Diabetes

Diabetes

Has your weight been creeping up on you over the years and is proving difficult to shift – despite your best efforts? Or maybe your energy levels are on the floor? It’s easy to push to the back of your mind. Surely things can’t have got that bad… You’re not one of ‘those’ people whose food and lifestyle choices result in blood sugar levels so wonky, they find themselves in the prediabetes or diabetes trap… It’s easily done, and I see a lot of people in clinic who have been surprised to find they’re occupying that space. 

It really is worth getting your blood sugar levels checked out. Once you know your numbers, you can do something about it and make a huge shift in all aspects of your health, including your weight. Whatever the tests say, I want you to know that, by making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, it is possible to prevent, control and, in some cases, reverse this condition. 

COULD IT BE ME? 

One in six people over the age of 40 is likely to have diabetes, with many more lurking in the grey area leading up to a diabetes diagnosis – prediabetes. There’s no upside to having diabetes. This is what may lie in store for anyone receiving the diagnosis: risk of stroke, heart disease, visual disturbances and other eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma, higher risk of bacterial, fungal and yeast infections, high blood pressure, damaged nerves and blood vessels, and fatigue and lack of energy. The list doesn’t stop there, but I think you get my drift. Diabetes is not a good thing.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes is a condition in which levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood are higher than normal. 

There are two main kinds of diabetes (type 1 and 2). Both types involve insulin, a hormone responsible for controlling the level of glucose in the blood. Type 1 diabetic patients do not produce sufficient insulin and therefore need to inject it (this type of diabetes is the rarer kind, and often develops at a young age). 

Type 2 diabetic patients, produce insulin, but the cells become insensitive to it and so it fails to do its job properly. Type 2 diabetes accounts for over 90% of all people with diabetes, and the condition usually develops later in life. This type of diabetes is far more strongly associated with diet and lifestyle factors.

DIAGNOSING TYPE 2 DIABETES

Diabetes is diagnosed by testing your blood sugar level. If your fasting plasma glucose level (FBG) is too high (above 7 mmol/l) or your oral glucose tolerance (OGTT) is above 11.1mmol/l, your HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood sugar levels) is above 6.4%, this represents a diagnosis of diabetes. 

For prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal and that often leads to type 2 diabetes, your FBG might read between 5.5 and 7 mmol/l, your OGTT might be between 7.8 and 11.1 mmol/l, and your HbA1c might be between 6% to 6.4%. 

It’s easy to dismiss the risk, but the shift into prediabetes can happen almost without your noticing it. You may experience niggling symptoms, like low energy or your weight creeping up on you, and your usual tricks to get it down no longer work as well as they once did. 

Common risk factors for prediabetes are these:

  • You are overweight.
  • You have a close relative – parent or sibling – who has a diabetes diagnosis.
  • You have high blood pressure or low HDL (‘good’) cholesterol.                 
  • You’re over 40.
  • You’ve given birth to a baby over 9 pounds.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK THIS APPLIES TO YOU

Your GP will be able to organise blood tests for you. You can also get tested privately. I offer a range of biochemical tests and can work with you to make manageable changes to your diet and lifestyle to get your health back on track. 

From a nutrition professional, what I’m about to say may sound a little biased, but I have seen so many diabetic clients receive unhelpful and incorrect advice about what to eat from doctors. Unfortunately, doctors receive no training in nutrition and have no other option than to follow the Eatwell Guide (published by Public Health England) – which, sadly, is outdated and not evidence-based. You may have been told that you could fix this just by losing a little weight, but I’m afraid that the way you might have gone about this in the past simply is not going to work anymore. And just starving yourself into losing a handful of pounds is not going to fix the underlying problem. It won’t miraculously change the numbers that came up in your test results.

What does work is a whole diet and lifestyle approach. I work with my clients to guide them to make better food choices that help lower their blood sugar levels. The strategy we create is tailored to you and no one else. What you like to eat, avoiding what you don’t like to eat, making changes at a speed that feels right for you to achieve your goals. We also look at these results in a bigger context of other annoying symptoms you might be experiencing and try to mop those up as we go along, too. You would be surprised the impact you can make on your health and how you experience life.

To find out more, why not book yourself in for a complimentary nutrition MOT and take your first steps back to good health today? 

Eliminate Your Hidden Food Intolerances

Eliminate Your Hidden Food Intolerances

Food intolerance is a series of physiological responses that your body has to certain types of food.

It is thought that over 45% of the population react adversely to foods that they eat. 

A food intolerance is occasionally confused with a food allergy. They can often have the same signs and symptoms but are completely different. A true food allergy will cause an immune system reaction that affects many organs in the body, it causes a range of symptoms, in some cases, it can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are normally less serious and are often restricted to digestive problems.

One in three people have hidden food intolerances. If you are eating foods that your body cannot tolerate, you are likely to gain weight, feel terrible and even look years older than your actual age.  The inflammation going on makes your body resistant to the key chemical messengers that help you burn fat, tolerate stress and regularise any cravings. If you are one of them, you need to find out what you are intolerant to and which foods to eat instead. 

You can ‘desensitise’ yourself to foods you’re intolerant to and then reintroduce them three months later to see if you can now tolerate it. You should never eat foods you have a severe response to.

Discovering what you have an intolerance to

Food intolerance can be responsible for many symptoms, especially digestive problems, from bloating to constipation, and diarrhea to abdominal cramps. These are sometimes accompanied by mental and physical symptoms, such as mood changes, chronic tiredness, depression, increased appetite, sleepiness after meals, inability to concentrate and a host of minor ailments from itches and rashes to asthma and sinus problems.

Whilst the effects may not be life threatening, resulting symptoms can have a massive impact on someone’s quality of work and home life.

Download the questionnaire here and check yourself out to see if you have any food intolerance.

Should You Eat Dairy?

Should You Eat Dairy?

Is eating dairy unhealthy?

Whether or not you should eat dairy products is one of the things that people most ask me about as a nutrition professional.

There’s the argument from the dairy industry and conventional medicine that, if you don’t eat dairy, you’re putting your bone health at risk.

Other health professionals (often in what we used to call ‘alternative medicine’) have long argued that consuming dairy products causes low-grade inflammation in the body, may increase the risk of cancer, drain your energy and give you spots.

Vegans also argue that eating dairy isn’t natural for humans, and that dairy farming involves cruelty to animals many of us are unaware of, plus it significantly contributes to global warming.

In this newsletter, I want to give you all the details on what’s good and not so good about dairy, and the positive benefits of giving up milk-based products. If you’re even considering ditching dairy, there is one really important thing you need to do. I’ll tell you about that, too.

Why should I eat dairy?

Dairy products contain a range of beneficial nutrients. Of course, there’s calcium, but it’s also a good source of protein, vitamins D and B12 and phosphorus.

Let’s talk about the calcium in dairy, because this is the thing you are told you will miss most if you stop consuming milk-based products.

When you get past 30, your process of bone breakdown is a bit speedier than new bone being made, so you need to make sure you’re getting good levels of this important mineral to fortify your frame. Although you can get calcium from other foods, the reason why dairy is touted as being the best source, is that the calcium from milk-based foods are more readily absorbed by the body*.  Skip down to the bottom of the story to find out how you can safely choose not to have dairy in your life. There are some specific foods you will need to eat.

Cow’s milk also contains the omega 6 fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is considered to have health benefits. It is also contained in grass-fed beef. Studies suggest CLA can help with weight loss, and that people who have lot of foods containing CLA have a lower risk of diabetes and cancer**.

Is dairy bad for you?

The bottom line is that human beings weren’t designed to drink milk of any kind after the weaning period (around two years old). Not human milk, and certainly not milk from cows, sheep or goats. Some cultures have embraced drinking dairy products, and people in those cultures have genetically adapted to tolerate it. Others haven’t and for those people in particular, eating dairy can cause problems. Two of the biggest problems associated with dairy are digestive and skin issues.

Let’s have a look at the bad stuff in dairy products…

They contain growth hormones, which may be linked to increased risk of disease and some cancers.

And other hormones, too, like oestrogen. Small amounts, true, but still oestrogen. Some cancers and medical conditions like endometriosis, PMS, fibroids and even menopause are linked to a dominance of oestrogen compared to progesterone.

As well as having more naturally occurring sugar than you’d think. A cup of milk has about three teaspoons. Sugar, I hear you say. Where? The type of sugar in milk is called lactose. You might be tempted to say, ‘I’ll have lactose-free milk then’. Lactose-free milk has had the milk sugars broken into galactose and glucose. Same amount of sugars, different currency. However, the milk sugar is often the ingredient people do not tolerate, so a lactose-free milk can provide the benefits of regular milk without the dodgy tummy.

Non-organic dairy products contain antibiotic residues, so if you are eating dairy, make sure it’s organic.

Drinking it may raise your risk of certain types of cancer, but the evidence occasionally contradicts itself. You can read more where you see this sign at the bottom***.

And you’re more likely to get spots or have acne. **** The research stacks up that that’s the case, but scientists aren’t 100% sure of the reason dairy triggers acne, though it’s likely to be something to do with the hormones present in milk. Another theory is that dairy products disrupt insulin levels and make skin more prone to acne.

How will I feel if I give up dairy?

Everyone will be a little different but these are some of the reported benefits of ditching dairy:

  • Less nasal congestion and stuffiness.
  • Better sleep.
  • Clearer skin.
  • More energy.
  • Weight loss.
  • Reduction in bloating/ other digestive symptoms.
  • Fewer headaches.

I’m not going to go into the impact on the environment of consuming less dairy, and the animal welfare argument. Too many variables. I’ll leave you to just ponder that.

What are the alternatives if I don’t want to eat dairy?

Use these in porridge, overnight oats smoothies and the like.

My favourite non-dairy milks are almond, coconut, oat, rice – pretty much in that order and largely based on levels of sugars (naturally occurring). You’ll want to choose the unsweetened varieties if there is an option.

The foods you need to eat when you’re giving up dairy

You’ll be missing out on calcium for bones, so you’ll need to find it some place else. That means letting more of these foods into your diet on a daily basis: cabbage, spring greens, boy choy, kale, broccoli, okra, almonds, soya (edamame) beans and tofu, and fish where you eat the bones (like tinned sardines).

The RDA (recommended daily allowance or how much a healthy person needs to eat to not get sick) is 700mg a day.

A fist-sized serving of tofu can be between 200mg and 800mg. One serving in a stir fry at night could get you your calcium fix for the day.

  • Small can of sardines has 351mg.
  • 2tbsp sesame seeds have 280mg.
  • 2tbsp chia seeds has 179mg.
  • A cup-full of cooked kale has 177mg. Raw (because less fits in the cup), it’s 53mg.
  • A small handful (about 35g) almonds has nearly 100mg.
  • A cup of broccoli has 43mg.

Should I eat more spinach to increase calcium?

Some – like spinach or chard – contain oxalic acid, which binds to calcium and can mess with your body’s ability to absorb it properly. Turns out Popeye was eating the wrong sort of greens because, even though spinach technically has a lot of calcium, it’s only a tenth as bioavailable as that from milk due to the oxalic acid.

But, wait, I couldn’t give up…

You don’t have to. If you love pizza, try giving up dairy but having an exception for pizza. Although going completely dairy-free would be the goal, even taking most of the dairy out of your diet can still bring benefits. For most dairy products, there is an excellent dairy alternative. Some are most surprising. I wonder whether you have experienced the delicious creaminess a handful of cashews can bring to a soup, for example. However, there are some groups of people who really should give it a miss; those who have an intolerance to dairy would do well to remove it entirely for at least three months to heal the gut. And, if you have a true allergy to dairy (IgE), you will want to steer clear forever.

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17160208 OR https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261044065_Calcium_bioavailability_from_dairy_products_and_its_release_from_food_by_in_vitro_digestion

**  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/conjugated-linoleic-acid#benefits

*** https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/cancer/does-milk-cause-cancer/

**** https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738081X10000416

What Are the Benefits of Green Tea?

What Are the Benefits of Green Tea?

Did you know that green tea is more than just a green solution? Did you know that it has powerful health benefits?

It has grown in popularity in recent years and for good reason – it has very genuine health benefits and make a great variation on your usual cuppa!

So, what about Green Tea?

Green tea is a very largely consumed drink in the world after water. It is made from the plant called Camellia Sinensis. It is made by lightly steaming the leaves after they are harvested.

It belongs to an incredible class of compounds called the polyphenols.  Polyphenols are strong plant chemicals that work together with the human body to keep us healthy.

The polyphenols found in green tea are called catechins and flavonoids, they are responsible for various green tea benefits. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that flavonoids and catechins have a strong antioxidant activity.

Green tea is full of nutrients and antioxidants that have powerful effects on the body. So, what are the green tea benefits?

Here Are 5 Amazing Green Tea Benefits:

  1. Enhances Mood & Brain Function

Did you know that green tea contains caffeine but not as much as coffee? It contains enough to produce a response but without causing you to feel edgy or nervous, something associated with too much caffeine.

Caffeine has been studied extensively. Low to Moderate consumption has been associated with improvement in cognitive function.

A review of studies published in the Nutrition Bulletin found that low to moderate consumption of caffeine (38 to 400mg per day, equivalent to 1 to 8 cups of tea, or 0.3 to 4 cups of brewed coffee per day) maximized the benefits of caffeine and was associated with improvements in memory, mood and brain function. There was minimum risk of dehydration.

Green tea also contains a unique amino acid called theanine, responsible for a sense of relaxation. A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound that theanine affects aspects of the brain function in humans. It was found to increase activity in the alpha frequency band of the brain indicating that it helps to relax the mind without causing drowsiness.

The studies found that the individuals reported they had constant energy and were more productive when they drank green tea, compared to coffee.

  1. Improves Oral Health

The dangerous bacteria associated with the formation of plaque, tooth decay and cavities in humans is called Streptococcus mutans. Catechins in green tea has been shown to stop the growth of Streptococcus mutans.

A study published in the Caries Research found that green tea effectively stops the attachment of the Streptococcus mutans strain to saliva in the mouth.

Another study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology also found that green tea was effective in reducing mouth odour because of its disinfectant and deodorant activities. Improving oral health was found to be one of green tea benefits.

  1. Enhances Cardiovascular Health

According to the World Health Organization, heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death in humanity.

Improving cardiovascular health is one of the green tea benefits. Green tea has been shown to boost a variety of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. A study published in Atherosclerosis showed that green tea stopped induced LDL oxidation; LDL oxidation is a typical feature of coronary heart disease.

The study concluded that the consumption of green tea may lower the risk of coronary heart disease.

Another study published in the Obesity Journal also found that the consumption of green tea decreased Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, thereby contributing to a decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.

  1. Reduces Body Fat

The body fat reducing effect is one of the green tea benefits. It also helps to improve your metabolic rate.

A study published in the Obesity Journal in which men and women with abdominal fat-type obesity over a 12-week period ingested green tea containing catechin. The study found that there was a decrease in body weight, body mass index, body fat mass, waist circumference and hip circumference suggesting that green tea contributes to a decrease in obesity.

  1. Maintains Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Maintaining blood sugar levels is one of the green tea benefits. High blood sugar levels increases your risk of insulin resistance which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea consumption drastically reduced the fasting glucose and haemoglobin A1c (Hb A1c) concentrations.

Green tea was also found to reduce fasting insulin concentration and improve insulin sensitivity.

Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the regular consumption of green tea was associated with a 33% reduced risk for diabetes.

The Bottom Line

To sum up, the green tea benefits are amazing. Adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to your cup increases the benefits of green tea, the vitamin C in the fresh lemon juice boosts the amount of catechins available to be absorbed by your body.

It is important that you consume good quality green tea. Good quality green tea will be green, if it looks brown instead of green then it is not good quality, it is possibly oxidized, which destroys a lot of its important compounds.

References:

Serafini M, Ghiselli A, Ferro-Luzzi A (1996) In vivo antioxidant effect of green tea and black tea in man. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 50: 28-32.

Ruxton C H S (2008) The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 33: 15-25.

Nobre A C, Rao A, Owen G N (2008) L-theanin, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 17: 167-168.

Otake S, Makimura M, Kuroki T, Nishihara Y, Hirasawa M (1991) Anticaries Effects of Polyphenolic Compounds from Japanese Green Tea. Caries Research25: 438-443.

Lodhia P, Yaegaki K, Khakbaznejad A, Imai T, Sato T, Tanaka T, Murata T, Kamoda T (2008) Effect of green tea on volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air.

Yang T T C, Koo M W L (2000) Inhibitory effect of Chinese green tea on endothelial cell-induced LDL oxidation.

World Health Organisation (2014) The top 10 causes of death http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/.

Nagao T, Hase T, Tokimitsu I (2007) A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans. Obesity, 15: 1473-1483.

Liu K, Zhou R, Wang B, Chen K, Shi L Y, Zhu J D, Mi M T (2013) Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis o 17 randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98: 340-348.

Iso H, Date C, Wakai K, Fukui M, Tamakoshi A, JACC Study Group (2006) The relationship between green tea and total caffeine intake and risk for self-reported type 2 diabetes among Japanese adults. Annals of Internal Medicine,144: 554-562.

Weight Loss Tip: Go to Bed Hungry

Weight Loss Tip: Go to Bed Hungry

Are you still trying to lose weight and shed the extra pounds?

There are different weight loss diets and regimes providing you with different weight loss tips to follow.  I am sure you may have heard of the tip:  avoid late night snacking and go to bed hungry. So, how effective is this weight loss tip? Let’s take a look….

Avoid late night snacking, go to bed hungry

Studies have suggested that the only thing that matters for weight loss is what you eat and how much you eat, but various studies have now shown that when you eat is just as important in achieving your weight loss goals. Staying awake and eating late is a very recent occurrence in human history; many years ago, we humans never used to eat late at night.

Did you know that you don’t need to eat every 3 or 4 hours to live and be healthy and that you actually burn fat while you sleep?

Your body is inclined to burn fat at certain times of the day and store fat at other times. When you eat a meal or snack, your blood glucose rises, some of the glucose is used up by your muscles and brain for energy, some is stored in the form of glycogen in the liver, and the rest is stored as fat.

When you are asleep, your body is in a fasting state. Your blood glucose drops. As your blood glucose gets lower and lower, your body will use up your glycogen store; the glycogen is converted into glucose to provide energy.  If you haven’t eaten anything after dinner, the glycogen store will be used up quickly, then your body will be forced to burn its own fat stores to provide energy to keep you functioning properly. This helps with your efforts to lose weight.  If you snack before you sleep, your body doesn’t have a chance to burn its own fat store, it uses the food you eat for energy.

Your body runs on a regular circadian rhythm (an internal clock) that matches with when you wake and sleep and almost every organ in your body also has its own circadian rhythm or internal clock when it is programmed to perform more efficiently. Light is the main cue that sets your body’s internal clock – for example, your liver is scheduled to function more efficiently during the day. The timing of your meals may throw off your body’s circadian rhythm and lead to weight gain.

Numerous studies have shown that weight loss is not just about “calories in and calories out”, but is to a large extent under the control of your hormones

The major hormone here is insulin. Insulin is a fat storing hormone. Higher levels of insulin prevents weight loss. Insulin is secreted in response to eating, so it tends to be raised during the day and fairly low when we are asleep. Insulin levels can be normalised by changing not just what we eat, but when we eat as well. So, avoiding snacks late at night and going to bed hungry will help to keep insulin low and help with your efforts to lose weight.

Ensure you have a routine to live by. Sticking to a meal schedule every day will prevent you from snacking after dinner. It is important to eat your last meal 3 hours before bedtime, so that you spend less time awake.

If you are tempted to snack after dinner, here are 2 things you can do to avoid yielding to that temptation:

1) Brush your teeth after dinner. This will give you the sense that you can’t eat anymore.

2) Drink warm water or a hot cup of caffeine-free herbal tea. Make it hot (not burning hot) so that you can sip it gradually.

Reference
1) ScienceDaily (2012) Could high insulin make you fat? Mouse study says yes.