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.

 

 

Autumn 2019 Workshops – Restorative Yoga, Sound Healing and much more!

Autumn 2019 Workshops in the Studio

14/15 September 2019
Thai Yoga Massage Diploma with Gareth and Chantal from Cheltenham Yoga

Sunday 22 September 2019
10.30-12.30 Yin Yoga with Ann Morley

 

Yin is a deep and meditative form of yoga, using longer holds in floor postures to allow deeper tensions both emotional and physical to release. This practice nourishes the body and mind, bringing us back into balance.

 

£20 per person (+£0.91 transaction fee if paying online). These workshops are limited to 12 people, so to book your place email annmorleyyoga@gmail.com for payment details.

4-6 Restorative Yoga+ with Katie Maughfling

A two hour workshop incorporating self-myofascial release techniques, restorative yoga and, of course, a yoga nidra meditation.
Each session will have a particular anatomical focus either muscular or based on the anatomy trains of the body. £20. 50% deposit required to secure your place. Contact Katie.

 

28/29 September 2019

Pellowah Attunement 

Pellowah Attunement is a gift to yourself! Beneficial for everyone! Great for the Practitioner wishing to learn a new modality, and wonderful for individual spiritual expansion. Pellowah is easy to learn, simple to use, and enables you to create positive lasting change in your Life…

Investment for 2 Day Workshop: £363.00

Saturday 5 October 2019
3-5 Restorative Yoga and Sound Relaxation with Karan Walsh and Karina Cox

This relaxation workshop focuses on bringing ease to the mind and the body. Although we need an element of stress to motivate us to achieve our goals – ongoing stress is proven not to be good for our wellbeing. Along the way our mind-body has confused ‘being’ with ‘doing’ remaining in a state of alertness and needs to find its way back to restfulness.

Discover how therapeutic yoga, relaxation, breath-work and sound can reset the body’s stress response to rest and restore. Using gentle mindful movement to subtly release tension, simple restorative yoga postures to deeply rest, yogic breathing to calm our busy minds and sound healing to restore the vibrational frequencies of any imbalances in the body, mind and spirit.

This event is offered by Karan Walsh of Yoga Therapy Cheltenham and Karina Cox of Calmspaces.

Karina will be bringing with her a variety of sound instruments; singing bowls, tuning forks, tingsha bells. koshi wind chimes and a South American rainstick.

£20. Prior booking is essential. Limited places. To find out more or book your place visit www.yogatherapycheltenham.co.uk/book

Sunday 6 October 2019
10-11.30 Restorative Yoga with Katie Maughfling

Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing style of yoga. Each asana is held anywhere from 2-20 minutes, depending on the pose and the student. During this time you are supported by blankets, bolsters or pillows and blocks. The asanas are based on those found in a regular hatha or vinyasa class and there is a special sequencing of the poses as in a regular yoga class, whilst being held and supported throughout.
In all yoga we aim to let go of the ego, and even more so in restorative yoga. We use props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate healing and relaxation.
Cost is £15 and payment must be made in advance. A deposit is required to secure your place. Please contact Katie for further details.
Friday 11th October
Join Chantal for a Friday evening special at the wonderful Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre. You’ll be led through a soothing and calming practice completing with a guided relaxation and seated meditation. Not suitable for beginners as you’ll be participating in the class WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED THROUGHOUT BY WEARING EYE MASKS!
This will bring your focus inwards and enable you to appreciate fully the co-ordination of your movement with your slowest breath. Advance booking and payment required: £15. Contact Chantal to book.

12/13 October 2019
Thai Yoga Massage Diploma with Gareth and Chantal from Cheltenham Yoga

Sunday 20 October 2019
10.30-12.30 Yin Yoga with Ann Morley

 

Yin is a deep and meditative form of yoga, using longer holds in floor postures to allow deeper tensions both emotional and physical to release. This practice nourishes the body and mind, bringing us back into balance.

 

£20 per person (+£0.91 transaction fee if paying online). These workshops are limited to 12 people, so to book your place email annmorleyyoga@gmail.com for payment details.

Saturday 26 October 2019
3-4pm Sound Bath with David Tipper

Be immersed in the sound of gongs, singing bowls, didgeridoo, drums and more!. Cost is £10 per person and pre booking is required. Please contact Gareth on 07900 242317 or info@cheltenhamyoga.com. Look forward to seeing you there!

 

Sunday 27 October 2019

10-11.30am Restorative Yoga with Katie Maughfling

Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing style of yoga. Each asana is held anywhere from 2-20 minutes, depending on the pose and the student. During this time you are supported by blankets, bolsters or pillows and blocks. The asanas are based on those found in a regular hatha or vinyasa class and there is a special sequencing of the poses as in a regular yoga class, whilst being held and supported throughout.
In all yoga we aim to let go of the ego, and even more so in restorative yoga. We use props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate healing and relaxation.
Cost is £15 and payment must be made in advance. A deposit is required to secure your place. Please contact Katie for further details.

4-6pm Restorative Yoga+ with Katie Maughfling

A two hour workshop incorporating self-myofascial release techniques, restorative yoga and, of course, a yoga nidra meditation.
Each session will have a particular anatomical focus either muscular or based on the anatomy trains of the body. £20. 50% deposit required to secure your place. Contact Katie.

 

9/10 November 2019
Thai Yoga Massage Diploma with Gareth and Chantal from Cheltenham Yoga

Saturday 17 November 2019
10.30-12.30  Yin Yoga with Ann Morley

 

Yin is a deep and meditative form of yoga, using longer holds in floor postures to allow deeper tensions both emotional and physical to release. This practice nourishes the body and mind, bringing us back into balance.

 

£20 per person (+£0.91 transaction fee if paying online). These workshops are limited to 12 people, so to book your place email annmorleyyoga@gmail.com for payment details.

Sunday 24 November 2019
10-11.30am Restorative Yoga with Katie Maughfling

Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing style of yoga. Each asana is held anywhere from 2-20 minutes, depending on the pose and the student. During this time you are supported by blankets, bolsters or pillows and blocks. The asanas are based on those found in a regular hatha or vinyasa class and there is a special sequencing of the poses as in a regular yoga class, whilst being held and supported throughout.

In all yoga we aim to let go of the ego, and even more so in restorative yoga. We use props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate healing and relaxation.
Cost is £15 and payment must be made in advance. A deposit is required to secure your place. Please contact Katie for further details.

4-6pm Restorative Yoga+ with Katie Maughfling


A two hour workshop incorporating self-myofascial release techniques, restorative yoga and, of course, a yoga nidra meditation.
Each session will have a particular anatomical focus either muscular or based on the anatomy trains of the body. £20. 50% deposit required to secure your place. Contact Katie.

 

Saturday 30 November 2019
3-5pm Restorative Yoga and Sound Relaxation with Karan Walsh and Karina Cox

This relaxation workshop focuses on bringing ease to the mind and the body. Although we need an element of stress to motivate us to achieve our goals – ongoing stress is proven not to be good for our wellbeing. Along the way our mind-body has confused ‘being’ with ‘doing’ remaining in a state of alertness and needs to find its way back to restfulness.

Discover how therapeutic yoga, relaxation, breath-work and sound can reset the body’s stress response to rest and restore. Using gentle mindful movement to subtly release tension, simple restorative yoga postures to deeply rest, yogic breathing to calm our busy minds and sound healing to restore the vibrational frequencies of any imbalances in the body, mind and spirit.

This event is offered by Karan Walsh of Yoga Therapy Cheltenham and Karina Cox of Calmspaces.

Karina will be bringing with her a variety of sound instruments; singing bowls, tuning forks, tingsha bells. koshi wind chimes and a South American rainstick.

£20. Prior booking is essential. Limited places. To find out more or book your place visit www.yogatherapycheltenham.co.uk/book

7/8 December 2019
Thai Yoga Massage Diploma with Gareth and Chantal from Cheltenham Yoga

Sunday 15 December 2019
10.30-12.30 Yin Yoga with Ann Morley

 

Yin is a deep and meditative form of yoga, using longer holds in floor postures to allow deeper tensions both emotional and physical to release. This practice nourishes the body and mind, bringing us back into balance.

 

£20 per person (+£0.91 transaction fee if paying online). These workshops are limited to 12 people, so to book your place email annmorleyyoga@gmail.com for payment details.

Summer Workshops (Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Sound Baths)

14th July – Restorative Yoga with Katie Maughfling
10-11.30am (£15)

Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing style of yoga. Each asana is held anywhere from 2-20 minutes, depending on the pose and the student. During this time you are supported by blankets, bolsters or pillows and blocks. The asanas are based on those found in a regular hatha or vinyasa class and there is a special sequencing of the poses as in a regular yoga class, whilst being held and supported throughout.

In all yoga we aim to let go of the ego, and even more so in restorative yoga. We use props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate healing and relaxation. We have here a number of mats, blocks, blankets and bolsters, however do bring your own if you have them.

Cost is £15 and payment must be made in advance. A deposit is required to secure your place. Please contact Katie for further details.

14th July – Restorative Yoga+ with Katie Maughfling
4-6pm (£20)

A two hours workshop incorporating self-myofascial release techniques, restorative yoga and, of course, a yoga nidra meditation.
Each session will have a particular anatomical focus either muscular or based on the anatomy trains of the body.
£20. 50% deposit required to secure your place. Contact Katie to book your place.

 

27th July – Sound Bath with Nada Sound Therapy
3-4pm AND 4.30-5.30pm (£10)

Be immersed in the sound of gongs, singing bowls, didgeridoo and drums. There are two sound baths happening on this day so you can pick your time.

Cost is £10 per person and pre booking is required. Please contact Gareth on 07900 242317 or info@cheltenhamyoga.com. Look forward to seeing you there!

11th August – Yin Yoga with Ann Morley
10.30am-12.30pm (£20)

Slower, longer, deeper. A meditative style of yoga, suitable for beginners and more experiences. For more information see the Yin Workshop page.

£20 per person, limited spaces to payment is required to guarantee a space (email Ann).

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 

Kinesiology – Open Afternoon – Free 20 minute chats – 15th May 2019

So, what actually is Kinesiology? It’s a question that stumps many people – even clients who regularly come in for a session! Jeni, our new Systematic Kinesiologist, is offering FREE 20 minute sessions on Wednesday 15th May for you to find out more about whether Kinesiology can help you.

 

Book online or give us a call us on 01242 584140 to reserve your appointment!