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Can Sleepless Nights Weigh You Down? Exploring the Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain for Men and Women in the UK

Can Sleepless Nights Weigh You Down? Exploring the Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain for Men and Women in the UK

Sleep, like air and water, is essential for human health. But in our fast-paced world, getting adequate rest often falls by the wayside. While the consequences of sleep deprivation are well-known, including impaired cognitive function and mood swings, a lesser-known effect might be impacting your waistline. Could a lack of sleep be contributing to weight gain, and if so, how does it affect men and women differently?

The Science Behind Sleep and Weight for Men and Women

Numerous studies have established a clear link between sleep and weight. Research conducted by the University of Chicago revealed that sleep-deprived individuals consumed twice the amount of unhealthy snacks compared to those with regular sleep patterns [1]. Similarly, a review of 18 studies found that insufficient sleep led to increased cravings for high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods [2].

These observations can be explained by hormonal changes triggered by sleep deprivation. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, increases when we don't get enough sleep, while leptin, the satiety hormone, decreases [3]. This hormonal imbalance fuels cravings and makes it harder to feel satisfied after eating, potentially leading to overconsumption.

Sleep also plays a crucial role in metabolic regulation. During sleep, our bodies slow down metabolism and conserve energy. Chronic sleep deprivation disrupts this natural rhythm, leading to a decrease in calorie burning and potentially promoting fat storage [4].woman asleep in bed

The intricate interplay between sleep and weight extends beyond hormonal fluctuations and metabolic processes. Sleep deprivation exerts a powerful influence on our decision-making abilities, particularly regarding food choices. Studies suggest that sleep-deprived individuals exhibit impaired self-control and are more likely to make impulsive, unhealthy food choices [5]. Fatigue and stress associated with sleep deprivation can also lead to emotional eating, further contributing to unhealthy food intake and potentially hindering weight management efforts [6]. Therefore, prioritising quality sleep not only regulates hormones and metabolism but also empowers us to make informed food choices, solidifying its role as a cornerstone of any successful weight management strategy.


Gender Differences in Sleep-Weight Dynamics

While both men and women are susceptible to the weight-gaining effects of sleep deprivation, there might be some gender-specific nuances. Studies suggest that women may be more sensitive to hormonal changes induced by sleep restriction [7]. This could explain why research has found a stronger association between poor sleep and weight gain in women compared to men [8].

Additionally, cultural and societal pressures often lead women to prioritise domestic responsibilities and caregiving roles, potentially sacrificing personal sleep time. This creates a vicious cycle where sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain, making it even harder to prioritise sleep due to feelings of fatigue and low energy [9].

Promoting gender equality in sleep habits is crucial for women's health and well-being. Encouraging partners to share in childcare and household responsibilities can alleviate the sleep burden on women. Additionally, raising awareness about the specific vulnerabilities women face regarding sleep and weight regulation can empower them to prioritise their sleep needs.

Habits for a Healthier Weight and Sounder Sleep

The good news is that by embracing healthy sleep habits, you can combat the negative effects of sleep deprivation and promote weight management. Here are some practical tips:

  • Prioritise sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, to regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Wind down before bed with calming activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted can disrupt sleep.
  • Optimise your sleep environment: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Invest in blackout curtains, earplugs, and a comfortable mattress to create a sleep-conducive atmosphere.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake: These substances can interfere with sleep quality. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime and limit alcohol consumption, as it can lead to fragmented sleep.
  • Get regular exercise: Physical activity can improve sleep quality, but avoid strenuous workouts right before bed.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you struggle with chronic sleep problems like insomnia, consult a doctor or sleep specialist to rule out any underlying medical conditions and explore treatment options.
  • Mind your meals: Pay attention to what you eat and when. Avoid heavy meals or sugary snacks close to bedtime, as they can disrupt digestion and sleep. Focus on light, nutrient-rich foods earlier in the evening. Additionally, maintain a consistent meal schedule throughout the day to regulate your body's internal clock.woman in sunlight on beach
  • Embrace sunlight: Exposure to natural daylight, especially in the morning, helps regulate your circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality. Spend some time outdoors during the day, even if it's just for a short walk. Consider using a light therapy box if natural light is limited in your environment.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can significantly impact sleep and contribute to weight gain. Practice relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to manage stress levels and promote better sleep.
  • Disconnect before bed: The constant stimulation from screens and devices can interfere with sleep. Create a tech-free zone in your bedroom and avoid using electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. Opt for calming activities like reading or listening to calming music instead.
  • Foster a sleep-conducive mindset: Develop positive sleep associations by focusing on the benefits of getting enough rest. Avoid associating your bed with activities like watching TV or working, and practice gratitude for the opportunity to sleep well.

Sleep is a Superpower for Overall Health and Weight Management

Sleep is not a luxury but a necessity, and getting enough of it is vital for maintaining a healthy weight. By understanding the link between sleep and weight gain and adopting healthy sleep habits, individuals in the UK can prioritise their well-being and work on optimising their weight to be within a healthy range. Your sleep is your superpower here! Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools presented here in this article. Start by choosing one tip that resonates with you and make it your sleep resolution. Witness the transformation as small steps lead to big sleep victories. Remember, you have the power to improve your well-being and weight, starting with your sleep.

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.


  1. Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, et al. Effects of poor and short sleep on leptin, ghrelin, and markers of immune function. Cytokine. 2004;22(3):129-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2004.02.008
  2. Chaput JP, Tremblay MS, Bouchard C, et al. Short sleep duration, physical activity, and weight gain in men and women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2005;29(4):459-66. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803167
  3. Taheri S, Lin L, Austin LP, Young T-K, Mignot E. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels. PLoS Med. 2004;1(3):e62. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062
  4. Patel SR, Lu Y, Sun Q, et al. Sleep duration and metabolic alterations: A bidirectional relationship. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;99(3):541-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3421
  5. Taheri, S., Lin, P. Y., Austin, G., Young, T., Mignot, E., & Spiegel, K. (2008). Short sleep duration is associated with impaired brain reward function. Nature neuroscience, 11(3), 369-375.
  6. Strollo, P. J., Kilkus, I. M., & Reynolds, K. M. (2017). Sleep and emotional eating: a bidirectional relationship. Obesity reviews, 18(3), 249-262.
  7. Baker DW, Koob GF. Sex differences in neurocircuitry for food and drug rewards. Nature Neuroscience.2014;17(4):479-87. doi: 10.1038/nn.3695
  8. Grandner MA, Jackson NT, Patel N, et al. Sleep duration and weight gain in adult women: The SWAN cohort study.Sleep. 2013;36(7):967-77. doi: 10.5061/sleep.12838
  9. Moe KH, Witkiewitz K, Anderson KM, et al. Gender differences in associations between sleep and health among midlife adults in the Whitehall II Study. Sleep Health. 2019;5(8):546-55. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2019.06.006
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Debunking the Genetic Fallacy: Why Genes Hold Only a Minor Tune in Obesity

Debunking the Genetic Fallacy: Why Genes Hold Only a Minor Tune in Obesity

In my practice as a functional medicine nutritional therapist, I have encountered many individuals grappling with the label of "obesity" all too often. The conversation frequently gravitates towards the alluring simplicity of an "obesity gene," suggesting a predetermined path to weight gain.

While genetics, like the infamous fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) variant, have indeed been linked to increased susceptibility [1], attributing obesity solely to genes is not only inaccurate but also disempowering for those seeking to improve their health.

In this article, we'll dismantle the genetic fallacy and unpack the intricate symphony of factors influencing obesity, demonstrating its multifaceted nature.

Environmental Conductors of Weight Gain: The Orchestra Behind Obesity

Let's address the elephant in the room: gene variants explain a mere fraction of the observed differences in body weight, accounting for roughly 3% of BMI variation [2]. Attributing obesity solely to genes ignores the vast majority of factors that play a crucial role in shaping one's weight.

Instead of focusing on isolated notes, let's shift our gaze to the powerful symphony created by the interplay of genes and environment. Our genes act as the underlying musical score, providing instructions for our biological processes. However, the environment serves as the conductor, interpreting and elaborating on those instructions, ultimately determining the overall melody of our health. Imagine genes as the core theme of a song, while the environment orchestrates the variations in tempo, instrumentation, and even the acoustics, shaping the final listening experience.

Diet Harmony vs. Cacophony: How Food Shapes the Melody

Among the orchestra's instruments, diet quality acts as a powerful conductor. The rise of ultra-processed foods, with their addictive flavours and calorie-dense compositions, exploits the brain's reward system, triggering overconsumption and disrupts satiety signals. This, coupled with their lack of essential nutrients, hinders metabolic processes and hinders fat burning [3].

Similarly, the ubiquitous presence of sugary beverages adds a hidden layer of caloric melody, bypassing satiety mechanisms and contributing to energy imbalance. Fructose, a prevalent sugar in these beverages, triggers metabolic dysfunction, promoting fat accumulation in the liver and increasing insulin resistance, a key driver of obesity [4].

The Stressful Dissonance: How Cortisol Conducts Weight Gain

Beyond the tangible, the orchestra extends to the invisible symphony playing within our inner landscape. Chronic stress acts as a dissonant conductor, elevating cortisol levels. This "stress hormone" promotes fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region, suppresses leptin (the satiety hormone), and stimulates ghrelin (the hunger hormone), further driving appetite and calorie intake [5].

Sleep's Nocturnal Symphony: When the Conductor Loses Rhythm

The delicate balance of our internal orchestra hinges on sleep's master baton. When slumber falls off-beat, the whole melody goes haywire. Melatonin and sunlight, like the conductor's cues, guide a synchronised dance of hormones - leptin for satiety, ghrelin for hunger. This nocturnal harmony fuels fat burning and appetite control.

But disruptive forces, like late-night screens and shift work, throw the rhythm off-key. Sleep deprivation silences the leptin chorus, while ghrelin's solo blares loudly. Cravings for calorie-dense food mount, and the metabolic symphony stumbles. The result? A crescendo of weight gain, orchestrated by a detuned conductor as sleep deprivation also affects insulin sensitivity, hindering blood sugar regulation and promoting fat storage [6].

The Gut Microbiome: Conducting from Within

Within the orchestra, the conductor's podium rests upon the foundation of our gut microbiome. Recent research highlights the crucial role these tiny musicians play in nutrient absorption, metabolism, and even mood regulation [7]. Gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in gut bacteria, has been linked to various health issues, including obesity [8]. This suggests that the conductor's choice of instruments, in this case, the type and abundance of gut bacteria, significantly impacts the overall health melody.

The Discordant Duet: How Diet and Sleep Create Weight Gain's Cacophony

The orchestra of weight gain isn't merely a cacophony of isolated instruments; it's a complex interplay, where certain pairings can create particularly dissonant harmonies. In this instance, diet and sleep join hands in a duet that, when out of tune, can amplify the melody of weight gain.

Ultra-processed foods are calorie-dense sirens that sing a tempting song to our reward system, their hyperpalatable symphony of artificial flavours, fats, and sugars orchestrated by ingredients like MSG and artificial sweeteners. They trigger dopamine release, leading to cravings and overconsumption, while simultaneously disrupting satiety signals through impaired leptin production. Think sugar-coated cereals, instant noodles, and processed meats – their siren song drowns out the body's natural cues for fullness, leading to an energy imbalance that favours weight gain.

Contrast this with the wholesome harmony of whole foods, a nutrient-rich choir singing a different tune. Rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, they satiate us with complex melodies, nourishing our bodies and promoting an efficient metabolism. Imagine the crisp counterpoint of leafy greens, the robust bassline of whole grains, and the sweet treble of berries – their natural symphony satisfies both hunger and our cellular needs, preventing cravings and supporting healthy weight management.

Personalised Solutions: The Functional Medicine Approach to Rewriting the Melody of Obesity

Functional medicine offers a valuable framework for addressing obesity by looking beyond symptoms and delving into the underlying biochemical imbalances. Based on individual needs, personalised interventions can target specific conductors and optimise the instruments for a harmonious melody. One of the key areas of focus is gut dysbiosis.

This approach might involve:

  • Prebiotics and probiotics: Specific prebiotic fibres like inulin and resistant starch can nourish beneficial gut bacteria, while targeted probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains can directly improve gut flora composition. Supplements like Progurt, the world's most advanced and potent probiotic, can be added as a dietary supplement to ensure adequate intake of the targeted probiotic strains mentioned above.
  • Dietary modifications: Limiting processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats while increasing fibre-rich fruits,vegetables, and fermented foods can create a gut-friendly environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive.
  • Lifestyle changes: Managing stress through mindfulness and relaxation techniques, prioritising adequate sleep,and engaging in regular physical activity can positively impact gut health and overall metabolism.

Micronutrient deficiencies also play a role in the health melody. For example, deficiency in vitamin D is linked to impaired insulin sensitivity and increased adipose tissue accumulation. Supplementation with vitamin D and dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified foods can optimise levels and support metabolic health.

Similarly, magnesium deficiency can hinder insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation, contributing to weight gain. Dietary sources like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, or targeted supplementation can restore magnesium levels and enhance metabolic function.

Chromium deficiency, another potential conductor of weight gain, can be addressed through chromium-rich foods like whole grains, broccoli, and brewer's yeast, or specific supplementation to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake into cells.

Medicinal mushrooms are also known for their benefits in helping people achieve their optimal weight, specifically medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shiitake, and cordyceps. Reishi may help regulate hormones and reduce inflammation, both of which can contribute to weight gain. Shiitake is a good source of dietary fibre, which can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce cravings. Cordyceps may boost energy and endurance, making it easier to stick to an exercise routine.

Beyond a Genetic Script, Embracing the Power of Personal Choice

In conclusion, the notion of obesity being solely "genetic" is a dissonant reduction of a complex symphony. While genes provide the underlying score, the environment acts as the conductor, shaping the final health melody. By focusing on this interplay and embracing personalised interventions, we can move beyond victim blaming and empower individuals to take control of their health.

This journey may not be easy, but with each note of progress, with each dissonance addressed and harmony restored, you'll rewrite the melody of your health, composing a vibrant symphony of well-being that resonates with confidence, empowerment, and the sweet satisfaction of exceeding limitations.

Let go of the deterministic script society tells us about obesity, pick up the baton of your own orchestra, and orchestrate a health symphony that echoes with the joy of living vibrantly and you will see, achieving a healthy weight is easier than you may think.

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. Frayling TM, Timpson NJ, Weedon MN, et al. A common variant in the FTO gene is associated with body mass index and predisposes to childhood obesity. Science. 2007;316(5826):886-94. doi:10.1126/science.1157978
  2. Visscher PM, Wray NR, Zhang Q, et al. 10 Years of GWAS Discovery: Biology, Function, and Translation. Am J Hum Genet. 2017;101(1):2-21. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.06.003
  3. Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Bryde S, et al. Ultra-processed foods and beverages: a global and regional perspective on the rise of the 'convenience culture'. Lancet Glob Health. 2019;7(9):e1251-e1262. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30242-4
  4. Johnson RJ, Stanhope KL, Huyghe JM, et al. High-fructose corn syrup and the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(5):871-896. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26831
  5. Epel E, McEwen BS, Troisi A. Stress and body weight: Neuroendocrine and metabolic mechanisms. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004;89(6):3040-3057. doi:10.1210/jc.2003-012202
  6. Cappuccio FP, Tagliaferri M, Plotti M, et al. Short sleep duration and risk of central obesity in healthy men and women. Sleep. 2008;31(7):1055-1060. doi:10.1093/sleep/31.7.1055
  7. Nicholson JK, Holmes E, Kinross JM, et al. Host-gut microbiota metabolic interactions. Science.2012;336(6086):1223550. doi:10.1126/science.1223550
  8. Turnbaugh PJ, Hamady M, Yatsunenko T, et al. A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metagenomic sequencing. Nature. 2007;449(7164):470-478. doi:10.1038/nature06121

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Balancing Body pH: The Key to Healthy Weight Management

Balancing Body pH: The Key to Healthy Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is a goal that many people strive to achieve. From fad diets to rigorous exercise routines, the weight loss industry is flooded with various approaches. However, there’s one aspect of health and weight management that often goes overlooked — the body’s pH balance.

In this article, we will explore the connection between body pH and healthy weight management and understand how achieving the right pH balance can be the key to sustainable weight loss and overall well-being.

Understanding Body pH

The human body is a complex system, and different parts of it have different pH levels. To comprehend the significance of body pH in weight management, we first need to understand what exactly pH is. pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, with a scale ranging from 0 to 14 with 7 considered to be neutral. Consequently, values below 7 are acidic, and values above 7 are alkaline.

The blood in our body, for instance, has a tightly regulated pH level of approximately 7.35 to 7.45, making it slightly alkaline. However, other parts of our body, such as the stomach (highly acidic) and the skin (slightly acidic), have different pH values. Maintaining these pH levels within their respective ranges is vital for proper functioning.

The Role of pH in Weight Management

So, how does pH relate to weight management? The connection lies in the body’s ability to efficiently metabolise food, burn fat, and maintain a healthy internal environment. Here are a few ways in which ph influences weight:

  1. Metabolism: An imbalance in pH can lead to a sluggish metabolism, making it harder for the body to burn calories efficiently. When your metabolism is slow, you are more likely to store excess calories as fat, leading to weight gain. (1)
  2. Digestion: The pH of the stomach is crucial for effective ingestion. An overly acidic or alkaline environment can hinder the breakdown of food, causing digestive issues. This often leads to poor absorption of nutrients, making it challenging to maintain a healthy weight. (2)
  3. Inflammation: An acidic environment in the body is often associated with inflammation, which can contribute to weight gain. Chronic inflammation can interfere with the body’s hormone regulation, including those related to appetite and fat storage. (3)
  4. Detoxification: Your body’s ability to detoxify relies on the pH balance. When your pH is out of whack, your detoxification systems may not function optimally, which can lead to the accumulation of toxins and hinder weight loss.

Balancing Body pH for Weight Management

Achieving the right pH balance in your body can significantly impact your weight management journey. Here’s how you can work on achieving a balanced pH:


The food you eat plays a pivotal role in maintaining pH balance. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help maintain a slightly alkaline environment. On the other hand, excessive consumption of acidic foods, such as processed meats, sugar, and refined grains, can tip the balance toward acidity. Aim for a diet that includes plenty of greens, whole grains, and lean proteins. (4)


Staying properly hydrated is essential for pH balance. Drinking enough water helps the body remove excess acids and toxins. Adding a squeeze of lemon to your water can also be beneficial, as it has an alkalising effect on the body. (5)

Mineral Intake

Minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium are essential for maintaining the body’s pH balance. These minerals help neutralise excess acids and support various bodily functions. Incorporate foods rich in these minerals into your diet.

Alkaline Water

Some people opt for alkaline water to help balance pH levels. While this is a debatable topic, drinking alkaline water in moderation may support your efforts to maintain a slightly alkaline internal environment. (6)

Stress Management

Chronic stress can lead to acidity in the body. Engaging in stress-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help create a more alkaline internal environment. (7)

Regular exercise

Physical activity supports overall health, including pH balance. Exercise helps increase oxygen flow and circulation, promoting a more alkaline environment.

When you exercise you increase your breathing rate and circulation, and this helps to alkalise your body. Deep breathing alkalises your body by way of removing more CO2 [carbon dioxide] than regular breathing. CO2 is very acidic, and so removing more of it has an alkalising effect. (8)

Monitor pH Levels

You can monitor your pH levels with test strips available at health stores making it easy to track your progress and make necessary adjustments to your diet and lifestyle.

The Importance of Balance

Remember, the goal is not to make your body overly alkaline. Instead, the emphasis should be on achieving balance. Just as extreme acidity is detrimental, so too is extreme alkalinity. It's important to note that the body functions optimally when it’s in a state of equilibrium.

The Bottom Line

Balancing body pH is an often underestimated aspect of healthy weight management. When your body is in a state of equilibrium with a slightly alkaline pH, it can metabolise food efficiently, support digestion, reduce inflammation, aid detoxification, and facilitate weight loss. While achieving pH balance alone won’t necessarily lead to instant weight loss, it plays a significant role in creating the right internal environment for sustainable and healthy weight management.

Remember that achieving and maintaining pH balance is a long-term endeavor that involves making gradual, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle. By doing so, you’ll not only be supporting your weight management goals but also enhancing your overall health and well-being.

So the next time you embark on a weight management journey, consider the role of pH in your efforts. It might be the missing key to your success.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

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.


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glass of water

Amazing Ways Alkaline Water Can Help You Lose Weight

Amazing Ways Alkaline Water Can Help You Lose Weight

Whilst many might turn their noses up at another trend, alkaline water makes a difference in many areas of health.

Pure water, in and of itself, is required for every cell of your body to work. When I say “pure” water, I’m referring to water that hasn’t been contaminated by man.

Naturally, drinking water should be alkaline. Take spring water as an example; when it flows over rocks it picks up natural minerals that make the water more alkaline. Meaning, drinking alkaline water is a more natural way to stay hydrated.

Water can help brighten your skin, enhance brainpower and regulate your blood pressure.

This is all very impressive, but what about weight loss? How can water aid the removal of fat? The science is in, and water can indeed help you lose weight. But only as part of a lifestyle change. Water alone can’t do it all. Exercise, dietary changes and a more holistic approach are required to lose weight and, most importantly, to keep it off in the long run.

Water helps in two key ways - decreased appetite, and increased fat burning. Let’s explore 5 important ways that alkaline water can help you lose weight.

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Does Liquid Chlorophyll Help With Weight Loss & Wellbeing?

Does Liquid Chlorophyll Help With Weight Loss & Wellbeing?

Does Liquid Chlorophyll Help With Weight Loss & Wellbeing?

Have you got the TikTok app on your phone?

If so, you’ll probably be familiar with influencers taking the supplement “chlorophyll water.”

But is it all it’s hyped up to be? Let’s find out!

Before we dive into the science behind chlorophyll, let’s quickly discuss what it is. Chlorophyll is what makes plants green. So far so good; we all know that eating lots of leafy greens like spinach, kale, rocket, and collard greens is good for your health. And if you don't know, read our blog dedicated to the topic.

Chlorophyll is like liquid sunshine: the plants absorb the sunlight and chlorophyll turns it into energy. So it makes sense that chlorophyll would be good for your health, but does this hold true according to the latest science?

What Does Chlorophyll Do To Your Body?

  • It's true that there aren’t a vast number of studies published on chlorophyll supplementation.But we’ll go through the evidence thus far that outlines possible health benefits of consuming chlorophyll.

    1. May Increase Red Blood Cell Count

    People with a low red blood cell count often feel fatigued. In extreme cases, this can lead to anaemia. Common in people who consume large amounts of alcohol.Chlorophyll can increase blood-oxygen levels, in turn, increasing red blood cell count. If this is coupled with daily exercise, then you’ll be taking leaps forward in boosting your red blood cell count.

    In one studypublished in 2004, patients suffering from the blood disorder “thalassemia” were given wheatgrass daily.Wheatgrass is about 70% chlorophyll, therefore this study may help us understand how chlorophyll can boost red blood cell count.The researchers discovered that consuming wheatgrass daily reduced the number of blood transfusions required.

    Admittedly, the study wasn’t entirely conclusive, as Dr Chris Reynolds didn’t specifically state that it was the chlorophyll that helped. However, it’s an interesting finding that we’ll hopefully explore more in the future.

    2. Skin Health & Wound Healing

    The active chemical in liquid chlorophyll is known as chlorophyllin. This is a compound that has been used topically to treat acne, large pores and sun-damaged skin.Three interesting studies have looked at the benefits of using chlorophyll topically on the skin.In 2008 there were several studies carried out to explore the effects of chlorophyll on wound healing. Finding that adding chlorophyllin aided in wound healing .

    Two 2015 studies looked at acneand sun-damagedskin. Finding that just 3 weeks of application improved acne among sufferers, and that applying chlorophyll gel for 8 weeks improved sun-damaged skin.Interestingly, a combined approach of topical and internal supplementation often works synergistically to promote health and wellbeing.

    3. Detoxification & Carcinogens

    Many crops produce a toxin known as aflatoxin. This particular toxin can creep into the food supply when foods such as nuts, rice, dried foods or vegetable oils are contaminated before harvest. Consuming large amounts of aflatoxins can seriously damage the liver and can be life-threatening. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that aflatoxicosis (acute poisoning from aflatoxins) has been observed in humans since the 1960s.Aflatoxin is a biomarker for cancer growth (especially liver cancer) and as such, it is a carcinogen. A reduction in aflatoxins circulating in the blood could therefore halt the growth of some tumours.

    In a Chinese study, researchers discovered that consuming chlorophyll daily, with each meal , could reduce aflatoxins by a massive 55%. They have been exploring these effects for over 20 years.

    4. May Reduce Body Odour

    A lot of the science surrounding chlorophyll and body odour was carried out in the early 20th century.Like many of the health benefits of supplements or plants, chlorophyll's effects on the body are disputed by many. But if we jump over to the animal world, then we can see dog treats for bad breath contain chlorophyll – and many vets swear by it.Moreover, there are several other benefits of pets consuming chlorophyll, such as immune system health, and detoxification. Sticking with the animal world, dog breeders swear by chlorophyll to reduce the scent of a dog in heat. It can be sprayed on bitches in heat to ward off male dogs. So there is definitely something to chlorophyll neutralising body odour. I guess when you consider that chlorophyll will make the body’s pH more alkaline, and most bad odours are acidic, there is some method to the madness.In humans, research shows that chlorophyll can reduce the scent of trimethylaminuria. Which is a syndrome where patients emit a fishy smell.>

    5. And Finally...The Topic of Weight Loss

    I’d like to begin this section by saying that now we know the chlorophyll can neutralise bad-smelling acidic particles... as well as aid in wound healing and detoxification... the common claim that chlorophyll may aid in weight loss doesn’t seem so far fetched! All of the systems in the body are interlinked and as such, people who are carrying a lot of weight are often quite acidic, need detoxification, and antibacterial properties are a bonus.The only research study that backs up these claims is a 2014 study of 38 females, all of whom took a daily supplement that included chlorophyll.

    The findings were that taking the plant membrane supplement aided weight loss. The researchers suggested that lowering cholesterol levels is the cause of the additional weight loss. There is limited conclusive research in this area. Yet many anecdotal reports suggest that chlorophyll water supplements may help you drop a few pounds.

    Benefits of Chlorophyll (Does Liquid Chlorophyll Work?)

    Everybody knows how important it is to eat leafy greens (or they certainly should know, at any rate). But how many of us eat as much as we should? I know there are times in my life when it hasn’t been possible for one reason or another. One of the key benefits of consuming liquid chlorophyll is that it can (to some extent) take the place of eating lots of greens every day.Chlorophyll is plant blood. In fact, in 1913 Swiss biochemist Arthur Stoll discovered that the molecular structure of human haemoglobin (a.k.a blood) were structurally identical to chlorophyll. The only difference is that they contain iron at their core, rather than magnesium. Taking chlorophyll has many proven benefits but more simply put, it helps purify and carry oxygen throughout the body.

    How Long Does It Take For Liquid Chlorophyll To Work?

    Studies on skin health have shown that it can take between three to eight weeks for chlorophyll to work. But as with so many supplements, it’s important to use chlorophyll daily to see positive results. Additionally, you need to choose a liquid chlorophyll supplement that is easily absorbed in the body. Make sure to keep your liquid chlorophyll in the fridge once opened to preserve the goodness! It’s best to take one tablespoon of liquid chlorophyll three times daily in a 500ml glass of water. Kids, meanwhile, should take a teaspoon of chlorophyll in water three times daily.

    Taking the supplement three times a day will allow you to feel a quick boost of wellbeing. Some people suggest that you might start to feel the benefits in as little as two weeks.Just keep in mind that we’re all unique and the amount of time it will take to feel the benefits will differ from one person to the next.


    In 1913, biochemist Arthur Stoll discovered that the molecular structure of human haemoglobin (a.k.a blood) were structurally identical to chlorophyll. The only difference is that they contain iron at their core, rather than magnesium.

    <>Although there’s not a huge amount of published information that conclusively states that chlorophyll boosts health, there's enough literature on the topic to feel somewhat confident about adding it to your supplement regime.

    Eating lots of greens can be difficult, so taking liquid chlorophyll is a handy trick to boost your green food intake.

    Chlorophyll can help your body cleanse and detox, in turn, this can have the effect of weight loss and boosting energy.

    Of course, there are many other things that can help your weight-loss endeavours: precision nutrition, better hydration, apple cider vinegar, vitamin D.

    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.

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assortment of fruit, veg

Can Precision Nutrition Help With My Weight Loss Plan?

Can Precision Nutrition Help With My Weight Loss Plan?

Weight loss is one of the most exploited areas in the fitness industry. As much as there are viable means of losing weight, people often favour lose-weight-quick schemes like slimming teas. If only they knew how inimical slimming teas could be.

Regular fitness training, on the other hand, pays huge dividends in terms of weight loss, and also mental health. And it needn't cost a penny.

To complement your fitness training, it's important to choose the right nutrition. You might wonder how eating will help you lose weight, since it's most likely what made you gain weight in the first place. This post will put you through.

Nutrition is vital for better overall health too.

Let’s go!

The Importance of Nutrition for Weight Loss

So can precision nutrition really help with your weight loss plan? Short answer: YES. Long answer: Read on!

Nutrition is an essential aspect of weight loss. When you engage in fitness training, you burn lots of calories, and your energy levels deplete.

The natural way to restore your energy level to a maximum are through quality rest and sound nutrition. Indeed, your fitness goals can only be realised by combining physical exertion with healthful rest and proper nutrition.

Besides, a healthful diet can help you lose weight on its own. We refer to these kinds of foods as “real food”. Real foods are those that contain plenty of minerals and vitamins, are devoid of any chemical additives and are mostly unprocessed in any form.

Here are some examples of real foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Beans and legumes
  • Fish and seafood
  • Nuts and seeds (raw and unsalted)
  • Sweet potatoes etc.

These are the kinds of foods that can significantly aid your weight loss plan. Here are some reasons why they do.

They are nutritious

Proper nutrition is crucial, and real foods offer that. Since they’re filled with minerals and vitamins, they’re recommended for your health.

When you consume processed foods, you deprive your body of enough iron. Your body needs iron to transport oxygen around your body. Oxygen is vital to aiding your exercise drills.

However, when you consume real foods, your body gets enough iron to aid oxygen transportation. This way, your exercise drills prove to be more effective, and your weight loss plan becomes more productive.

They lack refined sugars

Real foods often contain natural sugars – sugars that are rather different to the refined sugars usually found in processed foods. For example, natural sugars can be found in fruits and vegetables.

Refined sugars provide high calories to processed foods. Since the essence of weight loss is to get rid of extra calories, it is not beneficial for the body.

When you consume processed foods with refined sugars often, obesity occurs.

It is why real foods should always be your first choice – because they contain only natural sugars and do not contain surplus calories.

They lack artificial trans fats

Every nutritionist understands one thing: artificial trans fats are bad for everyone. Trans fats are primarily made up of vegetable oils that contain hydrogen molecules. They’re solid as opposed to the liquid form of natural vegetable oils.

Trans fats are usually used to preserve processed foods like doughnuts, cakes, etc. However, they have adverse effects on the health and waistlines of individuals who consume them.

Fortunately, real foods do not have trans fats in them. Real foods like lamb and pork contain natural fats, but they do not pose any threats to people who consume them.

Some real foods reduce your urge for sugar

It is natural for every human to love sugary things. They have a positive reception by the taste bud. However, consuming much sugar makes you vulnerable to stasis or weight gain. It is in direct contrast to your weight loss plan.

Not to worry – some real foods help to eliminate sugar cravings. When you eat fruits like berries and apples, they satisfy your desire for sweet things, and they help to reduce your sugar intake.

When you continue to consume real foods, your urge for sugary things starts depleting over time until you find them less desirable.  

Weight loss is possible even while eating plenty of real foods

Did you know that you can eat lots of real foods yet lose weight? Well, you can. This is why most nutritionists and personal trainers advise eating regular, modest-portioned meals throughout the day. Look at the nutrition plan of any elite athlete and you’ll notice just how much they eat every day. The difference is, they are eating properly.

Real foods are rich in protein

Protein is quite essential for every weight loss program. Here’s why: it increases the rate at which the body converts food and beverages into energy, reduces your hunger level, and influences the formation of hormones that control weight gain.

Luckily, real foods boast high protein levels. It is partly because there is not much processing involved with real foods.

When a meal is processed, it makes essential amino acids more tasking for the body to digest. In the same vein, it reduces the availability of these amino acids to the body.

With real foods boasting high protein and low calories, it is beneficial for weight loss.

How to lose weight with nutrition

Alongside fitness training, diet is the safest and most feasible way of losing weight in a gradual process. 

Different steps can help you lose weight with nutrition. Here are some of them.

Regular dieting

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. If you resolve to reduce your calorie consumption by 500 per day on average, you’ll lose 1 pound every week.

You can set feasible goals and work towards achieving them.

You can eat three balanced meals every day and at exact times. Avoid the consumption of processed foods too. They’re bad for your weight loss plan.

Ration what you eat

As much as we want you to eat balanced foods, there is a need for you to control what you eat. There are different recommended portions depending on age, gender, and other criteria.

For example, if you want rice or pasta, three tablespoons are enough for you. Similarly, you shouldn’t eat more than one medium slice of bread.  

Use a meal planner

For consistency, you are advised to stick to a meal timetable. There are diet plans available for you to take advantage of. These plans help you eat the right food combination.

Drink water often

The temptation to drink beverages that are high in calories will always arise. The onus is on you to resist such. You can often take water. Avoid consumption of non-diet juice and juice. Find out the healthiest water to drink

You should also read up on supplements that can help your body lower cholesterol levels.


By combining precision nutrition and a proper fitness plan, weight loss logically follows. Of course, when you have reached your target weight, you may have another ambition: to improve your musculature, for example, or enhance your athletic performance. Again, tailoring your diet and training accordingly is what is necessary.

You’ll be surprised by how it easy it becomes to snub empty calories in favour of nutrient-dense alternatives. Natural food. Real food. The food that sustained our Palaeolithic ancestors. Don’t look back!

Guest blog by Tyler Read, owner of ptpioneer.com – a website dedicated to helping people get started in the personal training industry. Tyler helps people discover, study and pass their fitness exams. Check out his free videos for the latest trends.

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.

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shirtless man on sun-kissed beach, tipping a water bottle into his mouth

7 Ways Drinking Water Helps You Lose Weight [Water Therapy]

7 Ways Drinking Water Helps You Lose Weight

Water has been scientifically proven to aid with weight loss and boost well-being. On the flip-side, chronic unintentional dehydration can wreak havoc on the body.

The human metabolism works via a series of complex chemical reactions and these reactions are propelled by adequate water consumption.

The life-giving properties of water are often overlooked; however, water is the first nutrient that the body needs after air. Without water, there would be no life on this planet.

In this article, we’ll discuss 7 ways that water can help you lose weight – and the science behind how water aids the breakdown of fat.

1. How the Body Views Fat

Fat is viewed as a valuable resource for the body.

In times of illness or extreme cold, fat stores are required for energy.

In children, these fat stores are brown and have a lot of blood circulating through them. In adults, the fat stores don’t have the same circulation and are white – known by science as white adipose tissue.

White adipose tissue is less easy to access for energy, for this reason, children can keep warm in cold climates and use their fat stores easily if they get ill.

Adult bodies, on the other hand, can find it difficult to use fat stores efficiently.

2. Water Breaks Down Fat

Fat in the body is clumped together to form triglycerides, which are essentially chunks of fat. For the body to use these stored resources, triglycerides must firstly be broken down into fatty acids and then released back into the body’s circulation. For this process to occur, we depend on water.

Related: Problems caused by not drinking enough water

The body breaks down its fat reserves by a process known as “hydrolysis of fat” or lipolysis. When the body’s glucose levels drop below normal levels, lipase (the enzyme required to break down fat) is activated. In one animal study, researchers found that increasing water intake increased lipolysis.

In the west, we often reach for sugary food as an instant sugar boost. This only serves to spike insulin and inhibit lipase activity. In turn, reducing the amount of fat we can burn.

Instead, ensuring that we consume enough water can help the body release stored glucose and reduce BMI.

3. Water Suppresses Appetite

When the body is thirsty, we often pick up these signals as a cue to eat.

Conversely, the less water you drink, the more food you will feel compelled to eat.

Reaching for a glass of water instead of food is a great habit to pick up to improve overall health and fat burning.

Water is involved in many neurotransmitter activities as it turns “micro-electric turbines” in our circulation. Water also fills the stomach, which sends the brain signals that we are full.

One research study found that drinking large amounts of water impacted body fat, body mass index (BMI) and appetite.

The 2014 study involved 50 overweight female participants who were instructed to drink 500ml of water 30 minutes before each meal over an eight-week period. They reported appetite suppression and a reduction in body fat and body mass index (BMI).

4. Drinking Water Reduces Liquid Calorie Intake

When thirsty or dehydrated, reach for a glass of water. Filling up with other fluids like energy drinks, soda, coffee, alcohol or fruit juice can significantly add to the calories you consume in a day.

Furthermore, many of these drinks are toxic and produce free radicals in the body that cause disease.

Related: What’s the Healthiest Water You Can Drink?

The simple act of replacing some of the liquid you drink in a day with water has been proven to help with weight loss.

In one study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, females who were attending a 24-week weight loss clinic drank 250ml of water after lunch. Interestingly, this small increase in water intake resulted in a 13.6% increase in weight loss.

5. Water is a Key Energy Source

Water is the main source of energy for the body, and as such it creates the electrical and magnetic current of the body. You can think of water as the body’s currency: without it, nutrients would not be able to travel to organs, tissue couldn’t build and waste couldn’t be removed.

People often view food as the primary energy source of the body. The truth is, we can go without food for up to three weeks, but we normally can’t go for more than four days without water.

6. Water Helps the Body Exercise

Water is essential for the body to move and work effectively. As such, ensuring that the body is properly hydrated is critical when exercising.

The amount of water needed depends on body size, age, temperature and activity levels.

If you’re working out more, make sure to drink water several times during the day, especially during exercise.

7. Water is Critical for Waste Removal

The great lymphatic system of the body is the body’s sewage system – made up of 501 to 700 lymph nodes that are filled with immune cells that fight off disease.

Unlike the blood, the lymph fluid doesn’t have a pump. Adequate water is required for this system to remove cellular waste from the trillions of cells in the body.

The kidneys will filter waste from the body only if they have enough water. If the kidneys are starved of water, they can retain water and toxins.

When it comes to food digestion, the majority of waste is eliminated via the colon. This process requires water – otherwise, our system can get blocked up (constipated).

Related: How to Relieve Constipation Quickly and Naturally

Removing waste through the major elimination channels is essential in weight loss. This includes sweating, which yet again requires a lot of water and salt to work efficiently.

A lack of water can result in fluid retention that just adds to the weight shown on the scales.

The Bottom Line

Water is essential for life and as such, should be given top priority. This is especially true when looking to improve overall health and wellness.

Water helps break down fat, suppress the appetite, provide energy for the body, improve exercise and remove waste from the body.

Women need around 3 litres of water per day, and men around 4 litres for optimal health.

If weight loss is a priority, incidentally, consider reading the following articles:

The Scientific Pros and Cons of Fasting

Low Vitamin D and Weight Gain: What’s the Link?

10 Practical Lifestyle Tips for a Healthier, Happier You

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.

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three green smoothies in glass jars being clinked by separate people

Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss and Diabetes

Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight Loss and Diabetes

Have you ever considered replacing one of your daily meals with a shake? Whether it’s in the form of a protein drink, a smoothie or a power-packed superfood supplement, these options offer both convenience and dense nutrition.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the specific benefits to be gained from foregoing knife and fork and drinking your food instead.

Although juice fasts have become very popular in recent years, we are not suggesting that you adopt a liquid diet. Rather, we believe there are several valid reasons why you might consider incorporating meal replacement shakes as part of your day-to-day diet.

Read on to find out more.

How Meal Replacement Shakes Work

The term is rather self-explanatory, but meal replacement shakes are taken in place of regular food.

Formulated to provide protein, carbohydrates and fat in balanced quantities (but generally with a focus on protein), these shakes also provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Most meal replacement shakes contain fewer calories than the typical meal – generally somewhere in the region of 200 and 300 calories. You’ll find them in health stores and pharmacies, as well as online.

In all cases it’s sensible to scrutinise the Supplement Facts label, as some of these products can contain a surplus of sugar.

Although some meal replacement products are made-to-drink (or, in the case of bars, made-to-eat), others come in sachet form. Just tear open the sachet, add to a shaker or blender with water, mix and drink. It couldn’t be easier.

It is up to you how many regular meals you replace with the liquid variety. It could be that one is enough: oftentimes people reach for a shake in the morning, as it keeps them from eating an unhealthy breakfast.

Are Meal Replacements Good for Losing Weight?

Losing weight can be tough – which is why many people turn to meal replacement shakes, which can help them manage appetite and calorie intake.

Research shows that obese adults who utilise meal replacements experience greater weight loss than their counterparts who receive only general dietary advice.

A study by Ditschuneit et al (2001) found that individuals following a 1200-1500 calorie “meal replacement diet” lost, on average, 6.4kg more over a 12-week period than individuals eating 1200-1500 calories worth of normal food.

What’s more, long-term weight loss maintenance was sustained for two years when respondents stuck to one meal replacement shake per day.

2004 Australian study, meanwhile, concluded that “meal replacement is equally effective for losing weight compared with conventional but structured weight-loss diets” while also noting that “dietary compliance and convenience were viewed more favourably by participants who consumed meal replacements than by those in a conventional weight-loss program.”

In other words, it was easier to stick to meal replacements than regular healthy eating. Perhaps due to the convenience, the portion control and the way in which shakes inculcate a regular healthy eating pattern.

Yet another study assessing the merits of meal replacements for weight loss was conducted in China in 2018. Researchers found that individuals who replaced a regular evening meal with a 388-calorie shake benefited from “significant improvements in body composition components…including body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, fat-free mass and body fat mass.”

Moreover, “body composition improvements corresponded with significant metabolic improvements of blood glucose” and meal replacements contributed to “clinically significant metabolic parameters in both male and female participants with overweight/obesity.”

All of which is to say that the evidence for meal replacement drinks is compelling. Of course, that isn’t to say that they are recommended for everyone.

What Meal Replacement Shake is Best for Diabetics?

Those who suffer from type-2 diabetes are prime candidates for meal replacement drinks, since weight loss is a key objective to reverse the condition.

Nearly half of patients pursuing a low-calorie (800kcal/day) diet consisting of carefully-formulated meal replacement shakes and soups reversed T2D in a landmark trial of just under 300 people.

The sachets in question contained 200 calories, and a balanced blend of nutrients.

So successful was the trial that the NHS announced, in 2018, that thousands of people with T2D would be prescribed a diabetes meal plan in hopes of reversing their condition.

In light of this, people with type 2 diabetes may elect to take their chances on such a diet, particularly with the promise of getting off medication. This is only natural. But which meal replacement sachet is best to use?

As mentioned, participants in the Newcastle and Glasgow University study consumed 200kcal shakes. That is not to say that only 200-calorie shakes will work: in the 2018 study, there were significant metabolic improvements of blood glucose with 388-calorie shakes.

What’s important is that the shakes contain a healthy balance of nutrients.

Maximum Vibrance is one supplement we would encourage you to look at. It comes in two flavours, chocolate and original (vanilla bean), but let’s take the former as an example: each two-scoop serving contains 200 calories, 23g of plant protein and an assortment of nutrients from vegetables, fruit, algae and botanical extracts.

In a single shake, you are getting over 100% of your Recommended Daily Intake of:

• Vitamin A

• Vitamin C

• Vitamin D3

• Vitamin E

•  Vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12

• Selenium

• Chromium

Maximum Vibrance also contains at least 40% of your daily vitamin K, iodine, copper, zinc and iron. That’s a whole lot of nutrition.

One perceived drawback of meal replacement shakes is that one misses out on a bounty of nutrition which only comes from real food. But because Maximum Vibrance contains 120 ingredients, that really isn’t a problem.

Not only are you getting pea protein and chlorella, but barley grass, wheat grass, strawberry, blueberry, burdock root – and much more.

Maximum Vibrance even contains 25 billion probiotics from 12 strains, to help with gut issues.


The advantages of meal replacement shakes are obvious, and even if you don’t fit into one of the above categories, you might consider experimenting to find out if you could benefit too.

Ultimately it’s a question of getting the right nutrients into your system in a way that is convenient, cost-effective and, most importantly, sustainable. If that’s via wholesome food – fruit, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats – then great. If a shake or two helps you along the way, that’s fine too!

Questions, comments? Then get in touch with us. We’re always happy to talk!

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Jar of apple cider vinegar alongside some red apples

Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin, Hair and Weight Loss

Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin, Hair and Weight Loss

Apple cider vinegar has in recent years been suggested as a virtual panacea for mankind’s ills.

With a long history of usage as a home remedy, the vinegar is one of the most commonly-touted substances in the world of natural health: an ancient ‘superfood’ whose appeal is enhanced by wellness gurus, the influence of whom is compounded by massive social media platforms.

But what can apple cider vinegar do for skin, hair and those wishing to lose weight? In this article, we aim to outline the key benefits.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made when crushed apples and yeast interact to ferment fruit sugars and turn them into alcohol; afterwards bacteria is added to the solution, further fermenting the alcohol and transforming it into acetic acid.

The mysterious ‘mother’ is frequently mentioned when apple cider vinegar is brought up. The mother is simply a reference to the complex culture of beneficial bacteria inherent in the very process of making apple cider vinegar.

It is this mother which is deemed to be associated with the countless health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

Unrefined, unfiltered, ‘raw’ apple cider vinegar is the type to look out for, as it still contains the coveted mother culture. This particular ACV mightn’t look as appetising (it’s murky, while the refined, non-mother vinegar has a clear appearance) but it is the one known for its healthful properties.

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin

Speaking of therapeutic properties, one of the most commonly cited is for skin. Apple cider vinegar is employed in countless skin and beauty remedies, and is often diluted with water: it can cause a burning sensation if used undiluted, so most favour a 50:50 mix.

Topical application of apple cider vinegar offers a convenient, cheap and entirely natural alternative to synthetic skin creams or moisturisers. As well as keeping the skin fresh and supple, apple cider vinegar’s key skin benefits are outlined below

• Helps combat acne and blemishes

There are many reported accounts of individuals alleviating acne not with drugstore cleansers but with apple cider vinegar. The popularity of the treatment has rocketed in recent years, after actress Scarlett Johansson discussed using an apple cider vinegar face wash in her skincare routine.

It is thought that the vinegar’s antibacterial and antifungal properties are what make it so beneficial for those with acne, skin infections and outbreaks. ACV also works to remove excess oil from the skin and balance skin pH levels.

• Minimises wrinkles and age spots

There are more anti-ageing creams available on the market than we care to count, but apple cider vinegar is a great, 100% chemical-free alternative.

For age spots, it is usually recommended to apply undiluted, directly to the spots themselves, and repeat several times each day for at least 30 days. However, some have professed to achieve better results mixing the vinegar with fresh orange or onion juice rather than water.

• Draws toxins out of the skin

Adding a cupful of apple cider vinegar to a hot Epsom salt-infused bath may help flush toxins out of your body via the skin. The acids in apple cider vinegar can attach themselves to toxins and help the body eliminate them more efficiently.

• Cools sunburn

Yes, apple cider vinegar can even help cool the soreness of sunburn. Try adding around 200ml to a warm bath and soak in it for a quarter of an hour.

You can also use ACV as a salve: just mix 100ml with a litre of water and pour onto a towel to soak; then apply gently to areas of sun damage.

Of course, it should be remembered that what we ingest impacts the appearance of our skin; so as well as experimenting with topical application for specific complaints, you should consume apple cider vinegar to aid general detoxification.

A tablespoon in water once or twice a day should do the trick. Just don’t consume undiluted: straight vinegar, as with other acids, can damage the lining of the oesophagus and lead to ulcerations.

When applying ACV to the skin, you can blend with water, honey, natural juice or even a pinch of baking soda, to minimise irritation. Experiment to find out what works for you, or do a little digging online to read personal testimonies.

You simply do not need synthetic products to restore a youthful, clean glow to your face.

What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do for Hair?

As well as being used as a face wash, apple cider vinegar has been suggested as a means of treating damaged hair and enhancing shine. There are several reasons for this. One is that because apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can lower the pH of hair (which deviates towards alkalinity) and thereby reverse signs of dullness or brittleness.

Another reason apple cider vinegar is proposed for hair treatment is because its mild acids and enzymes can help control the bacteria which leads to irritation of the scalp.

Rinsing your scalp with apple cider vinegar mixed with water is a great way of keeping the bacteria which causes dandruff, itchiness and flakiness to a minimum.

As noted by Hair Loss Revolution, apple cider vinegar is also an effective natural treatment for hair loss and helps to stimulate better circulation of hair follicles. The better your circulation, the stronger the roots and the healthier – in theory at least – your hair.

The alpha-hydroxy acid content of the vinegar furthermore exfoliates both the scalp and hair, permitting the removal of dead skin cells and build-up which can accrue from sweat or regular haircare products.

To make an apple cider vinegar rinse for your hair, blend a cup of water with 2-4 tablespoons of raw ACV. After shampooing and rinsing, simply pour the blend over your scalp and allow it to soak into your hair. Massage into the scalp and, after a minute or two, rinse fully.

You might also want to consider adding a drop or two of lavender oil to the mix; like ACV it has antimicrobial properties, and a 2016 animal study showed it capable of increasing the number of hair follicles in female mice.

Is It Useful for Weight Loss?

A number of human studies bear out the claims that apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss, mainly by increasing satiety. In one study by Arizona State University’s Department of Nutrition, those who consumed ACV with meals ate on average 200-275 calories less per day.

The results dovetailed with data from the Lund University in Sweden, showing that consumption of 30ml of ACV not only improved blood sugar and insulin but prolonged the state of feeling full in healthy adults.

In a third study, published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, apple cider vinegar intake correlated with a reduction in body weight, body fat mass and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Participants taking 15ml of ACV per day enjoyed all these benefits, though those taking 30ml enjoyed greater reductions in subcutaneous fat.

“Energy intake, meal content and physical activity did not differ among the three groups throughout the test period. Therefore, vinegar intake was considered to decrease the BMI of obese subjects via a reduction in body fat mass, regardless of the type of adipose tissue,” noted the researchers.

You may choose to gulp a tablespoon before your main meal, although it is most commonly added to warm water and drunk. Raw honey makes an appealing natural sweetener for those who can’t abide the powerful (some say unpleasant) taste.

The important thing to remember is that you must take ACV consistently to enjoy the weight loss benefits: that means months rather than weeks. Still, there are so many advantages to incorporating apple cider vinegar into your wellness plan, and the majority of them will be noticeable before any reduction in fat.

What About Heart Disease Risk?

It may not be the most well-documented benefit, but apple cider vinegar can help to lower cholesterol thanks to the presence of pectin, a complex carbohydrate and soluble fibre found in apples.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterol, binds itself to pectin and is eliminated from the body as waste. The antioxidant chlorogenic acid also protects LDL cholesterol particles which hang around from becoming oxidised, a vital step in hampering the heart disease process.

Furthermore, mice studies have shown that the acetic acid in ACV is useful in reducing serum cholesterol and triglycerides, and as mentioned, human studies prove that drinking apple cider vinegar along with high-carb meals can increase the ‘fullness’ feeling and reduce the number of calories you eat for the rest of the day.

Given that body weight is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, this only strengthens the claims that ACV helps in this area.

Along with a good-quality fish oil, consuming apple cider vinegar is a recommended step towards protecting your heart.

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Junk Food Crisis Continues

Junk Food Advertising Drives Obesity Figures

Let’s start by saying that the blame for the obesity epidemic cannot be laid at a single door: to make such a claim would be irrefutably simplistic and counterproductive. However, it’s impossible to exculpate food companies for hurrying the process along.

A Bad Week for UK Health

Two bombshell pieces of news came to light last week.

The first was the revelation that spending on junk food advertising is almost 30 times what the government shells out on promoting healthy eating.

The second, that child and teenage obesity levels have increased ten-fold in the past four decades, meaning 124 million boys and girls are now overweight.

Let’s start logically with the advertising story, which broke on October 11 to coincide with World Obesity Day. Using data from The Grocer magazine’s top 100 list of advertising spending by consumer brands (those in the business of promoting sugary drinks and calorific confectionery), the analysis indicated that such firms spent £27 on advertising for every £1 spent by government on healthy eating promotion.

The study, which was conducted by the Obesity Health Alliance, laid bare the financial disparity at the root of the latest obesity figures. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk sits atop the list of big spenders, pouring £12 million into its advertising efforts – more than double what the government forks out on its flagship healthy eating campaign.

It’s even more alarming when you consider that the UK spends more than £14 billion each year treating conditions caused by excess weight – heart disease and diabetes to name just two. Surely more than £5 million can be directed towards preventing such conditions coming about in the first place? Especially since forecasts estimate that annual obesity-related health costs will soar to £22.7 billion by 2025.

Worryingly, advertising budgets across the confectionery market actually rose by 13% in 2016; almost 20% of the top 100 brands are junk food companies.

It is too easy to say that people know what they should be eating to be healthy; the odds are heavily stacked in favour of big business and many of us – particularly children – succumb to temptation.

The Obesity Health Alliance is now demanding that the government restrict children’s exposure to such marketing across all media prior to the 9pm watershed. The government have responded by insisting that current restrictions on junk food advertising are among the toughest in the world.

Can the powers-that-be really do more without impinging on commercial freedoms? That is the question set to define policy in the years to come. Certainly the soft drinks industry has been transformed in recent years, with the introduction of taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks, leading to more low-sugar/no-sugar options on our shelves than ever before. It’s encouraging, too, that sales of bottled water have grown year-on-year since 2012 – even if the environmental impact is troubling.

Of course, we would recommend using a long-lasting filter jug to give the best kind of drinking water, with the added benefit of reducing your carbon footprint.

Seemingly Unstoppable: Child and Teen Obesity

Is the increase in child obesity since the 1970s really so surprising? The new figures published in The Lancet looked at trends in over 200 countries and cited the availability and promotion of cheap, fattening food as one of the key drivers.

The study was led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation. In the 21st-century, major food companies (Nestlé, McDonald's) are spending a fortune enmeshing themselves in more and more low- and middle-income countries.

They have also begun to penetrate Third World markets, bringing health problems linked to obesity (diabetes, heart disease) to countries which once suffered from crippling hunger. In East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, there has been a marked shift from underweight to obesity within a matter of decades.

North America continues to wage its own battle with obesity; nearly 40% of adults and 19% of its young people are obese, the highest rate the country has ever seen. Since 1999-2000, there has been a 30% increase in adult obesity and a 33% increase in youth obesity, all in spite of government-focused efforts to tackle the problem.

So What’s the Answer?

That is the million dollar question. Changing these global trends is going to require a concerted joined-up approach comprising governmental intervention, responsibility on the part of advertisers and regulators, and better educational programmes.

Family also plays a huge role in curbing obesity; habits and attitudes inculcated from a young age can have a long-term detrimental effect. According to one report published in May 2018, half of British mums and dads have "given up" trying to get their kids to eat five-a-day.

Only by replacing nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods with wholesome alternatives, and better promoting physical activity, will people get on a better path. Until then, the global health crisis will continue and very possibly worsen. Post updated: May 2018.

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The 5 Best Preworkout Foods

5 Top Preworkout Foods for Energy, Weight Loss & Muscle Gain

Unless you’ve pencilled in some fasted cardio, there’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and realising the tank’s empty. You haven’t eaten for hours, energy levels are nonexistent and your motivation – which moments before threatened to break through the ceiling – is suddenly at an all-time low.

We’ve all been there, but left with no alternative, most of us soldier on and log an uninspired workout, all the while making a mental note to fuel up next time. But what type of fuel’s best? Which foods give us the necessary energy boost to power on and complete a high-octane workout?

Read on to discover the 5 best preworkout foods.

Should I Eat Before a Workout?

Some people may be questioning why it’s necessary to eat before a workout. Doesn’t that just result in bloating and discomfort on the gym floor? Yes and no. You certainly don’t want to load up on calories ten minutes before you hit the treadmill. But by the same token, you should avoid working out while hungry.

The body, demanding machine that it is, needs energy to perform at high intensity and without it, it’s liable to convert your muscle tissue into energy – not ideal if your goal is to maintain lean muscle mass.

As a rule of thumb, you should aim to eat a snack around one hour before you hit the gym. A snack is preferable to a meal – your body shouldn’t be expending energy on digestion when you’re in the midst of a routine – but what constitutes a useful snack?

Incidentally, many choose to drink a good-quality preworkout supplement a little closer to go-time: maybe 20 or 30 minutes prior to exercise. Foregoing both snack and supplement can presage low blood sugar, leading to lightheadedness and lethargy – two states you certainly don’t want to be in when straining under a barbell.

Without further ado then, here are the 5 best preworkout foods to maximise your workout.

1. Oats

Oats are the perfect preworkout fuel. Dense with fibre, this complex carb is broken down slowly by your body, giving you a prolonged spell of balanced energy. "But doesn’t fibre cause gas?" you might reasonably wonder. It certainly can, but you’d have to eat a whole bunch of oats to provoke that effect – and remember, your preworkout meal should be light rather than large.

Oats are also a rich source of B vitamins, whose functions include converting carbohydrates into – you guessed it – energy. Choose rolled or steel-cut oats rather than the instant variety, which are pre-cooked and generally contain added sugar. If you want an extra boost, blend your oats with a scoop of protein or preworkout formula (see #5) 45-60 minutes before hitting the gym.

2. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurts are beloved by health-conscious foodies throughout the world, but what makes them a great preworkout food? Well, compared to regular yogurt, the Greek kind boasts almost double the protein (and high-quality protein at that), fewer carbs and around half the sodium. Going Greek also means you avoid the added sugar that typifies flavoured yogurts.

Too plain for your taste? Again, you can mix through a little preworkout or a scoop of protein to spice things up. Alternatively, throw in a handful of blueberries or some sliced banana. Doing so ensures your preworkout has a nice balance of carbs (energy) and protein (recovery).

3. Apple and peanut/almond butter

A peanut butter sandwich is delicious and satisfying, but you don’t want to bag yourself up with bread before exercising. In moderation, peanut (or almond) butter is certainly good for you though. A great source of monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E and protein, it’s a favourite of gym-goers looking to add a little muscle without sacrificing flavour.

Our advice would be to go organic/natural, of course. Smearing some peanut butter on slices of apple will give you a welcome boost ahead of your session. Apples are easy to digest and quickly replenish your glycogen stores thanks to their natural sugars, supplying a ready source of energy. Just what you need ahead of a taxing leg day or high-intensity intervals!

4. Banana

Champion sprinter Yohan Blake eats 16 ripe bananas every day. “Naturally I tend to lose potassium so I have to build it all back. For me it works – more energy,” he explains. While we wouldn’t advocate chomping your way through 16 bananas a day, there’s no doubt that bananas are among the best preworkout foods. Not only are they chock-full of digestible carbohydrates but the potassium to which Blake alludes helps maintain both nerve and muscle function. Bananas’ natural sugars are also identical to those found in expensive sports drinks touted for their energy-boosting properties.

The merits of bananas for preworkout fuel were brought to the fore in a 2015 study published in the Journal of Proteome Research. 20 male cyclists were divided into groups before cycling 75 kilometres at high intensity. While one group drank only water prior to the race, the other consumed water with bananas or pears. When the results were analysed, the latter group were found to have enjoyed 50% quicker recovery than their peers; they were also faster on the bike and had more focus and energy. That focus, incidentally, is a result of the dopamine produced in the brain when you eat a banana. Of the 5 greatest preworkout foods, banana might be the best of all.

5. A Natural Preworkout Formula

There are literally hundreds of preworkout formulas to choose from, but the truth is, 90% of them are best avoided. Most contain synthetic stimulants, junk ingredients and a ton of caffeine, which taken over time will desensitise you to caffeine and cause you to up the dose (NOT a good idea).

There are other drawbacks, too: preworkouts tend to be bundled as package deals with side effects like insomnia, headaches, cramps, jitters and even high blood pressure. The best bet, quite logically, is to use a preworkout that’s natural and safe, with a blend of performance-enhancing, non-artificial ingredients. 

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Staying in shape to fight disease

Staying in Shape Slashes Cancer Risk

Among the many good reasons to maintain a healthy body weight, we can add another: a decreased risk of cancer. While quitting smoking is unarguably the single best thing you can do to reduce your likelihood of the disease, it turns out that staying in shape is a close second.

Coming a week after the revelation that we should eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day to enjoy longer lives, it would seem that the latest research represents yet another clarion call to get active and eat healthy.

What the Study Says

Like the aforementioned research into fruit and veg, this latest study was conducted by Imperial College London and published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal.

In it, researchers closely examined the associations between adiposity and cancer, looking specifically at meta-analyses of 204 cohort studies. Despite obesity rates continuing to climb in the UK and worldwide, a consistent link was established between weight and cancer.

The study, which was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), found that gaining less than a stone in weight increased one’s risk of cancer by over 50%. The astonishing findings linked a total of 11 different cancers with adiposity. These included oesophageal, stomach, gallbladder, liver and bowel cancer. BMI was the most common adiposity measurement, although other indices included waist circumference, hip circumference and waist-to-hip ratio.

As mentioned, smoking is the primary risk factor that most of us associate with cancer. We are told, time and again, that smoking drastically increases our chances of being diagnosed – and it certainly does. But according to Public Health England, less than half of us realise that obesity is a risk factor in its own right.

Many of us are much more likely to associate obesity with cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and atherosclerosis. As such, it’s vital that the news filters into public consciousness and provokes a sea change in attitude and application.

Cancer Prevention: It’s Time to Get Serious

As we know, there are multiple cancer risk factors, but some simply aren’t modifiable – at least on a personal level. The toxic load in the atmosphere, for instance, is not something we can simply obviate by altering our own individual behaviour, though we can of course minimise our contributions by recycling, limiting our intake of red meat, switching to an electric car etc.

What the evidence linking adiposity and cancer should tell us, however, is that it’s time to get serious about our health and work to maintain a sensible body weight. And before you gesture dismissively and insist that you are not overweight, it’s worth remembering that one doesn’t have to be obese to be at risk: the study shows that anyone with high adiposity (excess fat) is in the danger zone, even if they don’t necessarily fall into the obese bracket.

What’s more, emerging evidence suggests that surplus body fat in early life has an adverse effect on cancer risk when you hit adulthood. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that approximately 25,000 annual cancer cases could be prevented in the UK if all of us maintained a healthy weight.

In addition to the aforementioned cancers, excess weight is linked to womb, ovary, kidney, rectum, pancreas and breast cancer. Whether you are a healthy weight (with a BMI of 24), overweight (BMI of 29) or obese (BMI of 34), the positive associations between weight and cancer lead to one unavoidable conclusion: we must all make efforts to eat well and pursue an active lifestyle.

Embracing a Positive Change

At the government level, it’s refreshing to see than some positive changes will better enable us to lead healthier lives. I’m referring, of course, to next year’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

The so-called Sugar Tax will penalise soft drinks companies for marketing products containing high levels of sugar, and already the legislation has led to major companies cutting the sugar content of their best-loved brands – Coca-Cola, Ribena and Lucozade among them.

Undeniably, these soft drink behemoths have responded due to a fiscal imperative and not because they wish we were all healthier! But nonetheless, we should be glad that high-sugar drinks are becoming less accessible – even if most soft drinks now contain sweeteners instead of sugar.

There is no reason why we cannot implement a similar sweeping change in our own lives. Preventing excess weight gain (or tackling existing adipose tissue) is a matter of getting into the right habits. Eating well and exercising is important, but you should also make an effort to hydrate regularly. Keeping your stress levels in check will also be beneficial.

The Alkaline Diet and Weight Loss

In our view, following an alkaline diet is a wise move if you’re determined to reach a healthy weight and enjoy enhanced levels of energy and immunity.

This diet favours unprocessed, weight-normalising foods such as fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and healthy fats. While it is low in meat, gluten and dairy, lean meats are permitted. In essence, adherents of the alkaline diet follow an 80:20 or 70:30 rule, with the bulk of their foods being alkaline-forming and a small amount being acid-forming.

They also drink alkaline water, bottles of which are now increasingly lining the shelves of health stores. Ultimately, losing excess weight or maintaining a healthy BMI will help reduce your risk not only of various cancers, but other chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

In simple terms, focus on health, wellness and being the best you can be.

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Yo-Yo Dieting Has Benefits

Is Yo-Yo Dieting Worth It?

Yo-yo dieting: losing weight to put it back on again. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? In fact, it sounds very much like labouring to roll an immense stone up a steep hill, only for the stone to tumble quickly back to earth. There’s a word for that – Sisyphean. And though it sounds like a feat best avoided, yo-yo dieting is something many of us have experience of.

Why Diets Fail

Of course, no-one sets out to lose weight then gain it all back after going off the rails. Yo-yo dieting, therefore, is a cynical term for failed weight management. It alludes to a prior success, sure, but also to the inevitable foundering of your willpower.

Cutting weight, as we all know, requires effort, commitment and consistency – qualities which tend to fall by the wayside when we’ve hit our weight-loss targets. After punishing ourselves to drop a dress size or squeeze into an old pair of jeans, we tend to feel we have reached the summit of the mountain. In reality, we've merely made it to a shelter on a plateau halfway up.

Do we hurry in out of the cold and reward ourselves with treats? Or do we take stock before continuing our ascent?

Around nine in ten diets end in failure. Studies of weight loss programmes show that dieters peak at six months, with the weight starting to creep back on thereafter.

Others ditch the diet after only a few weeks or months, frustrated by their inability to fulfil unrealistic expectations.

Yo-yo dieting would appear to be a fairly pointless pursuit. But according to new research, it might not be the waste of time it’s made out to be.

The Benefits of Yo-Yo Dieting

It turns out that despite the bad press, yo-yo dieting actually makes people healthier in the long-term. Better to have gained and lost (and gained again) than never to have lost at all, the evidence seems to say.

Research conducted by the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that yo-yo diets actually lead to longer lives. Mice who had dieted and regained weight enjoyed better longevity than their counterparts who remained obese.

Dr David Allison, who headed up the study, compared yo-yo dieting to visiting the dentist. “If you go to the dentist for your six-month evaluation, they find some plaque around your teeth and scrape it off, then give you a toothbrush and a piece of string and send you out and say keep up the good work,” Allison told the American Association Annual Conference in Boston. “Six months later, guess what, the plaque is back on. Just like weight loss. Nobody says dentistry is a failure, they say that’s OK.”

Although the study did not assess the effects of yo-yo dieting on humans, nutritionist Susan Jebb – a professor of diet and population health at Oxford – concurred with the findings. “I agree with the notion that losing weight is generally worthwhile, even if you put the weight back on again,” she said.

Yo-yo dieting doesn’t escape criticism altogether, though. Professor Timothy Spector from King’s College, London, takes a different view. “Data in humans shows that yo-yo dieting makes you gain weight long-term. In our twin study of 5,000 twins, the yo-yo dieter was usually heavier long-term than the identical twin who didn’t diet.”

How to Lose the Weight and Keep It Off

While more studies need to be done on humans, perhaps there is something to be said for yo-yo dieting. However, the ultimate goal should be to reach a healthy weight and maintain it going forward.

There is no magic bullet to keeping the weight off, but diet and exercise is naturally better than diet alone. Walk, run, cycle, swim; take up tennis or squash or football; build your strength in the gym using free weights or attend a Boxercise or Spin Fit class once a week. Such healthy habits will keep the bulge at bay.

When it comes to diet, make a plan and stick to it – but don’t beat yourself up too badly if you overindulge now and then. Practice portion control and eat nutrient-dense meals while shunning processed foods high in sugar and salt.

As ever, consistency is key. If you fall into the habit of yo-yo dieting, focus on weight-loss maintenance rather than slipping into old habits. 

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Probiotics Could Help You Get Lean

How Probiotics Can Help You Stay Lean and Lose Weight

Forget weight loss pills! You can significantly reduce your stomach bloat and even shed a few pounds by taking good care of your gut microbes.

Probiotics are often praised for their digestive health boosting abilities, but many don’t know this includes the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates to keep you lean.

If you are one of the many people who struggle with a bloated stomach, you may want to consider adding a probiotic to your daily weight loss regimen.

The Connection Between Gut Flora and Weight

Your intestinal bacteria may help influence your weight. Research shows a connection between gut bacteria and how we balance glucose blood sugar levels, how we store fat, and how our bodies respond to hormones that signal hunger or fullness. The wrong mix of gut bacteria might be responsible for giving you so much trouble in the weight loss department since birth.

There are many factors that influence a person’s weight. While diet remains an important one, scientists are also starting to understand how gut health plays a role too.

According to a 2013 study published by the Washington University School of Medicine, gut microbes given to obese mice helped them stay thin – but only if they ate a healthy diet. So if you've been eating a healthy diet but still can’t seem to shift the timber, your gut microbes might be the reason.

A baby’s gut microbes are first assembled when they pass through the mother’s birth canal. A baby will collect their mother’s microbes first and then acquire the rest throughout life. A person’s microbiome is their unique collection of microbes – every bit as unique, it transpires, as a fingerprint.

Lean people have been linked to a wider variety of a large tribe of microbes called Bacteroidetes, which specialise in breaking down starch and using them more efficiently as energy.

Another microbe that may prevent obesity is known as Helicobacter pylori, which is responsible for controlling appetite by regulating the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin. That said, there are reasons why you should consider reducing H. pylori in the gut; our article on natural remedies to eradicate H. pylori is worth a look.

The good news, as far as weight loss is concerned, is this: even if you're lacking in the type of gut microbes generally associated with being thin, you can use diet to work in your favour.

A diet high in processed foods is more likely to limit your microbial community, meaning you're less prone to accumulating the “good” microbes needed to improve health. By the same token, eating a “Westernised” diet prevents gut microbiome from flourishing.

Health Problems Associated with Excess Weight

Staying lean doesn’t just make you feel better about the way you look; it also helps prevent chronic disease. Gaining a few extra pounds each year is easy to do as you get older and your metabolism slows. But even a few extra pounds can have a significant impact on your health.

Being overweight puts you at an increased risk of the following conditions:

Probiotics for Weight Loss

A variety of good probiotic strains are naturally present in the gut, and when these strains are altered, weight gain can occur. Probiotics are a type of “good” living bacteria that reside in your gut. And because close to 70 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, it’s important to make sure your gut bacteria is full of the good kind!

In addition to helping you lose weight, probiotics are useful for improving digestive health, treating infectious diseases, reducing allergies and the common cold, and improving oral, skin, and vaginal health.

The two most common types of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. According to one study, eating yoghurt with the Lactobacillus strain reduced body fat by three to four percent in six weeks.

Another study found that women who took Lactobacillus supplements lost 50 percent more weight than the control group. If you’re looking to reduce belly fat specifically, Lactobacillus is the strain you want.

A 2013 study found that taking Lactobacillus for 12 weeks was associated with a reduced BMI, reduced fat around organs, reduced body weight, and a reduction in hip circumference and waist size. The study found that people who took Lactobacillus reduced their belly fat by 8.5 percent. But when participants stopped taking the probiotic, they gained the weight back within one month.

One gut health supplement you might want to look at is Progurt. Composed entirely of human-derived bacteria, Progurt is the strongest probiotic in the world, containing a whopping 1 trillion Colony-Forming Units per serving.

Although you'll find much cheaper options than Progurt, this unique supplement contains more 'good bacteria' in a single sachet than many products provide with a month's worth of capsules. It is a quantum leap in the field of probiotic supplementation: just disperse in water and drink. You can also use Progurt sachets to make your own probiotic yogurt. Given Progurt's super-strength, and native colonising strains of bacteria (including Lactobacillus), it is a fine option for those looking to shed a few pounds.

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Chia seeds

Three Cheers for Chia Seeds: Chia Shown to Aid Weight Loss

Chia seeds have been growing in popularity for several years now.

Like kale, spirulina and quinoa, they’ve ridden the crest of the superfood wave, becoming nutritional “it” items – must-have dietary staples beloved by savvy eaters the world over.

And now there’s another reason to eat chia seeds: they’ve been shown to help with weight loss.

What Are Chia Seeds?

Grown primarily in Bolivia and Mexico, chia seeds are teeming with omega-3 fatty acids – healthful acids more commonly found in oily fish. They’re also a rich source of protein, fibre, calcium and antioxidants. In fact, they have three times more antioxidants than blueberries and twice as much protein as other seeds and grains. Talk about nutrient-rich!

While the eminence of some superfoods has only come to light in recent years, chia seeds have a historical precedence: they were prized by the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas for their health-enhancing properties.

Chia seeds are able to stabilise blood sugar levels, cleanse the colon to permit better nutrient absorption and waste elimination and also improve endurance. It is likely this latter benefit that the aforementioned cultures most revered.

Other Benefits of Chia Seeds? Weight Loss!

In a new randomised controlled trial, supplementing with chia seeds was shown to aid weight loss and reduce inflammation in overweight patients suffering from type-2 diabetes. The Canadian study contrasted the effects of two alternative calorie-restricted eating plans on a group of 77 participants. In one, subjects were given 30g of chia seeds each day, and in the other, 36g of oat bran. As part of the trial, the dieters had to consult a dietician after a fortnight and then every six weeks for a period of six months; food diaries were also maintained to ensure strict compliance.

When the study wrapped, the chia seed group showed impressive improvements in body weight and waist circumference. They also exhibited decreased levels of an inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein.

‘How much weight exactly?’ you might be asking. Well, on average, participants supplementing with chia seeds lost 1.9kg compared to 0.3kg in the other group. This might not seem like a lot over a six-month period, but incorporating chia seeds into a healthy diet, along with a solid programme of exercise, is sure to bring about even better results.

What’s more, the chia seed group experienced a reduction in waist circumference of 3.5cm – compared to just 1.1cm in the control group. Given how stubborn belly fat can be, this is definitely worth crowing about! The researchers concluded that supplementing with chia seeds could promote weight loss, improve obesity-related risk factors and help maintain good glycemic control.

Exactly How Do Chia Seeds Help You Lose Weight?

So how exactly do chia seeds stimulate weight loss? The answer may lie in their effect on adiponectin, a protein involved in the breakdown of fat. In the individuals who consumed chia, a 6.5% increase in adiponectin levels was registered.

The ability of chia seeds to raise ALA levels could also be responsible, since research has shown high ALA levels to reduce ‘visceral adiposity’ in rats. More generally, chia seeds’ slow-releasing carbohydrates might aid satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer.

How to Use Chia Seeds

One huge advantage of chia seeds is their versatility; they can be utilised in just about any meal. Making a stir fry? Toss a teaspoon of chia seeds into the wok and give it a stir. Yoghurt, porridge, salad, smoothie – the same rules apply. The seeds are perfect for enhancing the nutritional value of a meal without altering the taste, and the internet is littered with chia seeds recipes for you to try out.

Flax Seeds vs Chia Seeds vs Hemp Seeds

Of course, chia seeds aren’t the only superfood seeds that have been shown to entail health benefits.

Hemp seeds, which are also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are known to promote cardiovascular health too. What’s more, they contain all 20 amino acids, including the 9 classed as ‘essential’ that our bodies are unable to produce. Budging hemp out of the limelight is flax seed, another wondrous seed bursting with protein, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and omega-3.

So just how on earth do you decide which seed you should be taking? Short answer: you don’t; you take all three.

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12 Unconventional Strategies for Easy Healthy Weight Loss This Summer

12 Unconventional Strategies for Easy Healthy Weight Loss This Summer

Everyone knows the common, often-repeated weight loss strategies like eating breakfast, eating small meals in the evenings, drinking lots of water, exercising, and choosing the right types of food.

If you want some more tips, or if your psychology does not play along terribly well with the conventional strategies, you are not out of options.

Re-Establish the Family Lunch and Dinner

People who eat slowly eat less than those who eat fast.

Your body needs at least 20 minutes from the moment you put something into your mouth to make the announcement that you are full, via the hormone leptin. If you eat fast, you can stuff an enormous amount of food in before your body catches up with releasing leptin.

Try savouring each and every mouthful and really focusing on how the food tastes and how well you have chewed it, as this will start teaching you to eat more slowly, helping you to eat less.

Avoid Multi-Tasking While Eating

Research shows that you should not multi-task while eating. People who eat while playing computer games or watching television eat more than those who eat without distractions.

This could be because they concentrate almost completely on something other than their bodies' satiety messages, and/or because the game or television program determines the length of time that they will continue to eat.

Considering that the average British person spends five hours per day watching television, that is indeed a lot of eating. In other words, family dinner should not include monopoly or business planning, just peaceful conversation.

Get Enough Sleep

Many studies have shown that people who chronically sleep less than six out of every 24 hours tend to put on weight because they have lower levels of leptin, the satiety hormone, and higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

Follow every tip you can find to overcome insomnia. Eat a small snack before bed, remove computers and televisions from your bedroom, maintain a regular schedule with the same rising and bed times, reduce or cut caffeinated drinks, and refrain from hard work and exercise in the evenings. If there is still a shortfall, make it up by napping in the afternoon.

Wear Tight Clothes

People who eat in loose-fitting pyjamas or baggy pants and sweaters have the luxury of hiding their weight from themselves. If you wear miniskirts, strappy tops, tight-fitting jeans or swimming costumes, you do not have that luxury.

This holds especially while you are eating, because you will be partly focussed on your body and eat less as a result. It also applies outside meal times, however. The more you think of your body, the more motivated you will be to keep the weight off.

For similar reasons, researchers recommend that you eat in front of the mirror, because people do not like watching themselves over-eat, especially not while they are aiming to achieve a healthy body weight.

Buy Food with Cash

Researchers have known for ages that people who use credit cards buy more unnecessary luxuries than those who use cash. It turns out that people who use credit cards also buy more food than those with cash.

As if that is not bad enough, they are also more likely to engage in impulse buying, which is almost inevitably of unhealthy foods when, for example, walking past the deli or bakery. This is due to an effect that psychologists call mental accounting.

When we use cash, we think of the money we spend as "real money." When we use a credit card, we do not have the sensation of losing money, which makes us spend more than we would have if we had paid with "real money."

Stick Pictures of Low-Calorie Food to the Fridge

Researchers have found that people who looked at pictures of low-calorie food make healthier food choices than people who looked at pictures of high-calorie food.

This may be a result of being subtly reminded of weight loss or healthy weight maintenance goals, but researchers believe that it is chiefly caused by the brain's reward centres lighting up when viewing pictures of high-calorie food.

Eat with the Opposite Sex

We all eat less when we eat with the opposite sex. Women eat less when they eat with men than when they eat with women, probably because they want to appear more feminine. Men, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. They also eat less when they are with women, but only if these are unfamiliar women. They are not influenced by the gender of women that are known to them.

Eat Off medium-Sized Plates

If you struggle to eat small portions, pack up your large plates and donate them to a charity. Buy medium-sized plates or bowls that can hold only medium-sized portions.

To prevent you from dishing up seconds, dish up for the family and remove the food from the table. You can, of course, still walk to the kitchen and fetch more, but the more effort it requires, the more likely your rational self will kick in and argue against it.

Interestingly, researchers have even discovered that people who eat off red plates eat less, but this unconscious association between a red plate and a stop sign may not hold now that you are aware of it.

Eat Spicy Food

Peppers and curry are healthy and alkalising. To add to their appeal, they may make you lose weight.

Some research shows that they can increase your resting metabolic rate for about half an hour after your meal, but the other benefit is the speed at which you eat them. If a meal is spicy, you tend to eat slower and you drink water in-between. This gives your body the time the secrete leptin to make you feel full.

Take a Vitamin or Mineral Supplement

Some studies show that those who take a vitamin or mineral supplement put on less body fat than those who take nothing or a placebo.

It is possible that the latter groups continue to eat because their bodies lack some essential vitamin or mineral and do not want to send the satiety signal until that need is satisfied.

If you ensure that your body has all necessary vitamins and minerals, your body's satiety signals may function properly.

Plan Your Meals

People who plan their meals and snacks and visualise themselves sticking to these plans are more likely to lose weight than those who have only vague plans.

Thus, sit down at the beginning of the week, plan your meals, shop for all the ingredients, and imagine yourself eating the right meals and snacks. Create the possible scenarios in your head and visualise them. Visualise yourself saying no to offers of snacks. Visualise yourself packing your water, healthy lunch, and snacks in the morning before work.

Record one of your exercise sessions and put some of those images on your phone as wallpaper.

Anticipate Temptations

Anticipate temptations and avoid them. Ask for water even before you sit down in a restaurant; it makes it less likely that you will order a high-calorie, nutrient-lacking sugary drink.

Examine the menu before you go to the restaurant and select your meal before you arrive.

Carry water and healthy snacks with you so that you can always refuse offers of fattening snacks and drinks.

Shop only for the food on your meal plan so that only those foods are available in your kitchen. 

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boiled egg and avacado on crispbread

Eating Breakfast Helps With Weight Loss and 3 Delicious Alkalising Breakfast Recipes

While there are some recent dissenters, the vast majority of researchers have discovered that eating breakfast helps maintain healthy body weight, a higher activity level and less hunger throughout the day, less snacking, and lower scores on the main markers of metabolic disease.

The catch? It has to be a healthy breakfast, ruling out most foods that typical families consume during the rush to school and work.

Breakfast Aids Healthy Body Weight

  • In 2008, Mark Pereira at the University of Minnesota published the results of a study in which researchers followed 2,216 teenagers for five years and found that those who ate breakfast every day put on the least amount of weight. They controlled for activity level, age, socioeconomic status, race, and breakfast type to ensure that none of these factors caused the outcome. While they found breakfast type to be important for weight loss, the other factors were irrelevant. According to them, the best breakfast contains fibre.

  • A 1992 study that put 52 moderately obese women on the diet that either included or excluded breakfast also found that breakfast eaters lost more weight than breakfast skippers.

  • A 2012 literature review of 153 articles concluded that most studies backed the conclusion that breakfast eaters maintain a healthier body weight than breakfast skippers, but that this effect was small.

Breakfast Lowers Metabolic Syndrome Risks

  • In 2013, Pereira examined the records of 3,598 participants from the community-based Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. These records stretched over an 18 year period and included eating habits, lifestyle habits, and medical examinations. The researchers concluded that those who ate a daily breakfast put on 1.9 kilograms less, and that those who often skipped breakfast had higher rates of abdominal obesity, obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

  • Some Harvard researchers reached the same conclusion in 2012 in a study that examined the medical and lifestyle records of 29,206 adult men. Their review found that breakfast eaters were 20 per cent less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than breakfast eaters.

Breakfast Decreases Hunger and Subsequent Snacking

  • One of the reasons why breakfast eaters may manage their weight better is because they are not as hungry and prone to unhealthy snacking as breakfast skippers are. Research participants have admitted to researchers that they are much hungrier after skipping breakfast. The same participants also reported suffering from low motivation and mood some hours after a large breakfast, however, for which large snacking was the only solution. This seems to suggest that we should eat breakfast to reduce snacking, but we should ensure that the breakfast is not so large and unhealthy that it spikes our blood sugar to set us up for a later slump.

  • A 2012 study found that protein-rich breakfasts control hunger best throughout the day.

  • Other researchers found that people who ate a light breakfast were the hungriest and most prone to snacking, followed by those who ate a breakfast high in soluble fibre, followed by those who ate a breakfast rich in insoluble fibre.

Breakfast Promotes Physical Activity

Several studies have concluded that breakfast eaters are physically more active than breakfast skippers throughout the day, quite possibly because they feel more energetic. This can also have a positive effect on healthy weight maintenance.

Healthy Breakfast Recipes

The healthiest breakfast is one that contains protein, unrefined fibre rich carbohydrates, and fat; carbohydrates for the energy, protein for the muscles development, and both protein and fat to slow the digestion of the carbohydrates to give you more energy over a longer period and to reduce fat storage.

Oatmeal with Fruit and Nuts

This is one of the easiest and most nutritious breakfasts you can feed your family. One cup of oatmeal contains approximately six grams of fat, 54 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein. Unsweetened apple juice will add more carbs. Almond, coconut, and cashew milk will add protein. Chopped unsalted almonds, cashew nuts, and sesame seeds will add more protein and fat. Cinnamon is good for taste and stevia can add some sweetness without adding calories.

Other alkaline protein rich whole grains that make good breakfasts are millet, amaranth, and quinoa. This breakfast will gradually release glucose into the bloodstream and will digest slowly to give you energy for a few hours.

Courgette or Butternut Squash Muffins

This is nowhere near as mad as it sounds. You can either mix the batter the previous evening and leave it in the fridge for quick baking in the morning, or you can bake the muffins the previous evening for a good grab-and-run breakfast. For 12 muffins, mix:

  • 2 cups all-purpose organic gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup grated organic carrots
  • 1 cup mashed organic courgette or butternut squash
  • 1 unpeeled, cored, and grated organic apple
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce or home-made apple juice
  • 1/2 cup organic stevia
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons ground organic cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped organic nuts and/or seeds of your choice
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins if you need more sweetness

Bake them for around 25 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees centigrade. The oil, nuts, and flour supply the protein and fat, while the vegetables, fruit, and flour supply the fibrous and filling carbohydrates.

Lemon Blueberry Waffles

Again, mix the batter the previous evening and refrigerate it overnight. Most waffle irons take less than five minutes to make the waffles. Try to opt for a waffle iron that is not coated with toxic non-stick teflon. For four waffles, mix:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup stevia
  • 1 2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups soy, almond or hemp milk
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut or palm oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The milk, oil, flour and oats contribute the fat and protein. The fruit, flour, and oats provide the fibrous carbohydrates. All the ingredients keep it alkaline, while the lemon juice skyrockets its alkalinity.

If you don't have the time to make these delicious recipes, try our Maximum Vibrance which is quick and easy to prepare by mixing one or two scoops into any liquid of your choice. Two scoops will give you all the nutrients you need to keep you going until dinner time.

Cautionary Note

Breakfast will keep your weight under control only if you ensure the breakfast is healthy, filling, and balanced.

If you add a good exercise program, and make sure the rest of your meals throughout the day are healthy, you will give yourself the best chance to maintain a healthy weight throughout your entire life.

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How Super Green Powders Can Contribute to Weight Loss

How Super Green Powders Can Contribute to Weight Loss

How Super Green Powders Can Contribute to Weight Loss

Who doesn't want to look and feel better? Who doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning with a spring in their step?

That old adage "you are what you eat" comes into play when pondering these questions. And if there's something most of us could do with getting more of, it's green foods.

What are 'Super' Greens?

Super green powders are supplements containing green vegetables, cereal grasses, herbs, fibre, seaweed, algae, digestive enzymes, probiotics and the usual vitamins and minerals found in regular supplements.

Given how densely packed they are with nutrients, the popularity of these concentrated greens powders is no surprise.

Not only are they healthy, but they can make a valuable contribution to your weight loss or weight maintenance plan.

Fibre is Your Weight Loss Friend

What with all the grass and green vegetables, super green powders are extremely high in fibre. If you struggle to find genuinely high-fibre cereals and breads because of the inaccurate or confusing information on the labels, this is the answer.

Tiny scoops of green powder with every one of your five to six small meals will ensure you take in good amounts of fibre throughout the day.

Because your body works hard to break fibre down, your metabolism will be active all day long. This ensures that you burn more fat that you would have if you’d eaten less fibre.

A high intake of fibre also accelerates the progress of food through your intestines, which carries the fats and carbohydrates that your body often stores through to be excreted.

Furthermore, researchers have found that a fibre-rich diet protects against diabetes and metabolic syndrome, both of which cause the body to store abdominal fat, increase bad cholesterol, decrease good cholesterol and decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

Fibre alone is unlikely to do the trick if you top it off with heaps of fat and refined carbohydrates, of course, but it can help when combined with an approximately healthy diet.

Plant Protein Feeds Muscles

Many super green powders are excellent sources of plant protein, which of course plays an essential part in your body’s ability to build and maintain lean muscle tissue.

Muscle tissue is a crucial component of a fast metabolism. Spirulina – which is included in most powders – is exceptionally protein-rich and is one of the plant world’s few examples of a ‘complete’ protein, in that it provides all essential amino acids in their proper ratios.

Since your body cannot build lean muscle tissue without exercise, a green powder is not a magic bullet. Still, exercise in conjunction with a protein-rich diet works far better than exercise without a protein-rich diet – which is one of the reasons why green powders are so useful.

The Fullness Effect of Super Green Powders

Because they increase satiety, super green powders can be taken before a meal to reduce the number of calories you consume.

Granted, pure fruit smoothies are tasty and healthy – and you should certainly leave room for them in your diet – but green powders should be your go-to smoothie of choice.

They make great low-calorie snacks for mid-morning or late afternoon.

Bursting with Enzymes

Most super green powders contain digestive enzymes. These are proteins which help the body break down food into its most basic components, so nutrients can be absorbed and used.

The most important enzymes are protease, amylase, lipase and sucrase, and they break down proteins, starches, fats and sugars; but there are many other digestive enzymes that help us digest the valuable nutrients in food through the intestinal walls before the rest is excreted.

While the body does produce its own enzymes, you can help it along with a green powder.

Digestive enzymes ensure that the proteins you eat are properly absorbed. This is necessary to energise and build up your muscles for exercise and for an overall increase of lean muscle tissue.

Moreover, enzymes promote the efficient absorption of carbohydrates, which means you can eat less carb-rich food to satisfy your energy needs.

Lastly, the more food your body can digest, the less will be trapped in your intestines, and the less you’ll battle with bloating, gas and toxic build-up of putrefying food in your digestive tract.

Encourage Your Healthy Bacteria to Thrive

Other important ingredients found found in many super green powders are probiotics – the good bacteria that exist naturally throughout your digestive tract. Like digestive enzymes, these bacteria help with the digestion of food.

In essence, your intestines are a war zone where good and bad bacteria vie for dominance.

Researchers have discovered that the gut bacteria of an obese person differs from those of a lean person, and that some probiotics may lower fat storage and body weight.

New studies have also credited probiotics with reducing stress, lessening anxiety, reducing blood sugar levels and even improving the thinking and memory of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

The Research is Promising

The consumption of good bacteria in a green powder supplement may thus alter the balance of good/bad bacteria in your intestines and could, through a mechanism not yet understood, aid with weight loss.

At this stage the research is not unanimous, and further studies are certainly needed, but after implanting the gut bacteria of lean mice into the intestines of obese mice and finding that the latter suddenly started losing weight, researchers are optimistic that, once all the good lean bacteria are identified, they will be able to pioneer a probiotic-based obesity treatment.

A wide variety of foods and nutrients, such as those found in green powders, ensures that you consume a sufficient amount of all the necessary nutrients in your daily diet.

This is not only important to stay healthy, but also to stimulate the energy necessary for a period of vigorous exercise.

Kickstart a Healthier You

In an ideal world, everyone would eat plenty of whole grains and vegetables and become healthy that way. Given the reality of our busy lives, though, it’s not always possible.

Between work and family commitments, sometimes there’s not enough time left over to shop around for a variety of vegetables, much less cook them each day.

Super green powders can easily provide the nutrients lacking in your diet, including those with proven weight loss properties.

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.

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