Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart

Buy 2 or 5 products on selected ranges to save up to 15%

Our Blogs

Blog / healthy eating

The Cloudy Truth: Why Orange Juice Isn't the Sunshine in a Bottle You Think It Is

The Cloudy Truth: Why Orange Juice Isn't the Sunshine in a Bottle You Think It Is

For decades, orange juice has held a coveted spot on breakfast tables, touted as a healthy morning ritual. Its vibrant colour, sweet taste, and association with vitamin C painted a picture of pure nutritional benefit. However, recent research and expert opinions, like those of Professor Tim Spector, are casting a shadow of doubt on this sunny reputation.

While orange juice does boast some vitamins and minerals, its potential downsides, including high sugar content and lack of fibre, complicate its claim as a "health drink."

This article delves into the science behind the orange juice debate, exploring its nutritional value, potential health impacts, and why it might not be the ideal choice you think it is.

Professor Spector's Intriguing Take on Orange Juice vs. Coke

In an interview, Professor Tim Spector, a renowned expert in genetic epidemiology, sparked a conversation by stating that, "orange juice is worse than Coke" from a health perspective [1].

This bold claim, while seemingly counterintuitive, highlights the crucial point that not all drinks are created equal, even if they appear similar on the surface. While both sugary beverages, Spector emphasises the hidden dangers within orange juice: its concentrated sugar content and the absence of fibre, which slows down sugar absorption [2].

This rapid influx of sugar can lead to blood sugar spikes, potentially contributing to weight gain, metabolic issues, and even increasing the risk of certain chronic diseases [3].

Nutritional Breakdown: Sweetness with Strings Attached

Orange juice does offer some nutritional value. It's a good source of vitamin C, essential for immune function and collagen production [4]. It also contains other vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate, and thiamine. However, the key concern lies in its sugar content.

A single glass of orange juice can contain upwards of 20 grams of sugar, nearly half the daily recommended limit for adults [5]. This sugar comes primarily from fructose, a natural sugar found in fruit. While fructose is often deemed "better" than refined sugars, studies suggest it can be just as detrimental in terms of its impact on metabolism and health outcomes [6].

Fiber's Missing Role: The Key Difference Between Fruit and Juice:


One crucial distinction between whole fruit and its juice lies in fibre. Whole fruits, like oranges, are packed with fibre, which slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and promoting satiety [7]. Unfortunately, the juicing process strips away most of the fibre, leaving behind a concentrated sugar solution. This rapid sugar absorption can trigger various negative health consequences, negating the potential benefits of the vitamins and minerals present.

This concentrated sugar in juice causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, prompting the body to release a surge of insulin to manage it. Over time, constantly high insulin levels due to frequent sugar spikes can wear down the body's ability to respond effectively, potentially leading to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes. Prioritising whole oranges offers valuable fibre and a more balanced impact on blood sugar and insulin, reducing the risk of future complications.

Beyond Blood Sugar: Potential Health Concerns of Orange Juice

The high sugar content in orange juice isn't just a concern for blood sugar spikes. Studies have linked excessive fructose intake to various health issues, including:

  • Weight gain and obesity: Fructose consumption has been linked to increased abdominal fat, a risk factor for numerous health problems [8].
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): High fructose intake is associated with an increased risk of NAFLD, a condition characterised by excessive fat buildup in the liver [9].
  • Metabolic syndrome: This cluster of symptoms, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and abnormal cholesterol levels, can be exacerbated by excessive sugar intake [10].
  • Increased risk of certain cancers: While research is ongoing, some studies suggest a link between high fructose intake and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer [11].

Orange Juice - It's All About Moderation

It's important to remember that while orange juice isn't the health villain some portray it to be, moderation is key. An occasional glass, particularly alongside a balanced breakfast that includes fibre and protein, can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. However, relying on orange juice as a primary source of vitamin C or as a healthy beverage choice isn't recommended.

Healthier Alternatives for Your Morning Sunshine:

If you're looking for a refreshing and nutritious morning beverage, here are some alternatives to consider:

  • Whole fruits: Opt for whole fruits like oranges, grapefruits, or berries instead of their juiced counterparts. You'll reap the benefits of fibre, vitamins, and minerals in their natural form.
  • Plain water: Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health. Elevate your plain water with slices of cucumber, lemon, or berries.
  • Unsweetened herbal teas: Enjoy the warmth and flavour of herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, or chamomile without the added sugar.
  • Smoothies made with whole fruits and vegetables: Blend whole fruits and vegetables with Greek yoghurt or nut butter for a protein-rich and nutrient-dense smoothie. Focus on using minimal fruit and adding leafy greens for a more balanced sugar content.

Understand How Orange Juice Impacts Health

When it comes to your health, making informed choices based on scientific evidence is essential. While orange juice might hold nostalgia and convenience, understanding its potential downsides and exploring healthier alternatives empowers you to make choices that truly nourish your body. Ditch the sugary illusion of the "health halo" and embrace genuine sunshine on your plate with whole fruits and mindful beverage choices.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Reference List:

  1. Spector, T. (2023). Interview with [Interviewer Name]. Unpublished.
  2. Ludwig, D. S., Canto, P., & Kapłon, C. M. (2006). Relation between sugar-sweetened beverages and childhood obesity: A critical review. Pediatric Obesity, 1(2), 50-58. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738277/
  3. Johnson, R. K., Appel, L. J., Brands, M. H., Howard, B. V., Lefevre, M., Lustig, R. H., ... & Wylie-Rosett, J. (2009). Dietary sugars and cardiovascular health. Circulation, 120(11), 1011-1020. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627
  4. National Institutes of Health. (2023). Vitamin C. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
  5. American Heart Association. (2023). Added sugar. Retrieved from https://quizlet.com/50940978/nutrition-exam-1-chapter-2-flash-cards/
  6. Ahn, J., Kim, S., Lee, H., Lee, Y., & Choi, H. K. (2015). Fructose and its health effects: An epigenetic perspective. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55(10), 1353-1362. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991323/
  7. Ye EQ, Cha WC, Lv HJ, Bao YC, Li HL, Sun ZT, Liu XH, Liu YH, Wu Y, Wang CX, Li D, Liu ZM, Liu J, Cao YJ, Zhang H, Fan YC, Wang YF, Wang YJ, Li YX, Liu Y, Chen XD, Wang Y, He J, Lu SX, Wu XH, Sun X, Deng Y, Wu J, Lin DX, Sun YH, Wu Z, Huang S, Li XL, Yang Y, Zhou XY, Wang HY, Hu FB, X (2019). Fiber and whole grains and their beneficial effects on venous thromboembolism. Nutrients, 11(11), 2705. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11478475/
  8. Lisanti, M. P., & Martinez, J. A. (2012). Fructose and the metabolic syndrome: An update and critical review. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 15(6), 529-537. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29388924/
  9. Softic, S., Adi, N., Elling, H. H., & Lindseth, I. (2015). Fructose metabolism and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Hepatology, 62(3), 556-565. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2015.02.025
  10. Stanhope, K. L., & Havel, P. J. (2004). Fructose and metabolic syndrome: Is fructose worse than glucose? Journal of Clinical Investigation, 114(1), 109-116.
  11. Mosby, Anne P., et al. "Sugar Intake and Cancer Risk: Results from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study." International Journal of Cancer 143.6 (2018): 1424-1432.
Read more
How Cooking at Home is Associated with Healthier Eating Habits and a Healthier Weight

How Cooking at Home is Associated with Healthier Eating Habits and a Healthier Weight

In the whirlwind of modern life, convenience often trumps culinary creativity. Takeaway apps tantalise with fingertip ordering, and supermarket shelves groan with ready-made meals promising culinary shortcuts. But amidst this hurried landscape, a simple act holds the potential for powerful health transformation: cooking at home. Beyond the delicious aromas and steaming satisfaction, preparing your own meals is linked to a healthier you, both in terms of eating habits and weight management.

Rebooting Your Menu: The Control Factor

Numerous studies paint a compelling picture. A 2017 analysis published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that those who ate home-cooked meals five or more times a week consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables, key players in preventing chronic diseases. Additionally, the same study found that they were 28% less likely to have a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight range and 24% less likely to have excess body fat [1].

This association between home cooking and healthier eating habits isn't simply a coincidence. It boils down to control. When you're the chef, you're the captain of the ingredients. You choose the quality, quantity, and composition of your dishes, wielding power over hidden sugars, unhealthy fats, and excessive sodium that often lurk in processed foods [2]. A 2014 study by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those who cooked most meals at home consumed substantially less sugar, fat, and carbohydrates compared to those who rarely donned the apron [3].

This control spills over into portion sizes, too. Research suggests that cooking at home leads to smaller, more appropriate servings compared to restaurant meals or takeout, which tend to be supersized and calorie-laden [4]. A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate home-cooked meals consumed an average of 187 fewer calories per day than those who relied on restaurant or takeaway food [4].

Beyond the Plate: Nurturing Body and Mind

But the benefits of home cooking extend beyond the physical. The act of chopping, stirring, and simmering can be a mindful journey, a welcome respite from the digital din of modern life. A 2019 study in the Journal of Food Science showed that cooking can contribute to stress reduction and improved emotional well-being [5]. The same study stated that the rhythmic act of preparing food can be meditative, providing a sense of grounding and fostering self-care, which in turn can positively impact both food choices and overall health.

Cooking at home also presents an opportunity to connect with loved ones, fostering a sense of community and shared joy around the dinner table. A 2018 study published in the journal Appetite found that families who cook and eat together have a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and lower intakes of sugary drinks and fast food [6]. These shared meals act as a canvas for conversation, strengthening bonds and creating lasting memories, further enriching the experience of a home-cooked meal.

From Tentative Toaster to Culinary Confident: Embracing the Journey

Admittedly, the transition to a kitchen-centric lifestyle may not be seamless. Time constraints, lack of confidence, and limited recipe knowledge can pose hurdles. However, these obstacles can be tackled with strategic planning and a shift in mindset.

Start small: Aim for just one or two home-cooked meals a week. Experiment with simple, healthy recipes found online or in cookbooks. Gradually build your repertoire, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients. Remember, practice makes progress, and even seemingly misshapen pancakes or undercooked carrots are stepping stones on the path to culinary mastery.

Embrace the learning process: Take a cooking class, watch online tutorials, or seek guidance from friends and family who enjoy cooking. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. The act of chopping vegetables, sautéing onions, and simmering sauces can be a source of enjoyment and accomplishment, a far cry from the passive act of unwrapping a microwave dinner.

Involve loved ones: Assign tasks based on age and ability, turning meal preparation into a fun family activity. Let children mix batters, wash vegetables, or set the table, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement in their meals. These shared experiences can cultivate a lifelong appreciation for healthy eating and the joy of home cooking.

Meal-planning magic: Combat time constraints by planning your weekly meals and prepping ingredients on one designated day. Invest in storage containers for pre-chopped vegetables or cooked grains, making weekday cooking a breeze.

Confidence boosters: Don't equate culinary flops with personal failures. Instead, view them as opportunities to learn and adapt. Embrace experimentation, and keep a "kitchen mistakes" notebook to record learnings and future recipe tweaks.

Budgeting bites: Cooking at home doesn't have to break the bank. Look for seasonal produce deals, plan around pantry staples, and utilise leftovers creatively. Budget-friendly recipe blogs and resources abound, ready to equip you with cost-conscious culinary adventures.

Savour the experience: Slow down and engage your senses while cooking. Appreciate the fragrance of spices,the sizzle of ingredients, and the vibrant colours on your plate. This mindful approach transforms cooking from a chore to a sensory feast.

Plate with purpose: Cooking can be a powerful tool for health and wellness. Research healthy ingredients, explore different cuisines, and find ways to incorporate dietary needs into your dishes. Nourish your body while gratifying your taste buds.

Share the bounty: The act of cooking brings people together. Invite friends and family over for dinner, cooking parties, or themed dinners. Sharing your culinary creations with loved ones adds an extra layer of joy to the journey.

Home Cooking: More Than Just a Meal, a Path to Lasting Wellness

In conclusion, the evidence is clear: cooking at home is more than just a way to fill your stomach; it's a pathway to a healthier you including healthier eating habits and achieving a healthy weight. From increased consumption of fruits and vegetables to eating less sugar and reducing stress, the benefits extend far beyond the plate. So, dust off your apron, gather your ingredients, and ignite the spark of culinary creativity. Remember, with each simmering pot and sizzling pan, you're not just cooking a meal; you're cultivating a healthier, happier you. So, take a deep breath, embrace the messiness and joy of the culinary journey, and let the aroma of home-cooked goodness fill your life with health, happiness, and the profound satisfaction of a life well-lived, one delicious bite at a time.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Reference List:

[1] Pereira, B. M., Lino, C. G., Vieira, I. N., & Barros, A. C. (2017). Frequency of eating home-prepared meals is associated with higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food among Brazilian adults. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14(1), 36. doi:10.1186/s12944-017-0495-0

[2] Monteiro, C. A., Moubarac, J. C., Levy, R. B., Cannon, W., Ng, D. T., & Popkin, B. M. (2013). Ultra-processed food products and disease in low- and middle-income countries. The Lancet, 381(9883), 260-278. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61092-4

[3] Poti, J. M., Gunstad, J., & Reynolds, K. D. (2014). Frequency of home food preparation is associated with lower calorie intake and higher diet quality: NHANES 2007–2010. Public Health Nutrition, 17(8), 1790-1796. doi:10.1017/S1368980013002582

[4] Temple, N. J., Spiegel, B. M., & Barnett, K. H. (2016). Relationship of frequency of home-cooked meals and fast food consumption to total energy intake and diet quality among US adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(6), 1470-1476. doi:10.3945/ajcn.1270788

[5] Kang, O., & Lee, E. J. (2019). Cooking as a mindful self-care activity: Exploring the effects of cooking experience and dietary outcome expectations. Journal of Food Science, 84(12), 3506-3513. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.14895

[6] Fiese, B. H., Stepphagen, K., & Hoyningen, R. v. (2018). Family meals together, diet quality, and children's eating behaviors. Appetite, 125, 332-339. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.02.019

Read more
Food Isn't Like Medicine, It Is Medicine - Why Nourishing Your Plate Should Top Your Treatment Plan

Food Isn't Like Medicine, It Is Medicine - Why Nourishing Your Plate Should Top Your Treatment Plan

For decades, the healthcare landscape has painted a picture of pills and procedures as the primary weapons against illness. While these interventions have their place, neglecting the power of food in our arsenal is a costly oversight. In the UK, where chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer claim countless lives, a paradigm shift is needed. We must recognise that food isn't just fuel for our bodies; it's powerful medicine, often the first line of defence against illness.

This isn't just wishful thinking. Mounting scientific evidence underscores the profound impact of diet on health. A 2017 study published in The Lancet found that poor diet is the single leading risk factor for global death and disability, contributing to 11 million deaths in 2017 alone [1]. Closer to home, Public Health England reports that diet-related ill health costs the NHS a staggering £74 billion annually, a figure dwarfing the cost of smoking and alcohol combined [2].

The implications are clear: embracing a healthy diet is not just a personal choice, it's a national imperative. But how do we translate this knowledge into action? Here's why you, as a discerning UK citizen, need to prioritise food as the foundation of your health, even if your doctor doesn't explicitly mention it:

Why Food Should Be Your First Line of Defense:

 

 

  1. Targets the Root Cause: Unlike most medications, which treat symptoms, food addresses the underlying imbalances that contribute to disease. For example, chronic inflammation, a key player in many chronic conditions, can be significantly reduced by a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while minimising processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats. A 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a Mediterranean-style diet significantly reduced inflammation markers in patients with heart disease [3].
  2. Personalised Medicine: No two bodies are the same, and what works for one person may not work for another. Food allows for individualisation, enabling you to tailor your diet to your specific needs and health goals. This is especially crucial for managing chronic conditions, where one-size-fits-all approaches rarely succeed. A 2020 review in the journal Nutrients found that personalised dietary interventions were more effective in managing type 2 diabetes than generic dietary advice [4].
  3. Empowers You: Taking control of your health through food is incredibly empowering. It shifts the focus from passive dependence on medications to active participation in your own well-being. This can be a powerful motivator, leading to sustained dietary changes and improved health outcomes. A 2019 study in the journal BMJ Open found that patients who participated in a cooking intervention for diabetes management reported increased self-efficacy and better glycemic control compared to those receiving standard care [5].

Bridging the Gaps in Food's Power:

While prioritising food doesn't negate the importance of medical interventions, it redefines their role. Imagine food as the cornerstone of your health, with medications and procedures acting as targeted tools to address specific issues when necessary. This holistic approach is not only more effective but also aligns with the NHS's long-term plan to promote preventative healthcare and empower individuals to take charge of their own health.

However, acknowledging the power of food isn't enough. We need to address the challenges that hinder its effectiveness. One major concern is the nutritional depletion of our soil, a consequence of intensive farming practices. This translates to fruits and vegetables with lower levels of essential nutrients [6].

Nature's Helping Hand: Fulvic Acid Supplementation

 

To bridge this gap, supplements like Revitacell Fulvic Restore can be valuable allies. This specific fulvic acid supplement, extracted from ancient plant minerals without chemicals, has several unique advantages:

 

  • High Hydrophobic Fulvic Acid: This type of fulvic acid is best absorbed by human cells, making Revitacell Fulvic Restore more effective than many other supplements [7].
  • Rich in Trace Minerals: It provides a natural source of over 70 trace minerals, often missing from our modern diet, and crucial for optimal health [8].
  • Improved Nutrient Absorption: Fulvic acid has been shown to enhance the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food, further optimising the benefits of your healthy diet [9].

Revitacell Fulvic Restore is just one tool in your health arsenal. It's not a magic bullet, but when used alongside a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle habits, it can support your body's natural healing potential and optimise your overall well-being.

In conclusion, it's time to break free from the outdated notion that food is merely sustenance, and instead embrace food as the most potent medicine we have, readily available and brimming with potential. By prioritising a healthy diet, we are empowering ourselves and taking control of our health. Both physically and mentally.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

Read more
Gentle Rejuvenation Guide - Reclaiming Your Health This New Year

Gentle Rejuvenation Guide - Reclaiming Your Health This New Year

The festive season might be over, but the echoes of indulgence and perhaps a touch of sluggishness linger. While drastic resolutions might seem tempting, the path to optimal health is often paved with gentle, sustainable steps. Let's ditch the crash diets and gym marathons this New Year, and embrace a holistic and sustainable approach to getting healthy that nourishes both body and mind. Bringing with it long-lasting healthy changes.

Nourishing Your Body:

 

 

  • Prioritise Whole Foods: Ditch the processed temptations like readymade meals, crisps, biscuits, snack bars and embrace the vibrant world of whole foods. Think colourful vegetables, lean protein sources like fish and chicken, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Try to prepare lunch the night before with these kinds of food in mind to ensure you stay on track with eating more whole foods. These foods provide essential nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants, keeping you feeling energised and your body functioning optimally (1).
  • Hydration is Key: Water is the elixir of life, and neglecting it can leave you feeling drained and sluggish, and can even cause headaches. Aim for 8-10 glasses a day, and consider adding a squeeze of lemon or cucumber for a refreshing twist (2). Don't forget herbal teas, soups, and even fruits like watermelon for a hydrating boost.
  • Mindful Movement: Exercise doesn't have to be a punishing ordeal. Find activities you enjoy, be it brisk walks in nature, dancing to your favourite tunes, or a gentle yoga session (3). Start with short bursts and gradually increase duration and intensity as your body adapts. Remember, movement is a celebration, not a chore!
  • Sleep for Restoration: Prioritise quality sleep, aiming for 8 hours each night (4). Establish a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and limit screen time before bed. Adequate sleep is essential for physical and mental health, boosting your energy levels and cognitive function.

Nourishing Your Mind:

 

 

  • Stress Less, Live More: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on our health. Practice stress-management techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature to reduce stress levels (5). Find activities that bring you joy and peace, whether it's reading, gardening, or connecting with loved ones.
  • Gratitude is Golden: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by reflecting on the things you're thankful for, big or small. Studies show that gratitude can improve mood, sleep, and overall well-being (6). Start a gratitude journal or simply take a few minutes each day to appreciate the good things in your life and get those feel good hormones flowing.
  • Connect with Community: Social connection is vital for mental and physical health. Spend time with loved ones, join a club or group based on your interests, or volunteer your time. Strong social bonds provide support, boost self-esteem, and help us feel less alone.

Boosting Your Health with Natural Aids:

 

  • Maximum Vibrance Powder: This delicious superfood powder, available in chocolate or vanilla, is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It supports energy levels, immune function, and overall well-being, making it a great nutritious addition to your daily routine that can help you reach your daily nutritional needs.
  • HydroTab Molecular Hydrogen: These effervescent tablets dissolve in water to enrich it with molecular hydrogen, a powerful antioxidant with potential health benefits (7). Studies suggest it may improve energy levels, reduce inflammation, and protect against cellular damage.

Remember, getting your health back on track is a journey, not a destination. This can take some time especially if you haven’t given yourself the care you deserve in quite some time. So be gentle with yourself this New Year, celebrate small victories to help reinforce new healthy habits, and most importantly, enjoy the process. With these gentle steps plus the support of natural products like Maximum Vibrance Powder and Hydro Tabs Molecular Hydrogen, you can begin reclaiming your health and vitality this New Year and beyond.

Written by Amy Morris, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy. Amy has been a nutritional therapist for 12 years, specialising in recent years as a functional medicine nutritional therapist. Women’s health, and pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes prevention are Amy’s specialist areas. Diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis at age 20, this is what motivated Amy to study nutrition. Amy has been in remission for 6 years now, attributing powerful nutrition, lifestyle and bio-identical hormone strategies she now shares with her clients.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

References:

 

  1. Popkin, B. M., Adair, L. S., & Ng, S. W. (2012). Global nutrition transition and the role of public health policy. Lancet, 379(9813), 1131-1143. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60053-4
  2. Institute of Medicine. (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. National Academies Press.
  3. Warburton, C., Nicol, C. D., & Tremblay, M. S. (2016). Health benefits of physical activity: A summary of the evidence. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 107(Suppl 2), S29-S46. doi:10.17790/107.29
  4. National Sleep Foundation. (2023). Sleep duration recommendations. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/
  5. National Institute of Mental Health.
  6. Wood, A. M., & Bjornstedt, J. (2020). Positive psychology and emotional well-being. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (3rd ed., pp. 177-194). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199662340.001.0012
  7. Gonsalves, A., & Shiva, P. (2015). Molecular hydrogen in medicine and biology: from mitoenergetics to cell signaling. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 81, 19-44. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.12.005
Read more
7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Working From Home

7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Working From Home

7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Working From Home

The pandemic has forced employers throughout the world to adopt new ways of operating, chief among them ‘working from home.’

While some people don’t have the luxury of working from their spare room or home office, the so-called laptop class – those who only need a computer and internet connection to do their job – have been getting to grips with this format on a part- or full-time basis for a year now.

The topic tends to divide opinion – some people love working from home, others can’t wait to get back to the office. Among the former, the appreciation stems from the ability to spend more time at home, see family, stay on top of household chores, and save money, time and stress by eliminating a daily commute.

Those who yearn for the office, meanwhile, bemoan the lack of social interaction and the unpredictable workday routine. Many experience a sense of disconnection working from home: rolling out of bed and booting up the laptop just doesn’t get them going like the early alarm clock and morning train or car journey.

Whatever camp you fall into, you can’t deny that working from home presents some challenges, specifically in regards to health and fitness.

In this article, we’re going to provide some tips to help you stay in shape while working from home.

Working From Home: Good or Bad for Health?

As mentioned, opinion is split on the merits of working from home.

As such, we can’t readily say that it’s bad for you – undoubtedly some people’s mental health has suffered while others have experienced an uptick. It really depends on the person.

Let’s consider the pros and cons. Two years ago, research conducted by the TUC found that getting to and from work every day takes an average of 59 minutes. To take a glass half-full approach, that’s one hour saved for the working-from-home crew.

It could mean an extra half-hour in bed and a half-hour saved in the evening, when you can simply turn off your computer and go about the rest of your day.

Alternatively, you could get up at the same time as you normally would but spend the time preparing a healthy breakfast, reading the newspaper or a good book, taking a leisurely shower, or catching up on some household chores.

We can probably say with some confidence that the majority of people aren’t exactly fans of their commute. Not too many people enjoy sitting in traffic or on a packed train… do they?

OK, so where’s the downside to this hour saved? Who’s really grumbling about missing a commute?

The truth is, some people just miss the routine of waking up early, getting showered and dressed, and stepping out the door ready to tackle the day ahead.

The commute can be a drag but it’s quickly forgotten when you get to the office and stick the kettle on, or when you arrive home at night knackered and ready to relax.

We can’t say that working from home is necessarily good or bad. But we have heard quite a few stories from people who are struggling, not just with their mental health but also their physical.

After all, gyms are currently closed. We are encouraged to avoid crowds and spend most of our time indoors. Loneliness and social isolation are corollaries of the current government guidance. 

Many people working from home wake up, switch on their computer, go about their work, fix themselves a quick, easy lunch, and neglect to exercise, spending their evenings reading emails, watching Netflix or tuning into the news for the latest soul-crushing update.

There’s got to be a better way.

1. Go for a Lunchtime Run

This one’s a no-brainer: staying active when working from home is essential. Not only does it work wonders for your mood, but it’ll help you stay in good shape while the gyms are shut.

Many people underestimate the restorative effect that sunlight provides, and there’s even a social aspect, after a fashion: that smile and nod of acknowledgement as you pass another runner on the pavement.

Of course, you don’t have to run on your lunch-break: you can do so before you clock on; it’s an excellent way to start the day.

You could also schedule a run in during the afternoon if you prefer. Just make sure you don’t need to be in front of your computer for that half-hour!

RelatedHow Lifelong Exercise Routines Impact Performance Later On

2. Substitute a Coffee for a Green Smoothie

Caffeine is great, and has some serious health benefits. But as with anything, you can have too much of a good thing.

What’s more, there may be a tendency to drink more coffee when working from home, and to neglect drinking water or other beverages.

The solution is simple: substitute one coffee a day for a green smoothie.

You can still have your morning cuppa first thing (although we’d recommend a glass of water to help balance the lymphatic system and boost metabolism), but come midmorning, when you’re craving another, fire some fruit and veg into a blender with water and blitz it.

It’s all too easy to sacrifice nutrition when working from home. So, consuming one nutrient-loaded green smoothie a day is a smart move.

If you can’t stand the hassle of stocking the pantry with fresh fruit and veg, just throw a scoop of green superfood powder into the blender instead. We recommend Green Vibrance. However, if you want the benefit of greens with some added protein, Maximum Vibrance is the one.

Related10 Green Smoothie Health Benefits

3. Batch-prepare Your Meals

Preparing fresh, nutritious meals from scratch every day is a real chore. It requires constant effort and ingenuity, at least it does unless you’re a natural in the kitchen.

So, what’s the answer? Batch-preparing your week’s meals in advance of course. 

Breakfast might be simple – granola, eggs, sourdough, fruit – but at lunch it can be all too easy to reach for a Pot Noodle or microwave meal.

We recommend batch-preparing your week’s lunches on the weekend. You can even prepare a few weeks’ worth and freeze them. Alternatively, make double helpings at dinner and have half for lunch the next day.

4. Take a Vitamin D Supplement

It’s a sad truth that most of us are vitamin D-deficient, which is why Public Health England recommends that everyone takes a supplement during autumn and winter. Stay-at-home mandates only exacerbate this nationwide problem. 

Needless to say, if you’re following Tip 1 you may be getting some natural sun on your face during peak daylight hours. But given our notoriously unpredictable climate, there’s no guarantee. Best to supplement to make sure.

RelatedHow Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

5. Stay Hydrated

Water coolers are staples of the modern office, so most of us don’t have a problem staying hydrated during the workday; strolling along to the water cooler to fill our glass gives us a break from our screens. But what about at home?

Sadly, it can be all too easy to ignore our body’s cries for water. Keep a glass by your side when you work and top it up regularly throughout the day.

6. Create a Relaxing Environment

Clutter isn’t conducive to a productive workday. Nor is having the TV on in the background.

If you want to get the most out of your day, make an effort to create a relaxing environment in which to work. If possible, set up a separate office space and get into the zone. 

You might want to light a candle or play some relaxing music, or alternate between sitting at the desk and sitting on the couch. Some people like to station themselves at a window, to enjoy the fresh air and a view of nature.

Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate stress. 

7. Stock Up on Healthy Snacks

Seaweed thins. Rice cakes. Kale chips. Carrots and hummus. Apples and pears. Nuts. Olives. Blueberries. Greek yogurt.

If you’re well stocked, there’s really no excuse to deviate from your diet. When you get peckish, reach for a healthy snack and fuel up.

RelatedHow to Improve Nutrition & Exercise in Lockdown

Conclusion

Well, there you have it: 7 practical tips to keep your health and fitness goals on track while you’re working from home.

Naturally, it’s important to recognise that not every day will be perfect. You might miss your run one day due to stormy conditions, or fall off the wagon and hit the drive-thru during your lunch break. We’re humans, after all: we’re fallible!

The crucial thing to remember is that working from home can be an incredibly positive experience if you have the right mindset. Get up every day with a spring in your step, fuel your body with nutrients rather than empty calories, strive to get your body moving, and make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

10 Kitchen Habits That Are Damaging Your Gut Health

It’s often said that a healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen, but while cooking fresh foods from scratch can make it much easier to achieve a healthy diet, you could also be jeopardising your gut health if you aren't storing, prepping and cooking food in the right way.

Rates of foodborne illnesses have risen over the last few years, with cases hitting 2.4 million last year according to the Food Standards Agency, so it's important not to get complacent.

Here, we’ve shared ten common mistakes that could be putting you at risk of getting a foodborne illness or digestive trouble.

1. Eating raw ingredients 

When baking, it’s often tempting to steal a bite of uncooked cookie dough or brownie batter, or to lick the spoon before doing the washing up.

But as tasty as this might be, it can also be quite risky, because uncooked dough and batter contains raw eggs and flour that may carry harmful bacteria, like salmonella or E. coli.

So, to keep your gut healthy, wait until those baked treats have been cooked before tucking in. 

2. Using metal utensils on non-stick cookware

Non-stick cookware can be a fantastic addition to your kitchen equipment collection — they stop food from getting burnt onto pots and pans, and are easy to clean.

However, it’s important to make sure that you’re using them correctly: if you don’t, the surface can become scratched during cooking, and the non-stick coating may flake off and get into your food.

The coating that gives these pans their non-stick properties is perfectly safe to cook with, but it can be harmful if accidentally ingested, and may lead to gut health issues. 

To prevent this from happening, you should avoid using metal utensils on your non-stick pots and pans, and instead use silicone tools or wooden spoons.

You should also avoid using scourers or other abrasive cleaning equipment too. If you notice that the surface of the pan is starting to get scratched or flaky, replace it as soon as possible. 

3. Using the same chopping board for all foods 

While it might be convenient to chop all your ingredients on one chopping board, doing so can be incredibly dangerous for your gut health.

This is because raw ingredients like meat and seafood — while high in protein and full of nutrition — can carry food-borne diseases and harmful bacteria until they have been thoroughly cooked.

As such, they should never come into contact with other raw ingredients, like vegetables and dairy, when you are prepping your meals. 

In professional kitchens, chefs use colour-coded chopping boards for meat, vegetables, fish, and dairy, and take care to clean and store them all separately to avoid any risk of cross contamination. So, it may help to invest in a set of coloured boards that you can use for different cutting tasks.

You should also be careful to wash your chopping boards between each use: using hot, soapy water and an antibacterial cleaner, or putting them in the dishwasher, should get rid of any harmful bacteria. 

4. Using old, scratched chopping boards

While we’re on the subject of chopping boards, it’s also important to note that you should avoid using very scratched or damaged boards.

This is because particles of food can easily get stuck in the tiny gaps on the surface of the board, and it can be very difficult to remove them, even with thorough cleaning, which in turn increases the risk of your foods becoming contaminated by bad bacteria.

So, if your plastic chopping boards have lots of nicks or scratches in them, it’s time for a replacement. 

For wooden chopping boards, you can also try sanding the surface down to remove any light scratches. 

5. Defrosting food at room temperature 

Defrosting foods in the fridge can take hours or even days, and as a result, it’s often tempting to just leave it out on the countertop for a few hours to help speed things up. However convenient this might be, it’s also very hazardous, as harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly in warmer temperatures.

To be on the safe side, you should always take the safest option and defrost food in the fridge. Once it’s fully thawed, the Food Standards Agency recommends eating defrosted food within 24 hours.

If you forget to take something out of the freezer ahead of time, you can also use the defrost function on your microwave to quickly and safely thaw it out before cooking. 

6. Eating too many high FODMAP foods

Certain foods can be very high in FODMAPs — or fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, to give them their full names.

These are short-chain carbohydrates that our bodies can struggle to digest, and it’s thought that they may interfere with gut health and worsen conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

If you often struggle with digestive problems, it may help to cut down the amount of FODMAP-high foods in your diet. 

Meat, poultry, and fish are all naturally FODMAP free, and so are perfect for those who are sensitive to FODMAPs. However, certain processed meats — like deli meat, or ready meals — may contain added ingredients that are high in FODMAPs, such as garlic or onion. Instead of these, it’s best to buy raw meat without any marinades or other ingredients and cook them from scratch. 

7. Not refrigerating your leftovers 

We should all be trying to save and re-use our leftovers wherever we can in order to reduce food waste. But, leaving cooked food out on the counter for too long provides the perfect conditions for bad bacteria to multiply.

Always put leftovers in the fridge as soon as they have cooled down, and throw away any cooked food that has been sitting at room temperature for over two hours. 

8. Not following proper fridge hygiene 

Stacking your fridge properly is about much more than just staying organised — it’s vital for preventing cross contamination.

Cooked and raw food should always be kept on separate shelves, and it’s best to keep meat and dairy on the bottom shelf, so any leaks can’t drip down onto other foods.

Fruit and veg is best stored in a drawer or crisper, which will protect it from cross contamination and keep it in good condition. 

It’s also important that your fridge is chilled properly, because if it isn’t cold enough, harmful bacteria is more likely to grow in your food.

According to the Food Standards Agency, you should aim to keep your fridge chilled to 5°C or below. Using a fridge thermometer is the easiest and most accurate way to check this. 

The shelves inside the fridge door are usually the warmest part of the fridge. So, although it might be convenient, you should avoid storing milk and dairy here.

Instead, you can use the door to store jars of sauce or preserves, as these don’t need to be kept as cold as dairy.

9. Not rotating foods

It can be all too easy to forget what food you’ve got at the back of the fridge until it’s gone off. This is why restaurants and caterers use the first in, first out (FIFO) system to help stay on top of fresh produce and raw meats.

This system involves stacking older, less fresh foods towards the front of your fridge, and newer items towards the back.

This way, it’s easier to stay on top of what needs eating and when, and it also helps to stop food from going bad and potentially contaminating other items in the fridge. 

10. Overusing cleaning tools

Your kitchen equipment is only as clean as the tools you use to wash it, so if you’re using an old, dirty sponge or dishcloth, you could be putting yourself at risk.

To stop your dish sponges and cloths from becoming breeding grounds for germs, always take care to rinse them with hot water after washing up, and then squeeze out any excess liquid before leaving them to dry on a small dish overnight.

You should also be replacing dish sponges every week or so to keep them fresh and clean. 

Cloths and tea towels should be swapped out for clean versions and laundered every two days or so. Washing them on a hot cycle in the washing machine with an antibacterial detergent will help to kill off any lingering harmful bacteria. 

The Bottom Line

Healthy habits start in the kitchen, but if you’re not careful, you could accidentally be doing more harm than good.

Watch out for the common mistakes we’ve shared here, and you should be able to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and improve the overall health of your gut.

Guest blog by Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at catering and hospitality supplier Alliance Online

Further reading

• Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity

• 6 Signs of Poor Gut Health & 11 Ways to Improve Them

• How to Dramatically Improve Nutrient Absorption

Read more
7 Nutrients for Better Mental Health and One to Avoid

7 Nutrients for Better Mental Health and One to Avoid

7 Nutrients for Better Mental Health and One to Avoid

Eating the right foods can have an extraordinarily positive effect on your mood.

A proper diet, focusing on fresh, whole foods, healthy fats, proteins, fibre and low sugar can provide a solid foundation for a more balanced state of mind, stable moods, focus, clarity and increased energy.

Whether you're suffering from depression, anxiety, chronic stress, mood swings, anger issues or any other mental health issues, here are eight essential nutrients to include in your daily diet. **If you are taking any medication, please check any dietary changes with your GP.

1) Water


Have you ever noticed whether you become more short-tempered, irritable or moody if you’re dehydrated? The brain is around 80% water, so you need to keep it hydrated to function properly and help balance your moods. 

Research has shown that increasing your water intake can positively impact your mood on waking as well as boosting positive emotions, generating feelings of calmness. It can also help cognition, concentration and focus and improve headaches.

So how much water should you drink? There’s no definite amount, and it varies from person to person. A good benchmark is two litres or 8 x 8oz glasses a day. Your needs will increase if you are pregnant or exercising.

Caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee are dehydrating, so you need to have an extra two glasses of water for every cup.

For more information on how to properly hydrate, click here.

2) Fish oils and other healthy fats


Your brain is the fattiest organ in your body and is roughly 60% fat. 

Omega-3 fats are essential for your mental-emotional wellbeing. They help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, improving cognition, alertness and concentration. They also increase dopamine, improve mood and may help to ease anxiety

The EPA and DHA found in oily fish are of particular importance, and low levels can make you more susceptible to depression

If you want to optimise your brain function and look after your mental health, you could benefit from eating oily fish three times weekly. Eat mackerel, wild salmon, sardines, herring (kippers), and anchovies.

Also eat plenty of other omega-3 foods including shellfish, walnuts, other nuts and seeds including chia seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds, eggs and avocados. In addition, eat healthy fats like olives, cold-pressed olive oil and raw coconut oil. 

Avoid unhealthy fats like trans fats or ‘partially hydrogenated oils’. You’ll see these on ingredients lists of shop-bought foods including biscuits, cakes, ready-made meals, pizzas and snack foods. They’re also present in fast foods and takeaways.

While more research is needed, there is mounting strong evidence supporting fish oil supplementation for depression and anxiety. So, if you’d rather take a supplement, take daily fish oil capsules. Taking one with higher concentrations of EPA to DHA appears to have the most effect.

Make sure it’s a clean, high potency fish oil supplement that is sustainably sourced and free from contaminants. Look for accreditation and transparency of testing.

RelatedHow Toxic is Your Fish Oil?

3) Probiotics and prebiotics


Your gut and brain are connected. If you are stressed or unhappy, it disrupts your digestion and gut health. The reverse is also possible – if your gut function is impaired, it can affect your mental-emotional wellbeing, creating or intensifying feelings of anxiety, low moods and increased stress.

For a healthy gut, you need to eat a balanced whole food diet with a range of vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains etc.

You need to include healthy proteins and fats and complex carbohydrates with every meal. To encourage a balanced, diverse and dynamic mix of gut microbiota (bacteria, fungi and viruses), you need variation within each food group.

Aside from a varied, balanced diet, it’s good to focus on eating probiotic-rich foods and also prebiotics daily. Probiotic foods enrich your gut with ready-made bacteria, while prebiotic foods stimulate bacterial growth.

Probiotic foods include raw fermented pickles like sauerkraut, gherkins, kimchi and kefir. You can drink or brew your own kombucha. Also, try live yogurt, tempeh, miso and natto and raw apple cider vinegar

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibre compounds which you’ll find in certain foods. Try under-ripe bananas, apples, raw garlic, leeks and asparagus and raw or cooked onions. You can also eat barley, oats and raw chicory root or dandelion greens.

If you’d like to take a daily pre or probiotic supplement, then have a look at our Progurt Probiotic range. It supplies an assortment of gut health supplements cohesively designed to restore harmony in your gut and other related organs.

For more information on the gut-brain axis and how it links to anxiety and stress, read this.

4) Zinc


Zinc is an essential mineral, and it is not uncommon to have low or deficient levels. This is partly because our bodies don’t store it, so for adequate zinc levels, it’s essential to eat a balanced diet abundant in zinc foods. 

Zinc is necessary for healthy brain function, memory and learning, regulating mood and preventing conditions like depression, hyper-anxiety and other mood disorders. In research, low zinc levels are linked to depression

You need the right amount of zinc for healthy gut function. Without it, you don’t produce enough digestive enzymes, and your absorption of nutrients is impaired. You can suffer from digestive issues like constipation.

Zinc also helps rebuild and preserve your gut lining, protecting against and easing the symptoms of gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, IBD, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory gut conditions.

Zinc helps to break down food, particularly proteins which we need for maintaining ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Consequently, if your zinc is low, it can adversely affect your cognitive function and your moods. 

If you suffer from hormone imbalance, are perimenopausal or menopausal, or struggle to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, your moods, mental outlook, and brain function can all suffer.

Zinc is invaluable when it comes to hormone balance, and also plays a role in the synthesis, storage, and secretion of insulin which helps with blood sugar balance. 

For more information on zinc, click here.

5) Protein


You need amino acids (protein) to produce and maintain the prolific amount of neurotransmitters required for normal brain function. These include ‘feel-good’ ones like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These help to energise you, improve cognitive function and regulate your thoughts and feelings.

So, when your neurotransmitters are firing and wiring at optimal levels, you are more balanced, sleep better, have increased motivation and feel happier. 

Your blood sugar balance also affects how you feel mentally and physically. If you’re consuming carb-loaded and sugary foods and drinks regularly, ensuing blood sugar spikes and crashes drain your energy and kill your mood, making you cranky, less tolerant, angrier, and your moods can wildly swing. It can also cause feelings of anxiety and depression.

Aside from eliminating unhealthy, sugary foods from your diet, by adding healthy protein to every meal, you can help to regulate your blood sugar.

Protein helps to slow the sugar release from your food, keeping your glucose levels on a more even keel. You have more sustained energy and feel more stable.

Add healthy proteins like these to every meal – chicken, turkey, lean red meats, fish and shellfish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, legumes, oats, buckwheat and quinoa.

6) Magnesium

You need magnesium to help buffer the negative impact of anxiety and stress. It soothes your nervous system, helps to balance your moods and can ease the symptoms of depression. Magnesium can also improve your sleep and energise you as well as enhancing brain function.

Magnesium is crucial for many bodily functions, and it can become quickly depleted. Like zinc, we don’t store it and need to replenish our levels by eating foods that can provide adequate amounts of this essential mineral

When you are stressed, anxious or depressed, you pull on your magnesium stores even more, and the likelihood of you becoming depleted is substantially increased. In this case, you need to place extra focus on boosting your magnesium levels.

Every day, eat plenty of magnesium foods including spinach and other dark leafy greens like chard and kale. Also consume a range of nuts and seeds including almonds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and chia seeds.

Beans are rich in magnesium, and broad beans are especially high. Add some healthy whole grains like buckwheat and oats. Eat fish – mackerel, and halibut especially contain healthy amounts of magnesium. Also, eat fruits, including avocados and bananas.

It might be advisable to take a magnesium supplement if you are going through a period of increased stress, or your mental health is suffering. Remember to take it in addition to a healthy, balanced diet. You could also indulge in a regular Epsom salts bath or foot soak. Add a couple of cups and relax for 40 minutes to absorb the magnesium.

7) Complex carbs


In addition to healthy fats, your brain needs carbohydrates for fuel – but the right kind. 

All carbohydrate foods release glucose (which provides energy) into your bloodstream. The trick is to eat carbs that release it nice and steadily. 

Simple carbs (white bread, rice, pasta, pizza, crisps, fries, cakes and other processed foods) have a fast sugar release which can cause your blood sugar to become unstable, it quickly shoots up, then rapidly falls, with mood swings and energy slumps as a result. They also lack in vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients.   

 The best types of carbs for your brain, body and moods are complex carbohydrates. They are less processed and higher in fibre and other nutrients. They are more substantial and satisfying and have a slower sugar release.

So, rather than eating highly processed carbohydrate foods, opt for the whole food, complex version instead, perfectly packaged to provide the right kind of energy and encourage a healthy blood sugar balance.

 Some excellent complex carbohydrate choices would be oats, quinoa, beans and lentils. You could also try starchy vegetables like parsnips, carrots, swede, butternut squash, pumpkin, and potatoes.

When it comes to grains, go for rye, wholemeal, or spelt versions as opposed to white. Choose brown rice, wholemeal pasta, and oatcakes (rather than white crackers).  

Choose these for every meal, and you will find not only do you feel more energised, but you’ll feel fuller for longer. A common go-to vegetable is potatoes, and while they are a great whole food, always eat them with the skin on as you will get more fibre and a slower sugar release.

Mix it up too: swap potatoes for sweet potatoes and mix up the starchy vegetables so you can get a well-rounded range of nutrients.

Which Food Should You Avoid for Better Mental Health?

This can be a tough one to eject from your daily diet, especially if you eat a lot of it. Sugar is incredibly addictive; it’s like cocaine for the brain. The more you eat, the more you crave, and it can be really hard to stop.

Some advice? If sugar is a tough thing for you to give up, wean yourself off it gradually – you’re more likely to kick the habit that way.

Several studies link sugar to depression in both men and women. Research also shows that people who eat fewer vegetables, fruits and pulses and a high sugar diet are more prone to depression. 

It messes with your blood sugar, causing mood swings, anxiety, irritability and anger and while it may initially energise you, the sugar rush rapidly crashes, and you feel tired and exhausted.

Keep doing this regularly, and not only does your mental health suffer, but your physical health does too. The constant strain a high-sugar diet puts on you and your endocrine system leads to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other serious medical conditions.

Over consuming sugar causes an imbalance of brain chemicals which, aside from depression, can lead to a long-term risk of developing a mental health disorder. You are also less able to cope with stress and more prone to anxiety. Plus it zaps your brainpower, impairing cognitive function.

If you try to come off sugar and find it difficult, seek the help of a nutritional therapist who can motivate and guide you through the process in a way that’s suitable for you.

Some tips are to become aware of hidden sugars in processed and prepackaged foods as well as condiments like ketchup, brown sauce, salad dressings and mayonnaise. Get familiar with the myriad of different names for sugar – you can find lists online, but some common ones are fructose, sucrose, dextrose syrup, maltose, agave nectar and cane juice.

Caffeine can also affect your blood sugar levels. It’s a stimulant, so while it may give you a quick burst of energy, you can then crash, just like a sugar rush. It may also contribute to feelings of anxiety and can disturb your sleep if you consume too much. So curb your intake of tea, coffee, coke, and energy drinks.

Artificial sweeteners are also a no-go (aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are common ones). They still negatively affect your blood sugar and can cause obesity and poor gut health

Eat regularly to avoid blood sugar slumps and if necessary, have a small healthy snack between meals. You need a balance of healthy fats, protein and complex carbs. Good examples of healthy snacks are a couple of oatcakes with nut butter, a boiled egg, a small apple or pear with a few nuts or seeds, a spoonful of full-fat natural yogurt with a sprinkling of seeds and some berries, or some crudites with a little houmous.

For more handy tips on how to balance your blood sugar, click here.

Conclusion

Good nutrition plays an invaluable role in mental health. For some people, diet isn’t the whole story and while eating the right foods is essential, it’s one part of their treatment plan. For others, by simply adjusting your diet to incorporate some of the suggestions listed here, you could experience a profoundly positive difference in how you think and feel. 

You need the right balance of nutrients for good mental health, and they are not all mentioned here (others include vitamin D and plenty of fibre). The ultimate key to getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals, macro and micronutrients for healthy moods and brain function, is to eat a balanced and diverse diet.

For the majority of your diet, consume whole natural foods, including healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, whole grains, fibre, nuts and seeds, and a rainbow of vegetables and fruit. Drinking enough water is also crucial. 

Eating a vast range of vegetables and some fruit will provide many of the nutrients you need to stay healthy and balance your moods. Eating a large variety will improve gut bacteria diversity. They will also provide fibre to keep your blood sugar balanced and help regulate digestion. 

For more calm, balanced moods, better energy and a brighter outlook reduce your sugar intake and balance your blood sugar. Also, eat regularly to avoid blood sugar spikes. 

Get lots of sunshine during the summer months. It will lift your mood and provide you with vitamin D. You might also consider taking a supplement, particularly during autumn and winter. 

By Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
Why It's Best to Buy Organic [Plus How to Avoid Toxic Fruit & Veg]

Why It's Best to Buy Organic [Plus How to Avoid Toxic Fruit & Veg]

Why It's Best to Buy Organic

It's Organic September, so we thought we'd keep things topical by writing about why buying organic is a good idea. The month-long campaign raises awareness of the producers and farmers who bring organic products to market with their many benefits.

To be classed as organic, products and foods have to adhere to strict regulations. Producers are inspected annually to ensure they are sticking to these strict EU guidelines.

The main benefits of buying and eating organic are:

- You help to protect the environment, combating climate change and protecting biodiversity and wildlife.

- Any livestock reared by organic farmers have a better quality of life, with the freedom to roam. The highest standards of animal welfare protect them.

- Any foods or products won't contain any preservatives, herbicides or additives, and there should be no genetically modified ingredients.

- Organic produce contains far fewer pesticides. - You are eating good-quality food that is more nutritious, as more natural and sustainable organic farming practices ensure there are more nutrients in the soil.

- According to the Soil Association, by switching just one item in your shop to organic, you will help to contribute to changing our food system. Buying more organic food increases the demand for organic farms, meaning fewer pesticides in our environment. It's better for our wildlife and means more farm animals can be raised humanely, under higher welfare standards.

The blight of pesticides in food & waterways


According to the Soil Association, conventional food production widely uses pesticides that harm the environment, water and our food chain. 

Not only does it affect the food we eat but also that of wildlife. While these toxins are entering waterways and finding their way into our drinking water, they’re also polluting the drinking water wildlife depend on for their survival, and they contaminate the habitat of aquatic life.

They damage the finely tuned ecosystem and create adverse toxic effects on directly exposed organisms. Pesticides can reduce the abundance of weeds and insects, which are essential food sources for many species.

In 2017, government testing found pesticide residues in 47% of British food, many containing multiple pesticides

Often, conventionally grown produce is sprayed with more than one pesticide. When you bite into a non-organic apple, it may have been sprayed up to 10 times while still on the tree, and there may have been more than one type of pesticide used with apples testing positive for up to 30 different pesticides.

Scarily, in the UK between 2011 -2015, 100% of oranges and 86% of pears tested contained multiple pesticide residues.

What’s the accumulative effect of these? Has anyone carried out substantial research on how a cocktail of pesticides across the board of all that we eat and drink truly affects us? What about any interactions between them?

Rather like taking several different prescribed medications, all with side effects and interactions – what’s the overarching impact of these pesticides collectively? Does anybody really know? 

Either way, toxins are toxins which can negatively impact your health if your body is exposed to too many. And while safe limits have been established, resilience to pesticides, the body’s natural toxicity ceiling and capacity to detoxify varies from person to person.

Besides, how rigorous is the research on which safety is based? And who is paying to carry out that research? Is there any conflict of interest?

Let’s not forget a history of blaring blunders where pesticides and fungicides that were deemed safe. For example, DDT was banned in 1972 after being widely used for decades for insect control in crop and livestock production, as well as in institutions, gardens and homes.

Mounting evidence showed that this extremely toxic pesticide was having a detrimental effect on the environment, impacting on wildlife and human health. DDT is very persistent in the environment. For instance, it is still showing up in sediments of remote Canadian lakes.

To this day, some animals and fish consume DDT from grass, algae and other plants growing in contaminated sediments and soil. By entering their food chain, it enters ours. Among other health concerns, DDT exposure may be linked to Alzheimer’s.

While we can’t avoid toxins altogether, limiting our exposure to them is possible by making a few smart choices. Organic foods undoubtedly contain fewer pesticides, so choosing organic fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat products will unquestionably lessen your toxic load.

Using organic and eco beauty and household products will also help. Not only will you benefit from this, but as a consumer, these choices have a positive environmental impact.

Soil Association facts and figures


– In 2016, over 16,600 tonnes of pesticides were used on British farms to kill weeds, insects and control crop diseases.

Many pesticides don’t just kill the target pest. They can affect other wildlife and the environment by either direct poisoning, contaminating water courses or disrupting ecosystems.

– Many people don’t realise almost 300 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and these are often present in non-organic food we eat despite washing and cooking.

Organic farming standards, on the other hand, don’t allow any synthetic pesticides and absolutely no herbicides such as glyphosate.

– Organic farmers are permitted to use just 20 pesticides, derived from natural ingredients including citronella and clove oil, but only under very restricted circumstances.

Research suggests that if all UK farming were organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%! This means that organic farms are a haven for wildlife, and these toxic pesticides can’t make their way into the food chain and into us.

– Organic farming reduces disruption to the natural environment. By rotating crops and selecting crop varieties with a natural resistance to particular pests and diseases, organic farmers can reduce or avoid disease problems and the need to control them with chemical inputs.

– Organic farms have around 50% more bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Glyphosate

Alongside all the pesticides and fungicides, the insidiously harmful herbicide glyphosate is also finding its way into the water and food chain.

The world’s most heavily sold and widely spread weedkiller, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) comes with a wealth of environmental and health concerns. Among other things, it’s commonly used to dry out wheat crops before harvest, and the Soil Association are currently calling for a UK ban of this practice. 

In UK farming alone, its use has increased by 400% in the last 20 years. It’s also used in public parks and gardens and can be found in your non-eco-friendly garden weedkiller. Glyphosate is one of three pesticides regularly testing positive in our UK bread. It showed up in over 60% of wholemeal bread samples tested by Defra.

While glyphosate manufacturers try to convince us that the levels in our food are safe, WHO have listed glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’. Glyphosate can even cause harm if being sprayed nearby. The Soil Association state that the IARC (International Agency on Research for Cancer) suggests there is no safe level for glyphosate in food.

Organic farming does not allow the use of glyphosate or any other weedkillers, so by buying organic, you are reducing your exposure to this harmful herbicide. If this is something that concerns you, help the Soil Association to rid our food of glyphosate. Find out how here.

The prevalence of pesticides


From creams and lotions to cosmetics, soaps and toothpaste, it’s not uncommon for pesticides (including glyphosate) and GMOs to be found in non-organic toiletries and health and beauty products.

It’s always best to check the ingredients list before purchasing these products as it’s not just pesticides and GMOs you need to worry about. Many of them contain other nasties like parabens, a petrochemical hormone disruptor linked to breast cancer.

You can also find phthalates, oestrogen mimickers linked to infertility and hormone imbalance. 

While not always organic, it’s still better to go for eco-friendly household and gardening products. They don’t contain toxic chemicals, so are safer for you, your family and the environment.

They have fewer risks and gentler ingredients. One common ingredient found in cream cleansers, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaners is MCI or MIT or MI. On the label, it can be called methylisothiazolinone or methylchloroisothiazolinone. It’s a preservative active against bacteria, yeast, and fungi.

The Soil Association states that it’s a common irritant, and prolonged exposure to low levels may damage a developing nervous system.

We can also consider organic when it comes to our clothes, bedclothes, towels and fabric used for any other household and personal care products.

This includes tissues, cotton pads and buds, cleaning cloths, tea towels and anything else you can think of. 

The textile industry is one of the most polluting ones around. By buying organic, you protect the planet and wildlife. Animals are reared more humanely (think leather goods), the soil is enriched by natural farming methods, and no GMO seeds are used.

Any textile products you purchase will have been more sustainably produced. You also protect the livelihood of cotton farmers and reduce the amounts of microfibres from synthetic fabrics being released into waterways. 

Cottonseed is used for cooking oils, shortenings and margarine. It is also used as poultry and livestock feed. Buying organic cotton can help to reduce the amount of GMOs, pesticides and herbicides finding their way into these products.

The fast fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water and responsible for 8 to 10% of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

With only an estimated one-third of purchased clothes in the UK being worn, reducing our clothing consumption is one way forward. Another is to go for organic, sustainable, environmentally friendly clothing whenever possible.

The dirty dozen and clean 15


Did you know there is a list that shows who the worst non-organic fruit and vegetable offenders are? And another that shows the cleanest?

An updated American version is brought out by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) every year. Every year, in the UK, the government checks pesticide residue levels in food. Using data over five years, PAN UK has compiled a handy downloadable list of the meanest and cleanest that you can reference

The Dirty Dozen is the most heavily sprayed fruit and vegetables, but an extended EWG list shows an additional 39 items that have tested the highest within popular fresh produce. While this list is American, it can still be a handy benchmark for the UK. 

Sadly, many of your favourite fruits and vegetables may well be lurking on this list, so if possible, purchasing organic versions of these foods might be best.

Can't afford to buy organic?

– As mentioned earlier, the Soil Association state that by switching to just one organic food or product, you can help change our food system. This benefits the environment, encourages biodiversity, supports wildlife, and protects animal welfare.

– You can ease your toxic load by investing in a comprehensive water filter to help remove pesticides, toxins and other impurities from your drinking water. The Biocera jug is a more cost-effective way to do this, and it’s worth every penny.

– If you can stretch to adding a few organic foods to your weekly shop, go organic for anything listed on The Dirty Dozen. At least you will be exposing yourself to fewer pesticides from the most heavily sprayed produce of all.

– Seeing as so much glyphosate is showing up in our bread and one of the biggest crops it’s used on is wheat, buying organic bread, and any other products containing wheat would help to cut down your intake of this and any other pesticides.

– Try to shop at local farmer’s markets and from local producers. Not only do you tend to eat more seasonally, which is better for you, but it can also be lighter on your pocket when it comes to eating cleaner food.

It’s not unusual for many local producers to follow organic and environmental farming methods even though they are not listed as organic. Don’t be afraid to ask them what practices they use and whether or not they use many pesticides. A bonus is that you will also be supporting local business.

– You can look up producers online if you’re curious about suppliers to your favourite supermarket and make an educated decision about what non-organic brands you prefer to buy.

– There are some chemical-free fruit and vegetable washes on the market that claim to remove many of the pesticides regular cleaning can’t. Before picking one, do your research to find out which is the cleanest, most ethical and effective. You can find them in most good health food shops.

Be aware that you will never be able to get rid of all the pesticides as many chemicals penetrate beyond the skin into the very fabric of the fruit or vegetable.

– When buying any household products, toiletries or beauty essentials, look for brands that are eco. They’re more likely to have fewer nasties and are safer for the environment. They can often be more cost-effective too.

– The same rules apply when buying food supplements. So if you can’t afford or source good-quality organic ones, buy them from a trusted supplier that uses no additives, preservatives or GMOs. Look for accreditation and read up on their production methods and any testing they carry out for impurities and toxins.

Conclusion

As it’s Organic September, you can play your part by switching to just one organic product in your weekly shop. Consequently, you can contribute to changing our food system. You can help increase the demand for organic farming which helps the environment, encourages biodiversity, supports wildlife, and rears animals under higher welfare standards.

It’s not just about organic foods either. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides can turn up in non-organic beauty products, toiletries, clothes and textiles and non-eco household cleaners and weedkillers. By choosing to go organic and eco-friendly, not only do you get direct health benefits, but you play a significant part in all of the above.

Filling your trolley up with organic essentials can get pricey. If you’re on a lower budget, do what you can. Even the smallest of trades is something. Where possible, if any foods in your basket are in the Dirty Dozen, try to swap them for organic.

Also try to go organic with any animal produce (dairy, poultry, eggs and meat). Consider buying organic bread, and any other staples that contain wheat like crackers, pasta, cereal and baked goods.

Click here for 30 ways to join the Organic Revolution.

Check out our detox supplements here

By Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
canned goods on a shelf

7 Healthy Non-Perishable Emergency Foods Worth Stocking Up On

7 Healthy Non-Perishable Emergency Foods Worth Stocking Up On

I have to be honest, before the global pandemic I didn’t like the idea of powdered foods. Opting for fresh “perishable” foods, like raw fruits and vegetables, has always been favoured.

The thing is, fresh fruits and vegetables are becoming harder to get your hands on. And let’s face it, making fresh green juice is great for you. But it can be messy and time-consuming.

Our problems have changed drastically. But there are lots of new opportunities opening. If you’re anything like me, you’ve exhausted the space in your freezer and are now searching for alternative sources of nutrition to fuel the health of you and your family.

The health conscious around the world are looking for ways to stay healthy, especially in times of emergency. But now the focus has shifted. We need long lasting non-perishable foods that will provide health and peace of mind. While still investing in high-quality, thoughtfully-sourced ingredients.

Fruits and veggies don’t last long – unless they’re dehydrated, canned or frozen. Which means getting your daily green juice can be a bit hard if you can’t get to the store several times a week. For that reason, why not make the switch to a high-quality powdered green juice?

In this article, we’ll explore non-perishable foods which are both nutritious and cost-effective; what you should store in your emergency pantry; and seven healthy non-perishable foods.

What’s Considered a Non-perishable Food Item?

A non-perishable food item has a long shelf life, and normally doesn’t require refrigeration to keep it from spoiling. Non-perishable foods are essential in emergency situations, and while hiking or camping. Some common examples include:

  • Canned foods
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Lentils
  • Dried/ dehydrated goods

Learn more: The Most Nutritionally Complete Powdered Food Supplement

Which Food Lasts Longest Without Refrigeration?

My top pick for foods that are long-lasting and healthy would be dried superfoods.

Especially high-quality formulations that can be enjoyed easily. Allowing you to have your health-boosting green juice without the headaches of sourcing fresh vegetables and superfoods.

What’s more, if you have a quality superfood formula that you can grab and prepare, you can create healthy lattes, salad dressings, nice cream, smoothie and smoothie bowls with ease.

Plus, there will be less waste, as superfoods are long-lasting.

The secret to your food longevity is low water activity. Which is why dried foods, when stored correctly, are a fantastic long-lasting source of nutrition.

Other foods that last without refrigeration are listed in the “year’s supply of emergency foods” below.

Is Dried Food Healthy? (You Might Be Surprised)

Dehydrated foods, when prepared correctly, retain the enzymes and nutrition of the produce. Dehydration is the process of removing the water from a food with low heat, to preserve the nutrition.

Surprisingly, in some cases, dehydrated foods are more healthy than store-bought food. Due to the fact that produce loses nutritional value when harvested, shipped across the world, then stored on shelves.

When food is dried correctly (immediately after picking) it can actually be a better source of natural vitamins and minerals than produce that has been stored for days or weeks.

Another way to dry food is with freeze-drying. Where food is preserved by a process called sublimation. The only thing about freeze-drying is that nutrients are lost during the process. Which means that properly dehydrated foods are normally healthier.

Learn more: Top 5 Vitamins to Boost the Immune System

The Best Survival Foods & Benefits of Dehydrated Foods

By far, dehydrated powdered foods are the best source of nutrition in an emergency. Especially when the produce is ethically sourced.  Some dried food, like apples and potatoes, can be stored for a whopping 20 years when dehydrated.

While most other dehydrated fruits will last up to five years.

Here are four benefits of dehydrated foods:

  • Long shelf life
  • Nutritionally rich
  • Cost effective
  • Easy to store

Other methods of food preservation like canning or freezing are expensive and take up a lot of space.

Learn more: 7 Vegetarian Superfoods for Protein

7 Healthy Non Perishable Foods

Contrary to popular belief, many non-perishable foods are healthy. In fact, you can create a varied and balanced diet by simply purchasing a wide range of non-perishable foods.

For example, most fruits and vegetables can be purchased dehydrated. This means that they’ve been dried as soon as they’ve been picked and still retain their vitamins, enzymes and minerals.

Seaweed

A great staple healthy food that lasts for up to two years. After two years it will not rot, but the nutritional value and flavour will start to lessen. Seaweed is the best dietary source of iodine, which makes it a great food for balancing hormones. It’s also packed with zinc, iron and b vitamins.

Powdered green juices

Such as Green Vibrance, provided by Vibrant Health, are amazing solutions for non perishable juicing or detoxing. Plant-based protein powders also provide essential amino acids and last for around 2 years.

Nuts and seeds

Powerhouses of nutrition! Especially if you soak them prior to eating. Nuts last for up to 12 months, and seeds will last for several years in the right conditions.

Natural nut butters

..are delicious and can be stored up to 3-9 months.

Dried or canned beans

A great source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals. They make meals and soups more substantial and beans can last up to 10 years when dried (2-5 years canned).

Dried produce

Both dehydrated and sun-dried are great as you can store them for 6months to 20 years (the average shelf-life of dried produce is five years).

Granola bars

..are nutritious, especially if you make them yourself or choose a brand that is free from processed sugars and preservatives.

Related: Can Red Marine Algae Really Help Boost Your Immune System?

Emergency Food Supply List (Year Supply)

A few months back, preppers were laughed at. Now they’re the most organised and envied among us.

There’s been a massive disruption to our food supply, despite what the governments are saying.

Which means that self-reliance has never been more important.

If you want to store food for a year or more, then you need to make sure that it’s stored correctly. In airtight, vacuum-sealed containers that are kept in a dark and dry room. You’ll want the room temperature to be 75°F/24°C or lower.

Before you plan your year’s emergency food supply, you’ll also need to know how many people you’re feeding for a year. Plus, a handy labelling device will keep everything orderly

Here’s a list of 22 items that you’ll want to include in your emergency food pantry:

  • Green juice powder
  • Protein powder
  • Canned foods
  • Dried herbs and seasoning like salt and pepper
  • Sweet flavourings like vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Dried/dehydrated foods
  • Jars of jam and peanut butter
  • Chocolate
  • Vitamins
  • Yeast
  • Sauces
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Bottled water
  • Oils, like olive oil or coconut oil
  • Tea and coffee
  • Dried milk
  • Dried beans and seeds
  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Vinegar (apple cider vinegar is the healthiest and is multipurpose)

Related: Can Viruses Spread Via Water? Plus the Best Ways to Disinfect Water

Final Thoughts

It can be tempting, when looking for non-perishable foods, to fill your trolley (or online basket) with unhealthy items. Due to thinking that fresh produce is the only way to stay healthy.

After doing a lot of research, I’ve found that there are a lot of healthy foods that you can store for decades, while they still retain their nutrition.

A daily green juice will go a long way to providing a healthy foundation for health, while dehydrated foods can create a tasty lunch option. Nuts and dried foods are great snack options, and protein powder will provide the amino acids to keep you fit and healthy.

Let’s not forget your daily supplements, which are long-lasting and will help to boost your immune system.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
man receiving massage

8 Effective Ways to Help Relieve Common Aches and Pains

8 Effective Ways to Help Relieve Common Aches and Pains

If you suffer from nagging aches, pains, stiffness or tension, you know how debilitating life can be. The hurt can stop you from working, exercising, socializing and generally living your (best) life, especially if it’s chronic or recurring.

You may believe the search for relief is futile, especially if you feel like you’ve already tried everything. But there may be a few things you haven’t tried yet that engender real, noticeable relief.

Reference the list below for some great solutions that can lead to a reprieve from the pain.

Note: If you have lingering, chronic pain, it’s a good idea to see your physician and inquire about treatment options before you try any solutions on this list.

1. Laser Therapy


Have you heard the buzz about low-level laser therapy for back pain? This is a non-invasive therapy that uses low levels of lasers to affect the function of tissues and increase local blood circulation, providing temporary relief from minor muscle aches, pain and stiffness.

The beauty of this kind of treatment is that it can be done anytime, with at-home devices in just a half hour or so each day while you read or watch TV. The devices temporarily relieve pain while helping you relax and relieve stress, providing a two-for-one pain relief benefit.

2. Hydrotherapy


Hydrotherapy is anything and everything to do with using water for healing, including spending time in the sauna, pool, or hot tub. This kind of therapy is routinely used in treatment for osteoarthritis, especially in the knee.

Studies have shown that people who suffer from osteoarthritis in the knee experienced less pain and better function in the knee after partaking in a hydrotherapy treatment program in a heated pool.

Hydrotherapy may also help relieve aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis and muscle strains.

3. Massage Therapy


Massage is one of the best ways to work out knots and muscle tension that may be causing pain throughout your body, especially in the back, legs and neck.

While seeing a professional masseuse is always the best way to enjoy the benefits of this type of therapy, you can also use self-myofascial release (SMR) devices – massage balls, foam rollers, etc. – to give your pain points a gentle massage yourself.

This therapy works by relaxing contracted muscles and stretching them and realigning them so they no longer cause pain.

4. Cryotherapy and Heat Therapy

Cryotherapy (cold therapy) is commonly used for pain management following injury, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it can also lead to relief from muscle sprains, tendonitis, arthritis, lower back pain, runner’s knee (chondromalacia patellae), and more common triggers of aches and pains.

This therapy involves using ice or gel packs, sometimes coupled with compression and elevation, to reduce swelling and ease the pain.

Similarly, applying a heated pad to muscles and joints can promote blood flow and relax the muscles. Your doctor may recommend alternating hot and cold therapies at different intervals throughout the day for the best results.

Learn More5 Surprising Health Benefits of Taking a Cold Shower Every Day

5. Stretch


You may be surprised to find how much stretching can relieve aches and pains throughout the body. Not only will a quick, daily stretch session – such as yoga or a 15-minute full-body stretch routine – help to lessen the tension and knots in specific muscles throughout the body, but more limber and flexible muscles will also lead to less pain and injury risk in general.

For example, stretching out the hamstrings can help prevent pain in the hips and lower back. Be sure to incorporate a thorough stretch into your routine each day.

6. Change Your Diet


Much of the pain throughout your body may be caused by inflammation, especially if you struggle with arthritis and other conditions that can trigger inflamed, tender muscles and joints.

However, there is evidence to suggest that you can use food to help your body ward off inflammation. Specifically, research shows that food affects your blood’s C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which are markers for inflammation.

Plant-based foods, like fruits and veggies, help your body fight oxidative stress, while certain processed foods do the opposite by creating an inflammatory response that leads to chronic pain.

Fill your diet with antioxidants – berriesleafy greens, avocados, beans, turmericgreen tea, ginger – as well as omega-3s and plenty of plants.

Learn MoreHow Eggshell Membrane Benefits Arthritis, Joint Pain, More

7. Acupuncture

This alternative therapy has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and involves using thin needles throughout the body to balance its flow of energy.

When it comes to pain, acupuncture is frequently used to treat neck pain, osteoarthritis, dental pain, migraines and low back pain.

While there is some debate on the efficacy and science behind acupuncture, experts say that it releases endorphins, which provide natural pain relief.

8. Reduce Stress

Medical researchers are just starting to understand the full spectrum of ways that stress affects the body, but we know now more than ever that it has an incredible impact on our physical health.

In fact, in its list of signs and symptoms of stress, the American Institute of Stress lists headaches, jaw pain, neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms, chest pain and stomach pain.

Engaging in some stress-relief activities, such as yoga, meditation, hydrotherapy, or going on vacation can help mitigate stress and, in turn, relieve some pain.

Conclusion

With these treatments, you’ll surely find an option that works for you. The goal is to find non-pharmaceutical treatment options that are effective and reliable, so you can get back to feeling like your best self again.

As always, be sure to consult a doctor before making any drastic changes to your health and wellness routine.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
array of wild mushrooms spread across a table

A Guide to Mushrooms: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Best Types

A Guide to Mushrooms: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Best Types

Mushrooms tend to divide opinion – generally speaking, you either love them or hate them. One thing that’s less contentious, however, is their healthful properties. Whatever the shape, size, species and colour, mushrooms are rightly credited as being one of the most nutritious foods available to us.

The word “mushroom” derives from the French word for fungi, and it was a French gardener who is said to have “discovered” mushrooms growing on his growth fertiliser in 1650. However, cave paintings throughout North Africa dating back 7,000 years depicted mushrooms, so they’ve been with us a lot longer.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive on the topic of mushrooms. What makes them so healthy, how should we cook them to preserve their nutrients, which species are especially beneficial?

The Nutritional Properties of Mushrooms


Mushrooms are spore-bearing, umbrella-shaped extrusions of macrofungi which can be wild-harvested or cultivated in controlled indoor environments. They thrive in dark, cool, moist conditions.

Flavourful and meaty, these sporophores have certain distinctions from species to species, the most important of which is that some are edible and some are not.

Those which are inedible or poisonous are typically referred to as toadstools.

Some mushrooms are marvellously hardy, with the ability to live for hundreds of years. For the purposes of this section, we will focus on the general nutritional profile of mushrooms, since that does not tend to differ a great deal between edible varieties.

A single cup of mushrooms provides approximately 21 calories, 3g of protein, 3g of carbohydrates and virtually no fat or cholesterol.

Where they excel is in their extensive nutrient content, since mushrooms have around 15 vitamins and minerals including vitamin D and various B vitamins. They’re also rich in fibre, essential amino acids, glutathione, anti-inflammatory antioxidants like selenium and ergothioneine, and have antimicrobial, cytotoxic compounds.

Because of their rich nutrition and pharmacological profile, mushrooms are often dubbed “functional foods” and are believed to have great anti-ageing potential.

The Best Way of Cooking Mushrooms


So, how should you cook mushrooms to preserve their nutrient content? Should we sauté, grill, bake, broil, roast, boil, microwave?

Believe it or not, research by the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition suggests the latter, since exposure to shorter cooking times preserves more nutrients.

Grilling also appeared to be preferable to frying and boiling, which resulted in a sharp decrease of antioxidants.

Prior to eating, it’s a good idea to wash and clean mushrooms to get rid of soil and grit. Certain species of raw mushrooms also contain modest quantities of toxins, including a possible carcinogenic compound which is destroyed through cooking.

The heavy metal content of mushrooms also differs from species to species, with chanterelles the worst offenders.

The Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Like many other so-called functional foods, mushrooms are known for their ability to help with many aspects of health. Let’s look at some of the main health conditions associated with mushrooms.

Cognitive Health

The effect of mushrooms on cognitive health is well-documented. A recent study from the University of Singapore, for instance, found that seniors who consumed more than two standard portions of mushrooms every week enjoyed a 50% reduced risk of experiencing mild cognitive impairment.

Portions were defined as three quarters of a cup of cooked mushrooms.

Interestingly, researchers learned that even one small portion could be helpful in this regard. The study looked at 600 seniors over a six-year period, so it was not a small sample.

The mushrooms used in the study comprised oyster, shiitake, white button and golden, plus dried and canned mushrooms.

The 2019 research followed on from 2016 trials which determined that citizens with mild cognitive impairment tended to have low plasma levels of ergothioneine, which is found abundantly in mushrooms – particularly cremini and portobello.

Researchers also speculated that other bioactive compounds (such as glutathione) in mushrooms may protect the brain from neurodegeneration by hampering production of beta amyloid and phosphorylated tau, and acetylcholinesterase.

Autoimmune Disorders

Mushrooms – especially those which are wild-harvested – are rich in polysaccharides which increase the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). And SOD, for its part, is particularly useful at tamping down inflammation and easing pain associated with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

One study found that lion’s mane mushrooms could heal damage nerves, which are common in MS patients. Lion’s mane can also stimulate nerve growth.

Related: Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain

Gut Health & Type 2 Diabetes

According to a 2018 Penn State study, “Eating white button mushrooms can create subtle shifts in the microbial community in the gut, which could improve the regulation of glucose in the liver.”

Naturally, glucose management is one of the cornerstones of treatment for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes occurs when there is insufficient insulin or the insulin made by the body is ineffective, causing high blood glucose levels.

Researchers noted that mushrooms act as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial native gut bacteria with attendant positive effects.

Related: Prebiotics – What are They and Who Needs Them?

Depression

Hallucinogenic mushrooms contain psilocybin and other compounds that produce psychological and perceptual effects. Evidence also shows reduced depression symptoms after weeks of treatment.

For the purposes of this article, we’re not going to go into these benefits extensively. Mainly because we might just get in trouble.

You can take a look at Imperial College London’s work on this topic here.

Prostate Cancer

The results of a decades-long cohort study of 36,000 Japanese men indicated an association between mushroom intake and a lower risk of prostate cancer. Again, we have to consider this information very deeply as the sample size is considerable. The findings were published in 2019, in the International Journal of Cancer.

Subjects who ate mushrooms once or twice a week benefitted from an 8% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, versus those who ate mushrooms less than once a week. People who ate mushrooms three or more times each week, meanwhile, enjoyed a 17% reduced risk versus subjects who ate them less than once a week.

Immune Health

Several components of mushrooms have been shown to strengthen the immune system, not least polysaccharides like beta-glucans, zinc and vitamin D.

One study by the University of Florida indicated improved immunity (in the form of better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and less inflammatory proteins) in those who ate a single shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks.

Needless to say, shiitake isn’t the only species associated with immune health: all edible mushrooms can subtly level up the immune system, though the best species appear to be reishi, chaga, himematsutake, maitake, cordyceps and turkey tail.

The Best Types of Mushroom for Your Health

Porcini shiitake,portobello,oysterchestnut, reishi, chanterelle, shimeji; crimini, enoki, maitake, white button: all species of edible mushroom, all distinctly different.

For example, white button mushrooms must be grown on composted manure while shiitakes employ wood or hardwood sawdust.

There is no clear consensus on which type of mushroom is best. As mentioned, they are broadly nutritionally similar with some (usually modest) differences.

Cremini and portobello benefit from the highest quantity of amino acid ergothioneine, while the likes of shiitake are especially high in vitamin D and have been used medicinally for centuries throughout Asia.

Lion’s mane mushroom, meanwhile, appears to be one of the best natural remedies for managing multiple sclerosis.

Ultimately, it’s probably a good idea to eat a diverse range of mushrooms. Studies show that the immune system enjoys greater stimulation from variety, since a wider range of polysaccharides will be present.

So, if you’re adding mushrooms to your plate a few times a week, choose different species every time.

Alternatively, save yourself the hassle by using Revitacell Mushroom Blend capsules. Revitacell Mushroom Blend is a carefully selected blend of five mushrooms known for their health enhancing properties – Reishi, Shiitake, Lion's Mane, Chaga and Cordyceps. All the mushrooms in these mushroom capsules are organic.

Read more
some parseley on a chopping block alongside a cut red pepper

How to Dramatically Improve Your Body Nutrient Absorption

How to Dramatically Improve Your Body Nutrient Absorption

It’s often said that you are what you eat. But strictly speaking, this is not true. You are what you absorb.

While we might pat ourselves on the back for eating the right foods, we should know that just because nutrients make it into our stomach, it doesn’t mean our body will utilise them as intended.

It is not uncommon for people to eat wholesome, nutritious food but not receive the full benefits due to poor uptake of nutrients. This can be due to all kinds of factors, which we intend to discuss in this article.

Along the way we’ll look at nutrient co-factors that come into play, the importance of mineral levels and hydration, raw vs cooked, the merits of choosing organic, the role of the gut and much more.

Want to learn how to optimise your body’s nutrient absorption? Then read on.

How are Nutrients Absorbed?


First, a quick primer on how food is broken down into its constituent parts by our body. We’re talking, of course, about digestion.

As mentioned in our Guide to Digestive Health, this system functions as a kind of disassembly line, wherein nutrients are extracted from food and absorbed into the bloodstream to fulfil the body’s various needs.

After we’ve eaten a meal, the food makes its way down the oesophagus and into our stomach, where it’s worked upon by digestive enzymes and gastric juices such as hydrochloric acid, the latter of which helps with protein absorption.

In the the stomach, what’s left of the food passes through to the small intestine, whereupon the pancreas releases bicarbonates to neutralise the acidic gastric juice and stop it damaging the intestinal membrane.

Yet more secretions from the pancreas, liver and gallbladder then combine with the food matter, breaking it into yet smaller nutrients to be absorbed in the small intestine and transferred to the bloodstream. Once in the blood, nutrients are then transported to cells throughout the body.

Whatever is not used is distributed to either storage or waste.

5 Tips for Absorbing More Nutrients

1. Optimise Digestion

It stands to reason that any steps you might take towards improving your nutrient absorption include optimising your digestion.

Simply put, if our gut health is impaired and our balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria out of whack, we will never absorb nutrients as well. Remember, gut bacteria break down nutrients too.

Even independent of bacterial balance, taking simple steps such as thoroughly chewing your food can measurably improve your digestion, by activating enzymes that help your body break down food.

One study by Purdue University found that when subjects chewed almonds 40 times, they benefited from improved fat absorption compared with those who chewed just 10 times.

If you suffer from poor digestion, consider using a high-strength probiotic supplement to increase the number of good bugs operating in the gut.

2. Combine Nutrient Co-Factors

Nutrients are notoriously synergistic, meaning you will never gain maximal benefit from many macro and micronutrients unless a co-factor is present.

While there are a ridiculous number of co-factors, some of the main ones are given below. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend obsessing over co-factors too much.

The key thing is to be mindful of how certain nutrients interact, in order to avoid deficiency.

• Vitamin C and iron

• Fat-soluble vitamins (A ,D, K) and fat: It’s pretty simple – to optimise your absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, eat them with a little fat. For the same reason, if you’re taking supplements of vitamin D or K, it’s wise to do so during a meal that contains some fat.

• Vitamin D and vitamin K

• Vitamin B and omega-3

3. Eat Food in a Natural State

There’s a lot about nutrition we’ve yet to learn. But of the things we have learned, this is one of the most important: eating food as close to its natural state as possible is, undoubtedly, a good way to go.

That applies to vegetables, nuts and fruit. Choose organic, where possible, locally-grown and seasonal.

Which brings us to the raw vs cooked debate. The truth is, we don’t yet know enough to say whether raw is better as far as nutrient absorption is concerned.

While we do know that cooking certain foods decreases certain nutrients – because some vitamins are sensitive to heat – cooking also appears to break down plant cell walls, allowing us to absorb antioxidants like lycopene.

The best bet is to eat raw some of the time but, well, don’t give up cooking. More important than the question of raw or cooked is that you choose organic.

There’s a good article here on the topic.

4. Eat a Diverse Diet

We have explained just how complex the relationship between individual nutrients is. So, it makes sense to eat a wide range of foods to ensure you’re pairing those tandem nutrients.

After all, it’s much easier to do that than obsessively prepare each meal according to the various co-factors present.

As ever, we would recommend eating a colourful range of fruit and vegetables, as well as some good fat and lean protein.

Eat a variety of foods every day to ensure the broad spectrum of nutritions your body needs.

5. Hydrate!

The importance of hydration can never be overstated. Without adequate hydration, we will never have proper digestion – our blood will simply be unable to transport nutrients.

Of course, there’s another question which springs to mind. Which is: what if you’re not absorbing the water itself?

It’s essential that we consume water with minerals in it. Minerals are necessary for water structure, which in turn is vital for absorption.

That is why reverse-osmosis water is not ideal – because it’s mineral-deficient.

Which Factors Reduce Nutrient Absorption?

1. Disease

Disease is probably the number one cause of malabsorption.

Various illnesses can affect our body’s capacity to absorb fats, proteins, vitamins and sugars. In other words, it can negatively impact absorption across the board.

In particular, ailments such as Celiac disease, chronic liver disease, cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease wreak havoc with our digestion.

Intestinal damage, such as that caused by radiation therapy, can also set the scene for malabsorption.

2. Insufficient Enzymes and Hydrochloric Acid

Enzymes produced by the pancreas help us to assimilate fats as well as other nutrients.

Insufficient pancreatic enzymes make it more difficult for the body to process fats and other nutrients.

If the pancreas is damaged, you may need to supplement with pancreatic enzymes.

As mentioned earlier, hydrochloric acid is crucial for proper digestion. If you have low hydrochloric acid, your food will not be properly broken down in the stomach.

Low hydrochloric acid secretion has been specifically linked to malabsorption of iron.

3. Medication

A lengthy list of pharmaceutical drugs are known to reduce nutrient absorption, and they do this in numerous ways: by causing changes in the intestinal mucosa, by inhibiting enzymes and by binding to bile acids, to name just a few.

While corticosteroids hamper our absorption of calcium and vitamin D, antibiotics tetracycline and cholestyramine limit our iron uptake.

To see a full list of drugs affect mineral absorption, click here. For vitamin absorption, it’s here. As you’ll see, everyday drugs like oral contraceptives, laxatives and cortisol can deplete the body of vital nutrients.

Related: Antibiotics Are Not the Answer

4. Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption

Alcohol reduces nutrient absorption – particularly fat absorption – by damaging cells in the stomach lining and intestines, and hampering the transportation of nutrients into blood.

Just as concerning is the effect of alcohol on nutrients that have already been absorbed, since alcohol can actually stop them from being fully utilised by the body.

Studies of alcoholics consistently show decreased liver stores fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E and D, as well as decreased calcium and zinc.

Related: The Health Benefits of Having a Dry Month

As for caffeine, it is known to deplete B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium and iron. Of course, moderate caffeine intake comes with its own benefits – so few would recommend cutting it out entirely. It’s just yet another factor you should be mindful of.

You can also minimise the impact of caffeine on nutrient absorption by separating coffee from meals and supplements by at least an hour.

5. Food Intolerances and Allergies

Lactose intolerance, lactase deficiency and soy milk intolerance are the main ones here. Eating foods to which you are intolerant or allergic can hamper nutrient absorption in the small intestine.

Conclusion

Remember, if nutrients are not absorbed, they are simply passing through. Imagine pursuing a healthy diet, depriving yourself of treats, and yet you fail to reap the benefits. The sacrifice wouldn’t feel worthwhile, would it?

It is not just a case of optimising, of course. The fact is, poor absorption can set the stage for various health problems such as osteoporosis and acne. More generally, it can also lead to chronic fatigue and loss of muscle tissue.

As well as the above, remember that things like exercise and sleep can have a profound effect on your nutrient absorption. Make sure you’re staying active, getting outdoors and enjoying plenty of rest at the end of the day.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
twentysomething man and woman cooking healthy food in kitchen

8 Incredibly Nutritious Plant Foods to Enhance Wellbeing

8 Incredibly Nutritious Plant Foods to Enhance Wellbeing

You need to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. The best way to do this is to eat a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy proteins and healthy fats, including omega-3s.

When properly prepared, plant foods have a lot to offer, and they are all amazingly nutritious in their own way.

So, we have selected eight impressive plant foods that we think possess some sterling prowess in the nutrient-density stakes. They are most definitely up there with the crème de la crème.

1) Spirulina


An amazing superfood, spirulina is beyond healthy. This ancient blue/green freshwater microalgae has a whole lot to give and is truly wondrous.

A valuable food source of the Aztecs, spirulina is produced all over the world and is commonly used as a dietary supplement. It gains its nutrient density properties from the water in which it grows, so the better the environment, the more nutritious the spirulina.

Believe it or not, this little plant is around 60% protein and is also a ‘complete protein’ – meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. It’s easily broken down in the stomach and is well absorbed.

Spirulina is also high in antioxidants and carotenoids that help to fight free radical damage and reduce inflammation, protecting you from chronic disease. It’s a great source of vitamins C and E, iron, and a host of B vitamins.

Spirulina is a heavy metal detoxifier. One 2006 study successfully treated chronic arsenic poisoning in a small group of Bangladeshi patients by supplementing with 250mg spirulina and 2mg zinc twice daily for 16 weeks. 

It’s immune-modulating, and high antioxidant status is also linked to cancer prevention. Several in vitro studies have demonstrated spirulina’s ability to decrease cancer cell growth for many different cancer types, including colon and pancreatic cancers. 

It could be suitable for prevention of oral cancer too. One trial involved Indian tobacco chewers with oral leukoplakia. After giving them 1g of spirulina every day for 12 months, 45% showed complete regression of lesions compared to the placebo group.

Add to this spirulina’s potential to improve candida, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and boost energy and what’s not to like?

2) Kale


Let’s begin by saying that this delicious dark leafy green has a perfect ANDI score of 1000. What’s an ANDI score? Well, it’s the ranking of a wide assortment of plant foods on the ‘Aggregate Nutrient Density Index’ as created by Dr Fuhrman.

Kale is King and is overloaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and other goodies. It’s exceptionally high in vitamin K, making it great for your bones and wound healing. 

It’s also high in vitamin C and beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A). Kale’s combination of vitamin A and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin means that munching on its cruciferous leaves is excellent for your eyes.

Several studies show lutein and zeaxanthin can help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts and that eating a diet high in these is great for your vision.

Related: Eye Health and Nutrition – How Diet Can Protect Your Vision

Cruciferous vegetables like kale are linked to cancer prevention. This is partly due to a group of substances called glucosinolates. These break down into biologically active compounds, including Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which have been researched for their anti-cancer effects. 

Let’s not forget that kale also has enviable anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and heart-healthy properties too, so get chomping.

3) Spinach


Spinach also ranks pretty high on the ANDI index with a ‘not to be sniffed at’ score of 707. Another valuable addition to your plant-based repertoire, spinach is packed full of a range of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

It’s brimming with flavonoid antioxidants, essential nutrients, B and C vitamins, and is a fantastic source of vitamin K, magnesium, folate and iron.

Gently cooking your spinach releases and increases its nutritional yield, including the calcium which would otherwise be bound to oxalates.

Spinach joins kale with its anti-cancer properties. This is partly due to its ability to reduce free radical damage and also the fact that it contains glycoglycerolipids. It’s rich in nitrates which can help to lower blood pressure and has other heart-protective properties too.

Spinach is fibre-rich, helping to slow the release of blood sugar while keeping you feeling fuller for longer – helping to maintain a healthy weight and prevent diabetes. Its abundant antioxidant profile aids immunity, reduces inflammation and protects against chronic disease.

Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin to look after your vision, and with its prolific amount of vitamin K, it also supports bone health.

4) Brussels Sprouts


This brassica is very high in nutrients. Half a cup provides 2g of protein, high amounts of vitamins C and K, a range of B vitamins and minerals.

Like kale, Brussels sprouts also have anti-cancer properties due to their glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. According to researchers, consuming Brussels sprouts can help to prevent DNA damage and reduce oxidative stress in cancerous cells. They may also help to protect against colon cancer. 

Loading up on these little balls of goodness could also reduce your risk of diabetes. This is because they are rich in alpha-lipoic acid, which can help to regulate glucose. The antioxidant effects of alpha-lipoic acid may also slow the development of diabetic complications, such as diabetic neuropathy.  

Brussels sprouts’ high levels of vitamin C help to reduce inflammation and boost immunity, while its vitamin K keeps your bones healthy. The glucosinolates may also help to protect against cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and look after your gut.

5) Carrots

These popular root vegetables come in a variety of shades, including orange, purple, deep red, and yellow. They are high in antioxidants and several nutrients. 

There’s some truth to the old wive’s tale about carrots helping you to see in the dark. They are exceptionally high in carotenoids which convert to vitamin A and protect your vision. Carrots also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which aid your eyesight too.

Carrots are high in alpha and beta-carotene. Some studies, including a 10-year one involving older men in the Netherlands, have linked the consumption of carrots to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Drinking carrot juice may also protect against heart disease by increasing antioxidant levels and reducing oxidative stress and cell damage.

The beta-carotene and polyacetylenes in carrots are also linked to cancer prevention. In 2011, an in vitro study found that leukaemia cells treated with carrot juice extracts had increased cell death, and it halted cancer progression. Beta carotenes may also reduce the risk of breast, colon and lung cancer.

The high levels of antioxidant carotenoids, vitamin C and polyphenols in carrots all help to boost immunity, lower inflammation, fight free radical damage and protect against illness and disease. Beta-carotene in carrots may also protect the brain and aid cognitive function.

6) Berries


Berries are one of the best fruits around. They are high in anthocyanins and other antioxidants and are one of the richest sources of polyphenols.

Polyphenols are plant compounds such as flavonoids, phenolic acids and lignans that have a wealth of health benefits. They help to protect against oxidative stress and cell damage, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

A high flavonoid intake may also contribute to a lower BMI (body mass index), helping to maintain a healthy weight. Flavonoids decrease C-reactive protein, too, which can be an indicator of chronic inflammatory conditions.

The multiple compounds and nutrients found in berries have cardioprotective effects in both healthy and chronically ill people.

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sour cherries and blackcurrants are among some of the highest antioxidant-rich plant foods. Each different type of berry has its own unique nutrient profile and strengths.

For example, raspberries contain a host of nutrients including vitamins C, E and K, manganese, copper, biotin, folate and other B vitamins, potassium and fibre. Their high vitamin C and zeaxanthin content protect the eyes from UV damage and macular degeneration.

Blueberries and strawberries offer neuroprotective effects, safeguarding the brain. They are linked to slower rates of cognitive decline in the elderly.

Related: 5 Compelling Reasons to Eat More Berries

7) Flaxseeds


These little seeds have been around for thousands of years and are bursting with goodness. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds also provide a nutritious mix of minerals including selenium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and zinc.

They also host folate, vitamin B6, iron and phosphate along with generous amounts of fibre and protein. 

So it’s no surprise that a spoonful of flaxseeds every day can do you a world of good.

Omega-3 fats have all manner of health benefits. They feed your brain, improving alertness, concentration and cognitive function and can help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

They can promote eye health, protect your heart, improve insulin resistance, fight inflammation and may aid ADHD and autism.

Related: 6 Foods High in Omega-3 and Why You Should Eat More

Flax seeds contain a prolific amount of lignans (considered to be 800-fold higher than any other food). These phytoestrogens have mild oestrogenic and non-oestrogenic effects. 

Some studies support eating flax seeds for the easing of menopausal symptoms. In one pilot study, hot flashes improved in menopausal women who took 40g of crushed flaxseeds per day for five months. Lignans may even have the potential to regulate the menstrual cycle.  

Lignans also have anti-cancer properties. They may reduce the risk of breast cancer, and in one study, patients with prostate cancer took 30g flax seeds per day and had significantly reduced tumour growth.

Linseeds provide both soluble and insoluble fibre and work wonders for your digestive system, keeping things moving and encouraging timely elimination of toxins. They are high in antioxidants and have immense anti-inflammatory properties.

Flaxseeds may also improve the symptoms of diabetes, can protect  cardiovascular health and have the potential to lower blood pressure.

9) Turmeric


This member of the ginger family has been used as a spice since ancient times. Turmeric’s principal active ingredient is curcumin, and it also contains turmerones in its root. 

Turmerones aid curcumin transport and enhance its availability and benefits. These antioxidants work collectively to reduce inflammation and sensitivity to pain. 

Studies have shown the potential for turmeric /curcumin to relieve the inflammation and pain of arthritis. The antioxidants it provides help to protect your mitochondria from harm (the powerhouses of your cells) and also reduce free radical damage.

Curcumin may also help to guard against Alzheimer’s as it can help lower oxidative stress in the brain. 

Turmeric isn’t used as a spice just because of its aromatic flavour and vibrant yellow colour, but also for its calming effects on the digestive system. It could also help in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.  

Epidemiological studies have linked lower rates of cancers, notably large bowel cancers, in India to the heavy use of turmeric in the diet. Turmeric’s combination of curcuminoids and turmerones can halt the growth of breast cancer cells. Turmerones have also demonstrated an ability to stimulate the immune system.

Related: 9 Proven Turmeric Benefits for Skin, Arthritis, Diabetes & More

The bottom line


The more nutrient-dense your diet, the more healthy you will be. Eating a diverse array of nutritious foods is the best way to protect yourself from illness and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

As demonstrated, there is an abundant selection of plant foods out there to provide you with many of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Several are also a great source of healthy protein.

Some foods like spirulina, soybeans and quinoa form complete proteins which provide all the essential amino acids in one perfect package. 

Plant foods also provide an abundant assortment of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which all serve their own vital purpose in your body. 

To get the best that plant foods have to offer, you need to eat a vast array of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and oils every day.

Read more
five wooden spoons containing chunks of beetroot

Fermented Beet Benefits: For Energy, Diabetes, Gut & Heart Health

Fermented Beet Benefits: For Energy, Diabetes, Gut & Heart Health

Beets are an unsung hero of nutrition. Belonging to the root vegetable family, beets (or beetroots, as they’re often known) are a dense source of vital vitamins, minerals and inorganic nitrates. Strange, then, that you mightn’t have heard too much about them.

With this article, we aim to rectify that. Because beets – and fermented beets in particular – deserve major credit for the health benefits they can confer. Beets have been variously shown to improve athletic performance, protect heart and gut health, ease digestion and protect the skin from signs of premature ageing. Adding them to your diet is one of the best things you can do.

So what are you waiting for? Read on to find out what fermented beets are good for, and why incorporating them into your nutrition plan is likely to pay rich dividends.

What are Fermented Beets?


Beets are a treasured low-calorie vegetable, rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients.

Beets can be consumed in smoothies and juices, peeled and eaten raw, sautéed with olive oil, roasted with goat cheese, deployed in soups and salads, even included in desserts. Intrigued? Have some recipe inspiration.

While beets are great, cultured (fermented) beets are even better. Why? Because fermentation potentiates the impact of nutrients.

Traditionally fermenting beets extends their lifespan, reduces sugar content (especially advantageous since beets have a comparatively high sugar content), drastically aids vitamin and enzyme production and increases friendly gut microbes. They are also far more bioavailable for our body.

What’s more, fermentation adds an extra dimension to the sweet, mellow and earthy flavour of beets.

To find out more, check out our article 10 Benefits of Fermented Foods.

Many people new to this topic often wonder if beets are classed as low FODMAP. The answer is yes – in moderation. While a full serving of fresh beetroot (approx four slices) is regarded as high FODMAP due to the oglio-fructan, two slices would be classed as low FODMAP.

Interestingly, pickled/fermented beet scores much better on the FODMAP index than fresh beet.

There are a number of ways to culture raw beets, with some using specialised equipment and others little more than glass jars or air-locked fermentation dishes. A quick Google search will uncover no end of inspiration, as well as recipes.

What Do Fermented Beets Do for the Body?


Now that you know what fermented beets are, let’s take a closer look at what are fermented beets good for; that way, you can better comprehend what fermented beets do for the human body.

Below, we cover some of the primary, evidence-based health benefits of consuming beets.

Fermented Beets for Digestion and Diabetes


We all know dietary fibre is essential for proper digestion, and beets contain plenty of it. As such, they’re a great food for keeping the bowel moving and preventing constipation.

Beets also contain folate, which among other things helps to repair tissues in the digestive tract.

As for blood-sugar control and diabetes, beets have proven themselves to be incredibly effective in a number of trials.

For example, one 2014 study showed that drinking half a cup of beetroot juice resulted in a notable suppression of post-meal glucose levels.

Another study, published three years later, showed that nitrate-rich beet juice when drunk with carbs could lower insulin resistance in obese participants.

While a separate 2012 review indicated that alpha-lipoic acid, a major antioxidant found in beets, could reduce nerve damage common to diabetics.

At the moment it’s fair to say that more studies are needed to properly assess the merits of beets, at least where diabetes is concerned. But the evidence thus far is promising.

Fermented Beets for Gut Health


What about fermented beets and probiotics? When we hear the words “fermented” or “cultured”, our minds tend to jump to probiotics after all. That’s natural, since many fermented foods are indeed probiotic, helping to introduce friendly microbes to the digestive tract and positively influence the microbiome. Some examples of fermented food include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and natural yogurt.

In a 2015 animal study, fermented beet juice was shown to improve gut microbiota and metabolic activity and also enhance hydrophilic antioxidants.

The study authors also alluded to fermented beet juice’s “high anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic potentials”.

Beets’ gut-friendly profile has led to the emergence of such products as beet gut shots, which promise to keep your gut well-balanced. Beets (as well as beet juice) is also regularly included in lists of gut-friendly foods.

Fermented Beets for Heart Health


“Can fermented beets raise blood pressure?” is an oft-asked question. In actual fact, the opposite is true: beets have the ability to lower blood pressure in a relatively short timespan, thanks to their natural nitrates.

When we eat beets, our body converts nitrates to nitric oxide, which serves to dilate blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and improving blood flow.

Indeed, a 2017 meta-analysis which assessed data from 40 individual studies found a “significant effect” of beet juice on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).

Be aware, though, that boiling beets reduces their nitrate content: steaming, roasting or juicing is the way to go. Mouthwashes and chewing gum also prevent nitric oxide conversion from occurring.

As well as nitrates, which are regularly used to treat angina, beets contain betaine – which helps to reduce inflammation, protect against environmental stress and assists the liver by stimulating the flow of bile to break down fat.

Fermented Beets for Boosting Energy Levels


Do fermented beets give you energy? Yes, they do. Or at any rate, there are studies showing just that.

For example,   found that drinking beet juice improved “cardiorespiratory endurance” in athletes by improving their maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and also their anaerobic threshold.

This wasn’t from a single study either: 23 separate trials were investigated to reach this conclusion.

The take-home? Beet juice could help you work out for longer and increase efficiency. Ditch the stimulant-laden preworkouts and drink a glass of beet juice instead.

More Health Benefits of Beets

These are not the only benefits of consuming beets, of course. Below, you’ll find a snapshot of other benefits.

• Multiple studies on rats indicate that beets “reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the liver”, while also increasing production of natural detoxification enzymes.

• Drinking beet juice pre-workout boosts brain performance.

• Beets increase blood flow to the brain in older people and may hamper the progression of dementia.

• Beetroot extract “exhibited a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect” in prostate and breast cancer cells.

Conclusion

Hopefully you are in no doubt about the impressive nutritious profile of beets. Is it any wonder they remain a staple of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine? In actual fact, red beets have been cultivated since around 300 BC!

We firmly believe that fermented beets are the way to go. Whether you’re drinking fermented beet juice or eating beets you’ve fermented yourself, you’re sure to benefit.

Remember, there are lots of recipes out there so don’t be scared to experiment!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
basket of healthy food including carrots and onions

Which Foods to Eat and Avoid for Better Mental Health

Which Foods to Eat and Avoid for Better Mental Health

Believe it or not, what and how you eat can positively affect your mood, helping to calm anxiety, balance mood swings and allay anger. It can even help improve symptoms of depression.

The link between food and mental health is not a new one. Indeed, it has been explored for many years. Nutritionists and naturopathic doctors preach that vegetables, particularly greens rich in folate and other beneficial nutrients, stimulate the release of serotonin, dopamine and other compounds which help our body and mind relax.

Fermented foods which regulate intestinal flora can also help us better deal with stress, while offering protection against neurotoxicity and reactive oxygen species.

In this article, we'll summarise the best foods to eat and avoid for improved mental health.

What foods to avoid


Anything that floods your bloodstream with sugar, encouraging blood sugar spikes, mood swings and ‘hanger’ is a no-go.

It doesn’t just affect your moods and energy in the short term, but eating this way in the long-term can lead to depression and chronic anxiety, as well as conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, cellular ageing, poor skin and weight gain.

When your blood sugar spikes, it then rapidly drops. You get a quick burst of energy, then suddenly feel zapped, cranky, moody, less tolerant and less able to deal with stressful situations. You also start to crave the same carby, sugary foods that made you feel that way in the first place, as your body wants an energy hit – fast.

The more sugar you eat, the more you need, and before you know it, you’re in an energy burst/crash loop which over time becomes less energy and more crash as your hormones are thrown into chaos. (Following a diabetic diet sheet can help.)

Foods that cause sugar spikes include processed, refined carbohydrates, sugary foods such as breakfast cereals, crisps, chips, fries, pizza, muffins, cakes, biscuits, cereal bars, sweets, pastries, pasties, syrups and jams.

Anything made with white grains like white rice, bread, pasta and crackers should be avoided as well as condiments containing hidden sugars including tomato ketchup, brown sauce, relish and hoisin sauce.

Drinks like fruit juice, fizzy pop, energy drinks which are loaded with sugar and caffeine, coffee and tea can upset your blood sugar levels too.

As well as giving you a sugar rush, alcohol can disturb your sleep, compounding low mood and depression.

To help combat high-sugar levels, stick to a natural whole food diet including plenty of fibre, brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and proteins, trading simple carbohydrates for complex ones.

This will also provide nutrients to feed your brain, nourish your nervous system and balance hormones – all helping with cognitive function and mood.

Don’t buy anything with a long list of ingredients. Scrutinise food labels and be suspicious of words you don’t understand. Simply put, it’s not real food.

Here are eleven helpful foods and habits to feed your brain, keep your blood sugar balanced, and keep you and your mood on an even keel.

1) Drink plenty of water


Did you know that our brains are made up of 80% water? So when we’re dehydrated, it negatively affects our brain function clouding our judgement, concentration and focus.

If you’re dealing with chronic stress, low mood or depression and not drinking enough water, you’ll most likely find it much harder to deal with life’s challenges.

Research has shown that increasing water intake can positively impact your sleep/wake moods as well as generate feelings of calmness and satisfaction while boosting positive emotions

Studies also show that drinking adequate amounts of water can reduce your risk of depression and anxiety. It can also enhance your memory, cognition and concentration, and decrease headaches. 

We are all different, and there is no set amount of water that we should drink. However, as a general guide, aim for 2 litres or 8 x 8oz glasses a day. 

The quality of water you drink is incredibly important too, as these days our water can contain a surprising number of contaminants like oestradiol, a type of oestrogen from the oral contraceptive pill, other pharmaceutical residues, lead, and fluoride.

Tap water also has a higher pH, meaning it is less alkaline. Alkaline water is more hydrating and helps to neutralise the acid in our bodies. It is also rich in antioxidants and minerals. 

Check out our top-notch range of alkaline water filters in our water products section.

2) Healthy protein


Proteins are made up of amino acids, the building blocks of life. We need protein to survive, and it is a critical component of every cell in the body. It helps to grow and maintain muscles, bones and connective tissues, providing the structure and framework of our bodies.

Protein also contributes to several bodily functions including energy production, immune support, the making of hormones and enzymes, muscle contraction and digestion.

Proteins balance blood sugar by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates. They also keep you feeling satiated, staving your appetite and curbing sugar cravings.

Ensure you’re eating healthy protein such as fish, lean meat, eggs, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds with every meal and snack. If it’s a struggle to meet your daily recommended intake, consider using a protein powder.

3) Oily fish and other healthy fats


Omega-3 fats are crucial for brain function. They are considered essential for feeding the brain and boosting mood, with low levels leaving you more susceptible to depression.

Omega-3 fats can increase dopamine levels, improving mood, alertness and concentration, and they can also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.

There’s much research supporting the role of healthy fats in depression and anxiety, particularly the EPA and DHA found in oily fish. It’s best to eat fatty fish three times a week to ensure you’re getting enough.

Alternatively, you could consider taking a good quality fish oil.

Omega-3 rich foods include as shellfish, walnuts and other nuts, seeds such as linseeds, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables, seaweed and algae.

4) Swap white grains for brown whole grains


One of the best things you can do is exchange ‘simple carbohydrate’ white grains for brown ‘complex carbohydrate’ whole grains, such as brown bread, pasta, and rice.

These contain plenty of fibre and have a lower glycaemic load than white grains, helping to balance blood sugar, providing a slow, steady energy release, which in turn helps to balance mood and discourage energy slumps.

Because these are whole grains which haven’t had their outer layer stripped, they are higher in fibre and more nutrient-dense, they ‘feed’ your body and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Some other excellent complex carbohydrate choices would be oats, quinoa, beans and lentils. 

5) Eat foods high in soluble fibre


Scientists examining data on 46,000 people found that meals which were high in vegetables and fibre were key to reducing “depressive symptoms”.

Food sources of fibre include beans, legumes, oats, nuts, seeds, pears, apples, avocados and most vegetables.

Soluble fibre slows digestion, helping to regulate blood sugar balance and mood.

6) Eat foods containing tryptophan

Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression. It also aids sleep and regulates mood.

Eating foods containing the amino acid tryptophan can help to increase this happy hormone.

Regularly include foods like nuts, seeds, organic tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, oats, beans, lentils and eggs.

7) Feed your gut

Did you know that your gut health affects your brain health and vice versa? This is known as the gut/brain axis. So looking after your gut health is essential if you want to maintain healthy brain function and improve mood.

It is commonly believed that depleted serotonin levels in the brain are linked to low mood and depression but, interestingly, there is more serotonin in your gut than your brain!

Early research suggests that gut-based serotonin may also have an impact on mood. One of the best ways to nurture your digestive serotonin is to look after your gut health: consume plenty of fibre, and eat both pre and probiotic foods every day to encourage lots of healthy gut bacteria.

Prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks (raw as well as cooked), asparagus, apples, underripe bananas, sweet potatoes, oats, chicory and legumes. Probiotic foods include raw fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, kombucha, full-fat natural yogurt, organic tempeh and miso.

You might also consider taking a high-strength probiotic.

8) Eat foods high in zinc


Zinc is one of the most abundant trace minerals in the brain, and low levels have been linked to depression.

It’s also vital for healthy brain function, memory and learning, and regulating your mood. We can easily become deficient in zinc as our bodies don’t store it, so we need to stock up regularly.

Foods that contain zinc include oysters and other seafood like mussels, shrimp and crab, beans including butter beans, almonds and pine nuts, leg meat from chicken and turkey, lean red meat, hemp seeds, lentils, eggs, oats, quinoa and whole wheat. 

9) Prioritise magnesium


Nature’s tranquilliser, magnesium calms the nervous system, helps you to relax, buffers the adverse effects of stress, balances your mood and relieves the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Your body uses magnesium for a multitude of functions, and it’s not uncommon to have insufficient levels as a result of poor diet and depleted minerals in the soil due to industrialised farming methods.

If you’re stressed or depressed, your body will pull on your magnesium stores more intensely, so it’s vital to stock up every single day by eating foods such as dark leafy greens, avocado, almonds, pumpkin seeds, beans including broad beans, tuna, mackerel, brown rice, dried figs, natural yoghurt and bananas.

If you’re under chronic stress, have low mood, poor sleep, anxiety or depression, it may be beneficial to take a magnesium supplement.

You can also absorb magnesium through your skin by having a lovely soak or foot bath in Epsom salts. Try doing it a few nights a week as a relaxation practice before bedtime. It will also help you to drift off to a peaceful sleep. 

10) Stock up on B vitamins


A lack of B vitamins can contribute to depression, particularly B6B12 and folate, and consuming these may reduce your risk of depression.

B vitamins help you to cope better with the effects of stress, improve energy and help to balance low mood. Eating a balanced and diverse wholefood diet should provide you with adequate levels of all the B vitamins: think dark leafy greens, eggs, avocado, shellfish, chicken, beef liver, beans, salmon, mackerel, sweet potatoes and asparagus.

If you are vegetarian and particularly vegan, you may struggle to get enough vitamin B12 as it is mainly found in meat, animal liver and kidneys, seafood, fish and milk. Some foods are fortified with it, such as nutritional yeast, but taking a supplement could be advantageous.

11) Take a vitamin D supplement

 

Several studies have revealed that depressed patients can have significantly low levels of vitamin D, and high doses have also been shown to help improve depression symptoms. 

It’s hard to obtain vitamin D from food, and we mostly make it ourselves from sun exposure. It’s wise to spend lots of time outside during summertime (although take care not to burn), exposing as much of your skin as possible for short bursts.

During the autumn and winter, it’s necessary to supplement with it. If you are concerned that your levels are low, get tested by your GP. Otherwise, Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one take over 10mcg of vitamin D daily during the winter months.

The Vitamin D Council, meanwhile, suggests supplementing with 5,000 i.u. daily.

Conclusion

So there you have it – food really can improve your mood. If this article seems overwhelming, choose one or two things from the list and see if you notice a difference.

It’s not unusual to make a small number of significant changes and notice a substantial upturn in your moods, sleep, stress response, concentration and focus.

If you don’t have enough of it, just drinking more water could revolutionise the way you feel. 

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Read more
Four salmon fillets lined up on a baking tray, book-ended by asparagus spears

6 Foods High in Omega-3, and Why You Should Eat More

6 Foods High in Omega-3, and Why You Should Eat More

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that we need to get from food, as we can’t make them ourselves. They are crucial components of our cell membranes, affecting the function of cell receptors, and are precursors to important signalling molecules, controlling many essential functions throughout the body.

Among other things, omega-3 fats help to regulate inflammation and blood clotting, and aid brain and heart health, hormone balance, digestion and joint function. (To find out more about the many health benefits of omega-3s, click here.)

In this article, we'll focus on six great food sources of omega-3 fats. If you don't tend to eat any of them, the time to start is now.

What are Essential Fatty Acids?


There are three significant forms of omega-3, classed as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). They are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA).

The most easily absorbed and direct food source of EPA and DHA is from oily fish, whereas ALA is found in nuts, seeds, oils, green leafy vegetables and some meat. It is possible to convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but the rate is relatively low.

With this in mind, unless you are vegetarian, vegan or don’t eat fish, you need to eat three portions of oily fish a week to obtain adequate amounts.

Omega-3 vs Omega-6


In the typical Western diet, omega-3 consumption is low, and we tend to eat far more omega-6 fats.

Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, and while we need this as part of a healthy immune response to fight infection and recover from injury, a diet high in omega-6 can lead to excessive, chronic inflammation and disease

The current ratio of omega-6 to 3 is roughly 16:1, compared to the 1:1 ratio anthropological evidence suggests we evolved on. So, it’s essential to readdress this imbalance by improving your omega-6 to 3 ratio.

You can do this by cleaning up your diet – avoiding processed foods and anything with a lengthy ingredient list containing names you don’t understand! Cook from scratch as much as possible, dodging sugary and fried foods. Don’t use processed seed and vegetable oils; choose cold-pressed virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and organic grass-fed ghee instead. 

Eat a whole food diet rich in brightly-coloured vegetables and fruit, while sticking to healthy protein sources such as nuts, seeds, beans and pulses. Where animal protein and produce is concerned, ensure it has not been fed an industrialised diet high in omega-6, and choose grass-fed, free-range or organic animal products instead, including dairy and eggs. 

Upping your intake of omega-3 foods is also crucial, so make healthy fats an integral part of your daily fare, adding it to every meal.

To give you some inspiration, we have listed six high omega-3 foods that you can easily consume every day.

1) Oily fish


Oily fish is the most abundant and easily absorbed food source of EPA and DHA. It’s also a terrific source of protein.

Several studies link the consumption of fatty fish to a decreased risk of heart disease, as well as improved cognitive function and depression.

Wild Atlantic mackerel provides the highest amount of omega-3 at 2,789mg per 100g, with herring and salmon not far behind.

Oily fish provides several other beneficial nutrients too. For example, mackerel contains a generous helping of vitamin B12, good for brain health, and aiding the symptoms of depression, along with plentiful amounts of the powerful antioxidant selenium.

Salmon also contains a host of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, selenium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. You need to eat three portions of oily fish a week to get adequate amounts of EPA and DHA.

Other fabulous oily fish you could try include sardines and anchovies. Alternatively, you could take a daily fish oil supplement to ensure you get what you need.

2) Linseeds or flax seeds


There’s a whopping 6,479mg of omega-3s in 28g of linseeds (roughly two tablespoons). These are perfect ground up and sprinkled over salads, stir-fries and vegetables. You can also add them to smoothies.

These little powerhouses are packed full of minerals including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, copper, selenium and zinc. They also provide several B vitamins and are especially high in vitamin B1.

They are also abundant in lignans, containing between 75 to 800 times more than any other cereal grains, legumes, fruits or vegetables. Lignans aid oestrogen metabolism and early research associates them with a reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer. Fibre-rich, linseeds are great for digestion too.

3) Chia seeds


28g of antioxidant-rich chia seeds contain roughly 5,064mg omega-3 fats while also providing a decent hit of magnesium, calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. They’re also rich in fibre, and two tablespoons contain around 5g healthy protein.

Chia seeds can be soaked overnight and added to smoothies, or ground and sprinkled into salads and stir-fries. You can soak them in water or juice to drink, or make chia pudding.

High in fibre, chia seeds can support digestion and aid weight loss, blood pressure and lessen the risk for cardiovascular disease. Some studies also suggest chia seeds can improve insulin sensitivity and balance blood sugar, aiding type 2 diabetes.

Their mineral profile, meanwhile, means they are good for supporting bone health. Chia seeds can even be mixed with water and used as an egg alternative in vegan cooking.

4) Walnuts


28g walnuts provide 2,579mg omega-3 fats, making them higher than any other nuts. They are rich in antioxidants and rich in manganese, which is needed for healthy connective tissue, joints and bones; it also reduces inflammation and may help with blood sugar regulation.

A small handful of walnuts can be eaten as a healthy snack between meals to balance blood sugar and control your appetite. They are also linked with reduced cholesterol, and blood pressure and one recent study suggested that consuming two ounces of walnuts per day can suppress the growth and survival of breast cancers.

Don’t forget to regularly eat other nuts too which also provide omega-3 fats, particularly pine nuts, pecans and pistachios.  

5) Oysters


OK, so maybe these aren’t an everyday kind of food, but depending on whether they are fresh or tinned, oysters contain around 1591mg omega-3 per 100g. They’re also extremely high in zinc, a potent antioxidant which is essential for regulating immunity and supporting brain function.

Zinc also improves your response to stress and has antidepressant qualities.

Other nutrients include a hefty hit of selenium, copper and vitamin B12. Other shellfish such as mussels, crab and clams can also provide you with a decent dose of omega-3s.

6) Vegetables

Although amounts vary, and they don’t provide the supremely high amounts of omega-3 fats listed above, many vegetables do provide sufficient levels of the plant source omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (same for walnuts, chia and linseeds), which are certainly not to be sniffed at.

And that’s not to mention the countless number of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre, with the attendant health benefits they provide.

For example, did you know that one cup of cooked red or green bell peppers contains between 822mg and 886mg of omega-3 fats? Beansprouts are also on the high end of the omega-3 spectrum when it comes to vegetables.

Other plant foods of note are Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, squash, broccoli, dark leafy greens, and onions. Some beans such as navy and butter beans also contain small amounts.

Conclusion

The EPA and DHA found in fish oil have the most research behind them in terms of the myriad of health benefits they provide. ALA also has anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and neuroprotective qualities.

The Western diet is high in omega-6 fats. The average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 16:1, far outweighing our ancestral ratio of 1:1, and this is associated with higher rates of inflammation and chronic disease.

For overall health and wellbeing, it’s vital to readdress this imbalance by increasing omega-3 foods and eating a natural, whole food diet, avoiding refined, sugar-laden and fried foods, and processed vegetable oils.

Eating oily fish three times a week or taking a daily, high-quality  fish oil  supplement should provide a healthy person with adequate levels of EPA and DHA. If you are vegetarian or vegan, then an algae supplement is the next best thing. 

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Read more
Pickled/fermented vegetables in jars placed in row over vintage kitchen drawer, against white wall background.

10 Benefits of Fermented Foods: For IBS, Immunity, More

10 Benefits of Fermented Foods: For IBS, Immunity, & More

Fermented foods seem to be all the rage these days. From probiotic yogurts, kimchi and lassi to sauerkraut, kefir and fermented soybeans, these typically tangy, sour ‘superfoods’ have been positively associated with digestion, immunity, weight loss and a host of other benefits.

But fermented foods are not a 21st-century fad. In fact, the earliest record of humans eating cultured food is over 8,000 years old. This is not such a surprise when you consider that bacteria, after all, were the first inhabitants on Earth – the underlying living entities from which life flourished.

In this article, we shall summarise the main evidence-backed health benefits of consuming fermented foods. In our view, everyone should look to include fermented foods in the diet – the same way we prioritise vitamin- and mineral-rich vegetables, nutritious fruits, healthy fats and lean proteins.

What is Fermented Food?


Fermentation is a process which sees microorganisms consume sugars and produce acid, alcohol and gases. The majority of ferments are activated by bacteria, yeasts and moulds, and fermentation has been used throughout history as a means of preserving food.

Remember, refrigerators were only invented in the 19th century!

Lactobacillus is the most well-known and well-studied species of bacteria responsible for fermented dairy and vegetables.

Indeed, Lactobacillus is the first kind of bacteria we come into contact with when we are birthed, and it has a huge say in our long-term bacterial composition.

Another species is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is the most common yeast in fermenting.

Yogurt is one example of fermented food. It is made by adding choice bacteria to milk, a plentiful source of the sugar lactose. The bacteria cleverly ferment said lactose, turning it into lactic acid – a natural probiotic preservative.

By producing lactic acid, the microbes deplete the yogurt of its simple sugars and ensure a longer shelf life.

And the probiotic bacteria in the yogurt? They get to interact with your resident microbes when you eat it. Sure, the probiotic content in the vast majority of yogurts is insufficient to promote a meaningful difference in the gut, which is positively teeming with trillions of ingrained microbes – but the science is neat.

Bread is another example – the yeast converts sugar to carbon dioxide, which causes bread to rise. Alas, bread is not a probiotic.

The best fermented food sources, in addition to those included in the introduction, include tempeh, natto, kombucha, miso, Chinese pickles, kvass, raw cheese, apple cider vinegar with “the mother” and sourdough bread.

10 Benefits of Fermented Foods

It’s worth noting that significant cohort studies conducted throughout northern Europe have shown that fermented milk products are significantly associated with decreased disease states, including heart disease, bladder cancer and periodontitis.

In this section, we’ll highlight 10 meaningful benefits of fermented foods.

1. Food preservation

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of fermenting food is that you’ll be able to keep your edibles viable for longer. The conversion of starch and sugar into alcohol or acids has a powerful preserving effect, and also lends fermented foods their quintessentially tart flavour.

2. Better digestion (including for IBS)

One of the most notable advantages of eating fermented foods, including probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods, is improved digestion, since the sugars and starches in food are broken down during the fermentation process. And yes, this benefit even applies to those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

One 2018 study found that lacto-fermented sauerkraut reduced the IBS-Symptom Severity Score (IBS-SSS) among Norwegian patients. Researchers attributed the results to the sauerkraut’s prebiotic content, rather than lactic acid.

That said, probiotics are important. A paper published the same year, entitled The Role of Bacteria, Probiotics and Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, noted that based on current evidence, “multi-strain probiotics, at a concentration of 10 billion CFU/day or less, offer the best chance of improving abdominal pain, global symptoms, and crucially, quality of life in IBS sufferers.”

3. Nutrient creation

Microbial cultures present in fermented foods are terrific nutrient drivers, helping to synthesise short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), vitamin K, and B vitamins such as niacin, biotin and thiamine. These are produced from non-vitamin precursors due to the actions of various enzymes from microbial species.

What’s more, fermentation enhances the antioxidant capacity of phenolic compounds.

4. Toxin removal

One of the great things about fermentation is that it can eliminate naturally-occurring toxins present in some foods, rendering them safe to eat.

Due to its low cost, household fermentation has been used extensively in impoverished regions of he world to make foods such as cereals, legumes, fruit and vegetables safe to consume.

5. High energy and nutrient content

Fermented foods often boast a higher quantity of convertible energy than non-fermented foods of the same weight. Adding such energy-dense foods to your diet is an indubitably good idea.

The nutrient content of fermented foods is also considerable, with a healthy assortment of vitamins and minerals common in most options.

Sauerkraut, for example, is rich in fibre, brimming with vitamins A, C, K and several B vitamins, and also a source of iron.

6. Great for diabetes

One of the reasons fermented foods are often recommended for diabetics is because the carbohydrates therein have been broken down or pre-digested. As such, they do not overload the pancreas, unlike regular carbs.

It goes beyond that though: dysbiosis (an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut) has been repeatedly associated with insulin resistance in studies.

We do not yet know if an imbalanced microbiome is cause or effect, but it certainly exposes a link between the state of the gut and diabetic markers.

In a 2018 paper entitled A Mini Review on Antidiabetic Properties of Fermented Foods, researchers noted that “not all fermented products have antidiabetic properties. Several factors such as the fermentation process, the microbial strain involved in the fermentation, and the raw materials used play a critical role in the bioactivity of the finished product.”

The paper highlighted impressive antidiabetic effects achieved by fermented legumes, fermented soybeans, fresh Jerusalem artichoke, kombucha, kimchi and kefir.

7. Bolsters gut health

Aside from the general benefits to digestive health, fermented foods can also stimulate a positive change in the microbiome, by boosting the numbers of health-promoting bacteria living there.

When consuming probiotic-rich fermented foods, you are introducing friendly microbes and enzymes to your resident intestinal flora, thereby increasing (even temporarily) gut diversity.

8. Improved nutrient absorption

There is some evidence to suggest that fermentation increases the bioavailability of iron, specifically by reducing the phytic acid content which disrupts our ability to absorb iron. Phytic acid also reduces our absorption of zinc, so that’s another nutrient we’re maximising when we eat fermented food.

Certain fermented foods have their own unique benefits and yogurt is a good example. The number of available amino acids in yogurt are increased with fermentation due to the pre-digestion of milk proteins by microbial cultures – thereby facilitating better absorption.

Amino acids, of course, are key building blocks of muscle and they are commonly taken in supplement form by strength-based athletes and bodybuilders.

9. Stronger immunity

Around 70% of your immune system is in the gut. As such, promoting better conditions here is vital if you wish to keep your immunity tip-top.

Reinforcing the immune system via fermented foods is a no-brainer, and in 2019 we took a step closer to understanding why, when researchers discovered that humans (and great apes) “possess a receptor on their cells that detects metabolites from bacteria commonly found in fermented foods and triggers movement of immune cells.”

According to study author Claudia Stäubert, “this receptor very likely mediates some beneficial and anti-inflammatory effects of lactic acid bacteria in humans.”

10. Improved flavour and texture

Fermented foods look and taste different, and given how tough it can be to stick to a healthy diet, fermented foods can help to ‘spice’ up an otherwise boring eating regimen. Don’t take our word for it, though: try it for yourself.

Just remember that not all fermented foods are equal. You want the kind that contain lovely health-promoting probiotics, so look for the words “naturally fermented” on the product label. The natural fermentation process using live organisms is what you need, but some fermented foods are heat-treated – which kills off the good stuff!

What About Fermented Supplements?


It is quite clear that fermented foods, at the very least, can have a positive impact on our health – one that can be attributed to more than just the nutrients they contain.

Supplement manufacturers have recognised the transformative potential of fermentation to pioneer novel food products which may provide similar effects to those outlined above.

By traditionally fermenting ingredients which already have a great deal of supportive evidence behind their therapeutic use (turmeric, mushrooms), the belief is that the antioxidant, probiotic or general nutrient content of the ingredients is amplified.

Fermented supplements comprise grab-and-go snacks such as health bars, as well as capsules and powders which are mixed with water. With digestion and nutrient absorption key considerations when selecting any supplement, fermented products represent a smart choice.

Conclusion

Is it any wonder the ancient Egyptians consumed fermented products over 8,000 years ago? Absolutely not: they were definitely on to something!

In light of its historic usage, it is amusing to hear people refer to fermented foods as a fad or some sort of scam “trend”. But it’s true that the research into fermented foods, and gut health more generally, has piled up in recent years.

Whether you’re an avid fermentation enthusiast or a newcomer to the possibilities of fermented foods, we commend your interest in the topic. Hopefully you’ve learned something useful from our article. Go spread the word!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
bunch of berries

5 Compelling Reasons to Eat Berries, Such as for Heart Health

5 Compelling Reasons to Eat Berries, Such as for Heart Health

There are many good reasons to eat berries. Rightly considered one of nature’s genuine superfoods, these tasty, fleshy fruits are absolutely packed with nutrition, can be purchased fresh or frozen, and can be deployed in a staggering number of dishes.

There is more research to support including berries in your diet than there is for just about any other food. Believe it or not, they’ve even been demonstrated to offer protection against cancer and heart disease.

With this in mind, when was the last time you ate a handful of berries? Did you scatter berries on your porridge this morning or have you forgotten the last time you indulged in foods such as goji berries, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries?

Whatever the case may be, in this article you'll learn why berries should be a dietary staple. We’ll talk about what’s in berries that makes them so healthful, as well as conditions they might help with and ways you can use them. Let’s dive in.

What Makes Berries Healthy?


The million dollar question: what makes berries so healthy?

Well, for starters, they have an incredible nutritional profile, generally being high in vitamins A, C, E and K; minerals manganese and copper; prebiotic fibre; and special antioxidants known as polyphenols.

In fact, on a per serving basis, berry fruits are some of the richest sources of polyphenols on Earth, with the most polyphenol-rich berries including black chokeberry, black elderberry, blackberry and blueberry.

The afore-linked article on polyphenols is a good place to bone up on the topic, but in essence they are powerful compounds found mostly in plants, and which offer protection from ultraviolet radiation and harmful pathogens.

And just as they protect plants, they can also protect us.

Polyphenols are subdivided into flavonoids, stilbenes (like resveratrol), lignans and phenolic acids, and they are one of our best defences against harmful free radicals.

Berries also have a lower sugar content than many fruits, which make them advisable for diabetics. (More on that later.)

They are also quite low in calories. Which brings us nicely on to…

1. To lose weight, improve insulin sensitivity


Berries are a dieter’s best friend – a half cup of blueberries contains just 42 calories – and it couldn’t be easier to incorporate them in your diet.

Whether you buy fresh or frozen, they are perfect for blending in a healthy smoothie or sprinkling liberally over a Greek yogurt or salad.

It’s not just the low calorie count that makes berries particularly helpful for weight loss. It also stems from their high fibre content.

You see, the body cannot break this fibre down, so the net effect is that the rate of digestion is slowed, helping to keep you fuller for longer.

Research backs up the hypothesis that berries are advantageous for weight loss. Take the 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal, for example.

It looked at whether the intake of flavonoid subclasses correlated with weight loss over time, and followed its subjects over a period of 24 years.

The result? “Among fruits, an increased intake of blueberries, apples, pears, prunes, strawberries, and grapes was inversely associated with weight gain.”

Sadly, some known flavonoid-rich food sources – like blackberries and raspberries – were not included in the study. But you’ve got to assume they’d have a similar effect.

Can you eat berries on a low-carb diet? Absolutely. But it does depend on how low-carb you want to go.

Berries have attracted interest in the ketogenic community because some, like raspberry, blackberry and strawberry, are permissible in modest quantities.

Blueberries contain a little more carbs, so they’re generally off the menu. But unless you’re going full keto, you can eat most berries liberally due to their comparatively low carbohydrate content.

OK, so how can berries be good for diabetes? Well, there was a study a few years ago which found that polyphenols in strawberries and cranberries improved insulin sensitivity for people with pre-diabetes.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that GlucoPhenol – a blend of cranberry and strawberry extracts – provoked notable improvements in insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic, insulin-resistant individuals.

Specifically, the berry blend increased insulin signalling and the transportation of glucose into skeletal muscle.

Hélène Jacques, PhD, who led the study, remarked that the results indicated that “polyphenols may delay or even halt the progression of type 2 diabetes.”

Sugar is the enemy for diabetics, and while berries contain fructose, this natural sugar doesn’t need insulin to be metabolised. As such, berries are ideal for a diabetic diet.

2. To reduce blood pressure, improve heart health


Fibre and antioxidants are considered cornerstone nutrients for the heart. So it’s really no surprise that berries are recommended for those keen to preserve the health of their most important organ.

In studies, berries have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, lower oxidative stress (thereby cutting risk of heart disease) and improve arterial function.

In a study published in 2013 but conducted over an 18-year-period,  women who ate the fewest blueberries and strawberries were shown to be at an elevated risk of heart attack.

By comparison, women who ate the most were 34% less likely to suffer from one as those who ate the least.

This particular study revealed a threshold effect: in other words, you have to eat a minimum amount to receive the cardiovascular benefits. That threshold appears to be three or more 1/2 cup servings every week.

A word of warning, though: people who use blood-thinners like warfarin should consult with their doctor prior to upping their consumption of blueberries: the high vitamin K content can affect the ability of blood to clot.

3. To tackle gout


Gout is a condition caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood, which gives rise to symptoms such as stiff, painful joints. It is known particularly to afflict the hands, wrists, knees, ankles and elbows.

One of the great things about berries is that they reduce uric acid levels in the body, thereby alleviating gout symptoms and improving general health.

This is due to the high vitamin C content as well as the assorted antioxidants and phenolic compounds therein.

Extracts of barberry and raspberry have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects while in animal models, cherry and mulberry extracts have proven effective at treating arthritis inflammation.

Should berries be considered a lone treatment for gout or any other form of arthritis? No. But they can be useful if used alongside other natural arthritis remedies.

4. To pass on the benefits (berries during pregnancy)

Not for nothing are berries regarded as a must-eat food during pregnancy. It’s largely down to the vitamin C, fibre, potassium and folate (vitamin B9) content, all of which are important nutrients to pass on to your offspring.

Folate is especially crucial as it can help to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Berries also contain plenty of water, so they are a great hydration aid. During pregnancy, there is a greater hydration need, as water is required to form amniotic fluid, generate additional blood volume, build new tissue, transport nutrients, ease indigestion and eliminate toxins.

Funnily enough, many pregnant women report experiencing berry cravings. We’d like to say this shows the body is asking for what it needs; but ice cream and chocolate cravings are also all too common!

5. To improve skin health and hair growth


Due largely to their antioxidant content, berries are considered one of the best foods to eat to improve complexion.

This makes perfect sense when you consider that free radicals are one of the worst offenders in the ageing process and consequent skin damage.

Collagen is another famously skin-supportive nutrient, and because it depends on vitamin C, berries in turn support the production of collagen.

Thus, their effect on skin health is twofold. Actually threefold when you factor in hydration.

Berries have a long history of traditional use, and Native Americans in particular used berries for wounds due to their anti-microbial properties.

Studies performed by North Carolina State University show that berry compounds can help speed up the process of wound healing.

Because hair follicles are just as vulnerable to damage from free radicals, berries are also considered beneficial for hair: not only to prevent it from becoming brittle and breaking but also promoting hair growth.

What’s more, it’s believed berries promote blood circulation on the scalp.

Conclusion

Hopefully we have demonstrated that berries are incredibly healthful. And here’s another thing: they’re also extremely adaptable.

Think about it: you can have berry compote, berry coulis, berry mousse or just scatter a handful of your favourite berries over yogurts, granolas or salads. You can also blend berries into your favourite fruit or vegetable juice, smoothie or protein shake to up the antioxidant content. Oh, and there’s berry cheesecake, muffin, pancakes and pie, providing you can keep the sugar low – or not if you’re after a treat.

There are even berry supplements. Our favourite is Immun7 Premium, a unique polyphenol concentrate made from 7 superfruits - black cherries, black grapes, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries, plum and elderberries

A true superfood, it’s about time we started giving berries the appreciation they deserve. Tell your friends!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

Read more
92 results