Saturday, 25 November 2017

Articles list

Five simple foods that may surprise you

Top tips for building a better brain

Fussy Eating

Preventing fussy eating

Nutrition and your unborn child's risk for disease

What if you could improve your memory today?

Avoiding Joint Damage

Five things you can do today to improve your health

Which fish oil product is best for my child?

Non-food barriers to weight loss

Dehydration is linked to children's behaviour

The Ten best ways to ruin your skin

 


 

Confused about protein recommendations?

 

 

 

Two sensational pieces of research in the media have suggested that high protein diets are bad for us, so I thought I take a closer look at their research.

The first group of researchers said that diets high in protein are life shortening. I think it’s important to point out that these researchers studied mice not people, and gave them diets with protein levels ranging from 5%-60%. Mice (such as house mice) naturally eat plants (low in protein), so if you think about it giving them a high protein diet would kill them faster than a low protein diet. All this research seems to show is that mice live longer on a diet similar to their natural diet – no surprises there!

 

The second group of researchers analysed the diet of 6,831 middle-aged and older American adults and concluded that “Those who derived more than 20 per cent of their calories from protein were four times more likely to die of cancer or diabetes than other people” and that "a high-protein diet, particularly if the proteins are derived from animals, is nearly as bad as smoking". Firstly, this research is based on the analysis of one 24hr food recall per person, and one blood test result (from only 35% of participants), with the cause of death followed up 18 years after the survey.

Media statements have been deceptive as the researchers’ initial findings, which were not reported, showed that a higher percentage of low protein eaters died of cardiovascular disease and cancer than those on high protein diets.

After having another look at age groups and blood test results the researchers concluded that low protein eaters aged 50-65yrs had a lower risk for cancer, but once they were over 66yrs this was not true and low protein levels were harmful while high and moderate levels of protein were protective. Use this link to view the data http://download.cell.com/cell-metabolism/mmcs/journals/1550-4131/PIIS155041311400062X.mmc1.pdf

More interesting information from this research

The average BMI  was around 27% for all participants, which is an overweight classification.

More than 80% of the high protein group already had diabetes at the time of the survey – nearly 30% had changed their diet recently for health reasons.

Less than 7% of the participants were in the low protein group.

There was no discussion on fruit and vegetable intake as they were included in the “Carbs” category.

Meal size was not noted, so the servings for the “low” protein group could have been very large while still only delivering less than 10% of  its calories from protein.

 

The Ministry of Health guidelines (2003) recommend that we get 11-15% of our energy from protein, but the 2008/2009 nutrition survey showed that adult New Zealanders get 16.5% of their energy from protein, with the top source of protein being, wait for it, bread.

What do I recommend?  The protein needs for each individual will depend on their age, health history and health goals. Typically ¼ -⅓ of your meals and snacks should be from a variety of great protein sources, this would be a moderate protein intake of around 15-20%. If you are interested in more specific advice please contact me to arrange an appointment.

 

Five simple foods that may surprise you

 

The five foods I've chosen aren't considered the superstars of the kitchen, they are much more reserved; happy to be in the background not revealing their true value. I’d like you to take another look at these five inexpensive ingredients, and perhaps be persuaded to bring them out into the spotlight.

Spinach is fantastic for eye health and can help prevent your eyesight from degenerating due to its high levels of lutein. Baby spinach can be added to most meals, it’s relatively inexpensive and high in fibre. It’s also full of inflammation fighting antioxidants such as beta-carotene (our bodies convert this to vitamin A), vitamins C and E, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. It’s pretty amazing!

Oats can help you reduce your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and create easy moving bowel motions due to their high soluble fibre content. Oats release their energy slowly so your energy levels remain steady. They are also surprisingly high in protein, vitamin C and iron.  Try oats in porridge, biscuits, homemade toasted muesli, and smoothies. Oats also make a great crumb coating for fish. In other words, oats are quite fantastic.

Parsley is not just a pretty garnish, it’s high in loads of vitamins and minerals including vitamins K (bone health), A (antioxidant, eye and blood vessel  health) and C (antioxidant, colds and flu, stress). Try using a big bunch in pesto and salads. Parsley is simply superb.

Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels and  keep your energy levels steady. It tastes great and is great for you. Try sprinkling it on muesli, smoothies, chopped fruit and yoghurt to experience its benefits.

Turmeric this sunny yellow spice has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties that have been well documented by researchers. Use it in soups, sauces, stews, and curries, nearly anywhere…


Top tips for building a better brain

  

 

 

 

Food and drink provide fuel for the brain to build itself and function well. This really is a case of rubbish in – rubbish out! Identifying and eating the right foods affects you in a number of ways:

  1. They help to build and repair a better brain. Recent research shows that malnourished brains deteriorate because they simply can’t regenerate    on a daily basis without the right fuel. 

  2. They enable you to stay sharp and allow the brain to function at its peak. Functionality can be significantly impacted by food.

  3. They help to control your emotions and mood. Different foods create very distinct chemical reactions that in turn contribute to positive or negative emotional responses.

     

    In future articles I will be addressing simple tips for rectifying faulty fuelling. In this first one, I deal with the foundation for fuelling – digestion. If your brain were a car, using the right fuel will make a great difference to the car’s performance – but if the delivery of that fuel to the engine is faulty, the fuel cannot do its job. Digestion is the process by which your body creates and delivers fuel to the brain.

Tip One: Rev up your digestion

Digestion gives your body and your brain access to the various ‘goodies’ that your food contains. As we age we develop a greater need for specific nutrients to support brain health due to the gradual decline in our digestive function. Among these nutrients are choline, vitamin B12, magnesium and zinc. Eventually, without effective processing, the body will not be supplying enough of these essential nutrients for the brain to function well and rebuild itself, which leads to increasing deterioration in later years. This factor could well be affecting many of our assumptions about dementia and poor memory; they could relate to poor nutrition. Remember, we can be eating very good food and still be lacking essential nutrients because of poor digestion. It is very difficult to take in the nutrients your brain needs without great digestion; if your digestion was not great in your more youthful days, it may be even more of a problem now.

Here are my five key recommendations for revving it up:

  1. Chew your food well - your stomach will have an easier job breaking food down into its essential nutrients if you chew your food 15-20 times before swallowing. Aim to be the last person at the table to finish eating.
  2. Drink plenty of water - your stomach secretes around 2 litres of digestive fluid daily, so aim to drink a minimum of 6-8 glasses each day to support digestion. Regular water consumption also helps to create soft bowel motions, easing the removal of waste products from your body. If you do not enjoy the taste of plain water, try adding lemon or lime slices or a few mint leaves to your water jug. 

  3. Have apple cider vinegar before your meals – try 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in ½ glass of water, just before eating.  This can help compensate for the reduction in stomach acid that tends to occur as we age. Stomach acid helps to breakdown protein, release essential nutrients from food, and provides the acidic environment needed just beyond the stomach for the absorption of minerals, such as magnesium and zinc. These minerals are essential for making chemical messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters). Always follow this apple cider vinegar drink with food, as acid left in contact with your teeth is damaging to tooth enamel.

  4. Include probiotics in your diet – these are helpful bacteria that have a number of useful roles, one of which is keeping your intestines healthy so they are at their best for absorbing nutrients.  The probiotic bacteria that research has found to be the most helpful are the strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. A daily serving of probiotic yoghurt will help to maintain the population of helpful bacteria in your intestines. If you are unable to regularly include probiotic yoghurt in your diet consider a supplement containing these two strains.

  5. Increase your intake of soluble fibre – this is the food source of the probiotic bacteria mentioned above, and it also helps to create soft, easy moving stools. Great food sources of soluble fibre include prunes, cooked apple, oats, broccoli, carrot, beans, nuts and seeds.

There is no doubt that improving digestion can improve your brain. Start using these simple tips for digestion today and see the difference in a couple of weeks. Once you have developed these basic habits, it will be easier to move on with the tips I will be discussing in future articles, which together will help you build better brain function and repair.

Upcoming topics include: essential nutrients for a healthy brain; what not to eat for a healthy brain; food sensitivities and your brain chemistry; and medications that can reduce your brain power.

 

Tip Two: Brain fuel

Once digestion has delivered the various ‘goodies’ that your food contains your brain then uses them to repair itself, and build new cells and wiring (neural connections). Ensuring your brain has access to essential nutrients makes it more resistant to dementia and more resilient after brain injury.

A drop in memory or reasoning can be related to nutritional deficiencies, which are often avoidable and frequently reversible. Take vitamin B12 for example, deficiency can damage brain cells causing symptoms of mild memory loss and disorientation that mimic dementia. This damage is reversible if caught promptly but can become permanent if left unchecked undetected.  B12 deficiency symptoms can include anaemia, difficulty walking, depression and numbness in fingers and toes.  Your GP can run two blood tests to check for deficiency:  blood levels of B12 and methylmalonic acid (MMA).


Here are my five key recommendations for fueling your brain:

 

1.   Eat up your antioxidants –

These protect your brain cells from damage caused by tiny chemical vandals called free radicals. Our busy brains create more of these free radicals than any other organ in the body. One particularly important antioxidant, glutathione, we luckily make ourselves, but its creation is dependent on the presence of other nutrients, such as the amino acid Cysteine. Great news is that high levels of glutathione in your blood can improve recovery from brain injury and slow brain aging.

Boost your levels of glutathione by eating cysteine containing foods: asparagus, broccoli, avocado, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress) and unprocessed fresh meats. Other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E enhance glutathione’s functions: vitamin E can be found in wheat germ oil, raw nuts and seeds; and vitamin C in broccoli, red capsicum and citrus fruits.

 

2.   Enjoy your fish –

The brain is approximately 60% fat, and much of it is made up of the omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3). New discoveries point to high blood levels of omega-3 preventing brain shrinkage and protecting us from dementia.

Food sources with the highest amounts of omega-3 are oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardine, herring, and mackerel. Other varieties of fish, walnuts and olive oil also contain good amounts.

 

3.   Arm yourself with minerals –

Our brains are oxygen hungry, and you need a good supply of iron rich red blood cells to transport oxygen to your brain. Iron, magnesium, selenium, calcium, iodine and zinc are all essential for great brain health. Good blood levels of magnesium may also have a protective effect against brain injury.

Great food sources are raw nuts and seeds, meat, fish and dark leafy greens.

 

4.   Increase your  vitamin B’s –

 

All the B’s are important, but Choline, B6, B9 and B12 are particularly good for enhancing brain function and protecting it from damage. Choline is essential for making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that your brain uses to form memories.

Get your B’s from eggs, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, whole grains, and dark leafy greens. B12 is found in animal proteins and because of this, vegans and vegetarians are susceptible to deficiency. Those who are who are low in stomach acid and intrinsic factor (needed for B12 absorption) may also be deficient.

 

5.   Go out in the sun –

Vitamin D protects the memory forming area of our brains (hippocampus). Unfortunately we have become so good at protecting ourselves from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays that we are starting to prevent the beneficial effects too!  Fascinating research has also revealed that vitamin D can work with omega-3 to protect you from Alzheimer’s. Clumps of protein, called beta-amyloid, interrupt messages between brain cells and can also kill them. Vitamin D and omega-3 enhance the activities of special cells called macrophages that “eat” the beta-amyloid and clear it from between brain cells.

Vitamin D is formed when the sun’s energy acts upon cholesterol in your skin, we can also get small amounts from food, such as fish, beef, liver and eggs. To make vitamin D you will need to expose your skin to the sun without sunscreen; the safest time for sun exposure, with reduced risk from the damaging effects of UV, is before 10am and after 4pm.

Putting all these ideas together, a perfect “brain meal” would be a fillet of oven baked salmon and steamed broccoli with an olive oil and lemon vinaigrette, sprinkled with chopped raw almonds – served al fresco!

There is no question that great nutrition enhances brain health. Take the tips that we discussed earlier in “Revving up your digestion”, which should be good habits by now, and add this next layer of knowledge.

If you still have any doubt about the effect of improving essential nutrients I have a story to share from my experience in practice. A woman in her 40’s had developed difficulties recalling names of objects and people; this caused her to speak haltingly and she was frequently unable to find appropriate words to express herself. She was concerned that her memory was failing at such a young age. We decided to try her on a regimen of omega-3, vitamin D and a form of choline called Citicoline. After a month with these nutrients in her diet she was astonished to find that her recall had improved significantly and she was able to speak articulately.

Naturally solutions can be different in each case of memory loss and there are other reasons for failing memory. My point is that you should check your nutrition before other, more drastic avenues are taken. In short, those who are short of vitamin D and omega-3 are more likely to suffer from memory deficiency; not everyone with memory deficiency is short of these nutrients. Try better nutrition first!

 


 

 

End Fussy Eating

 

 

Humans are complex creatures, and every fussy eater has his or her own set of unique eating habits that have developed over time in response to their experiences with food.

 There are three main factors that contribute to fussy eating:

 1.  The child’s health status e.g. mineral deficiencies, developmental problems, and the presence of oral or abdominal pain.

 2.  The parent or caregivers own habits e.g. their food preferences and meal times.

 3.  The child’s food environment e.g. how often new foods are presented, family eating habits such as sitting down to eat together, if a fruit bowl is on display.

These factors can overlap, and working out the combination that is affecting your child is key to resolving their reluctance to trying new foods. The next step is developing a consistently applied plan that will enable them to become more open to trying and accepting new foods.

If you would like help developing and implementing a plan for your child please contact me for more information or to book an appointment.

 


 

Top tips for preventing fussy eaters

 

 

The best way to prevent fussy eating is to have a plan of action from the very beginning, and I mean the very beginning!

While you are pregnant

Your baby tastes your food when they swallow amniotic fluid, as it is flavoured by the foods you eat. To help them appreciate a wide variety of tastes eat from a wide variety of healthy foods – lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Limit sweets and junk food as research has shown that eating a diet high these foods strongly influences your child’s preference for these tastes once they are born.

When breast feeding

Your food choices also flavour your milk, so continue to eat from a wide variety of healthy foods and limit sweets and junk foods.

When your child is ready for solid foods

Babies naturally prefer sweeter foods but to increase their food acceptance offer a wide variety of naturally sweet and savoury foods. Try the following pureed foods:

Banana, pear, apple, berry, and avocado and cooked kumara, pea, carrot, potato, broccoli, spinach, beef, chicken and fish.

Small amounts of herbs and spices.

Note - current recommendations for allergy prevention are to avoid offering children cow’s milk and egg white until they are 12 months old.

From 12 months

From around this age children are naturally wary of new foods, a phenomenon called food neophobia. This is a protective instinct which also includes aversion to bitter tastes which is found in foods such as spinach and broccoli. To overcome this wariness you must show your acceptance and enjoyment of all new foods.  Children are also very influenced by your facial expressions and tone of voice. They are far more likely to accept a new food if you are smiling, tasting it yourself and speaking positivity - “yum, this is really nice”.

At this age children should be mostly eating finger foods and have exposure to a wide variety of textures such as:

Juicy, crisp, chewy, crunchy, brittle and mealy (porridge, mince)

Offer foods they can hold and dip with, such as vege sticks, wholegrain bread soldiers, wholegrain crackers.

Keep in mind

There may be a few factors outside your control that will influence your child’s food choices such as:

  • Their health: development disorders such as autism, tongue tie, abdominal pain, mineral deficiencies (such as iron and zinc)

  • A natural dislike for certain foods. Common dislikes are: tomato, leeks, marrow, melon, cottage cheese, capsicum, onion, liver and cabbage

 

 


Nutrition and your unborn child’s risk for disease

 

 

 

We’d like to think that our new born children have fresh starts in health, but the truth is that even while in the womb there are several nutrition related factors that are known to increase their risk for obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes later in life:

-   Nutritional deficiency - this can alter a developing baby’s DNA.

-   Restricting food intake during pregnancy - children who are underweight at birth have increased risk of becoming overweight adults

-   Being obese when falling pregnant.

-   Putting on too much weight during pregnancy.

 

It’s very clear that it is important to eat well and maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, and preferably beforehand, to reduce your child’s risk of disease. The big question is what should you eat?

Essentially it comes down to two factors, portion size and food quality. Take charge of these and you’ll improve your health and that of your baby. The foods you’re eating are the building blocks of your baby’s body and brain; do you really want to use junk food or heavily processed foods and drinks for this important task?

 

General guidelines to follow

 

Maintain a healthy weight as recommended by your maternal care provider – you do not need to eat for two, your additional calorie requirements during the last 6 months are around 300 Calories/1200kj e.g.100g of standard Greek yoghurt, an medium apple and a small handful of walnuts. Have regular meals that include protein (e.g. meat, nuts, egg, fish) to keep your blood sugar levels even, and avoid second helpings.

Avoid processed packaged foods – eat fresh, whole foods. A biscuit or small slice of cake every few days is okay.

Increase your fibre – found in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, tempeh), raw nuts and seeds.

Eat whole fresh fruits and vegetables for fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Choose unprocessed meats over salami, luncheon and ham.

Take your iodine and folic acid supplements and add a quality fish oil supplement (omega 3) if you won’t be eating omega rich foods* at least 3 times a week.

Avoid sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. The best drink you can have is water.

Check Ministry of Health guidelines for food safety during pregnancy.

 *best sources of omega 3 fats are salmon, herring, mackerel and sardine.

 

 


 

 

What if you could improve your memory today?

 

 

 

Having a reliable memory is something that many will agree is a reassuring sign that all is well and dementia or Alzheimer’s may not be on the horizon.  For those affected by poor information retention or recall it can affect work and home life and cause a great deal of anxiety.  

One or many of the factors below could be major contributors to a less than reliable memory - do any of these ring alarm bells for you?

Children’s memory and learning are also influenced by many of the same factors, and from clinical observation they can be more sensitive to these factors than adults.

1.      Dietary fat imbalance:

Modern diets are typically low in omega 3 fatty acids (mostly from fish oils) but high in omega 6 fatty acids (e.g. from seed and soybean oils). Diets high in omega 6 fatty acids relative to omega 3 fatty acids have been found to cause poor memory.

2.      Dehydration:

As little as 1-2% loss in body weight as water can impair concentration and learning.

3.      Stress:

Stress hormones can prevent new memories from being formed, and stored memories from being retrieved (e.g. memory blanks during exams)

4.      Low levels of vitamin D:

Vitamin D is necessary for memory formation.  Sunscreen usage and sun avoidance are negatively influencing our vitamin D stores. 

5.      Lack of exercise:

As you age your brain's memory region (hippocampus) shrinks without regular aerobic exercise.  Luckily the volume loss can be reversed with aerobic exercise.  Exercise also perfuses the brain with oxygenated blood which enhances learning.

6.      Low iron:

Dietary iron is needed for the transport of oxygen to the brain for adequate brain function.

7.      Poor sleep:

Too few hours or interrupted sleep interfere with the solidification and organisation of memories.

8.      Low choline levels:

Choline is needed to make the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) acetylcholine that is necessary for memory formation.  Research indicates that choline is also necessary for the structure and function of memory pathways.

9.     Alcohol consumption:

Can disrupt long-term memory formation in the hippocampus.

10.   Blood sugar imbalance:

Impairs concentration which affects the ability to understand and learn new information.

11.   Low iodine levels:

Can impair memory and cause “brain fog”.

12.   High blood pressure:

This is indicated as being a risk factor for cognitive decline.

13.   Statin use:

There is a small amount of evidence that statin use in the elderly also reduces levels of essential cholesterol in the brain and can lead to symptoms resembling dementia.

14.   Low levels of dopamine:

Dopamine is necessary for memory formation in the hippocampus.

15.   Low estrogen levels:

Can negatively affect verbal memory.

For personalised guidance on improving your memory and protecting it for the future make an appointment to me today.

 

 


 

Avoiding Joint Damage

 

 

 

An often overlooked aspect of health is your gait - how you move, and if you move correctly.  Incorrect gait is linked to increased joint wear and painful inflammation that can lead to arthritis or the need for joint repair surgery. Incorrect gait can affect the alignment of ankles, knee, and hip joints, as well as Achilles’ tendons and posture.

Joint health may not seem to have much to do with nutrition, but joint inflammation and damage can be reduced with anti-inflammatory nutrients, and joint health maintained with nutrients such as Chondroitin, Glucosamine, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). 

I suggest that all sports athletes (including casual joggers, walkers and fitness class goers) have their gait assessed to minimise future joint damage. You could be advised to use innersoles or be given specific muscle strengthening exercises to correct your gait. James Baxter is an Auckland based podiatrist who specialises in this type of assessment. Read more about his services.

Another affordable option is to have a free assessment at The Athletes Foot, a shoe retailer with a computerised gait assessment program called “Fitprint” that is available at all stores, or try Smith Shoes free instore "Siliconcoach" video software to assess the effect of different shoe brands on your gait.

 

 

 


Five things you can do today to improve your health

 

 

 

#1  Chew your food well

 

Many of us do not take the time to chew our food properly.  Five chews are really not enough!

Aim for 15-20 chews before swallowing each mouthful.  It sounds like a lot? Chewing for longer enables us to savour our meal, aids digestion and increases satiety (fullness), as well as helping to prevent bloating.  All of these will help with gut disorders and aid weight loss. 

 

#2   Drink more water  

If your urine is dark in colour during the day you are most likely dehydrated to some degree.  Dehydration affects digestion, and can cause physical and mental fatigue and headaches. 

Good hydration enhances learning and physical performance, and from clinical experience improves mood and behaviour (very noticeably in children) and enhances weight-loss.

Increase your water intake to 6-8 glasses per day; sipped not slurped.

Warning! You may have dulled your natural thirst sensors so when you increase your water intake your gradual increase in thirst may surprise you, as well as having more frequent visits to the bathroom!

“Water” can include herbal tea and water with added unsweetened lime or lemon. 

 

#3  Increase your resistance exercise 

Resistance exercise helps maintain bone density that can start to decline after you reach your 30's, and increases lean muscle mass that helps with weight loss and weight maintenance.

Great free exercises that use your body weight for resistance are push ups, lunges, wall sit, and plank. As little a 10 minutes a day can make a difference.

 

#4  Get more sleep

If you are not getting enough sleep you might find your memory is sluggish, weight is creeping on, and anxiety levels are climbing.  It is not called beauty sleep for nothing!

Don’t sacrifice sleep for a late night TV show or one more household chore.  Be in bed between 10pm and 10:30pm, and aim for 7 ½ - 8 hours sleep each night. 

 

#5  Swap muffins and biscuits for raw nuts and fruit

 

It is true, you really are what you eat.  Your body uses the nutrients you take into your body to make and maintain healthy body cells, that's your skin, hair, muscle, bone, brain and organs. If you eat poor quality food you'll be making a poor quality you.

Instead of energy dense but nutrient free snacks try a small handful of raw nuts (walnuts, almonds, or cashews) and  fruit (a few sultanas or a date, or a piece of fresh fruit). This is a quick and nutritious snack that's high in minerals and heart healthy fats.

This snacks has execellent sources of protein, fat and carbohydrate which will help keep your blood sugar levels even, your energy levels up, and you feeling satisfied until dinner. 

 

 

 


 

 

Should I give my child fish oil?

 

 

Fish oil is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, improve skin conditions and improve brain health. If your child has any of the difficulties mentioned below, and does not eat 3 servings of high omega-3 fish each week*, a high quality fish oil is likely to improve their learning and/or reduce behavioural problems:

 ·Learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD or Autism (perhaps in combination)

 ·Below expected performance in the classroom (e.g. reading, concentration, memory)

 ·Poor interaction with others

 ·Difficulty managing aggression

 ·Coordination difficulties such as dyspraxia

Quality fish oils are more expensive than the average fish oil product, but they are also much more likely to help your child. Omega 3 fish oils contain EPA and DHA fatty acids. EPA is considered essential for brain function and DHA essential for brain structure.  Of these two fatty acids DHA is most important for the growth of your child’s brain while they are in the womb and until they are around 2-3 years old.  After this age EPA’s role becomes dominant and it is essential for the functionality of the child’s brain i.e. how well they learn and behave.

Inexpensive products, such as shaped burstlets or bulk fish oil capsules, may contain oils that have become damaged (rancid) during production or storage.   The cheaper “fun” fish oil products aimed at children are often low in EPA and DHA. Inexpensive products are also likely to be in a form that is not easily absorbed.

The fish oil that I recommend is Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega D3. This product is extremely fresh, guaranteed low in heavy metals, and its final processed form is absorbed up to 70% better than other fish oil products.  Ultimate Omega D3 contains especially high quantities of EPA and DHA as well as Vitamin D, which is great for mood regulation and bone health.

*such as Salmon, sardine, mackerel, herring

  

 

Eye Q oil by Equazen is another great product that has a lot of research to back up its effectiveness in enhancing learning.

 

 

Additional information on the action of fish oil fatty acids

1.  Enhancing learning

Studies with fish oil supplementation support research that show fatty acid deficiencies may play a significant role in the development of learning difficulties.

A randomised control trial was done with 117 children, 5-12 years of age, with developmental co-ordination disorder.

After 3 months of supplementation with fish oil their reading improved by an average of 9½ months, and their spelling improved by an average of 6½ months.

None of the children had been diagnosed as having ADHD but when tested on the Conners’ Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS-L) 31% were within the usual clinical range for a diagnosis of ADHD.  After supplementation 23.5% had scores that placed them within the clinical range for ADHD.

These results were published May, 2005.

Link to study: http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/115/5/1360.short

2. Improving symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders

A 6-week trial investigated the effects of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in 13 children (5 to 17 years of age) with autistic disorders. The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids were superior to a placebo for hyperactivity and stereotypy (repetitive movements), and noted a trend toward omega-3 fatty acids being superior to placebo for hyperactivity. The researchers did not observe any adverse effects.

These results were published May, 2006

Link to study:http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(06)00591-9/abstract


3. Reducing aggression

Research by Dr. Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that supplementation with omega 3 fish oils can reduce aggression:

“When it is incorporated into the nerve cell membrane it helps make the membrane itself elastic and fluid so that signals pass through it efficiently. But if the wrong fatty acids are incorporated into the membrane, the neurotransmitters can’t dock properly. We know from many other studies what happens when the neurotransmitter systems don’t work efficiently. Low serotonin levels are known to predict an increased risk of suicide, depression and violent and impulsive behavior.”

 

 


Non-food barriers to weight loss

 

 

We’ve all heard that to lose weight you need to eat less and move more, but what about the other hidden barriers to weight loss that have nothing to do with your food intake?

Here is my list of top culprits:

     1.  Getting less than 6 or more than 8 hours of sleep

Researchers have found that getting between 6 -8 hours of sleep is essential in achieving weight loss when coupled with reduced energy intake i.e. reduced portion sizes. They found that poor sleep increases hunger and reduces the burning of fat as an energy source.

     2. Undiagnosed hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) can go undetected for years masquerading as other illnesses.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, depression, thickened facial skin, and fatigue. Hormone levels (specifically TSH) that are low or sub normal can indicate hypothyroidism or sub threshold hypothyroidism.

Once thyroid hormone levels have returned to normal weight is often lost.

     3. Undiagnosed food sensitivities

Food sensitivities such as those to wheat, gluten or dairy products can cause weight gain.  This weight is often lost once sensitivities are determined and dietary changes have been made.

     4.  Long term stress

Our natural long term stress hormone cortisol encourages central weight gain i.e. the accumulation of fat on the hips and abdomen. Improving sleep, regular exercise and a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can reduce cortisol levels and help reduce weight.

    5. Medications that promote weight gain such as corticosteroids

Synthetic corticosteroids used in the treatment of inflammatory disease such as arthritis and asthma have the same effects as the body’s natural long term stress hormone cortisol, and can cause weight gain. Antipsychotics, antihistamines and some antidepressant medications can also cause weight gain.

    6. Estrogen production

As women approach menopause estrogen production starts to decline and lean muscle starts being exchanged for adipose (fat) tissue. Body fat produces estrogen and this ‘fat exchange’ is the body’s way of increasing estrogen levels. For this reason (as well as others) it is important to maintain muscle mass as you age.





 

Drink water, learn better

 

 

 

Dehydration could be having a significant impact on your child’s ability to learn. Reduced concentration and attention, as well as tiredness and headache can be caused by chronic mild dehydration of only 1- 2% of body weight. Several studies have demonstrated that providing children with water during class improved their memory and attention.

To help prevent dehydration have water available to your child at every meal and snack, and encourage them to drink water regularly at school and at afterschool activities such as sports and tuition. Try to keep small servings of soft drinks and full strength fruit juices as occasional treats. Children rarely need isotonic drinks as these are only recommended for strenuous physical activity lasting more than an hour.

If your child is not keen on water try offering it filtered and chilled (with ice cubes in a drink bottle or in a thermos flask) or lightly flavour it with a small amount of unsweetened natural fruit juice such as lemon or lime.

 

 


 

The 10 best ways to ruin your skin

 

It is undeniable that as we age our skin gradually loses its elasticity, underlying muscle tissue loses its firmness and fat tissue is lost, but are you inadvertently speeding up the process?

Do the opposite of these 10 best ways and see a marked improvement in the condition of your skin after just one month, which is the time it takes for your skin to fully renew itself.

1. Stay very stressed

The chemicals released during long periods of stress can cause inflammation (pain, redness and swelling) and use up many of the vitamins and minerals that are needed for skin repair such as vitamin C, zinc and selenium. It can also cause tension in your facial muscles that leads to permanent wrinkling. Stress busters are regular moderate exercise, massage, yoga and meditation – all of these are about having a bit of “me time”.

2. Sleep for less than 7 hours each night

Restful sleep is need for cellular repair, and to relax your facial muscles. 7 ½ -8 hours each night is a great target. Take off any makeup before going to bed to reduce the risk infection and aid in cellular repair.

3. Refuse to exercise

Physical activity increases blood flow to the skin which in turn increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Aim for 2-3 hours of moderate exercise each week such as uphill walking, swimming, dance/pump class and cycling. Please note that extreme exercise regimes can become stressors.

4. Don’t drink water

Dehydrated skin is dry and flaky, and will line more quickly. Applying moisturisers to the outside only goes so far. Aim for 6-8 glasses of filtered water each day.

5. Avoid eating fish

The omega 3 oils (EPA and DHA) in oily cold water fish such as salmon and sardines help form the protective barrier on your skin's surface and will reduce inflammation.

6. Frequently expose your skin to midday sun

The sun with its UVA and UVB rays is extremely aging as it damages the regenerative and supportive layers in the skin. In addition to being a risk for skin cancers it also gradually causes unwanted dark patches of pigmentation that can become more obvious in your late 30’s. Safer exposure times for vitamin D synthesis are before 10am and after 4pm.

7. Smoke cigarettes

The chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the blood vessels in your skin and starve it of oxygen leaving it looking grey, dry and easily lined. Quit today for healthier looking skin and less wrinkles.

8. Eat fast food

The foods that are high in refined sugar and oxidised fats are the mortal enemies of your skin as they promote inflammation. Aim to include omega 3 rich food sources daily, and cut back heavily on sugary drinks and confectionery.

 

9. Drink alcohol to excess every day

Alcohol consumption is dehydrating, mineral depleting and can permanently leave blood vessels dilated causing red, spidery veins on the face. If you drink alcohol regularly try to stick to the recommended number of standard drinks or less, and have a couple of alcohol free days each week. One standard drink contains 10g of alcohol e.g. 100ml glass of wine, 330ml can of beer or a 30ml measure of spirits. The recommend number of standard drinks each day is 3 for men, and 2 for women.

 

10. Avoid soluble fibre

Soluble fibre feeds your helpful gut bacteria, which in turn enhance immune function and help to prevent gut inflamation. Gut inflamation is strongly linked to dry itchy skin. Foods high in soluble fibre include stewed apple, prunes, seaweed, broccoli, flaxseed (also known as linseed) and nuts. 

 

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