow faster, stronger and healthier. You can either consume more eggs in your diet; around 1-2 a day has been reported as ok, or even use eggs as a mask to wash your hair.

There have been numerous studies that state that people who consume eggs for breakfast on a regular basis are more likely to experience weight loss. People are more likely to lose more weight than those who consume a carbohydrate breakfast, as well as increased energy levels and a feeling of satiety.

Now the most important point, eggs (the yolks) are high in cholesterol; however you don’t need to be scared about eating them. Many recent studies are now stating that eggs are ok to include in your daily diet as it is saturated fats, not cholesterol found in eggs, that will increase your blood cholesterol levels. So eggs are the good guys here – they are a great source of good fats.

Like most foods, the way you cook eggs will affect their nutritional value. When the yolk of the egg is broken (and scrambled) and cooked, the proteins and fats are damaged and destroyed. Therefore vary how you have your eggs, boiled, poached, and occasionally scrambled and you can enjoy the many benefits that eggs have to offer.

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Vegetarian Diet

 

What is a vegetarian diet and what are the benefits for people who choose to adopt this way of eating? There are many reasons people choose to follow a vegetarian style of eating, including religious beliefs, thinking red meat is harmful to their health, or even a moral reason in regards to the animals’ right to live.

Individuals who follow vegetarian diets do not eat animal products including meat, chicken and fish. They do eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts, and sometimes dairy products and eggs. There is no single type of vegetarian diet, just differing degrees of vegetarianism. Vegans follow a strict diet of no animal meats or products. Lacto-vegetarians eat plant foods as well as dairy products, and lacto-ovo vegetarians eat plant foods as well as both dairy products and eggs.

There are many benefits for people who adopt a vegetarian diet, such as lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol (as red meats are extremely high in both), and a higher fibre content and complex carbohydrates through beans/lentils and vegetables. These people are beginning to adopt this way of eating to improve their overall diet and to help prevent chronic diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gallstones).

There are concerns for some people who follow a vegetarian diet not getting enough of certain vital nutrients for their body. The main vitamin that vegetarians may become deficient in is vitamin B12. This vitamin is only found in animal products and therefore individuals who follow this type of eating may need to include a supplement in their diet. Sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians may include dairy products, eggs and foods (mainly cereals), that have been fortified with B12. There are some other minerals which some vegetarians may find themselves lacking: calcium, iron and zinc. There are many great non-meat sources of these minerals and a well-thought-out diet will ensure that your diet is never lacking in these minerals. Choosing foods such as iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, whole wheat breads, peas, wheat germ, milk products and pumpkin seeds, calcium-fortified soymilk, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, tofu and some dark-green leafy vegetables will allow you to have a range of these minerals in question.

In today’s society there is an abundance of options for vegetarians in our supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. A lot of nutritionists and health institutes recommend meat-free days to give your body a rest from eating and processing meats (also for the health impacts on our environment, and the cost of meat in comparison to non-meat meals). If you are deciding to change the way you eat and want to adopt a vegetarian diet, it is important to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains/beans, dairy products and eggs (if so desired), to ensure a well-balanced intake of all vitamins and minerals. There are many athletes who follow a vegetarian diet and with the right balance are able to obtain the best performance for their sport. Always ensure that you have done your research about what you are eating, and ask a qualified health professional (dietician or nutritionist) for advice and guidance in this area.

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Fructose Malabsorption

What is this problem that is prevalent in today’s society? It is the intestines’ inability to absorb fructose into our body. The fructose from foods therefore passes into the lower intestines and begins to ferment, causing gases and other by-products. Fructose (if you don’t already know), is the sugar that is mainly found in fruits. Food malabsorption (or intolerance), is very different to food allergies and the two shouldn’t be confused. Food allergies are where an immediate reaction occurs in response to a certain food, such as difficulty in breathing, rashes or swollen lips (and may be life-threatening). A food malabsorption (such as fructose), develops over time, affecting your immune system and in some cases, (10%), people never experience the symptoms.

Around 30% of adults may have malabsorption of fructose and will experience common symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps or pain, diarrhoea, constipation, increased gas, reflux, nausea, vomiting, headaches, migraines, hypoglycaemia and other aches and pains. Not only are these symptoms associated with the fructose malabsorption, but our body misses out on the vital nutrients from these foods, like iron and calcium. The symptoms may not always be very noticeable however; they may be more noticeable after consuming very large quantities of sugar.

Fructose malabsorption can be caused by stress or inflammation of the intestinal system or even through genetics. However, it is possible for your doctor to diagnose this through a hydrogen breath-test.

There are many foods, not just fruits, which contain fructose. These include some vegetables (asparagus, green beans, shallots, garlic, and leeks), some grains, as well as sports drinks, sugar-free substitutes and high fructose corn syrups (HFCS), which are found in many processed foods and drinks.

The best way to manage fructose malabsorption is to reduce your intake of foods which contain a high level of fructose. Some studies suggest that taking glucose (another form of sugar) with meals can help with the absorption of fructose. Each individual will have their own level of fructose malabsorption and will therefore need to modify their diet according to symptomatic relief. Always when addressing this sort of issue speak with a health professional (your doctor or a qualified nutritionist/dietician). There are also some reputable websites which go into this issue and other similar food intolerances in more detail, check out http://www.foodintol.com/sugar.

 

Garlic: The Health Benefits of This Amazing Superfood

Garlic is known as one of the healthiest and most beneficial foods we can consume. Over many years it has been known as a remedy for the common cold and many other bacterial infections. However, there are many other benefits including acting as a powerful antioxidant, helping clear acne, and improving cardiovascular health, blood clots and cholesterol levels. This strong-smelling bulb is a member of the allium family, which also includes onions and leeks.

Garlic is known as a natural antibiotic, and the main reason people consume garlic, as a whole or as a supplement, is to help fight a cold, or other bacterial and viral infections. Not only is it able to control infection caused by bacteria, but is thought to prevent it. This is mainly through fresh garlic, which has been crushed and left for a few minutes before consuming. Cooking garlic can diminish its potency and the affect it has on bacteria.

One of the active ingredients in garlic can increase the antioxidant enzymes and help fight against free radical damage. It is also thought that the antibiotic and blood-cleansing properties of garlic can help to deal with acne problems.

There has been recent research into garlic and its effects on blood pressure and cholesterol. It is thought that people who consume a diet rich in garlic supplements or fresh garlic can reduce their blood pressure and lower blood triglyceride levels, resulting in a lower chance of stroke and heart disease.

The best way to include garlic into your everyday diet is through food; try to eat it raw after crushing or chopping it as this will help to release its active compounds. As garlic is a strongly flavoured food, it should not be consumed in excess as it may cause digestive problems. Very few people are allergic to garlic; however, if you get any skin rashes or irritations, please consult a doctor.

Overall, if you’re not already doing so, begin to include garlic into your daily diet, and start to see and feel the great health effects and benefits.

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The benefits of a simple detox diet

Spring is just around the corner and a great way to get ready for this is to clean out your body with a natural detox. It’s a great way to re-energise yourself, feel good, and lose those extra winter kilos. Detoxification is the body’s natural way of eliminating toxins through the kidneys, liver, bowels, lungs, and sweat glands. As your body is placed under constant stress daily, by cutting out those foods and drinks which make your body work overtime and trying to reduce your exposure to harmful environmental toxins (cigarette smoke), you are helping your body to work more efficiently. 

A detox diet isn’t necessarily where you should fast or starve yourself to cleanse your body, but where you consume natural, wholesome foods and cut out all the processed foods and drinks which are placing your body under stress. The main health benefits of doing a detox include improved energy levels, clearer skin, improved mental clarity, a boost to your immunity, weight loss, lower blood pressure, improved fertility, and improved intestinal health. 

There are many foods and drinks you should avoid when detoxing, like dairy products, all forms of sugar (except those found naturally in fruits), caffeine (coffee, black tea), alcohol, wheat and grain products (bread, pasta, biscuits, breakfast cereals, flour, cakes….), all meats, poultry and fish, chocolate, processed foods, and foods containing preservatives and artificial colourings. 

So what’s left that you can eat while on a detox diet? Fruits and vegetables (organic where possible), brown rice, rice noodles, quinoa, beans (butter, cannellini, kidney), eggs, nuts & seeds, tofu, spices, vinegars and oils. Not to forget plenty of water, herbal teas, and rice/soy milk. As well as these foods you may also consider complementing your detox with herbal supplements like probiotics for your intestines, or milk thistle for your liver, to name a few. Remember, however, to check with your doctor or health professional before taking these supplements, if you are on other medication. 

Exercising during a detox is not only ok but recommended. It will help your body sweat out those harmful toxins and leave you feeling great. Just remember that you are changing your diet for a short period of time, so initially your energy levels may be low and you may not be able to exercise at a high intensity. Listen to your body and stop if needed, but as your body begins to clean itself out you will feel better, and be able to exercise harder and for longer. 

Whether you chose to follow a detox for 3 days, 7 days, 14 days or longer is entirely up to you; everybody is different in terms of how long they will need to cleanse out their body. Each individual will experience some varying adverse effects of a detox, like dehydration, headaches, initial lack of energy, and possible grumpiness. However, the longer you stick to it, the better you’ll feel in the long term. You can slowly re-introduce certain foods like meats, poultry, fish, coffee (if you must), some breads (preferably rye or sourdough) over time; however, it’s also a good idea to keep detoxing once a year or so depending on how you feel. 

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Superfoods

Superfoods are classified as foods which are nutrient-dense, containing antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy fats. There are numerous foods that are considered superfoods, and by including them in your diet you are ensuring the maximum possible benefits from your foods. Such foods include green tea, salmon, blueberries/acai berries, chia seeds, oysters, kale, broccoli, oats, tomatoes, pomegranates, goji berries, yoghurt, quinoa, chillies & bee pollen. Let’s look at a few of these foods in more detail and discover what makes them super.

Green tea is high in antioxidants called polyphenols, which can help prevent the early signs of aging, can increase your metabolism (helping in weight loss), reduce sugar cravings, suppress appetite, and manage symptoms of stress. Green tea is also thought to have many properties that can lower the risk of prostate, liver, ovarian and oral cancers, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, and lowering cholesterol. Drink a few cups of green tea each day to help boost your antioxidant intake, and don’t worry – it’s a great caffeine-free alternative to coffee.

Salmon is known as a true superfood, high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and proteins. Omega-3’s have many health benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties (great for joint problems or sore, tired muscles), cardio-protective properties (helps look after your heart), and increases in the hormone leptin (which allows your body to burn fuel as an energy source rather than store it as fat). One serve of salmon 2-3 times a week allows you to get all the health benefits mentioned, and you won’t need any additional supplements.

Both blueberries and acai berries are very popular at the moment and are packed full of antioxidants. These antioxidants help to protect our bodies against free radical damage and help prevent disease. Not only that but they are a great source of vitamin A & C, and of course fibre. These are all vital for a balanced diet and they are low in calories, so a great option for snack time.

Chia seeds are a newly popular seed from South America and are rich in omega-3, fibre, antioxidants, protein, iron, calcium and vitamin C. These seeds are more beneficial than their previous counterparts (flaxseed & LSA), and are a great addition to your diet. More importantly, anyone can consume this as it’s low allergenic, gluten-free and suitable for vegans. Chia seeds are great on their own or as a snack, with breakfast cereals or in soups or salads for lunch and dinner.

The best way to look after yourself and your body is to try to include a variety of these superfoods in your daily diet. As snacks or as part of a meal, they are bursting with nutrients, and are a great way to energise your body and feel great.

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