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5 Tips for Preparing for an Endurance Challenge

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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!

Success!

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

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

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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

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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’

Moisturiser

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!

Suncream

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

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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

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

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.

Phosphorus

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.

Protein

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

Sleep

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).

Weight

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)

Hormones

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.

Conclusion

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.

References:

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

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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.

Hydration

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.

Exercise

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:

Breakfast:

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!

Lunch:

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.

Dinner:

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.

Snacks

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

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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!

Helen,

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

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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.

Protein

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

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.

Calcium

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.

Conclusion

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.

References

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

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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

Conclusion

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.

References:

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’

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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

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.

Water

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

Recycle

Teas
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?

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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!

Conclusion

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.

References
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.

 

The Ethics in Your Shopping Basket

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In this guest article Lucy Bee talks to Tim Hunt, co-editor Ethical Consumer Magazine, about campaigning, rating companies and ethical products…

Q: Firstly could you explain who Ethical Consumer is?

A: Ethical Consumer is a not-for-profit UK magazine and website which publishes information on the social, ethical and environmental behaviour of companies and issues around trade, justice and ethical consumerism.

We are on a mission to make business more sustainable by harnessing consumer power.

Our main focus is on producing guides that help consumers choose the most ethical products every time they shop.

We also work with sustainable businesses providing them with research and analysis and helping them to campaign effectively.

Q: Can you explain more about your consumer guides?

Lucy Bee Coconut Oil is an Ethical Best Buy

A: We have over 130 product guides on our site. Each one rates and ranks brands based on their ethics.

Our ratings cover around 300 topics, in 19 areas, in 5 main categories, including everything from environmental reporting to human rights to animal testing to tax avoidance.

These ratings are updated in real time from our Corporate Critic database, which contains research on over 40,000 companies, brands and products. This information comes from a number of resources from primary research to company press releases to campaign reports.

The database is a result of over 25 years work. Over this time, this sophisticated yet simple, personal ethical rating system has evolved to give consumers all the information they need to make informed decisions when they shop.

As well as on the web, a selection of these guides are published six times a year in our magazine.

In each guide we pick our Best Buys to help consumers easily choose the best brands to buy in that market. We’re very pleased that Lucy Bee has one of these awarded for its coconut oil and you can read more about that here in Lucy Bee: Ethical Best Buy Coconut Oil.

We talk more about the Best Buy in our video interview with Lucy Bee below:

Q: What makes Ethical Consumer the leading authority on ethical consumerism? 

A: As mentioned above we’ve been producing our magazine for over 25 years and over this time we’ve built up a massive database full of information on companies and brands. This helps us to understand trends and what is happening within markets.

We’ve also got lots of experience of working with some of the UK’s most ethical companies and campaign groups.

Q: Is campaigning something you do a lot of?

A: We see everything we do as campaigning of one type or another.

Our guides help consumers avoid the worst companies (e.g. those avoiding tax or committing human rights abuses) and this type of campaigning is great as people can do it easily in their everyday lives.

We also run more focused campaigns. At the moment, we are running one on carbon divestment, helping people to de-carbon their personal finances as a way for individuals to help tackle the climate crisis.

We also work with other campaigning organisations to help bring consumer actions into their campaigns, including sustainable fashion and a palm oil campaign.

Our work with ethical businesses is also about making them more sustainable or helping to promote sustainability within markets, so campaigning is really central to what we do.

In fact, we are a not-for-profit co-operative so even our structure is geared to being as ethical as possible.

Q: Do you think your work is having an impact? Have you noticed a lot of change over the last 25 years? 

A: We track the market for ethical goods and services every year through the Ethical Consumer Markets Report.  This shows that the market has steadily increased over the last 10 years or so. It’s now worth around £38 billion. The market for ethical products and services is now worth more than the market for tobacco.

Aside from the hard data, we’ve also noticed some real changes in what the larger companies are doing and it’s usually for the better.

When I first started at Ethical Consumer, around 10 years ago, very few companies were producing environmental reports and even fewer had supply chain polices that monitored workers’ rights issues. We’ve really seen that this has changed and companies are now really beginning to take these issues seriously which is a big achievement for everyone involved in the green movement.

Added to this, there are now many smaller ethical businesses shooting up and this is really important. Not only does it provide consumers with a great choice but is also helps to push the larger companies to become more ethical.

The general trend is really encouraging and we hope it continues to grow long into the future.

You can find out more information about Ethical Consumer and their great work, including the topics discussed in this article, by clicking 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.

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.

Tips to Help Reduce Cellulite

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What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is fatty deposits of soft or hard dimpled fat which looks like orange peel. Like stretch marks, this is another dreaded thing we see when looking at ourselves in the mirror!

This condition affects mostly women as women have more fat cells due to hormonal influences. Women are also affected more as men’s skin structure and texture is different. Both overweight and slim people are affected. You will mostly see it around the thighs, buttocks, upper arms and stomach.

Cellulite appears in the subcutaneous layer (deepest layer of our skin), which is made up of fat cells laced with collagen and other fibers found in the connective tissue.

You may also feel that the area of cellulite feels cooler than other areas of the skin because the blood circulation is weakened in that area.

It is very stubborn and resistant to diet and exercise, although both do help with the appearance. There is also more water content present in the areas of concern.

What are the Two Main Types of Cellulite?

There are two main types of cellulite:

Hard cellulite – seen without squeezing the skin.

Soft Cellulite – can only been seen when the skin is squeezed. it is often found in inactive women or people who have lost muscle tone through things like crash dieting.

Ways to Tackle Cellulite

  • Exfoliating

Using Lucy Bee Coconut Oil with one of our salts (Epsom, Dead Sea or Himalayan which all contain numerous minerals and magnesium), makes the most amazing skin-loving, cellulite-tackling scrub.

Gently exfoliate the area of concern with circular motion as this can help to regenerate skin cells. You’ll find the recipe here

Coconut oil is approximately 48% lauric acid, which has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Due to the fatty acid content, it is incredibly moisturising and hydrating and nourishing on the skin. It also contains antioxidants and vitamin E which help fight free radicals and repair damaged skin.

  • Dry Brushing

Dry brush before getting into the shower, always towards the heart. This helps with poor circulation which eventually leads to congestion in the skin. It also helps to move toxins and waste from the lymph nodes, which is detoxify and helps with the appearance of the skin as it removes dead skin cells and replenishes them.

  • Massage

Helps move water retention away. It also helps to move toxins and waste from the lymph nodes, which is detoxifying and helps with the appearance of the skin as it removes dead skin cells and replenishes them, also helping to sooth the muscles. use Lucy Bee Coconut Oil for the health benefits. It’s important to drink lots of water after a massage, to flush out all the toxins from the body.

  • Exercise

We all know moving does wonders to our body from both a mental to physical point of view. No excuses – even a light walk helps to get rid of the appearance of cellulite

  • Stay Hydrated

Drinking water gets everything moving, so make sure you’re drinking at least 1.5 to 2 litres a day. Add lemon for extra detoxifying purposes.

  • Salon treatments

Some salons also offer treatments for cellulite like deep tissue massage, lymphatic drainage massage, vacuum suction styled treatments and G5 massage.

Things to Avoid

Obvious things like processed foods, excess salt, alcohol, sugar, unhealthy fatty foods, caffeine, smoking etc. should all be avoided in the ‘fight’ against cellulite. You can read our blog about The Western Diet and Obesity, which includes processed foods, here.

Hope you found this information useful!

I’ve also written an article about Stretch Marks and How to Treat Them, which you can find 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.

Bay, a Herb Grown in an English Garden

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Bay

This is the second of our articles which looks at herbs which can be grown in an English garden. My previous article on Rosemary can be found by clicking here.

Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is an evergreen tree which produces aromatic thick green leaves, and it’s these leaves which can be added to meals for added flavour.

Bay is native to the Mediterranean though it grows well in the UK, too.

Most of us may recognise bay leaves as something that we add to our soups and stews. It has not always been just an addition for flavour but was also used within traditional medicine for its healing properties.

Bay’s Traditional Medicinal Properties and Historical Uses

Bay leaves have been used brewed and infused with warm water and consumed. This infusion would cause the individual to increase urination (diuretic) helping to remove water from the body, as well as an emetic, to cause vomiting. It has also been associated with helping to heal wounds when used as a bay leaf wash on injuries.

In the times of the ancient Romans and Greeks, crowns were made out of the true bay leaves (Laurus nobilis). It was believed to symbolise wisdom, peace and protection. These crowns were presented to individuals who had accomplished great things, including Kings, war hero’s, and Olympians.

The word Baccalaureate means laurel berries, which is related to the bay leaf crowns that these individuals were given, to show their success, as with the word poet laureate.

Traditionally as well, bay leaves have been used to treat gastrointestinal problems, including impaired digestion and flatulence (Muñiz-Márquez et al., 2013).

Research Around Bay Leaves

Here, I will talk about potential benefits that bay may hold.

Bay leaves contain around 81 different compounds and one of the active components is likely a polyphenol, which are compounds found in natural plant food sources and have antioxidant properties (Khan et al., 2009).  One of the other compounds it contains is eugenol, an essential oil. The compounds that are found within the leaves are shown to be antiseptic, antioxidant and aid digestion.

It has been demonstrated that bay leaves have helped to improve insulin function but this was carried out in vitro (meaning the study was done in a controlled environment outside of the living organism). However before the study, it was not known what affect it would have on people (Khan et al., 2009).

Studies

  1. A small scale study using 40 people all of whom have type 2 diabetes, were split into 4 groups, and given either 1,2, or 3 grams of ground bay leaves a day. The fourth group was given a placebo, for 30 days.

It was found that all three quantities of bay leaves significantly reduced serum glucose levels, total cholesterol decreased, with a decrease in low density lipoproteins and an increase in levels of high density lipoproteins. Triglyceride levels were also found to decrease after 30 days of consumption of the bay leaves (Khan et al., 2009). It was concluded that the consumption of bay leaves at either 1,2 or 3 grams a day decreased risk factors which are associated with both diabetes and also cardiovascular disease (heart disease).

2. Bay leaves may be a great addition to the diet of those with type 2 diabetes, due to its apparent beneficial effects, although as always, more research needs to confirm this with a larger sample (Khan et al., 2009).

3. One study found that when examining extracts of bay leaves and whether they demonstrate any antioxidant activity, it was found that these extracts showed protective effects, especially on the liver, showing it produced protective antioxidant effects (Kaurinovic et al., 2010).

4. The extract from bay leaves has also been found to be antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria (Ramos et al., 2012).

5. It also appears that both its oil and consumption of bay leaves may have some anti-inflammatory properties (Sayyah et al., 2003)

6. It has also been indicated that the essential oils from bay leaves have antifungal properties against Candida spp. which is a yeast infection. This study found that the essential oils from the bay leaves helped to prevent the adhesion and formation of candida (Peixoto et al., 2017).

What gives bay leaves these beneficial effects is the bioactive compounds which are found within the essential oils found in the leaves (Peixoto et al., 2017).

7. Bay has been found to have a potentially promising role in the prevention of oral diseases (Merghni et al., 2015).

Uses for Bay Leaves in Cooking

Bay leaves can be used either fresh or dried. If using fresh bay leaves, it’s best to store these in a sealed container and they also freeze well.

Dried bay leaves will keep for a long time without losing their aroma or flavour, making these a versatile store cupboard ingredient. They can also have a more intense aroma than fresh leaves.

Smoked Haddock and Sweetcorn Chowder flavoured with bay

They can be used in various ways in cooking and can be added to:

  • stews or casseroles
  • risottos
  • marinades
  • poaching liquid for fish
  • infused in custards or rice puddings
  • paté

Remove the leaves before serving.

Conclusion

Bay leaves should be stored in an airtight container and kept out of direct sunlight. Over time the leaves will most likely lose their potency.

When cooking with bay leaves, they are usually kept whole. It’s best to not eat them whole like this as they are tough to both chew and swallow, and may cause damage to our digestive tract.

It appears as well that bay leaves’ essential oil, due to it antibacterial properties, could play a role in prolonging shelf life of ingredients.

Bay leaves are a great addition to your regular diet and have beneficial impacts on our health. The essential oils found within bay leaves play an important role in the health benefits associated, due to their potent properties.

References

Kaurinovic, B. Popovic, M. and Vlaisavljevic, S. (2010). In vitro and in vivo effects of Laurus nobilis, L. leaf extracts. Molecules. 15(5), pp. 3378-3390. Available here.

Khan, A. Zaman, G. and Anderson, RA. (2009). Bay leaves improve glucose and lipid profile of people with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 44(1), pp. 52-56. Available here.

Merghni, A. Marzouki, H. Hentati, H. Aouni, M. and Mastouri, M. (2015). Antibacterial and antibiofilm activities of Laurus nobilis L. essential oil against Staphylococcus aureus strains associated with oral infections. Pathologie Biologie. Available here.

Muñiz-Márquez, DB. Martínez-Ávila, GC. Wong-Paz, JE. Belmares-Cerda, R. Rodríguez-Herrera, R. and Aguilar, CN. (2013). Ultrasound-assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from Laurus nobilis L. and their antioxidant activity. 20, pp.1149-1154. Available here.

Peixoto, LR. Rosalen, PL. Ferreira, GLS. Freires, IA. de Carvalho, FG. Castellano, LR. And de Castro, RD. (2017). Antifungal activity, mode of action and anti-biofilm effects of Laurus nobilis Linnaeus essential oil against Candida spp. Archives of Oral Biology, 73, pp. 179-185. Available here.

Ramos, C. Teixeira, B. Batista, I. Matos, O. Serrano, C. and Neng, NR. (2012). Antioxidant and antibacterial activity of essential oil and extracts of bay laurel Laurus nobilis Linnaeus (Lauraceae) from Portugal. Natural Product Research, 26(6). Available here.

Sayyah, M. Saroukhani, G. Peirovi, A. and Kamalinejad, M.  (2003). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis Linn. Phytotherapy Research, 17(7), pp. 733-736. 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.

Cycling Rites of Passage

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Guest blog by Helen Russell,

Five Cycling Rites of Passage

If you are new to cycling then you should be aware that there are some rather unpleasant occurrences that happen to all riders at some point and are considered rites of passage.

Although an inevitable part of riding, here are some tips on how to mitigate the chance of these rites happening and what to do if they should occur.

Cycling in Berlin
  1. Falling Off

You would be hard pressed to find a cyclist who has never ‘hit the deck’.  However, considering the fact that you are balancing on a piece of metal on wheels, falling off doesn’t happen that often and can usually be avoided.

Common hazards that can cause falls include oil, white lines on damp roads, potholes, ice and tram lines.

Make sure you look far enough ahead for any of these. Cornering and descending can be tricky, especially when they come together.

Always approach a corner at an appropriate speed and look where you are going, rather than at what is immediately in front of you. Slow down before the corner if necessary, ‘feather’ the brakes rather than slamming them on and don’t brake whilst cornering as this will increase the risk of sliding. If you do fall, try to tuck your head down, pull your elbows and knees in and try to relax as this will reduce the chance of injury

2. Not Unclipping

Carrying on the theme of falling off, one rite of passage that is usually more embarrassing than painful, is wearing cleats for the first time, or rather forgetting to unclip from the bike.

Cleats are on the sole of your cycling shoe and fit into the pedal, so that you are effectively attached to the bike.  A spring mechanism in the pedal means that you can clip the cleat in and out.

Often when learning to use cleats, cyclists won’t be able to clip out of the pedals quickly enough and topple over. Luckily this usually happens when you are coming to a stop so isn’t too painful. Unfortunately though, this often happens at traffic lights when there is a line of traffic watching your slow union with the asphalt!

Cleats have what is called various degrees of ‘float’, which allows for some lateral movement of the foot. The higher the float the easier it is to unclip, so as a beginner start with some float. Some manufactures have different coloured cleats showing the amount of float. For example, Look has white for no float, grey for medium and red for most float.

Check that the pedal spring tension is not too tight so that you can clip out quickly. If possible it is a good idea to practice getting in and out of your pedals on a turbo trainer to get used to the motion and the amount of force required.

3. Punctures

With the state of some of our British roads, punctures are inevitable at some point. However, you can take some steps to reduce the chance of hearing that hissing sound on a ride.

Make sure that your tyres are inflated to the correct psi level.  You might imagine that punctures are caused by over-inflating but under-inflating can also cause a flat. The manufacturers recommended level is usually printed on the tyre.

Punctures are a nuisance as all cyclists will know!

Look out for debris in the road especially at the sides – don’t ride too close to the kerb as this is where most debris lies.

Watch out for any shiny patches in the road as this could be glass. At this time of year, a common hazard is bits of wood from hedge cutting. If necessary and it’s safe to do so, ride close to the middle of the road, to avoid the cuttings.

Make sure you take a pump and spare inner tube with you on rides and practise changing a tyre beforehand so you know you can do it, if you get a puncture whilst on your own. If you do get a puncture whilst out riding and have trouble getting the tyre back on the wheel, then don’t be afraid to flag down a fellow rider to help.  In my experience, they are usually more than happy to help as we have all been in this situation!

4. Bonking

No, I’m not referring to your sex life but rather energy depletion due to a lack of fuel, causing the body to shut down, making it hard, if not impossible, to continue cycling.

More catchy than its official name hypoglycaemia, ‘bonking’ occurs when athletes fail to eat or drink enough carbohydrates resulting in depleted glycogen, causing low levels of blood glucose. 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.

In an earlier Lucy Bee blog I gave some ideas on how to avoid bonking on long rides but in short, make sure you eat enough beforehand and take in food and drink whilst cycling.

Ideally, you should aim to have 60g of carbs every hour when riding. This can be made up of a drink, gels, and solids, or usually for me, a mixture of them all! There are some excellent recipes for flapjacks or energy balls in Lucy Bee’s cookbooks –  one of my favourites is the Refined Sugar-free Flapjack with Cranberries or the Lucy Bee Energy Balls.

5. Saddle Sores

I wasn’t sure whether to include this as a rite of passage as not all riders suffer from saddle sores. However, at some point, especially when going out on longer rides or when riding for successive days for the first time, it is possible that you will suffer from some discomfort.

Saddle sores are an irritation of the skin that usually occurs at the point of contact with your saddle and can be caused by chaffing, sweating, ill-fitting shorts or an uncomfortable saddle.

The most important thing is to get the right saddle. This is easier said than done as every cyclist you ask will have their own personal favourite, which doesn’t mean that it will be the right one for you.

Some cyclists find their ideal saddle immediately but for most it takes a bit of trial and error. The best thing to do is ask your bike shop if you can take the saddle for a test ride or negotiate a returns agreement so that it is easy to change if it doesn’t feel right.

Measuring your sit-bone width and looking at your riding style and where your pressure points are, can help you choose the right saddle.

There are a multitude of creams available to either avoid saddle sores or give some relief if you become sore. It is rare that I actually use them but in 2015 I rode the entire route of the Tour de France and definitely needed creams for both scenarios! The easiest thing is to apply the cream on yourself around the contact and chafe points of your saddle or you can apply the chamois to your shorts. A common mistake is to wear underpants under your shorts! This is a big no-no as pants will often cause chaffing.  Cycling short chamois are designed to be worn commando!

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid the more serious incidents but to be honest the best thing is to realise that some of these things will happen to you and just accept them as part of your cycling journey!

Helen,

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.

Helen has also written articles on Six Steps to Recovery from Your Workout, Triathlete Transition Training and Winter Training for Summer Results, Training Holidays with the Kids on Board and Fuelling on Long Bike Rides.

All About Stretch Marks and How to Treat Them

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Stretch Marks

Stretch marks, which are also known as striae, are a normal thing that happens to our body, though they’re not always welcomed as they can cause self-consciousness and worry, especially around bikini season.

What Exactly are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks happen when the skin is pulled by growth or stretching of the skin.

Our skin is made up of three main layers which are:

  • Epidermis (outer layer)
  • Dermis (middle layer)
  • Subcutaneous (deepest layer)

As the skin is stretched, the collagen is weakened and damaged (this happens in the middle layer, the dermis), and it results in fine scars under the top layer of the skin. When they are new scars, they are pink, red, or brown in colour and this is when they are best tackled as there is blood and oxygen present in the area. Old scars are silver in colour and there isn’t a lot you can do for these scars.

How Do You Get Stretch Marks?

 

They are really common in both men and women, though women tend to be affected more but they are nothing to worry about.

You can get stretch marks during puberty, pregnancy, rapid weight gain or weight loss. Most common places that they occur is on the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, breasts, upper arms and in some cases of body building.

How to Help Treat Stretch Marks

Just to warn you, this isn’t going to completely get rid of them but it can help with the appearance:

Coconut Oil

Firstly the one I know most about!

Due to the lauric acid in coconut oil (around 48%) this incredible property is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial. Due to the fatty acid content, it is incredibly moisturising, hydrating and nourishing on the skin. It also contains antioxidants and vitamin E which help fight free radicals and repair damaged skin.

So, how do you use Lucy Bee Coconut Oil on stretch marks?

Use it two-three times a day, massaging with a medium to light pressure to penetrate the coconut oil into the area.  A little goes a long way so you only need a tiny amount.

Coconut oil is also safe to use when pregnant – simply use a very light pressure on the bump.

Try our homemade recipe:

Ingredients

20g Lucy Bee Coconut Oil, melted

20g shea butter, melted

5-20 drops of lavender essential oil (or essential oil of your choice)

1 tsp. honey

Optional, you can also use one capsule of vitamin E for added benefits

Method

  1. On a medium/low heat, melt the Lucy Bee Coconut Oil and shea butter and mix together.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lavender and honey until mixed together. Also add the vitamin E, if you are using.
  3. Put into a glass bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Use twice a day.

The Benefits of the other ingredients used above:

Shea butter – moisturises, heals and helps with skin regeneration.

Lavender essential oil – has anti-inflammatory properties, soothing, healing and good for sensitive skin.

Other Ways to Tackle Stretch Marks

Exfoliating

Gently exfoliating the area of concern, with a circular motion, can help to regenerate skin cells.

Make your own body scrub using our Himalayan/Epsom or Dead Sea Salts with Lucy Bee Coconut Oil – see the video below:

Aloe Vera

Very healing, cooling and soothing for the skin.

Apply a thin layer of aloe vera to your skin.

Essential Oils

Mix 5-10 drops of essential oil with your melted Lucy Bee Coconut Oil/carrier oil for best results. Note, essential oils cannot be applied on their own.

Essential oils are aromatic, volatile substances that have been extracted from plant minerals by distillation or expression. They are found in leaves, flowers, tree bark, roots, fruit pulp or peel of plants.

Not only are they distinctive in fragrance but each one has powerful properties that can help in many ways from being an antidepressant; detoxifying properties; rehydrating; as a sedative; or a stimulant.

They also work well in beauty as they can help with different skin types and disorders, for example, ylang ylang or tea tree are great for oily, blemished acne prone skin, whereas dry, mature skin is best treated with geranium, rose or sandalwood.

When pregnant it’s important to avoid essential oils in the first three months, some books even say five months. I would advise looking online to check or speaking to a qualified aromatherapist who’s been trained in treating mums-to-be before using essential oils. As I’ve mentioned, they shouldn’t be underestimated with just how powerful they are.

They can also act as a diuretic. The following is a guide to what’s not safe, what’s ok and what’s safest to use during pregnancy:

NOT SAFE:

  • juniper berry
  • rose
  • myrrh
  • jasmine
  • fennel

FAIRLY SAFE:

  • cinnamon
  • chamomile
  • cedar wood
  • basil
  • pepper
  • geranium

ESSENTIAL OILS WHICH ARE SAFEST TO USE:

  • citrus
  • lavender
  • mandarin (helps with nausea)
  • neroli
  • sandalwood
  • tea tree.

You only want to use one/two drops at a time.

Stay Hydrated

Try drinking two litres of water a day. This naturally hydrates your whole body and flushes toxins out. It will make your skin look supple and glowing.

Eat a Balanced Diet of Foods Rich in:

  • Vitamin C – essential for regenerating connective tissue and collagen. This promotes healthy glowing skin. Some of the places you can find this is in oranges, kale, strawberries, kiwi and peppers.
  • Vitamin E – protects and blocks free radicals from the skin. Some of the places you can find this includes almonds, seeds, spinach, avocado, kale, coconut oil and olives.
  • Healthy Fats and Omega 3’s – help produce the skin’s natural oil barrier, keeps skin hydrated, plumper and more youthful. Some of the places you’ll find these are, nuts, seeds, fish (e.g.salmon), avocado, olive oil, coconut oil.

Zinc

Zinc is also used in the production of collagen and also contains antioxidant properties.

Another concern with skin that many of us experience is cellulite – check out my blog about cellulite by clicking 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.

The Western Diet and Obesity

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How a Western Diet Leads to Overeating and Obesity

There is no point beating around the bush, as a nation we have reached an epidemic where the prevalence of obesity has risen over the years.

We aren’t alone with this as it’s now a global issue that has become a serious one. It’s not just Western diets that have ended up with this issue. Some parts of the world are now tackling a double burden of malnutrition, where there is both undernutrition and over-nutrition, leading to obesity and non-communicable diseases co-existing within the same communities.

This is also being seen in children, where poor nutrition continues to cause nearly half of deaths in children under 5. However, low and middle income countries are also now seeing a rise in overweight and obesity in children (WHO, 2016a).

It is common knowledge that there is a global “promotion of energy-rich and nutrient-poor products” which is one of the factors of an increase in weight gain, and risk of chronic disease, especially in children (Lobstein et al., 2015).

Statistics on Obesity

Obesity rates:

  • in England have risen, with up to nearly 26% of adults being diagnosed as being obese in 2014
  • nearly 29% of the adult population are obese in Scotland
  • 24% in Wales
  • 25% in Northern Ireland
  • and 23% in Ireland. (Public Health England, 2017).

More shockingly, is that there has also been an increase in the number of children being diagnosed as obese over the last 30 years. Type two diabetes, which was more commonly seen in adults, and was known as something that occurs later on in life, has been seeing a rise in children.

In 2014, 533 children were diagnosed with it, a scary statistic. It is predicted that by 2050, obesity will affect 60% of adult men, 50 of adult women, and 25% of children (Public Health England, 2017).

Health Risks Associated with Obesity

The reason this rise in prevalence is an issue, is due to obesity being linked to increases in a multitude of health risks and chronic diseases.

It is also important when looking at health risks to distinguish if someone is obese, is where they store their fat.

Excess fat stored around our abdomen (known as visceral fat) is the fat stored around our organs including the pancreas, liver and intestines and is linked to impacting health risks.

This includes, a high BMI and fat stored around the stomach, which are all factors that increase your risk of type 2 diabetes; hypertension; dyslipidaemia; coronary artery disease; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; gout; some cancers (breast, prostate, colon, pancreas, and kidney); peripheral oedema; osteoarthritis; sleep apnoea which is caused by upper airway obstruction during sleep; and also cognitive dysfunction (Mitchell et al., 2011).

Obesity potentially brings with it a host of health issues

A recent meta-analysis found that obesity (increase in adiposity) has strongly been linked via evidence to cancer risks including: oesophageal adenocarcinoma; multiple myeloma; cancers of gastric cardia, colon, rectum, biliary tract system, pancreas, breast, endometrium, ovary and kidney. There are also other cancers which have a slight link, but the evidence is not strong enough (Kyrgiou et al., 2017).

Overweight and obesity are now linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight (WHO, 2016b).

How Do We Define Someone as Obese?

So, the method that is actually used to find out whether someone is obese, is based on body mass index (BMI).

This is calculated by dividing your weight in kg by height squared in m (ie. divide your weight in Kg by your height in M, then divide that answer by your height).

A BMI between 25-29.9 kg/m squared is considered overweight. It is defined as being obese if you BMI is over 30 kg/m squared.

Obesity classifications and categories can be broken down further as well. A BMI between 30-34.9 kg/m squared is class I, between 35-39.9 kg/m squared is defined as class II , and extreme obesity is class III and that is any BMI above 40 kg/m squared.

For Asians, BMI has been modified with different cut off points to assess their classification. A BMI between 23-24.9 kg/m squared is deemed as overweight, and over 25 kg/m squared is obese.

Some people opt for sugary, fizzy drinks, claiming ‘water is boring’ but you could try adding fruit to water, for flavour

BMI is not always an accurate indicator of whether someone is obese. People who are highly muscular come up as obese, like rugby players! However, they are all in peak physical fitness, so BMI doesn’t work for everyone, but it is a good general indicator.

I remember one of my lecturers showed us a picture of a young Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who incidentally have the same BMI, but if you look at them, they have a completely different body composition to each other, but both classified as obese due to BMI!

The best way as well, for measuring your abdominal visceral fat is by an MRI scan. However, this isn’t really an option for most of us, so the other way is to take a waistline measurement. To get this, find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs, place the tape between these two points and loop around your stomach. If you are a male, anything over 94cm puts your health at risk but if it’s over 102cm, it’s a high risk. If you’re a female, anything over 80cm puts you at risk, and 88cm a higher risk for your health (Diabetes, 2017).

At work (I work for the NHS on a Diabetes Prevention Programme),  we use a slightly simpler method which is to find your belly button and then place two fingers above your belly button, this is roughly a similar way!

The Western Diet

There is a basic reason why we are seeing such a rise in obesity rates globally – we are, as a whole, consuming more than we are expending for energy.

Many things are now for our convenience….. we need to nip around to the shop, so we drive there; if we’re hungry but can’t be bothered to cook, then we get something already prepared for our ease. For many of us, even our jobs revolve around sitting at a desk from 9-5, with limited movement, leading a more and more sedentary lifestyle.

Pair that with the fact that many of us are now also eating more energy dense foods, most of which are processed and are high in sugar, fats and salt and contain limited nutritional benefits. This in itself is a major contributor to the rise in overweight and obesity rates.

The Western diet is defined and characterised as the overconsumption of refined sugars, high saturated and omega-6 fatty acid intake, low intake of omega-3 fat, and the over use of salt (Myles, 2014).

Evidence has suggested and shown that one of the main factors that causes obesity is the Western diet.

Our body controls our food intake through signalling pathways and these pathways also control energy balance, and reward (Argueta and DiPatrizio, 2017).

A study which looked at mice found that when mice were fed on a Western diet, this lead to the activation of specific signalling pathways, which promote hyperphagic responses (this means there is an increased appetite and frequency in consumption of food). The mice on the Western diet also had an increase in calorie intake, size of meal and the rate of feeding, in comparison to the mice which were fed on a standard diet (Argueta and DiPatrizio, 2017). It is suggested that the activation of signalling pathway for reward, is activated during the Western diet and may be one of the factors that leads to obesity.

Choose ingredients wisely – these fibre-rich Coconut Flour and Banana Pancakes are a real treat and still good for you!

The Western diet leads to positive reinforcement with certain parts of the brain recognising it as food reward (Argueta and DiPatrizio, 2017).  It was found that with the mice that were exhibiting hyperphagia and were obese from the Western diet, when the specific pathways that are involved in this were inhibited, it led to the mice resuming a normal diet intake, even when they were consuming the Western diet. It was concluded that this may be a safe therapeutic approach for treating overeating due to the Western diet, and may be a safer alternative to other approaches which have caused psychiatric side effects, including depression and suicide (Argueta and DiPatrizio, 2017). This is still a study conducted on mice but it shows promising transferrals to a potential treatment for us.

Conclusion

In the UK, we have some of the highest rates of obesity in Europe and with this it holds a multitude of issues which we have discussed above, as well as general aches and pains.

It’s not just the increased risk of non-communicable diseases but also our diet has a negative impact on our immune system, making us more likely to get ill and also causes our body to struggle to recover from infections.

In 2011, a white paper was published in the UK, called “Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A call to action on obesity in England” (Department of Health, 2011). This policy paper aimed to try and reduce the rates of excess weight in both adults and children. What they aimed to do was empower individuals to be able to make their own informed decisions through feedback on BMI, through Change4Life (which also has an app), trying to get companies to reduce their salt and sugar levels, and trying to get people active.

It’s not just the UK who are trying to target and change obesity levels. The World Health Organisation has also developed the “Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013-2020”.

Another method for looking at the amount of abdominal fat we have is by measuring your waist to height ratio, which in general, you want to keep your waist less than half your height and may be more transferrable to all individuals (Ashwell et al., 2014). Click here to see the waist-to-height ratio chart. BMI is good for population level trends but not always for individuals.

In a society where we have developed so we don’t need to do as much movement in our day to day life, we need to make sure that we are all exercising. It is recommended that we get 150 minutes of moderate, aerobic activity every week, something that increases our heart rate and gets us sweating (NHS, 2015).

It is important that we break up our daily activity, especially if we do spend most of it sitting down, with activity and movement. Instead of going in the elevator, take the stairs; if going on the bus, get off the stop before you’re meant to; if you’re sat down watching tv, get up and walk around. It’s important to just keep moving.

It’s important to try and eat lots of fruit and vegetables, as well as reducing or being aware of the amount of processed foods you are eating and making sure that you are eating lots of fresh produce.

When possible, cook from scratch. This means that you can control the amount of sugar and salt you put into things, as well as avoiding preservatives and additives. For example, if we take a tomato sauce for pasta, a packaged one may contain lots of sugar and salt but when you make your own, you can use a fraction of the salt and maybe no sugar!

References:

Argueta, DA. And DiPatrizio, NV. (2017). Peripheral endocannabinoid signalling controls hyperphagia in western diet-induced obesity. Physiology & Behaviour, 171, pp. 32-39. Available here.

Ashwell, M. Mayhew, L. Richardson, J. and Rickayzen, B. (2014). Waist-to-height ratio is more predicative of years of life lost than body mass index. PLOS one. Available here.

Department of Health. (2011). Healthy Lives, Healthy People: a call to action on obesity in England. Department of Health, HM Government. Available here.

Diabetes. (2017). How to measure your waist. Diabetes.co.uk. Available here.

Kyrgiou, M. Kalliala, I. Markozannes, G. Gunter, MJ. Paraskevaidis, E. Gabra, H. Martin-Hitsch, P. and Tsilidis, KK. (2017). Adiposity and cancer at major anatomical sites: umbrella review of the literature. The British Medical Journal, 356. Available here.

Lobstein, T. Jackson-Leach, R. Moodie, ML. Hall, KD. Gortmaker, SL. Swinburn, BA. James, WPT. Wang, Y. and McPherson, K. (2015). Child and adolescent obesity: part of a bigger picture. The Lancet, 385(4), pp. 2510-2520. Available here.

Mitchell, N. Catenacci, V. Wyatt, HR. and Hill, JO. (2011). Obesity: overview of an epidemic. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 34(4), pp. 717-732. Available here.

Myles, IA. (2014). Fast food fever” reviewing the impacts of the western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal, 13(61). Available here.

NHS. (2015). Physical activity guidelines for adults. NHS Choices. Available here.

Public Health England. (2017). UK and Ireland prevalence and trends. Public Health England. Available here.

WHO. (2016a). Double burden of malnutrition. World Health Organization. Available here.

WHO. (2016b). Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization. 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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