Feeling it in my Bones…

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How Nutrition can impact on Bone health and what you can do about it.

IMG_1680Bones are fibres that are composed of minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorus. They can support large weights without breaking or bending or crushing. Although you are born with soft bones, through ossification they continually harden until they age of 25. After this age though, you begin to lose bone mass by approx 1% a year. Approx 10% of your bone is replaced each year. So a good foundation in terms of bone is vital for future bone health. When Menopause occurs there is a phase where women lose bone at a faster rate than what it is reabsorbed resulting in thinning. So having this strong foundation lowers the risk of Osteoporosis. As we age more bone cells die than are replaced leading to thinning – this is natural but some people are at a higher risk of Osteoporosis than others. Women for example have a higher risk due to menopause causing a lessening in bone protective Oestrogen.

Bones and Diet.
Caffeine can affect bone mass by increasing Calcium loss from the kidneys, but also fizzy drinks can have a double whammy due to Phosphoric Acid in Cola being linked to lowering of bone density.
Too much Alcohol can deplete minerals and also affects how Calcium is absorbed.
Too much salt also increases the Calcium lost in the urine. Finally, being overweight adds extra pressure to your bones too and increases risk of Arthritis.
As mentioned Calcium – found readily in dairy and dark green leafy veg as well as dried fruit and rhubarb, oranges and melons- is a main player in terms of bone health but Phosphorus is also an important nutrient that has an impact (see Phosphoric Acid) . Vitamin D works synergistically in terms of aiding bone health and is found in meat, eggs, oily fish, milk and fortified cereals. Potassium and Magnesium influence bone health and can be found in Bananas and Apricots and whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes respectively.
A well balanced diet full of whole foods and less refined products will help you on your way to maintaining good bone health as you age. Adding in some regular weight bearing exercise and healthy lifestyle choices such as swapping water for fuzzy drinks will ensure you protect those bones from thinning too much.


Fads, food, fasting and expensive urine…

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One thing that annoys me as a Nutritionist is the prevalence of faddy diets- in particular the liquid meal replacement or fasting/cleansing ones. You know the ones, where you drop your calorie intake to a ridiculously low level which is barely enough to keep your metabolic functions going. Ones where you drink shakes instead of meals and because they are so fantastic and filling you end up having to supplement with sugar pills to keep you from lapsing into a hypoglycaemic- induced rage and chewing your own arm off…

Others profess to being healthful and even more nutritious than eating a balanced diet and are so good that they even do away with the need to get your nutrients solely from food and have these drinks instead. I personally thought that was what multivitamins were for and they seem quite a bit less expensive. You can now drink your fruit and veg in the form of powder- freeze dried fruit and veg so you don’t have to juice, squeeze or blend to drink them. You can have added protein (usually from Soy –don’t get me started!) to make it a complete meal. On one of the sites you are still encouraged to eat plenty fruit and veg and snacks each day, so why not just eat more fruit and veg in your daily eating habits then and address the problem at its root? If you struggle to get your 5, 7 or 10 a day buy a multivitamin –it’s a lot cheaper than these drinks but nothing beats the nutrients from foods in their natural form.

We need to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg- that is a given, but how about we show and encourage people with how to cook them, how to prepare them and how to enjoy the health benefits they give us as part of a balanced diet.

We have teeth to chew with, we don’t need to be on liquid diets like we are on some sort of drip feeding. We have sophisticated digestive systems where the digestive process begins from the moment your mouth starts to water. Although I haven’t ever salivated at the thought of a meal replacement shake! When your mouth waters digestive enzymes are secreted and the process of digesting carbohydrates begins. Fruit and veg are complex carbs by the way at least in their natural whole form. When you drink them to be able to do so, you have to remove the fibre and pulp and turn them into simple carbohydrates.- the type of carbohydrates we are told to moderate due to the effects on blood sugar levels (which is why people are encouraged to eat oranges rather than drink orange juice etc.).

But these meal replacement shakes have Protein making them a complete meal” and “it makes weight loss so easy” I hear you say! – Then cook a bloody meal instead. Eat more fruit and veg and take a multivitamin if you need, get plenty of exercise and clean up your eating but don’t do this temporary, disingenuous fix for weight loss. This is a temporary fix because no-one can do this indefinitely. Very low calorie diets like this damage your body and your metabolism in the long term. Your body adapts to the lower calorie regime anyways but because it is so hard to eat like this for very long, most people have gone back to eating normally and assume they would have kept losing weight at that rate had they continued. If you don’t believe me then there are a wealth of other qualified professionals out there in agreement. www.target-zone.co.uk/blog/juice-plus-herbalife-the-truth

Let’s go back to the liquid weight loss diets for second, go onto any of their web sites and you will see that these plans also offer supplements to go along with the “meals” (the cost is starting to rack up now isn’t it?) These supplements you end up buying because you have already purchased your months’ supply of liquid meals and you so desperately want to lose weight and you want to lose it quickly. You have spent your hard earned cash on a months’ worth of liquid meals and you need results. These supplements have wonderful ingredients to help your efforts along. Ingredients such as Glucomannan. Glucomannan I have previously written about www.ross-holistic-nutrition.co.uk/catergory/reviews . Basically it is a fibre from the Konjac root that expands in the stomach with liquid to make you feel full and help you go to the toilet too. Fibre- the thing you remove when you drink your calories instead of eating them. These meals are so filling and wonderful you need a Fibre supplement to quell your angry, growling stomach and to not spend all your day straining on the toilet.

Another ingredient Green Tea Extract. Now green tea is undoubtedly full of antioxidants and is a delicious, refreshing caffeinated drink. Yup it’s a caffeine source and green tea extract is used in many supplements to boost metabolism. Remember how I had previously said low calorie diets can ruin your metabolism? Well that’s why you’re going to need the green tea supplement. You could boost your metabolism the old fashioned and longer lasting way. You could get active and build some muscle tone. But I suspect after a week of living off shakes instead of meals I doubt you could lift your head off a pillow, far less lift a dumbbell.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for healthy lifestyle choices, being active and eating well. I’m also aware in this country we need to dramatically increase our intake of fruit and veg and make it affordable and easy to source for all. But I don’t think encouraging people to drink them addresses the fundamental issue of lifestyle change. It’s a change that needs to begin in the home and in schools. These shakes are a sticking plaster approach. Let’s keep it simple Eat more Fruit and Veg! Your urine will be less expensive too. Learning to eat properly in a balanced, consistent way will benefit your body and mind far longer than any quick fixes will.

Losing weight through a liquid meal plan will generate weight loss if you stick it but so will excluding anything in your diet that amounts to say 1000 calories a day – and you could still take a multi vitamin. But does this way teach you how to eat in a balanced way, does it address why you put on the weight in the first place? No it doesn’t because if it did they would only ever have 1 time customers. It doesn’t profit them if you learn for yourself how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Yes you may get titbits of info on their sites but they want you to keep coming back to them-especially as they have taught you how to ruin your metabolism.

I want my children to be able to and to want to get the nutrients they need from a wide variety of whole foods- not mass produced, artificially sweetened, pre-packaged, processed drinks. We need to remember food can be enjoyable delicious and nutritious and not to see it as something we should have to drink because we can’t be trusted to learn how to eat properly for ourselves.

Karen Ross Nutritionist BSYA (Dip), Dip (Nutri), AHCP REg, Hyno Dip (HPD). www.ross-holistic-nutrition.co.uk

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Food for Thought-Chia seeds….

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chia seeds

Some of you may or may not have heard of Chia Seeds. They have really stepped into the spotlight in recent years as a superfood, but do these seeds really live up to the hype? Let’s take a closer look…

Nutritional Profile…

Chia is a source of Protein and Fibre. They contain roughly 1/3 of your recommended daily fibre intake. Along with being a protein source that is low in saturated fats, they are a source of an important Essential Fatty Acids– Omega 3 which in modern diets is often out of balance with Omega 6. Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation, improves nervous system function and aids in joint and bone and muscle function.

They are also a Calcium source which like protein, trying to source this mineral can lead to an increase in saturated fat consumption, so Chia is a handy way to boost intake whilst still keeping saturated fat levels in check.

They are also sources of Manganese and Phosphorus and including nutrient dense foods such as this, can help keep food cravings under control as nutrient deficiencies can manifest as food cravings.

Why include this in my diet…

Well, Chia absorbs a lot of water, when exposed to water the seed forms a gel-like barrier which tricks the body into feeling more satiated. This means you can use it to control hunger pangs and in turn a useful tool for weight control.

They are also an insoluble fibre source which is great for digestion and as they are digested slowly can help stabilise blood sugar levels. This has led to some promising research into using Chia to benefit those with Diabetes. Other studies have shown they may help lower LDL and Triglyceride Cholesterol levels. This is quite a punch for a humble little seed. Sprinkle on salads, porridge or add to smoothies or even make a pudding with them. They can easily be incorporated into your diet. So why not give them a try?

Head on over to My Wiked Little Eco Shop here to source some quality Chia :



Khorason Wheat or Kamut®

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This ancient grain was suggested to me recently by my mother, so I thought I would do a little digging and see what the fuss is all about.

khorasan wheatIt originates from a region near Afghanistan and Northern Iran. It looks very similar to modern wheat except it yields grains that can be twice the size. This grain has found to have a much higher Nutritional content as it contains more protein and amino acids and vitamins and minerals than its modern counterpart.

It is particularly rich in Selenium and Zinc and Polyphenols and Vitamin E making it rich in antioxidants.

It is quite low G.I. (Glycaemic Index) making it a good option for those who are diabetic.

It is still a member of the Wheat family so is NOT suitable for Coeliac or those with a strong wheat sensitivity, however it does seem to be better tolerated than other gluten containing grains and may be tolerated by those with a lower sensitivity to wheat. However if in doubt –leave it out!

It is known for its rich and nutty flavour and can be eaten directly or milled into flour and used as a bread, cereal or in baked goods. Already it has become popular in the Health Food section under the registered brand Kamut®. I think we will see a lot more of this ancient grain in the future due to its nutritional profile and benefits. I would love to hear more from people who have tried this grain and any recipe suggestions too!


Some Mental tricks to maintain your willpower!!!!

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Here are some quick tips to help you if you are determined to cut some calories in your weight-loss plans.

  1. Put the fork down between bites. It slows down your eating speed so that your tummy gets a chance to register that it is full.
  2. Have a glass of water before you eat too, helps fill your stomach up.
  3. Turn off the tv. People don’t tend to pay attention to their eating habits whilst the television is on. They also tend to eat more.
  4. At work/or out and about – plan your meals and snacks.
  5. Don’t eat at a desk or standing up!
  6. Don’t do shopping on an empty stomach.
  7. Make a healthy list
  8. Or shop online.
  9. Try and plan in advance whats on a restaurant menu and stick to your choice.
  10. Picture yourself eating.
  11. Get a doggy bag if you don’t want to eat it all at once.
  12. Keep a food diary.
  13. Focus on the short term benefits (your health).
  14. Have an occasional treat.

Tips to Boost Basal Metabolic Rate

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What is your Basal metabolic Rate?

Your BMR is the speed at which you burn kcals from doing everyday tasks. It varies from person to person. This is why some people pile on the pounds at the mere sniff of a chocolate bar and others can eat like it’s going out of fashion and remain stick-thin.

The basics….

  • Men’s tends to be higher than Women’s.
  • As we age it slows from it’s peak in youth.
  • After the age of 40 it can slow dramatically.
  • Crash diets can wreak havoc too as can eating disorders. The body learns to combat starvation mode by holding on to any kcals it can.
  • Dieting and losing weight too quickly means a loss of muscle as well as water and fat which can slow it even further.



Fuel up properly. As you eat your metabolism speeds up for the digestion process. Some people do well with eating 6 small meals, others its 3 meals and two snacks.

Break – the – Fast. Breakfast is an important meal.  It kickstarts your metabolism after effectively fasting all night. Your BMR and Blood sugar levels are at their lowest.

Cool it…Temperature fluctuations can also boost your BMR. Being slightly cold boosts you as you shiver to keep warm. Alternating hot and cold water in the shower is great for this and stimulates the lymphatic system- draining toxins. It can also help with post-exercise soreness.

Get a move on!!! Weight bearing exercise is advised. Walking, running, dancing , martial arts and weight training; build muscle and boost BMR- Exercise is your ally if you are to maintain weightloss after dieting. Moderate amounts of HIIT or any aerobic exercise can have a beneficial effect on the metabolism.

NO – no… Avoid yo-yo dieting, fad diets, crash diets and seriously low calorie dieting. It screws with your metabolism no end and you will most probably regain the lost weight in the form of fat. Lose the weight again and reduce your muscle mass and then regain again as an even higher percentage of fat and so the cycle continues.




Capsaicin- Found in Cayenne Pepper, Chilli and Paprika. It is a known BMR stimulator.

Caffeine. Limit it later on in the day if you are prone to sleep troubles. It stimulates heart rate and can be beneficial in moderation. Some studies show caffeine before a workout can have a beneficial effect on your endurance whilst exercising.

Green Tea. A known metabolism booster.

Lean Protein. Aids building of muscle as you workout. The more muscle, then the higher your BMR. Protein also uses more kcals to burn than carbs do. Sufficient amounts can also help keep hunger under control.

Water. Studies showed that adults who drank 8 or more glasses of water a day had higher BMR’s than those on 4. Fruit and veg count too as does that cup of char. Just watch for hidden kcals in drinks. Alcohol is full of calories and can lead to the munchies and storage of fat on your abdomen. However moderate drinking has been found to have some beneficial effects so keep within the recommended limits and don’t over- do the drinking and try to have a few alcohol free days through the week.

Energy drinks can contain Caffeine and Taurine which is an Amino Acid. This can give you a boost and keep you alert.   On the down side they also can make you jittery and prone to sleep disturbances in the same way coffee can. Sleep problems in themselves, can lead to weight gain for some people. There is also a link to high blood pressure. They are not recommended or suitable for children or teens.






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I have been harbouring a food obsession for a while now.   A condiment of finely sliced cabbage, layered with salt and left to ferment. The fermentation process occurs due to the Lactobacilli bacteria that is found on the cabbage leaves naturally. The end result is a sour, crunchy tasting product that brings to life many dishes especially pork dishes as well as sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers, salads and so on.

The name of this condiment is Sauerkraut. I love it. It is a fantastic source of gut beneficial bacteria such as Weissella and Lactobacillus brevis. This translates into a product that has been used for centuries as a fermented food with the reputation of helping to heal an ailing gut.

It is popular in Eastern European and Germanic cuisine, where it has said to have been introduced to the Europeans by the Tartars. Its method of preservation ensures it lasts months and even Captain Cook kept a supply on his long voyages as one of the foods that helped prevent Scurvey (disease of Vit C deficiency) amongst his sailors. In Korea there is also a similar dish called Kimchi because the usefulness of fermented foods is well known world wide. As well as the health benefits its long shelf life ensured a supply of nutrients through Winter months.

There are many health benefits from this cabbage based dish. All cruciferous vegetables are great for the health and inparticular the gut. The lactic acid bacteria produced in the fermentation process can help in the fight against an imbalance of harmful bacteria and yeasts in the digestive system. If the gut bacteria is well balanced this helps the absorbtion of nutrients efficiently and supports the immune system. It can also have both an anti-inflammatory effect and is a source of antioxidants.

Vitamins                              Calcium                                             Fibre

B                                         Magnesium                                       source of live lactobacilli *

C                                         Iron                                                  rich in enzymes

K                                         Potassium                                        isothiocyanates

Folate                                  Copper                                             lutein

Manganese                                       zeaxanthin


*If unpasteurised. Commercial sources contain these health benefits to a much lesser degree and can be high I salt, so if possible buy fresh made or try and make your own Sauerkraut.

Recipes can be found all over internet and it is an especially easy dish to make. All you need is a head of cabbage (you could try doing it with red cabbage too), a large jar and a bowl or container, some sea or rock salt and a mandolin or food processor that can finely chop the cabbage. You essentially chop the cabbage place it in a bowl and layer it with sea salt, this pulls liquid from the cabbage which in turn starts the fermentation process. You need too press or squeeze the cabbage to further draw the water out.   Then cover over the cabbage and put something on top to weigh it down and squeeze out more water. Leave it for about 24 hrs and come back sporadically to squeeze and press the water out. Make sure the water level is just above the cabbage and if needed top up with a mix of some sea salt and water. The Sauerkraut is ready when it achieves that sour flavour but it varies from a few days to more than a week. Sometimes a greyish mould forms on top which you simply remove and make sure you dont ingest before tranfering to a tightly sealed container.

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