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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.

 

 

Cheese: Part Two of the Lucy Bee Guide

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Guest blog by Sam Hadadi,

Part one of our Guide looked at the history of cheese and how it’s made. You can read Part One here.

Health Benefits of Cheese

For a long time, cheese (and, in fact, all dairy) has been off the ‘healthy’ list. In fact, cheese has become something of a dirty word, a food often seen as unhealthy. Ask any health-conscious, gym-loving person and it’s unlikely that cheese will be high on their list of must-buy foods.

As you probably know, fromage has a pretty bad rep for clogging arteries and forcing you to pile on the pounds.  Yet, is this unfair on our beloved cheese? After all, the French swear by cheese and its myriad benefits.

So, is it gouda or bad? (sorry!) And, if it’s good for us, what health benefits can cheese have to offer?

Choose good quality cheeses

Well, first off, let’s point out that any health benefits of cheese will largely depend on the quality of the cheese you’re buying. Highly-processed, packaged cheeses (the kind you find sitting heavily on greasy hamburgers, or stowed away in brightly-coloured parcels) do not have the same health benefits that artisan cheeses have. More on that later…

So, please take these health benefits with a tiny sprinkling of salt. As always, eat the best quality items and foods you can and your body will reap the rewards!

High in Calcium and Protein

Cheese is packed full of wonderful, bone-loving calcium. Just one small serving can get in plenty of your RDA of calcium, which is fantastic for building healthier, stronger bones. Better still, because cheese contains certain B vitamins, the calcium from it can be better absorbed by our body than that in other dairy produce.

Cheese is also key in helping our pearly whites to stay strong and healthy. In fact, a study1 by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) discovered that cheese could actually protect our teeth from acid erosion caused by coffee, tea, wine or fruit juice.

Why? Well, to get a little bit more scientific, when we sip on drinks like these, the natural pH levels of our mouth can be affected (the pH falls) which, in turn, can damage our tooth enamel. Often, our mouth’s saliva can help to bring pH levels back to normal, yet cheese can help our mouth to do this even faster. In fact, a Finnish study2 found that the well-known probiotic Lactobacillus, which is found in cheese, also helps to lower cavity-causing yeast in the mouth.

Cheese is also high in protein. For example, the humble Cheddar cheese is around a quarter protein, while Parmesan is a whopping 42 per cent protein. Other cheeses high in protein include Romano and non-fat Mozarella (both 32 per cent), hard goat’s cheese (31 per cent), Gruyere (30 per cent), and Swiss, full-fat Mozarella and low-fat Monterey cheese (all 28 per cent protein). Meanwhile, ricotta cheese is high in whey protein, which is useful if you’re looking to build up those strong, lean guns.

Who needs a protein shake, now…?

Good for the Heart?

Contrary to what many of us may think, there are some that even believe cheese is good for the heart. In fact, the belief that cheese could support cardiovascular health is something that has mystified many researchers and dieticians for years.

Enjoying cheese to finish off a meal

It even has a name – the French Paradox. You see, the French are renowned world-wide for their love of cheese (among other delicious things that we see as ‘bad’ for us, such as wine and baguettes).

In fact, your typical Frenchman eats more cheese per year – a whopping 57 pounds – than anyone else on the planet (almost double that of your typical American3). Yet, in spite of this, the French have a low rate of coronary heart disease – the lowest in the world4.

Could it be that cheese is actually good for the heart?

Probiotics

More and more, we’re starting to recognise the importance of gut health5. To do this, we should be eating foods that encourage probiotics – also known as ‘good’ bacteria – to thrive and flourish. This is said to be essential for our body and can boost our digestive system, strengthen the immune system, tackle obesity6, and even improve the mood.

Cheese – or at least, certain cheese – is full of those wonderful, beneficial probiotics that can support our body from the inside, out. To boost our friendly bacteria, we should be eating soft, fermented cheeses such as Swiss, Parmesan, Cheddar and Gouda, which can sometimes be fermented for years, encouraging all kinds of healthy bacteria to thrive7. You can also find certain cottage cheeses which list ‘live active cultures’ (probiotics, in other words!) in their ingredients.

Can Ward off Diabetes

As we now know, not all fats are created equally. In fact, there are some which have been linked to all sorts of amazing health benefits.

Many will still look down their nose at cheese, assuming it’s packed with the ‘bad’ kind of fats. And, often, it is (yes, we are looking at those packaged strips of cheese!). However, a study in 2014 suggested that saturated fats, such as those found in dairy and cheese, can actually reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes8.

Professor Arne Astrup, head of the department of nutrition at the University of Copenhagen, said, “People who eat a lot of dairy, show no difference in their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or mortality compared with people who eat small amounts. If anything, there is a small risk reduction – so it is actually beneficial.

“Cheese is full of saturated fat and salt, so you’d think it would be the worst thing you could eat in terms of raising the risk of cardiovascular disease. But when you look at what happens to people who eat a lot of cheese, you see the complete opposite: it seems to protect against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.”

Meanwhile, a further study in 2014, discovered that men fed a diet high in milk and cheese had lower levels of the so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL) than those who ate a low-dairy diet, but with similar amounts of saturated fat. Scientists believe that this could be because calcium may bind to fats and affect how we absorb them. In short, we lose most of the fats as waste.

Yet, before all you fromage fiends jump for joy, there’s a flip side to your cheese…

The ‘Flip Side’

High in Fat

While it’s still being debated whether or not the fats in cheese are good or bad for us, fat is still something we need to eat in moderation. And there are many studies which aren’t singing the praises for cheese and its benefits for our waistlines.

In fact, one study9 went so far as to say that meat and cheese could be as bad for us as smoking. It found that those eating a diet high in proteins, such as those found in meat and cheese, during middle age could more than double their risk of death, and even quadruple their risk of death by cancer.

If in doubt, try reaching for a cheese that’s lower in fats or calories.  For example, a spoonful of cottage cheese, which is lower in fats. Feta cheese and mozzarella are also “healthier” options when it comes to fat content.

Tomato, Basil and Feta Quiche

Surprisingly, though (and, just to add to your confusion!), some high-fat cheeses (such as Brie, Blue cheese and strong, mature Cheddar) contain small amounts of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. For those in the know, CLA, an antioxidant, is popular among certain health circles because it is thought to promote fat loss by converting fat to energy. Some even believe that it is anti-carcinogenic, meaning that it can also protect against cancer.

However, again, a pinch of salt needs to be taken – you’d need to eat a whole lot of cheese to get the amount of CLA found in supplement form!

High in Salt

Another word of caution: cheese also packs in a fair amount of salt. We all know that too much salt can be bad for us, leading to problems such as high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

So, if in doubt, ease back on the cheese a little. To put things into perspective, a slice of cheddar contains 174 milligrams of sodium10. While this won’t exactly cause our body to explode (it’s advised that we eat no more than 6g of salt, or 2.4g of sodium a day11), it’s a fairly high amount for just one slice of cheese.

For those who do have blood pressure concerns and need to cut back on salt, there are cheeses that are much lower in sodium. Delicious Parmesan, which always makes our pasta dishes, contains just 76 milligrams of sodium10 per grated tablespoon.

What If I’m Lactose Intolerant?

More and more, we are becoming intolerant to certain foods. From gluten to lactose, there are now huge amounts of people living with intolerances in the UK. So, what if we are lactose-intolerant?

As we mentioned earlier, cheese contains lactose, a sugar that can’t be digested by many people. For them, eating lactose can cause tummy problems, such as gas and bloating.

For those with a severe intolerance, cheese should obviously be avoided wherever possible.

However, if you are happy to experiment, there are cheeses on the market which have a much lower amount of lactose.

Coconut Flour and Paprika Coated Chicken Goujons with Parmesan (just be sure to omit the Greek yoghurt if wanting lactose free!)

These cheeses include Parmesan, Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss cheese, Mozzarella and Brie, which sees much of the lactose removed during the manufacturing and ageing process. A small 28g portion of these cheeses contain less than a gram of lactose, compared to the hefty 12grams you’d find in a glass of milk.

What Does That Mean for Me?

Of course, it can all get a little confusing sometimes – is cheese good or bad for you when there is so much conflicting advice out there?

Well, as with most things, enjoy it, but in moderation! Rather than smothering all your food in gooey, melted cheese, or ordering triple cheese pizzas, try to enjoy smaller portions of good quality cheese instead.

What are the Healthiest Cheeses?

If you want to join us in indulging in a delicious bit of cheese every now and then (after all, life is for enjoying!), which are the healthiest ones to buy?

Here are the cheeses that pass any test and should sit proudly on your shopping list:

  • Feta

Whether tossed through rainbow summer salads, or sprinkled over a delicious omelette, creamy Feta is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Chickpea Flour Pizza with Goat’s Cheese

This Greek favourite is lower in fat and calories than many other cheese varieties, and also has a strong and punchy flavour, which means you can get away with using a lot less.

Since Feta is also often made from goat’s milk, it can also be suitable for those who are intolerant to cow’s milk. However, please bear in mind that unpasteurised Feta has a higher risk of containing the Listeria bacteria, which needs to be avoided when you are pregnant.

  • Parmesan

Parmesan is so delicious that it’s said to have inspired all sorts of crazy behaviour. In fact, Samuel Pepys famously buried his Parmesan cheese to keep it safe during the Great Fire of London.

Coming from the Parma area of Italy, Parmesan packs a real punch when it comes to flavour – and this is why it’s good to have in the fridge! You see, just a little Parmesan goes a long, long way, and it is also relatively low in calories, too. However, bear in mind that it does contain large amounts of sodium, so keep it to a minimum.

  • Cottage Cheese

This lumpy-looking cheese is beloved by dieters and bodybuilders across the globe – and for good reason. Cottage cheese may not be the prettiest, but it is high in protein, low in calories (the low-fat kind, anyway), and also versatile enough to work into all sorts of dishes. Similarly, Indian paneer is also a healthier option to try.

  • Ricotta

Delicious, creamy Ricotta can really make a pasta dish sing. Yet, it’s not as unhealthy as you might imagine. In fact, half a cup can pack in 14 grams of protein and 25 percent of your RDA of calcium, while it’s also low in sodium and high in phosphorus, B vitamins, vitamin A, and zinc.

  • Pecorino Romano

A hard, Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk, Pecorino contains pretty high amounts of fat-burning CLA, and has been found to lower our risk of arteriosclerosis, or the thickening and hardening of artery walls. It also contains anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties12. Now, cut us a slice…

  • Halloumi

It’s hard not to love salty, versatile Halloumi. With its high melting point, it’s perfect for frying or grilling, or enjoying in burgers and pittas. While this Cypriot-favourite is fairly high in fat and salt, its strong taste means not much is needed, and it is also low in lactose since it comes from goats or sheep. Plus, it’s fairly high in protein – around 6g in every 28g serving.

What About Raw Cheese?

So, what of raw cheese? What’s the deal there?

Well, first up, raw milk (and therefore the cheese made from it) has not been heated and treated enough to kill bacteria.

In spite of this, there are many who argue that raw cheese is the healthiest, most delicious variety we could ever hope to eat. Yet, on the other side of the wall, there are those who warn us off it and argue that raw, or unpasteurised, cheese, is not fit for eating.

This is because the pasteurisation process kills pathogens such as Listeria and e. Coli, which can be found in raw milk. In fact, Scotland has a complete ban on raw milk-based products, while it is difficult to buy here in the UK – it is generally only sold by independent producers, who have to go through all sorts of rigmarole to gain the privilege.

So, why take the risk? Well, there are those who argue that raw cheeses are even more delicious, and full of exciting, strong flavours which pasteurisation can kill. In fact, it is so distinctive that the flavours can vary according to the cow the milk came from, and even the diet and grass it has grazed on.

Fans of raw cheeses also believe that it is better for our gut – raw milk is, after all, full of good bacteria to boost our inner gut and also digestive enzymes, which helps our body to digest the fats and proteins. Meanwhile, it is said to be higher, too, in healthy fats, such as omega-3s, and loaded with more vitamins. There are even those who believe raw dairy products can help children with allergies, such as those with asthma13.

Of course, given that no one can quite agree, it is up to you as to whether or not you’d like to try the raw dairy movement. However, if you do fancy indulging, we would recommend that you always buy from a trusted, reputable source before eating.

Has this given you a hankering for cheese? Let us know your favourites either here or over on twitter.

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.

  1. Cheese: the next big thing in dental health?
  2. Probiotic in cheese and its effect on cavity-causing yeast in the mouth
  3. 10 countries in the world who eat the most cheese
  4. Heart disease statistics
  5. The Importance of a Healthy Gut
  6. Gut health and obesity
  7. Probiotics in cheeses
  8. Saturated fats in dairy may ‘protect against diabetes’
  9. Meat and cheese may be as bad for us as smoking
  10. Salt in cheese
  11. How much salt is good for me?
  12. Study confirms health benefits of Pecorino Romano
  13. Study looking at raw milk and its reduction in asthma

 

 

 

 

Cheese: Part One of The Lucy Bee Guide

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Guest blog by Sam Hadadi,

Cheese: The Lucy Bee Lowdown

I have to say, cheese is my weakness – it’s not the first time I’ve gone to the fridge to cut off a wedge, just because I’ve fancied it!

Britain, it seems, is with me. We are a nation of cheese lovers, with a whopping 98 per cent of households indulging every now and then, with 700,000 tonnes of the good stuff eaten every year1.

Blue cheese – love it or hate it?

In fact, we’d wage that whether you’re a lover of strong, Blue cheese, or you like mild and creamy Mozzarella on top of your pizza, or tearing off chunks of a baguette to dunk into Camembert, chances are there’s a cheese for you.

Yet, should we really be eating all of that fromage on a healthy diet? Popular advice says that we shouldn’t but is that true? Is cheese really that bad for us? Plus, what’s all the fuss about raw cheese?

If you want to know more about our beloved cheese, then read on. We promise we’ll try to stay mature….!

History of Cheese

Given how much we love our cheese, it’s surprising to know that no one quite knows where it came from, or who made it first. This is probably because cheese is one of the oldest foods on the planet and it’s thought to predate recorded history – 4,000 years, or perhaps even longer.

Legend has it that it was discovered by an ancient Arabian merchant. The story goes that he had set out on a long, arduous journey across the desert. To keep himself energised through the journey, he stored his supply of milk in a homemade pouch – a handy sheep’s stomach.

Come night, the merchant settled down around his camp. However, he soon realised that the combination of searingly-hot sun and rennet in the sheep’s stomach had caused the milk to separate into curds and whey. Rather than look at his milk in disgust, the merchant was said to find that the whey satisfied his thirst, while the cheese-like curds tasted delicious and quelled his hunger.

Whether or not this story is true, one thing we can be sure of is this: cheese has been on the menu for a long, long time and it’s even written about in the Old Testament.

It seems that we’ve always been a planet of cheese lovers, then. There are ancient Egyptian drawings of cheese on tomb walls that date back to 2000 BC, while Homer’s Odyssey sees the Cyclops made cheese from goat’s and sheep’s milk.

Cream cheese with smoked salmon is a popular snack

Cheese was also a popular feast for the ancient Romans, who were thought to bring the art of cheese making over to us in the UK. The Romans loved their cheese so much that the richest of them all, even had a separate kitchen just for the making of cheese.

Later on, fromage became popular among monks in the monasteries. For example, cheese-feasting French monks have been making Roquefort since 1070. Over in the UK, our beloved cheddar dates back to about 1500 in England, while Italy has been producing Parmesan since 1597, and the Dutch have been making Gouda since 1697.

However, cheese as we know it took a little longer to make its way onto our tables. In fact, until the 1800s, it was only produced by small, local farms. Fast forward to 1815 and the world’s first cheese factory opened in Switzerland, producing gruyere to sell on commercially.

By 1851, a New York dairy farmer by the name of Jesse Williams started making assembly lines of cheese and 1868 saw the production of the world’s first commercial cheese (limburger) in Wisconsin, the U.S.’s most celebrated cheese state.

Our love for cheese was growing…

What is Cheese?

From gooey, oozing Camembert to creamy, salty Feta, there all kinds of different cheeses. Hundreds, in fact. But what does all cheese have in common? What the heck is it, and how does it differ from other dairy produce such as milk, butter and cream?

Well, the main ingredient in cheese – pretty much all cheese – is milk. In fact, whether the milk comes from a cow, sheep, water buffalo, cow or camel (even reindeers!), cheese’s primary ingredient is milk, containing water, lactose (or “milk sugar”), fat, protein (both casein, which makes up the solid part of the cheese, and whey) and minerals.

How is Cheese Made?

No matter where the cheese comes from, or how strong it tastes, it’s made following the same basic steps.

For starters, cheese – in pretty much any form– is made from the pressed curds of milk.

Of course, depending on the cheese you’re eating, the steps will have followed a few tweaks and twists of their own. Yet, read this, and you’ll get the cheese-making gist…

Cheese making follows the same basic steps

First of all, the milk is warmed to activate the starter culture, and boost those healthy, gut-loving bacteria. This then helps to ferment the milk’s lactose (the natural sugar found in milk), turning it into lactic acid. Then, special enzymes such as rennets, which are found in the tummy of milk-producing animals, are added to the milk. Essentially, these clever little enzymes work on the casein, and helps the milk to coagulate and turn to curd.

As the milk turns, the curd gets cut up. The smaller the particles of curd, the less water it holds, so drier cheeses, such as our British cheddar, will be cut up into smaller particles whereas wetter varieties, such as Brie, need to be handled more carefully. Some cheeses will also be heated, stirred and cooked, which releases even more whey, making them drier still.

Once our artisan cheesemaker has reached the perfect texture, the cheese will be salted (this can continue to draw out whey) to boost flavour, form rinds, and keep any nasties away from the cheese. It will then be left to age, sometimes for years and years – as a cheese ages, microbes and enzymes intensify flavours and even change textures.

Et voilà! The cheese is ready for our plates…

Different Types of Cheese

Whether you love your Gouda, your Blue cheese, or your Parmesan grated over a handmade lasagne, you’ll know that there’s a cheese for just about any recipe.

In fact, there are hundreds of different kinds of cheeses, with the aptly-named cheese.com listing 1,778  different varieties. In fact, The British Cheese Board states that there are over 700 named British cheeses produced in the UK alone.

While we would love to fill you in on all the delicious cheeses you can try and buy, we fear we wouldn’t have the space! So, instead, here is our ‘legen-dairy’ list of the types of cheeses lining the shelves – and what they really mean.

Of course, there are all sorts of different ways to categorise cheese. However, we’re doing it by texture. Enjoy!

Fresh Cheese:

If you love spoonsful of cottage cheese, or mixing fromage frais into your foods, then fresh cheese is the one for you.

Florentine Galette Pizza with Mozarella

Essentially, fresh cheese is ready to eat in a heartbeat and is your creamy, delicious cheese that you toss onto pizzas, or into recipes – think ricotta and mozzarella, as well as cottage cheese and fromage frais. These cheeses will often be full of moisture and aren’t aged. This also means that their shelf life is quite short – usually only 5-7 days

Soft Cheese:

As you can probably guess, soft cheese, such as Brie or Camembert, has a very soft texture, and some need plenty of time to reach maturity and develop their full flavour.

These cheeses are also often high in moisture and so have a shorter shelf life. Some soft cheeses, such as Brie, are white mould cheeses and are sprayed with penicillium candidum to help the cheese to ripen from the outside, right the way in. These are easy to spread on crackers or biscuits.

Semi-Hard Cheese:

Sitting happily in the middle of soft and hard cheese, these cheeses will often have a rubbery texture and include Edam and Port Salut. Many of these cheeses are fairly unique and will have their rinds washed with beer, wine or even fruit juice to add character and flavour as they mature.

Hard Cheese:

Amazingly, there are two types of hard cheeses: there’s firm, and then there’s crumbly.

The firmer hard cheeses have been pressed and squeezed as much as possible to remove the whey and moisture, meaning a much longer shelf-life.

These cheeses include Cheddar (which can be matured over anything from 12 weeks up to two years), Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Parmesan and Manchego. As they are full-flavoured, they are perfect for grating over pasta or using in vegetable bakes.

The crumbly, delicious hard cheeses are often from the UK – Wensleydales and Cheshires. While these cheeses are also pressed to remove moisture, they are sold when they are still fairly ‘young’ (around four to eight weeks), and so crumble easily and taste fresh.

Blue Cheese:

These are your typically stinky cheeses that tend to have that certain odour when opened…However, you can often buy blue cheese versions of many of the different cheeses we listed above.

The only difference is that Blue cheeses will have a special mould added to them (penicillium Roquefort) at different stages of making. This mould is pretty clever and can make the cheese mature quicker and faster than ever, resulting in strong, full-flavoured cheeses within just months. Examples include Blue Stilton (although you can even buy Blue Leicester!), Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Danish Blue.

Blended Cheeses:

These special blended varieties are the ones that find their way onto shelves in supermarkets at Christmas. They’re the classic, beloved cheeses which have been mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit or herbs. Some of our favourites include Wensleydale with cranberry, white stilton with apricots, and double Gloucester with chives.

Part Two of our Guide to Cheese is available here and looks at the health benefits and also the healthiest cheeses.

  1. Top Cheese Facts

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.

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

A Guide to Vitamin D – All You Need to Know

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Guest blog by Sam Hadadi,

Lucy Bee Guide to Vitamin D

23rd February 2017 – an update to this article from Daisy Buckingham MSc ANutr,

In the beginning of February this year (2017), a study that was led by Queen Mary University of London, found in a systematic review and meta-analysis of previous research that by supplementing with vitamin D, it helped to protect individuals against acute respiratory infections. This includes the common cold and the flu!

The analysis of 25 randomised controlled trials (the gold standard for clinical trials), found that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of developing acute respiratory infections in all participants – this was seen in those taking daily or weekly supplementations.

This supplementation was found to be highly effective in areas and cases where vitamin D deficiency is common (Martineau et al., 2017). It is thought that vitamin D helps to boost levels of antimicrobial peptides, which are natural antibiotic substances.

During the winter months the frequency of cold and flu increases, which coincides with when our vitamin D levels are lowest (Queen Mary University of London, 2017).

During the autumn and winter months it is advised that adults and children over the age of 1, should be taking 10mcg of vitamin D a day. This is to maintain our vitamin D levels during the months where we cannot synthesise vitamin D from the sun (NHS, 2016).

This doesn’t mean that you need to go out and buy super strong vitamin D supplements, in fact that’s the opposite of what we want to do, since high doses of vitamin D supplements can have a negative impact on us and our bone health. It is more about making sure you’re getting vitamin D from your diet, and from 10mcg supplementations if you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, or during the winter months.

Unless you’re lucky enough to be lying on a beach in the Caribbean, then chances are that when it comes to vitamin D, you need a top up.

As the current superstar on the block, heaps of recent studies have told us just how good vitamin D is for us. Yet despite this, far too many of us Brits are deficient in this “sunshine vitamin” – and we don’t even know it.

Sardines

Given just how good it is for us, it’s not surprising that health bods have warned that a D-ficiency is perhaps the most dangerous vitamin deficiency of them all. From bone health to fighting depression and even protecting us from diseases including cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, vitamin D is crucial for a happy and healthy body.

Wondering if you get enough and why you need it? You’re in the right place! If you want to learn all about this impressive vitamin, then read on for our ultimate Lucy Bee lowdown.

What Is Vitamin D?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, we’re going to teach you exactly what vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is and where it comes from. After all, the more knowledgeable we become, the better equipped we are to tackle a problem…

Much like plants need sunlight to grow and thrive, us humans do too. While we can get small amounts of vitamin D from food sources such as oily fish, this alone isn’t enough and we need lots of sun to keep our body nice and healthy.

When we’re exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet B light from artificial sources (think those bluish-hued SAD lamps), vitamin D3 is created in our skin. Once Vitamin D enters the body, it travels through the bloodstream to the liver before being converted into the pro-hormone calcidiol.

Ultimately, calcidiol then works its magic to transform into calationol, which circulates as a hormone and regulates all sorts of things, from mineral concentration in the blood to the functioning of the neuromuscular and immune systems.

Port Douglas

While it may sound pretty scientific and complicated, all you really need to know is this – our body needs vitamin D to survive and thrive as it can affect as many as 2,000 genes in the body.

While we can make small amounts of vitamin D in our body anyway, most of us need that extra boost from our diet, the sun, or from supplements in order to maintain adequate levels.

Why Do I Need Vitamin D?

Why do we love vitamin D? Well, let us count the ways…

This clever little vitamin is often underrated and it can do far more for our body and health than meets the eye. Here’s exactly what you can do for your body by avoiding a serious D-ficiency:

Boosts Calcium

Vitamin D works a treat at controlling calcium and phosphate levels in the blood and it also supports both bone growth and strength. It works by increasing our absorption of calcium from the small intestine and, as a result, may help us to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. As you can see from our very own article here, low vitamin D levels are thought to increase the risk of fractures in elderly women.

Strengthens the Immune System

All of us have “T-cells” in our body which work to protect us against any nasty kinds of bacteria and disease. Vitamin D is crucial in the formation and function of these cells and it can even stimulate your immune system to produce cathelicidins that kill off nasty viruses.

Fights Disease

From Multiple Sclerosis1 to cancer and heart disease2, there are plenty of diseases which studies have shown can be improved with higher vitamin D levels. Amazingly, recent studies have shown that up to 75% of cancers3 can be prevented by us getting enough Vitamin D, while this Lucy Bee article4 shows that those with a D-ficiency are more likely to suffer heart attacks.

This may be because vitamin D is responsible for so many genetic pathways in the human body, meaning that deficiencies can trigger chronic disease. On the flipside, get enough and you could protect the parts of our cells called telomeres – wondrous things that dictate exactly how our cells age5.

Perhaps it’s for this reason that we recently discovered that sunbathers could live longer than those who stay out of the sun completely6. Just remember to stay sunwise!

Ease Inflammation

Love exercise? Then keep your vitamin levels topped up! A lack of Vitamin D can be an athlete’s worst nightmare and can cause inflammation in the body and soreness across the body.

Help Depression

Our newsletter regulars will know that Vitamin D deficiencies can trigger SAD7, or seasonal affective disorder. However, a wonderful way to fight this is by ensuring we get enough of this stellar vitamin.

Sunflowers

It’s thought that having access to little sunlight can mess up our body clock which, in turn, leads to feelings of depression. It can also interfere with our levels of Serotonin, a chemical in the brain that can cause mood changes. Want to know how else you can treat SAD? Read our article here.

Given all this, it’s probably not that surprising that low vitamin D levels have even been linked to premature death. Have we got you stretching for the supplements yet…?

Signs You’re Deficient In Vitamin D

Now we know just how important the sunshine vitamin is to our body and our health, it’s a little scary when you pause and think just how many people are deficient in it. Worryingly, scientists believe that 40%-75% of people are lacking in some way, while others put this number at around 1 billion people worldwide.

Why? Well, as you now know, vitamin D isn’t readily available in foods. And, if like me as I write this, you’re gazing out the window at drizzly grey skies and longing for sizzling sun and beaches, you know all too well that sunshine isn’t always a reliable option.

Worried you may be suffering from a D-ficiency? Here are some common signs that you may not be getting enough:

  • You’re feeling low or depressed, or suffering from bad moods
  • You have weaker muscles or fatigue
  • You suffer from chronic pain
  • Your bones fracture easily
  • You have high blood pressure
  • Your physical performance has become worse

You should also bear in mind that if you have darker skin, then you need even more sun exposure to produce the right levels of vitamin D. Of course, many of these symptoms can also point to other problems, so if you’re concerned, always consult a doctor first.

How Can I Get More?

If you want to find out how you can get more vitamin D, and just how much you need, then check out our post here.

Sunset

However, it’s wise to remember that all of the following can affect just how much vitamin D you’re getting:

  • Pollution
  • Sunscreen (please don’t ditch the sunscreen, though! And always wear it during peak sunlight hours). Interestingly, one study found that even though sunscreen significantly reduced the production of vitamin D, normal usage does not lead to individuals getting insufficient levels of vitamin D10
  • Working long hours in offices or indoors

If you want to boost your intake, then we have plenty of information to help you along the way, including why deliciously creamy avocados8 are so good for D-ficiency levels, and, also some handy information about the world’s healthiest diets9. Eat up and enjoy!

If you’re pregnant or a nursing mother, remember that you’ll need even more vitamin D to nourish both yourself and your baby. Click here to get our lowdown on how much you need.

Sam Hadadi Signature

  1. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis
  2. Vitamin D and cardiovascular risk
  3. Vitamin D and cancer
  4. Heart disease and vitamin D deficiency
  5. How our cells age
  6. Do sunbathers live longer?
  7. A beginner’s guide to SAD
  8. Our obsession with the avocado
  9. Which is the world’s healthiest diet?
  10. Does using sunscreen affect vitamin D levels?

References from daisy’s update Feb 2017:

Martineau, AR. Jolliffe, DA. Hooper, RL. Greenberg L. Aloia, JF. Bergman, P. et al., (2017). Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. British Medical Journal, (356). Available here.

Queen Mary University of London. (2017). Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study. Queen Mary University of London. Available here.

NHS. (2016). The new guidelines on vitamin D – what you need to know. NHS Choices. 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.

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.

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

Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu

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Colds and Flu

Every year we encounter cold and flu season and I swear this year has been the year of that pesky cough, with the delightfulness of flu symptoms to go along with it!

The common cold is exactly that, common. It’s a viral infection we just have to let our body battle, leaving us with symptoms ranging from headaches, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, blocked or runny nose and a temperature.

Our immune system plays a vital role in helping protect and restore us during times of illness. It hosts a whole army whose purpose is to protect and fight against nasty pathogens.

Prevention

Whilst preventative methods don’t always lead to success, it’s our best way to combat and reduce our likelihood of getting ill – after all, everyone gets ill at some point!

There’s a couple of ways which you can try to prevent catching a cold or flu by helping to keep your immune system up and running, or allow your body a shorter recovery time when it is struck with an illness. Some of these also play a role in reducing the duration of a viral infection so can also be used as a treatment.

Vitamin C

Oranges offer a good dose of vitamin C

Vitamin C has properties which are antioxidant and has long been associated with being something to take when we have a cold, to help cure it.

A systematic review which looked at whether vitamin C reduced the incident, duration or severity of the common cold, as either a regular supplement, or just at the onset of the cold, found that when adults were taking regular supplements of vitamin C, the duration of their cold reduced by 8%, and in children by 14%. The severity of colds was also reduced by regular vitamin C intake (Hemilä and Chalker, 2013).

However, it did not have an effect on the incidence of catching the common cold for the general population. For those who were partaking in intense physical exercise, including marathon runners and skiers, vitamin C intake halved the individual’s risk of catching the common cold.

When vitamin C was taken after the initial symptoms of the common cold, it was found that there was no reduction in the duration or severity of that cold (Hemilä and Chalker, 2013).

The authors of this systematic review concluded that there was limited justification for using vitamin C supplements for the general population. However, instead of jumping onto the supplements, why not just eat foods that are rich in vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means that we cannot actually store any more than our body requires, so if you’re taking high dosage vitamin C supplements, a lot of what you may be taking will just be removed out of your body in your urine – that’s some expensive wee!

There are a vast number of foods which are rich in vitamins C including:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Red peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Brussel sprouts

One word of advice, vitamin C is heat sensitive so by putting foods which are rich in vitamin C into boiling water you can leach and destroy the nutrients. Try gently steaming or sautéing them, instead.

Zinc

Zinc has also been associated for its role in preventing the common cold.

As above, a similar method was used to conduct a systematic review on the research provided online to see whether zinc reduced the incidence, severity and duration of the common cold.

It was concluded that no recommendation can be made due to the insufficient data being found to support the supplementation of prophylactic zinc.

Zinc lozenges or syrups reduce the average duration of the common cold in healthy people, when taken within 24 hours of the initial onset of the common cold symptoms. There is a variability of doses, formulation and duration of zinc and more research is needed.

If you are considering taking zinc, it is recommended by this review that you use 75mg/day from the zinc lozenges throughout the course of the cold (Singh and Das, 2013).

Warning though, be careful about taking zinc as it does have side effects including bad taste and nausea.

Elderberries

Elderberries (Sambucus) have traditionally been associated with being able to help protect and support our body against the common cold, and influenza (Tiralongo et al., 2016). It has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, being active against human pathogenic bacteria as well as influenza viruses (Krawitz et al., 2011).

A placebo controlled clinical trial found that those who were supplemented with the placebo had more episodes of colds, than those who had the elderberry after a flight. Those with the placebo had significantly longer duration of cold episode days, with significantly higher scored level of symptoms (Tiralongo et al., 2016).

Echinacea

Echinacea purpurea has been used in both North America and Europe to help reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.

It has been suggested that its extracts do have immunomodulatory activities – this means that it should enhance or suppress immune responses in accordance to the function required, and has been suggested to help upper respiratory infections (Barrett, 2003).

A systematic review looking at the effect cchinacea has on the common cold found that there was no association with the prevention of the common cold. However, it may help reduce the prevalence of the colds (Karsch-Völk et al., 2015). Other research into the area, has indicated that using echinacea can reduce the severity, with some studies also finding a significant reduction in duration, however other studies have found no reductions (Nahas, 2011).

Garlic

 

Sweet Potato and Turmeric Soup with Garlic

There is an important compound found within garlic (Allium sativum) called Allicin, which is activated when we chop or crush garlic (Bayan et al., 2014).

Garlic has been associated with a whole other range of benefits including having anticancer and cardiovascular benefits (Nahas, 2011). When extracted it has been seen these compounds have beneficial effects against microbial infections, as well as being anti-inflammatory (Arreola et al., 2015).

It has been suggested that garlic may be able to maintain the homeostasis of the immune system, helping to regulate its functions.

Allicin has also been found to have antimicrobial activity helping to control infection (Arreola et al., 2015). It has been found that garlic is effective against multiple bacterias, demonstrating antimicrobial properties. It has also been shown to potentially being antiviral, with a study finding that the occurrence of the common cold in participants was reduced by 64% in those taking allicin, compared to those on a placebo, but more research is needed to confirm this research (Bayan et al., 2014. And Nahas, 2011).

Green Tea

Green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is known for its antibacterial effects, and it has also been found to have antiviral properties (Reygaert, 2014).

Influenza A and B viruses are some of the major causes of respiratory disease in humans. EGCG has been shown to cause the influenza virus to become inhibited to ineffective, with other research finding that a continuous consumption over 5 months has a preventative effect on clinically defined influenza (Steinmann et al., 2013).

Gut Health

Fermented Food for Gut Health

It has been shown that our gut health has an impact on our immune system. The microbiome which are found within our intestine, help to modulate the immune cells, and how well our body responds to infection.

It has been shown that when the microbial balance in the intestine is out of sync, it can trigger immune disorders, disabling our body from modulating or preventing inflammatory disease. We have several blogs which are based on gut health –  one of these articles looks at fermented foods and how they impact our gut health and overall health, which can be read here.

It has also been found that probiotics reduced the number of participants who experienced upper respiratory tract infections, the duration and school absences, than those on placebos (Hao et al., 2015).

Sleep and Stress

The Lucy Bee Guide to Sleep

Sleep has been advised for a while as a method to both prevent and treat illness. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, found that when subjects had a sleep duration of less than 6 hours, it was seen as risky behaviour for the development of chronic diseases (Ruesten et al., 2012).

There has been a link between both acute and chronic inflammation and sleep – disrupted and lost sleep – with studies finding that when healthy human volunteers were restricted or deprived of sleep, there were changes within their circulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as affecting their anti-inflammatory cytokins, innate immunity and inflammatory signaling pathways (Opp and Krueger, 2016).

Those who work within shifts also show an increased risk of viral infection, due to potentially the compromise of both their innate immune response and also their immune acquired response (Oliveira de Almedia and Malheiro, 2016).

Even in regards to the common cold, when healthy men and women were sleeping for less than 5 hours, or sleeping between 5-6 hours, they were at greater risk of catching the cold, than those who were sleeping at least 7 hours (Prather et al., 2015). This indicates that sleep itself is an important part of our overall immunity, and in the homeostasis of the neuro-immuno-endocrine system (nervous, immune and endocrine system) (Aguirre, 2016).

Fatigue is a state of energy depletion and has been linked to a wide range of diseases and ill health. It has been seen that when individuals have poor health, and it has been associated with being fatigued, it impacts sleep and inflammation (Åkerstedt et al., 2014). A study which looked at individuals over 42 days, found that day to day fatigue resulted in poor sleep quality and duration, leading to a higher stress response, and increased occurrence of a cold or fever, leading to poor subjective health (Åkerstedt et al., 2014).

It can be difficult to avoid stress

Stress can be beneficial in short bursts but when stress is encountered for prolonged periods of time, it leads to the continuous release of hormones called cortisol.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which suppresses the immune system (Olnes et al., 2016). In periods of time where there is chronic stress, it causes a continuing activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which causes the immune system in turn to have continuous levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This in turn may lead to major depressive disorder (Won and Kim, 2016).

It has been shown that immune function is depressed by chronic stress but acute stress may enable the enhancement of immune function, so short-term peaks in cortisol do not cause inhibition of the immune response (Koelsch et al., 2016).

It is important during the fast-paced lifestyle that we live, that you take time out for yourself during the day, do something that you like and that relaxes you, whether that be reading a good book, mediation, yoga, practicing mindfulness, going to the gym, cooking, anything! Put down your phone or computer for a moment and enjoy everything that is surrounding you, listen to your body and see how it is feeling. If you need a bath and an early night, try and have one.

General Hygiene

Making sure that you wash your hands when necessary is one way to help reduce your risk of transferring and catching the illness. If you are ill, you’ll probably know the campaign phrase “Catch it. Bin it. Kill it” (Department of Health, 2013).

This campaign was aiming to reduce the transferal of the flu, aiming for people to sneeze or cough into tissues, instead of their hand, preventing the virus from spreading from their hand onto the surroundings (hand rails, door handles etc.).

Washing hands can help prevent spreading infection

When there is a flu spreading, hygiene is one of the main ways in which we can prevent it. It has been indicated that respiratory infections are reduced when groups practice good hand and respiratory hygiene (Department of Health, 2013). Prevention of respiratory and intestinal viral infections are best prevented through hygiene (Bloomfield et al., 2016).

Although it is important to practice good hygiene, this does not mean that we should live within a sterile environment and be too excessive. There is a hypothesis known as the hygiene hypothesis outlined by Dr David Strachan, whereby he proposed that due to the lower incidence of infection through early childhood, it has caused the rise in diseases (Bloomfield et al., 2016).

By being aware of our hygiene and having a good hygiene practice, means that in many cases we would be able to reduce our antibiotic usage, and therefore reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance, which is discussed below.

It has been argued that it is important that we are exposed to microbes which were present when the human immune system was evolving. These microbes are found within both our indoor and outdoor environment. Having a diversity of microbes is important as it allows the immune system to balance and prevent overreactions (this causes allergies) (Bloomfield et al., 2016).

Therefore, it is important that when we are kids we go outside, explore and play, and pick up some microbes to help with our immune system and our allergen response, but this does not mean we should practice poor hygiene.

When women are pregnant, the first milk that is produced is known as colostrum which is a yellowish colour. This form of milk is full of antibodies and immunoglobulins and helps protect the infant and give them their first defence when they come into contact with bacteria and viruses. So, it is beneficial to feed this to your child due to the antibodies and immunoglobulins (even if you do not continue).

Exercise

In essence, the better shape we are in, the easier it should be for our fight back against disease and illness.

Exercise can help prevent illness

It has been noted that physical activity helps to prevent many chronic diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, and coronary heart diseases, to mention a few. Further, those who are inactive are causing detrimental effects to their health, as well as the functioning of their organs and suppressing their immune system (Booth et al., 2012).

It has been found that regularly doing moderate exercise helps to reduce our risk of catching an infection, in comparison to those who lead a sedentary lifestyle (Booth et al., 2012).

However, when we do prolonged, intense, strenuous exercise, such as marathon running, it actually causes a gap of immunodepression whilst the body is recovering from the activity. This is when our immune response is down, due to the recovery process from the stress of exercising, causing us to be more susceptible to illness (Peake et al., 2016. And Booth et al., 2012). If we do not allow our body to recover after continuous sessions of intense physical exercise, this can also increase our risk of susceptibility to illness (Peake et al., 2016).

It has been found that periods of intense physical exercise lasting over a week may cause longer immune dysfunction (Booth et al., 2012).

Treatment

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be unable to avoid getting ill for your whole life, it happens to all of us. So, here’s a couple of tips for when you are ill, to try and help you along the road to recovery!

  • Warm Water with Lemon and Honey
Warm water with lemon and ginger

I don’t know if this is the same for you, but whenever I was ill when I was younger, my mum used to make me warm water with lemon and honey.I say warm water because boiling water can actually cause both honey and lemons’ nutrients to be destroyed, rendering them slightly useless.

Lemons are rich in vitamin C but as we have seen above, unless you are doing intense physical exercise this probably doesn’t have any effect in reducing your duration or severity of your cold, but hey, I will still have one even now because I feel like it does have a soothing effect, especially with the honey added to it.

So, what about honey? Well doctors now actually recommend we use home remedies to treat coughs and tickly throats instead of specific medication (which I discuss why they do below, under cough medicines).

Honey has actually been proven to have an effect on reducing irritating coughs. It has been found that honey may help to reduce mucus secretion and also coughs in children, and may have antimicrobial effects (Goldman, 2014). It also has been shown to help improve sleep quality for both the child with the respiratory infection and the parents (result!) (Cohen et al., 2012).

Honey should not be given to children under the age of 1, due to the risk of infant botulism (NHS, 2015).

  • Ginger
Fresh ginger can be added to water, smoothies and used in cooking as a healing food

The ginger family has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, as part of a healing process.

It has been used in Chinese medicine for treating vomiting, weak pulse, cough and sputum production. It has also been found to be antibacterial and antifungal (Azizi et al., 2015).

Fresh ginger has been shown to be effective in having antiviral activity against human respiratory viruses, helping to inhibit the virus from developing (Chang et al., 2013).

The compounds in ginger have also been found to be therapeutic in helping to induce relaxation of our airways (Townsend et al., 2013). I sometimes like to add a little bit of grated ginger or sliced ginger into my warm water, lemon and honey.

  • Facial Steamers and Humidifiers

Steaming helps to loosen congestion. All you need to do is place your head over a bowl filled with boiling water and place a towel over your head, then breath in though your nose and exhale through your mouth. Just be careful not to burn yourself with the steam though.

You can also add essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint which both have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects, helping to sooth the respiratory infection.

You can also, if you have a diffuser, add some of these oils so that your room fills with the smell, which can really help to decongest. A humidifier may also help to reduce dry throats for when you sleep.

  • Gargle, Gargle, Gargle

The NHS recommend as a treatment for sore throats, to gargle a homemade mouthwash of warm, salty water (NHS, 2016). There is limited research on how effective gargling is overall though (Allan and Arroll, 2014).

  • Rest Up
Taking time to rest, when you’re under the weather, can be hugely beneficial in fighting colds and flu

Sleep has been long advised as a treatment for times of illness to allow our body to recover. Even the founder of medicine, Hippocrates made reference to the role of sleep over 2,400 years ago, and how it has restorative properties in times of sickness (Opp and Krueger, 2015).

When you’re fighting something, it’s important to make sure that your rest up. If that means skipping your usual gym session you should! It’s worth allowing your body to focus on fighting the infection and hopefully giving you a quicker recovery time.

If you are sick and work out, which increases your heart rates, makes you sweat, and increases your breathing, it stresses the body and can be too much for your body and your immune system to handle when you are ill, even potentially making you feel even worse. This doesn’t mean you can’t move at all, just do lighter-based physical activities like walking –  listen to how your body is feeling.

  • Cough Medicines

Although these are obviously sold to help soothe and reduce coughs, through suppressing the cough itself or stopping phlegm being coughed up, they are not recommended by the NHS. This is due to little evidence being found supporting their role in helping these symptoms as any more effective than remedies which you can make at home. Also cough medicines are not suitable for everyone to use (NHS, 2015).

  • Medication

It may be that you need to take some medication to bring down the fever, or reduce aches and pains. There is also medication available which is targeted specifically at flu and cold symptoms. Always read the guidance of usage when taking medication, and whether it has any interactions with any other medication you may be taking.

  • Antibiotics

We are given antibiotics when we have picked up harmful pathogens. Antibiotics work by killing or preventing bacteria from reproducing.

Within our gut this also kills all the good bacteria which help to keep us healthy and our immune system functioning.

It is really important that we do not take antibiotics for when we have viral infections and this includes most colds, flu, most coughs, and sore throats, as the antibiotics will do nothing for fighting the infections or be of any help.

However, if you are given antibiotics by your doctor, it is really really really (yes that many!) important that you take the recommended amount per day AND also to finish the pack. If you don’t, you potentially haven’t killed off all the bacteria which caused you to become ill (even if you feel better), and this leads to more antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Also, you can become ill again and those antibiotics may not be as effective the second time around, leading to a whole host of other issues for your body to try and combat.

Conclusion

It’s also important to stay hydrated whilst you are ill, well it’s important to stay hydrated full stop!

You can have warm soups and warm drinks to help ease congestion and keep your fluid levels up, this should help to ease any headaches as well. Vitamin D also helps to strengthen our immune system, you can read more about vitamin D here.

A healthy balanced diet and physical activity are always important as well in maintaining optimal health. If your nose is sore from blowing it, you could always rub a bit of coconut oil to the area to help sooth it as well.

Even if your immune system is strong and you’re physically active and well, it doesn’t mean that you will be immune to getting ill. If you ever get ill its always important to rest and take care of yourself, listen to your body and let it recover before you put it under more stress. If you put it under more stress it may lead to a longer road to recovery.

A lot of cases of coughs clear up on their own within three weeks, however if you do struggle getting rid of yours, it is worth seeing your GP so that you can see if there is another cause.

You may even have an old family remedy which your parents used on you, and that you still do today. If this is the case it would be great to hear from you!

References

Aguirre, CC. (2016). Sleep deprivation: a mind-body approach. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. 22(6), pp. 583-588. Available here.

Åkerstedt, T. Axelsson, J. Lekander, M. Orsini, N. and Kecklund, G. (2014). Do sleep, stress, and illness explain daily variations in fatigue? A prospective study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 76(4), pp. 280-285. Available here.

Allan, GM. And Arroll, B. (2014). Prevention and treatment of the common cold; making sense of the evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 186(3), pp. 190-199. Available here.

Arreola, R. Quintero-Fabián, S. López-Roa, R. Flores-Gutiérrez, EQ. Reyes-Grajeda, JP. Carrera-Quintanar, L. and Ortuño-Sahagùn, D. (2015). Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of Immunology Research. Available here.

Azizi, A. Aghayan, S. Zaker, S. Shakeri, M. Enterzari, N. and Lawaf, S. (2015). In vitro effect of zingiber officinale extract on growth of streptococcus mutans and streptococcus sanguinis. International Journal of Dentistry. Available here.

Barrett, B. (2003). Medicinal properties of Echinacea: a critical review. Phytomedicine, 10(1), pp. 66-86. Available here.

Bayan, L. Koulivand, PH. And Goji, A. (2014). Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 4(1), pp. 1-14. Available here.

Bloomfield, SF. Rook, GAW. Scott, EA. Shanahan, F. Stanwell-Smith, R. and Turner, P. (2016). Time to abandon the hygiene hypothesis: new perspectives on allergic disease, the human microbiome, infectious disease prevention and the role of targeted hygiene. Perspectives in Public Health, 136(4), pp.213-224. Available here.

Booth, FW. Roberts, CK. And Laye, MJ. (2012). Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic disease. Comprehensive Physiology, 2(2), pp. 1143-1211. Available here.

Chang, JS. Wang, KC. Yeh, CF. Shieh, DE. And Chiang, LC. (2013). Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 145(1), pp. 146-151. Available here.

Cohen, HA. Rozen, J. Kristal, H. Laks, Y. Berkovitch, M. Uziel, Y. Kozer, E. Pomeranz, A. and Efrat, H. (2012). Effects on honey on nocturnal cough and sleep quality: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Pediatrics, 130(3), pp. 465-471. Available here.

Department of Health. (2013). ‘Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.’ Campaign to help reduce flu infections. Gov.UK. Available here.

Goldman, RD. (2014). Honey for treatment of cough in children. Canadian Family Physician, 60(12), pp. 1107-1110. Available here.

Hao, Q. Dong, BR. And Wu, T. (2015). Probiotics for preventing acute respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 3(2). Available here.

Hemilä, H. and Chalker, E. (2013). Vitamin c for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 31(1). Available here.

Karsch-Völk, M. Barrett, B. and Linde, K. (2015). Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 313(6), pp. 618-619. Available here.

Koelsch, S. Boehlig, A. Hohenadel, M. Nitsche, I. Bauer, K. and Sack, U. (2016). The impact of acute stress on hormones and cytokines, and how their recovery is affected by music-evoked positive mood. Scientific Reports, 6. Available here.

Krawitz, C. Mraheil, MA. Stein, M. Imirzaliglu, C. Domann E. Pleschka, S. and Hain, T. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BioMed Central Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 11(16). Available here.

Nahas, R. (2011). Complementary and alternative medicine for prevention and treatment of the common cold. Canadian Family Physician, 57(1), pp. 31-36. Available here.

NHS. (2015). Cough. NHS choices, your health, your choices. Available here.

NHS. (2016). Sore Throat. NHS Choices, your health, your choices. Available here.

Oliveira de Almeida, CM. and Malheiro, A. (2016). Sleep, immunity and shift workers: a review. Sleep Science, 9(3), pp. 164-168. Available here.

Olnes, MJ. Kotliarov, Y. Biancotto, A. Cheung, F. Chen, J. Shi, R. Zhou, H. Wang, E. Tsang, JS. Nussenblatt, R. and The CHI Consortium. (2016). Effects of systemically administered hydrocortisone on the human immunome. Scientific Reports, 6. Available here.

Opp, MR. and Krueger, JM. (2015). Sleep and immunity: a growing field with clinical impact. Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, 47, pp. 1-3. Available here.

Peake, JM. Neubauer, O. Walsh, NP. And Simpson, RJ. (2016). Recovery of the immune system after exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology. Available here.

Prather, AA. Janicki-Deverts, D. Hall, MH. And Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviourally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep, 38(9), pp. 1353-1359. Available here.

Reygaert, WC. (2014). The antimicrobial possibilities of green tea. Frontiers in Microbiology, 5(434). Available here.

Ruesten, AV. Weikert, C. Fietze, I. and Boeing, H. (2012). Association of sleep duration with chronic diseases in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)- postdam study. PLos One, 7(1), pp.  e30972. Available here.

Singh, M. and Das, R. (2013). Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 18(6). Available here.

Steinmann, J. Buer, J. Pietschmann, T. and Steinmann, E. (2013). Anti-infective properties of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea. British Journal of Pharmacology, 168(5), pp. 1059-1073. Available here.

Tiralongo, E. Wee, SS. And Lea, RA. (2016). Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients, 8(4), pp.182. Available here.

Townsend, EA. Siviski, ME. Zhang, Y. Carrie, X. Hoonjan, B. and Emala, CW. (2013). Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 48(2), pp. 157-163. Available here.

Won, E. and Kim, YK. (2016). Stress, the automatic nervous system, and the immune-kynurenine pathway in the etiology of depression. Current Neuropharmacology. 14(7). Pp. 665-673. 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.

Should I Go Organic? Part Two

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Guest blog by Sam Hadadi

The Organic Shopping List

In our earlier article, Should I Go Organic? Part One, we looked at:

  • what organic means
  • is it healthier for us
  • healthier animals
  • the impact on the environment

and we looked at various conflicting thoughts on whether organic is best.

Obviously, price can play a role into which foods we choose to buy. With organic foods often coming with a higher price tag, the organic market can be seen as a luxury (90 per cent of organic sales come from North America and Europe, for example).

So, if you do want to eat more mindfully, and choose organic foods, but are mindful of the price tag, what do you do? Are there certain organic foods that should be prioritised?

Here’s our guide to the top ten foods that you really should be buying organically, if at all possible – you could print it out and keep it in your shopping bag for easy reference…

  1.  Apples
Organic Apples with Nut and Dairy Free Chocolate Spread

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so goes the saying anyway. Yet, non-organic apples contain more pesticides than pretty much any other food on supermarket shelves. A 2015 report found that 99 per cent of apples tested are served up with a side of at least one pesticide1.

2. Dairy

If you love a glass of warm milk before bed, or you often pour your kids a cold glass at snack time, then it’s worth considering adding organic milk to your shopping trolley. The same goes for cheese and yoghurt, too! Organic dairy is not pumped full of antibiotics or growth hormones, and the cows must be fed 100 per cent organic feed, that’s free from GM crops. Want to go the extra mile? Fill up on a pint of grass-fed milk!

3. Celery

Not only is celery one of the most versatile veggies around but it’s also full of fibre and vitamins B and C. However, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it’s one of the most treated crops around – it was found to contain around 64 different types of pesticides. So, it’s worth reading the label.

4. Cherry Tomatoes

Tomato, Basil and Feta Quiche

If you’re chopping up juicy cherry tomatoes to scatter atop your salad, or to stir through your sauces, then you might want to seriously think about buying the organic version. The EWG ranked tomatoes tenth in the list of “dirty” products. Plus, since you eat the skin, always give them a good scrubbing!

5. Cucumbers

The cucumber also finds its way onto the EWG’s 2015 report of the dirtiest foods. If you can’t afford to buy organic cucumber, then give it a peel and remove its waxy skin before eating.

6. Grapes

The EWG found that grapes can contain more than 15 different types of pesticide residues. Again, try to go organic, or at the very least, wash them thoroughly before eating.

7. Leafy Greens

From kale to spinach, cabbage and broccoli, we all know that we should pile our plates high with leafy greens. However, wherever possible, try to toss organic kale or spinach into your home cooking. You see, their large leaves offer plenty of surface area for pesticides to “stick” to, and they’re not always that easy to wash off.

8. Meat

Here at Lucy Bee, we are big fans of buying organically-reared and grass fed meat. Non-organic meat can be pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. If you find organic meat too expensive to buy, then consider cutting back on the amount you eat – try enjoying Meat-Free Monday, for example, or buy cheaper cuts and cook them for longer.

9. Potatoes

Smoked Haddock Potato Cakes

Potatoes are fantastic at boosting our energy and, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a crispy, fluffy roast potato? However, they’re also one of the ‘dirtiest’ foods you can buy, according to the EWG report. They found that your typical spud has more pesticides by weight than any other type of food.

10. Strawberries

Summer Strawberry Tart

Sweet and juicy strawberries are one of our favourite summer treats. However, many strawberries contain pesticide residues such as Captan, which is a likely human carcinogen and has been found to cause tumours in rats. It’s also been found that 300 pounds of pesticides are applied to each acre of strawberries…

Other foods high on the list include pre-packed salad; oranges; citrus fruits; peaches; peppers; chilies; nectarines; and cherries. If in doubt, try to buy these foods organically.

Peaches are best bought as organic produce

If having to choose what you don’t need to buy organically, these so-called ‘clean’ foods include:

  • Avocados (only around one per cent were found to contain pesticides)
  • Pineapples
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Aubergine
  • Grapefruit
  • Onion

What Else Can I Do?

So, apart from arming yourselves with our shopping list, and knowing exactly what to buy organic, what else can you do? Especially when it comes to tightening those purse strings and saving pennies?

Here are some of our top suggestions if you do want to eat as healthily and as consciously as possible:

Buy Locally and Seasonally

As well as being tastier and fresher, buying seasonal foods can also help you to save money. If you’re on a budget, try eating in season and see what you can find at your local farmer’s market, too! You can also try an organic box scheme to ensure you get fresh, organic produce delivered right to your door.

Grow Your Own

Starting small with growing your own herbs

If you’re up for a new challenge or feeling green-fingered, then take the worry (and the cost!) out of eating by growing your own. Start small (unless you’re already a seasoned gardener!) with herb gardens, and work your way up.

Become a Natural Beauty

It’s not just food you need to think about – beauty products are often laden with potentially toxic chemicals, too. Thankfully, there are lots of DIY beauty treatments you can do from home, without the need for night creams costing as much as your monthly mortgage! They’ll leave you with fresher, glowing skin, and your hair can look healthier and shinier, too! You can read Lucy’s book Natural Beauty With Coconut Oil if you fancy giving it a go…

Read More

Want to know more? You might find these articles of interest:

A Lucy Bee Guide to Chicken and Eggs

Is Processed Meat Bad For You?

How Coconut Oil is Made

Is going organic important to you? Let us know by tweeting @Lucybeecoconut or emailing us via our website!

  1. Fruit and Veggies with a Side of Pesticide?

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.

Should I Go Organic? Part One

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Guest blog by Sam Hadadi

The Organic Choice

From the choice of natural fruit and veg to tastier, healthier meat, and milk which is free from hormones and antibiotics, there’s plenty to be said for going organic.

More and more, we are being urged to go greener and organic. For starters, we’re told it’s healthier, that it improves animal welfare and helps towards caring for the environment.

As we start to become more aware of the truth behind the food manufacturing industry (the pesticides, the antibiotics, the cramped living spaces for animals), organic produce has seen something of a boom.

Organic Raspberry Lucuma Chia Pudding

As our appetite for healthier living grows and grows, the organic market has soared by almost five per cent1 to £1.95bn in 2015, and there has been a a fivefold increase in sales over the past 15 years. Although, to put this into perspective, just one per cent of our global crops are currently organic2. A pinch of salt may still be needed before we call it a global phenomenon!

Yet, for all of us who want to eat as healthily as possible, do we really need to jump on the organic bandwagon? What’s the truth? Is eating organic food necessary for a healthy lifestyle, or is it an expensive con and a clever marketing ploy?

If you’ve always wondered whether or not you should be buying organic, or which organic foods you really need to buy (should your whole shopping trolley be organically grown?), then we have some guidance here……

What Does Organic Mean?

First up: what does it actually mean when we’re tossing a bag of organic braeburns into our shopping basket, or adding organic kale to our green smoothies? What, exactly, is organic?

Well, in its simplest form, organic farming tries to work as closely with nature as possible. Whether you’re buying strawberries or shallots, when you buy organic foods and drink (even clothes and beauty products), the idea is that you’re buying products that promote a healthier planet.

It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And, on the surface, it really is.

We’re fans of organic fruit and vegetables

For starters, organic foods mean fewer chemicals (and a blanket ban on artificial fertilisers and pesticides), as well as less hydrogenated fats, no controversial artificial food colourings, and we can wave goodbye to many preservatives, too.

As well as this, there can be no preventative antibiotics pumped into livestock; no genetically modified food; and measures are put in place to ensure more wildlife and biodiversity, too. A lot of organic foods will also be better for animal welfare, since any animals sold under organic labels must be reared in more natural, freer conditions.

Organic produce is also fully traceable from farm to fork, so you know exactly what you’re eating – and where it came from. When you put it like that, it sounds pretty idealistic, doesn’t it?

Here in the UK, organic standards are certified by the Organic Food Federation; The Soil Association; Organic Farmer and Growers Ltd.; Biodynamic Agricultural Association; Quality Welsh Food Certification Ltd.; and OF&G (Scotland) Ltd. and these are also upheld by strict European laws. In fact, to be labelled as organic, at least 95 per cent of the farm-grown ingredients must come from organically produced plants or animals.

If you want the official definition of organic, then here’s what Defra3 has to say:

“Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation. 

“Organic agriculture is a systems approach to production that is working towards environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production. Instead, the agricultural systems rely on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, some hand weeding and biological pest control.”

Why Should I Go Organic?

Whether you want to lose weight, enjoy tastier, fresher food, or save the planet, going organic can often seem like the answer. In fact, the Soil Association4 has revealed that healthy eating and avoiding chemical residues are the main reasons we tend to switch to organic – caring for the environment and animal welfare come third and fourth on the priority list.

Yet are there really such myriad benefits to eating organic foods? And, if so, should we all make the switch?

Let’s take a look…

Is Organic Food Healthier?

We all know that we should eat rainbows of fruit and veg every single day to stay as healthy as possible. However, is eating five organic fruit and veg a day even better for you than eating five non-organic fruits and veg?

Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but…no one can really agree!

On the plus side, there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that organic foods contain more vitamins, minerals and omega-3s. For example5, there are thought to be more flavonoids (a wonderful, body-boosting phytonutrient) in organic tomatoes, while organic milk has been found to contain nearly 70% more heart-healthy, body-loving omega-3s than non-organic milk.

Meanwhile, non-organic apples can be treated with 36 different chemicals, many of which we can’t simply scrub or peel off. And then, for meat lovers, there’s the fact that organic meat has been found to have more healthy omega-3 fatty acids6.

Further studies have found that organic fruits7 and veg contain 27 per cent more vitamin C, nearly a third more magnesium, 21.1 per cent more iron, and 18 per cent more polyphenols. And there was even one, carried out at Newcastle University back in 2014, that stated there were “statistically significant, meaningful” differences to organic foods, carrying between 19% and 69% more antioxidants8.

In fact, these researchers were so convinced by the goodness of going organic that they said we should eat at least one or two portions of organic fruits and veg each day.

There’s even been some studies that suggest going organic can see benefits to our health in other ways – a reduced risk of eczema in new-born boys, and even a lower risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy9. A further study9 in Holland seems to back this up, where scientists discovered that young children (below the age of two) had a lower risk of eczema when they drank a glass of organic milk, perhaps because of the higher amounts of healthy fatty acids in organic dairy.

While this might sound great and have you leaping across the shopping aisle for that bag of organic kale, on the flip side, there are plenty of studies which show that there may not always be that much difference…

In 2009, a huge review into organic foods10, published by the Food Standards Agency, looked into previous studies on the nutritional benefits of going organic. While they found that certain foods did have higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants, there were not “significant” benefits when compared to their cheaper, non-organic friends.

Similar news came following another review, which looked at 223 studies11 in 2012. This also found little evidence for our growing love for organic food. Researchers said: “the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.”

In other words: while there are benefits to certain organic foods, not all of it is necessarily as healthy as some people claim.

Healthier Animals

Let’s face it, we all like to picture the animals we feed on as healthy and happy. From cute, fluffy lambs leaping about the fields to pigs wrestling in mud and cows flocking beneath leafy trees, it’s a nice thought that they were treated well before they ended up on our plates but is this is always the case?

Very often, meat will have been reared on intensive farms and as well as this, the animals can be pumped full of antibiotics to prevent illness and disease and even steroids, to ensure they’re as big and as juicy as we like.

A lot of intensively-reared chickens have also been found to be contaminated with salmonella12. And, when you consider just how poorly they are often treated – bred in cramped, tiny cages, and left to sleep in their own fecal matter – there’s a lot of animal welfare and hygiene issues, too.

Roaming free in the Lucy Bee vegetable patch

If this is something that does concern you, then you’ll be happy to know that organic meat has to be reared to much higher standards. Organically-reared, free range animals have the healthiest and happiest living conditions of all. They also cannot be fed growth regulators and feed additives, GM crops nor antibiotics, and, instead, must be given organic food.

They are also given plenty more space to roam around (for example, under EU law, organic chicken farmers can only keep 21kg of birds per square metre and have a maximum flock size of 4,800), and they must be given access to the outdoors for at least a third of their life.

Moving onto organic dairy and this too must be free from antibiotics, as well as hormones pumped into some other milk-producing cows. There are also lots of studies to suggest that organically-reared animals contain higher levels of healthy omega-3 fats, (this is thanks to their diet, especially when it comes to grass-fed beef). The same is true of hens and their eggs.

Despite this, there are many who say there is very little difference between the health benefits of organic meat and eggs and their poorer relatives13.

Better for the Environment?

For starters, organic farming is better for biodiversity and the UK government argues that it’s better for the wildlife, causes less pollution, and less carbon dioxide (the gas that’s the main culprit for global warming).

Love the world we live in

On the surface level, this is of course true: organic farms need less energy, release fewer greenhouse gasses, and also emit less ammonia than your typical farms and fields.

However, the problem is with the bigger picture. In reality, organic crops yield less for our farmers. So, for them to make enough money to survive, they need much more land to yield the same amount of strawberries, or potatoes. To take America as an example, to produce the same amount of food organically, would require increasing its farmland by the size of almost two United Kingdoms2.

Let’s take your humble pint of milk2. A litre of organic milk needs 80 per cent more land than non-organic conventional milk to be produced, has 20 per cent greater global warming potential, and releases more acid rain. Similarly, tomatoes produced in organic, yet heated, greenhouses in Britain require more energy than those grown in fields in Africa, while organic cows release twice as much methane as conventionally-reared animals14.

As a result, many believe that organic produce results in just as many greenhouse gases as non-organic foods, and even more (around 10 per cent) nitrous oxide, ammonia and acidification.

Free From Pesticides?

Many foodies who have made the switch to organic often argue that it produces juicier, tastier apples, plumper, firmer tomatoes, and more mouth-watering, leaner meat.

Many, including The Soil Association, believe that this tastier food is all thanks to the fact that organic produce cannot be treated with man-made pesticides.

However, the taste test is all just a matter of opinion. While most swear by delicious organic foods, others say that they cannot notice a difference during blindfold tests.

Of course, the lack of pesticides is only going to be a welcome one.

Still, it’s worth pointing out that it is only man-made pesticides and fertilisers that are banned from organic farming. For instance, farmers who work under the organic labels can treat fungal diseases by using copper solution. This same copper solution can stay toxic in the soil for the rest of our lifetime. Meanwhile, the organic insecticide rotenone15, is believed to be toxic to us humans, with some linking it to Parkinson’s disease.

What Does This Mean?

Well, sorry if we’ve left you scratching your heads and have added to your organic confusion!

Chicken Liver Paté – image credit to Ria Osbourne

The fact is, while there are certain foods that are definitely healthier to buy organic (see Part Two of this article for our shopping list by clicking here), much more research needs to be done into whether or not we should enjoy a completely organic lifestyle.

Whether or not you choose to shop organic is entirely up to you – just try to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.

  1. Global Analysis and Research on Organic Food and Beverages
  2. Is Organic Food Best?
  3. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs 
  4. Soil Association, Why Go Organic
  5. Organic is Different
  6. Grass Fed Meat v Grain Fed Meat
  7. Seven Berries You Should Eat Everyday
  8. Clear Difference Between Organic and Non-Organic Foods, a Study
  9. Don’t Tell the Truth About Organic Food?
  10. Nutritional Value of Foods
  11. Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier?
  12. A Guide to Chicken and Eggs
  13. Is Organic Better for your Health?
  14. The Great Organic Myths
  15. Rotenone

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.

Sugars in Processed Foods Aren’t Always Obvious

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Guest blog by Sam Hadadi,

Sugars in Processed Foods

We all know that cans of Coke, fruit juices, cakes and bumper packs of sweets pack in an eye-watering amount of sugar but have you ever stopped to consider those so-called healthier foods as you pop them into your trolley? The yoghurts and the snack bars, for example.

A Canadian study revealed that two-thirds of all packaged foods contained at least one added sugar, meaning that nearly all foods you find on the supermarket shelves are laden with (sometimes) hidden sugars…

After looking at more than 40,000 commonly-bought packaged foods and drinks in Canada, the researchers discovered that 66 per cent of the products – which included some infant formulas, baby food products and many so-called ‘healthier’ foods such as yoghurt, juice, breakfast cereals and snack bars – contained at least one added sugar in their ingredients.

When you consider that the “s-word” has been linked to all kinds of illness and disease, including obesity, type II diabetes and liver disease1, it’s enough to really make you think.

Tomato and Anchovy Pasta Sauce – homemade with no added sugar

The Study

The research, by Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the University of Waterloo, looked at the ingredients of a whopping 40,829 packaged foods and drinks sold at national supermarket chains in Canada.

Narrowing things down a little, the researchers searched for 30 different added sugar terms from obvious words such as ‘sugar’ right through to dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and fruit juice concentrate. In this study, ‘added sugars’ were seen as all sugars added to foods by the manufacturer, as well as the ‘natural’ sweeteners such as honey, syrups and fruit juices.

While there were plenty of added sugars in foods you might expect, such as sweets, cakes, crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks (of these, 86 per cent contained at least one added sugar) it was the sugars found in so-called ‘healthy’ items that really give cause for concern.

In fact, the white stuff was found lurking in all sorts of the ‘healthy’ options, such as granola bars and low-fat yoghurt. Yet, even more worryingly, was the fact that sweeteners were also found in almost half of all infant formulas and baby food too.

Dr. Erin Hobin, a scientist who worked on the research team, said: “People may be surprised to learn how many packaged foods and beverages have sugars added to them, especially foods that most would consider ‘healthier.

Is This True in the UK?

It’s difficult to say, since the study was carried out in Canada but with more and more coming out about sugar, it’s worth a reminder to check labels of what we’re eating.

Although the World Health organisation advises that we get just 5% of our calories from sugar, we as a nation are eating far, far more. In fact, just last year, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey warned that us adults get just over 12 per cent of our food energy from added sugars2 (and this doesn’t include fruit or natural sugars!). Teens get 15.2 per cent of theirs from white stuff, while children find theirs from up to 13.4.

It all paints a pretty gloomy picture, doesn’t it?

Some common, everyday, packaged foods which include sugar are:

  • salad dressings
  • drinking chocolate
  • pasta sauces
  • granola bars
  • coleslaw
  • ketchup
  • yoghurt

Why Is Sugar So Bad For Me?

While the amounts may not sound all that significant, the reality is that sugar is bad for both our health and our body.

Sugar is often in salad dressings

Endless scientists and health experts have argued that sugar is the biggest contributor3 to the obesity epidemic, with studies confirming that there is a link between the amount of fructose (a sugar we have been warned to avoid4 like the plague) we consume and obesity levels.

Yet more studies4 have shown that sugar makes us more likely to binge eat, while the World Health Organisation has warned of  “increasing concern” that sugars could cause diseases such as diabetes and tooth decay.

In fact, high sugar diets are thought to be responsible for a huge array of diseases. Not only is it linked to diabetes and obesity but it’s also believed to lead to binge eating, and associated issues.

What Can I Do?

Let’s face it, some of us are simply cursed with a sweet tooth. Yet what can we do to avoid the dangers of hidden sugars? And what should we be doing to ditch the white stuff…?

Sugar is Sugar

Well, first up is this word of warning: all sugars, whether they’re refined or unrefined, need to be consumed in moderation. Our body can’t keep up with huge surges of sugar and eating too much will often lead to our waistline expanding and those beloved skinny jeans refusing to go over the knees!

If you want to reach for something sugary, then natural sweeteners (many of which contain small amounts of fibre, vitamins and minerals) do make for better options than white table sugar – just proceed with caution!

You can read more about our lowdown on sugars and sugar alternatives by clicking here.

Avoid ‘low fat’ as this usually means sugar has been added and instead, opt for a smaller portion of the ‘full fat’ option.

Read the Labels

We’re fans of making our own sauces, breads etc. meaning we’re in control of what goes into them but we appreciate that this isn’t always an option, in which case, reading labels is a good start.

As always, arm yourself with knowledge! On the ingredients’ list, the higher up an ingredient is, the more of that ingredient is in the product. It’s also worth checking the nutrition panel and checking ‘Carbohydrates of which sugars’ – this includes both natural and added sugars. At least this way, you’re aware of what you’re eating.

What do you think? Are we eating too much sugar? Let me know by leaving your comments here or get in touch with us on twitter.

Sam Hadadi Signature

  1. Liver Disease and Sugary Drinks
  2. The Guardian’s report on eating too much sugar
  3. Sugar not fat exposed as deadly villain in obesity epidemic
  4. Fructose: the Dangers of the EU Ruling

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.

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