Tier 4 Update – Clinic Open/Studio Closed

Due to the new restrictions, our studio has had to close to Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong and Tai Chi. We continue to be open for most treatments. If you have an appointment, please ring the buzzer to the left of the door and your practitioner will collect you. You can contact us via email info@chhc.co.uk or you can book appointments online. We will let you know when we are fully open again. 

COVID Lockdown 2 – Clinic remains open for some practitioners/studio closed

Update: 5th November 2020. We are now only able open for certain therapies as detailed within the Government Guidelines.

These are:

Acupuncture, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Colonic Hydrotherapy, Foot Care and Osteopathy.

Our Studio and Reception will be closed until 2nd December 2020. Appointments can be made or changed online or via email info@chhc.co.uk.

We look forward to welcoming everyone back as soon as possible.
Wishing you all well and stay safe.

What Is Taiji? – New Class Starting March 2020

What is Taiji?

Taiji  is an exercise and training system for the body and mind, one that is presented in terms of a medical model, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the same one used in Acupuncture.

As a ‘physical movement form’ each posture flows into the next pattern without pause, ensuring that the entire body is in a constant motion,  rhythm and process of transformation. This is ideal for developing  suppleness and flexibility, being sure-footed and highly co-ordinated. It builds increased stamina and muscle strength.

Taiji  also cultivates qualities of mindfulness and is often described as ‘meditation in motion’.  It is practiced through a purposeful spirit with calm, clear intentions guiding the continuity of each movement in a focused way. People also report  that Taiji promotes a certain serenity as it moves moment to moment, softly, slowly and smoothly, embodying a series of graceful expressions. 

This gentle nature is married to more stimulating phases and invigorating techniques that develop over time. As fitness builds with regular practice the movements begin to refine, deepen and cultivate a greater degree of strength, in keeping with Taiji Chuan’s origins as a ‘Soft’ Martial Art. An earlier proto-form was known as ‘Cotton Boxing’.

The movements become ‘Taiji’  when grace and power work in unison, through a harmonised interplay of ‘forces’. This is because the actions  represent the cyclic movements found in Nature…..yielding phases that gather in and root naturally lead to recoiling actions that spring forth, branching out and blossoming gestures that reach fruition in turn overflow and sink once again. These natural movements of Life are entirely resonant with the working of our own body-mind process.

There is a time, a place, a proportion to the whole form of movement. The patterns and order echo the procession of seasonal changes and processes. So at the heart of Taiji lies a natural rhythm, dance like, encouraging a continuous unfolding. Taiji is one continual movement.

That means the movements  are never forced, there is no need to strain; the muscles are lengthened rather than tensed, the joints are opened rather than locked, and connective tissues are coiled through twisting rather than rigidly stretched out.

In concert these factors help create a deep massaging through the whole body to nourish and invigorate the vital substances.

The Taiji Classic texts say Taiji is  practiced for longevity and its associated health benefits. I teach according to the principles of TCM where Chinese physicians might prescribe Qi Gong or Taiji as a special type of ‘exercise medicine’ to augment other traditional treatments such as Acupuncture and Herbs.

Taiji promotes a free flow of circulation, where the vital substances of Qi, Blood & Essence can distribute their rejuvenating properties through the entire network of organs, vessels and channels. An understanding which gives rise to the notion that Taiji is an ‘Internal’ martial art -with an emphasis on intention to ‘marshal’, guide and organise specific patterns of movement through the whole body.

Who can do it

Taiji is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. It may be especially suitable as an older adult who otherwise may not exercise. If in doubt consult your doctor beforehand for their recommendation.

What do i need

Taiji is inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can practice anywhere,  indoors or outside. You can do Taiji alone, in groups or practice in a class.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your range of motion and flat-soled flexible shoes/trainers.

The Teacher

Jeff Docherty is a professional member of the ‘Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine’

 He is qualified and insured as an Acupuncturist, Shiatsu practitioner, Meditation teacher, Taiji-Qi Gong teacher.

 

Background

Jeffs experience in Traditional Medicines began from his time living as a Yogi in Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka and India, where he was introduced to Traditional Practice in the Tibetan enclave of McCleod Ganj, 1992. He was treated and inspired by renowned Buddhist monk, Traditional Medicine practitioner, and former personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yeshi Dhonden.

On returning to the UK Jeff began studying TCM in the form of Qi Gong & Shiatsu with Chris Jarmey, well known author and teacher.  Whilst continuing with Buddhist meditation retreats in the Theravadin and Tibetan traditions in the UK, and with further study to become an Acupuncturist.

Jeff learned Sun style Taiji from 1996 with Dave Martin, Head of European operations and honoured student of Sun Jian Yun, the Founders daughter.

Jeff was asked to teach Taiji by Dave after he retired from teaching classes at Cannon Park, Coventry.

Jeff began teaching Qi Gong & Taiji in 2003 and has since worked with NHS projects, Stroud and Gloucester Colleges, a Hospice, Mental Health groups, in ‘deprived areas’, supported housing and currently runs twelve weekly classes locally.

 Jeff is currently planning to start teaching classes at Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre from Spring 2020. Please contact the centre directly on 01242 584140 or email info@chhc.co.uk to register your interest. 

UPDATE: A class will be starting on Tuesdays from 17th March 2020, 1.15-2.15pm. Cost £90 for a 10 week course. This will be a closed class to ensure everyone learns at the same rate.

Trial class will be running on 3rd March 2020, 1.15-2.15pm.

Christmas Survival Guide

CHRISTMAS survival guide

THE FUNDAMENTALS: It’s that party season again! How can you have a great time without either depriving yourself or putting on lots of weight? This Christmas Survival Guide will give you some ideas for what to avoid and what fabulous healthy and delicious choices you can make so that you look good and feel healthy in January.

  1. Don’t try to diet over the festive period. Set a maintenance goal instead. This is more realistic and much more achievable. This will give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without the feelings of deprivation or the pressure to rebel…!
  2. Take low GL dishes with you to parties. There are some fab recipes in the Holford Low GL cookbook that everyone can enjoy.
  3. Make the effort to continue with your exercise programme. If your usual classes aren’t running, choose other options instead e.g. brisk walks with friends and family.
  4. Make good alcohol choices. Avoid creamy or sweet drinks. Try to drink with food as this will reduce the impact of the sugars on your blood stream.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. If you do happen to overindulge, enjoy whatever you are indulging in and then get back on track afterwards.
  6. Normal routine tends to go out of the window over Christmas. However, make sure you don’t forget about yourself and still take the time to plan your food. That way, you will still have the right choices in the house and it will be much easier for you to succeed. At a point where we don’t want to eat the wrong things it is a shame to fail just because that is all we have to hand. This is so easy to avoid just by giving it a few minutes thought and preparation. Give yourself the best chance of succeeding!
  7. Don’t go to a party hungry. If you do, you will be getting and reacting to your body’s urges for sugar.
  8. Drink plenty of water. This will encourage you not to overeat and will also improve how you feel the next day!
  9. Watch your portion sizes – particularly fast release carbohydrates and fats
  10. Have Fun!!

If you feel that you need support with sticking to a healthy diet then Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist, works with women who are fed up with feeling a shadow of the person they used to know and love. In January she is offering personalised programmes that can help support you on that road to hormonal balance and being in control of your weight.  Click here to book in for a free 20 minute chat.

 

 

Healthier Mince Pies – Recipe!

Healthier mince pies – courtesy of Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makes 25

For the filling

1 large apple, like Braeburn, Gala

75g raisins

75g golden sultanas

75g currants

65g dried, unsweetened cranberries

60g other dried fruit (sour cherries, blueberries, mango, apricots – dried but unsweetened)

Zest and juice of an orange

50g coconut palm sugar [or 2 tsp Stevia if you’d rather]

4 tbsp organic butter, cubed

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground ginger

For the pastry

150g ground almonds

75g coconut flour

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

zest of an orange

115g butter, frozen. Plus a little extra for greasing

1 egg, lightly whisked

METHOD

Making the filling

Add all of the ingredients above (other than the brandy, if using) into a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir

When the butter is fully melted, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir through a Tablespoon of brandy, and decant into sterilized glass jars.

Leave to cool with the lid slightly ajar, then secure tightly and store until you’re ready to use.

Making the pastry

Put the ground almonds and coconut flour in a bowl with the sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the orange zest.

Grate the frozen butter into the flour and mix together with your fingers till a crumb forms.

Stir in the egg and bring together with your hands to form a dough. Divide the dough in half, wrap each in film and place in the fridge for 1 hour (or overnight).

Pre heat the oven to 175˚C. Grease the moulds of a muffin pan with a little butter.

Remove the dough from the fridge and place between 2 sheets of baking/ greaseproof paper. Roll with a rolling pin to flatten out the dough till it is pie-crust thin.

Using a cookie cutter (or an upturned jam jar – needs to be about 8cm diameter) cut out 25 circles and lightly press into the muffin pan moulds. The pastry can be tricky to work with as there is no gluten holding it together. Be patient. If the pastry splits just push it back together with your fingers and use any pastry scraps to fix it up.

Fill up each pie mould with a heaped teaspoon of the mincemeat. Using the remainder of the dough cut out 25 stars to top each pie.  Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Leave to cool in the tins, before gently easing them out. Don’t be tempted to remove from the tin when they come out of the oven. They WILL fall apart!

 

 

Are You In Perimenopause?

The peri-menopause can be one of the trickiest times for women to get their head around. One minute you’re 30, full of energy to do all the things you want in your life.

Yes, there may be challenges but none of them seem unmanageable. Life – especially when you look back – seemed pretty great. All of a sudden it seems life and age have snuck up on you. You’re just not quite the same person you used to be. You notice you get tired more easily, some days you’re literally dragging yourself through the day, you’ve lost your get up and go for no reason, the weight you used to be able to lose in the run-up to an important event stays stubbornly in place no matter what you try, and you can’t seem to shift that foggy feeling in your brain. But it can’t be the menopause, right? You’re too young…

The menopause actually refers to a time when you haven’t had a single period for at least a year. The run-up to it can last for years and it’s called the peri-menopause. Think of it as the menopause transition. It can take eight to ten years! Women typically start to experience it in their 40s – and often the most obvious signs are that your periods go a little crazy – though for some it can even start in their 30s.

In the peri-menopause, levels of one of the main female sex hormones, oestrogen, rises and falls unevenly. The length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to really heavy and with worse PMS than ever before, and you may even skip some periods – before they come back with a vengeance.

You might also experience some of the symptoms traditionally associated with the menopause, like night sweats, hot flushes, sleep problems, mood swings, more UTIs like cystitis and vaginal dryness. Around this time, you might begin to notice that weight loss becomes trickier and your digestion gets a little shaky.

The way some talk about the perimenopause, you’d think it was a disease. There’s no need to go to your doctor to get an official diagnosis – although it’s definitely worth booking and appointment, if you notice any of these specific symptoms, as they can point to other problems and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Fibroids are something very common at this time.

  • spotting after your period
  • blood clots during your period
  • bleeding after sex
  • periods that are muchlonger or much shorter than normal

If you are really struggling with your energy levels, it’s also worth getting your thyroid checked, if it hasn’t already been because perimenopausal and menopausal women are at greater risk of thyroid dysfunction. Added to this, thyroid symptoms can mimic menopausal symptoms. The ovaries, uterus, adrenal glands and the brain require adequate thyroid hormones to function.

Whatever your specific symptoms are, a tailored nutrition plan can really help. I know you could Google ‘diet for perimenopause’, but the truth is the answer lies not in fixing yourself symptom by symptom. In the human body everythingis connected in ways you might not imagine. Looking at the whole of you rather than individual complaints is the way forward.

Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist, is offering free 20 minute calls to discuss your needs.  You can book here or call us at the clinic 01242 584140 to book.

 

 

What cravings reveal about your health

Is it all in your head or is your body trying to tell you something? Some might dismiss a ‘wisdom of the body’ theory as quackery.  However, if you think about the biological processes happening within your body and the factors affecting these, the argument to substantiate a link becomes more compelling. Here’s why.

Food is so much more than just calories.  It’s information.  The body is a wonderful machine, constantly sending you signs and signals about the information (or nutrients) it needs to function at its best.  The trouble is, when you fall into unhealthy patterns, you unwittingly train your brain and body to think and crave certain foods.  Often these foods give you a quick fix. You feel great for 30 minutes, yet an hour later your energy levels are on the floor and you need another hit to keep you going. Sound familiar?

This concept applies to everyone, not just women in pregnancy who are typically associated with an appetite for unusual or inedible substances such as clay, coal or dirt (this type of craving is referred to as ‘pica’ by the way).

ARE YOU CRAVING SUGAR?

One of the most common and documented cravings is, of course, sugar.  In recent years, articles in the press have suggested sugar is as addictive as class A drugs.  How true is that really? Or, have you been simply making excuses for your lack of willpower? You’ll be glad to know there is more to it than meets the eye.

The brain needs glucose to function – sugar, which comes from carbohydrates. When you’ve got a steady release of glucose into the blood stream throughout the day, this process works as it should. You’re productive, sharp, and full of energy.  However, too much of the wrong kinds of sugar can throw things off kileter.  Eating something high sugar and high in fat (like donuts, chocolate, cake, biscuits and sweets) triggers the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of reward and satisfaction.  By falling into this trap, you train your brain to think, ‘you need to eat this to help you feel better’.  You might use these foods to regulate your mood and lower your stress.  But in the long run, this sends you on a rollercoaster – with your energy, your mood, stress levels and sleep.   Over time, this rollercoaster can result in the development of chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity, inflammation, immune suppression or chronic fatigue.

So, what causes you to crave sugar in the first place? You’re more inclined to eat these kinds of foods when you’re stressed or tired, because your brain is looking for more fuel than it would be when you are relaxed and well nourished.

Sugar also stimulates the release of tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, which in turn produces melatonin helping you get a good night’s sleep.  Similarly, woman can be more susceptible to sugar cravings around the time of their menstrual cycle. That might not come as a huge surprise to you…

Studies have shown that higher oestrogen levels are associated with greater levels of the hunger hormone, leptin, which triggers stronger cravings for sugary foods. PMS also causes the stress hormone cortisol to increase and the feel-good hormone serotonin to dip, making you reach for chocolate, chips and sugary snacks to give you a feel-good boost at that time of the month.

Generally, the foods you choose to eat every day can help to regulate or trigger these cravings.  Try switching your white bread, pasta, sugary cereals, low fat products and processed foods for lower GL (glycaemic load) alternatives such as wholegrains, pulses, root vegetables and increasing your protein intake at each meal.  This can help to regulate the release of glucose into the blood stream.  Quality proteins such as eggs, turkey, salmon and nuts and seeds are also rich in tryptophan and tyrosine, which support production of serotonin and dopamine – a much better source than a packet of chocolate digestives or a bag of sweeties.  Making the switch to a more wholesome and nourishing alternative may be a much more sustainable approach to healthy weight loss than crazy diets you might be tempted to try.

DO YOU CRAVE SALTY SNACKS?

Sugar doesn’t do it for you? Perhaps you are more inclined to reach for savoury, salty foods; crisps, salted nuts, cheese and biscuits.  Generally speaking, this may be a sign that your adrenal glands are under strain, and similar to sugar, that hankering for salt could be attributed to stress, fatigue or PMS.  You rely on your adrenals to produce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline whenever you need it. That might mean meeting that deadline at work, training for a marathon or gearing yourself up for a big presentation.

Like insulin, this is fine and necessary in the short term but chronic demand on the adrenals can result in fatigue and insufficient secretion of other hormones including aldosterone, renin and angiotensin, mineralcorticoids which regulates blood pressure by controlling fluid levels and electrolyte balance in the body.

When your adrenals are tired and don’t produce enough aldosterone, your blood pressure can become low and result in salt cravings and these might be accompanied with other symptoms such as fatigue, excessive thirst, headaches and nausea.  If you are experiencing a multitude of these symptoms, a trip to the doctor would be recommended for further investigation.

Don’t read this that I’m suggesting you need to be consuming salt by the bucket load. Too much sodium (the key element in salt) should be avoided as it can tip the hormone balance in the other direction and contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues.

Ultimately, it’s about tuning into your own body and how it’s feeling.  What signs is it giving you each day?

Working with a Nutritional Therapist can be a powerful way of tuning into your own body, equipping you with the knowledge to recognise these signs when they present themselves, and make positive changes to benefit your long-term health and wellbeing.  For more information on what this involves, contact Marianne@cotswoldnutrition.comor book in for a free 20 minute chat by clicking here

 

 

Summer Health

As we hit peak mid Summer, what can we do to look after ourselves at this time of year?

 

In Chinese Medicine terms, this is time is the utmost yang of the year and associated with the element of Fire and its corresponding organs, the small intestine, heart/pericardium and ‘triple heater’

 

 

Summer gives us the power to fully celebrate life, and nature, in its maturity. We are open to social events more than ever, need to sleep less and feel the boundless energy of the sun feeding ourselves as well as our gardens.

We need to gently be aware that we don’t overindulge and ‘burn out’, though, and make sure we still make time and space to be quiet. As summer activities can sometimes get in the way of relaxation and meditative time, it’s important to find a balance between action and just being, between social events and time to be in your garden, and allowing the earth to nourish and recharge our battery pack. Perhaps try a yin or restorative yoga class in addition to more vigorous summer sporting activities?

It’s easy to eat more healthily in the summer. If we listen to our bodies, we will naturally steer towards more vegetable based foods, salads and plenty of healthy liquids, taking advantage of what is seasonal and at its peak nutritionally and in terms of taste. However, it’s also easy to over indulge in both alcohol and summer ‘treats’ when we are in peak socialising season.  Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist, is offering a free 20 minute ‘Summer Shape Up’ chat, if you wanted to discuss in more detail about changes you could be making to your nutrition this summer.

The legendary Yellow Emperor, regarded as the founder of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has these instructive words about the season of summer in the ancient text, The Yellow Emperorʼs Classic of Internal Medicine:

“In the three months of summer there is an abundance of sunshine and rain. The heavenly energy descends, and the earthly energy rises. When these energies merge, there is intercourse between heaven and earth. As a result, plants mature and animals, flowers, and fruit appear abundantly.

One may retire somewhat later at this time of year, while still arising early. One should refrain from anger and stay physically active, to prevent the pores from closing and the chi from stagnating. One should not overindulge in sex, although one can indulge a bit more than in other seasons. Emotionally it is important to be happy and easygoing and not hold on to grudges, so that the energy can flow freely”

These words were written about four thousand years ago, and are still as relevant today.

 

Is Fat Bad?

Park the notion that fat is bad. It is not. In fact, most of us aren’t eating enough of it.

Fat can help you lose weight, protect against heart disease, absorb vitamins and boost your immune system. Do you know which fats to eat and which to avoid?

 

 

Saturated fat

These are the fats that have the worst reputation, and they’re found in animal fats and coconut oil.

Here’s the controversial bit –  because it goes entirely against what we have been told for decades (and we are still being told by government agencies) – these saturated fats that you eat – the dietary saturated fats – don’t raise cholesterol.

The fats that are ‘bad’ are the trans fats, which cause cell membranes to become stiff and hard, and they no longer function correctly. Trans fats are harmful to cardiovascular health (they lower good cholesterol – & increase level of bad cholesterol). Some transfats are contained naturally in dairy products, but particularly in processed foods (i.e. hydrogenated oils, margarine).

Monounsaturated fats

These are the kinds of fats associated with the Mediterranean diet – particularly olive oil – and populations that eat a lot of these fats, like the people of Greece and Italy, have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. Many cardiologists advocate the Mediterranean diet, as higher intakes of this kind of fat are linked to lower cholesterol (or, to be more accurate, a better ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol).

Polyunsaturated fats

You will probably know these as omega-3 and omega-6 – the essential fatty acids. ‘Essential’ relates to the fact that the body cannot make this kind of fat; you need to eat it as part of your diet – or take it as a supplement.

They fulfil many roles in the body, and sufficient levels have implications for cell membranes, hormones (they regulate insulin function), managing inflammation and immunity, mood and memory.

As a rule, omega-6 fats are not as good for you as the omega-3 fats, which are all anti-inflammatory. It’s not that omega-6 fats are inherently bad, just that it’s less good when the balance between the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids gets disturbed.

Historically, humans ate a good ratio of omega-6 to 3 – ranging between 1:1 and 4:1. The modern Western diet has changed things for the worse, and the ratio is frequently 20:1 thanks to processed foods, vegetable oils and conventionally raised (rather than grass-fed) meat.   But what happens is that you get more of this…

  •   Increase in inflammatory conditions/ autoimmune disease

  •   Obesity

  •   Heart disease

  •   Diabetes

  •   High cholesterol

  •   Cancer

Here’s why fat is essential in the body…

  • It’s a concentrated energy source.   Gram for gram, fat is twice as efficient as carbohydrates in energy production.

  • Fat can be an energy store. Excess fat is stored for future energy production (excess calorific intake).

  • Protection – internal (visceral) fat protects your internal organs, like the kidneys and spleen.

  • ‘Subcutaneous adipose tissue’ (that’s code for the fat that you can feel by pinching your skin) helps to maintain normal body temperature and provides padding.

  • Fats regulate inflammation, mood and nerve function.

  • Every cell membrane in our body is made of fat – the brain is 60% fat.

  • Many hormones are made from fat. These are known as steroid hormones and they govern stress, sex, and immune function.

  • Fats are actually essential for survival (experiments on rats in the 1920s showed that, then fat was removed from the diet they died).

  • Fat is the preferred fuel for muscles and the heart. The brain can also burn fat for fuel.

  • Essential fatty acids are required for healthy skin, healthy cell membranes, healthy nerves, healthy joints and to help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

How did fat get such a bad name?

Fat has got a bad reputation. Over the last 70 years low-fat products have been marketed as the saviour of our health. And the message from governments and the media was – and largely still is – that, when eaten, fat gets stored as fat in the body and puts us at greater risk of heart disease.

Part of the problem, of course, is that we use the same word for the fat we DON’T want (on the hips, around the middle and so on) and the fat we eat.

The demonisation of fat began when an American scientist called Ancel Keys produced the first ‘evidence’ linking saturated fat to heart disease in 1953. He based his scientific opinion on observational data of heart disease, death rates and fat consumption in six countries (ignoring statistics from a further 16 countries because they contradicted his hypothesis) and assumed a correlation between heart disease and eating fat. (As an aside, when another scientist looked at the same research, this time considering ALL 22 countries’ data, no correlation was found).  Although there might have been correlation (there was a relationship), it was not causal (didn’t actually cause the situation).

A further study on rabbits compounded Ancel Keys’ hypothesis: The rabbits were fed cholesterol (which doesn’t normally form a part of their 100% veggie diet) and went on to develop fatty deposits in their arteries. And then, guess what happened? Poor bunnies!

Governments (and their health care agencies) across the world began advocating a low fat diet.  They told us to fill up on bread, rice, cereals and pasta, and opt for low-fat or no-fat alternatives wherever we could.

Soon, the food industry jumped on board to create products that better satisfied this new advice. They replaced saturated fats with ‘healthier’ vegetable oils, like margarine and shortening – ironically trans fats are now one of the few fats research shows ARE linked to heart disease. The biggest problem is that, when you remove the fat from foods, you need to replace it with something else to make those foods palatable – and this replacement is sugar. This was a REALLY bad move.

My favourite fats

AVOCADOS They go with practically anything and are high in both vitamin E and in healthy monounsaturated fats. Slice it, mash it, love it!

COCONUT OIL There’s so much to like. Apart from helping reduce bad cholesterol and blood pressure, coconut oil is an anti-fungal (caprylic acid) when used both externally or internally. The ideal replacement for butter in baking and as your oil of choice when frying (though we think it works best if you’re cooking something with an Asian influence).

NUTS Packed with nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E, nuts bring plenty of essential fats to the table. They make the perfect snack – eat a handful (preferably raw) with a small piece of fruit or spread a little nut butter on an oatcake (peanut butter is just for starters – try almond for a change).

OILY FISH are chock full of omega 3 fatty acids, which are the building blocks of your sex hormones, so are essential for hormone balance. We love them all!

OLIVE OIL Use cold pressed organic oil as a dressing on salads rather than to cook with as the high temperatures reached when roasting or frying can turn the oil rancid.

Cooking with fat

How the fat is used (through cooking and processing) is a big deciding factor whether it is healthy or unhealthy. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) become free radicals in the presence of light, oxygen and heat.  That is because frying with oils like olive oil at high temperature leads to oxidation and the production of free radicals – highly inflammatory for the body and may increase the risk of heart disease or cancer.

Use these oils for cooking:

Coconut oil, rapeseed (vegetable) oil, avocado oil, butter or ghee, or goose fat (clarified butter).

NOT olive oil or sunflower oil. Don’t use sunflower oil at all (although do eat the seeds) and save olive oil for dressings on salads.

Marianne Andrews – Nutritional Therapist

www.cotswoldnutrition.com