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Category: Ask A Nutritionist

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

Symptoms of iron deficiency

In my last post, I talked of how important it is to get the right levels of iron in our daily diet. Check back to see examples of heme and non-heme foods to add in.

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If you think you might have low iron, here’s what the NHS says are the symptoms of iron deficiency:

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✅ Lethargy, lack of energy, always feeling tired / weak

✅ Weak or peeling nails

✅ Spoon shaped nails

✅ Hair loss

✅ Pale or sallow skin

✅ Shortness of breath

✅ Rapid heartbeat

✅ Pounding / ringing in the ear

✅ Ice, dirt or clay craving, known as pica

✅ Sore or smooth tongue

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If you’ve been feeling fatigue recently and connect with some of these symptoms, it’s worth getting your iron levels checked by your GP.

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Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

What are the best foods to increase iron levels?

The Best Heme Iron Foods To Increase Iron Levels
The Best Non-Heme Iron Foods To Increase Iron Levels

Iron deficiency is something I’m seeing more and more in clinic, as more of us turn to plant-based, vegetarian or vegan diets. Why is this? Let’s talk a little bit about iron.

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Iron is a hugely important mineral. It has hundreds of functions in the body, including: production of blood, producing energy, supporting the immune system, the movement of oxygen through the blood and maintaining healthy hair, skin, nails and cells.

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In the UK, the recommendation for menstruating women between the ages of 19-50 is to have at least 14.8mg of iron per day from food. Men need much less at 8.7mg per day.

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Iron from food is found in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron, which is mainly found in red meat, the dark meat of poultry and seafood is well absorbed by the body. The protein content of these foods helps to increase absorption. Heme iron makes up 95% of the functional iron in the body.

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Non-heme iron, which comes from plant-based sources is less well absorbed, so more of it needs to be eaten, to really make a difference to iron levels. Non-heme iron foods need to be eaten with vitamin C foods to increase absorption.

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If you’re plant-based or thinking of becoming plant-based, it’s really important to have iron based foods at every single meal in order to ensure that you’re getting enough of this essential mineral.

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The graphics on this post have some of the top heme iron foods and non-heme iron foods. Which are your favourites?

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Look out for my next post, where I’ll get into the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia!

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Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

5 Ways To Drink Mindfully This Holiday Season

5 Ways To Drink Mindfully This Holiday Season

It’s finally December and wow, can you believe it’s almost 2020, the year of perfect vision! 👓

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I’ve been talking to my clients a lot about Christmas party season and how to prepare and plan for it. I like to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint 🏃🏽‍♀️ How many parties are you going to this season?

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There will probably be glasses of bubbles, endless rounds and lots of wine top ups, before you get carried away and find yourself feeling a bit regretful in January, here’s a reminder to consider mindful drinking this holiday season.

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What do I mean by mindful drinking?

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It’s simply drinking alcohol in an intentional way. And no, I don’t mean with the intention to get drunk, haha! 🤣

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Here are a few examples:

🥂Set yourself a limit for the amount you’re going to drink on a night out, i.e. 1-2 glasses.

💧Alternate between alcohol and water when you drink or dilute your drinks.

🚕Choose a few nights where you go out but don’t drink (could you plan to be the designated driver?).

🗓Choose the number of days each week you’re going to drink and stick to them. You won’t feel as sluggish by the time New Years rolls around.

🍷Notice how quickly you’re drinking and allowing yourself to really taste each sip, rather than downing each drink.

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Would you try mindful drinking this holiday season? Let me know in the comments!

Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Foods To Reduce Pre-Menstrual Bloating

Tender boobs, swollen fingers and face, a bloated tummy: these are all symptoms of pre-menstrual bloating.

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Can you relate to any of these?

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Pre-menstrual bloating can be caused by a number of things:

  • Already low progesterone dropping even further in the run up to the next period
  • Eating too many salty foods
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not eating enough fibrous foods
  • Chronic constipation (we should be ideally pooping everyday!)

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Adding in different fruits, vegetables and nuts & seeds can help reduce all the types of pre-menstrual bloating to a more manageable level.

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Increase Water Intake

🚰 Drinking more water can help (add a squeeze of lemon or lime to boost its effectiveness), as can eating fruits & veg with a high water content, like cucumbers, celery and cantaloupe.

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Increase Daily Fibre Intake

🥬 Increasing your daily fibre intake can do wonders.

The current UK recommendation is about 30g of fibre a day for adults. Fibrous vegetables and fruit such as leafy greens, beetroot, pears and artichokes are a lovely way to get more fibre in.

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Increase Potassium Intake

🌰 Potassium is a mineral that when depleted, is associated with sodium retention and bloating.

An easy way to add more potassium is to eat more bananas!

These powerhouses have around 422mg of potassium in a medium sized banana, which is about 12% of the UK daily recommended intake!

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How do you deal with bloating before your period? Tell me in the comments below 👇🏽

Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Foods To Support Pre-Menstrual Mood Swings

How many of these things have happened recently? Started crying at something really sentimental on TV? Gotten really irrationally irritated about something then felt fine a few minutes later? Felt fine one minute, then really angry / sad / annoyed / upset the next? 🤪

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Pre-menstrual mood swings can be a sign for many of us that our periods are on their way. Or perhaps the moodiness of the previous few days makes more sense when your period arrives. Can anyone relate to that? 😳

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Food can help stabilise mood and adding the foods I’ve listed below consistently can help shift pre-menstrual mood swings.

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Support Serotonin Production

🍳 Adding foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan can help the body make more serotonin, our happy hormone. Eggs, oily fish such as wild salmon, nuts & seeds are all high in tryptophan. Eating these foods often and alongside carbohydrates such as rice, fruits & veg and oats can help make the conversion from tryptophan to serotonin more effective.

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Support Gut Health

🥕Research shows that 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, so supporting a healthy gut is another great way to support moods. Increasing fermented foods such as kombucha, kimchi, miso and kefir can help, as can adding soluble fibres such as bananas, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root.

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Support Blood Sugar Balance

🍽 Managing your blood sugar levels by eating meals with lots of vegetables, high quality protein, good quality fats and lots of fibre can help keep mood stable.

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How do you deal with mood swings before your period? Tell me in the comments below!

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Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Foods To Support (And Bring Back!) A Missing Period

In clinic recently, I’ve been seeing more and more women of menstruating age with missing periods, who desperately want their period to return. The reasons for their missing periods vary from:

  • Seeing carbohydrates as the enemy
  • Improper vegan / vegetarian diets
  • Transitioning off hormonal birth control (p.s. you don’t have a proper period on the pill – that’s a ‘pharmaceutical bleed’)
  • Excessive exercise and excessive stress.

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Food can play an important role in bringing back a regular menstrual bleed and menstrual cycle, as can reframing the role of certain food groups. 👀

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Eating Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are not the enemy and provide a tremendous amount of nutrients that can replenish a body that has had key nutrients depleted by certain diets, hormonal birth control and excessive stress. Focusing on complex carbohydrates, i.e. foods with more complex chains of sugar that take longer to digest, can help rebuild lost nutrients. Try adding in sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, lentils and beans to at least one meal a day.

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Managing Stress

Stress, whether physical stress from excessive exercise or emotional stress, can wreak havoc with hormones, putting the body into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means that the brain will signal to the ovaries that they don’t need to make as much estrogen. This can lead to the loss of a period. It’s important to address the causes of stress, i.e. do a bit less high impact exercise & incorporate gentle movement such as restorative yoga, walking and swimming. Being honest about sources of emotional stress and finding ways to deal with them can also help.

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From a food perspective, adding magnesium, whether through food or a high quality supplement can help, as well as supporting gut health with fermented foods and leafy greens.

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Transitioning Off Hormonal Birth Control

When transitioning off hormonal birth control, it is essential to replenish the nutrients that have been depleted. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 are some of the nutrients that can be depleted by hormonal birth control. Adding in high quality red meat, poultry, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, eggs and wild fish can help rebuild nutrients over time.

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Does any of this feel familiar? Email me on lenise@eatlovemove.com or click here to sign up for a free 30 minute hormonal health chat.

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Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach, founder of Eat Love Move and the Period Story Podcast.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Acne? But I’m not a teenager!

Adult acne. An oxymoron? No, unfortunately not.

 

It’s something that afflicts more and more adult women as we move from our teens and 20s into our 30s and 40s. In the UK, nearly 90% of teenagers have acne and half of them continue to as adults. Are you one of them?

 

If so, don’t despair. From personal experience, I know that adult acne can have an effect on self-esteem and confidence, feeling like people are looking at your spots, rather than at you. Let me assure you that most people get a few spots from time to time. They seem to be a by-product of our hectic lifestyles and the food and drink we use to keep us going.

 

Why do we get acne and how can we can rid of those pesky spots?

 

Acne can be caused by a number of factors, from too much coffee, alcohol, sugar and stress, to poor gut health to an imbalance of sex hormones. It’s hard to generalise because the causes vary so widely.

 

Here’s another way to look at acne: it’s a symptom of something else going on in your body. Yes, you may get spots, but that’s your body’s way of telling you that there’s something else happening that you need to address.

 

Here are four things that can help improve the health of your skin.

 

1. Think about what you’re putting on your skin.

Everything we put on our skin gets absorbed by our blood stream. This is why some medications are more powerful when they’re applied as creams, sprays or gels, rather than taken as a pill. Make-up, skincare and household cleaning products are all absorbed by your skin and can disrupt the way your body makes oestrogen, which can lead to hormone imbalance, which can then lead to acne.

 

2. Introduce more fermented food and drink into your diet.

Fermented food and drink such as kombucha, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut have many good bacteria, which support the health of your gut. Positive changes to the health of your gut have positive effects on the health of your skin, by affecting the skin microbiome (the balance between good and bad bacteria on your skin).

 

3. Eat more good fats.

Foods with good fats such as oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, olive and coconut oils help support the health of the skin by reducing the inflammation that can create acne.

 

4. Work on reducing your stress levels.

Stress can contribute to blood sugar imbalance, inflammation and sex hormone imbalance. Find something you can do everyday that helps you manage day to day stress. Anything from taking a deep breath from your belly to being outside in nature to finding ways to saying no can all help manage stress, which can then have a positive effect on skin health.

 

Do you have acne? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your skin health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

How much do you know about your thyroid?

 

Let’s talk about our thyroids!

 

Our thyroids are a gland that sit in our neck and produce thyroid hormones, which are one of the top three most important hormones for women.

 

Can you guess the other two? Estrogen and cortisol!

 

Over the next week, I want to talk a little about the thyroid, because thyroid heath is an important part of good hormone health for women.

 

Our thyroid affects our metabolism and our energy levels – think of the thyroid a little bit like Goldilocks.

 

If you produce too little thyroid hormone, you can feel sluggish, gain weight easily and get constipated. This can lead to hypothyroidism.

 

Too much can send you in the other direction with weight loss, shakiness and shortness of breath, amongst other symptoms and can lead you to hyperthyroidism.

 

How much do you know about your thyroid?

 

Do you have any questions? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone health review!

 

Image via Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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Have you tried mindful drinking?

testing drinking

How much have you been drinking this holiday season? So many events revolve around having a festive tipple or two, which feels fun at the time, but may not be helping you get to your health goals and may be stopping any desired weight loss.

 

Alcohol also has an effect on our sleep – it sedates us, but doesn’t help us get restorative, restful sleep. You know, the kind where you wake up feeling ready to get out of bed and jump into the day!

 

Try mindfully drinking instead: being aware of what you’re drinking and why you’re drinking it.

 

If you automatically pour a glass of wine when you get home from a stressful day at work, think about why you think the wine will help you relax. Could you do something else instead? A bit of yoga, a couple of boxing jabs to a pillow, a hot bath?

 

When you’re out, Instead of allowing people to buy you endless rounds of drinks at the pub or bar, be aware of how much you’re drinking and how you’re feeling. If you don’t want another drink, just say so, instead of being polite. Or ask for some water instead.

 

Mindful drinking means learning to drink what YOU want to drink and the amount that YOU want to drink rather than what you consider to be socially acceptable.

 

Have you tried mindful drinking? Let me know!

 

P.S. Are you using alcohol to help you get to sleep or finding that alcohol is stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep? Join my 5 Days to Better Sleep challenge, where I’ll be sharing ways for you to get a better quality night’s sleep. Join in: www.eatlovemove.com/bettersleep

 

6 ways to enjoy the holiday season

brussels sprouts selfridges windows

I’ve been talking about shifting mindset away from thinking about ‘surviving’ the holiday season towards enjoying the holiday season. Here are 6 ways to mindfully enjoy the holiday season without throwing all your health and fitness goals out the window.

 

1. Remember your long-term goals.

It’s unrealistic to try and avoid all unhealthy foods over the holiday season. Keeping your long term goals in mind can help you avoid falling into a spiral of guilt and worry if you happen to get too drunk one night or overdo it on the mince pies at the holiday mixer. Keep the big picture in mind and don’t worry about a few days of excess!

 

2. Plan ahead.

If you don’t have a plan for meals during the week, for parties, going out, visiting friends, having family over and so on, you are setting yourself up to go off piste. If you have a busy week ahead of you, plan out what you’re going to be eating for all meals so that you don’t go to parties on a empty stomach and so you always have a few meal options prepped in your fridge. If you’re going out in the evening, have something to eat beforehand so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach or filling up on canapés.

 

3. Eat mindfully and slow down.

It’s tempting to eat quickly when you’re out at holiday lunches and dinners as you get caught in a flurry of conversation and wine top-ups. Try putting your fork down in between bites and allow yourself to really enjoy each mouthful. Check in with yourself throughout the meal and stop eating when you’re full.

 

4. Out of sight, out of mind.

Have you ever heard yourself say, “take this away from me, so I stop eating it?”. With chocolate in  directly in front of you or left on your kitchen counters, it’s easy to overindulge. Once it’s tucked away in a cupboard, you’re likely to forget it’s even there. You can’t stop people from giving you chocolate over the holidays, but you can avoid leaving it out on display. Out of sight, out of mind.

 

5. Remember to get your veg in. 

When eating out, order lots of vegetable dishes and fill up on veg first. If in doubt, order a side salad to be sure you’re getting some of your daily portions of vegetables.

 

6. Be gentle with yourself.

If you find yourself going a bit of track, don’t beat yourself up or see it as an excuse to write off the rest of the day and eat everything in sight. The next meal is the next opportunity to pick things up again. Good health is a lifelong journey – one heavy night on the prosecco or a couple of days with lots of mince pies won’t derail you if you keep the big picture in mind and stay positive.

 

Make a commitment to your future self by booking a FREE call with me to see how I can help you take control of your relationship with food and reach your personal health goals.  Click here to book a 20 minute call with me or get in touch via email.

Forget ‘surviving’ the festive season, enjoy it instead!

christmas at the natural history museum

This is the time of year where we get invited to loads of parties and enjoy ourselves (maybe a bit too much!). It’s totally normal to want to let your hair down and relax some of your ‘food and alcohol rules’.

 

Many people have the mentality that the holiday season is something to survive, rather than enjoy. Can you relate to this at all?  Maybe you’ve grown up associating food with pleasure and fun, so subconsciously you fear that if you don’t eat a lot, you won’t have a ‘happy Christmas or Hanukkah’. It’s easy to slip into a ‘one more won’t hurt’ mindset, thinking that you’ll deal with any consequences in January.

 

What if you could have it both ways? What if you could enjoy the holiday season without going into January feeling the results of excessive eating and drinking?

 

I like to be really clear with my clients about what has driven the feeling of needing to do things to excess at Christmas and these four themes always seem to come up:

1. Portion control: They felt like they’ve waited all year for the holiday season and all the festivities surrounding it, so they give themselves a license to be excessive and not hold back. That means mass quantities of roasties, Quality Street, snowballs and festive cocktails – more is more at this time of year!

2. Social life: Family commitments, work lunches and endless parties mean that opportunities to eat and drink excessively are everywhere, sometimes on a daily basis. And regular hangovers add to the urge to order in unhealthy takeaways and veg out on the sofa.

3. Sedentary lifestyle: A busy social life means exercise routines tend to get put on the back burner as clients decide to wait until January to get back on the treadmill / bike / yoga mat.

4. Mental ‘hall pass’:  Willpower seems to go out the window at this time of year, with clients telling themselves it’s fine to binge, they’ll just sort it in a January diet / detox.

 

Can you relate to any of these themes?

 

What if I told you that you don’t need to ‘survive’ the festive season? That you could enjoy this time of year without needing to go on a mad diet / detox in January?  As long as you have some strategies in place before the festive season, there’s no reason why you can’t start the New Year looking and feeling fantastic.

 

As a qualified nutritional therapist, I work with clients to take control of their relationship with food and plan how to get through times when overindulgence might feel hard to resist.

 

Make a commitment to your future self by booking a FREE call with me to see how I can help you take control of your relationship with food and reach your personal health goals.  Click here to book a 20 minute call with me or get in touch via email.

 

8 ways to beat colds and flu

lemons and grapefruits

When the temperature drops, the chance of you coming down with a cold or the flu increases significantly.

 

It’s widely accepted you’ll get sick more often in the winter.

 

That’s because you’re likely to be inside more and the common cold thrives better in dry air than where there’s humidity. And, when you spend more time indoors, you’re exposed to more germs.

 

Here’s something interesting about the common cold: when your core internal temperature falls after exposure to cold, the immune system’s ability to battle the rhinovirus (the virus that causes it) is also reduced. The immune system literally slows down. The flu virus is also transmitted much faster when it’s cold out because the lipid (fatty) coating of the virus becomes more resilient the colder it gets.

 

Your immune system is the most powerful weapon you have against disease. Strong immunity means that the body is better able to fight off viruses and germs. Fewer colds and sick days this winter would be good, right?

 

There are many diet and lifestyle tweaks you can make to reduce your risk of catching a cold and flu this season. Here are my top tips to keep you feeling fit this month – and beyond!

 

1. Eat real food. Your body needs real, unprocessed food to stay healthy. Focus on eating natural, unprocessed food as often as possible. Follow the 80/20 rule: this means eating nourishing, unprocessed food at least 80% of the time.

Free-range, organic meat and wild fish, organic fruit and vegetables and wholegrains all contribute to a stronger immune system and offset the occasional indulgence.

 

2. Get to know probiotic foods. Did you know that up to 80% of our immunity to germs and disease is in our gut? The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) in the gut is part of the first line of immune defense, so getting the right balance between beneficial, or ‘good’ gut bacteria, and the ‘bad’, or potentially pathogenic bacteria, is key.

The gut environment takes a beating year after year, due to poor diets, too much sugar, stress, antibiotics and other factors. Even if you have no obvious tummy troubles, digestive health is vital, so it’s worth the extra effort to take care of it.

Add probiotic and prebiotic foods to your diet, as these repopulate the gut with good bacteria and feed them well enough to crowd out bad bacteria.

Here are some gut-friendly choices to get you started:

  • Organic, probiotic, natural full-fat Greek yoghurt, such as Yeo Valley or Rachel’s
  • Miso soup or miso paste
  • Oats
  • Onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Sauerkraut
  • Fermented soy
  • Kombucha
  • Milk or water kefir

 

3. Have a bowl of chicken soup. Have you ever heard that chicken soup is great when you’re unwell? No, it’s not just an old wives’ tale! Research suggests that a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup can slow the speed at which neutrophils move around your body. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and part of the immune system, protecting your body from infection. When the neutrophils move slowly, there’s a greater chance of them becoming more concentrated in the areas of your body that need to be healed the most. Studies have shown chicken soup can be particularly helpful in reducing symptoms in upper respiratory system infections like the common cold.

 

4. Add herbs and spices to your cooking. Adding flavour to food is a smart way to include delicious immune boosters on your plate (and make your food taste better!). Garlic is a potent and flavourful herb. It is antimicrobial, thanks to the active ingredient allicin, which helps fight viruses, and has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and prevent sickness.

Most culinary herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties due to their phytonutrients, and in particular, oregano and thyme are rich in immune boosting properties. Spice up your cooking with turmeric and ginger, too, as these are well-documented immune boosters.

 

5. Cut down on sugar. Even if you don’t consider yourself a sugar addict, it’s worth taking a look at how much you do consume. Sugar fans the flames of inflammation and affects the ability of white blood cells to fend off viruses and bacteria. In fact, the immune system stays depressed for hours after consuming sugar, according to recent studies.

 

6. Drink more water.  Water is a miracle worker. It flushes germs from your system, helps your blood to carry plenty of oxygen to your body’s cells and allows those cells to absorb important nutrients.

Invest in a water filter to avoid taking in high levels of chlorine and fluorine along with your tap water and a stainless steel water bottle to avoid buying plastic bottles when you’re out and about.

 

7. Get outside! As difficult as this is to achieve in winter, spending sufficient time in sunlight is a vital immune booster. Vitamin D is made by your skin absorbing sunlight and a minimum of 10 minutes a day will help, although it’s worth nothing that darker skin has higher vitamin D requirements.

Supplement your vitamin D levels by eating more oily fish (salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna), free-range, organic beef, mushrooms, cheese, egg yolks and dairy.

 

8. Get back to basics. An age-old way to boost immunity is by following childhood rules – wash hands, go to bed early and be active. These simple measures may seem boring (and more difficult to achieve than popping a pill), but science proves that they work.  And your immune system will thank you for it.

 

Are you the kind of person that gets sick more often than others? Your immune system could likely use some support. Maybe there is an underlying issue, especially if you also have asthma, eczema or allergies. Is this you? I invite you to book in for a free introductory session with me to talk through your health and wellbeing.

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A Christmas party season survival guide.

christmas in london

It’s party season again and I want to assure you that it is indeed possible to have lots of fun and celebrate without compromising your health. Here are some easy tips to keep you healthy and mindful throughout December and help you go into the new year feeling good.

 

1. Don’t try to diet over the festive period. Unless you have an iron will, there are simply too many temptations, from alcohol fuelled parties to mince pies at every corner. Try setting a maintenance goal instead. This is more realisitic, much more achievable and will give you the freedom to enjoy yourself with the feelings of deprivation or the pressure to rebel.

 

2. Plan your food. Normal routine tends to go out the window over the holidays. Planning your meals is a way to make sure that you don’t forget about yourself, that you still have the right food in the house and you can still make good choices. All it takes is a few minutes of thought and preparation. Download my meal planning guide to make things a little easier!

 

3. Keep exercising. If your usual classes aren’t running, choose other options instead, such as brisk walking with friends and family, a family football game or an at home yoga session.

 

4. Don’t go to a party hungry. If you do, you’ll be fighting your body’s urges for sugar and will likely fill up on canapés and cakes. Have a snack such as an apple with nut butter or carrots and hummus before you go.

 

5. Watch your portion sizes and check in with yourself throughout your meal. It’s easy to let your eyes be bigger than your stomach and overfill your plate. Eating mindfully and being aware of how quickly you’re eating will ensure that you avoid overeating.

 

6. Make good alcohol choices. Avoid creamy & sweet drinks and try to drink alcohol with food to reduce the impact of the sugar and alcohol on your blood stream.

 

7. Drink plenty of water. Try alternating one alcoholic drink with one glass of water. This will slow down your alcohol consumption and improve how you feel the next day.

 

8. Be gentle with yourself. If you do overindulge, enjoy it and then get back on track at the next opportunity.

 

9. Try to have a few days in the week when you don’t drink. Too much alcohol is very hard on your liver, so a few days off during the party season will prevent you from burning out by the first week of January.

 

10. Have fun! 

What are the benefits of coffee?

coffee break

Like many people in the UK, coffee is my go to morning drink. I love the smell, the taste and the ritual of making a lovely cup of joe. There’s also the sheer weekend pleasure of having the time to sip on a hot cup of black coffee while reading the newspaper.

 

It pains me to say this because I love it so much, but coffee is a much-maligned drink, with the downside more frequently talked about than the many positives. A recent review of studies in the BMJ showed that moderate coffee drinking is okay and has some benefits, but like all good things, you need to know when to stop.

 

So what are the benefits? 

1. A cup of coffee is so much more than just hot black water. A cup of coffee contains riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3). Coffee is also packed with antioxidants.

 

2. Coffee can improve brain function. Caffeine blocks one type of neurotransmitter that can hold you back and increases noradrenaline and dopamine, leading to enhanced firing of neurons.

 

3. Coffee could lower your risk of developing type II diabetes. A number of observational studies show that coffee drinkers have as much as a 62% lower risk of developing this disease; one of the biggest health problems of our time, which is characterised by raised blood sugar and the inability to secrete insulin to lower blood sugar levels. A daily cup can typically lower your risk by 7%.

 

4. Coffee can help you burn fat. Caffeine is found in almost every fat loss supplement because it’s one of a very small number of substances proven to help with fat burning. Research shows that it can boost your metabolic rate by up to 11%, and raise the amount of fat you burn by between 10% in overweight people and 29% in lean people. The downside is that the effects are likely to diminish with time in regular coffee drinkers.

 

5. The caffeine in coffee can boost your physical performance. Caffeine stimulates production of adrenaline. This is one of the stress hormones, but primes you for physical activity. A cup of coffee can improve physical performance by up to 12%. Caffeine also stimulates the nervous system, telling it to break down the fat stored in fat cells and making the energy more available to be used as fuel. A cup of black coffee before a workout could improve your performance in the gym!

 

What’s the best way to enjoy coffee?

No coffee after 2pm. It is, after all, a stimulant and, if you drink it too late in the day, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep, or your ability to get to sleep in the first place.

 

Ditch the sugar. A sure fire way to undo all the good a cup of coffee can do is to add a few spoons of the white stuff. The downside to sugar is now pretty well documented. In a nutshell, it increases inflammation in the body, and can lead to obesity and diabetes.

 

Go organic. Coffee is routinely heavily sprayed with pesticides, so go for organic whenever you can.

 

How much can I drink?

The amount of caffeine in a single cup of coffee varies enormously. A small home brewed cup is likely to contain around 50mg per cup (unless you have an amazing coffee machine), while a large one from a coffee shop might have over 400mg. You’d expect the average cup to have around 100mg.

 

A number of studies suggest up to 400mg a day (that’s about 4 cups) is safe for most people but many people are able to enjoy more without any ill effects. Do bear in mind that tea, chocolate and some soft drinks and prescription drugs also contain caffeine, so you need to view your coffee intake in light of other things you are eating and drinking.

 

If you know you need a diet and lifestyle upgrade, but are not sure exactly what that would look like for you, get in touch. Looking forward to talking to you and helping you take the first step towards a new you!

 

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How well do you know your menstrual cycle?

swan at the round pond

This isn’t a trick question!

 

There are a few signs that tell you it’s worth becoming more familiar with your menstrual cycle.

 

Are you surprised every month when your period arrives? Do you get hit like a brick with PMS every month, feeling like it’s come out of nowhere? Do you track your period by when you get PMS symptoms?

 

Ladies, there is a better way!

 

Knowing more about your menstrual cycle and embracing it can benefit you in so many ways.

 

Firstly, I encourage you to download one of the many period tracker apps out there and start tracking your menstrual cycle and symptoms. At the very least, you won’t be surprised when your period arrives every month #whitejeansallyear

 

After a few months, you start to get a sense of the length of your cycle. And it’s really important to know  that not every woman has a 28 day cycle. Some women’s cycles can be as short as 21 days and as long as 35 days. Every woman’s cycle is different so don’t compare yourself or your cycle to your friends.

 

Once you know when your period is scheduled to arrive, you can then start tackling your PMS. Many women get PMS in the 7 days before their periods, with symptoms like bloating, anger, irritability, brain fog, weepiness, pain and acne. PMS is a sign that something is wrong, so please don’t accept it as normal!

 

But your cycle isn’t just about when you get your period. Did you know that you have four phases to your cycle, where each of your sex hormones will peak or decrease depending on the phase?  This is why you might have more or less physical and emotional energy at certain times of your cycle or your libido might be higher or lower. It’s all connected to your hormones.

 

Knowledge is power. Knowing the ins and outs of your menstrual cycle can help you manage it better, get to grips with PMS, period pain, heavy bleeding and emotional ups and downs.

 

Do you need help understanding your cycle and your hormones? Book in for a free 20 minute Hormone Health Review!

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