Not a question that you were expecting I would imagine?!This may seem like a totally unrelated subject but in this article I aim to give a small but vital insight into this subject; specifically when considering the optimal conditioning for winter sports. To begin with it is paramount to understand two things;
- The first is that whenever an organ experiences inflammation or pain there is a reflex inhibition of an associated muscle due to innervation by the same nerve.
- The second point leads on from the first in that the human body is a system of interlinked systems and to treat organs, joints and muscles in isolation misses a vital point, meaning that we won't get to the root cause of dysfunction and injury.
"What's the big deal and what has this to do with my knee"You may ask. Well here's the problem for the skier. Another very important function of the hamstring is to assist in the integrity of the knee joint at the distal end due to the fact that the hamstrings cross the knee and attach to the Tibia and Fibula; having the mechanical effect of pulling the Femur and the Tibia and Fibula together. When the hamstring is over working to stabilise the pelvis the whole muscle becomes fatigued leaving the knee joint relatively unstable. This is where the cruciate ligament finally comes into play. When the hamstrings have become fatigued the cruciate ligament now has very little help in its role to stabilise the knee. So picture the end of your day on the slopes; you've been on your skis all day, you're tired, the snow is rough and rutted; you hit a rut, catch an edge or have a collision with another skier and an anterior sheer force is placed upon your knee; your overly working and fatigued hamstrings don't fire as quickly or effectively as they should and suddenly BANG you feel an intense pain in your knee; the next thing you know you're being airlifted off the mountain! The sad end to this tragic tale is that your poor cruciate ligament couldn't cope with the extra strain it had to deal with as its synergistic hamstrings become too fatigued to do their job.
Many people never recover fully from this type of injuryAs they receive suboptimal rehabilitation, and they may never ski again. I feel that's a huge sacrifice to make when we consider that small dietary changes could make all the difference to the function of the Transversus Abdominus; the primary muscle in this chain of events. So let's go back to the inflammation in the gut, which is the underlying cause of this injury. Put simply, when we are regularly consuming foods that we have an inability to digest properly, this creates constant inflammation in the intestines due to the secretory (IgA) antibodies in the mucus membranes being triggered to attack these undigested food particles. This sets up a battle ground in the intestines, which, given time, can lead to leaky gut syndrome, causing an even more serious, chronic immune response, which we needn't go into here. Two of the main culprits, in most modern diets, are gluten and diary, both of which the adult human body was never really designed to digest.
Think about your diet and ask yourself how often you're consuming foods containing gluten and diary?Is it everyday? For many it is nearly every meal! That croissant and cappuccino for breakfast; that sandwich for lunch; that cereal based "energy" bar, with a cup of tea (with milk), in the afternoon, and that pasta dish for dinner, with a nice bowl of ice cream for desert. If this is the case then you will almost certainly be creating constant inflammation in your intestines and the subsequent chain of events, mentioned previously, will be quietly waiting for that rut, edge catch or collision! When we consider food intolerance, let me ask you this, do you suffer with that troublesome "paunch" belly that won't go away no matter how many crunches you do? Do you often feel bloated after eating? Do you suffer with trapped wind or digestive discomfort? If so the chances are this is your body sending you a message that I really hope you're listening to! Many times my clients have cut out dairy and gluten in order to activate that vital Transversus Abdominus in the clinical environment, and on the slopes.
SuggestionsI suggest try cutting out gluten and dairy for 3 weeks and see if you notice any differences. You may be surprised at an improvement in your energy levels, digestion and body composition in this short time, let alone the function of your vital stabilisation system. After 3 weeks you can then reintroduce gluten and dairy one at a time and see if you notice any difference. If you do then you are seeing the results of a food intolerance at work and you may wish to cut out that foodstuff on a more regular basis. So, see if you notice any differences in how you feel. If you do, you can be confident that your body has the potential to function more effectively and keep you safe when you're enjoying those precious days on the slopes.
By Mark Zawadski - Chek practitioner @ BodyWorksWest for more information on injury prevention contact Mark.email@example.com
It is a common misconception that coconut oil is bad for you. People all over the world are experiencing the healthy benefits of using coconut oil. It is actually one of the healthiest oils you can consume. Here are the top seven reasons why you should use coconut oil as an alternative to other common cooking oils.
1. Coconut oil doesn't turn to fat in your body.Unlike many other common oils, like soy (vegetable) and corn, coconut oil won't make you fat. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are an easy fuel for the body to burn, without turning to fat. Most other cooking oils and fats contain long-chain triglycerides (LCT). LCT's are usually stored as fat. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is more easily absorbed and converted to energy quicker. People in the tropics have relied on coconuts as a traditional staple in their diet for centuries. They consume large amounts of coconut oil every day. Instead of getting fatter, it helps them stay healthy, lean and trim. When they switch from coconut oil to our modern oils, they develop obesity and the health problems that our modern society faces. Some other people who have known this truth for a long time are people who are in the animal feed business. When livestock are fed vegetable oils, they put on weight and produce more fatty meat. When they are fed coconut oil, they become very lean.
2. Coconut oil increases your metabolism.Not only does coconut oil convert to energy quicker in your body, it increases your metabolism, which promotes weight loss. Because it boosts your metabolism, it helps your body burn fat more effectively. Coconut oil may triple your calorie burn. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is converted to energy so quickly that it creates a lot of heat. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, MCT's burn three times more calories for six hours after a meal than LCT's. The February 15, 2005 issue of Woman's World magazine stated that coconut oil is the "underground high-metabolism secret." This is great news for people who have thyroid problems, since coconut oil improves sluggish thyroids by stimulating the production of extra thyroid hormones. Most other common oils, like vegetable (soy) and corn have been shown to inhibit thyroid function.
3. Coconut oil has omega 3 fatty acids.Most cooking oils contain omega 6 fatty acids, something we get way too much of in the United States. Our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio should be 1:1 but it is more like 50:1. We need to drastically cut back our omega 6 oils and consume much more omega 3 oils to be healthy. And coconut oil is filled with these healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
4. Coconut oil gives you energy.Because of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids and the fact that it increases the metabolism, most people that switch to coconut oil feel a burst of added energy in their daily life. This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), which increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCT's promote thermogenesis, which increases the body's metabolism, producing energy. This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), which increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCT's promote thermogenesis, which increases the body's metabolism, producing energy. Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia have found that adding coconut and coconut oil to their diet was helpful to them.
5. One of the best things you can use on your skin and hair is coconut oil.Coconut oil one of the best things you can apply directly on your skin and hair. It gives temporary relief to skin problems like rashes. It aids in healing and restoring skin to a younger appearance. It has also been known to help with people who suffer from yeast infections in the skin, as well as many other skin problems. Not only does is soften and smooth your skin, coconut oil has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage. Coconut oil makes excellent massage oil too.
6. Coconut oil has healthy benefits that most other oils do not.Evidence is mounting that coconut oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antiviral effects when both consumed and used topically on the skin. Most oils oxidize and turn rancid very quickly causing free radical damage in our bodies. Coconut oil is not easily oxidized and does not cause harmful free radical damage like polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Free radical damage is thought to be responsible for many ailments in our body from arthritis to increased susceptibility to cancers. Coconut oil also helps our bodies absorb other nutrients more effectively, such as Vitamin E.
7. Coconut oil is one of the best oils you can use for cooking.It has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means it can take higher temperatures better. There are several healthy omega 3 oils we can choose to consume, such as flax and olive oil, but they don't do well under the high heat we use for cooking. Coconut oil can be used in higher cooking temperatures. It is harder for coconut oil to go rancid, unlike other cooking oils, which are usually rancid long before you even bring them home. Rancid oils cause free radical damage in the body, which is a leading cause of cancer. Coconut oil is stable for over a year at room temperature. Because of the misinformation we have been given for years, we have lost out on the healthy benefits that coconut oil has given the people of the tropics for centuries. But now it has been rediscovered! Coconut oil is so effective, it won't be long before we see coconut oil supplements promoted, but you can get the jump on the popular crowd and start consuming and cooking with coconut oil today!
First off, I want to mention that, for most people, getting six pack abs is not an easy task. It requires dedication, but it is possible! Below is a general 2-step guide that, if followed religiously for 3 months, will produce results.
Step 1: NutritionThis is the single most important part of the puzzle, hands down. You can have the most impressive set of abs, but if they're covered with a layer of fat, you won't see them! Break up your day with 5 or 6 mini-meals because this jump starts your metabolism. And stop eating the food that is preventing results: white bread, loads of pasta, soda, candy, fast food, hydrogenated oils, sugars and fructose corn syrup.\n\nInstead, replace them with foods that will help you reach your goal: oatmeal, olive oil, whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, natural peanut butter, chicken, fish, protein and water. Be realistic- you'll slip here and there, but make a conscious effort to radically improve your eating habits because getting a six pack will be impossible if you don't.\n\nIncluded in every BodyWorksWest Membership is a monthly session with a fitness professional which consists of a Boditrax consultation (a medical grade body composition scale) to hold you accountable and track your progress. This is the single most important part of the puzzle, hands down. You can have the most impressive set of abs, but if they're covered with a layer of fat, you won't see them! Break up your day with 5 or 6 mini-meals because this jump starts your metabolism. And stop eating the food that is preventing results: white bread, loads of pasta, soda, candy, fast food, hydrogenated oils, sugars and fructose corn syrup. Instead, replace them with foods that will help you reach your goal: oatmeal, olive oil, whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, natural peanut butter, chicken, fish, protein and water. Be realistic- you'll slip here and there, but make a conscious effort to radically improve your eating habits because getting a six pack will be impossible if you don't. Included in every BodyWorksWest Membership is a monthly session with a fitness professional which consists of a Boditrax consultation (a medical grade body composition scale) to hold you accountable and track your progress.
Step 2: ExerciseYou need to concern yourself with 3 different exercises: cardio, weight lifting and ab exercises. And aim to workout 3- 4 times a week. The cardio you do can be anything: walking, running, biking, swimming.... whichever cardio you don't mind doing so that you'll stick with it. Aim for 30-45 minutes, a minimum of 2 times a week. Weightlifting is important because 3 pounds of added muscle burns as many calories as a 1-mile jog...and this is while you're just sitting around! Aim for 30-45 minutes, a minimum of 2 times a week. If you're confused as to what exercises to do for each body part the BodyWorksWest fitness professionals have extensive knowledge and will happily share their top tips. The last exercise you need to incorporate into your workout is ab exercises. Aim to work your abs a minimum of 3 times a week. There are a ton of different ab exercises you can do so try to find 3 or so that you enjoy doing so you can mix it up. A good database of different ab exercises is: https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/muscle/id/13/muscle/abdominals Tip: mix up your workout routine every 2 weeks to keep your body guessing and changing. Add or take away different weight or ab exercises, or at the very least, vary the weight, reps or form of cardio you do. Well, there you have it. Follow the above for 3 months religiously, and while results will vary from person to person, you will experience improvement. It will take dedication on your part, but imagine the feeling you'll get when you look in the mirror and like what you see.
If you’re feeling sluggish after a long winter, March is the perfect month to overhaul your diet and lifestyle and put the spring back in your step. If you’re ready to make some changes, be sure to maximise your efforts by avoiding the most common dieting mistakes. Here are three key areas to focus on if you want to stay in great shape.
- Don’t Skip Meals
- Manage Your Portions Carefully
- Watch out for hidden sugar
There are times on your weight loss journey when progress can come to a halt. Days or weeks can go by without you seeing movement on the scale, and it can get downright frustrating. After working with thousands of clients, I’ve noticed certain patterns that can cause this weight loss stoppage. Here are 3 of those patterns.
1) Eating more than you think you are.Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Zone Delivery Service, and other diet systems have one undeniable benefit to them – they define for the average person how large an actual “serving” is. Most of us underestimate the volume of food we eat (and consequently, underestimate the number of calories we consume in a day). By fixing in your head what a serving size or “portion” of food looks like, we can better estimate (and consequently, evaluate and calibrate) the amount of food we eat at each meal. Keep in mind, when it comes to weight loss, you need to take in less calories than you burn each day. Two good rules of thumb: A portion of meat (3 oz.) is the size of a deck of cards. A portion of carbohydrates (1 cup) is the size of a tennis ball. Please remember to fill up on non-starchy vegetables – they are full of nutrients, have very little impact on blood sugar, and contain little in the way of calories.
2) Not eating frequently enough.It is a social custom to eat “three square meals” a day. While this may do for social purposes, for weight loss, you will want to aim for more frequent feedings. It is recommended that you consume a minimum of 5-6 small meals each day. By doing so, your body gets the signal that food is abundant, and there is no need to conserve energy. Additionally, frequent feedings maximize your metabolism, as your body is constantly busy, burning calories by digesting your meals. By not letting too much time pass between meals, you stabilize blood sugar levels since they never really get the chance to drop. By keeping your blood sugar stable, your hunger levels are minimized, decreasing the chances that you will be tempted to overeat at your next meal.
3) Choosing to drink your calories instead of eating them.This is a very common problem among those attempting weight loss, due to the abundance of “healthy” diet smoothies, protein concoctions, and weight loss shakes. There are 2 factors to keep in mind when relying on these liquid meal replacements. First, many of the liquid diet shakes on the market and all fruit smoothies have an abundance of sugar in them. This causes an immediate surge in energy followed by a huge crash due to the release of insulin to control the blood sugar rise. This dramatic shift in blood hormone levels (particularly insulin levels) is something you want to avoid, both for health reasons and for weight loss. Secondly, most weight loss shakes are devoid of fiber. Fiber is one of your most precious allies when you are dieting. It helps you feel full and blunts the rise in insulin levels when all that sugar hits your bloodstream. While fruit smoothies do contain some of the fiber from the pulp of the fruit, a better strategy would be to eat the actual fruits contained in the smoothie. Lastly, the amount of calories that can be concentrated into a shake or smoothie is far greater than the equivalent volume of actual food. A 16 oz fruit smoothie may contain as many as 600 calories, and will not fill you up all that much! On the other hand, eating 600 calories of fruit will prove to be much more than the typical person can manage in a single sitting (at least, I personally don’t know anyone that can eat more than 2 pounds of bananas at a single sitting!). Think about it- when making major dietary changes, you want to get the most out of your calories. Wouldn’t you rather fill up, rather than drink something and be hungry again soon after?
#1 Don’t Skip BreakfastThe morning meal jump starts your metabolism and helps to prevent bingeing later in the day. A cup of coffee does not count – the caffeine and added sugar may give you a bit of energy and suppress your appetite for a little while it is sure to back fire into severe hunger and you will be more likely to overeat later. Breakfast should include complex carbohydrates like whole grain (granola or oatmeal), along with some protein and fat (low-fat yogurt or milk), will keep your energy levels even and hunger in check.
#2 Eat more oftenGet into the habit of eating every three to four hours or at least four times a day. Eating frequently stabilizes blood sugar, when blood sugar drops too low you want to eat…a lot. By keeping your blood sugar stable you can control your appetite and keep you metabolic rate high. When you go many hours without eating your body will compensate by slowing down to conserve energy…this effect hurts your weight loss efforts.
#3 Eat protein at every mealProtein will help to reduce your appetite, it takes more energy and time to digest, in effect you feel full longer than eating carbohydrates alone. Research shows that eating more protein can help you lose weight without cutting calories. Try these protein possibilities: turkey on whole wheat; hummus and pita; vegetarian chili; fruit and nuts; or protein snack bars that contain 12 or more grams of protein.
#4 Hold off on snackingMany of us grab a snack for quick energy when we are feeling tired. But do not confuse true hunger with fatigue. If you are feeling tired go for a 15-20 minute brisk walk. This will raise your heart rate and give you a boost of energy. Follow it up with a large glass of cool water. If you are truly hungry have a protein and complex carbohydrate rich snack like; whole wheat crackers and peanut butter or cheese.
#5 Consume enough for your body’s needsEating too little slows your body’s metabolism the same way eating to infrequently does. If you want to lose weight, do not slash your calories too drastically. Instead, cut out some of the extras in your diet – things like soda, juice, packaged goods or candy. Processed foods tend to be high in fat and calories and low in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
A Lost Cause?On Friday afternoon after you leave work, you probably think about going out and having a few drinks with friends to relax and wind down. Even though you may think you deserve to go out and have a few drinks, there are some things that you should certainly keep in mind. Like any other day, tomorrow is going to be a day for exercise, and since you are exercising on a regular basis, a few drinks of alcohol won't really hurt anything, right? Before you decide to rush out to the local bar, there are a few things below that you should think about before you make your choice about going out to drink some alcohol. Research has proven that even small amounts of alcohol with increase muscular endurance and the output of strength, although these types of benefits are very short lived. After 20 minutes or so, the problems will begin to surface. All of the negative side effects associated with alcohol will easily outweigh any possible benefits that it can have. No matter how you look at it, alcohol is a poison that can really harm your body if you aren't careful. The negative side of alcohol can reduce your strength, endurance, aerobic capability, recovery time, ability to metabolize fat, and even your muscle growth as well. Alcohol will also have an effect on your nervous system and brain. If you use it long term, you can cause severe deterioration of your central nervous system. Even with short term use, nerve muscle interaction can be reduced which will result in a loss of strength. Once alcohol reaches the blood cells, it can and probably will damage them. With alcohol users, inflammation of the muscle cells is a very common thing. Over periods of time, some of these cells that have been damaged can die which will result in less functional muscle contractions. Drinking alcohol will also leave you with more soreness of your muscles after you exercise, which means that it will take you a lot longer to recuperate. Alcohol will also have many different effects on your heart and circulatory system as well. When you drink any type of alcohol, you may begin to see a reduction in your endurance capabilities. Any time you drink, your heat loss will increase, due to the alcohol simulating your blood vessels to dilate. The loss in heat can cause your muscles to become quite cold, therefore become slower and weaker during your muscle contractions. Drinking alcohol can also lead to digestive and nutrition problems as well. Alcohol causes a release of insulin that will increase the metabolism of glycogen, which spares fat and makes the loss of fat very hard. Due to alcohol interfering with the absorption of several key nutrients, you can also become anaemic and deficient with B type vitamins. Because your liver is the organ that detoxifies alcohol, the more you drink, the harder your liver has to work. The extra stress alcohol places on your liver can cause serious damage and even destroy some of your liver cells. Since alcohol is diuretic, drinking large amounts can put a lot of stress on your kidneys as well. During diuretic action, the hormones are secreted. This can lead to heightened water retention and no one who exercises will want this to happen. If you must drink alcohol, you should do it in moderation and never drink before you exercise, as this will impair your balance, coordination, and also your judgement. Think about your health and how you exercise - and you may begin to look at things from a whole new prospective.
Importance for building muscleProtein is important for building muscle. But you could eat 100% of your calories from protein, and you won’t gain an ounce of muscle if your daily total calorie intake isn’t greater than your daily calorie output. To build muscle, you require a balanced diet that provides approximately 300-500 more calories than your maintenance calorie intake level. All the protein you require to build extra muscle will be contained in this amount of food, provided your diet is balanced properly. A diet that provides 10%-15% of calories from protein is all that is required to grow muscle. Consider this: Infancy is the time of a human’s life when growth is the most rapid, and when protein needs are the highest. Yet, human breast milk contains only 10% protein by calories (versus about 30% for cow’s milk). This is more than adequate to meet the needs of a growing human infant who doubles its weight in 6 months and triples its weight in a year. You aren’t going to grow new lean tissue nearly as fast, (0.5-2.5 pounds a week) so forget about stuffing yourself with protein…just eat a balanced diet. Besides, when your protein intake is too high, you crowd out other calorie-dense foods from your diet that are needed to provide energy, and that spare protein for growth. Why do you think people lose weight on a high-protein diet?
How does exercise affect my protein requirement?Numerous studies involving both endurance and strength exercise have shown that the current recommended protein intake of 0.75 g/kg body weight/day is inadequate for people who participate in regular exercise or sport. Additional protein is needed to compensate for the increased breakdown of protein during and immediately after exercise, and to facilitate repair and growth. Exercise triggers the activation of an enzyme that oxidises key amino acids in the muscle, which are then used as a fuel source. The greater the exercise intensity and the longer the duration of exercise, the more protein is broken down for fuel. In addition, dietary protein provides an enhanced stimulus for muscle growth. To build muscle, you must be in ‘positive nitrogen balance’. This means the body is retaining more dietary protein than is excreted or used as fuel. A sub-optimal intake of protein will result in slower gains in strength, size and mass, or even muscle loss, despite hard training. In practice the body is capable of adapting to slight variations in protein intake. It becomes more efficient in recycling amino acids during protein metabolism if your intake falls over a period of time. The body car also adapt to a consistently high protein intake by oxidising surplus amino acids for energy. It is important to understand that a high protein diet alone will not result in increased strength or muscle size. These goals can only be achieved when an optimal protein intake is combined with heavy resistance (strength) training.
How much protein do I need for maximum performance?For an endurance athlete, the recommended range is 1.2-1.4 g/kg body weight/day (Lemon, 1998; Williams & Devlin, 1992; Williams, 1998; ACSM, 2000). Many recent studies show that strength and power athletes have a greater daily requirement for protein than most endurance athletes. The current consensus recommendation is an intake between 1.4 and 1.8 g/kg body weight/day (Williams, 1998; Tarnopolsky et al., 1992; Lemon et al., 1992). The American Dietetic Association and ACSM recommend 1.6-1.7 g/ kg body weight per day. So, for example, a distance runner weighing 70 kg would need 84-98 g/day. A sprinter or body-builder with the same body weight would need 98-126 g/day. In practice, protein intakes generally reflect total calorie intake, which is why the International Consensus Conference on Foods, Nutrition and Performance in Lausanne (1991) stated that protein should comprise 12-15% of total energy intake. This assumes that your calorie intake matches your calorie requirements.
Trying to keep up with the ever-growing range of so-called ‘superfoods’ available in the shops can be an expensive business. However, a number of excellent alternatives can be found in some everyday foods which can really help to keep the costs down, so that it’s possible to eat healthily without breaking the bank. Here’s a selection of some of the more pricey culprits with a cheaper and equally healthy alternative. SUPERFOOD: CHIA SEEDS One of the latest ‘superfoods’ to hit the headlines, chia seeds are rich in fibre and the omega 3 fatty acid ALA which the body converts to EPA and DHA which are the more active forms of omega 3 that have documented health benefits (although some people lack the enzyme required to convert ALA to EPA and DHA). Chia seeds also contain a range of minerals and some protein and they are believed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, providing protection against a range of chronic health conditions. But all this comes at a cost if you’re adding them to your muesli or porridge on a daily basis, as just a small packet leaves a pretty large hole in your wallet. SWAP FOR: FLAX SEED - An excellent and cheaper source of all the same nutrients, the humble flax seed is a brilliant alternative, although it needs to be ground to ensure you get all the benefits of the omega 3. Milled flaxseed is easily available in health-food stores, but if you invest in a small grinder upfront then you can easily save £3-£4 by buying the whole seed and grinding it yourself before adding it to your breakfast cereal. If you’re prepared to think outside the box, then having an egg for breakfast instead could be a very smart move: animal sources of omega 3, such as eggs from pasture-fed hens, can provide a direct source of both EPA and DHA the fatty acids which play a key part in heart and brain health, as well as relieving symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or eczema. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein and the yolk is mineral-rich, containing selenium, iron and iodine. SUPERFOOD: GOJI BERRIES Goji berries have been an A-lister in ‘superfood’ terms for some time now and these shrivelled and rather chewy red berries do have an interesting nutrient profile. Unusually for plant foods, they are a source of complete protein, which means that they contain all the essential amino acids in one easy package. Goji berries have been used for centuries in China, where they are thought to promote longevity and they contain antioxidant compounds called carotenes, which may help to protect against macular degeneration and some cancers, as well as other antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc which can help to support optimal immune function and reduce free radical damage to DNA. All great news so far, until you take a look at the price! SWAP FOR: RASPBERRIES Gram for gram, you get a lot more bang for your buck if you opt raspberries, especially if they’re in season, as studies have shown that the antioxidant effect is much higher when fruit is fully ripe. As raspberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and a range of flavonoids, they provide highly effective immune support. Early stage research suggests that plant compounds in raspberries support enzymatic action in the body which may help speed up the metabolism of fat cells, help to improve weight management and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Raspberries are full of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the antioxidant ellagic acid, which helps to relieve the symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s Disease. SUPERFOOD: QUINOA One of the key advantages of quinoa is the rich nutrient profile: most grains are high in starch, but not only does quinoa contain protein, but it’s one of the rare plant sources of complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids. Quinoa also contains good levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and small amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Unlike other grains, such as wheat, quinoa has a mineral profile which includes magnesium, zinc and copper and it contains a range of antioxidants, including gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E which is highly anti-inflammatory. The lack of gluten in quinoa makes it an excellent option for anyone with gluten sensitivity or for those who find it difficult to digest wheat. SWAP FOR: LENTILS Lentils may be less fashionable than quinoa but they pack a powerful health punch and are both cheap and easy to find and cook. Lentils are an excellent source of soluble fibre, which helps to regulate cholesterol levels in the body and promote heart health. They also contain folate and B vitamins which help to lower excessive levels of homocysteine that can lead to damage of artery walls and magnesium which helps to improve circulation and to maintain a healthy blood pressure. The blend of protein and fibre in lentils regulates blood sugar levels and promotes sustained energy. Lentils are also a great source of iron, which keeps energy levels nicely topped up. SUPERFOOD: KALE Since kale first hit the headlines, it has become increasingly expensive and it isn’t always easy to find. Raw kale can be pretty chewy, but if you steam it, you get the added benefit of increasing its cholesterol-lowering properties as well as making it easier to eat. The vitamin and mineral profile of kale is outstanding, providing a rich source of vitamins A and C, B vitamins, manganese, copper and calcium, as well as being one of the best sources of vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to regulate the inflammatory processes in the body, which can relieve symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions. High levels of glucosinolates and antioxidants contribute to the anti-cancer profile of kale, with the most robust research associating kale with a reduced risk of breast and colon cancers. S WAP FOR: CAULIFLOWER The humble cauliflower may not look very exciting, but it stacks up very well next to kale, as it contains a whole host of health benefits. Cauliflower is a great source of a whole range of vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, choline and manganese. Like all cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower has a strong association with cancer prevention and contains a range of plant compounds that are believed to reduce the risk of bladder, bowel and breast cancer, in particular. Packed with enzymes that support the detoxification processes in the liver and full of antioxidants for immune support, cauliflower is the ideal, cheap and easy superfood swap if you want a change from kale. SUPERFOOD: ALMONDS There’s no doubt about the broad range of health benefits derived from eating almonds, but in their raw, whole form with skins (which is how you get the most health benefits) even a small pack of almonds doesn’t come cheap. As well as being packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, regular consumption of almonds can help to reduce levels of bad LDL cholesterol and the serious levels of antioxidants found in almonds adds to the list of the cardio-protective benefits, as well as supporting the immune function. The healthy fat profile of almonds is an added bonus, as they’re especially high in monounsaturated fats as well as containing good levels of omega 3. There’s also an association with blood sugar regulation, which can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and promote weight management and there’s no doubt that the blend of protein and fibre will keep you going for longer than more starchy snacks. SWAP FOR: ROASTED CHICK PEAS Roasting your own chick peas is easy peasy! All you need to do is drain a can of chick peas, dry and then toss them in olive oil and optional extras such as garlic powder, paprika or cumin and then roast for about 30-40 minutes until they’re crunchy and golden. Far cheaper and longer lasting than a small pack of almonds, you’ll also benefit from a range of supportive nutrients. Like almonds, chick peas are a great blend of protein and fibre which maintains blood sugar levels and promotes sustained energy. Recent studies also suggest that chick peas help to activate the satiety response in the body which lets you now when you’re ‘full’ supporting weight management. Rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre, they provide excellent support to the colon and the soluble fibre they contain can also help to regulate levels of bad cholesterol. The high concentration of antioxidant manganese and flavonoids provide cardiovascular support and help to reduce the risk of chronic disease. All that for about 50p! Jackie Lynch Registered Nutritional Therapist Clinic sessions at BWW on Wednesdays from 4-8pm. For more information or to book a session, please visit www.well-well-well.co.uk Twitter: @WellWellWellUK