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Why is Sleep so Important?


How Much Sleep Should You Have?

As with many things this varies from individual to individual. One person may swear on that magical 8 hours, whereas another may fully function with 6 and another may not feel fully rested until they’ve hit 9 hours.

As long as you feel refreshed and alert the next day you’re probably sleeping enough – as always, it’s an individual marker for you, which you should try to work out and achieve.

The Stages of Sleep

Sleep is more than just our brain shutting down, it also involves an active state. When we sleep, we go through 2 main phases of sleep: rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non-rapid eye movement sleep (non-REM).

With these two phases, you go through a cycle moving between non-REM and into REM sleep and back into non-Rem and so on (Bupa, 2015).

Non-REM sleep is broken up into two parts: light sleep; and deep/low-wave sleep. So, what do these two mean and what does REM sleep mean?

  • Stage 1: Light sleep in non-REM: the first stages of sleep, which begins when you start to feel drowsy. When you fall asleep, this leads to a decrease in your heart rate, decrease in body temperature and your muscles relax. At this stage, it is easy for you to be woken up. It is also the time where you can experience the sensation of starting to fall and then sudden muscle contractions occur, known as hypnic jerks, something that you may have experienced.
  • Stage 2: Deep/slow-wave sleep in non-REM: this is the stage where you begin to sleep more heavily and your blood pressure decreases. Eye movement ceases and brain waves are slower. This is the stage most associated with sleep walking and/or talking. You are harder to wake up and if you are, you will most likely feel confused.
  • Stage 3: REM sleep: this is the phase where your brain is more active and where you experience your eyes moving rapidly from side to side. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate increases, however, the rest of your body remains relaxed. This phase is where you dream. It is usual to enter REM sleep around 90 minutes after you fall asleep and adults will usually experience 5-6 REM cycles each night (Sleep.org, 2017).

What happens, however, when we deprive ourselves of sleep and reduce the amount of time we spend resting in the sleep cycle? How important is sleep for our health?

Brain Functioning

When we have a good night’s sleep, it aids with improving our learning and problem-solving skills. This also improves our ability to make decisions, pay attention and even be creative (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2017). I’m sure most of us have experienced a time where we have felt tired and unable to concentrate on what we were meant to be doing. This feeling of fatigue leaves us feeling a bit foggy in the head, which impacts how well we can concentrate and even learn. It can even impact our mood, leaving us feeling agitated and grumpy. Not getting enough sleep and becoming deficient in sleep has also been associated with depression and a lack of motivation (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2017).

Lack of sleep can affect your mood

It has been found that when healthy adults are restricted to sleep periods of 6 hours or less per night, for 14 consecutive nights, it led to cognitive performance deficits, similar to that of 2 nights of total sleep deprivation. This lead to an impairment in neurobehavioural functions, without the individuals realising they were experiencing these deficits (Van Dongen et al., 2003). Neurobehavioural functions include: alertness; sustained-attention reaction time; working memory; and mental arithmetic.

It is estimated that almost 20% of the accidents that happen on the road in the UK are due to sleep related incidents and are more likely to result in fatality or serious injury. (THINK!, 2017). It has been found that driving while drowsy, due to being sleep deprived, has a similar effect on our body as drinking alcohol. This impacts on how quickly we make decisions and act upon those decisions (Sleep Foundation, 2016).

Bone Health

Making sure we get an adequate amount of sleep is also important for our bone health. When individuals experienced a decrease in their sleep duration or restriction, it lead to a decrease in bone mineral density (Fu et al., 2011 and Endocrine Society, 2017). If you want to read more about other factors which can impact our bone health, click here.

Sleep can affect bone health and normal growth in children and teens

However, it has also been found in middle-aged and elderly women that prolonged sleep duration of more than 8 hours per day was associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis (Moradi et al., 2017). In children and teens, deep sleep has been shown to cause the hormone that promotes normal growth, involved in healthy growth and development. This hormone also helps promote muscle mass and repair cells and tissues in children, teens and adults (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2017).

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a where metabolic risk factors all come together. This includes obesity; insulin resistance; pro-inflammatory state of the body; hypertension (high blood pressure); hypertriglyceridemia; and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (Diabetes.co.uk, 2017).

A meta-analysis found that in both men and women, a short sleep duration was associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Whereas a long sleep duration was not associated with an increased risk (Xi et al., 2014).


In women aged around 20 years of age, it was found that when they had consistent sleep patterns and a sufficient amount of sleep, this lead to a lower body fat level being found. Those who were sleeping less than 6.5 hours or over 8.5 hours and with a poor quality of sleep were found to have an association between sleep and a higher body fat level. This concluded that both the quality of sleep and also the consistency at which we go to bed and rise in the morning, impacts body fat levels (Bailey et al., 2014).

It has been found in other research that when we endure inconsistent sleep-wake patterns, it is associated with an increase in fat mass (Kim et al., 2015). In adults, it has been seen to be more of a ‘U’ shape association, where short (deprived) sleep and prolonged sleep were both associated with an increased risk of becoming overweight/obese (Fatima et al., 2015).

Quinoa and Borlotti Bean Burgers, great to freeze. Click on image for recipe.

The amount of sleep we get as teenagers can also increase our risk of becoming obese. Short sleep duration (under 6 hours) in adolescents (mean age of 16), was associated with an increase in rates of obesity in both males and females by the time they were going into young adulthood (mean age 21) (Suglia et al., 2014).

Furthermore, a meta-analysis confirmed this report, by finding that those who were subjected to a short sleep duration (less than 6 hours), had twice the risk of being overweight/obese, than those sleeping for a long duration, agreeing that sleep duration in young individuals is significantly associated with their future risk of becoming overweight/obese (Fatima et al., 2015).

This demonstrates that throughout our lifecycle, sleep is an important factor that we may forget when trying to maintain our weight. One of the theories about why sleep impacts our weight is that, due to the shorter sleep duration, individuals may feel fatigued during the day and therefore reduce the amount of physical activity they do to compensate for this.

Smoked Haddock Crushed Potato Cakes – click on image for recipe.

Our energy balance (which impacts our risk of obesity), is also impacted by our circadian rhythms, which is our 24-hour cycle, as well as our sleep-wake balance (Morselli et al., 2012). It has also been found that when we sleep for a short duration, it may lead to an increase in our energy intake but decrease our energy expenditure, due to its impact on some of our hormones. It suppresses the hormone leptin and stimulates the hormone ghrelin. When our body releases the hormone leptin, it is indicating that we are satiated and therefore food intake should be reduced. Whereas ghrelin, is secreted by the stomach and stimulates our appetite (Copinschi, 2005. And Schmid et al., 2008).

If you’re finding it hard to sleep, it’s worth making some freezable meals to have to hand to ensure you’re still eating nourishing and nutritious meals.

Type 2 Diabetes

In addition to the risk of overweight and obesity, it has been suggested that our sleeping habits and the duration or restriction of sleep that can occur, are associated with risk of diabetes (Grandner et al., 2016). This is due to our impaired ability to tolerate carbohydrates and impaired glucose tolerance (Copinschi, 2005).

In those who have type 2 diabetes, those that work night shifts and are therefore not in the correct circadian rhythm, had a poorer glycaemic control than those who were working day shifts and those who were unemployed (Manodpitipong et al., 2017). In those with type 2 diabetes, those who had poorer sleep quality were found to have worse glycaemic control (Zhu et al., 2017). This shows that the disruption to our circadian rhythm can carry a whole host of impairments.

It has been found in obese adolescents (mean age 14.4 years old) that when they either had impaired sleep, or an excessive amount of sleep, it led to both short-term and long-term hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose levels) (Koren et al., 2011).

Heart Health

When looking at heart health, we look at cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is for all diseases of the heart and the circulation around it, including heart disease, stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease and aortic disease. Those who are sleep restricted are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

It has been found in a study on 3000 adults, ages 45+, that those who slept less than 6 hours a night, were twice as likely to have a stroke of a heart attack, than those who got 6-8 hours (National Sleep Foundation, 2017). In a meta-analysis, it has also been found that both short and long durations of sleep are predictors of cardiovascular outcomes (Coronary heart disease, stroke, and total CVD) (Cappuccio et al., 2011).

One Tray Salmon with Vegetables, rich in omega-3 – click on image for recipe

It is thought that lack of sleep can lead to an increase in our blood pressure, causing hypertension (high blood pressure). It has been seen that even in those with hypertension and prehypertension, that even half a night’s sleep loss has been found to raise blood pressure (Mullington et al., 2009).

There is a relationship between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. When we sleep, markers which indicate inflammation in are body are at their lowest, so when sleep duration is shortened this leads to elevation of these markers (Mullington et al., 2009). These inflammatory markers don’t just impact our heart health but cause inflammation to the body as a whole, including our gastrointestinal health and how well our immune system responds to infections and illness (Irwin, 2015).

So, how many hours do I need?

For adults, it is recommended that we get around 7-8 hours of sleep a night. In teenagers around 9 hours, however, they tend to have disrupted sleep, due to their irregular sleeping patterns, staying up late and sleeping in at the weekend. This can impact and disrupt their quality of sleep. If you want to find out more about how many hours the NHS recommend for sleep for other ages, click here.


It has been found that one in three of us suffer from poor sleep, with different factors playing a role including stress; use of technology; and taking work home being the usual suspects (NHS Choices, 2015).

It appears that worldwide, more and more people are experiencing chronic sleep deprivation. It’s normal to wake up during the night briefly, however if you, over a period of time, lose out on sleep (if you have been deprived), you will build up what is known as ‘sleep debt’ which eventually you’ll need to restore through sleep.

Making sure that you get a good night’s sleep, plays an important role in so many areas in regards to health. If you want any further information on how to ensure that you get a restful night’s sleep, we have a blog available here.

As we are all individuals, we all require a different amount of sleep but it’s important to try and work out whether you are getting enough sleep, or is tiredness impacting your life?


Bailey, BW. Allen, MD. LeCheminant, LD. Tucker, LA. Errico, WK. Christensen, WF. And Hill, MD. (2014) Objectively measured sleep patterns in young adult women and the relationship to adiposity. American Journal of Health Promotion, 29(1), pp. 46-54. Available here.

Bupa. (2015). The science of sleep. Available here.

Cappuccio, FP. Cooper, D. D’Elia, L. Stazzullo, P. and Miller, MA. (2011). Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. European Heart Journal, 32(12), pp. 1484-1492. Available here.

Copinschi, G. (2005). Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacology, 6(6), pp. 341-347. Available here.

Diabetes.co.uk. (2017). Metabolic syndrome. Available here.

Endocrine Society. (2017). Prolonged sleep disturbance can lead to lower bone formation. Available here.

Fatima, Y. Doi. SA. and Mamun, AA. (2015). Longitudinal impact of sleep on overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: a systematic review and bias-adjusted meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 16(2), pp. 137-149. Available here.

Fu, X. Zhao, X. Lu, H. Jiang, F. Ma, X. and Zhu, S. (2011). Association between sleep duration and bone mineral density in Chinese women. Bones, 49(5), pp. 1062-1066. Available here.

Grandner, MA. Seixas, A. Shetty, S. and Shenoy, S. (2016). Sleep duration and diabetes risk: population trends on potential mechanism. Current Diabetes Reports. 16(11), pp. 106. Available here.

Irwin, MR. (2015). Why sleep is important for health: a psychoneuroimmunology perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, pp. 143-172. Available here.

Kim, M. Sasai, H. Kojima, N. Kim, H. (2015). Objectively measured night-to-night sleep variations are associated with body composition in very elderly women. Journal of Sleep Research, 24(6), pp. 639-647. Available here.

Koren, D. Katz, LEL. Brar, PC. Gallagher, PR. Berkowitz, RI. And Brooks, LJ. (2011). Sleep architecture and glucose and insulin homeostasis in obese adolescents. Diabetes Care. Available here.

Manodpitipong, A. Saetung, S. Nimitphong, H. Siwasaranond, N. Wongphan, T. Sornsitiwong, C. Luckanajantachote, P. Mangjit, P. Keesukphan, P. Crowley, SJ. Hood, MM. and Reutrakul, S. (2017). Night-shift work is associated with poorer glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. The Journal of Sleep Research. Available here.

Moradi, S. Shab-Bidar, S. Alizadeh, S. and Djarfarian, K. (2017). Assocition between sleep duration and osteoporosis risk in middle-ages and elderly women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Metabolism, 69, pp. 199-206. Available here.

Morselli, LL. Guyon, A. and Spiegel, K. (2012). Sleep and metabolic function. Pflügers Archiv: European Journal of Physciology, 463(1), pp. 139-160. Available here.

Mullington, JM. Haack, M. Toth, M. Serrador, JM. Meier-Ewert, HK. (2009). Cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. Available here.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2017). Why is sleep important. Available here.

NHS Choices. (2015). Why lack of sleep is bad for your health. Available here.

Schmid, S. Hallschmid, M. Jauch-Chara, K. Born, J. and Schultes, B. (2008). A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. Journal of sleep research, 17, pp. 331-334. Available here.

Sleep.org. (2017). Understanding sleep cycles: what happens while you sleep. Available here.

Sleep Foundation. (2016). Drowsy driving vs. drunk driving: how similar are they? Available here.

Sleep Foundation. (2017). How sleep deprivation affects your heart. Available here.

Suglia, SF. Kara, S. and Robinson, WR. (2014). Sleep duration and obesity among adolescents transitioning to adulthood: do results differ by sex? Journal of Pediatrics, 165(4), pp. 750-754. Available here.

THINK!. (2017). Fatigue, don’t drive tired. Available here.

Van Dongen, H. Maislin, G. Mullington, J. and Dinges, D. (2003). The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: dose-response effects of neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation. Sleep, 26(1), pp. 117-126. Available here.

Xi, B. He, D. Zhang, M. Xue, J. and Zhou, D. (2014). Short sleep duration predicts risk of metabolic syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 16(4), pp. 293-397. Available here.

Zhu, B. Hershelberger, PE. Kapella, MC. And Fritchi, C. (2017). The relationship between sleep disturbance and glycaemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes: an integrated review. Journal of Clinical Nursing. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

September Gardening


What’s Happening in September’s Garden?

This month we will be providing you with a step-by-step weekly guide on how to put your green fingers to good use.

Week 1:


Continue to pick the remaining apples as soon as stalks become easy to part from the fruiting spur, (the growth off the tree). Ideally, the stalk should remain attached to the fruits but don’t worry too much if it doesn’t.

The fruiting spur of an apple tree

The best way to store your apples are to individually wrap them in newspaper and put them in a cardboard box and store in a cool dark space. Do not over fill the box as the weight may damage those apples at the bottom of the box. When ready to use, simply unwrap them and wash clean.

James Grieves apples will last up to 6 weeks, while Granny Smith’s should last until Christmas – so get your apron at the ready for making chutneys and pies for all your family throughout autumn!

Wrap apples in paper to store


Pick these from the tree with the stalk intact and store the same as apples, ie. individually wrapped in newspaper in a cardboard box and stored in a cool, dark place.

Pears will seem hard when you first pick them from the tree, however they will begin to ripen further once they have been picked and soften up to eat.

TIP: Check stored pears and apples on a weekly/fortnightly basis to make sure none have gone bad as these can rot against and affect the other fruit.


Continue picking the remaining runner bean crop. You may well have a glut of these but do keep picking the mature beans, otherwise the plant may begin to shut up shop. Both French climbing beans and French beans are also ready to pick and enjoy now.

French climbing beans growing in the garden


Continue picking your spinach and enjoy in recipes, including smoothies.


If you have any ‘soft herbs’ i.e. parsley and chervil, freeze these to store them, including parsley stalks. These are great to use at a later date and can be crushed in the bag, to use in dishes.

We love to grow a variety of herbs, including thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, purple sage, chives, mint, oregano and bay leaves.

A selection of homegrown herbs

Bay plants are best grown in the ground, though they can also grow well in a container and they prefer to grow in well-drained soil, positioned in sun/part shaded areas.

When harvesting, pick the leaves straight off the twigs. Once your bay plant has settled in to its new spot, you should be able to get a year-round supply of bay leaves, of which you can use fresh or dried.

Chives enjoy being in the ground and pots, outdoors or on a windowsill (indoors will provide you with a smaller crop). These are very tolerant of wet weather. When ready to pick, cut with scissors right down to the soil after flowering.

Parsley, one of our favourite herbs, grows indoors or outdoors. If using in copious amounts, ensure that you have a large pot if growing on the windowsill, making sure that you water the plant regularly. Cut as and when you need – on a windowsill it will grow all year round, provided that it doesn’t get too cold and gets a good supply of sun. in the ground, it is very low maintenance and when it is ready, cut it all down to the ground, freeze it in bags and crush with your hands to give you freshly chopped frozen parsley to use throughout the winter months.

Fresh parsley just picked from the garden

Basil will grow best indoors and you can grow your own from a pot from the supermarket, just plant it in a larger pot as it gets bigger, making sure it has plenty of light, lots of water and doesn’t get too cold. Similar to parsley, cut and use it as and when you need and you can freeze it in a bag and crush it up.

Rosemary enjoys well drained, neutral-alkaline soil, in full sun but with protection from the cold. As long as you don’t get frost or snow, you should get rosemary most of the year round. The best way to harvest rosemary is to strip the springs off the twigs, this way you don’t end up with hard twigs in your cooking. Similar to bay leaves, you can pick them fresh or you can dry them by cutting the twigs off, leaving them out on a windowsill to dry in the sun and then picking the sprigs and putting them in an air-tight jar for future use. Try putting sprigs in olive oil with some garlic to infuse your oils.

Thyme likes similar soil conditions as rosemary and can be planted in the ground, just ensure that you trim it back lightly after flowering to help encourage future bushy growth. You can pull the twigs out/cut them out and pinch the twig and run your fingers against the sprigs. This will make the sprigs fall off naturally for use. The twigs are quite tough so you want to avoid this getting in your food. Again, you can leave these in the sun to dry out and jar up, or use them fresh. Try also putting these in oils/vinegars to infuse them.

Spaghetti Bolognese – click image for recipe

Mint spreads like wild-fire in the ground, so some prefer to keep mint in a pot and divide the plant regularly to allow fresh growth and prevent over-crowding. Pick off the sprigs as needed. Mint doesn’t tend to survive UK winters so freeze, as you would parsley and basil. Try putting a few leaves in a glass with hot water for a refreshing tea.

Week 2:


Autumn raspberries will be ready to pick now and are great to freeze.

Raspberry Cheesecake – click on image for recipe

By October/November, you’ll find that these stop growing and the plant will die back. This will be the time to cut the bush right down for it to re-grow and allow it to fruit again next year.


If the weather has been particularly dry, remember to water your summer lettuces.

If you have planted summer lettuce, these should be ready to harvest now, though bear in mind that every region will be different as to when your crops are ready due to different temperatures and weather conditions.


Any outdoor tomatoes that are yet to ripen, you can place cloches over to help ripen. Again, these will freeze well if you have too many to use now.


Harvest your remaining onions by putting a fork below the ground to break the roots, just be careful not to spear through your onions. Once you lift them up out of the ground, lay them in the sun for a few hours to dry out slightly, then you can either chop the tops off and store in a cool dark place where they have plenty of air to breath, or you can plait the tops together and let them hang to continue drying in your kitchen.


If you have planted summer cauliflowers (and provided that your cauliflowers have survived the caterpillars), now is the time to harvest these. Simply cut them from the stalk (underneath the ‘circular’ base), making sure you keep the leaves, too. If you have grown too many to use at once, cut the cauliflowers into florets and freeze.


It is best to wait for the foliage to die down before digging them up to allow them to grow to their fullest. It’s worth noting that different climate conditions will affect crops. You can prevent wasting a whole crop by testing a small section to see how they have grown, if you are happy that they have grown to a sufficient size, you can proceed to dig up the rest of the crop. Now is the time to dig up any remaining potatoes (before the slugs beat you to them!).

To Plant in Week 2

Plant spring cabbages 25-30cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart from each other. To prevent any insects burrowing, it’s worth considering ‘cauliflower collars’ (which are little disks) to cover the ground when you’re first planting them. This prevents the need for any pesticides and harmful chemicals, allowing you to grow organically, more successfully.

Protecting new plants as they grow

Sow suitable varieties of lettuces, carrots and radishes for maturing under cloches or cold frames in greenhouses. We plant these straight into the ground, especially if the weather is still sunny and we cover them up with netting to prevent any animals getting in and digging them up. Radishes and lettuces should be sown sparingly in rows that are 1ft apart.

Week 3:


Thin out any remaining lettuce to 75mm apart for cutting in spring and use any that you pick to sprinkle on salads and use as ‘microgreens’ on savoury dishes.

Lettuces such as Little Gem and Red Salad Bowl are the ones you’ll most likely be thinning at the moment.

TIP: As soon as crops have been harvested, remove all the remaining debris so that the soil’s surface is bare. Rubbish left on soil from crops will encourage pests and disease to linger and spread to future crops. Any material that is knowingly contaminated/infected with pests is best to be burnt rather than putting on the compost heap.


Carefully water all the plants that have started to grow, though make sure not to overwater them. It’s a good idea to check specific varieties for watering preferences.

Watering the garden

TIP: Where you can, it’s great to use recycled rainwater or river water to water your plants. Try leaving a bucket out to allow it to collect rainwater over a few days and use this.

Week 4:


Plant blackberries and hybrid berries at any time from now until late winter. Set the plants 1.8-3m apart, depending on the variety. When you purchase blackberries to grow, there should be some guidance provided, as to how best to do this. If not, it’s always worth searching online to make sure your specific berries will be happy.

After planting, cut the canes down to within 23cm of soil level. Supporting wires are needed at 30cm, 75cm and 1.5m above the soil – see the main image above, which shows the support structure. The wires should be strained between strong supports at either end of the row.


Pick Brussel sprouts as soon as the buttons are firm and only pick those that are ready on each plant, leaving the others to remain on the plant to mature.


You can harvest haricot beans as soon as the pods turn yellow. However, you can (as we are this year), leave them to grow to maturity to store for winter months.

TIP: Clean out clean frames and greenhouses ready for use in autumn.

Look out for next month’s tips and guide for a successful vegetable garden and we’d love to hear how you’re getting on with growing your own by leaving a comment below.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

‘Grow Your Own’ with Lucy Bee


Grow Your Own Vegetables

At Lucy Bee, we’re great fans of all things organic and love to grow our own vegetables to use in recipes. This is the first of our gardening blogs where, each month, we’ll be looking at what to plant when and see how our vegetable patch is progressing, plus some of our favourite recipe ideas using the fruits of our labour – click on the recipe images below for recipe details.

We’re starting with those vegetables that are now ready to use and would love to hear from you with your favourite recipes for any of these.


Parmesan Potato Cakes

If you’ve grown your own then you’ll already have enjoyed a first early crop and a second early crop. These are ideal for use as salad potatoes because they are a little waxy.

Asparagus and Potato Salad

The main crop is due to harvest in about 2-3 weeks and is the one that you want to try to leave out in the sun for a few hours so that the skin can dry out, then you can keep them in a breathable bag in your pantry for storing over the autumn and winter month until your next batch is ready to harvest next year. These potatoes will be fantastic for mashing, roasting and frying.

You’ll currently be getting mostly Désirée potatoes and King Edwards.


Onions are another vegetable that are currently perfect for harvesting and they are also ideal for keeping in the pantry.

Onions growing in the garden

When you can see the onions have reached a desired size, pull from the ground with their tops still attached and leave in the sun for an hour or two, to dry out slightly. Then plait the tops together so that you have the onions dangling at staggered points down the plait. You can then hang these in your kitchen or pantry, ready to pick off and use when you need them.

Caramelised Onion and Lentil Burger

Onions are very easy to grow, especially if you’re growing them from the bulb rather than the seeds and the growth rate is relatively quick from when you plant them. Given our current climate, protect from any frost – after all, this is the UK!

When planting your onions, make sure to spread them quite far apart. The more room that they have, the more space they have to grow, which they like and this will also help to prevent misshapen onions.

It is best to follow the instructions from the type of onions that you have as they all tend to have different preferences and may need more spacing between than some others.


Tomatoes will also have been coming in thick and fast now, so much so that you may well find yourself overrun by these delicious fruits. Check daily on your fruit and pick ripe tomatoes to allow room for more fruits to grow and to prevent your plant from falling and breaking, plus it helps to keep the birds off if you’re eating them before they do!

Homegrown tomatoes

Tomatoes are great to pop onto salads or cook into fresh pasta sauces and if you are eating them raw, I’d recommend bringing them to room temperature to serve for that maximum fresh, vine flavour.

If you’ve grown too many to consume, a great tip is to freeze the excess, which also means you can enjoy them year round.

Vegetable and Halloumi Kebabs with a Citrus Dressing

It might also be worth planting different varieties – cherry and plum tomatoes all grow at different rates, so as the plant provides you with a steady growth of fruits, having different varieties will allow you to have an even steadier growth that should also last a bit longer.

To encourage a fuller crop, where the stalks split in two, anything sprouting right in the middle of that ‘V’, should be pulled off so keep an eye out for these. By pulling them off, it allows the plant to put all of its energy into growing a thick, full plant with lots of fruit rather than a limp, skinny plant with few fruits.

Runner Beans

Runner beans growing in the garden

Runner beans are also available currently. However, if you are finding your crop quite sparse, it may not just be the weather that has held the growth back.

Growing your own food contains an element of trial and error and this is one of the best examples. Your crop could be low if you haven’t attended to the ground properly before planting –  for runner beans, you’ll need to dig a trench and fill with manure or homemade compost if manure is not accessible (manure is preferred). You’ll then need to rake in a good quality organic soil. Let the ground settle before raking it again and planting your seeds. It seems tedious to begin with but it’s worthwhile as your crops will certainly reward you.

As the plants begin to grow, you’ll need to build a structure for the vines to grow up and, as it grows, tie the plant to the frame to support it. If you fail to do this, the plant with get too heavy and snap and you’ll get no fruit at all. Allowing them to grow tall gives them enough space to grow healthy fruit with the right level of sun exposure. though this may seem quite high maintenance to begin with, it is definitely worthwhile and rewarding.


Courgettes from the garden with their edible flower intact

August will have provided you with so many courgettes that the next time you see a courgette, may well be too soon! There’s no doubt that you will have tried every courgette recipe under the sun and probably made enough ratatouilles to become a baked vegetable connoisseur and even tried to hide them in smoothies, soups and sauces.

Ratatouille with Courgettes and Aubergines

However, as you don’t want to waste them, after all, you did nurture and grow them, make sauces, soups and ratatouilles to put in the freezer to pull out for a quick and easy dinner when you need one over the autumn and winter months. If you have the time, I’d recommend making the dish and freezing it, rather than just chopping up and freezing the uncooked courgettes as it’s always good to have meals ready to hand in the freezer for those days when you’re short of time.

Turmeric Thai Prawns

For using fresh courgettes; spiralize them and have them as a carbohydrate free spaghetti with some tomato sauce (you could even sneak a few courgettes into the tomato sauce too.)


Beetroot ready to pick. Great to simply roast – click on image for recipe

Rich in colour, antioxidants, iron and folate, these root veggies are definitely ones not to forget about. Roast them in some Lucy Bee Coconut Oil and use as a salad topper for a filling, flavoursome way to bulk out your salads, also making them more colourful.

Beetroot Hummus

They’re also great juiced or blended into smoothies, which is a low sugar way of increasing the size of your smoothie.

You can pickle beetroot by part-cooking them, peel and add to a jar, then cover them in vinegar, close the lid and leave them to pickle over a period of time, ready for next year’s summer salads perhaps, or even Christmas nibbles?

Tuna with Beetroot and Peach Salsa

Beetroot are very low maintenance to grow. You can germinate them from seed or use them from plugs, either way, once they’re in the ground, weather usually just takes its course and keeps them growing happy. If it does happen to get too dry, be sure to give them a little water yourself, and as with onions, keep them spread out because they can get quite big.


The parsley patch

Parsley should be in its element right now, especially with this year’s weather. If it looks like it’s wilted or sagged a little, it’s likely to be due to too much rain. Allow the sun to dry up the soil a little and they should stand firmly again in a few days.

Buckwheat Salad with Oriental Dressing

If it looks dried out and saggy and are turning light brown, chances are they haven’t had enough water, so give them a good watering and attend to them every 2-3 days with some water until their colour comes back and they perk up again.

Chop a large bunch off, wash it, drain/shake, pop it in a plastic bag and put in the freezer. When frozen, crush it up a little with your hands whilst it’s still in the bag, this gives you freshly chopped parsley without any hassle. An easy go-to herb to use in most dishes, no need to defrost, just use from frozen. Freeze the stalks too, as these are great to use when making your own stock – click on the image below for the recipe.

Stock Recipe for Soups, Gravies and Sauces

If you want to keep it in the ground, you will need to protect it with a cloche. This is to protect it from animals but mostly the weather. Parsley is very low maintenance to grow. It can take a while to germinate from seed and likes a lot of water whilst germinating and likes a little shade. Similar to the beetroot, let weather take its course to look after the herbs, just keep an eye on it.

Look out for next month’s article on ‘Growing Your Own’ and let us know if you have any questions regarding and we’ll do our best to answer them.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Should We Eat Before Exercising?


When is the Best Time to Eat When Exercising?

When you usually work out, do you eat beforehand or just refuel afterwards? For me, I usually aim to eat before and give myself an hour between eating and exercising, especially if I’m exercising in the morning. The reason why? Well, to be honest for me it wasn’t decided by looking at what research has found to be best. It was through my own trial and error…. I found that when I exercised without eating, I’d get light-headed and not be able to perform to my best and if I ate too soon before, I would feel sick and again not be able to push myself.

Glucose and Glycogen

So, is there any research out there which determines if it’s necessary?

Before we look at any studies, let’s talk about glucose and glycogen.

Glucose is used by the cells within your body for energy and can even be used during the absence of oxygen (anaerobic). We get it from the foods we eat, specifically carbohydrates.

Glycogen is a stored form for leftover glucose within our cells and is readily available to yield glucose when required (Berg et al., 2002). Most of our glycogen is stored in our liver cells and then a smaller amount is stored in our muscles. It is a readily available source of energy for when our blood glucose levels decrease and we require more for energy. The glycogen stored within our muscles is used as fuel during exercise and the glycogen in the liver and glucose in the blood can also be utilised. Our muscles will then replenish their glycogen stores post exercise (Diabetes UK, 2017). It’s important to note that if your body is short of glycogen, it may result in your body breaking down protein instead. As you may know, protein is a building block for our muscles – so there’s a risk it may actually cause you to lose muscle.

Research on the Best Time to Eat

In one study conducted on overweight males, it was found that when they walked for 60 minutes on an empty stomach, stored fat (adipose) was used to fuel their metabolism whilst they were exercising.

In the case study where participants had eaten two hours before exercise, it was found that the adipose tissue was responding to the consumed carbohydrates in the meal and the carbs were used for energy instead of the adipose tissue being used as a fuel for energy, meaning that a fasted state, may lead to the desirable changes in adipose tissue (Chen et al., 2017).

It is, however, important to note that the meal which was given to the males in this study, was a high calorie carbohydrate-rich breakfast – it would be interesting to see what would happen if they tried a high protein and a high fat breakfast and saw how adipose tissue responded to these as well and even the impact of low, medium and high calorie breakfasts. Lots more variables to look at and their impacts!

Another research paper found that there is an advantage for body fat regulation and lipid metabolism in exercising before breakfast, in comparison to after. The breakfast provided 49% energy from carbohydrate 37% from fat and 14% from protein. This was conducted on 10 sedentary overweight men, walking for 60 minutes at 50% maximal O2 uptake (Farah and Gill, 2013). It may be that for those who are overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle, lighter physical activity, such as walking, is more beneficial before eating, to achieve maximum benefits..

Glycogen Depletion

Going back to glycogen, what happens if say, you’re an athlete and you fail to consume enough carbohydrates that your glycogen stores become depleted, causing low levels of blood glucose?

As we discussed above, glucose is used for energy, so if you drop your blood glucose levels you are also dropping your energy stores. Athletes experience something called bonking, or hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels). Bonking leaves you feeling fatigued and a loss of energy. You can read more about bonking and fuelling for bike rides here.

In this situation your body (liver) will start to break down fat and protein to form glucose, and therefore a new source of energy. This means there’s a risk that if protein is being used to be broken down to produce glucose, it could lead to a decrease in muscle tissue, if the energy is required during exercise.

One study looked at the impact of carbohydrate depletion and carbohydrate loading on protein breakdown in subjects on a cycle ergometer for 1 hour at 61% VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake). They found that when subjects were in a state of carbohydrate depletion, protein equaled 10% of calorie burn in subjects. This means that protein was utilised to a greater extent in those in the carbohydrate depletion, than those who had carbohydrate loaded. This protein would have even come from their own muscle mass (Lemon and Mullin, 1980).

What if I Train in the Afternoon or Evening?

So, if you train in the evening or afternoon, you’ll most likely have eaten throughout the day, so it wouldn’t be a truly fasted state and you probably wouldn’t need to eat before exercising, as you will have some fuel.

If you are hungry you could have a banana or a light snack if you feel like your session may be more intense but you should be sufficiently fuelled from what you’ve already eaten that day, to carry out a workout. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting a good balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, including vegetables, throughout the day, not only to keep you going during the day but also to help whilst you exercise.

Also, make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day, as feeling dehydrated can lead to you feeling lethargic and also a decrease in your performance when exercising.

Food Post Exercise?

When working out, it’s always good to refuel after exercising, consuming something that contains protein and carbohydrates, things like salmon, chicken, eggs, brown rice, sweet potatoes, porridge with nut butter, even a handful of nuts.


Your own individual experiences of how you feel either eating before or waiting until after exercise is a good guide to work on in knowing what works best for you. If you know that you cannot exercise successfully on an empty stomach, then make sure you eat before.

If you are going to eat beforehand, it’s important to make sure that you give your body and stomach enough time to start to digest, so that you don’t feel uncomfortable or sick during exercise, due to the food.

The type and intensity of the exercising you are taking part in will also influence when you eat. Something that is very intense may mean that you need to fuel before, over something of lighter activity. It’s best to work out what works for you and how you feel during exercise, it is individual to you. For me, that means if I’m going to the gym in the morning, I need some breakfast, or if it’s later on in the day, I may have a banana an hour before if I’m feeling hungry.

If you are going to exercise in a fasted state in the morning, you may find that you can only work at a moderate intensity and exercises overall may be reduced in intensity if trying to complete a high intensity session. However, it is all down to you and how you feel – if you feel better exercising in a fasted state then carry on with what you feel is best.

It is also important to remember that physical activity is an essential part of our lifestyle that we should try and include. Especially in a society where, for many people, we are no longer required to be as physically active throughout the day.


Berg, JM. Tymoczko, JL. Stryer, L. Biochemistry. (2002). 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman, Chapter 21, Glycogen Metabolism. Available here.

Chen, YC. Travers, RL. Walhim, JP. Gonzalez, JT. Koumanov, F. Betts, J. and Thompson, D. (2017). Feeding influences adipose tissue responses to exercise in overweight men. American Journal of Physiology. Available here.

Diabetes UK. (2017). Glycogen. Available here.

Farah, NM. And Gill, JM. (2013). Effects of exercise before or after meal ingestion on fat balance and postprandial metabolism in overweight men. Available here.

Lemon, PW. And Mullin, JP. (1980). Effect on initial muscle glycogen levels on protein catabolism during exercise. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Why Are Artificial Trans Fats Bad for Us?


Types of Trans Fats

Trans fats have come into use since the 1950s, when saturated fats were removed from products and in turn replaced with trans fats.

If you want to read more around why saturated fats were removed from products, you can read our blog here on the Sugar – Fat Seesaw. Those fats that we are looking at in this blog are artificial trans fats – the other type of trans fat occur naturally, at low levels, in meat and dairy products.

Artificial trans fats are created through the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils (AKA partially hydrogenated vegetable oils), where the structure of the fatty acid is altered through the addition of hydrogen atom. This alteration to the oil means that it will be solid at room temperature and have a longer shelf life – hence why some food manufacturers use them. This is a perfect replacement for saturated fat, which is naturally solid or semi-solid at room temperature. Or is it?

Artificial trans fats can also be formed when vegetable oils are repeatedly heated for frying foods at high temperatures, which is what can cause takeaway foods to be high in trans fats.

Sources of trans fats include bought foods such as:

  • Biscuits
  • Pies
  • Cakes
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Previously margarines, although these have been mostly reformulated to reduce hydrogenated vegetable oils and therefore trans fats (BDA, 2017).

What’s the Issue with Trans Fats?

Are you unknowingly eating trans fats?

There has been an increase in evidence surrounding the risks between trans fat intake and increased risk of coronary heart disease. It may also be linked to an increased risk of obesity, other cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes (European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016).

Evidence has also suggested that risk of dying from heart disease is estimated to be around 23% higher when individuals are getting 2% of their daily energy intake from trans fats (European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016). This is higher than any other dietary source of energy.

The increase in risk of heart disease is due to increase in triglyceride factors; decrease in HDL cholesterol; increase in LDL cholesterol (Liska et al., 2016); damage to the blood vessels and leading to inflammation and blockage to the vessel; and therefore increased risk of heart disease (European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016).

The inclusion of trans fats within the diet raises the total cholesterol to HDL ratio, which is a predictor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). When looking at LDL cholesterol, there is more than one type and we want them to be large and buoyant, however it has been shown that trans fats, decrease the size of LDLs making them smaller and denser. These smaller LDLs cause an increase in inflammation and have been shown to increase our risk of CVD (Wang and Hu, 2017).

How Nations Have Reacted to the Issue of Trans Fats

In 2003, Denmark was the first country to place a virtual ban on the sales of trans fats, followed by Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

It has been found that in Denmark there have been some positive outcomes: levels of consumption have obviously gone down; within one year, most of the products available on the Danish market were able to comply with the new set limits; nutritional profiles of foods were improved; and it may be partly accountable for the significant decrease in mortality from cardiovascular disease recently in Denmark (WHO. 2014).

In 2015, Sweden had adopted a legislation and Germany and the Netherlands have voluntary agreements with the food industry to reduce the amount of trans fats in foods (WHO, 2015. And European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016).

In America, New York was the first large US city to limit trans fats in restaurants (2006). It was found in New York populations where the artificial trans fatty acids ban had been placed, there was a lower experience of cardiovascular issues than in those areas of population that had no ban on trans fats (Brandt et al., 2017). In 2010 California was the first state to have banned trans fats in restaurants. By 2018 in America, food supplies will have to have eliminated artificial trans fats from their food.

What About the UK?

We also have a voluntary agreement in the UK, with supermarkets and bigger fast food chains signed up to a voluntary agreement that they will not include trans fats (NHS, 2015).

This means however, that smaller companies are not obliged to co-operate with these reductions. It also, therefore, means that we cannot be 100% sure of how many products contain trans fats. In the UK, we do not consume large quantities over the recommended intake (which is 2% of food energy) but it is important to be aware of intake, especially in regards to takeaways.

It is estimated that trans fat consumption makes up around 0.8% of estimated energy consumption in the average UK diet. If we were to ban trans fats in the UK, it is estimated this 0.8% would drop to 0.4% (this would be from natural sources alone), and that deaths from heart disease would fall the same rate at which they have risen, which has been calculated at 7,200 deaths delayed or avoided over 5 years from a total ban (NHS, 2015). It is important to note that this was derived from a mathematical model and therefore means that the results rely on the researchers making correct assumptions (NHS, 2015).

How to Avoid Trans Fat

Our Baked Chocolate Doughnuts are free from trans fat and are a delicious alternative to shop-bought doughnuts. Click on the image for the recipe.

Since there is no legal requirement in the UK that food manufacturers label trans fats, and also health claims cannot be made around trans fats, it is important to look at ingredients:

  • Avoid ingredients listed “partially hydrogenated fat or oil”
  • When eating out, try to reduce your intake of fried foods since there will be no indication or labels of whether it has been cooked with trans fats or not.

The recipe section on our website includes a huge selection of tasty and nutritious ideas, which you can find here.


Trans fats, especially artificial trans fats, have no nutritional benefits and have also been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

To reduce your intake, it is always important to avoid foods which contain trans fats and make checking labels a habit so that you’re aware of what’s in the food you’re eating.


BDA. (2017). Trans fats. Available here.

Brandt, EJ. Myers, R. Perraillon, MC. And Polonsky, TS. (2017). Hospital admissions for myocardial infarction and stroke before and after the trans-fatty acid restrictions in New York. Available here.

European Parliamentary Research Service. (2016).  Trans Fats – overview of recent developments. Available here.

Liska, DJ. Cook, CM. Wang, DD. Gaine, PC. And Baer, DJ. (2016). Trans fatty acids and cholesterol levels: an evidence map of the available science. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Available here.

NHS. (2015). UK ban on trans fats ‘would save thousands of lives’. Available here.

Wang, DD. And Hu, FB. (2017). Dietary fat and risk of cardiovascular disease: recent controversies and advances. Reviews in Advance. Available here.

WHO. (2014). Europe leads the world in eliminating trans fats. Available here.

WHO. (2015). Eliminating trans fats in Europe. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Top Tips for a Successful BBQ


Lucy Bee BBQ Tips

There’s something quite special about having family and friends over for a ‘get together’ in the garden and to make this as stress free as possible, we’ve put together some of our top tips and recipe suggestions, in no particular order. Click on each photo below for the recipe.

Have Enough Ice for Drinks

It’s a simple factor but something that very often gets forgotten. It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated, particularly in the hot summer sun, so make sure that you have stocked up on ice in the freezer so that you can keep your drinks and guests cool. You can also use ice buckets/ice trays to keep dips and fresh food chilled as well as your drinks, so it’s better to have too much than too little.

Jazz Up Drinks

Blackcurrant Caipirinha/Caipiroska Mocktail

Keeping hydrated is one of the most important things, especially around a hot BBQ this is a perfect opportunity to use up some fruit in the water, make your own mocktails and cocktails, add some herbs and ice. BONUS TIP: use frozen fruit to flavour water and also keep it chilled and pretty all at once.

Use Seasonal Ingredients

Grilled Peach and Feta Salad with Nuts

Most supermarkets will have seasonal ingredients on offer, so this is a very cost-effective way to bulk up a large spread. Some seasonal ingredients throughout summer months are courgettes, peaches, berries and currants, apples, corn on the cob, beetroot, bell peppers, tomatoes, melon and citrus fruits. As a lot of fruit is in season, make the most of this and cook them on the BBQ – peaches and pineapple are great lightly grilled and served with ice cream, fish or meat i.e. apples/peaches with ribs.

Make Use of Citrus Fruits

Vegetable and Halloumi Kebabs with a Citrus Dressing

Following on from seasonal ingredients, utilise citrus fruits, in particular lemons, limes and oranges. These are natural, healthy ways to enhance flavours and sweeten foods. Use as a sweetener to marinades and rubs, a refreshing dressing on salads and vegetables or even as a garnish by cutting into wedges or grating zest over certain dishes.

Make Salads ‘King of the BBQ’

Buckwheat Salad with Oriental Dressing

Meat and fish can be quite expensive, especially if you’re feeding a big party, so by adding large salads you’re not only adding colour to the table but also more nutrients, too.

Snacks and Finger Food

Dairy Free Tzatziki

These are another cost-effective way to add colour and variety to your BBQ – after all, BBQ’s are all about finger foods. Homemade dips and sauces are great served with vegetable sticks and this will keep your guests satisfied until the main food is ready – having snacks is also a sneaky way to give you more time with cooking so you don’t need to rush and risk burning the food.

Meal Prep

Smoked Sticky Marinade for Fish, Meat and Vegetables

To save you from spending all day hiding away in the kitchen, give yourself more time to socialise by prepping dressings, marinades, salads, snacks and drinks the day before. Keep these chilled in the fridge overnight and bring them out of the fridge just before they’re going to be served.

Bring Foods to Room Temperature

Homemade Burgers

Take your meat and fish out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking them. This also allows you to cook the meat and fish more evenly, reducing risk of undercooked meat with burnt outsides.

Make Your Own Burgers

Caramelised Onion and Lentil Burger

When cooking for a lot of people, although this can be time consuming, it’s a fun and cost-friendly way of feeding a large party. You have more control over flavours and ingredients, just make them the day before and pop in the fridge for the following day. Any that are left over can then be popped in the freezer ready for the next BBQ party.

Marinades and Rubs

Spicy pina Colada Prawn Kebabs

Having rubs and marinades on your food before cooking helps to infuse your meat/fish/veggies with different flavours. Marinades also help to coat the food so it’s less likely to burn. The idea of rubs is to help create a bit of an exterior crisp, whilst adding a lot of flavour

Lighting the BBQ

This is another of those ‘might sound obvious’ tips….If using a coal BBQ, remember it takes a while to heat up so make sure you factor this into your planning and preparations.

Share the Workload

A BBQ is an ideal time to ask your guests to bring along a dish, just make sure you coordinate these so you don’t end up with too many of the same thing!

Check for Food Allergies

It’s worth checking with guests if they have any food allergies or intolerances so you can cater accordingly.

Have Space in the Fridge

Tomato Sauce

This is something that often goes forgotten about until it’s too late. Whether you are making a full BBQ spread from scratch and allowing marinating times or not, you will need space in your fridge. Dips, drinks sauces and salads take up a lot of space, not to mention any meat you choose to purchase or homemade burgers that need keeping on a tray in the fridge. Preparing space in the fridge before you begin allows you to easily pop things in and out of the fridge as they are required, meaning you don’t get flustered and begin to forget things or slow down.

We all can get a little stressed when entertaining and hopefully these tips will help make your BBQ a little easier!

Lucy Bee

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

5 Tips for Preparing for an Endurance Challenge


Guest blog by Helen Russell,

Preparing for an Endurance Challenge

Many of us will take on some kind of endurance challenge, such as an ultra-marathon, cycle sportive, mountain walk, kayak marathon, or lake swim. Sometimes it’s the result of a New Year’s resolution made whilst still under the influence of champagne, a testosterone fuelled dare with a mate, an effort to defy the aging process in a significant birthday year, or to raise funds for charity.

For some reason, I’m drawn to pushing my body to the perceived limits to see what’s physically possible and raise money for charity along the way. In 2015, I rode the entire route of that year’s Tour de France route, one day ahead of the professionals, for Cure Leukaemia and this year I cycled up Mont Ventoux three times in one day for The Air Ambulance Service.

Whatever the motivation, sporting challenges take a lot of effort and preparation to complete. Here are my five top tips for successfully ‘ticking-off’ your own personal challenge:

1. Research

Once you have decided on your particular challenge, the first thing to do is some research on what it entails.

Once you register you should receive official information on the route, timings and event support but it always pays to do some extra detective work! If your challenge is an annual event there will often be photos from previous years where you will be able to look at road quality, what people wore and the equipment participants used.

This year, I did the British Quadrathlon Championships (swim/kayak/bike/run) and a few weeks before the event had a look at the photos from the previous year. At my kayak club we always get into the kayaks with the landing stage on our right, facing upstream. I noticed from the photos that the kayak entry was the opposite way, entering the kayak with the landing stage on the left and heading off downstream. I had only ever done this entry once before and almost ended up in the water! Luckily, I had enough time to practice this type of entry a few times and whilst the athlete behind me fell in, I was able to have a smooth entry into the river!


Discussion forums are also a useful source of information on events where you can find out how people prepared and their post event analysis. Whilst lots of events provide you with maps, Google Earth is useful to get a good view of the route, landmarks and terrain. Often when doing endurance events the weather is as much of a challenge as the distance or obstacles.

Make sure you look at the average temperatures for the year and then closer to the event, the near range forecast. The temperature on my Mont Ventoux ride reached almost forty degree Celsius, which was much hotter than expected for the time of year but luckily I had looked at the forecast and this helped me to develop an appropriate nutrition plan and pack suitable clothing.

2. Training

Once you have done some research on what the challenge entails, you will be able to develop an appropriate training programme.

Start conservatively at first, as too many people get injured by doing too much training too soon.


Plan your training

You probably won’t cover the distance of your challenge before the event. Aim to be able to do about two-thirds or three-quarters of your event by the end of your training.

Whilst training for a marathon most runners will do one run of about 20 miles but never run the 26.2 miles until race day. Try and replicate parts of your challenge in your training, for example if you are doing a hilly event, try running, walking or riding hilly routes. If your challenge is in the UK then you could go and try out part of the route, maybe the hardest part, which will give you a big psychological boost. In the final few weeks before an event many people will start to worry that they haven’t done enough training and start to ‘panic-train’. This is one of the worst things you can do!

In the run up to an event you should ‘taper’, which entails reducing the amount of training so that you start the event rested and feeling fresh rather than fatigued or injured! Some events will have their own training programmes or you can often find distance specific plans on line, both of which are a great idea for beginners.

3. Nutrition

The first thing you should do is find out what food and drink is offered by the event organisers during the challenge. In endurance challenges, there are often food-stations with a variety of energy products and drinks but sometimes you have to be self-sufficient.

The most important thing with regards to nutrition and fuelling, is to make sure you eat and drink enough. Not consuming enough carbohydrates can result in depleted glycogen, causing low levels of blood glucose and ultimately hypoglycaemia, more commonly known as ‘bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’.

Sweet potato, Leek and Goat’s Cheese Hash

The body can only store sufficient glucose for about 90 minutes of exercise so if you are exercising for longer periods then you will need to take on board glucose for the body to keep going. I love to make my own snacks and get lots of great ideas from the Lucy Bee recipes. My favourite is the Refined Sugar-free Flapjack with Cranberries or the Lucy Bee Energy Balls (click on the recipe titles for the full recipes).

If your challenge is likely to be in warm weather then it will be important to replenish sodium, which is lost when we sweat. It is a good idea to have a drink which contains electrolytes – these are salts which contain not just sodium but also magnesium, potassium and calcium. On long rides, I will take some energy drink powder and electrolyte tabs that I can mix with water en route. You can buy a lot of powders in sachets – perfect for your cycling jersey pocket. As it was so hot on my Mont Ventoux challenge I kept my sodium levels topped up by also taking Salt Sticks – small tablets that you take about every hour or 30 minutes, depending on temperatures.

Don’t wait until the day of your event to try out new products. Try them out whilst training so that you know if any cause you any digestive problems.

4. Kit

Your initial research will give you some ideas as to what type of kit you will need on the day, for example I decided to change the sprocket on my bike prior to my Mont Ventoux challenge so that I had a few extra gears for when the gradient was particularly steep! This definitely helped me complete the challenge. Also, by checking out the weather forecast I knew what type of clothing to take and how much sunscreen to decanter into a small container, which would fit into my cycling jersey pockets.

Don’t leave it until the day of your challenge to try out clothing or shoes as they may rub and prevent you from finishing. As mentioned before look at photos from the event the year before and see what kit people wore or used during the event.

5. Mental preparation

Whilst everyone will physically train for an endurance challenge, not many people will train their mind. However, what you tell yourself before and during an event can be key to whether you succeed or not.

At the start of the year I like to write down a number of main goals and then smaller process goals that will help me achieve the main goals. For example, 3 x Mont Ventoux was one of my main goals and a smaller process goal was to complete a hilly sportive in the spring. By crossing off your process goals you are showing yourself that you are prepared, which helps mentally.

Music can be a big motivator and so I have specific songs that I play in my warm-up that gets me in a positive frame of mind- these include Lady Gaga, ‘Edge of Glory’ and Katie Perry ‘Roar’. Some events allow you to listen to MP3 players and whilst I prefer to just listen to nature and my body some people find that a good set-list helps them around an event.

Positive self-talk is really powerful and many pro-athletes have specific mantras for an event and mini-mantras for specific parts of a race. If you have done your research you will know which sections of your challenge will be particularly difficult and can have a particular mantra for this section that helps you get through it!

Some people find that being accountable in some way is an added incentive to finish an event. This could be just telling people what you are planning, or raising sponsorship. Not everyone will like the added pressure of having to tell people whether they were successful or not but for some people it provides extra motivation to cross the finish line.

So, whatever your personal endurance challenge, let me wish you “Good Luck”. Often the hardest part is just getting started, so by entering something and reading this blog, you are half-way there!


Helen is the current British Quadrathlon Champion and former age group World and European Duathlon champion and European Triathlon champion. In 2015 Helen was part of the One Day Ahead team, which raised £1m for Cure Leukaemia by riding the entire route of the Tour de France one day ahead of the pros. You can follow her on Twitter via @helengoth.

You can read other article by Helen here: Cycling Rites of Passage, Six Steps to Recovery From Your Workout, Triathlon Transition Training, Winter Training for Summer Results, Training Holidays with the Kids on Board, Take the Plunge – 5 Tips for Open Water Swimming and Fuelling on Long Bike Rides.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.

Celebrating the History of Chocolate


Guest blog by Sam Hadadi,

All You Need to Know About Chocolate

Rich, seductive and melt-in-your mouth delicious, it’s little wonder that chocolate has long been known as the “food of the gods”.

As the ultimate comfort food, our favourite treat pick-me-up when we’re feeling down and even a known aphrodisiac, chocolate is the Lucy Bee go-to to solve all of life’s problems.

In fact, it’s been the world’s most precious food for around 4,000 years – and it was once so prized that it was even a form of currency. From the ancient Aztecs to the Mayans and even the Spanish conquistadors, chocolate is steeped in history.

If you’re a fellow chocoholic, then this post is the one for you. Celebrating all that there is to know about our beloved food, here’s a one-stop (chocolate) shop where you can learn everything there is to know about our favourite food, from its humble beginnings as a delicious drink, to its later life as a chocolate bar. We’ll even throw in some chocolate facts for good measure….

Ancient History

To learn all about the joys and wonders of chocolate, then we need to take you way back in time. 4,000 years ago, to be (almost) precise

As you now know, chocolate was first consumed as a bitter drink rather than the sweet bar we know today.

Hot Chocolate Lucy Bee
Hot chocolate drink

However, it’s pretty tricky to pin down exactly where and when our love for chocolate began, with many scientists disagreeing on this one fact. What we can be sure of is that anthropologists have found evidence of chocolate (or at least in its liquid gold form) as early as 1100BC in Honduras1. Researchers discovered cacao residue in pottery vessels, which they believe was served as a beer-like drink – way before chocolate fever swept the world.

Soon after this, it seems that chocolatey drinks were embraced by the ancient Meso-American cultures, who ground cacao beans into a paste before mixing with water, vanilla, honey and chili until frothy, smooth and delicious.

As word of the cacao tree spread, cultures began growing it in gardens and it became part of the way of life. The Olmecs (the first major civilisation in Mexico) would use it for religious rituals or as a medicinal drink and it was famously popular among the Mayans, too.

In fact, in the famous Mayan text, the Dresden Codex, Mayans write that cacao was known to be the food of the rain god, Kon, while another famous piece – the Madrid Codex – even revealed that gods shed their blood on cacao pods as they grew.

By 1400, the ancient Aztecs came into power and chocolate history became even richer.

It was during this era that cocoa beans became so prized that they were kept in locked boxes and some enterprising Aztecs would even create their own counterfeit cocoa beans.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Aztecs believed that the cacao bean had mystical, magical properties and they were used in sacred rituals for birth, marriage and death.  It was also the Aztecs who first came to see the wondrous cacao as a currency and, with each area they conquered, they demanded that the people paid them cacao beans as a tax. It’s thought that ten beans could buy Aztecs a stay from a lady overnight, while 100 beans could buy a turkey or a canoe.

The chocolate drink was even so precious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after just one use!

How Did Chocolate Reach Europe?

Until the 16th century, the wonders of rich, velvety cacao were sadly unknown to us Brits and our fellow Europeans. In fact, without the famous Spanish explorer Christopher Colombus, we may never have discovered our favourite food.

Cacao Beans
Cacao beans, which Christopher Columbus’s son, Ferdinand, called ‘almonds’

On his fourth mission to the Americas in 1502, Colombus and his crew seized a huge canoe, packed with goods for trade, including cacao beans. Colombus’ son, Ferdinand, noted that the natives loved the beans (which, weirdly, he called “almonds”), saying “for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.”

Legend also has it that the Aztec king Montezuma (who, incidentally, drank 50 cups of cocoa a day and an extra one if he was meeting a lady friend) welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included liquid chocolate, having mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader.

However, chocolate didn’t suit the Spaniards’ taste buds at first, with one writing that it was much like “a bitter drink for pigs”. Whoever discovered it, it was here that our modern-day love for chocolate began, although the discovery fell fairly flat until Spanish friars introduced chocolate to the country’s courts. Here, it quickly became a huge favourite as a hot drink with a squidge of honey or sugar – and our love for chocolate soon spiralled.

By 1615, cocoa had found its way into the court of King Louis the Thirteenth of France at a royal wedding. His son, Louis the Fourteenth, was not a huge chocolate lover, although he had a huge helping hand in making the drink fashionable when he gave David Chaillou a ‘royal authorisation’ to open the first chocolaterie in Paris.

Soon, chocolate fever was sweeping through Europe and it eventually made its appearance in Great Britain. In 1657, the first English chocolate houses opened, much like today’s cafes. Because the drink was still considered to be a luxury, the shops were crammed with men, who used them as a place to gamble and discuss politics.

As we went crazy for cacao, the slave market went into overdrive, trying to keep up with our desires. Soon, cacao plantations spread across the globe as us Brits joined the Dutch and French in colonising and planting them.

However, manual labour in chocolate production began to take a backseat when the Industrial Revolution saw new processes and machines designed to speed up production…

Our First Ever Chocolate Bar

So, how did modern-day chocolate emerge from this delicious, indulgent liquid?

Well, there were a few things which helped chocolate to become the taste sensation that we know. For starters, a Dutch chemist by the name of Coenraad van Houten began adding alkaline salts to chocolate which, to his delight, he found eased its bitterness.

A few years later – in 1828 – he invented a special chocolate press, which removed about half of the fat (what we know as the cacao butter) from chocolate liquor. While it might not sound all that much, this paved the way for chocolate bars by making it both cheaper to produce and of a higher quality.

This pressed chocolate came to be known as ‘dutch-processed’ cocoa and helped to make chocolate smoother and creamier. Chocolate that doesn’t have an alkaline added to is known as natural.

By 1847, a British man by the name of Joseph Fry learned how to make chocolate mouldable by pouring the melted cacao butter back into the liquor. One year later, the very first chocolate bar appeared.

This delicious new invention was made from a blend of cocoa powder and sugar, with a little of the melted cocoa butter stirred back in. It might have been coarse and bitter by today’s standards but it was a revolution and saw the start of the world’s love affair with chocolate. After thousands of years being consumed as a beverage, this was the first time chocolate could be eaten!

Now, chocolate discoveries were coming faster than ever before. Milk chocolate found fame when Daniel Peter mixed some powdered milk, created by Henri Nestle, with the rich chocolate liquour. Many other companies followed hot on their tails, including Nestle and Cadbury, who began selling and making boxed chocolates in England by 1868.

Many of today’s major chocolate players (Cadburys, Fry’s, Terry’s, Rowntree’s) were founded with money from Quaker families, who were eager for chocolate to take the place of alcohol, which they saw as a sin.

By 1879, the chocolate-making process was hotting up, and Rodolph Lindt invented the conching machine. While it may sound like something out of Harry Potter, the conche helped chocolatiers to evenly distribute cocoa butter through chocolate, giving it a mild, rich taste.

Chocolate As We Know It

Fast forward a few years and us chocoholic Brits love our sweet treats. So much so that we’re now the world’s seventh biggest chocolate eaters, with each of us devouring close to 18lbs worth of bars every year2. That’s a whole lot of chocolate!

Chocolate melted
Delicious melted chocolate!

Of course, far from its liquidy beginnings, chocolate has come a long way over the centuries. Once enjoyed only by the rich as a health drink, chocolate sales are booming – it’s thought that an astonishing $100bn was spent on chocolate around the world in 20153 – and it’s now eaten by pretty much everyone and anyone.

Take a look down any confectionary aisle in the supermarket and it’s likely you’ll be stunned by rows and rows of different chocolates – rainbows of wrappers, weird and wonderful flavour concoctions and huge numbers of brands!

However, as you probably know, “chocolate” will now often contain more sugar and additives than actual cacao.

Thankfully, as our knowledge of health and all things natural grows, so too does our love of chocolate – as nature intended it! Sales of dark chocolate are booming, becoming the world’s most beloved type of chocolate, while more and more of us now see cacao as a kitchen cupboard essential4.

Chocolate specialists are now also selling 100% cacao bars, with experts saying that “people are waking up to the fact that chocolate is not a generic product. They are realising that different beans have different flavours, you can also use the same bean and change the way it tastes in the production process5.

“You get wine connoisseurs, you get cheese connoisseurs, now there is a growing number of chocolate connoisseurs. A chocolate can be as complex and specialist as a fine wine.”

How Is Chocolate Made?

The delicious chocolate bar starts its life as a humble cocoa bean on the Theobroma Cacao tree. Although these leafy trees are most commonly found in tropical South and Central America, us humans have planted so many that they can now be found across the globe.

Cacao pods
Cacao pods

Twice a year, ripe cacao pods will be harvested from these trees (It takes around one year for a cacao tree to produce enough pods to make ten single bars). Once this is done, the pods will be slashed open with machetes so that the white pulp containing the delicious, prized cacao beans can be scooped out.

There are actually many different types of cacao beans and these all affect the taste of the finished bar massively. Here are some of the beans you’ll most commonly find on supermarket shelves:

Criollo –

Criollo are the luxury cacao bean and make up just 5% of the world’s total cacao harvest. They are considered to have the finest flavours but are more difficult to cultivate so yield smaller harvests.

Forastero –

These are the most common types of cacao and are mainly found in West Africa. Because they are a much tougher bean, they’ll yield larger harvests and are sometimes mixed with other beans.

Trinitario –

Trinitario is a hybrid of Criollo and Forastero and so contains some of the characteristics of both. It comes from Trinidad after the Forastero bean was introduced to the local Criollo crop.

However, even these three beans will taste different, according to where they’ve been grown – and there’s even a huge array of genetics within these varieties. When you add this to the different soil conditions and even climates, you’re left with a huge range of flavour profiles to create all of the world’s wonderful, individual chocolate bars.

Whatever the bean used, they’ll be used in the same way (up to a point!). After harvesting, the pods and the pulp will be placed into large containers and allowed to ferment for a few days. This helps to develop the intricate flavours of the chocolate and is why cocoa farmers can have a huge effect on just how tasty the finished product is.

After they’ve been fermented, the beans will be dried out. If being used to make chocolate, rather than a cacao powder, the dried beans are often shipped around the world to expert chocolatiers and confectionary companies (most chocolate is made in Europe or North America, where the climate is much cooler), ready for roasting and making into chocolate.

The process for roasting – and the equipment used to do it – will vary massively from chocolate maker to chocolate maker and will often be used to top-secret recipes. Even the time for roasting and the oven temperature will often be a closely-guarded secret! However, once the beans have been roasted, their papery outer shell will be removed (this is called winnowing). This is when makers will be left with shards of pure cocoa beans, which we know and love as “cacao nibs”.

These nibs will now get ground with stone rollers until they become a rich paste known as cocoa liquor, which is packed with both cocoa solids (the chocolatey part) and cocoa butter (the fat). The cocoa butter will then be extracted using a hydraulic press, before it will be added back in for a smooth, glossy texture.

The cocoa mass will then be put through a conching machine and is where the chocolate flavourings and any sugar or milk powder will be thrown in to create an individual product.

As you know, the very best chocolate bars have a wonderful “snap” to them and achieving this is a skill in itself – all bars will be finished off by tempering before being moulded and wrapped. Tempering is where the chocolate’s temperature will be raised, then lowered and raised again to achieve the right kind of crystals.

Making your own, however, can be surprisingly simple and tasty:

Weird and Wonderful Chocolate Facts

With such a vibrant history, there’s little wonder that chocolate has so many weird and wonderful facts. Here are some of our favourite chocolate-shaped fragments of knowledge:

  1. The debate over “cacao” and “cocoa” has been raging for centuries. Yet, apparently, we have the Victorians to thank for the confusion. Supposedly, the Victorians struggled to pronounce cacao (said as “ca-cow”) and so renamed it cocoa.
  2. Chocolate was once included in soldiers’ ration packs in World War I. Chocolate has even gone into space with the astronauts!
  3. If you listen to the International Cocoa Organization, us chocolate-loving Europeans account for around half the world’s chocolate consumption. They estimate the average Brit, Swiss, or German eats 11kg of chocolate a year.
  4. It was a young, entrepreneurial nineteen-year-old by the name of Milton Hershey who founded the Hershey Chocolate Company in 1871. This young entrepreneur was then commissioned by the U.S. Government to make a candy bar to be included in soldier’s rations.
  5. There’s a correlation between the amount of chocolate a country consumes on average and the number of Nobel Laureates that country has produced……food for thought!
  6. Once upon a time, the Nazis plotted to assassinate Winston Churchill with an exploding bar of chocolate.
  7. Theobromine, the compound which makes chocolate poisonous to dogs, can kill a human as well. However, you’d have to be a bit of a greedy guts – an average 10-year-old child would have to eat 1,900 Hershey’s miniature milk chocolates to reach a fatal dose.
  8. The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, Ruth Wakefield, discovered it by accident. She then sold her cookie recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.
  9. The most valuable chocolate bar in the world is a 100-year-old Cadbury’s bar that was taken on Captain Robert Scott’s first Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic. It sold for close to $700 at auction in 2001.

If health is important to you, then we’d recommend that you have a quick read of the labels before buying your chocolate bar. Many of the bars sitting pretty on supermarket shelves, especially white or milk chocolate, are loaded with sugar and contain very little of the nutritious, chocolatey cacao at all.

So, how can you ensure you’re buying proper, nutritious chocolate? For us, the key is to go for the chocolate bar with the highest natural cacao content you can find – we love enjoying our chocolatey treat with 85% cacao or above (and, sometimes, 100% if you’re feeling brave!). Not only are these bars full of rich, chocolatey flavour but you’ll only need to eat a couple of squares to get your chocolate hit.

You could also try to see if the label tells you which cacao beans your bar is made from (see our handy guide above to find out which are the best!) and also where they’ve been grown.

How We LikeTo Eat Ours

We never tire of eating chocolate (or drinking our Cacao Powder/Drinking Chocolate with almond milk) and we’re always searching for new ways to add this ancient ingredient to our diets. If you’re feeling inspired by this article and would like to get creative, then here are some chocolatey recipes to try:

Salted Caramel Chocolate
Hot Chocolate
Lucy Bee Hot Chocolate
Cacao and Hazelnut Tart

Sam Hadadi Signature

  1. The Aztecs discovered chocolate when trying to make beer
  2. Chocolate facts and figures
  3. Which country spends the most on chocolate?
  4. Dark chocolate leads global market
  5. The rise of the cocoa purists

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.


Festival Season with Lucy Bee


Oh, and Lucy Bee Came Too!

Hi, I’m Georgia and I look after the PR at Lucy Bee which is great as I get to work with my good friend Lucy! As we are in the midst of festival season, I thought I’d re share my blog from last year at Glastonbury and let you know how my little jar of Lucy Bee became a wonder product for all of us over the weekend.

The last thing someone might expect to take to a festival is a jar of coconut oil. BUT it has a lot more uses in the mud, rain (and sometimes sunshine) than you’d probably ever expect. Bear with me here…

Off to Glastonbury We Go

I took my jar of Lucy Bee to Glastonbury last year and over the weekend I was becoming the joke of the group – but by the end, they soon changed their mind.

Lucy Bee convert

The answer to any of my friends’ questions was always Lucy Bee Coconut Oil – I was being 100% serious but I think when they chimed in, it was with a little more sarcasm than sincerity. Initially, they were pretty fed up of my solution always being “Lucy Bee” (even though they know I was right)!

Using Lucy Bee

In fact, I know I was right, I’ve got the messages to prove it. I had message after message from those same friends telling me they’ve used their Lucy Bee to fix their chapped lips and their blistered feet and their knotty, dry hair! (Messages as above and right, with names blanked out for fear of embarrassing them) 2-0 to me!

So here is how I used my Lucy Bee in the 4 days I was (literally) stuck in that muddy field in the middle of Pilton. This year’s revellers were more fortunate with the weather!

My ‘Festival Saver’


Of course this was my first use every morning and most nights (sometimes it wasn’t possible to keep my routine up when I’d had one too many drinks).

By the end of the weekend my friends’ skin was looking dull and dry from the mud and ever-changing weather conditions. So, on Sunday a good slab of my Lucy Bee Coconut Oil on their arms and legs was really refreshing.

Glastonbury mud

My skin felt pretty tip-top all weekend despite being in the middle of the apocalypse that was taking place around me!

Plus, I left a light aroma of coconuts everywhere I went rather than the musty tent smell that most others were leaving behind them.

Make-up Remover

This was an easy one – I do this at home to take my make-up off anyway. I rub a bit of coconut oil into my eyelashes and face and then I wipe it off with cotton pads. This is so simple and leaves your skin hydrated rather than dried out by face wipes.

Oil Pulling

I won’t lie, oil pulling isn’t my favourite thing to do, partly because I get really bored and end up wanting to talk to someone mid-oil pull.

Anyway, by Sunday I felt grubby after all the food and drink consumed so I had a quick oil pull (with my friend who happens to be a dentist) that morning and it did actually make me feel a bit fresher. Brushing your teeth all weekend outside the side door of your tent isn’t ideal so this definitely helped my mouth to feel a bit cleaner.

Lip Balm

I carried a tiny tub of Lucy Bee around with me in my bum bag as the wind really does dry your lips out when you’re in the open air all day and night. This kept my lips from chapping and also tasted delicious! Win-win!


If you watched any coverage of Glastonbury then you probably won’t believe me BUT, there were moments when the sun was shining and it was actually quite hot.

I had already coated myself in Lucy Bee Coconut Oil in the morning so this helped to protect against the sun’s rays. Coconut oil has a natural SPF of 4 so although it’s not very strong it’s better than having no protection at all. However, if I were planning to sunbathe then I would definitely use a sun cream with an SPF of at least 20.

And last but definitely not least – the best way we used our Lucy Bee was for… GLITTER

Yet Another Use for my Lucy Bee Coconut Oil

So it came to the most important part of the day…… After we’d visited the portaloos and trudged through the mud back to our tent, taken off our wellies and got our hands and arms covered in mud again in the process – what better way to make ourselves feel magical than to pour tonnes of glitter on our face?

Lucy Bee glitter

Of course, nobody thought to bring any adhesive to actually stick the glitter on to our face, so, you’ve guessed it…we used coconut oil!! We dabbed a tiny bit on to our face where we wanted the glitter to be, poured the glitter on and TA-DA! It stuck all day and moisturised our face in the process – another win win!

There are some other ways that Lucy Bee might come in handy while you’re at (or after you come back from) a festival. These are some ways the team use Lucy Bee and also some tips we’ve had sent in from our followers:

  • Dodgy zips – a little of Lucy Bee helps zips to glide a bit easier if they get stuck in dry mud, etc.
  • Deodorant
  • Shaving cream
  • Conditioning treatment for hands/feet
  • Conditioning treatment for hair
  • After sun soother

Hopefully I’ve persuaded a few of you to take your Lucy Bee Coconut Oil with you to the next festival you go to. I PROMISE you will find a lot of uses for it – and if you find any more then please let us know, we love to hear the ways everyone is using their Lucy Bee!

Georgia Signature

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.



A Guide to Bone Health


Bone Health

Bone health is important at all ages.

Making sure infants and children are able to maintain bone health to keep up with their growth is essential and as we get older it is more vital than ever to be aware of our bone health. As we age, we are more prone to developing bone fractures which can limit our movement and impact our overall health.

It has been seen that bone fractures as we get older are actually one of the main culprits which cause us to have mobility issues, ill health and a loss of independence for the individual.

It has been seen that over the age of 30, which is our peak bone mineral density, we start to develop bone density loss. This is because our body is no longer able to replace the bone tissue at the rate we are losing it.

The Skeleton

Using our skeleton for support and movement

The skeleton is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Some of its key functions are to:

  • Support
  • Protect our vital organs from damage
  • Movement
  • Storage of essential minerals (including calcium and phosphorus
  • Blood cell production (red blood cells which carry oxygen and white blood cells which protect against infection and platelets)
  • Endocrine regulation (releases hormone osteocalcin, involved in the regulation of blood sugar and fat deposit)

These functions mean that we really shouldn’t take our bone health for granted.

What Increases Fracture Risk?


Osteoporosis is where the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both of these.

It is estimated that it affects around 3 million people in the UK (National Osteoporosis Society, 2017). This means that the bone becomes weak and is more likely to break when we fall over and in highly serious cases, this can even be when someone sneezes (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2017).

The bone becomes porous and holes and spaces within the bone are larger than those found within healthy bones, meaning that they are more likely to break.

Most commonly, we find fractures that are caused by osteoporosis are on the spine, wrist and hip. As we get older we are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis and, also, fractures and women are at a higher risk than men, due to having a lower peak bone mass, plus bone loss increases for several years after the menopause.

However, this doesn’t mean that men aren’t affected by this silent disease. 1 in 2 women, and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis (National Osteoporosis Society, 2017). It’s a public health problem which affects millions around the world (Pepa and Brandi, 2016).

Rickets and Osteomalacia

Rickets and osteomalacia are the same thing where the bones become soft and weak. However, rickets is found within children and osteomalacia in adults.

Rickets can cause bone deformities when the bones are forming and can cause bowed legs, curved spine, thickening of the ankles, knees and wrists (NHS, 2015).

Children who suffer with rickets are more likely to fracture their bones, as well. Similarly in adults, osteomalacia makes our bones soft and weak and therefore more prone to fractures, due to the bones not getting enough of the minerals they need.

What Can We Do to Help Maintain Bone Health?

Calcium and Vitamin D

I’m going to talk about these two together as vitamin D plays a role in the absorption and utilisation of calcium.

Calcium is probably the most well-known factor which has a role in our bone health by keeping our bones strong and is the most promoted within public health due to concerns that we do not eat enough. However, without a good source of vitamin D we are not able to absorb and utilise this calcium from foods (Office of the Surgeon General (US), 2004).

A cohort study found that adults over 60 years of age, who had a higher yoghurt intake had an increased bone mineral density and also better physical functioning scores than those taking the lowest intake of yoghurt (Laird et al., 2017).

Making sure that we get an adequate amount of both calcium and vitamin D is vital for our bone health.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin as most of it is made from sunlight on our skin. You can also get it from foods including:

  • oily fish
  • eggs
  • fortified foods

You can read more about vitamin D and its role on our health in our blog here.

I think the main source of calcium which we all think about would be milk and dairy products such as cheese but you can also get calcium from:

  • green leafy vegetables (broccoli and cabbage)
  • tofu and soya beans
  • soya drinks which have been fortified with calcium
  • bony fish (fish where you also eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards)
  • nuts
  • breads which have been fortified

If consuming a dairy free diet, it is important that you ensure that you are getting your calcium from other sources – it is still safe to do but just important to be aware.

It has been shown that when women aged 75 had a sufficient level of vitamin D they had significantly lower incidents of hip fractures and you can read more about this study here.

Studies have found that when children and adolescents have a higher intake of calcium, their bone mineral density also increases and this also had an increased effect on the beneficial impact of physical activity on bone health (Office of the Surgeon General (US), 2004). When elderly women received supplementation of vitamin D and calcium, hip fractures were reduced by 43% in comparison to those on placebo (Office of the Surgeon General (US), 2004).

If you want to read more about the different daily guideline amounts for how much calcium you need (this varies from age and also if you are at different stages in the lifecycle: pregnancy; lactation; menopausal etc.) you can check on this BDA Food Fact Sheet: Calcium available here.

If you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency (which during the winter months, most of us are at an increased risk of deficiency in the UK), it is recommended to take a 10mcg supplement. To read more about vitamin D, you can read the BDA Food Fact Sheet: Vitamin D available here.  If you take too much vitamin D in a supplement form over a long period of time it leads to too much calcium to be built up in the body and can in turn weaken the bones and damage your kidneys and heart (NHS, 2017).


Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, ranging from:

  • cheese
  • peanuts
  • sardine
  • cod
  • wholemeal bread
  • almonds
  • brown rice
  • lentils

Most of the magnesium found in our body is located within our bones – around 67% of total body magnesium (Kunutsor et al., 2016). However, it is also an integral part of all cells, and even plays a role in the functioning of some of the enzymes, as well as utilising energy.

It has been indicated that there is a chance that when dietary intake of magnesium is low but not deficient it can impact bone and mineral metabolism and in itself become a risk factor for osteoporosis (Rude et al., 2009).

Sardines are a source of magnesium

It has been shown that magnesium intake has been positively associated with bone mass density (Pepa and Brandi, 2016). One study followed 2,245 middle aged men for 20 years and it was found that those with lower blood levels of magnesium have an increased risk of fractures, – they found this was particularly on their hips. Those who were found to have high levels of magnesium (22 individuals), did not experience any fractures over the 20 years (Kunutsor et al., 2016). In healthy adolescent girls (8-14 years) it was found that magnesium supplementation helped increase integrated hip bone mineral content (Carpenter et al., 2006). You can read more about why we need magnesium for other functions in our blog here.

In late stages of adolescence, bone density increases, however, if the individual is lacking in vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, it may lead to an increased risk of fractures later on in life. It is essential that we make sure that children are getting enough of the right nutrients to help reduce their risk.


Flatbread with Hazelnut Pesto

This is a mineral which has many different functions and roles. One of its functions is helping us to develop and build strong bones and teeth. Around 85% of the body’s phosphorus is found within the skeleton (Office of the Surgeon General (US), 2004). You can get phosphorous from:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • garlic

Taking high doses for an extensive period of time however can reduce the amount of calcium in the body, increasing risk of fractures.

Other Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C also helps to keep our bones and joints healthy. Citrus fruits and bell peppers are a couple of sources of vitamin C. Other nutrients which help to play a role in our bone health are vitamin K, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc and iron.


Proteins are made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of life. They are found in all of our body tissues, which means that they are found within our bones.

It has been found that a low protein intake of below 0.8g/kg of body weight per day, is observed in patients that have had hip fractures. It was also found that when supplemented with protein it helps to reduce post-fracture bone loss (Bonjour, 2011).

Creamy Coronation Tofu with Turmeric

Another study found that in elderly men and women, lower protein intakes were significantly related to bone loss at femoral (thigh bone) and spine sites and those in the lowest quartile of protein intake showed the greatest bone loss (Hannan et al., 2000). This does not mean that you need to be consuming excess quantities of protein but trying to achieve the recommended 0.8g/kg of body weight. However, there is concern that this intake level may be too low for the elderly, due to the reduced response and ultilisation to dietary protein in our body (Bonjour, 2011).

Examples of meat-based proteins are:

  • chicken
  • beef
  • pork
  • fish.

If you follow a vegetarian diet, this blog gives you suitable vegetarian options.

It is important that you still ensure you are getting an adequate amount of calcium to maintain bone health, as well as protein.

Lifestyle Choices That Can Impact Bone Health


Something that maybe we wouldn’t usually associate with our bone health is sleep but actually it’s been found to have an impact!

In a study on Chinese women, those who had a decreased sleep duration had lower bone mineral density, this was especially apparent in those middle-aged and elderly (Fu et al., 2011).

In healthy men, a study has found that after 3 weeks of sleep restriction, there was a reduction in levels of a marker of bone formation in the blood, however another marker for bone breakdown or resorption was not altered. This creates an increased risk of osteoporosis due to a bone loss window, where bone loss overtakes bone formation (Endocrine Society, 2017). A systematic review and meta-analysis found that there was a significant association between obstructive sleep apnea and osteoporosis (Upala et al., 2016).


It is important to maintain a healthy body weight throughout our life, not only for our bone health but numerous other areas as well.

Obesity has been associated with deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D, it impacts on our bone metabolism and increase in fracture risk (Harper et al., 2016).

There has also been a study which showed that an association between a BMI over 30kg/m2 (obese) and an increased risk of fractures to ankle and upper leg (Harper et al., 2016). This has been found in both males and females (Xiang et al., 2017).

Scarily as well, it has been found that obese adolescents are doing damage to their bones which is irreparable, causing their bones to become more porous and prone to fracturing, even later on in life if weight loss is achieved (Radiological Society of North America, 2016).

Vitamin D is a fat soluble cell which means that when we have excess fat, it can get trapped within the fat cells (Radiological Society of North America, 2016). This concern also transfers onto children (Kelley et al., 2017). However, being underweight can also impact and increase your risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture. If you have a BMI below 19kg/m2 which is underweight you are at a higher risk (BDA, 2016)


When a woman’s oestrogen (hormone) levels drop, either due to menopause, or if they have had their ovaries removed, it causes an increase in a rate of bone loss. This decrease in oestrogen, also causes an impact on our body’s ability to absorb calcium, which as we have seen above, in itself causes a decrease in our bone mass (Sardesai, 2011).

Studies have shown that women going through the menopause have bone loss (of 2-3% yearly), which then gradually begins to decrease for around 8-10 years until annual bone loss becomes similar to rates premenopausal. Bone density also decreases in men as they get older – the decrease in testosterone can also cause a decrease (Sardesai, 2011). Thyroid hormone can also impact bone health. Too much of it and it can speed up the rate at which bone is lost, which means that your body may not be able to replace at the speed bone is lost (hyperthyroidism) (British Thyroid Foundation, 2015).

Exercise for Bone Health

Exercise is essential for good bone health. Weight-bearing exercising, like brisk walking, has been shown to maintain bone health. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle and those who are no longer active are more at risk of a decrease in bone mineral density and therefore osteoporosis, than those who remain active.

Exercise isn’t just important for bone health, it also helps us to maintain and build muscle which helps to support our bones. It has been shown to have a positive impact on bone density in postmenopausal women (Howe et al., 2011).

One study looked at resistance training and jump training for 12 months which had an increase in bone formation and bone mineral density in the whole body, in men aged 25 to 60 years who had low bone mass (Hinton et al., 2017).

Another study found that children and adolescents who consistently watched TV a lot (over 14 hours a week), had a lower peak bone mass at 20 years old (McVeigh et al., 2016). If our peak bone mass is reduced it means that we are more at risk of developing osteoporosis later on in life.

It has been demonstrated that during childhood it is important to take part in physical activity as it plays an important part of our bone strength (Gabel et al., 2017). Resistance training has also been shown to help maintain bone mineral density in those who already have osteoporosis (Kawao and Kaji, 2017).

Alcohol and Smoking

Smoking can lead to weakened bones, increasing your risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

It has also been shown that drinking a large amount of alcohol can also increase your risk of osteoporosis. This may be due to excess alcohol interfering with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Salmon contains vitamin D, which helps the absorption of calcium. Try our recipes for One Tray Salmon with Vegetables

Uncontrollable Factors

Those who are from a white or Asian descent, are at a greater risk of osteoporosis and are more likely to develop osteoporosis and women are at greater risk than males. If you have a close family member such as a parent or sibling who has had osteoporosis, it puts you at a greater risk. However, as we all get older our risk increases.


From above you can probably guess that a well-balanced diet is one of the main factors which can help to prevent bone loss and also maintain bone health.

It is just a part of life that we go through which means we lose bone but it’s important to try and make sure that you are getting enough nutrients to prevent excess loss. Exercise has also been shown to be an important factor, by preventing muscle wasting, known as sarcopenia, which is something that also increases as we get older.

Preventing muscle wasting in this way can help to reduce the risk of falling and injuries that can be associated with it like fractures.

It is best to try and achieve all your nutrients through your diet but if you are considering supplementing, please talk to your GP or a health professional so that you make the right decision. If you are concerned with your bone health and if you’ve had a fracture recently talk to your GP about this concern and they can discuss further action.


BDA. (2016). Food Fact Sheet: Osteoporosis. Available here.

Bonjour, JP. (2011). Protein intake and bone health. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 81(2-3), pp. 134-142. Available here.

British Thyroid Foundation. (2015). Thyroid Disorders and Osteoporosis. Available here.

Carpenter, TO. DeLucia, MC. Zhang, JH. Bejnerowicz, G. Tartamella, L. Dziura, J. Petersen, KF. Befroy, D. and Cohen, D. A randomized controlled study of effects of dietary magnesium oxide supplementation on bone mineral content in healthy girls. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 91(12), pp. 4866-4872. Available here.

Endocrine Society. (2017). Prolonged sleep disturbance can lead to lower bone formation. Available here.

Fu, X. Zhao, X. Lu, H. Jiang, F. Ma, X. and Zhu, S. (2011). Association between sleep duration and bone mineral density in Chinese women. Bones, 49(5), pp. 1062-1066. Available here.

Gabel, L. Macdonald, HM. Nettelfold, L. and McKay, HA. (2017). Physical activity, sedentary time, and bone strength from childhood to early adulthood: a mixed longitudinal HR-pQCT study. Available here.

Hannan, MT. Tucker, KL. Dawson-Hughes, B. Cupples, LA. Felson, DT. And Kiel, DP. (2000). Effects of dietary protein on bone loss in elderly men and women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 15(12), pp.2504-2512. Available here.

Harper, C. Pattinson, AL. Fernando, HA. Zibellini, J. Seimon, RV. And Sainsbury, A. (2016). Effects of obesity treatments on bone mineral density, bone turnover and fracture risk in adults with overweight or obesity. Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, 28(3), pp. 133-149. Available here.

Hinton, PS. Nigh, P. and Thyfault, J. (2017). Serum sclerostin decreases following 12 months of resistance- or jump-training in men with low bone mass. Bone, 96, pp. 85-90. Available here.

Howe, TE. Shea, B. Dawson, LJ. Downie, F. Murray, A. Ross, C. Harbour, RT. Caldwell, LM. And Creed, G. (2011). Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 7. Available here.

Kawao, N. and Kaji, H. (2017). Influences of resistance training on bone. Clinical Calcium, 27(1), pp. 73-78. Available here.

Kelley, JC. Crabtree, N. and Zemel, BS. (2017). Bone density in the obese children: clinical considerations and diagnostic challenges. Calcified Tissue International, 100(5), pp. 514-527. Available here.

Kunutsor, SK. Whitehouse, MR. Blom, AW. And Laukkanen, JA. (2016). Low serum magnesium levels are associated with increased risk of fractures: a long-term prospective cohort study. European Journal of Epidemiology, pp. 1-11. Available here.

Laird, E. Molloy, AM. McNulty, H. Ward, M. McCarroll, K. Hoey, L. Hughes, CF. Cunningham, C. Strain, JJ. Casey, MC. (2017). Greater yoghurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults. Osteoporosis International. Available here.

McVeigh, JA. Zhu, K. Mountain, J. Pennell, CE. Lye, SJ. Walsh, JP. And Straker, LM. (2016). Longitudinal trajectories of television watching across childhood and adolescence predict bone mass at age 20 years in the Raine study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 31(11), pp. 2032-2040. Available here.

National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2017). What is Osteoporosis and what causes it?. Available here.

National Osteoporosis Society. (2017). What is Osteoporosis?. Available here.

NHS Choice. (2015). Rickets and osteomalacia. Available here.

NHS Choice. (2017). Vitamin D. Available here.

Office of the Surgeon General (US). 2004). Bone health and osteoporosis: a report of the surgeon general. Determinants of Bone Health. Available here.

Pepa, GD. and Brandi, ML. (2016). Microelements for bone boost: the last but not the least. Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, 13(3), pp. 181-185. Available here.

Radiological Society of North America. (2016). Obesity in adolescence may cause permanent bone loss. EurekaAlert!. Available here.

Rude, RK. Singer, FR. And Gruber, HE. (2009). Skeletal and hormonal effects on magnesium deficiency.  The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 28(2), pp. 131-141. Available here.

Sardesai, V. (2011). Factors contributing to bone mass: Sex. Introduction to Clinical Nutrition (3rd edition). CRC Press. Page 400. Available here.

Upala, S. Sangguankeo, A. and Congrete, S. (2016). Association between obstructive sleep apnea and osteoporosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 14(3), e36317. Available here.

Xiang, BY. Huang, W. Zhou, GQ. Hu, N. Chen, H. and Chen, C. (2017). Body mass index and the risk of low bone mass-related fractures in women compared with men: A PRISMA-compliant meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Medicine (Baltimore), 96(12), pp. e5290. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Tips for Healthy Eating in National Healthy Eating Week


National Healthy Eating Week

Between the 12th to 16th June 2017, it is the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) Healthy Eating Week.

What the BNF are trying to achieve is to help allow individuals from all ages to make healthier choices, through the building of knowledge.

So, what exactly is healthy eating? In my opinion I would say that healthy eating is making sure that you are having a balanced diet, with a variety of foods to make sure you are able to maintain a healthy body and getting all the required nutrients for your body to function well.

However, it’s not just food that’s important, it’s also making sure that you stay hydrated, stay physically active and also look after your mental health and wellbeing. Here are just a couple of tips in regard to some of these areas:

Healthy Eating

It’s always best cooking meals from scratch so that you know exactly what’s in it. More than likely, your meal will contain less salt and sugar. You can also make extra and refrigerate it or freeze it for a later meal or packed lunch.

When buying food, try to make sure you read the label since this gives you the knowledge of what is inside what you are actually eating!

A variety of food will always keep things interesting and help to maintain your health. It is also important to have a balanced relationship with food, not being fearful of it and to have a good attitude with it.

5 a Day

Recently research came out that said that 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day could help to prevent millions of deaths worldwide a year. However, if you’re struggling to eat 5 portions a day, continue to aim for 5 and when that becomes easier, then if you want you can increase it.

5 portions still have a host of benefits including all those vitamins and minerals. For reference, one portion is considered to be 80g and it needs to be different fruits and vegetables.


Nearly two thirds of our body is water, so it’s essential that we stay hydrated. Your best source of hydration and fluid intake is water (although milk and sugar free tea and coffee are also counted within our fluid intake). We also get water from foods we eat.

Lots of soft drinks are high in sugar and are known to be energy dense but nutrient poor. It’s best to drink water in small amounts and frequently.


It is recommended that we try and complete 150minutes of physical activity a week (which is where we get 30 minutes x 5 times a week from).

The issue with our modern society is that it is so easy to lead a sedentary lifestyle (little or no physical activity): we have cars to drive us around; for many of us our jobs revolve around desk work; we don’t have to walk up a flight of stairs half the time; as well as the factors of all the electronics we have surrounding us!

As well as improving physiological factors (e.g. heart health), exercise is also a great way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety (it can help with mental wellbeing).

It is important when looking at increasing physical activity that you take part in things you enjoy because if you like it, you’re more likely to continue with it!

A Varied Diet

It is important to have a diet that is varied, ensuring that we get enough vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins and fibre, whilst making sure that we stay physically active.

I’ve included some recipe ideas, which I hope will inspire you and our website has many more:


Omelette with Peppers, Tomatoes and Pumpkin Seeds

This is a great way of getting some of your 5 a day in, as well as healthy fats from the pumpkin seeds and the eggs. Eggs (especially the yolk) contain a vast number of vitamins and minerals which we need to maintain our health, as well as providing protein. This meal will help to keep you full until lunch time!


Quinoa and Borlotti Bean Burgers

I usually prep these the night before and take them with me into work and eat it cold! It still tastes great. I usually skip the bun and cook up some veg and either sweet potatoes or rice.

These burgers contain complex carbohydrates from the beans meaning they will help to keep you feeling satiated. They also provide some more fibre into your diet, as well as containing quinoa, a complete protein. The beans will also provide you with some protein.


Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

A delicious and filling meal, this is a great way of upping your fibre, as well as protein. If you paired this with some brown rice it would make a complementary protein between the chickpeas and the brown rice (giving you all the essential amino acids we need).

OR, as an alternative:

Baked Salmon Fillet Fish Fingers

These are great for the whole family and a huge hit here at Lucy Bee!

Salmon is a source of omega 3s, an essential fatty acid (we cannot synthesise it so must get it through foods we consume), which plays a role in maintaining and protecting our heart health and may also play a role in the prevention of other chronic diseases.

This recipe also provides us with protein, vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and potassium to name a few. It is recommended that we try and eat 2 portions of fish a week.


It’s important that if you do hit that afternoon slump where you start to crave something, that you try to eat nutrient rich snacks. We all know how easy it is to go for something that’s energy dense but nutrient poor – this includes things like crisps, cupcakes, pastries, chocolate etc. things that don’t really leave you feeling 100% satisfied and then in 30 minutes you’re craving more! Though, once in a while these are fine.

So, here are 2 different options, one sweet and one savoury:

Maca and Cacao Bites

For the bites if you don’t have any maca you can get away with not including it.

Broccoli, Goat’s Cheese and Pumpkin Seed Muffins

I love the muffins again for when I’m at work and need something filling – you’ve got the coconut flour which is high in fibre, as well as some healthy fats and even a sneaky bit of veg!

To read more on the BNF Healthy Eating Week click here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Take the Plunge – 5 Tips for Open Water Swimming


Guest blog by Helen Russell,

Open Water Swimming for Beginners

The weather is slowly getting warmer, as is the temperature of the sea, rivers and lakes in the British Isles. Open water swimming is fast growing in popularity, with an increase in organised swim sessions, as well as more people daring to give wild swimming a try. In less than a decade the number of people taking the plunge outside has risen from a handful to tens of thousands.

When I first started doing triathlons, about 10 years ago, I was reticent about open water as I was scared of fish and nervous about what might happen if I felt something in the water brush against me! However, I quickly fell in love with the freedom of swimming in the open. It really is liberating escaping the monotony of looking at the tiles and lane markers of a pool, to swim either in a group, or alone in a lake or the sea. If you are considering having a go at open water swimming but are unsure about how to get started, then here are my top five tips.

  1. Swim with Someone

When first starting out, it is best to swim as part of a group, or at least with one other experienced open water swimmer.

Lots of triathlon clubs run organised open water swim sessions where there will be marked swim routes, life-guards and a signing in and out system. Often first timers can swim a few laps with a designated guide until confident to go it alone.

If you can’t access an organised session then do make sure you do your first swim with an experienced friend and ideally have a ‘spotter’ on the shore or the beach who can raise the alarm if you get into difficulty. It is a good idea to take a whistle in your cap to blow in case of emergency as it isn’t always obvious to spotters whether you are just waving or trying to alert them about a problem

2. Get the Right Equipment

The most important piece of equipment is obviously the wet-suit! Not everyone uses one and some ‘die hard’ swim enthusiasts frown upon them but I don’t think I’ve ever swam in the UK without one! Even in the summer the water in the UK can be chilly.

The key is to get a suit that fits properly – too big and it won’t keep you warm and may chafe, but too small and you won’t be able to move or more importantly, breathe! The best thing to do is go to your local triathlon shop, where you will be able to try some on. Some shops rent them out for the season, which is great if you are not sure whether you will like it and continue! Also, at the end of the season, the same shops will sell the ex-hire suits for a drop-down price.

If you are swimming either early or late in the season then you might like to try a neoprene swim cap, gloves and socks for extra warmth.

I sometimes use neoprene gloves but just double up on my normal swim cap. I use different goggles for open water than pool swimming, as I use tinted goggles, which reflect the sun and reduce glare. Some people use bigger goggles to increase peripheral vision but they aren’t essential.

Some beginners wear inflatable tow-floats. These are bright coloured and therefore make you more visible to other swimmers, spotters or water users. They are usually also able to support the weight of an adult should you need to stop for a rest.

Finally, as most open water swimming is done in the summer, you would hope that the sun would be shining! Don’t forget to apply sun-cream to your face as the water will reflect the sun and you can burn faster.

3. Take Your Time Getting Dressed

The best way to put on a wetsuit is…carefully! Long nails can be problematic as they can rip the neoprene. Ideally cut your hand and toe nails and make sure they are smooth. Some people put a plastic bag over each foot and hand as they are putting them through the legs and arms to avoid contact with nails. If you do get some small nicks then apply some Black Witch glue, which is a miracle worker! It is a good idea to get some when you buy your suit to avoid any panics one day in the future if you notice some nicks.

Before you put on your suit, apply some anti-chaffing lubricant on your neck, both back and front to avoid rubbing. There are plenty of lubricants on the market. In races, I also apply baby-oil to my arms and calves, when I need to get my wetsuit off at speed in transition! Do not use Vaseline as this can damage the suit.

4. Practise Longer Distance

The biggest difference between pool and open water swimming is that you can’t stop for a rest every 25 or 50 meters at the end. Therefore, make sure that you can swim a fairly long distance without stopping.

If you are swimming at an organised open water session then the routes are usually 400-750 meters, so have a go at swimming that distance in the pool without touching the wall when you turn.

Practise treading water, as if you need a rest, you can do this.

Check the depth of the lake or river before you enter as you may be able to touch the bottom and simply stand up to rest. Also practise bilateral breathing (breathing both sides), as this makes it easier to see around you and avoid bumping into other swimmers.

5. Get in Slowly

I’ve heard it said that the best way to deal with getting in cold water is just to get in really quickly or even jump in! However, this is dangerous as it can cause our system to go into shock, which can lead to hyperventilating and loss of cognitive reasoning.

Wade in slowly so that your body can adjust to the conditions it is about to face. Be mindful of how long you are in the water. You might be enjoying it so much that you don’t want to get out but staying in too long can cause hyperthermia or cramping. I usually judge it by the colour of my hands. If they are purple, that’s just about ok. If they are completely white, or if I’m shivering then it’s time to get out!

Make sure you have warm clothes to go home in – even in the summer I take a thick jumper, or two, as it will take me a while to get warm. Bear in mind that often, even at organised swims, there won’t be a hot shower therefore take a hot drink in a thermos to warm you up afterwards.

So come on in – I’m sure you will love it as much as I do. Just don’t share any fish stories with me!


You can read other articles from Helen: Five Rites of PassageSix Steps to Recovery from Your Workout, Triathlete Transition Training and Winter Training for Summer Results, Training Holidays with the Kids on BoardFuelling on Long Bike Rides and 5 Tips for Preparing for an Endurance Challenge.

Helen is a former age group World and European Duathlon champion and European Triathlon champion. In 2015 Helen was part of the One Day Ahead team which raised £1m for Cure Leukaemia by riding the entire route of the Tour de France one day ahead of the pros. This year she is moving to quadrathlons and will be targeting the British Quadrathlon Series. You can follow her on Twitter via @helengoth.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.

Staying Healthy with a Vegetarian Diet

Quinoa and Borlotti Bean Burgers, great to freeze. Click on image for recipe.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

In conjunction with Vegetarian Week (15th to 21st May 2017), I wanted to write a blog based around different sources of protein, iron and calcium for vegetarians and why it’s important that if you are following a vegetarian diet you make sure you are also getting vitamin B12 and your omega-3s.

Following a vegetarian diet is actually something of interest to me, as I’m trying to increase the amount of vegetarian meals I have and hopefully this blog may inspire you too – even if it’s just trying one meat free day a week. Sometimes this is referred to as a flexitarian diet, which is where people mainly eat vegetarian foods but will occasionally have meat (so not a complete vegetarian but in turn moving away from mainly a meat based diet).

Carrot and Coriander Fritters

So, first things first, there are actually different types of vegetarians:

  •  lacto-ovo-vegetarians (the most common) people who fall into this category and eat both dairy products and eggs
  • lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs
  • ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but avoid dairy products
  • And finally, those who do not eat any products which are derived from animals (including eggs, dairy, and honey) are known as vegans (Vegetarian Society, 2016)

Within this blog, I’m going to try and give some ideas of foods which are relevant for all of these different types of vegetarianism. If you follow one of these, some of my ideas may not apply to you so bear with me as I’m trying to cover all in one article.

Of course, if you are just interested in trying out more vegetarian based meals then all of my ideas may work for you!

Our website is also full of delicious recipes – I’d recommend the Quinoa and Borlotti Bean Burgers, they’re amazing. You can find the recipe by clicking here.


I know that some people believe that meat is your best bet on upping your protein intake (especially if you’re trying to gain muscle or increase muscle mass) but you can also follow a vegetarian diet and still get enough protein in your diet.

Protein is essential for growth and repair and helping to maintain good health, playing a role for both structure and function within every cell in our body.

The recommended reference Nutrient Intake for protein is 0.75g per kg of body weight in adults (this varies for other stages in the life cycle) (British Nutrition Foundation, 2016). For example, if you weighed 65kg as an adult, you would need 48.75g of protein a day. This amount roughly equates to 2 palm-sized portions of tofu, nuts, or pulses a day.

To work out how much you need (if you are an adult) is your weight in kg x 0.75 = the recommended amount.

It has been found that most of us in the UK eat around 45-55% more protein than we need each day (BBC, 2017).

Our body cannot store a surplus of protein. So, consuming a diet that is high in excess protein consumption can actually have an impact on renal function, even reducing the mineral content in our tissue. Unless you are an athlete who needs to maintain or develop high muscle mass, consuming more than 1.5g/kg of protein per day may have detrimental effects.

We can break proteins into two categories: incomplete and complete proteins.

Proteins consist of things called amino acids (the building blocks to life). There are some amino acids which are essential (this means we must get them from our diet) as we are either unable to synthesise them or can’t make them at a fast-enough rate.

Complete proteins are those that contain all of these essential amino acids, such as most sources of animal protein.

Incomplete proteins are those that do not have one or more of the essential amino acids, such as most plant based protein.

If following a vegetarian diet, you can still get all the different amino acids by combining different sources of plant proteins by making them complementary (for example eating pulses and cereals).

Turmeric and Coconut Flour Pancakes

Complete proteins

  • Eggs: these are seen as the perfect balance between the essential amino acids and unlike what was previously thought, they will not increase your cholesterol. Having two eggs will provide you with 12g of protein.
  • Dairy products: this includes milk, cheeses and yoghurts. 100g of cottage cheese will provide you with 12g of protein; 250ml of milk provides 8g of protein; whilst 50g of Greek yoghurt contains 4.5g of protein. It is important to note that parmesan/ Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegetarian as it’s made using calf rennet)
  • Quinoa: this is a source of a complete protein (giving you all the amino acids) which can be eaten by all vegetarians. 250g or 75g (dry weight) of quinoa has around 11g of protein. The great thing about this protein is that it can be added into a variety of meals and eaten hot or cold.
  • Soya: this includes products such as tofu, milks, yoghurts, edamame beans. These again, like quinoa, are a complete protein which can be eaten by all vegetarians. Tofu per 100g has 13g of protein; and 200g of edamame beans has 22g of protein.

Incomplete proteins

  • Pulses: this is your beans, lentils and peas. Black eyed peas and green peas contain around 5g of protein; 100g of cooked lentils or beans gives you 9g of protein.
  • Vegetables: including broccoli, spinach, kale and peas contain some protein. 100g of broccoli contains 4g of protein.
  • Wholegrains: bread, pasta, rice, oats, cereals. Wholegrains are higher in protein than refined grains. Brown rice per 75g in dried weight contains 7g of protein; 50g of dried oats has 7g of protein; and 75g of pasta has 10g of protein. Even a wholemeal pitta provides you with protein at around 6g per pitta.
  • Nuts and seeds: peanuts, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin, sunflower all contain protein. 25g of pumpkin seeds, or peanuts, or peanut butter will provide you with 7g of protein; 25g of almonds is 6g of protein; and 25g of cashews is around 5g of protein.
  • Hemp seeds: this actually does contain all of the essential amino acids but the levels of lysine (an essential amino acid) are too low to be fully considered complete. You can get 10g of protein from this in a 2 tablespoon serving.
  • Chia seeds, are similar to hemp seeds in regards to not having enough lysine. 2 tablespoons of chia seeds can provide you with 4g of protein.
  • Seitan: is made from gluten and known as wheat meat – it is still not a complete protein. It is low in the amino acid lysine (but you can get this from lentils, black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans, tofu or quinoa).
Crunchy Chia and Sesame Bar with Pistachios

There are 5 (or 4 if you avoid dairy) categories in which you should look to consume 2 or more, when following a vegetarian diet to make sure you are getting all the essential amino acids.

The five categories are:

  1. Dairy products
  2. Grains
  3. Nuts and seeds
  4. Soya products
  5. Pulses

Examples are beans and brown rice; toast and peanut butter; and porridge topped with almonds, to name a few.

Supplements: you can also find vegetarian-friendly supplements, such as pea and hemp protein, however it is important to remember that these should be used to supplement your diet and shouldn’t be your only source.

If you want to read more about vegan sources of protein, we have another blog here.


Iron is another area in which people believe a vegetarian diet can be deficient. However, there are options which are vegetarian-friendly.

Iron is important in the making of haemoglobin which carries oxygen to the tissues, maintains a normal and healthy immune system and in producing myoglobin which is found within the muscles and is used to store oxygen.

Broccoli and Goat’s Cheese Muffins with Pumpkin Seeds

Sources of iron include:

  • Green leafy vegetables eg. broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and kale
  • Pulses, eg. lentils, beans and even quinoa
  • Nuts and seeds, eg. cashews, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Tofu

When eating any iron-rich foods, it’s important to try and also consume foods that are high in vitamin C as well (mainly fruits and vegetables), as vitamin C improves our body’s ability to absorb iron.

It is also important to note that our body absorbs less iron from plant based foods than from meat, however over time it has been indicated that the body can adjust (Bean, 2017).

Between the ages of 19-50 women need 14.8mg of iron per day. Men and women over the age of 50 require 8.7mg per day.


Although milk and dairy products are what we know as our main source of calcium, you can also get calcium from other products including:

  • Pulses
  • Tofu – 100g of tofu contains 510mg of calcium
  • Leafy green vegetables (apart from spinach) – 100g of kale contains 130mg; 100g pak choi has 54mg; around 80g of broccoli has 56mg
  • Nuts – 25g almonds contains 60mg
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fortified cereals
  • Soya – 200ml of fortified soya or almond milk contains 240mg of calcium

It is seriously important to make sure that you are getting enough calcium in your diet. Those aged 19+ should be aiming to get 700mg per day (British Nutrition Foundation, 2005).

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 has made it onto this list because it is very easy for those who are excluding all animal products to not get enough of this vitamin.

B12 is needed to allow for normal functioning of our brain and nervous system. It also is involved in the formation of red blood cells.

If as a vegetarian, you consume eggs or dairy you can obtain vitamin B12 from these sources, or through fortified cereals, fortified yeast extracts, or soya milks and yoghurts.

If you are a vegan and you do not consume fortified B12 products, supplementation should be considered (The Vegan Society, 2017).

Omega 3

Omega 3 is essential, which means we need to get it from our diet. Omega 3 helps with the functioning of our brain, helping regulate our hormones and our immune system.

I’m currently writing another blog on omega 3, so going to keep it short here!

There are three main types of omega 3s and only one of them is obtained from plant sources (alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)). In the body this is converted to the other two omega-3 sources (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)), which can be obtained from oily fish. However, the process in which they are converted is not very efficient – so it is possible for vegetarians to become deficient in EPA and DHA.

It is recommended that vegetarians try and get 2-3g of ALA per day to support health. This can be obtained from flaxseed oil (flaxseeds contain something that can have an effect on our hormone balance and should be restricted during pregnancy).

Enjoy flaxseed in these Banana Pancakes
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseed contains 7.2g of ALA
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds has 3g of ALA
  • 25g of walnuts has 2.5g of ALA
  • 25g of pumpkin seeds has 2.1g of ALA
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp oil contains 2.1g of ALA.

If you don’t regularly eat some of these, it may be worth looking at supplementation (Vegetarian Society, 2017).

Vitamin D

Known as the sunshine vitamin, it plays a vital role in a number of functions, including (but not exclusively) supporting our immune system, cardiovascular health and helping to absorb calcium.

Apart from the synthesis from sunlight, vitamin D can be found in eggs, mushrooms exposed to sunlight, and fortified cereals and milks.

Between September to March, supplementation of vitamin D is an option, especially those who do not eat the foods mentioned above and during periods where sun exposure is limited.

You only need a 10mcg supplementation a day. We have a more in depth blog about vitamin D here.


Hopefully you have found this interesting. It is important if you are following a vegetarian diet (this is the same with any specific diet) that you make sure that you are getting a varied diet, so that you are able to get all the nutrients which are required to maintain health.

Throughout the lifecycle, we have different requirements, so that of children, pregnant and lactating women, and those over 50 years may have different requirements to the ones stated above. If you are interested, you can check out the difference In nutrition requirements here.

I think the main thing to take home is just remembering that variation is key. Looking at increasing the amount of vegetarian meals you eat is a great way of increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. It has also been said that if you consume a correctly planned vegetarian diet it can be both healthy and nutritious and even provide health benefits.


BBC. (2017). Should you worry about how much protein you eat?. Available here.

Bean, A. (2017). The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook. London, Bloomsbury Sport.

British Nutrition Foundation. (2005). Dietary Calcium and Health. Available here.

British Nutrition Foundation. (2016). Protein. Available here.

The Vegan Society. (2017). What every vegan should know about vitamin B12. Available here.

Vegetarian Society. (2016). What is a vegetarian?. Available here.

Vegetarian Society. (2017). Fats, Omegas and Cholesterol. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Guide to Palm Oil and its Environmental Impact


What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil, which is an edible oil that comes from the oil palm. The palms that palm oil is made from are the African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) and the American oil palm (Elaeis oleifera).

It is predominantly used within commercial food due to:

  • its stability when cooking with it (especially when it has been refined)
  • it can be used within products to help make a longer shelf life
  • it is cheap to produce
  • the amount of oil each palm can produce, is high
Image credit to Fix

This increase in demand for palm oil has led to the mass plantation of oil palm trees and this in itself has led to some devastating impacts on the areas in which they are grown. Palm oil by the numbers gives an overview of palm oil and its impact.

What is the Controversy Surrounding Palm Oil?

If you’ve read any articles in relation to palm oil, you’ve no doubt seen some horror stories. Due to the amount of oil that each palm can produce and the low costs involved in growing it, there has been an increase in cultivation of these palms. However they aren’t being grown in open spaces.

Forests within Indonesia and Malaysia are the main places where palm oil is produced (around 86%). These forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate so that oil palms can be grown in their place. So, by destroying the rainforest to grow these plantations, they are in turn destroying the natural habitat in which a diversity of wildlife and plants thrive and grow.

If you google images of pam oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, you’ll see the extent to which the palm trees cover the land. From 1990 to 2010, 8.7 million acres of rainforest in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea were cleared for palm plantations (Ethical Consumer, 2016)

Impact on Animals

One of the most recognised things to have been impacted by this deforestation is the destruction of land in which orangutans, elephants, rhinos and Sumatran tigers live. The forests in which these animals live are destroyed and their homes are lost.

Most of the animals which are displaced from their homes are injured or killed during the process and animals which are of medicinal interest are also more easily accessible to be sold.

Due to the unsustainable development and the high rates that forest is destroyed in Indonesia, a third of all mammals are critically endangered (Say No To Palm Oil, 2017).

It’s been found that if nothing is done to change how we are destroying the forests, it would be likely that species such as the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years and for the Sumatran tiger, less than 3 years (Say No To Palm Oil, 2017). A horrifying thought, that these things are carried out at the expense of others.

I’ve added the following at the end of this paragraph just to show the despicable impact we are having on species. I’m going to mention what I’ve read about orangutans, it’s quite upsetting to read…… It has been found that orangutans have been found buried alive, as well as killed from machetes, guns and other weapon attacks. Over the last 2 decades over 50,000 orangutans have died due to the deforestation, this is either during the process, or when they enter a village or other plantations in search of food.

Female orangutan with baby

It has also been found that mother orangutans have been killed by poachers and their babies have been taken to be sold as pets; used for entertainment in tourist parks; or shipped to different countries to live a life of abuse (Say No To Palm Oil, 2017).

Human Impact

It is not just the animals which lose their homes. The people who are indigenous to the forests also are forced out of their homes and the lives they once knew are destroyed.

There is also the impact on those that work within the plantations. In the more remote areas, children will be used within the plantation for work. People within these areas no longer have the option to work elsewhere, as the only work available is within the plantation, no longer being able to be self-sustainable.

Environmental Impact

As I’ve written above, the land which is destroyed is usually forests holding whole ecosystems, which are biodiverse (meaning they have a large variety of important and beneficial plant and animal life).

It has been equated that for every hour that passes, around 300 football fields of rainforests are cleared to enable the plantation of palm oil (Say No To Palm Oil, 2017).

Deforestation for palm oil in Malaysia

When the rainforest is destroyed, it is burnt down. These trees hold and store a mass amount of carbon, causing an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, impacting climate change.

Palm oil mills also generate lots of waste, which can lead to pollution, damaging those downstream (people, plants and animals), especially if pesticides and fertilisers are used (WWF, 2016).

Not just Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests are at risk.

Due to the increase in demand for palm oil with a multitude of products now using it, it is looking more and more likely that West and Central Africa are going to be targeted to enable expansion for commercial plantations (Rainforest Foundation UK, 2016).

The forest which is located on the Congo Basin, is home to a huge amount of biodiversity, as is around 200 million hectares.

It is also where over 40 million people get livelihood benefits, with it being estimated that there are around 500,000 indigenous forest people, which inhabit the forests. However, even though this area benefits humans, animals and plants alike, the governments which control these areas are welcoming those with opportunities of developing plantations within the area (Rainforest Foundation UK, 2016). If this is pushed forward, similar outcomes to that of what have occurred in Malaysia and Indonesia will most likely occur here. Especially if it is not controlled.

Could What Happened with Rubber Plantations, Happen with Oil Palm?

In Malaysia, the government lobbied (successfully) for rubber plantations to be classified as “forest” by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

This means that these areas are counted as part of the forest and, therefore, it is more difficult to distinguish how much of the original forest remains – developers can just convert the original forest to rubber plantations without it affecting statistics. This does, however, reduce the biodiversity of the forest.

There is a concern that this may also happen with oil palms (WWF, 2016).

What is Sustainable Palm Oil?

Looking back at ‘Palm oil by the numbers’ above, you may have noticed the figure that says only 17% of palm oil production worldwide is actually sustainable. That’s a scary figure in itself, meaning that 83% of palm oil produced is not sustainable.

So, what does sustainable mean?

You may already have heard of sustainable fishing, crop growth etc. and this includes the production of palm oil.

Sustainable is defined as “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources” (Oxford Dictionary). From what I’ve written above and the figure from ‘Palm oil by the numbers’ showing that only 17% of palm oil  is sustainable, it just shows that if we don’t do anything about it, we are going to completely wipe out ecosystems which are of great importance, destroying the lives of many.

In all honesty, if the figure comes out that 83% of palm oil is not sustainable, chances are that most of the products you’re using which contain palm oil are not going to be sustainable. If they are, the company would promote this information to us, as consumers.

Sustainable palm oil, is where the aim is to produce palm oil that does not cause deforestation or harm to the people in the areas.

In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed, a scheme which is in place to prevent deforestation from this industry. When buying products which contain palm oil it is essential that you purchase products which have the RSPO label. This indicates that the palm oil has been produced in a social and environmentally responsible way.

Although no primary forest or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity, fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic of traditional cultural needs to local communities can be cleared (RSPO, 2017), it is not forbidden that other areas of forest cannot be removed. You can read more about RSPO here.

How is Palm Oil Made and Used?

Here is a simple and quick example, The Palm oil Supply Chain, showing the process of how palm oil is produced and sent to manufacturers to be used within products.

Image credit to Fix

Not Just Know as Palm Oil

There is so much controversy surrounding palm oil, that in some cases companies may not have it labelled as palm oil.

Similar to sugar and its multitude of names (high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, corn syrup solids, fructose syrups, brown sugar and dextrose, useful tip – anything that ends in –ose is a sugar), palm oil also has a number of different names which you may find on your products’ labels instead of just ‘palm oil’.

I’m going to give you a short list of different names that palm oil and its derivatives comes hidden under, so if you’re ever reading the label and see one of these come up, you know it contains palm oil:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Vegetable fat
  • Palm Kernel
  • Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palm Fruit Oil
  • Palmate
  • Glyceryl
  • Stearic Acid
  • Palmitic Acid
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
  • Palmolein
  • Stearate
  • Palmityl Alcohol

A full list can be found here on WWF

Another website which has a longer list of names is: Palm Oil Investigations: Palm oil – the hidden ingredient with over 200 names.

In December 2015, an EU law came into place which stated that the type of oil which is used within food products must be stated clearly on the label, however within other products that are not food, it does not need to be clearly stated.

Which Products Contain Palm Oil?

Around 50% of the products that we use on a daily basis actually contain palm oil, including:

  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream

and even though above I said that it was used within foods, due to its cheapness and stability, it is also found in:

  • cleaning products
  • washing detergents
  • make-up
  • toothpastes
  • skincare
  • body and hair washes

This WWF link has interactive images on why different products contain palm oil, which you can access here.

When looking at ingredients, if one of the names from above comes up within the list, check to see if it is using sustainable palm oil. Finding sustainable palm oil below shows what you should look out for and how to find out if products are using sustainable palm oil.

Image credit to Fix


If you are going to purchase products which contain palm oil, it is important to try and ensure that they are RSPO certified.

It is important that we strive as consumers, to encourage companies to use sustainable palm oil within their products.

Ethical Consumer Magazine released an issue which talks about the impact of palm oil, which you can have a look at here (Issue 165 March/April 2017).

Rainforest Foundation UK and the Ethical Consumer Magazine joined up in 2015 to write about different products which use sustainable and unsustainable products – you can click her to read their ‘Palm Oil Guide’, a more updated link is here. ‘Say No To Palm Oil’ also have a page which talks about actions we can also take to try and make a difference which you can access here.


Rainforest Foundation UK. (2016). Palm Oil. Available here.

Ethical Consumer. (2016). Rainforest Foundation and Ethical Consumer Palm Oil Campaign. Available here.

WWF. (2016). Palm oil & forest conversion. Available here.

Say No To Palm Oil. (2017). Palm Oil. Available here.

RSPO. (2017). Sustainable palm oil. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

Let’s Celebrate ‘Earth Day’


Earth Day


“Summer, fall, winter, spring,
The seasons rotate as each brings
Its special beauty to this Earth of ours.
Winter’s snow and summer’s flowers;
Frozen rivers will flow come spring,
There is a renewal of everything.”
–Edna Frohock

Earth Day is a day for recognition and to channel our energy towards environmental issues that affect every individual. A day to inspire, motivate and encourage everyone to make small changes to their lifestyle which, will in turn create positive changes and take a step in the right direction to help preserve the goodness of our planet for years to come. It is easy to sometimes forget what a generous and bountiful planet we live on. Earth provides us with everything we need to survive and to thrive.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement was started by Jon McConnell in 1970. Since it began, trees have been planted and attention has been given to environmental troubles that require consideration and a change in attitude.

Some of the medicine we use to heal ourselves graciously comes from the natural herbs and plants it gives in abundance. For instance, did you know that the plant, Madagascar Periwinkle (a gorgeous little pink beauty) has helped yield two types of drugs that help treat cancer?

The wonderful fact about this, apart from the millions of lives that our planet has helped save, is that there is still so much research to be done. Many plants have yet to be researched further for their medicinal compounds, leaving the future open to so many life changing discoveries.

So, it only seems right that we ourselves should help to heal the earth of its wounds and illnesses. We can all contribute a little each day to ensure we help look after this wonderful planet which has in turn given us so much and continues to each day. By preserving these ecosystems, it means we preserve the future of medicine and look after ourselves internally and externally.

The Importance of Trees

The importance of trees

The simple shelter of a tree on a hot summer’s day or from a rainy downpour are the small things that we often take for granted in our day to day life. When your driving or walking down the street how often do you notice the trees that line your path? Whilst they do add an aesthetic quality to our neighbourhoods and cities, they provide us with more than you could imagine.

The more trees we have surrounding us, the more oxygen going out into the environment, the more oxygen, the less carbon dioxide, which is a large factor in global warming (especially if you live in an urban environment). They reduce noise pollution and absorb pollution whilst being effortlessly beautiful at the same time. On a whole… trees are pretty great.


The sea
70% of the Earth is covered by water

Water in the UK is also something we often take for granted because of its easy accessibility. Open your tap and you have clean drinkable water whenever you need it. Yet as sea levels rise and the oceans absorb large amounts of greenhouse gasses, we often don’t consider the consequences that pollution and overuse has.

70% of the earth is covered by water and yet only 3% of this is fresh water and when you take into consideration how many non-marine living creatures rely on freshwater for their survival and what a key role water plays for food production, we soon start to realise the importance of water, not only for humans but our whole ecosystem. And as with any cycle, the more biodiverse our ecosystem, the cleaner water we can obtain.

So What Can We Do to Help?

At the end of 2015 the Paris Climate Agreement was negotiated to attempt to keep rising temperatures at bay and to help curb climate change. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make a difference also. Here are just some of the ways that you can help:

  • Turn your food waste into a positive
  • Reduce the use of disposable plastic
  • Buy locally and reduce your carbon footprint
  • Cut down on meat


Recycling Lucy Bee jars

At Lucy Bee we use glass jars for our organic coconut oil. They can be reused and recycled as an additional bonus, a small movement, which has a large impact.

This leads us to a crucial factor that requires our attention. Helping to reduce our use of disposable plastics – billions of plastic that we chuck away every year, ends up in the ocean. Of the 300 million tons of plastic that is produced to make bottles, packaging and other products, only 10 percent is properly recycled and reused.

This problem threatens to affect humans and wildlife alike. So consider reducing the amount of plastic you use and consider switching to sustainable alternatives.

Meat Free Mondays


Miso Baked Aubergine

Diets that consume more animal protein leave a larger water footprint than a vegetarian diet. So consider cutting down on your meat, if we eat less meat then we can actively help towards the greenhouse gas emissions that the meat industry is responsible for. Over 36 billion tons are emitted, making up roughly 20% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions. So try cutting down and having more meat free days, the earth will definitely appreciate it.

Compost Your Food Waste

Start composting. Consider in a whole year how much food is thrown away and help make a difference by turning your food waste into soil.

Recycle and dispose of it properly so that we can give it back to the earth by home composting, your garden will thank you for it in the end! By simply having an extra bin in your kitchen to dispose of food you can help prevent food waste ending up in a landfill site, where, is doesn’t decompose as most people would think, it actually releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane.

Appreciating Our Planet

The cause is growing every year and will continue to grow. It started off with millions of Americans and has now continued and spread with the help of 196 counties.

bumble bee

Earth Day is simply a way of showing appreciation towards nature and all that earth does for us. And with Earth Day falling at the end of April, with so much wildlife in bloom, why not go outside and take a deep breath of fresh air, take a walk through the woods and notice the quiet hum of the bumble bee, the emerging wildflowers and appreciate the beauty the earth has given us.

Join us in celebrating and take a step towards conserving and healing our planet.

Sadi x

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.



Can Resistance Interval Training Improve Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?


Resistance Interval Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes

Resistance interval exercise has been shown to improve blood vessel function in those with type 2 diabetes.

As I’ve discussed before in blogs, type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more of an issue within the UK.

The NHS spend a staggering 10% of their budget for England and Wales on diabetes, which equates to over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute.

It is estimated that £14 billion pounds is spent a year due to the treatment of diabetes and the complications associated with it (Diabetes UK, 2016a).

Type 2 diabetes was previously known as ‘adult-onset diabetes’, as it was not found within children and only usually developed in those over 40. However, now we are finding that children are even being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes which you can read more about here.

It is becoming more and more common, with it being estimated that type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide (Diabetes UK, 2016b).

It is believed that obesity is accountable for nearly 80-85% of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and those who are obese (that’s those with a BMI of 30 and over), are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, than those with a BMI below 22 (Diabetes UK, 2016c).

Globally it has been found that 80% of those who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, were overweight or obese (Diabetes Org UK, 2009).

Diabetes is associated with a whole host of health implications which include, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, and nerve damage which you can read more about in my previous blog on the prevention of type 2 diabetes here.

Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

If you have diabetes you are up to 5 times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke (NHS, 2016).

Endothelial cells line every blood vessel found within our body, separating the blood from the blood vessels. One of the functions of endothelial cells is to help regulate the dilating and contracting of the vessel – it helps to control our blood vessel function.

Type 2 diabetes can impact how well our blood vessels function. However, a recent study found that when those with type 2 diabetes took part in one single session of resistance based interval exercise, which was for 7 X 1 minute intervals using leg resistance exercises, with 1 minute rest in between. They then looked at flow-mediated dilation at baseline: immediately, then 1 hour and 2 hours after exercise. They found that endothelial function (blood vessel function) was improved throughout the 2-hour post exercise period after resistance based interval exercise in comparison to cardio interval exercise, and seated control (Francois et al., 2016).

It was concluded that further research was needed to investigate the long term effect using interval exercises, however it appears that it can have a beneficial impact on how well our blood vessels function, which is something that can be impacted in those with type 2 diabetes.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is exercising which uses weight and it’s where the muscles are having to work against an external resistance. The weight can come from your own body, dumbbells, kettle bell, barbells, or even weighted machines.

The National Diabetes Prevention Programme

For the programme I am working on, the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, we are trying to help people increase their physical activity and get them to look at their diets and whether anything may be impacting and increasing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

To help get them on the road to making small changes we carry out one to one assessments where we work with them individually, on goals they want to achieve. The other part of the programme is the groups sessions which involves discussions based around nutrition, and then group sessions where they undergo physical activity.

If you want to read more about the programme and how it’s been going, you can see my first blog on it here.

The programme is running pretty smoothly. As with any fairly new programme, it is still being developed and modified to enable it to run as best as it can.  We’re now running the groups, which have been good fun, and hopefully those on the programme are finding it useful!

What we do a lot of, is goal setting. The aim is to do small goals, which can be incorporated into day to day life and not drastic changes which may not last.

Goal Setting

Throughout the programme, we try to enable individuals to make their own decisions around what they want to change within their diet and through physical activity. It’s all fine and well being told what we need to do, but as our own person we need to decide what we want to do with the information provided. That way its more sustainable and specific to you, instead of the concept of one size fits all, which in all honesty, doesn’t take into account individual needs. One thing that may work for someone, may not work for someone else.

If you are making changes to your lifestyle, there may be a few trial and errors. I recommend setting goals and write them down:

  • Don’t make them unachievable, keep them so that they’re just small steps, see what works, and note down what doesn’t.
  • If something didn’t work, why didn’t it? What do you think would help you?
  • If something worked, what helped you to achieve it?
  • It’s all about, in some ways, keeping a diary so that you can keep track of what you are doing, and then it’s always there for you to see.

If one week goes badly don’t beat yourself up and give up, look at what caused you to go off track and see if you need to alter your goal a bit.

What I mean by not making goals unachievable, is for example, if you don’t do any physical activity at all, slowly build up from 0 days/week to 5 days/week. If you start straight away with 0 to 5 days and then one week only manage to do a couple of days you may think “well I’ve failed this, so I’m just not going to bother now” which is what we don’t want!

So, start with trying to exercise once a week, make it into a part of your weekly routine. This doesn’t mean that you’re restricted to doing it once a week, but that’s your goal, to go to the gym/exercise at least once. If you go more than once, then great! That’s good and you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something but if you only go once, you’re not going to be so hard on yourself.

Sorry if I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here but if you’re interested in setting your own goals, I’d recommend it, get yourself a notebook, and look at SMART goals and enjoy!


As I’m sure you’re all used to hearing, a balanced, healthy diet and making sure you are taking part in physical activity are both integral to maintaining and improving our health.

If you, or someone you know, has either pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes, or even just interested in the impact diabetes has on our body, and what you can do to help reduce your risk, the Diabetes.co.uk website is filled with really interesting information. It’s really informative and relevant for everyone really! You can click on the link above or here.

It’s always great to mix up the physical exercise we take part it, not just for our body but it also keeps us interested in what we’re doing.

Diabetes Org UK. (2009). Diabetes and Obesity Rates Soar. Available here.

Diabetes UK. (2016a). Cost of Diabetes. Available here.

Diabetes UK. (2016). Type 2 Diabetes. Available here.

Diabetes UK. (2016c). Diabetes and Obesity. Available here.

Francois, ME. Durrer, C. Pistawka, KJ. Halperin, FA. And Little, JP. (2016). Resistance-based interval exercise acutely improves endothelial function in type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology,  311(5). Available here.

NHS. (2016). Type 2 diabetes- Complications. Available here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.



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