Monthly Archives: July 2016

Why Fats are Important!

Fats carry our fat soluble vitamins around the body to allow for uptake and are essential for converting carotene to vitamin A. Fat holds and protects our organs, provides insulation and prolongs digestion as it slows down the production of hydrochloric acid. Eating good fats also aids our digestion in the sense of lubricating our digestive track to help keep us regular. It is also important for our skin complexion, scalp and muscles.

The body can also utilise fat as a source of energy when the livers glycogen stores are depleted (i.e. during fasting, exercise or when we are sick.

If we do not eat enough fats we risk the loss of fat-soluble vitamins as they are unable to be absorbed. We also expose ourselves to a higher risk of developing eczema and other skin conditions. Severe deficiency can lead to severely retarded growth. On the other hand eating too much fat can increase your risk of cholesterol being stored which contributes to atherosclerosis, hardening and narrowing of the arteries along with various other alignments linked to excess fat (weight gain, obesity, diabetes, hypotension, cancer etc.)

Our bodies are pretty unique in that they can make all fatty acids except for:

  • Linoleic acid (Omega 6s) – which are found in seeds and land plants
  • Linolenic acid (Omega 3s) – fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds

We often consume too many omega 6s and too little omega 3s.

Omega 3s are essential for brain health and reducing inflammation in particular. Ideally we need to consume a serve of omega 3 fatty acids daily to reap the benefits. If you are unable to consume these fatty acids daily, supplements are a great option!

Healthy Fat Choices

  • Avocado
  • Cold pressed oils (olive, coconut, flax, macadamia etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds (raw only)
  • Coconut (oil, flesh, butter, flour etc.)
  • Grass fed butter
  • Olives
  • Goat and Sheep cheese and yoghurt

Cold pressed oils are fantastic to drizzle of salads and all nuts and seeds should only be consumed if they are raw.

Coconut products is particular are a great choice to consume as although they are comprised mainly of medium chain triglycerides they are easily digested and metabolised in the liver. They are used directly for energy and help boost metabolism.

Fats that should be avoided include:

  • Deep fried foods
  • Commercially baked and packaged foods
  • Margarine and vegetable shortening
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Peanut oil

Every meal you eat should include a healthy fat source of some kind so it is time to get creative!

Fats

Protein Consumption & Portion Sizes

Portion sizes are often misunderstood especially when it comes to protein. It is often assumed that we need a lot more protein than we actually need. Below are the estimated amounts required for the three main groups (keeping in mind children requirements are slightly different).

  • Average Person – 0.8-1g protein/1kg body weight
  • Endurance Athlete (Adult) – 1.3-1.6g protein/1kg body weight
  • Adult Building Muscle Mass – 1.6-1.8g protein/1kg body weight

The body is only able to use approximately 20-25g of protein efficiently at any one time with excess protein potentially being stored as fat by the body. If we consume more protein than we need we must consume more water/liquid as more urea needs to be excreted as a result.

If we consume too much protein and do not balance it out with carbohydrates (in particular fresh vegetables and fruits) we create an environment that becomes too acidic which in the long term can result in systemic inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired renal function, and accelerated aging just to name a few.

When we talk carbohydrates we are not just referring to foods such as rice, bread or potato. All fruits and vegetables are carbohydrate sources. Balancing meals will often include a small portion of complex carbs (sweet potato, brown/red/black rice, pumpkin, beetroot, lentils, chickpeas, beans, quinoa, buckwheat, millet or amaranth) with the majority of carbs being made up of fresh vegetables in particular leafy greens. It is these carbohydrates that provide us with numerous vitamins and minerals in their most absorbable forms.

We then need healthy fat sources to compliment the meal. For some reason people often seem afraid to consume too much fat in the fear of gaining weight. With all things good, if you consume too much of any one thing, you can potentially put on weight. We need healthy fats to carry our fat soluble vitamins around the body and to allow for uptake. We also need fats for converting carotene to vitamin A, to hold and protect our organs, to provide insulation, to prolong digestion and to lubricate the digestive track, not to mention it is important for our skin complexion, scalp and muscles!

The easiest way to get healthy fats is to use olive oil or coconut oil to cook with, adding raw nuts and seeds to meals and making use of coconut products.

Daily Nutritional Tips

  • 1-2 pieces of fruit (fresh or frozen) – avoiding dried fruit unless sulphite free, freeze dried or unless its fruit such as goji berries etc.
  • A serving of raw nuts and seeds daily (easiest way to make sure you get enough vitamin E) – approximately 1-2 tbsp.
  • Fresh salad ingredients or vegetables with lunch and dinner (and breakfast if able to), filling up half the plate.
  • Complex carbohydrates (small amount with breakfast, lunch and dinner is best), approximately ¼ cup for the average person.
  • Protein with each meal (palm size portion is a good estimate), taking up approximately ¼ of the plate.

Prostate Health – IMPORTANT

The prostate gland is one of the main players in the male reproductive system and for this reason it becomes extremely important for men to be aware of what they can do to improve their prostate health. With prostate inflammation and cancer on the rise there has never be a better time to adopt a healthier lifestyle to prevent ill health.

Congestion and overgrowth of the prostate gland is considered normal for men who are over the age of 60 years with this process potentially starting in men as young as 40 years. As men age, hormone levels change, testosterone declines and prolactin and oestrogen increase, leading to an increased amount of dihydrotestosterone, which is a potent form of testosterone within the prostate area. This results in the prostate enlargement as the prostate cells are over produced. Lack of toxins and impurities being filtered out due to xenoestrogens are thought to cause this hormone imbalance and unwanted growth.

Increases in body weight is also associated with a higher production of oestrogen in older men along with oxidative stress from excess exposure to free radicals and other inflammatory agents. Spending long periods in a seated position also increases your risk.

When the prostate becomes inflamed, this adds pressure to the urethra, which obstructs the flow of urine resulting in interrupted or difficult urination and urgent or frequent urination, most commonly seen at night. Urinary tract infections are often experienced as urine becomes trapped and if blockage continues kidney infection or damage may result.

Nutritional Tips to improve you Prostate Health

  1. Increase your Vitamin D – low D3 has been associated with low testosterone production and increased prostatic growth.
  2. Quality Sleep – essential for healthy hormones, reduced stress levels and balanced blood sugar levels.
  3. Anti-inflammatory Foods – healthy proteins, fats and antioxidants are essential. Fatty acids found in coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocados, olives, cold pressed oils and fish oil are essential for testosterone production and prostatic health. Avoid anything processed!
  4. Antioxidants – fight oxidative stress and assist detoxification. Good sources include; herbal teas, saw palmetto, rich and bright coloured vegetables and fruits and adding cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, ginger, garlic and rosemary to meals.
  5. Omega 3 Supplement – shown to reduce inflammation and improve testosterone production.
  6. Zinc and Magnesium – essential for testosterone production and xenoestrogen detoxification. Pumpkin seeds are great and contain high amounts of both. Organic meats and super green powders are also great along with high quality supplements.
  7. Natural Products – use natural alternatives to common products such as; deodorants, shampoos and cleaning products, and utilising glass containers as opposed to plastics to reduce xenoestrogen substances.
  8. Regular Movement/Exercise – keeps blood circulating and reduces inflammation.
  9. Intermittent Fasting – going 16 hours between dinner and breakfast can be an effective way to boost testosterone while reducing inflammation.
  10. Relaxing – finding a way to wind down and switch off at the end of each day is essential to relax our overactive nervous systems.

Nutritional medicine is very effective and there are specific practitioner only products if you need additional support. More information call 0439 764 426 or visit www.good4younutrition.com.au

Prostate Health

Healthy Swaps

As foods are becoming more heavily processed and food intolerances are becoming more prominent, going back to making your own baked goods can be an easy way to counteract these problems, while improving your overall health. The more processed foods such as; white flour and white sugar, compromise our immune system function and create unnecessary inflammation within our bodies. Cow’s milk dairy products are also more processed than ever before and our bodies can struggle with their digestion.

Quick Simple Swaps

  • White Flour – wholemeal spelt, wholemeal rye, oat flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, millet flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, coconut flour and besan flour. If using almond meal, coconut flour or besan flour please refer to specific recipes as they often require additional liquid to get the desired result.
  • White Sugar – coconut palm sugar, xylitol sugar, stevia, rice malt syrup, raw honey, grade B maple syrup or medjool dates.
  • Margarine – grass fed butter or coconut oil.
  • Cow’s Milk – almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk, macadamia milk and hazelnut milk. You could also make your own seed milks as well (i.e. pumpkin seed milk) To make use 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds soaked overnight, rinsed and blended with 4 cups of filtered water and a teaspoon of vanilla paste. Strain and store in glass bottle for 4 days.
  • Cheese – cottage cheese, ricotta, feta, goat or sheep cheese.
  • Cream – coconut cream.
  • Yoghurt – natural yoghurt, Greek style yoghurt (low sugar), coconut yoghurt, goat milk yoghurt and sheep milk yoghurt.

I often use mashed pumpkin and sweet potato, chickpeas, beans and grated zucchini in recipes to reduce flour content while providing added nutritional benefit.

Healthy Swaps image

Trouble Sleeping? If this is you?

 

I have seen a fair few articles/blogs come up recently about how to improve sleep or treat insomnia. They all have similar concepts in mind and the following 9 points sum up the basics of what you can do to improve your sleep quality yourself!

  1. Go to sleep at the same time each night! Much easier said than done as we associate weekends with staying up later and sleeping in. This can throw out our sleep/wake cycle and hormones required for healthy sleep patterns, hence why everyone seems to be on struggle street come Monday morning at work.
  1. No technology close to bed time (this includes no technology while lying in bed). Our body is extremely clever and has a specific biological cycle of body processors that allows it to have a rough idea of what time of day it is, therefore using bright lights close to bed time tricks the body into thinking its morning again. Try to refrain from using your phone or computer at least 1 hour before sleep time. Most of us probably use our phones as an alarm clock which is fine, however try setting your alarm clock on your phone to automatically go off at the same time each day so you don’t have to worry about checking it every night to ensure it is set.
  1. Eating food close to bed time. Eating a big meal just before sleeping requires energy for the body to break down and metabolise the food which can keep us more alert. It can also promote the onset of reflux and heartburn. If you are really hungry close to bed time try eating a small snack such as some raw nuts, few spoonful’s of yoghurt or a glass of warm milk. Try to avoid sugary foods even fruit as this can make you more alert!
  1. Protein with dinner. Protein is required for blood sugar regulation and also for its role in melatonin and serotonin synthesis, therefore consuming adequate protein with dinner is important for a good quality sleep.
  1. Aim for 8 hours of sleep. This is the average amount of sleep required for most individuals with adolescents and young children requiring a little more. The more sleep you can get before midnight the better you will feel! Our bodies seem to produce more of the growth hormone when we go to sleep before midnight, allowing the adequate repair of our heart and blood vessels, muscles and tissues and our immune system. Let’s face it, most of us do not function as well after 1 bad night of sleep (or I don’t) and our reflexes are generally not a sharp.
  1. Caffeine. This can be a tricky one as some people can sleep well when they have caffeine right before bed, quite often because they have consumed significant amounts of caffeine during the day that the body no longer responds the same way anymore, which is not a good thing! As caffeine is a strong stimulant a majority of people will not be able to consume caffeine after about 2-3pm and still sleep well come 9pm. Try to stick to 1 cup of coffee/tea each day preferably in the morning and refrain from having caffeine after 3pm.
  1. Exercise. Again some people can exercise close to bed time and experience no difficulty sleeping, however many people cannot. If you have trouble sleeping of a night time try to avoid exercise 3 hours before bed time so that your nervous system is able to calm down in time. Exercising in the morning or during the day has actually been proven to improve sleep quality.
  1. Relaxing. This is often a tricky thing for most people including me, especially when I have weeks of higher stress than normal due to my workload. This is often the most important aspect that needs to be managed to improve sleep quality. While meditation is recommended this is not something most people want to try or feel like learning during periods of stress. I personally enjoy doing some form of lighter exercise (yoga, Pilates or walking) either in the mornings or later afternoon to calm me down. Some people find just having dinner with a friend or partner enough to wind down for the day. Hot baths with magnesium salts, taking a good quality magnesium supplement or herbal teas can also be very beneficial in calming your nervous system. Finding your own way to wind down and relax is critical!
  1. What if you can’t get to sleep? So you go to bed because you are tired but before you know it the lights go off and it’s like a light bulb in your head has turned on and you are wide awake again. Feel familiar? The best thing you can do is get back out of bed and go sit somewhere else and read a book or do something that doesn’t require technology until your feel tired again.

If these tips do not help with your sleep there are other options that can be taken. Nutritional medicine can be very beneficial in improving poor sleep quality through dietary changes and practitioner only products.

For more information call 0439 764 426 or visit www.good4younutrition.com.au

Sleep