Different Life Stages

FERTILITY

We have all heard that improving nutrition and reducing toxic exposures are vital during pregnancy, what most do not know is that it is just as important before conception.

Both Male & female can improve the chances of a healthy baby being brought to term by a slight change of awareness.

It’s optimal to avoid the following at all stages of life, but it’s especially important pre-conception.

Avoid: Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs (prescription or other), chemicals like pesticides, antibiotics, certain cosmetics with heavy metals or plastics and if you suspect an intolerance to milk cut it out of your diet. These could all be affecting fertility negatively.

Prioritize: Eating organic and balanced, cut out refined and processed foods. You can loosely follow the generalised recommendations below, with maybe upping the daily portions of grains to 1-3 x a day

Remember to practice some form of stress relief exercises such as yoga, meditation or qigong.

If you are experiencing infertility visit  www.foresight-preconception.org.uk

PREGNANCY

If you missed out on the pre-pregnancy health preparation it’s never too late to start, But it is vital that you do realise that your nutritional intake will have a profound effect on your baby’s future life.

 Avoid: Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs (prescription or other), chemicals like pesticides, antibiotics, junk foods, especially those containing refined sugars and hydrogenated fats.

 Prioritize: Organic whole foods, vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin A, Magnesium, zinc and Iron. Which you get from leafy green vegetables, meats, oily fish but also supplements. You can follow the recommended portions below, but realise that you will need more vitamins and minerals as the foetus grows. So your potions should grow accordingly.

Get plenty of sleep and practice your chosen form of stress relief exercises.This information also applies during breastfeeding. And remember everyone is different, these are only guidelines. Do not go hungry. Listen to your body and feed it accordingly.

 

GROWTH

We need to combat the junk food readily available to our kids by educating them and making sure we teach them good habits right from the start. This also means not stressing them out about the foods they eat. But rather showing them through example. Excersis and outdoor activities are also essential to our children’s optimal growth.

Avoid:  junk foods which are high in sugar, hydrogenated fats and stripped of their nutrients.

Prioritize: Foods rich in minerals like Iron & Zinc such as leafy green vegetables, meats, seafood, nuts, beans and pulses, even cocoa in it’s 70% and above form. Iron especially for girls as they get their periods , and Zinc for boys.

Compared to the basic daily recommendations below I would change yoghurt & cheese to 3-6 x week

Teenagers also need more sleep, it’s important to allow them this as the body is growing.

 

SENIOR HEALTH

As we grow older, our system becomes a little weaker, meaning the nutrients don’t get absorbed quite as well as they used to. We need to pay extra attention to giving our bodies a helping hand when we reach this life stage.

Avoid: Smoking, excessive alcohol, too many raw & difficult to digest foods. Refined and processed foods, as we need all the nutrients we can get. At this stage I would recommend cutting out most dairy (this does not include eggs).

Prioritize: Easily digestible foods like stews and soups. Foods rich in Magnesium, Iron, zinc and B12. A deficiency in the latter is common and often has the same symptoms that people naturally associate with old age, such as memory loss, confusion, low energy and agitated behaviour. Using Vitamin & mineral supplements is a good idea at this stage, but increasing the amount of meat and fish especially meats like liver which contain B12, Iron, omega 3 amongst others. Seeds like chia & flaxseeds are especially beneficial when reaching older age. Also Spices & herbs can help not only with their medicinal properties but also to add taste and make foods more exciting.

Generalised Portion Recommendations

Everyone is very different, and there is no universal diet that suits everyone. But as a general rule of health, getting enough sleep, meditating and exercising regularly is always a good idea.

Nutritional Recommendations:

Beverages: 1 and a half – 3 Liters of water a day

Vegetables: 2-3 x a day, especially the green leafy ones (1 portion taking up at least half of your plate)

Legumes & pulses: 1-3 x a week (portion size your own fist)

Fruit: Provided it’s organic 1-3 pieces a day is plenty.

Meat: 1-3 times a week (portion size your own palm)

Fish: 2-3 x week (portion size your own palm)

Dairy: Yoghurt & cheese 1-3 x a week is ok if you don’t have an intolerance (portion size 2 fingers for the cheese, 1 cup for the yoghurt)

Grains: quinoa, brown rice and oats 1-2 x a day (portion size your own fist) + 1 slice of brown bread

Nuts & seeds: a small handful 1 x day

 

The Gluten-Free Craze and Coeliac Disease

I am not anti gluten free, in fact having hypothyroidism I'm intolerant to the stuff myself. But It seems everyone has hopped on to the gluten free wagon without really considering what actually is in these mass produced gluten free products. In fact many of these so called healthier gluten free options are just as refined as their gluten packed counterparts. I believe the only reason more and more people have become intolerant to gluten or wheat is because of the shear amount of refined wheat based products that we have in our diets. It's important to understand, considering the state of industrial agriculture (see blog on the development of agriculture) how vital it is that we consume foods that have the maximum amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals in order for our bodies to thrive, this means eating organic, non processed or refined foods whenever possible.

Intolerances are dose dependant and can come and go depending on how stressed you are at the time. Also it's pretty normal to feel bloated after half a loaf of white bread. It would be healthier for a person who has a mild intolerance to gluten to eat a moderate amount (1 or 2 slices a day) of homemade brown bread than to eat heaps of refined gluten free products. Everything lies in finding the balance that is right for you.      

Now having coeliac disease is another thing altogether, it is an autoimmune disease that affects around 1 in 800 people. This disorder makes your body incapable of processing gluten, it causes the villi in the small intestine to become flattened or damaged. The villi are long tentacles in the intestines that help the body absorb nutrients and vitamins into the body. The result of them becoming flattened means the body can no longer absorb the vital nutrients needed for the body to function properly and the intestines become inflamed. 

The only way to treat coeliac disease is to adopt a gluten free diet, removing wheat, barley and rye from your diet. Unlike a mere intolerance to gluten, people with coeliac disease will have to avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. It can appear in childhood but can also develop later on in life.

Leading a gluten free lifestyle can be challenging. Especially when eating out. It is also hidden in many foods one might not be aware of, like soya sauce. Although more and more places seem to cater for a gluten free diet, this is where the craze has come in handy. 

When a person with coeliac disease removes gluten entirely, the villi in the intestines grow back to their tentacle like state, it might take months or years but optimal health will inevitably follow.

Below is an example of a day's diet as a Coeliac sufferer.

BREAKFAST:

Buckwheat banana pancakes With date syrup and raspberries

Eating Healthy absolutely does not mean eating boring tasteless foods.

Eating Healthy absolutely does not mean eating boring tasteless foods.

Ingredients:

2 rip bananas
4 eggs
¾ cup Buckwheat flour
(Recipe for 3 portions)

 

SNACK:

1 cup of Kefir with fresh lemon juice & a tsp chia and hemp seeds

 

LUNCH:

Mackerel beetroot Salad

Ingredients:

Cooked beetroot
Smoked mackerel
Celery
Spring onion
Sunflower seeds

 

SNACK:

Cucumber/carrot/celery sticks with a little hummus

 

DINNER:

Creamy leek & potato soup (with almond cream) with 1 Slice of nut and seed bread

Ingredients for 1 loaf of nut & seed bread:
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup flax seeds
½ cup hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium husk seeds
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 pinch of stevia
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 ½ cups water

Recipe from My New Roots    http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes And The Importance Of a Healthy Lifestyle

Diabetes 2 is an autoimmune disease, which is caused by developing insulin resistance. In turn this causes High blood pressure, heart attacks and all sorts of other health concerns. It is true you might have a predisposition to diabetes if it runs in the family, but this does not mean you can't avoid it!

It is possible to keep Diabetes at bay by sticking to a healthy low carb diet and exercising daily.

The way it works; All sugars and carbohydrates get transformed into Glucose. This Glucose needs to get into our cells to be transformed into energy. In order to do that your pancreas needs to produce insulin that acts as a key unlocking the cell and letting the Glucose in. But if you are overloading your system with sugars & carbohydrates, your pancreas will struggle to keep up with the vast amounts of Glucose entering the body. It will try to keep up for a while but eventually it will get over worked and either pack it in altogether or just become very unproductive.

When this happens your glucose is either not entering the cells anymore or only entering them very slowly, and this causes the health problems.

If you are suffering from diabetes it's vital to cut out fast foods, sodas, processed & refined ready meals and opt for fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, grass fed meats. An easy rule to follow is to eat foods in their purest form and if you're not yet accustomed to 20 minutes exercise a day, start with a daily mindful walk, some stretches in the morning and 30 seconds of planking, everyone has 30 seconds to spare, it will build your core muscles and eventually you'll find you're able to exercise for longer, and more importantly you will want to! Hydration is also extremely important, 1.5-3 Liters of water a day, depending on how much you exercise. 

Symptoms include:

*Being constantly tired

*Frequent urination

*Blurred Vision

*Slow healing sores

*Weight loss

*Increased hunger

If you have any of these symptoms please consult with your GP.

Be aware that sometimes you won’t even have any symptoms. One way to know if you might be at risk for diabetes 2 is if you have more fat around the middle ie. An apple shaped body.

A diet where you curb the amount of sugar & carbohydrate can dramatically help your body to recover. A low carb diet means increasing both your protein and your fat intake.

In case you are still scared of fats: Eating fats WILL NOT make you fat. Provided it is good fat like olives, avocados, quality cold press oils. In fact they will increase your energy levels and lower your high blood pressure.

See example of a day’s Diabetes friendly diet high in fiber, protein and fat.

 

Development in Farming and Food production

Farming and food production changed dramatically after WW2. With the aim of producing more crops for less money, and the discovery of certain pesticides and herbicides (originally developed for warfare), farms became highly mechanized factories run on fossil fuel. Workers were taught only one job on repeat, making them easily replaceable and cheap labour. Entire fields were suddenly used for just one crop, where as before one farm would grow a variety of crops using techniques such as crop rotation to keep the soil healthy. 

Where are we now? After years of:

•monoculture, which has destroyed biodiversity of the seeds and the crops, leading to the degradation of the soil. In other words it has robbed us of vital minerals from all the foods that grow in that soil. Essential minerals needed by our bodies for optimum health.

•Excessive use of fossil fuels used for all the machinery, not to mention the carbon foot print of industrial livestock. Both of which promote climate change and destroy our environment and massively assist in the world’s deforestation.

•The fact that the countryside is becoming more toxic than the cities because of all the chemicals being sprayed on the foods we eat. Ruining our health and the environment.

 We have reached the stage where we can no longer turn a blind eye to the detrimental effects of industrial farming.

Luckily Regenerative Organic Agriculture is also a modern farming method, which is becoming more and more popular. It aims to bring sustainable methods of farming to the communities by using practices that don’t hurt the environment or the humans ie. They don’t use toxic chemicals, GM seeds, large amounts of fossil fuel or anything else that would spoil nature.

Instead they rotate crops, using techniques such as planting clover to amend soil by fixing nitrogen. Bringing a more humane approach to livestock agriculture, by letting the animals roam outside on a natural diet in manageable numbers, instead of having them pumped with antibiotics. They also support farming communities by providing fair wages in a safe environment.

Agriculture convention. France ca. 1985

Agriculture convention. France ca. 1985

The relationship we have with our food since WW2 has also changed so much.

Before WW2 most products were local. There was no real industrial farming full of toxic chemicals. You might even know the farmer who was growing the vegetables you would eat. There was no need to be on a ‘Clean’ diet because everything was clean. You also knew what you were getting without it needing to be labelled or wrapped in plastic.

These days it takes a lot of effort to actually know exactly what it is you are consuming. And a lot of people are just unaware of where their food is coming from or what is in their foods because the end product is so processed and far removed from it’s natural form. Foods are now made in a factory rather than in the kitchen.

The refining process that these foods go through rob them even further of vitamins like Vitamin B & E and mineral like Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper and dietary fibre. So the soil that grows them is depleted of it’s nutrients and then we further refine these foods stripping them of what was left. It’s no wonder the population is over eating and yet still starved of the nutrients needed to be healthy.

Most meals are made to accommodate a lifestyle short of time. People who take time over their meals and have family dinners at the table, are a minority. Although there is a trend rebelling against that, the majority of people still want cheap foods, that are ready made and easily available.

 The Farming industry did deliver in it’s aim to mass produce cheap foods. But it came at the cost of our health, our environment and our global neighbours in developing countries. It has become shear quantity over quality. Made possible by agricultural subsidies, because the cheap foods on the market cost much more to make than their price tag. It has become a mass market controlled by very few companies like Monsanto, who only have financial gain and complete control of the market in mind.

Foods like cooking oils, which are in their purest form very fragile because of their double bonded structure, are heavily processed in order to add shelf life, desired texture and colour. This process of heating, bleaching, deodorising and adding preservatives, called chemical hydrogenation turns these polyunsaturated fats into trans fats. Sure it adds shelf life and they look good in a glass bottles but they have been striped of any nutritional value making them pure calories. But even worst than that is that their structure has changed on a molecular level into something our bodies can no longer safely process. The health risks of consuming trans fats, range from a raise in ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, inflammation, interfering with pregnancies, lowering the immune response to an increase risk of cancer.

Of course everything is relative and it all depends on your own individual make up and the amounts you consume. but if you’re still eating fast foods and having that pack of crisp regularly, it might already be too much.