50 Different Foods

50 Different Foods

Eating 50 different foods each week is a great way to feed your gut microbiota.

The microbiota is the collective name for the millions of bacteria, yeasts, and fungi living in our digestive system.

These bugs work incredibly hard, and are involved in:

– Modulating our immune response

– Influencing immune cell function

– Regulating inflammatory pathways

– Communicating with the brain to regulate mood and mental wellbeing

– Detoxifying hormones and toxins

– Maintaining the lining of the gut wall

– Producing various vitamins

They feed on dietary fibre and utilise phytonutrients (plant-based compounds) like polyphenols to work effectively and keep potentially harmful microbes in check.

Eating a varied and colourful diet that contains lots of different fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, wholegrains, herbs and spices supports a balanced and well functioning microbiota.

This doesn’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan diet, eating good quality meat, fish, eggs, and dairy is fine alongside a wide range of colourful plant foods.

Variety is the key here – eating the same foods everyday makes for a boring diet for you and your gut bugs!

Find out how many different foods you are currently eating each week by using the 50 Foods tracker chart, created by Nutritionist & Clinical Neuroscientist Miguel Toribio-Mateas.

You are aiming for 50 to give your gut bugs plenty of variety  – how close are you?

Remember, herbs and spices count too, and are a great way to add more diversity and flavour to meals.

Let me know how you get on with this!  I’m on Twitter & Instagram as @nutritioninyork, or you can hop over to the Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/nutritioninyork

P.S. Spoiler alert – it was easier than I thought and I got to 50 within 5 days!

Book Review – ‘Nutrition Brought to Life’ by Kirsten Chick

Book Review – ‘Nutrition Brought to Life’ by Kirsten Chick

Nutrition Brought to Life is the first book from holistic nutritional therapist Kirsten Chick – and it’s fantastic!

Written in Kirsten’s trademark accessible style, the book provides a firm grounding in natural nutrition, and how we can truly nourish ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Part 1 begins with the digestive system – the foundation of all health and wellbeing.  Kirsten then skillfully guides us through energy production, the highs and lows of sugar, managing our stress response, adrenal support, the gut microbiome, inflammation, immunity, “liver whispering” (brilliant!), hormone balancing, and creating our own personal action plan for health. Part 2 provides 50 different recipes; from soups and main meals, to nourishing smoothies, salads, and warming drinks, all designed to support optimum health and vitality.

 

Contents list for Nutrition Brought to Life

Each chapter includes a few reflective questions to help readers think about what they’ve just learnt, and how they can start making manageable changes for better health.

This isn’t just a book to flick through and put down; it’s a book that can help you transform how you nourish yourself, on every level, and get back in touch with what your body is telling you.

Kirsten has been working as a nutritional therapist since 2003, and combines private nutrition practice with teaching, writing, public speaking, and whizzing up recipes in her kitchen.  Her areas of expertise include fertility, pregnancy, cancer care, and general nutrition. She’s kindly agreed to let me include an excerpt of the book here so you can get a taster of what to expect…

 

Chapter 4

Sugar – the highs and lowdown

When life is sweet I don’t seem to crave so much sugar. I may enjoy sweet foods from time to time, but I don’t actively seek it out. When my mood or zest for life drop, when I feel let down, or when I feel like the ground has fallen away beneath me, my thoughts turn to sugar. It’s a pattern I learnt when I was very small, and reinforced with abandon as I grew up. It’s one I now smile at like an old friend I have drifted away from. We sometimes hang out for a brief while, but I spend more time with my other friends these days. They don’t challenge my insulin pathways so much.

Insulin and glucagon – balancing blood sugar

When you eat, your pancreas releases hormones that directly affect your energy pathways and fat levels. Remember that your pancreas sits near your stomach, and most of it is busy producing digestive enzymes to squirt into your small intestine.  A small section of it, however, has a specialist role in balancing blood sugar.

About 2-3% of your pancreas, an exotic resort called the Islets of Langerhans, releases blood sugar regulating hormones called insulin and glucagon, plus a moderating hormone called somatostatin.  These hormones then course through your bloodstream, with instructions for what to do with glucose, the sugar released from your latest meal or snack.

When you have high levels of glucose in your blood:

– insulin can trigger some of it to be sent into your cells to make ATP ‘energy batteries’

– any excess with be converted to a substance called glycogen in your liver, where you can keep a store cupboard of about a day’s supply

– if there’s still more glucose left over, insulin will turn it into fats, which are sent to your fat cells (aka adipose cells) for more long-term storage – this is how sugar can make you fat. 

Nutrition Brought to Life podcast

________________________________________

To carry on reading Nutrition Brought to Life order your copy today from one of the stockists listed on Kirsten’s website, or Amazon.  And listen along to the Nutrition Brought to Life podcast too!

You can find our more about Kirsten’s work at Connect with Nutrition and follow her on Twitter – @kirstenchick1

Oat & Apricot Fingers

Oat & Apricot Fingers

Oat & Apricot Fingers

These oaty bars are unbelievably easy to make and perfect for pack-ups or snacks.

The oats provide fibre and B-vitamins, while the apricots are a valuable source of plant-based iron and beta-carotene.  Nuts and seeds are packed with vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and fibre; and if you opt for good quality dark chocolate you’ll be getting a bit more magnesium and some antioxidant polyphenols!

 

Oat and apricot fingers drizzled with chocolate

You will need:

8-10 dried apricots (opt for unsulphured apricots if you have sulphite sensitivities)

50g oats / gluten-free oats

30g of chopped mixed nuts and seeds

50ml water

30g dark or white chocolate

A greased and lined baking sheet

Oven set to 180*c

Here’s how to make them…

Soak the apricots in water for at least 3hrs until soft.  Drain, and puree them in a blender.

Put the oats in a saucepan with the apricot puree, 50ml water, and the chopped mixed nuts and seeds, mix them well and gently heat for a few minutes until the mixture is soft and mushy.

Grease and line a baking sheet.  Press the mixture evenly onto the sheet – it shouldn’t be too thick, about 1-1.5cms is about right.

Bake in the oven at 180*c for around 15mins, or until firmly set.

Remove from the oven and carve into fingers before it cools. One cooled, remove from the tray and set onto a cooling rack.

Melt the chocolate and drizzle it over the oat & apricot fingers.  Allow the chocolate to set (pop the fingers in the fridge to speed this bit up), then store them in an airtight tin.

Enjoy!

For more recipe ideas and friendly nutrition chat follow me on Twitter and Facebook or hop over to the Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/nutritioninyork

‘Natural Nutrition for Perimenopause’ is available now!

‘Natural Nutrition for Perimenopause’ is available now!

*Trumpet fanfare* Yes, I’m pleased (and ridiculously excited) to say that ‘Natural Nutrition for Perimenopause: What to eat to feel good and stay sane’ is available to buy now!

Packed with practical nutrition and lifestyle tips, it’s an easy to use guidebook full of suggestions for navigating the ups and downs of perimenopause and menopause

Topics covered include:
 – What is perimenopause?
 – Signs and symptoms
 – How perimenopause affects your brain, heart, and bones
 – Blood sugar balance for energy, weight balance, and managing stress
 – Key nutrients to include and where to find them
 – Phytoestrogens: what are they and where to find them
 – Supplements
 – Movement & exercise
 – Sleep tips
 – Emotional wellbeing
Plus, there’s a whole section on references and resources for further help. It’s a cracking read (I know, I’m biased!).

It’s ideal for women in their mid-late 30s/early 40s and heading into perimenopause; for those in the throes of it, or those coming out the other side.  And, it’s a helpful book for partners and loved ones to read to help them understand what perimenopause and menopause is like.

Here’s a sneek peek at part of the first chapter…

How are you doing?

How are you really doing?

Did you sleep well or wake every hour with hot flushes?

Are you getting anxious and forgetful?

Do your jeans feel tighter and tighter?

You are not alone. This is what happens as we head towards menopause – as we become ‘menopausers’ (new word, hope you like it).

This messy bit (the bit before the actual menopause which is simply the point in time when we haven’t had a period for a year) is known as perimenopause and can feel like an endurance trial of confusing and random symptoms. From hot flushes, palpitations and anxiety, to weight gain and levels of forgetfulness that cause some menopausers to fear they’re developing dementia: perimenopause doesn’t mess around.

One minute we’re being rational humans, making sensible decisions and knowing what’s what. Next minute we’re bathed in sweat, gripped with anxiety, and biting back tears – usually at the most inappropriate moment.

As hormonal rollercoasters go, perimenopause is as transformational as puberty, only this time around we’ve got a heck of a lot more to juggle compared to those heady teenage years of worrying about what to wear on Friday night and whether we’ll get served in the pub.

This guidebook is a response to the experiences of hundreds of amazing perimenopausal and menopausal clients with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working in my nutrition & lifestyle medicine clinic. Many of these clients were already struggling with long-term health conditions (fatigue, fibromyalgia, underactive thyroid, autoimmunity, digestive problems – sometimes all these combined) before finding themselves in the grip of perimenopause and desperate for help.

Their doctors were suggesting HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and/or an attitude of “it’s your age, just get on with it”. Quite how they were meant ot get on with ‘it’ while facing daily, life-altering symptoms is beyond anyones guess, but there we go. I must add that there are many medical professionals recommending more than just replacement hormones for perimenopause support: counselling for example, or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) – and an increasing number recognise the value of nutritional changes and herbal medicine too.

The wonderful thing about nutrition and lifestyle medicine is that it’s open to all regardless of whether you’re taking HRT or not. We all need to eat, drink, breathe, move, and sleep every day, which means we have endless opportunities to positively influence our hormones via food and lifestyle choices.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To carry on reading order the book from Amazon or direct from York Publishing Services online store – the e-book version is coming soon.

Building Resilience

Building Resilience

Resilience is our ability to bounce back and keep going even during the most challenging times.  Building resilience doesn’t mean never stopping to rest or take time out; quite the opposite. It means being aware of your capacity to cope, and taking steps to support this.

We can build our resilience by establishing and nuturing some simple nutrition and lifestyle habits.

  

Positive habits include:

Making good food choices; limiting refined sugary foods, including good quality protein and healthy fats, getting those 5 colourful veggies + 2 fruits per day, reducing caffeine and drinking plenty of water…you know the drill!

Use this plate diagram to create balanced meals.

Not every meal will fit the template, but as a general rule aim to cover half your plate with colourful veggies and leafy greens, and divide the other half equally between wholegrains/root veg, and good quality sources of protein.

   – Being protective about rest & relaxation time and scheduling in downtime every day.  It’s so easy to end up staring at the TV or scrolling Facebook at the end of a busy day. But this isn’t relaxation time; your brain is busy processing all the information coming at it through the TV or internet.  To give your mind a break try:
– relaxing in a warm Epsom salt bath
– listening to your favourite tunes
– following a guided meditation
– or immersing yourself in a good book instead. 

   – Getting outdoors in the fresh air and natural daylight every day. This may be for a gentle walk / jog / run / outdoor Yoga / Qi Gong – whatever type of movement you enjoy. When possible, get outdoors for at least 30mins before midday. Enjoying natural daylight in the morning helps the brain to register the change in light at dusk and start winding down for sleep.

   – Giving yourself the opportunity for 7-9hrs of sleep each night. If you’re struggling to get enough shut-eye, try these nutrition tips for supporting restorative sleep.

Nutrition-wise, two key nutrients that support our resilience are vitamin B5 and vitamin C. These two vitamins are used in energy production and manufacture of stress hormones in the adrenal glands. When we’re under a lot of ongoing stress we need to ensure plentiful supplies of these nutrients to support the adrenals.

If you’re feeling the strain of ongoing stress think about which of these tips you can start to implement in your daily routine. Pick one that resonates with you the most, then after a few days of practising it add in another. And do let me know how you get on.