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Lucy Bee Guide to Nuts and Why They’re Good for You

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November 2017 update from Daisy Buckingham ANutr Registered Associate Nutritionist

Further Studies Showing Nuts Are Good For Health

A recent study looked at over 92,946 women at the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991 to 2013), and 41,526 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2012), all of whom were free of cancer, heart disease, and stroke at the baseline.

They found with follow-ups that there were 14,136 incidents of cardiovascular disease cases, including 8,390 coronary heart disease cases, and 5,910 stroke cases. They found that total nut consumption was inversely associated with total cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease.

Participants that consumed 5 or more servings of nuts per week, had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Those who consumed walnuts, one or more times per week had an association of 13%-19% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease and 15-23% lower risk of coronary heart disease (Guasch-Ferré et al., 2017).

Reference:

Guasch-Ferré, M. Liu, X. Malik, VS. Sun, Q. Willet, WC. Manson, JE. Rexrode, KM. Li, Y. Hu, FB. And Bhupathiraju, SN. (2017). Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology available here.

Daisy, is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr – with the Association for Nutrition) and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health Nutrition. She, also, has a BSc degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience; and has continued with her professional development, through an AFN accredited course. She is Lucy’s sister and is the Lucy Bee voice on all aspects of nutrition and its effect on the body. In addition to this, Daisy shadows a nutritionist in London and works for an NHS funded project, The Diabetes Prevention Programme.

The following is a guest blog by Vicky Ware,

Nuts for Health

Nuts are really great for health — a number of studies have found eating a handful of nuts a day is associated with reduced ‘all-cause morbidity’. This means nut-eaters are less likely to die from any cause. Nuts and nut butter a great way to consume a nutrient dense filling snack when you’re feeling peckish.

Although nuts are calorie dense, regularly eating them seems to prevent weight gain1. They’re also good for the heart — in one study people who ate nuts at least 4 times per week were 37% less likely to suffer from heart disease than people who hardly ever ate nuts — and every time people added a portion of nuts to their diet they reduced their chances of heart disease by 8%2! (Note: These studies do not say ‘how many’ nuts merely that they were eating nuts. The reason for this is because they want to capture ‘real life’ experiences of people’s diets over a long term period of time. Therefore, they look at health outcomes for people who already ‘eat nuts’ rather than telling people to ‘eat 8 nuts/day for 5 years’, for example.)

Why Are Nuts So Great for Health?

Regularly eating nuts improves markers of inflammation in the body along with reducing people’s risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes3. In fact, swapping 3 servings of red meat, eggs or refined grains per week for 3 servings of nuts significantly reduces a key marker of inflammation in the body3. Inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological conditions, autoimmune disorders and even depression and anxiety, so the anti-inflammatory nature of nuts could be the reason for their health-giving effect 4;5.

Inflammation is a delicate balancing act. Although too much is a bad thing, inflammation is the process of your immune system activating to heal an injury or fight an infection. Without inflammation, a graze on your skin wouldn’t heal and any bacteria that entered your body through the graze wouldn’t be killed by the immune system. So, we don’t want to get rid of inflammation completely but you also don’t want inflammation to be over-zealous or continue for too long after an injury or illness has healed.

Your body is capable of maintaining this balance but only if your diet contains adequate nutrients. What you eat contains the building blocks your body will use to build the components of the immune system. Certain foods result in a more inflammatory immune system — for example those containing omega-6 fatty acids – while others result in a ‘calmer’ less inflammatory immune system — omega-3 fatty acids (contained in walnuts) fall into this camp.

The type of bacteria in your gut, also have an impact on the immune system and inflammation. The foods you eat affect which bacteria can survive in the gut, after all they can only eat what you eat. Nuts contain fibre which is a food for bacteria living in the gut, but they also contain antioxidant compounds like polyphenols which are anti-inflammatory. It’s this anti-inflammatory effect which might be responsible for the beneficial health effect caused by eating nuts.

Specific Nuts & Their Health Benefits

Many of the studies suggesting a handful of nuts are good for health used different kinds of nuts from peanuts to walnuts to a mixture so really it’s up to you which you choose to eat. There are studies on specific nuts though and some of these are summarised below…

  • Cashews are relatively low in fat compared to other nuts — although the fat content of other nuts doesn’t appear to be a problem for health and, in fact, the fats in nuts appear to be one of the reasons they’re so good for you. Over 50% of the fats in cashews are monounsaturated fats which are thought to be good for cardiovascular health6.

Micronutrients: 28grams(approximately one serving) of cashew nuts contain 5% of your recommended daily potassium, 10% of your protein, 10% of your iron, 5% of your B6 and 20% of your magnesium.

Cashew and Maca Nut Butter – click on the image for recipe
  • Brazil nut intake, even after just one serving, was shown to improve the blood lipid profile of people taking part in a study shortly after eating the nuts7. They have also been found to improve the blood lipid profile of obese people — potentially because they contain unsaturated fats and bioactive compounds such as polyphenols which act as antioxidants in the body8.
Asparagus Risotto with Ricotta and Crushed Brazil Nuts
Asparagus Risotto with Ricotta and Crushed Brazil Nuts – click on the image for recipe

Eating whole foods that contain antioxidants is associated with reduced incidence of some cancers and lower general inflammation in the body9. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of the essential micronutrient selenium and potentially because of this, they improve cognitive function in older people — poor cognitive function may be due to too few antioxidants, such as selenium, in the body10.

Micronutrients: 28 grams of brazil nuts contain 8% of your daily fibre, 4% calcium and 26% of your magnesium. However, this amount would contain a whopping 767% of your daily selenium meaning regular intake of this number of brazil nuts could lead to selenium poisoning. 400mcg is the tolerable upper limit for selenium intake for adults, more than this per day can result in selenium poisoning. 6 nuts contain around 544mcg of selenium11. So, although it’s unlikely you’ll suffer from selenium poisoning — you’d have to eat 6-ish nuts a day for a while — it’s best to eat brazil nuts relatively sparingly12.

  • Peanuts like many other nuts, contain bioactive nutrients — compounds found in foods which are known to have a direct effect on the body.

Peanuts are known to contain bioactive nutrients thought to be good for blood vessel health. The elasticity of blood vessels, essential to maintain good blood pressure, improves when people have peanuts in their diet (in this case around 60g per day) and amazingly short-term memory and other measures of brain health were also better when people had peanuts in their diet13. These benefits also come from peanut butter, just be sure to eat the versions which are 100% peanut rather than those with added sugar, salt and palm oil which have fewer nuts and therefore fewer of the health benefits of nut consumption.

Micronutrients: 28 grams of peanuts contain 9% of your daily recommended dietary fibre, 11% magnesium, 2% calcium, 5% vitamin B6 and 7% iron.

  • Walnuts are good for gut health — reducing incidence of colon cancer in mice — potentially due to the changes they induce in the bacteria present in the gut14.
Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake with Walnuts – click on the image for recipe

Walnuts contain high levels of phytochemicals, including polyunsaturated fatty acids which may be one reason they seem to be good for brain health15. Walnuts contain plenty of fat, manganese, iron, copper, protein, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium16.

Looking at whole-diets, adding walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts to a Mediterranean diet lead to reduced waist circumference and BMI compared to people eating a low-fat diet17.

Walnuts also contain omega-3 fats which tend to be lacking in Western diets and are essential to keeping the immune system healthy. Humans evolved eating equal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6, or possibly more omega-3 than omega-6. Now, we tend to eat around 15 times the amount of omega-6 which leads to inflammation in the body18;19. Walnuts are a great way to top up the amount of omega-3 in your diet.

Micronutrients: 28 grams of walnuts contain 2% of your daily recommended calcium, 4% iron, 10% vitamin B6 and 11% of your magnesium.

  • Almonds eaten as a snack (43 grams of them, which would contain around 250 calories) reduce blood glucose levels along with improving other markers of metabolic health, while also reducing hunger including during a meal eaten later that day20.
Almonds
Almonds for snacking

Almonds are rich in nutrients, including phytonutrients, magnesium, copper, fat and fibre — the latter two are thought to be the reason almonds have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol21.

They also improve metabolic and inflammatory markers21. Eating almonds has also been shown to improve the overall quality of someone’s diet — they ate fewer ‘empty’ calories and increased their intake of other nutrient dense foods like vegetables — along with changing the kind of bacteria in the gut22.

Micronutrients: 28 grams of almonds contain 14% of your daily recommended fibre, 12% of your protein, 7% of your calcium, 6% of your iron and 19% of your magnesium.

  • Hazlenuts are linked with reduced blood pressure and inflammation in the body. It’s not known exactly why including hazlenuts in the diet has these effects, but again it’s probably due to their nutrient density, fat content and fibre. One study found that people who ate 30g of hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds per day, for 12 weeks saw improvements in metabolic markers which could mean reduced chance of metabolic syndrome23.

Micronutrients: 28 grams of hazlenuts contain around 10% of your recommended fibre, 7% of your iron, 10% of your B6 and 11% of your magnesium.

Hazelnut Butter Fudge – click on the image for recipe

How Many Nuts Should I Eat?

14 walnut halves (around 28 grams or 7 whole walnuts) is a guide to the amount of nuts you should eat in a day to gain health benefits — either of one type of nut (and change the type you eat daily) or a mixture of nuts each day.

Although nuts are high in calories, they’re appetite satiating and studies show people who snack on them tend to lose weight, or at least not gain weight24;25. This could be for multiple reasons. The high fibre and fat content of nuts makes them very satiating — you won’t feel hungry after eating them, meaning you don’t snack on other foods.

The fats in nuts may also alter metabolism, meaning you burn more body fat stores as fuel. Some research has even shown that people who eat nuts absorb less fat from the food they eat, reducing calorific intake of all foods they eat26.

Roasted/Salted Nuts: Still Healthy?

Some research suggests that lightly salting and roasting nuts doesn’t affect how healthy they are, with both roasted and un-roasted hazelnuts resulting in the same improvements in markers of health in one study27.

However, the temperature the nuts are roasted at will affect their nutrient content. High temperatures (above 160°C) reduce the polyphenol content of nuts — these temperatures will be reached if nuts are deep fried or roasted at too high a temperature28.

Roasted or fried nuts also tend to come heaped with salt high in sodium. Too much sodium in the diet can increase blood pressure and is linked to cardiovascular disease29. Western diets tend to contain too much sodium already, so if you’re going to eat nuts daily for the health benefits it’s best to eat ones not covered in salt.

For extra flavour, you could try experimenting with chilli flakes or grinding nuts and putting them in porridge or smoothies.

Porridge Oats with Flaxseeds and Honey – click on the image for recipe

So, if you gently roast nuts it could improve their flavour — depending on personal preference — without detrimentally affecting their nutrient content. But if you’re going to buy pre-packaged nuts it’s best to go with raw, whole nuts to reap the biggest health benefits without added salt, oil used for frying or reduction in nutrient content.

Nut ‘Milks’ and Milk Alternatives

There seems to be an ever expanding alternative to the dairy milk section in every supermarket I’ve been in recently and as someone who has a dairy-free diet this is something I’m pretty happy about.

Personally, I intentionally mix things up with my nut-milk intake (sometimes even going for non-nut varieties like coconut (which is technically a seed) and oat milk). In my experience different kinds of nut milk are best for different uses.

Coconut: nice and creamy and lovely as a drink, on cereal or in porridge. It also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which have myriad health benefits30.

MCTs are quickly absorbed and used as energy by the body, unlike other fats which have to be broken down first. This may be the reason they’ve been found to improve the endurance exercise performance of mice31.

They also seem to increase metabolic rate, which may be why people who consume them have lower body fat especially stomach fat which is associated with poor metabolic health32. Along with increasing metabolic rate and therefore calories burned, MCTs also satiate appetite meaning people who eat them eat less other food during a day33;34.

In fact, people who eat MCTs for breakfast, eat fewer calories at lunch time, meaning using coconut milk in your breakfast cereal could curb snacking and calorie intake at lunchtime while ensuring you’ve got enough energy to power through the morning. This milk is normally sold with added calcium to make this a replacement for the calcium you’d usually get in ‘actual’ dairy milk.

Almond: another nice thick milk which I find works well as a milk replacement in baking for e.g. pancakes or Yorkshire puddings which some of the less fatty milks (e.g. oat) don’t seem to do quite so well.

Neutral flavour (doesn’t have that typical almond-y marzipan flavour) so great for anything you don’t want to taste strongly nutty. Not quite so nice if you want a glass full as a drink — although this is obviously personal preference — but great in hot chocolate.

A delicious hot chocolate made with nut milk

Hazlenut: Though some nut milks don’t have a strong nutty taste, this one does taste of hazlenuts. It is great for using in baking something like a hazelnut chocolate cake, or to stir into your coffee and it works really well with a Lucy Bee Cacao hot chocolate.

Make Your Own Nut Milk

You can make your own nut milks if you want to know exactly what is going in (basically, the nut of your choice and water). By making your own, your nut milk is likely to contain more nut than pre-made milks you can buy.

Team Lucy Bee have made a short video showing you exactly how simple it is to make nut milk; you literally soak the nuts of your choice, add more water and blend in a blender, then sieve off the liquid portion.

If you dry out the solid portion you can use this as nut-flour for baking or adding to porridge or bread as any easy way to add extra nuts to your diet.

If you’re using your own nut milk all the time, bear in mind this won’t contain as much calcium as either dairy milk or shop bought nut milks which tend to have added calcium and vitamin D.

Nut milks are not an exact replacement for dairy which contains different protein, fats and more calories.

Conclusion

In summary, it appears nuts are pretty good for health. They’re packed with essential micronutrients, protein, fat and fibre and this combination appears to be behind the fact that people who eat them regularly are healthier than people who don’t.

There are lots of ways to incorporate nuts into your diet and they each have a different flavour, meaning if you don’t like one you can shop around until you find one you do like.

Nut butters and milks are another great way to add some nutty nutrition to your daily diet.

Vicky,

Vicky has a degree in Biological Sciences with a focus on biochemistry and immunology and is currently studying for a  MSc in Drug Discovery and Protein Biotechnology.  She is also an endurance athlete.References

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.

References

1.     Bes-Rastrollo (2007) Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study.

2.     Nutrition Data (2016) Cashew Nuts

3.     Yu (2016) Associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers.

4.     Blomhoff (2006) Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants.

5.     Almond (2013) Depression and inflammation: Examining the link.

6.     Ruiz-Canela (2016) The Role of Dietary Inflammatory Index in Cardiovascular Disease, Metabolic Syndrome and Mortality.

7.     Colpo (2013) A single consumption of high amounts of the Brazil nuts improves lipid profile of healthy volunteers.

8.     Maranhao (2011) Brazil nuts intake improves lipid profile, oxidative stress and microvascular function in obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial.

9.     Colpo (2014) Brazilian nut consumption by healthy volunteers improves inflammatory parameters.

10.  Cardoso (2016) Effects of Brazil nut consumption on selenium status and cognitive performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomised controlled pilot trial.

11.  National Institutes of Health (2016) Selenium Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.

12.  Lemire (2012) No evidence of selenosis from a selenium-rich diet in the Brazilian Amazon.

13.  Barbour (2016) Cerebrovascular and cognitive benefits of high-oleic peanut consumption in healthy overweight middle-aged adults.

14.  Nakanishi (2016) Effects of Walnut Consumption on Colon Carcinogenesis and Microbial Community Structure.

15.  Poulose (2014) Role of walnuts in maintaining brain health with age.

16.  Moyib (2015) Potentials of raw and cooked walnuts (Tetracapidium conophorum) as sources of valuable nutrients for good health.

17.  Alvarez-Perez (2016) Influence of Mediterranean Dietary Pattern on Body Fat Distribution: Results of the PREDIMED-Canarias Intervention Randomised Trial.

18.  Simopoulos (2002) The importance of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.

19.  Simopoulos (2008) The importance of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ration in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.

20.  Tan (2013) Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals as as snacks: a randomised controlled trial.

21.  Kamil (2012) Health benefits of almonds beyond cholesterol reduction.

22.  Burns (2016) Diet quality improves for parents and children when almond are incorporated into their daily diet: a randomised, crossover study.

23.  Tulipani (2011) Metabolomics unveils urinary changes in subjects with metabolic syndrome following 12-week nut consumption.

24.  Yen Tan (2014) A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism, and body weight.

25.  Ros (2010) Health benefits of nut consumption.

26.  Sabate (2003) Nut consumption and body weight.

27.  Tey (2016) Do dry roasting, lightly salting nuts affect their cardioprotective properties or acceptability?

28.  Scholrmann (2015) Influence of roasting conditions on health-related compounds in different nuts.

29.  Appel (2006) Dietary approaches to prevent and treat hypertension.

30.  St-Onge (2002) Physiological Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agens in the Prevention of Obesity.

31.  Fushiki (1995) Swimming endurance capacity of mice is increased by chronic consumption of medium-chain triglycerides.

32.  Dulloo (1996) Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure and urinary catecholamines of humans consuming low-to-moderate amounts of medium-chain trigylcerides: a dose-response study in a human respiratory chamber.

33.  Stubbs (1996) Covert manipulation of the ration of medium- to long-chain triglycerides in isoenergetically dense diets: effect on food intake in ad libitum feeding men.

34.  McClernon (2007) The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms.

 

Cutting Sugar from My Diet

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Thoughts on Cutting Sugar from My Diet

I thought I would write this blog to share my experience of cutting out sugar from my diet. Before you read on, I would like to mention that this isn’t scientific in any way and that I’m also not a nutritionist – this is simply my account of what worked for me.

As you’ll see, it was never processed sugars for me. It was mostly natural sugars from fruit, honey and dried fruit. I haven’t completely banished sugar from my diet and I am not religious with it as I still enjoy having it once in a while when I fancy it, especially over the weekend when out for dinner, or enjoying a cocktail or two. I have simply cut down my sugar intake significantly and I try to limit how much I consume from Monday to Friday, where possible.

So here, I share with you all my tips and tricks, from my own experience.

Where it all Began

I’m sure you are aware of the saying ‘an apple a day…

The reason for cutting out sugars was more of a test of my willpower and I was also intrigued to see if it made any difference to my body.

I didn’t do it to see if I’d lose weight nor did I think it would change my body physically and internally as much as it has done. It was a test to see if I could actually do it, as I knew I was addicted to fruit, as crazy as that sounds.

What I used to eat for breakfast: oats topped with fruit and honey

I used to live by the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but rather than 1 apple it would sometimes be 2-3 apples in a day which, looking back now, is crazy and I couldn’t imagine eating that many today. I had got into the habit of picking up fruit whenever I fancied eating something (which was often!) I would opt for fruit because it’s healthy, so why wouldn’t I eat it at any opportunity since it’s full of nutrients, fibre and goodness? A usual day for me would be breakfast of pancakes or porridge, topped with fruit and honey or I’d build up a smoothie or juice full of fruit, rather than vegetables then I’d always have an apple after lunch and dinner.

How I Used to Feel

Before I changed my diet, I used to complain about feeling bloated and uncomfortable the majority of the time. Sometimes my stomach would look as though I was pregnant it stuck out that much and it was rock hard and really hurt. I used to blame a lot of it on being a coeliac as I was used to being sensitive to all sorts of food.

My alternative choice for breakfast: asparagus, tomatoes and poached eggs

I went to the doctor to have tests as I found my digestive system didn’t work properly.  I constantly struggled with going to the toilet for a long period of time, which really got me down as I felt so uncomfortable and frustrated. This isn’t something I want to go into in too much detail but it’s an important factor to show just how much my body gradually changed. When the doctor looked at my stomach and digestive system they couldn’t see anything wrong, which was obviously great but also extremely frustrating as something clearly wasn’t right.

Making Changes

I took things into my own hands and did lots of research. My first realisation was when I noticed more posts on social media showing people eating eggs and greens for breakfast and I thought, BROCCOLI FOR BREAKFAST? WHO DOES THAT!!! But the more I saw these posts, the more I started to read online about sugars and what effect it has on the body. I could relate to a lot of them: bloating due to the fructose in sugar; IBS similarities; can’t lose weight; hormone issues; always craving sugar – and that’s to name just a few.

So, I thought to myself I may as well try eating greens with eggs and feta for breakfast and see how I get on. I was very surprised how good it was and actually I soon realised how little I started to snack between each meal as I felt fuller for longer and a lot more satisfied.

Once I started making these food swaps and cutting out sugar I started to notice after a couple of weeks that I didn’t feel so bloated in the face and body, to the point where my clothes started fitting better. Then because I didn’t feel really bloated and uncomfortable, I felt better in myself and my energy levels increased. I also lost weight on the scales – I can’t remember how much exactly but it was enough to feel like a new person and friends even asked what I was doing to lose weight! My digestive system changed dramatically too and a lot of the issues I was having for years before weren’t even crossing my mind anymore.

The best thing about all of this was that if anything, I was eating more food than I ever did before. I was having sustainable, filling, balanced meals which contained healthy fats, carbs, protein and vegetables. I found I wasn’t reaching for snacks anymore between meals.

Green maca smoothie – a great way to include chia seeds, nuts and omega oil into your diet

It is important to add healthy fats into your diet when cutting out sugar as it is satisfying, tasty and keeps you full. Healthy fats to include are coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts, chia seeds, seeds, omega 3’s, feta, goat’s cheese and eggs.

How I felt at the Beginning

I really struggled with not having fruit or something sweet when I fancied it as I was so used to grabbing something without having to think about it. Sometimes it put me in a bad mood as I would really crave it and I felt like I was punishing myself or depriving myself of something I wanted. I would also think ‘will one or two pieces of fruit really make a difference?’

It’s quite extreme to completely cut something out of your diet in one go, so I wouldn’t advise that. Instead, I’d suggest cutting down little by little. I went the wrong way about it and when I found myself occasionally giving in and having the odd thing here and there, I’d be really annoyed at myself.

After about 10 days I started noticing a difference in my body and how I was craving sweet things less and less. The longer it went on, the less I ate and it also clarified that the majority of the time I was eating out of habit.

Breakfast Fit for a King… or Queen

Breakfast is such an important meal to start your day as it gets your metabolism going and helps you to stay focussed for the day ahead.

As I said earlier, I used to start my morning with a bowl of porridge or Greek yoghurt, topped with homemade granola, fruit, honey and a sprinkle of goji berries or other dried fruit. I would add all the extra bits for a photo for social media but also loved the taste of it. What I didn’t take into consideration was the amount of sugar I was racking up before it was even 9am and I was puzzled as to why I was looking at the clock an hour later because I was hungry!

Cutting Sugar Recipes

Breakfast for me now is a balanced diet of healthy fats, protein, vegetables and carbs. This can sometimes take a little longer to make, but I make sure that I make time for it. Most mornings I will put some broccoli and asparagus for example on a tray with a little coconut oil and leave it to cook for 12-15 minutes while I finish getting ready, then I’ll put the eggs on at the end.

Cutting Sugar Recipes 2

Lucy’s Breakfast Options:

  • Overnight oats. A popular choice at the moment. Leave overnight. I normally go for oats, nut milk, peanut butter, cacao powder and cacao nibs.
Overnight Oats – click on the image for recipe

Other ingredients I also use are cinnamon, nuts, Greek yoghurt, Chia seeds, grated carrot, half a banana, turmeric, nutmeg, 4-5 blueberries. Play around and create different overnight oats so they don’t get boring. The image above is a other alternative and you can choose your preferred topping.

  • Porridge and homemade low sugar granola
  • Eggs – whatever way you like them (scrambled, fried, poached) with feta, avocado and vegetables to mix things up a bit.
  • Omelette – a really great, filling option. Sometimes I cook these and take them with me into work. You can play around with so many ingredients, too, so they never get boring.
Omelettes with your favourite vegetables are a nourishing and satisfying meal, great for any time of day
  • No sugar pancakes. For these I use buckwheat, oats, quinoa, baking powder, eggs and almond milk. For the topping, I’ll usually go for lemon juice & zest, Greek yoghurt and cacao nibs. Or when I’m after something sweeter I’ll make a homemade chocolate sauce which is just equal amounts of Lucy Bee Cacao Powder and Lucy Bee Coconut Oil.
  • Low sugar juices and smoothies – again a perfect one to play around with, no two are ever the same!

Breaking the Habit and Having the Motivation to Start

Starting is by far the trickiest part.

Start today, not tomorrow, or next week, or after an event because after that event another excuse or reason will crop up as to why you can’t start right now. Just imagine how you may feel in two weeks’ time if you start right now?

Habits are hard to break – it takes roughly 10-21 days to break them (depending on what you’re reading) but stick with it, as the reward will be worth it.

Try to work out what time of day or what it is exactly that triggers your sugar cravings. Write it down to remind yourself, whether it be walking down the sweets’ aisle in a supermarket, watching the Bake Off, or seeing someone else eat something naughty. By writing things down, you are physically reminding yourself not to do those things which should help with your willpower.

For me, I would always eat something sweet after lunch as my meal didn’t feel complete without it. Another time I noticed my cravings kicking in was when I would get in from work. I don’t think there are many people reading this who get home and don’t go straight to the fridge to see what’s inside, regardless of whether you’re hungry or not! It’s a HABIT and one that can be brought to the conscious memory if it’s written down and you remind yourself of it.

I found it really hard to break these habits but I just made sure that I was proactive. I planned my snacks instead of eating the first thing in sight. I would take something like a handful of nuts; ½ avocado; celery; cucumber with homemade hummus to work with me. It may seem a little extreme, long winded and sometimes impossible to stick to when you start but the more you stick to it, the easier it will become – your taste buds will adjust and also your go-to snack choices will change.

Beetroot and Garlic Hummus – click on the image for recipe

Another way to find motivation is doing it with someone else. Ask someone you trust like a close friend or your partner to team up with you to tackle sugar together.

Lucy’s snack suggestions:

Lucy Bee Drinking Chocolate/Cacao Powder has no added sugar or fillers. It makes a rich, full, traditional hot chocolate drink
  • Plain nut
  • Hummus and veg
  • Rice cakes
  • Dark chocolate
  • ½ avocado
  • Cacao nibs
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Chai Latte
  • Turmeric Latte
  • Cacao hot drink
  • Raw vegetables

Mindfulness When Choosing What to Eat

When you start, the most important thing is to be mindful about what you are planning to eat that day or week. This way you’ll learn what things have sugar in and what to start trying to avoid. It may sound overwhelming but this doesn’t have to take up much of your time, just check the label before purchasing something.

Tomato Sauce – click on the image for recipe

Here is a list I stick to and find handy when being mindful, I hope you do too –

  • Do a shopping list so you know exactly what you need. This will stop unnecessary items appearing in your trolley
  • Make sure you do your food shop on a full stomach
  • Before you start, have a clear out of your kitchen. Whatever is in your cupboard will get eaten, so give it away before you find yourself eating that half-eaten pack of biscuits
  • Ingredients in foods are listed in descending order of weight. This means the higher up the list that sugar appears, the more there is of it
  • Check condiments and salad dressings. I’m always shocked to see how high up sugar is in some brands. If sugar appears in the first 5 ingredients then make your own – we have recipes on our website, in our books and they’re also available all over the internet
  • Get inspired. I find a lot of my inspiration from social media and the internet
  • Education is key. Read books, blogs and watch documentaries to learn more
  • Don’t be fooled by marketing and clever packaging. A lot of campaigns will trick you into thinking something is healthy through clever wording or branding. They’ve used terms like “naturally healthy” “natural bar” – always check the ingredients
  • Don’t add sugar to meals, you don’t need it. If a recipe suggests it, try it without or reducing it as most of the time you won’t even notice. For example, a lot of tomato sauces suggest adding sugar – WHY? Tomatoes are full of flavour and are sweet enough!
  • Make your own marinades, again try not to add sugar even if the recipe states it. This is the same with making your own dips, sauces and salad dressings
  • When eating out try to stick to low sugar meals. Avoid descriptive words such as sticky, glazed, caramelised, teriyaki and creamy
  • Some curries can be sweetened a lot so try and go for grilled. For example, rather than a Chicken Tikka Masala, try and go for a Chicken Tikka
  • Avoid ‘low fat’ and ‘fat free’. These may have reduced fat but usually a lot of sugar has been added to give back the flavours
  • Pick fruits lower in sugar (see below)
  • Freeze fruit. Use half a banana and freeze the other half. Use a couple of pieces of mango, freeze the rest and use it another time
  • Young bananas – the greener a banana is, the lower in sugar
  • Try to stop or limit how many fizzy drinks, squash, juices you are consumin
  • Make your own flavoured water. Add citrus fruits, fruits or herbs. The majority of shop-bought flavoured waters are full of sugar
  • Try and cook from scratch as much as possible – this way you’re in control of what goes into your meal
  • Add more flavour to foods by playing around with different spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, chai, turmeric are all great additions. Zest and juice of citrus flavours like lemon, lime and orange are so refreshing. Try cacao or other superfood powders – there is so much out there to try. Experiment!
  • Sushi – a healthy quick pick up? This one surprised me but a lot of sushi contains sugar, you’d be surprised when you look at the ingredients how high it is
  • If you are a tea or coffee lover and always add sugar, work out how much sugar you have. Try to half or quarter it each time, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to ween yourself off
  • Play around with cutting down the amount of sugar when you’re baking
Coconut and Lemon Drizzle Cake – click on the image for recipe

Treat Yourself

Strictly speaking, I try to eat low to no sugar from Monday to Friday, unless I’m going out for dinner. At the weekend, I’ll allow myself to have a couple of things here and there – this way you don’t punish yourself. I’ll normally find I feel bloated afterwards and then realise how much I hate feeling that way.

Fresh Fruit and Dried Fruit

Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I say I avoid eating fruit. Although it’s good to have the odd piece of fruit here and there due to its nutritional benefits, antioxidants and fibre content, it is still naturally high in sugar so don’t go crazy with it. I would recommend being aware of what other sugary things you are eating as this will dose up the intake even more. Having said that, always opt for fruit over a packet of sweets!

The amount of sugar in fruits

Low Sugar Fruits (per 100g)

Avocado          <1g

Rhubarb            1g

Cranberries      4-5g

Raspberries     4-5g

Blackberries    4-5g

Strawberries   4-5g

Grapefruit        7g

High Sugar Fruits (per 100g)

Dates                  66g

Grapes               16g

Mango                15g

Cherries             13g

Avoid dried fruit. Fresh fruit contains water, whereas dried fruit contains no water meaning they can make you very bloated.

On the subject of fruit, be aware of juices and fresh juices. My sister, a Nutritionist, always says that you would never eat 5 oranges one after the other but when you are drinking juice you are effectively doing just that and consuming all the sugar that goes with it!

Ways to Make Your Smoothies Lower in Sugar

Green Smoothie Bowl with Chai Mix – click on the image for recipe
  1. An obvious one – try to limit your fruit portion. Add 1-2 pieces of (low sugar) fruits
  2. Halve your fruit and freeze the rest
  3. Add fat. It can help make you feel fuller for longer – avocado, coconut oil, nuts, nut butters, chia seeds, flax seeds, cacao nibs
  4. Add powders like lucuma, cinnamon, turmeric, cacao, maca or wheatgrass
  5. Add our Chai Mix and Turmeric Latte Mix – both have no added sugar
  6. Go half and half with your liquid. For example, half almond milk/half water, half coconut water/half water. This cuts down on the sugar and keeps you hydrated
  7. Use unsweetened nut milks
  8. Add vegetables – kale, carrot, beetroot, spinach, cauliflower, mint, parsley, cucumber or celery
  9. Add a little lime or lemon for a zesty twist
  10. Add ginger for a little heat
  11. Add protein. Use a natural protein to help you feel fuller for longer such as silken tofu, Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
  12. Add carbs. Oats and quinoa flakes are perfect

What is Fructose?

Food companies add fructose to food to make it tastier and more addictive. They often use corn syrup (a form of fructose) as a sweeter alternative to glucose. The reason for this is simple – it triggers those happy brain signals that make us go back and want more.

Fructose comes from two sources – firstly as a naturally-occurring sugar in fruit and secondly as an added ingredient in processed foods.

It’s this added ingredient in processed food that is a problem. You can probably think of some obvious foods to be wary of such as carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners but would you necessarily think of the likes of BBQ sauces, salad dressings, breads and soups?

Although fructose has a lower GI, it is potentially more dangerous to us than any other form of sugar.

Artificial Sweeteners

If you’d like to know more about artificial sweeteners then we have two great blogs on them which you can find here: Artificial Sweeteners and Our Appetite and A Guide to Sugar Alternatives

If You are Going to Have Sugar

Remember, everything in moderation. Life is about balance. If you are going to have sugar then these are the sugars I would go for. Remember sugar in its various forms is still sugar and our body/brain thinks of them as the same thing:

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.

Our November Garden

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November Gardening

This month our crops include all the winter warmer goodness that you’d expect, from pumpkins to Brussel sprouts. These will all be making an appearance on our plates, along with those stored crops from last month, especially potatoes and onions, which are perfect cooked with this month’s produce.

If you have apples and pears stored from the last couple of months (see our blog here), remember to check them and discard any rotting ones so that your good fruits do not spoil.

As much as we love to eat in season, we also don’t like waste and so we’re keen to look at ways we can save any surplus crops from the garden, to enjoy at a later date. Read on for our top tips.

Beetroot:

We still have some beetroot from last month, which we’ve been picking as we need it. What we have left, we can now pickle, which is perfect leading up to Christmas where you’ll no doubt be getting cheese platters out and nibbles for friends and families and pickled beetroot is the ideal accompaniment.

To pickle or not to pickle? Using up homegrown beetroot

If you have any surplus beetroot, try our Pickled Beetroot recipe here, which makes approximately 3 to 4 x 500ml jars:

Ingredients

1kg whole beetroot
1 tbsp. Lucy Bee Coconut Oil, melted
1 tbsp. Lucy Bee Whole Black Peppercorns, optional
1 tbsp. coriander seeds, whole, optional
1 tbsp. mustard seeds, whole, optional
A pinch of dried chilli flakes, optional
60g Lucy Bee Coconut Sugar
750ml apple cider vinegar
A pinch of Lucy Bee Himalayan Salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4.
  2. Wash the beetroot and toss in Lucy Bee Coconut Oil. Wrap each beetroot individually in foil and bake until tender (approximately 1 hour), then set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, if you are adding the optional spices, lightly dry-fry these on a low heat until the aromas infuse, then add Lucy Bee Coconut Sugar and apple cider vinegar. Stir together until the sugar has melted. If you’re not using the optional spices, add Lucy Bee Coconut Sugar and apple cider vinegar to a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Whilst the vinegar mixture is still hot, peel the cooled beetroot and either slice, grate or cube them before adding to sterilised jar(s).
  5. Pour the hot vinegar mixture into the jar(s), covering the beetroot. Stir Lucy Bee Himalayan Salt into the vinegar and seal immediately.
  6. Store in a cool dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge and consumer within 3 weeks.

This will be ready to consume after 1 week, though the pickle will become more flavoursome over time.

Sweetcorn:

We have a lot of sweetcorn left in the garden, so this month we will be picking it, stripping the kernels off the stalks and freezing it, ready to use when wanted. Our favourite use of sweetcorn (apart from the obvious straight off the cob), is a sweetcorn salsa.

What’s your favourite sweetcorn recipe?

Perpetual Spinach:

We have had perpetual spinach in the garden that has grown very quickly. It is also known as Beet Leaf and if you pick off stalks of spinach, it will continue to grow back, until it eventually stops over the winter before growing back in the spring.

If you’re thinking about growing this, it’s worth noting that with the growth in spring, simply pick off stalks as needed and it will regrow until it dies back in summer, only for it to start growing again in the autumn – which is where it gets its name from, perpetual spinach. The leaves are much bigger than you would see in your average store-bought spinach and has a slightly sweet stem.

Cavolo Nero:

Cavolo nero is very similar to perpetual spinach – pick off the leaves as needed so that the plant can continue to grow and provide you with crops. Do not chop the whole bush as this will stunt the growth of your crops.

We’ve been using this in a lot of dishes recently and will be finishing off what’s left this month as our crops seem to have slimmed out a lot now. A quick way to use up any excess is to fry it up with some juniper berries and serve as a side dish – a great way to squeeze those extra nutrients in your diet.

Cabbage with Juniper Berries – click on image for recipe

Stored Onions & Main Crop Potatoes:

Continue to use your stored onions and main crop potatoes. These will cook up brilliantly with this month’s crops. The world’s your oyster when it comes to recipe ideas and we never tire of good old Roast Potatoes!

Family favourite Roast Potatoes – click on image for the recipe

Red Salad Bowl:

This lovely lettuce leaf has grown very quickly in the Lucy Bee garden, and is now ready to pick and eat – a great excuse to include side salads with meals or pop them in your wraps too, for extra crunch.

Lettuce and Red Salad Bowl are great additions to your salad

Salad leaves are a great way to bulk up any meal, so if you have a group of friends or family around, add the red salad bowl leaves to a large bowl and throw in some chopped onions, tomatoes, a few nuts, some sliced peppers and vegetables, drizzle some dressing over and you’re ready to go.

Pumpkins:

Check out the bespoke pumpkins in the Lucy Bee garden!

Lucy Bee pumpkin!

We have been working on some delicious new pumpkin recipes, in particular using our Chai Mix. The blend is very similar to a pumpkin spice mix, but without any added sugar, and adds a warming spice to recipes. Remember you can save the pumpkin seeds and roast them with some of our Coconut Oil and spices for a delicious healthy snack or salad topper.

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon – click on image for the recipe

Brussel Sprouts:

Our Brussel sprouts are a little late this year, but we are hoping that they’ll be ready just in time for Christmas. However, since this is the time of the year that they’re usually ready, it’s worth checking yours now. The sprouts will appear up the stalk and the easiest way to pick them is to chop the stalk off which will leave you with a stick of sprouts, and then you can cut off the individual sprouts.

There are so many different recipes nowadays using Brussels, and one of our favourites is to chop them finely (either in a food processor or by hand) and fry in Lucy Bee Coconut Oil, with a pinch of Lucy Bee Himalayan Salt and Whole Black Peppercorns. Alternatively, they’re great roasted as per this recipe below:

Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts – click on image for the recipe

Winter Cabbage:

If you have planted some winter cabbage, these will be ready to pick this month. Try slicing/shredding your cabbage frying it in a little oil with some pancetta, rosemary and seasoning. Delicious served alongside a roast.

Swede:

Similar to our sprouts, our swede is also a little late, due to the weather we have had this year, but they are looking promising. As mentioned in earlier gardening blogs, every area of the country has slightly different weather so crops will grow at different rates. Similar to the Brussels above, it’s worth checking yours and using it if ready. If it is not ready, fear not as the weather has been somewhat unique this year so your swede may just be a little behind on growing.

Borlotti Beans:

Borlotti beans growing

These beans have the most mesmerising patterns on them, lightly speckled and the pods themselves are a rich red/pink colour. We have chosen to wait for our borlotti beans to dry out a little this year. So as the pods become drier and turn light brown, that’s when we will pick them, we will then lay them out to dry before we de-pod them and they will be suitable to store and last through the winter to be used when we want them as dried beans.

Borlotti beans picked from their pod

Runner Beans:

Open up a green bean pod only to reveal bright pink speckled beans, it doesn’t seem right does it? But this is completely normal……nature is truly beautiful. These pink beans will begin to dry up and darken. Similar to the borlotti beans, we’re waiting for ours to dry up a little so that we can freeze them through the winter, to use later.

Runner beans from the garden

French Beans:

This year we had a lot of French beans, and a lot of French climbing beans too. There are still a lot of French beans left so we are hoping to dry any left-over pods out and de-pod them to store in a jar for the winter.

Leeks:

This year, unfortunately our leeks had a visitor from some ‘allium leaf miner’ which have burrowed into the leeks and destroyed them. It’s always worth rotating your allotment each year, (which is what we will do when growing them next year), in the hope of avoiding crops being destroyed.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid these bugs, you can enjoy leeks in many dishes, particularly soups and risottos.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup, Dairy Free – Click on image for the recipe

Fresh Herbs:

We still have a lot of fresh herbs, parsley and thyme in particular. We also have a lot of dried and frozen herbs that we picked last month for quick access and use in the kitchen.

We’d love to here how you’re using your winter garden crops either on our social media or by leaving a comment here.

We have a great read on November’s Seasonal Foods here, which looks at foods available in stores at this time of year. It also includes further recipe ideas, plus a couple which are suitable for Christmas dinner.

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.

It’s All About Balance

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Cinnamon Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

The ‘It’s Good For You/Bad You’ Yo-yo

I don’t know if it’s the same for you but every other day I read in the news that something that I eat is actually killing me. Then the next thing I see, it’ll add years to my life expectancy and reduce my risk of diseases. So surely then if I eat loads of said food I’ll live forever right? Probably not…

How the Media Are Scaremongers

The media is one of our main sources for delivering health information. It connects us and the world of science together, giving us information on research which may have found something significant.

However, the media can also be the source which spreads some information which is not entirely correct, but will lead to mass interest. Information they know they can post and it’ll get thousands of shares, reactions, and comments.

Chai Pumpkin Spiced Porridge is a great balanced breakfast idea – click on image for recipe

One such area is nutrition. As you’ve probably seen already, nutrition is an ever-changing field, with research finding out new things almost daily.

The media is the link which allows us to be in contact and up to date with what is being discovered in regard to nutrition and our health. However, a flaw with this relationship is that when certain foods are researched and information is found, the media can spread claims around that product, even if the claims are not 100% true or accurate!

This means that information can easily spread, which may miss out what the research actually concluded and the validity of this research. This is when the link between the media and the public can have a negative outcome.

It’s now not only news sources from which we gather our health information. Between 2007 and 2015, numbers almost tripled from 18% of individuals using online sources for health-related information, to 49% (Office for National Statistics, 2015).

Not only that but we are also now using social media. This is a great way to use this platform to talk about health and wellbeing, but it’s being aware that not everything that we see online is true. In some cases, information can be dangerously wrong.

The Sugar-Fat Seesaw

Here at Lucy Bee, we’re very aware of the constant yo-yo concerning fats vs carbohydrates. One day, it’s ‘we were wrong, fats are fine and it’s carbohydrates we need to worry about’, and the next ‘it’s been concluded that fats are the issue, and carbohydrates are fine’.

A while back, I wrote an article on this called The Sugar-Fat Seesaw. On one end of the seesaw is sugar, and on the other end is fat. When one is demonised the other is hailed a hero. You can read more about The Sugar-Fat Seesaw here. With the relationship between fat and sugar, when our diet is low in one, it is higher in the other.

So, what’s going on with this, do we truly need to fear one?

Studies Looking at the Balance of Food Groups

Luckily for us, we don’t, and you shouldn’t fear either of them, we need both of them to function.

Why? Well, there has been a large epidemiological (meaning “the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases”) cohort (a group of people with a common statistical characteristic) study which looked at 18 countries in 5 continents, with 135,335 individuals between 35-70 years old, over a span of 7.4 years. Participants completed food frequency questionnaires and looked at:

  • Primary outcomes, including total mortality and major cardiovascular events (fatal cardiovascular disease, nonfatal myocardial infection, stroke and heart failure).
  • Secondary outcomes, including myocardial infarction; stroke; cardiovascular disease mortality; and non-cardiovascular disease mortality.

The study looked at whether there was an association with consumption of carbohydrates, total fat, and also each type of fat with cardiovascular disease and total mortality (Dehghan et al., 2017). Here’s some of the results that they found…

When individuals were consuming a diet with carbohydrate intake taking up to 60% and over of their energy intake, it was found to be associated with an adverse (unfavourable) impact on total mortality and also non-cardiovascular disease mortality.

Total fat intake was found to be associated with lower risks of total mortality, stroke, and non-cardiovascular disease mortality.

When looking at fats individually:

  • saturated fatty acids, were found to be inversely associated with risk of total mortality, stroke, and non-cardiovascular disease mortality, i.e. they found that higher saturated fatty acid intake was not associated with major cardiovascular disease mortality, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality.
  • Monounsaturated fatty acid intake was associated with lower risk of total mortality, a trend for lower risk of non-cardiovascular disease mortality.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid intake was associated with lower risk of total mortality, and non-cardiovascular disease mortality.

In regard to higher carbohydrate intake, they found that replacement of carbohydrates was associated with an 11% reduction in mortality. They also saw that when carbohydrates were replaced with saturated fatty acids, there was an association of 20% lower risk of stroke (Dehghan et al., 2017).

They discovered that many participants from either low-income and middle-income countries who consumed a very high carbohydrate diet (at least 60% energy), the majority of it was from refined sources e.g. white rice, and white bread.

Omelette with Peppers, Tomato and Pumpkin Seeds make an ideal lunch – click on image for recipe

What Does This Mean?

These results do not mean that we should be following a low carb diet, as carbohydrates are needed to meet short-term energy demands during times of physical activity. What it does mean is that a more moderate intake is necessary rather than a higher or lower intake.

Carbohydrates are important in our diet, however, what we should be aware of is the quality of carbohydrate that we are eating, within the majority of our diet. We should be choosing unrefined, whole grain foods, which contain the majority of the fibre and nutrients. When we choose to consume refined carbohydrates, they lack the fibre and the nutrients that they originally contained, as well as being more quickly broken down and digested!

We need to get 30g per day of dietary fibre. This helps to move food through our gastrointestinal tract, as well as potentially having a beneficial effect on cardiovascular, digestive health, and weight maintenance. You can read more about fibre here.

One of the problems with this study above is that it uses a food frequency questionnaire, which is where you input what you’ve eaten over the year. An issue with this is that sometimes we forget how frequently we have consumed something, or we can underestimate how much we consume. If you try and recall how frequently you have had something over the year, it is quite tricky to remember!

Another area that this prospective cohort study looked at was, fruit, vegetable, and legume intake and rates of cardiovascular disease and death. They found that when individuals had a higher intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes, there was an inverse association with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular mortality, non-cardiovascular mortality (when adjusted for multivariable), and also total mortality (Miller et al., 2017).

The study also found that with individuals who consumed more of these foods, they also had higher levels of physical activity, lower rates of smoking, and higher energy. When individuals consumed at least 3-4 servings of fruit, vegetables and legumes a day (around 375-500g/day), it showed a similar benefit against risk of non-cardiovascular and total mortality, as with those consuming a higher intake, indicating that a moderate intake of 3 servings can have the same health benefits as those when consuming a higher quantity (Miller et al., 2017). Similar to the findings in the study mentioned above looking at carbohydrates and fats, incorporating, vegetables, fruit and legumes into your diet, will provide you with vitamins, minerals and also another good source of fibre (Miller et al., 2017).

One Tray Salmon with Vegetables – click on image for recipe. Serve with a side of brown rice for a balanced meal

I think with a lot of things in the media, and even social media, there’s a tendency for a lot of scaremongering around food. Whether it be a single food item, or a food group. The idea that any item of food is inherently bad for you on its own is not a healthy way to look at food. When consuming things within moderation, and with a healthy balanced lifestyle (from your physical activity, to alcohol consumption, to smoking), that’s what makes an impact. Eating a doughnut once in a while isn’t going to kill you. Being aware and being mindful when eating is an important factor which is often overlooked, but is now gaining interest and being promoted.

So, when you see someone online telling you that you should cut out a food group, or a specific food, in most cases, don’t. If a doctor, a dietician, or a nutritionist has spoken to you on an individual basis, and has found reason for you to reduce or avoid a certain food intake, then that is fine. It’s just important to be aware of where you are getting this information from, and who is the source of knowledge. What works for one person may not always work for another.

Conclusion

This research really indicates, that we should be eating a balanced diet, making sure that within our diet we consume carbohydrates, fats and protein. When we eat vegetables and fruit, make sure that we really eat the rainbow. Other factors to remember are: take part in physical activity; moderate the consumption of alcohol; if smoking, make sure you are trying to reduce your intake; and if on medication, make sure you continue to take them

Reference:

Dehghan, M. Mente, A. Zhang, X. Swaminathan, S. Li, W. Mohan, V. Igbal, R. et al.,. (2017). Association of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. Available here.

Miller, V. Mente, A. Dehghan, M. Rangarajan, S. Zhang, X. Swaminathan, S. Dagenais, G. et al.,. (2017). Fruit, vegetable, and legume intake, and cardiovascular disease and deaths In 18 countries (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. Available here.

Office for National Statistics. (2015). Internet access – households and individuals: 2015. 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.

What are Essential Fatty Acids?

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Sardines are a good source of omega 3

The Essential Fatty Acids

We need fat to enable our body to function. It’s an essential macronutrient that we need to get from the foods we eat. In this blog were going to look at what the essential fatty acids are, what that means, their function, and sources of them.

A Background to ‘What are the Essential Fatty Acids?’

When we talk about a nutrient being essential it means that we cannot synthesise it (make it ourselves) in our body, and therefore we must obtain it from what we eat and drink. These nutrients enable our body to function efficiently and maintain our health.

There are two types of essential fatty acids: Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega 6 (linoleic acid). Both linolenic acid and linoleic acid are the simplest form of each of their respective groups. These are both polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

There are 3 types of fats and the difference between these is in their hydrocarbon chain (hydrogen and carbon) and the bond between the carbons:

  • saturated fatty acids – each carbon on the chain is attached to 2 hydrogens, and each is connected via a single bond
  • monounsaturated fatty acids – the chain has 2 hydrogens missing, the carbons form a single bond along the chain
  • PUFAs – 2 or more double bonds on their hydrocarbon chain, which means that 2 or more hydrogen atoms are missing from the chain. These fats will remain liquid, even when they are refrigerated (unlike olive oil, and as you’ve probably realised, coconut oil). They keep our cells’ wells in a healthy condition and allow them to work effectively. They also have a role within cholesterol in transporting, excreting and breaking it down.

So, let’s look at both omega 3 and omega 6.

Omega 3

Different Types of Omega 3

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids. The shortest chain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can be converted into longer chain omega 3 fatty acids which are called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found within plant oils, and EPA and DHA can be obtained within marine oils such as oily fish.

Foods Containing Omega 3

As mentioned above, oily fish, including tuna, salmon, and herring are sources of EPA and DHA omega 3s and other sources of these are eggs, krill oil, and algae. Sources of EPA and DHA are mainly derived from animals.

Sources of ALA come from plants including; walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, green leafy veg, soya beans, and sacha inchi (an oil which is balanced in its essential fatty acids).

Granola with Yoghurt and Walnuts

Our body isn’t as efficient at converting ALA into the long chain EPA and DHA – most of the research into potential health benefits indicates these two chains, so it is important to look at including oily fish when possible. However, we know that due to dietary lifestyle choices this isn’t always possible. When following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should try to ensure that you have a daily intake of ALA, and to reach the recommendations that would be a daily intake of: 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or ground linseeds, 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds, or 6 walnut halves (The Vegan Society, 2017). It is also possible to supplement with EPA and DHA from micro algae as well.

Functions of Omega 3

Lots of studies have found relationships between health benefits related to the longer chain omega 3s (DHA and EPA) rather than short chain ALA.

EPA and DHA play a role in being anti-inflammatory, whereby they in turn reduce the level of inflammation within our cell membrane when inflammation levels may be high.

It has been found that middle-aged and elderly women who had a higher intake of omega 3s, also had a healthier diverse microbiome, regardless of how much fibre they were consuming. They also had different types of bacteria that help to produce anti-inflammatory compounds. It is important to remember that intake of omega 3 is correlated with a healthier lifestyle generally. The study concluded that supplementing with omega 3’s alongside prebiotic and probiotic supplementation can help with microbiome composition and diversity (Menni et al., 2017). Having a healthy gut is an important thing to look at, and you can read more about it here. We also have a blog which discusses our microbiome and probiotics here.

It has been found that when pregnant women supplemented with fish-oils at 22 weeks until their baby was delivered, it lead to an improvement in the foetal omega 3 levels, and also prevented depletion of the mother’s own storage (Krauss-Etschmann et al., 2007).

Chia Chai Berry Jam – click on image for the recipe

When looking at the subject of depression, a meta-analysis looked at whether EPA and DHA showed clinical benefits in relation to depressive symptoms. It was found that when EPA was used as a supplementation, there was significant clinical benefits with symptoms than those individuals who were on placebos (Hallahan et al., 2016). However, even though this study does show some positives, it is not without its limitations and so cannot be seen as the only answer when looking at depression. It is also believed that efficient intake of omega 3 whilst pregnant helps to decrease immune responses in children, and this includes a decrease in the number of allergies (Swanson et al., 2012). It is believed that a higher intake of omega 3’s, especially those from fish, may help in reductions of some chronic diseases which are involved with inflammation, this includes cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis (Wall et al., 2010).

The Difference Between Omega 3 and Omega 6

Even though they are both polyunsaturated fatty acids, they have different structures and functions. As we’ve seen, omega 3’s functions are involved in reducing cellular inflammation, and we will now look at omega 6, which is involved in cell inflammation.

Omega 6

Different Types of Omega 6

Similar to omega 3, linoleic acid is the short chain fatty acid for omega 6, and it can be made into a longer chain omega 6 fatty acid, called arachidonic acid.

Foods Containing Omega 6

Foods which contain omega 6 include:

  • hemp seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • soybeans
  • walnuts
  • some animal fats

Functions of Omega 6

Omega 6 such as arachidonic acid (AA), is used in cell membranes and is an important precursor for eicosanoids – these are lipid mediators that play an important role in lots of biological processes, two of which are inflammation and immune function (*Department of Health, 2012. Calder, PC. 2006). Inflammation is something that we need to help protect our body. It can be used as a defence mechanism, helping to protects us from infections and factors which may cause ill health, helping to repair tissues, and also balancing infected or damaged areas (Calder, 2010). Overall it is protective, and helps to rid tissues of injury (Serhan et al., 2009). When controlled properly, regulation of inflammation in the body allows us to remain healthy.

Fish and Chip Supper Lucy Bee Style – click on image for recipe

What is the Correct Ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3?

It is suggested that we should be consuming a diet where we have a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 of 1:1. So that means that we should be consuming equal amounts of omega 3 to omega 6. However, that does not appear to be the case especially with the Western diet. In many cases, it has been found that we tend to eat a much higher ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. It has been estimated that those in the western world are consuming a ratio of omega 6:omega 3 which ranges either 20:1 to 15:1 and in many cases, some even put this estimate higher (Simopoulos, 2002. Simopoulos, 2016). In the UK it has previously been found that men are getting 1% and women 1.1% of their average daily intake of omega 3, whereas both men and women have an average intake of 5.1% for omega 6s (British Nutrition Foundation, 2017).

Chai Granola with Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Seeds – click image for recipe

Is there an issue if we do not have a balanced ratio?

Well, getting the balance between the two is important. When we consume a diet which is high in linoleic acid, it may lead to the body being unable to convert as much ALA into EPA and DHA, reducing the amount of these omega 3’s in the blood, and therefore reducing them being able to carry out their functions (Vegan Society, 2017). This is due to ALA and linoleic acid competing with each other, and omega 6 is more successful in being converted. This imbalance, whereby there is more omega 6 in our diet, is proinflammatory and prothrombotic, and this could potentially increase our risk of obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis (Simopoulos, 2016). However, when we have a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6, and there is an equal conversion, the EPA can cause a reduction in the amount of AA you produce.

Omega 9

You may have heard of a third omega, called omega 9, however I haven’t discussed this here as it is not essential, and we can synthesise it in our body.

Conclusion

It is important to make sure that we get a correct balance of omegas. This may mean increasing our level of omega 3 where possible and is the reason why we’re advised to eat 2 portions of fish a week, including one oily fish.

Daisy Buckingham ANutr Registered Associate Nutritionist

References:

British Nutrition Foundation. (2017). Fat: fat in the diet. Available here.

Calder, PC. (2010). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes. Nutrients. Available here.

*Department of Health. (2012). Manual of Nutrition 12th Edition. London:TSO.

Hallahan, B. Ryan, T. Hibbeln, JR. Murray, IT. Glynn, S. Ramsden, CE. SanGiovanni, JP. And Davis, JM. (2016). Efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of depression. The British Journal of Psychiatry. Available here.

Menni, C. Zierer, J. Pallister, T. Jackson, MA. Long, T. Mohney, RP. Steves, CJ. Spector, TD. Valdes, AM. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acids correlate with gut microbiome diversity and production of N-carbamylglutamate in middle aged and elderly women. Scientific Reports, 7(11079). Available here.

Krauss-Etschmann, S. Shadid, R. Campoy, C. Hoster, E. Demmelmair, H. Jiménez, M. Gil, A. Rivero, M. Veszprémi, B. Desci, T. and Koletzko, BV. Effects of fish-oil and folate supplementation of pregnant women on maternal and fetal plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid: a European randomized multicentre trial. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Available here.

Serhan, CN. Yacoubian, S. and Yang, R. (2009). Anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving lipid mediators. Annual Review of Pathology. Available here.

Simopoulos, AP. (2002). The importance of the ratio of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. Available here.

Simopoulos, AP. (2016). An increase in the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio increases the risk for obesity. Nutrients. Available here.

Swanson, D. Black, R. Mousa, SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA ad DHA: health benefits throughout life. Advances in Nutrition; An International Review Journal. Available here.

The Vegan Society. (2017). Omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Available here.

Wall, R. Ross, RP. Fitzgerald, GF. and Stanton, C. (2010). Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrition Reviews. 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.

Your October Garden – Picking, Planting and Preparation

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October’s Garden

As the weather starts to change, so does your garden. October may see you spending less time in the garden but what time you do spend will be beneficial for next year’s crops and your enjoyment then. So, wrap up warm to prepare your vegetable patch for next year’s batch, following our guide below.

In the meantime, enjoy some of our recipes using some crops from last month and some from this.

Curried Fish with Colcannon Mash and Autumnal Salad – click on image for recipe

Week One:

Blackcurrants

Mango and Turmeric Smoothie Bowl topped with blackcurrants – click on image for recipe

Plant blackcurrants anytime between now and early spring. Set the canes 1.5-1.8m apart in combined manure and composted soil for maximum fruits, ensuring that your soil is well prepared. Cut all shoots to within 1-2 inches of soil level immediately.

Strawberries

Remove all weeds and then mulch between strawberry rows with matured compost or manure.

Lettuce – harvest

Summer lettuce will be ready for harvest. Cut from the base to enjoy.

Artichokes

Whilst the artichoke scales are still closed, harvest globe artichokes, using scissors to cut and inch down the stem. Be careful not to catch your fingers.

Radishes

Homegrown radishes

If like us, you happen to have planted any late radishes, you may have a few of these left to pick up and scatter over your salads for extra crunch and colour. All you need to do is pull them up from the ground, wash them and enjoy.

Week Two:

Raspberries

Raspberry canes can be planted from any time now to early spring. Using either matured compost or manure to incorporate into the soil, ensure that the ground is well prepared prior to planting. Refer to the packaging for your specific variety preference on spacing to gain maximum fruits.

Garden Peas

Pea, Kale and Mint Soup – click on image for recipe

Harvest garden peas and enjoy sprinkled on salads or incorporated into delicious risottos. Pull pods off the vines and de-pod them into a bowl by popping them open and using your finger to run the peas out. You can eat these fresh or freeze for later.

Winter Cabbage

Cabbage with Juniper Berries – click on image for recipe

If you have winter cabbage growing, harvest these now as they begin to mature. If you have a lot of these, chop them up ready for use and freeze them.

Lettuce – sow

Sow lettuce thinly in the ground, approximately 12mm deep and protect under cloches for the winter months.

Week Three:

Currants

Red and white currants can be planted from now until early spring. Refer to packet instructions for spacing guidance, to gain maximum fruits. These are easy to grow and great for adding into crumbles, cakes, salads and drinks over the summer months when you harvest them.

Week Four:

Berries

Marbled Berry Lollies with Maca – for those warmer days! Click on image for recipe

Fruited blackberry and hybrid berry canes can be cut back to soil level for preparation for their next season. This makes more space for the young canes grown this season to grow to maximum potential. You will benefit by getting more fruits as a result.

Lettuce

Thin out lettuce sown under the cloches to approximately 7.5-10cm apart and place the cloches back over.

Fish with Herb Crust using herbs from the garden – click on image for recipe.

Lucy Bee

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

Coconut Oil in the Media

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Coconut Oil Makes an Appearance in the Press Again

There have been some articles appearing in the Media recently about coconut oil, which has prompted some questions. As with everything we are always going to hear the pros and cons of something, especially when it has become such a popular ingredient with people literally going coco-NUTS for it.

I always like to stress that it’s all about balance and everything in moderation. Too much of anything isn’t good for us.

Coconut oil has so many incredible properties such as it being a medium-chain fatty acid and also containing lauric acid. If you google these terms, you can read of their benefits.

Something to remember is that not all fats are equal.

Coconut oil is a saturated fat and because of this it is a stable fat that is non-toxic when heated. As it heats, it produces less aldehydes (which are carcinogenic) than oils which are high in polyunsaturated fats, due to the difference in structure. Unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 178C. This is why it’s great as a replacement for processed oils in cooking.

It’s All About Balance

Coconut oil is not the only fat you should incorporate into your diet. I have extra virgin olive oil most days as a dressing, as well as flaxseed oil and avocado oil. Omega-3s are essential to our diet and have a whole host of benefits with some sources of omega-3s being flaxseed, walnuts and oily fish (mackerel, salmon and sardines).

One Tray Salmon with Vegetables – click on image for recipe

One recent article in the Press used an image of chips being fried in an oil. I’d like to point out some of the ways this image was used to sensationalise the article. How often do you see chips being deep-fried in coconut oil? What oil is usually used in frying chips? And again, what are chips? Are they a fat? Are they a saturated fat? What they are using here is an image which we all associate with being an unhealthy choice and the misleading implication  that coconut oil was used. Chips are more of a processed food. What is important is looking at the quantity of processed foods we may be eating. These foods will usually be high in sugar, fat and salt. High energy intake, with little nutritional value, are the kinds of foods we need to be aware of, especially the quantity we eat.

Doing Your Own Research is Key

We’re continuously told conflicting information in the Media, which in turn causes confusion and uncertainty. Read the news and use that information to do your own research allowing you to make an informed, rounded decision.

Sometimes the people who write the articles may have no prior background within the health world (medical, dietician, registered nutritionists, etc.) so may choose sections which will cause more traction. We are constantly fed ‘this is the new wonder food’ only for it to be then demonised, then it’s touted again for its benefits and then demonised again… it’s like a rollercoaster.

The article which this is based on is titled ‘Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association’ and it was published in the journal Circulation. It’s been noted as well that within any research, it is easy to cherry pick certain bits of information to suit your views. Out of this 17 page article, half a page is focused on coconut oil, so why is this the only part hitting the news?

In the article mentioned above, they state that in the mid-1950s it was found that replacing saturated fats from animal sources with vegetable oils, substantially reduced serum cholesterol levels. Another study also found that people who eat less saturated fat, eat more carbohydrates, or unsaturated fats. However, it was also found that the replacement of saturated fats for carbohydrates (especially refined), had no significant benefit to cardiovascular disease risk. So should there be more focus on making sure individuals get the right type of carbohydrates when swapping?

Another point to note is that it is extremely difficult in studies using humans to guarantee consistency as there are variables which may alter effects. This is known as confounding variables – for example, people may not be totally honest when talking about what they eat, or they may forget, did they smoke, do they drink, what is their sugar intake, what are their physical activity levels? All of these may also have an impact on risk of cardiovascular disease making it hard to pinpoint one particular thing.

Another study found that, when looking at coconut oil, butter and safflower, butter raised LDLs more than coconut oil, and both raised LDLs more than safflower. However, there was no significant difference between HDL.  Coconut oil also lead to a significant lowering of triglyceride levels.  A systematic review found no difference in raising LDL between coconut oil, butter, beef fat or palm oil. It even says, “Clinical trials that compared direct effects on CVD of coconut oil and other dietary oils have not been reported”. This quote essentially states that they currently do not have a direct causal link between coconut oil and cardiovascular disease. So technically the statement that it is worse, does not entirely make sense.

The report went on to say, “Finally, we note that a trial has never been conducted to test the effect on CHD (coronary heart disease) outcomes of a low-fat diet that increases intake of healthful nutrient-dense carbohydrates and fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes that are now recommended in dietary guidelines.” – Taken from the research.

Who’s Funded the Research?

Whenever reading any article which is based on research, if possible find that source of research and have a look for yourself. It’s also a good idea to look at the bottom of the research, after the conclusion, and see what the conflicts of interest are and who is the source of funding. Research isn’t cheap and especially if you are non-profit you’re going to need funding from somewhere. Or, the research could have been funded by sponsors and if this is the case, check who the sponsor is.

Conclusion

Balance is key. Research is key. Make your own informed decisions. Speak to a nutritionist. Get different views and remember fat isn’t the enemy! Fat is essential to our health.

I think one of the main things to take from this is to be aware and do ask questions. Plus the quantity for anything is important to look at. As we always say, everything in moderation.

Nutrition is an ever changing and ever evolving field, so it’s best to keep up to date through your own research.

The following articles may be of interest:

Diabetes UK stance on coconut oil

Artery Clogging Saturated Fat Myth Challenged in World’s Top Medical Journal

Daisy Buckingham ANutr Registered Associate Nutritionist

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

Why is Sleep so Important?

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How Much Sleep Should You Have?

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

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

The Stages of Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

Brain Functioning

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

Lack of sleep can affect your mood

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

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

Bone Health

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

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

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

Metabolic Syndrome

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

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

Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Type 2 Diabetes

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

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

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

Heart Health

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

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

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

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

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

So, how many hours do I need?

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

September Gardening

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What’s Happening in September’s Garden?

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

Week 1:

APPLES

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

The fruiting spur of an apple tree

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

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

Wrap apples in paper to store

PEARS

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

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

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

GREEN BEANS

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

French climbing beans growing in the garden

SPINACH

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

HERBS

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

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

A selection of homegrown herbs

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

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

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

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

Fresh parsley just picked from the garden

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

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

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

Spaghetti Bolognese – click image for recipe

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

Week 2:

RASPBERRIES

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

Raspberry Cheesecake – click on image for recipe

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

LETTUCE

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

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

TOMATOES

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

ONIONS

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

CAULIFLOWERS

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

POTATOES

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

To Plant in Week 2

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

Protecting new plants as they grow

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

Week 3:

LETTUCE

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

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

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

GREENHOUSE

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

Watering the garden

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

Week 4:

BLACKBERRIES

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

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

BRUSSEL SPROUTS

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

HARICOT BEANS

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

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

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

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

‘Grow Your Own’ with Lucy Bee

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Grow Your Own Vegetables

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

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

Potatoes

Parmesan Potato Cakes

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

Asparagus and Potato Salad

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

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

Onions

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

Onions growing in the garden

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

Caramelised Onion and Lentil Burger

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

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

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

Tomatoes

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

Homegrown tomatoes

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

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

Vegetable and Halloumi Kebabs with a Citrus Dressing

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

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

Runner Beans

Runner beans growing in the garden

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

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

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

Courgettes

Courgettes from the garden with their edible flower intact

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

Ratatouille with Courgettes and Aubergines

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

Turmeric Thai Prawns

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

Beetroot

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

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

Beetroot Hummus

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

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

Tuna with Beetroot and Peach Salsa

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

Parsley

The parsley patch

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

Buckwheat Salad with Oriental Dressing

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

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

Stock Recipe for Soups, Gravies and Sauces

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

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

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

Should We Eat Before Exercising?

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When is the Best Time to Eat When Exercising?

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

Glucose and Glycogen

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

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

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

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

Research on the Best Time to Eat

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

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

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

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

Glycogen Depletion

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

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

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

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

What if I Train in the Afternoon or Evening?

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

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

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

Food Post Exercise?

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

Why Are Artificial Trans Fats Bad for Us?

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Types of Trans Fats

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

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

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

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

Sources of trans fats include bought foods such as:

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

What’s the Issue with Trans Fats?

Are you unknowingly eating trans fats?

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

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

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

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

How Nations Have Reacted to the Issue of Trans Fats

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

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

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

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

What About the UK?

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

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

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

How to Avoid Trans Fat

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Lucy Bee Limited

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

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

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

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