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Nutrition Newsletter December 2013

This month our nutritionist Anna Collins discusses:

  • Organic foods - better for you - or not?
  • 5 simple tips to help you look and feel your best this Christmas
  • Anna's favourite Christmas cake recipe (that happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free too)
Organic foods: better for you, or not? 
The controversy rages on, no more so than on RTE's Prime Time recently.  I tuned in, thinking I would find experts quoting scientific research.  If only.  
Just a single study (comparing the flavour but not the nutrients or chemical residues) of organic vs non-organic root veggies, was quoted.   Science, however does have plenty of evidence that organic food IS better for you.  In 2012 a Stanford University team analysed over 230 field studies and 17 human studies comparing pesticide residues, antibiotic resistance and nutritional value of organic vs "conventional" produce.  Unsurprisingly, the review showed organic foods to be free from toxic pesticide residues linked to cancer, Parkinson's disease and endocrine disruption*.  Organic animal products were free of antibiotic residues but"conventional" were not.  Tiny doses of antibiotics in our "conventional" everyday food has contributed to the rise of "superbugs" that are resistent to antibiotics.  High quality research DOES show higher levels of nutrients in organic food.  For me personally its a bit of no-brainer.   How can soil that's devoid of micronutrients such as selenium and magnesium produce plants rich in these nutrients.  They have to get the nutrients somewhere and "conventional" (man-made) fertilisers don't provide it.  Poor soil means poor plants. *My information sheet (available if you email quotes some of the academic studies I mention above or Read the study here
5 simple tips to look and feel your best this Christmas
1. Get enough of the clear stuff (H20, that is)
Tea, coffee, coke, alcohol and sugary drinks or foods dehydrate you.  This can make you feel stressed, low, reduce your intellectual ability and allow the pounds to pile on.  Making sure you get your 2 litres of water a day is easy using water, herb teas, rooibosch tea, fruit teas or Barley cup.  Fizzy water, Amế or ½ cloudy apple juice ½ fizzy water also counts towards your 2 litres.  
Tip: Every time you reach for a not-so-healthy drink, try downing a large (250ml) glass of water or one of the healthy drinks mentioned above first.
PS.  People often reach for food when in fact they need water instead, try it...
2. Eat snacks
Sugary stuff (including alcohol) and white flour products at Christmas rob us of nutrients (like calming magnesium, or skin-smoothing zinc).  It's no wonder we get stressed! Sugary stuff and flour cause a spike in your blood sugar.  This is often followed by a crash that leaves you feeling extra peckish, peevish or simply exhausted.  Eating protein first slows down the body’s absorption of the sugars, reducing cravings and energy slumps.  Tip: Before hitting sugary/starchy foods or alcohol make sure you eat some protein.  Protein snacks include: 1-2 teaspoons of raw nuts/seeds, 2-3 Brazil nuts, small carton natural yoghurt or even roasted nuts (not quite so healthy).  Chocolate coated Brazil nuts contain some protein!  In the next week I will be posting my super-easy recipe for chocolate nut clusters on my food blog alongside my other Christmas favourites - just sign up to be notified when I post it.  Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, beans and pulses are also proteins.  
3. Eat 3 Meals a Day that contain a palm sized amount of protein
Eating slow-release energy foods (protein) at each meal helps reduce energy and mood slumps and keeps you satisfied for longer. 
Breakfast Tip: Include one of the following proteins: 1-2 eggs, a cup of natural yoghurt, 2 dessertspoons ground seeds on cereal/porridge, lean grilled bacon or a cupful of baked beans.  Even a helping of last nights' dinner (with protein) would fit the bill.  Leftovers can be good for you. Lunch & Dinner Tip: Try protein: 50-75g fish (tinned/smoked is fine), unprocessed meat or poultry, eggs, cupful of 3 bean salad or tub of humous
4. Get the Good Stuff in First
If you start on vitality-boosting foods at every meal there’s just not going to be as much space to fill up on sugary foods/white flour products or general junk.  Tips:
Try piling half your lunch and dinner plate with coloured vegetables
Try having fresh fruit at 3 meals or snacks during the day, with protein
Turkey sandwiches?  Try making a 100% open sandwich (no top slice) and serve with a salad.  Mostly-bread meals cause energy and mood slumps.
5. Move about outdoors when it's bright
Here are 3 great reasons to move a bit more during your day, every day:
1. Exercise pumps the fats and oils you eat to your liver (via your lymphatic system).  This means your body can deal with them faster, helping you feel better and look leaner.  Exercising before a meal helps you digest the meal. 
2. Exercise  boosts your thyroid to help mood and energy.  If you exercise, you will burn calories faster even when sitting down later eating mince pies!  
3. Daylight helps your body use zinc, needed to make serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical that also helps you sleep well.  Zinc is also needed for perfect, clear skin and a healthy digestive system. 
Tip: ½ an hour brisk walk outdoors every day while it’s bright could see you into a happier, healthier 2014.

Christmas Cake (naturally free from gluten and dairy)

Christmas cake
I made this once years ago and it was so delicious we stopped making the “normal” Christmas cake.  Because of the dried fruit, this cake, like all fruit cakes is high in (natural) sugars so its never going to be a vitality boosting food.  But sometimes, who cares!!  Just click the link below to read the recipe:
Christmas cake recipe

Wishing you a healthy, happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014

For an appointment with Anna, contact The Littlejohn Centre on 01-4560300 or for more information see Anna's website


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