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Everyday Health

  • Five tips to maintain healthy cholesterol levels

    5-tipsWhen trying to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level, it can be hard to create meals that accommodate this, even though it's key. Family gatherings, holiday parties and company events all present an opportunity to make unhealthy food choices.

    However, with a few simple changes to your diet, avoiding the pitfalls can be easier.

    Here are five food tips that may help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level:

    Minimise Refined Carbohydrates - Sugar, white flour and other refined carbs are among the biggest contributors to obesity and cardiovascular disease, alarmingly common health problems. Reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates as part of a balanced diet can help to reduce your risk.

    Steer Clear of Trans Fats - Any product that lists hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients label contains trans-fats, even if the product claims otherwise. These are often found in snack foods like crackers and chips. Search for products with natural oils instead, or even better, ones that are baked or air-popped instead of fried.

    Get More Garlic - Make a regular habit of putting fresh garlic in your dishes. This incredible vegetable is believed to promote healthy cholesterol levels.

    Green Tea - Many experts recommend drinking green tea every day. The antioxidants it contains have been shown to help protect HDL (good) cholesterol and help inhibit the oxidisation of LDL and VLDL (bad) cholesterol.

    Fibre - Eat foods high in soluble fibre. The fibre helps reduce dietary cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Good sources include legumes, pulpy fruits, oatmeal, root vegetables and peas.

  • Fish Oil: How much do I need?

    If you’re keen to stay mentally active as you get older, you might want to make sure you’re consuming fish on a regular basis. Research involving 14,000 participants aged 65 and over has Fish Oilshown that people in low to middle income countries whose diets contain the most fish were less likely to develop dementia than those who consume large quantities of meat.

    DHA for age-related memory and learning decline
    Additional research suggests that taking supplements of the omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in fish and fish oil, may be beneficial for the health and functioning of the ageing brain. In a placebo-controlled study involving 485 people aged 55 years and older who were affected by age-related cognitive decline (ARCD) or age-related memory impairment, taking supplements containing 900 mg of DHA per day for 24 weeks improved learning ability and both immediate and delayed memory functioning.

    The study concluded that supplementing with 900mg of DHA daily improved learning and memory function in people suffering from age-related cognitive decline and helped maintain and improve brain health in older adults.

     

    How much fish do I need?

    The richest dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and the related compound eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. The Heart Foundation estimates that a 150 mg serve of fresh Australian sardines contains a combined total of 4-500 mg of EPA and DHA per serve. To obtain 900 mg of DHA per day and replicate the dosage used in the study referred to above, you may need to take a fish oil supplement. Options include taking eight capsules per day of salmon oil or regular or enteric-coated fish oil, or four capsules per day of concentrated fish oil.

     

    Are their other sources of DHA?

    If you’re vegetarian, consider taking flaxseed oil capsules instead. They are a vegetarian source of omega-3 oils that can be converted into EPA and DHA by the body – although this process is not considered as efficient as consuming those oils in the state in which they’re present in fish oil.

  • Benefits of Magnesium

     

    MagnesiumConsidering all of the important roles that magnesium plays in the body – and the fact that a magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults, with an estimated 80 percent being deficient in this vital mineral – it’s a good idea to consider taking magnesium supplements regularly and eating magnesium-rich foods.

    Amongst others, the physiological functions Magnesium is involved in include:

    1. Nerve conduction.
    2. Muscle activity.
    3. The production of energy from carbohydrates and fats.
    4. The production of ATP which provides energy for most of the body’s metabolic processes.
    5. The production and maintenance of healthy bones, including the synthesis of bone matrix, bone mineral metabolism and the maintenance of bone density.
    6. Maintenance of healthy heart function and normal heart rhythm.

    It may also play a role in helping to maintain Cardiovascular Health and Healthy Bone Density.

    Magnesium Deficiency:

    Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency include muscle cramps, fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems and mood changes.

    Aside from not getting enough Magnesium in your diet, factors that can have a negative impact on your magnesium levels include:

    • Stress (especially when prolonged or severe).
    • Inadequate sleep.
    • Profuse perspiration.
    • Excessive consumption of caffeine, salt, soft drinks or alcohol.
    • Having heavy menstrual periods.
    • Eating a diet that contains large quantities of processed and refined foods.
    • The use of some multiple pharmaceutical medications.
    • Gastrointestinal disorders such as short-term diarrhoea or vomiting and conditions that affect your absorption of nutrients.
    • Getting older.

    Dietary Sources of Magnesium:
    Magnesium-rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, soybeans and cocoa.

    A significant amount of Magnesium may be lost from foods during processing, refining and cooking, so in order to maximise your Magnesium intake, it’s best to avoid refined and processed foods.

    How much Magnesium do I need?
    The recommended dietary intake (RDI) of magnesium is:

    • 400 mg/day for men aged 19-30 years, increasing to 420 mg/day for those aged 31 and above.
    • For women aged 19-30 years, the RDI is 310 mg/day, increasing to 320 mg from the age of 31 onwards.
    • Depending on their age, the RDI for adult women who are pregnant is 350-360 mg/day.
    • The RDI for breastfeeding for those who are breastfeeding is 310-320 mg of magnesium each day.
  • Jogging and life expectancy

    joggerWant to increase your life expectancy by 6 years? Then give a gentle jog a go.

    Here’s some extra motivation to get you out there and going for that jog! A recent study published in the renowned Cochrane review, found that joggers could increase their life expectancy by 6 years, compared to those that didn’t jog. The study, called the Copenhagen City Heart Study, and was a prospective cardiovascular population study that followed the jogging habits of 17 589 Danish healthy men and women ages 20-98 years between the years of 1976 to 2010. The study measured the association between jogging and long term mortality. It also looked at the effects of jogging frequency, pace and quantity.

     

    Jogging can give you extra years!

    This long term study showed that jogging was associated with a significant increase in survival for both men and women, and a substantially lower all-cause mortality risk. Of the 17 589 participants in this study, 1878 people (1116 men and 762 women) were classed as joggers. Of these joggers, there were 122 deaths, while there were 10 158 deaths among non-joggers. Survival rates took into consideration increases in general life expectancy of the 35 year follow up period. This age adjusted increase in survival with jogging was 6.2 years in men, and 5.6 years in women. The age adjust hazard ratio for death from joggers was 0.56 for both men and women.

     

    Keep it slow and steady

    • The most optimal quantity of jogging per week, associated with increased levels of survival and decreased mortality risk, was between 1-2.4 hours per week. The results of the study were not clear about mortality risk at quantities higher than 2.4 hours per week.
    • Results also suggested that a lower to average jogging pace was the desirable pace for a lower mortality risk. However due to the small amount of deaths between joggers, these results were also not confirmed.
    • The best frequency for jogging associated with lowest mortality risk was 3 or less times per week, although again further studies are required to confirm this data.

     

    Slow and steady wins the race. See if you can incorporate between 30 – 48 minutes of slow to average jogging up to 3 times weekly. Time to pop those running shoes on, and jog your way to a longer life!

    Reference

    Schnohr P, Marott JL, Lange P, Jensen G P. Longevity in Male and Female Joggers: The Copenhagen City Heart Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2013.177(7):683-9.

  • Healthy Hummus Recipe

    Hummus is a great healthy snack which will keep you going throughout the day, and packs a punch of protein, good fats, iron, calcium and fibre to boot! This easy recipe incorporates a choice of fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, coriander or mint which add in a bonus of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to keep you snacking super healthy. Serve with carrot and celery sticks, or wholegrain crackers for a healthy snack, or add to your sandwich or pita bread wrap as a delicious spread. PV-Dec-blog

    Makes approx. 450g

    Ingredients

    400g canned chickpeas or 400g dried chickpeas*(see bottom page for how to prepare dried chickpeas NB: if you would like to cook from dried chickpeas you will need to start the recipe one day ahead of time)

    1 heaped tablespoon unhulled tahini

    1 lemon juiced

    1 -2 cloves of garlic

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 bunch parsley or basil or coriander or mint (washed, stems removed)

    Method

    1. Place chickpeas in food processor, blend until smooth.
    2. Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic cloves, olive oil and herb of choice.
    3. Take the lid of food processer and test consistency of hummus with a spoon. If it is too dry add a small amount of water or oil until a smooth consistency is reached.

    To prepare chickpeas from dried:

    NB: You will need to soak chickpeas overnight, so ensure you start the recipe one day ahead.

    1. Place dried chickpeas in a large saucepan, cover with cold water. Make sure the level of the water is 10cm above the chickpeas as they will absorb the water and swell overnight. Add 2 tablespoons bicarb soda, leave to soak overnight.
    1. Rinse chickpeas well, and return to saucepan with same amount of water as the day before. Bring to boil and then simmer for approximately 1-2 hours, until chickpeas start shedding their skin and are soft. Drain the water and allow chickpeas to cool.
  • Top Tips On How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

    After a long cold winter, all any of us want to do is get outside and enjoy the warmth of the summer sun!  However it is important that we try to protect our skin as best as we can from the sun’s powerful rays. PV-Nov-blog

    Interestingly enough the skin is the body’s largest organ.1 It covers the entire body and comprises of many layers but let’s look at the primary layers specifically, the epidermis and dermis.1

    Epidermis

    The epidermis is the upper layer of our skin which is visible and can be touched. This layer is comprised of multiple layers of skin cells that are constantly shedding to replenish and protect our skin from our external environment.1 This includes providing protection from ultra violet light, infection, damage associated with trauma and creates a barrier to prevent harmful substances from entering into the body.1

    Dermis

    The skin’s second primary layer is known as the dermis which contains sweat and oil glands that balance our skin’s natural oil production to keep our skin hydrated.1  This layer also contains hair follicles, nerve ending and small blood vessels.1   This layer’s main function is to keep our skin strong and firm because it contains collagen and elastin fibres.1  

    Ultraviolet light

    Australian’s are exposed to some of the highest ultraviolet (UV) rays worldwide!  So let’s take a look at the different types of ultraviolet light and what affect they could have on our skin if it is left unprotected. The two types of ultraviolet light that we need to be concerned about are called UVA and UVB.4  UVA is responsible for tanning the skin because it has the ability to penetrate into deeper layers of our skin.4  UVB have shown to be responsible for causing sunburn because it penetrates the first layer of skin.4

    It is important to note that UV rays are always present and completely invisible so even on a cloudy day you still need to be cautious to avoid getting sunburnt!  Prolonged unprotected UV exposure has shown to contribute to premature skin aging leading to wrinkles, fine lines, brown freckles and changes your skin’s natural appearance and feel.6  If this doesn’t sound bad enough UV exposure can also cause sun spots, pigmentation issues, leathery skin, cellular skin damage, eye damage and even skin cancer. These are pretty serious consequences so you need to make sure that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your skin from the sun at all times! This information may make you think twice if that temporary sun kissed glow is really worth it?! Remember no tan is worth dying for.

    So as you now can see it is important to maintain the health of your skin!  So how do we do this?  Follow these top tips adapted from the Australian Cancer Council!

    1. Slip

    If you are going to be outside in direct sunlight make sure that you cover up your skin as best as you can by wearing thin clothing with long sleeves and a collar.  Materials with tightly woven fibres such as cotton, linen or hemp may help to reflect UV rays.  You may also wish to wear lighter coloured fabrics to stay cooler.  If you are going to the beach try using beach wraps and sun safe rash shirts.

    1. Slop

    During the summer months sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes so you need to make sure that you wear sunscreen even if you are going outside for a short time period!9  Apply sunscreen liberally to all areas of the body that are going to be exposed to direct sunlight.  The Australian Government Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency suggests that individuals should apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to going outside and every 2 hours after that.5 Select a sunscreen formula that will be specific to your needs.  This should not be too difficult because there are a variety of sunscreen formulas available on the market such as sport formulas, infant and children formulas, sensitive skin formulas, water resistant formulas, oil free formulas, sunscreen with insect repellent, tinted foundation formulas and everyday formulas. There are also many types of administration methods such as sprays, roll on, tubes, pump packs and lip balms to suit your needs.

    When selecting a sunscreen make sure that you follow the allocated directions on the bottle and always check the following:

    *Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. The higher the SPF numbers the greater the sun protection.  The Cancer Council of Australia suggests that individuals purchase sunscreens with SPF numbers between 30+ and 50+.3

    *Provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

    *That the sunscreen has a valid expiry date.

    1. Slap

    Wear hats that provide extra coverage for your face, ears, head and neck such as broad brimmed sun hats or bucket hats.

    1. Seek

    Sit in a shaded area or create your own shade!  We all want to be outside in the sun but it is important that we try to stay in the shade as much as possible so that we can protect our skin from UV exposure.  If you are unable to find a shaded area, you may wish to create your own shade by using a sun safe shade tent, small tarp, folding chair with a shade canopy or beach umbrella.  This way you can still enjoy the sunshine and your skin is staying protected!

    1. Slide

    On a sunny day of course sunglasses are a must!  Follow these top tips to protect your eyes!

    *Source sun glasses that fully cover your eyes, wrap around style is best!

    *Ensure that the sunglasses you choose meet Australian standards by referring to the swing tag that should state AS/NSZ 1067:2003.

    *Ensure that you check your sunglasses eye protection factor rating which protects our eyes from UVA and UVB ray’s.  The highest rating’s in Australia are factor 9 and 10.

    *Source sunglasses that are polarised because they help to reduce glare and may be more suitable while driving.

    1. Look at the UV forecast

    Keep up to date with the UV forecast and certain times of the day that you may require additional sun protection.  This information can be accessed daily by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website, see here http://www.bom.gov.au/uv/.7  This way you can ensure that you are prepared for the weather conditions in advance each day to take additional precautions to protect your skin.  You may also wish to make plans to be outside during hours of the day that have lower UV rays!

    1. Get your skin checked regularly

    Have your skin checked regularly by a healthcare professional. Make sure that if you notice any moles, sunspots or pigmentations on your skin to get them checked out by your doctor who will be able to refer you onto a dermatologist if need be.3 It is important to self-monitor your skin and existing markings for any changes in size, shape, colour or texture.3 This way you can ensure that you are staying in tune with your skin health!

    1. What should you do if you do happen to get a sunburn?

    *Apply a cool compress to the affected area or take a cool bath.9

    *Avoid using soaps on the affected area because this may aggravate your sunburn further!9

    *Apply aloe vera gel liberally to the sunburnt area to provide a soothing effect and replenish your skin’s moisture to reduce skin peeling and itchiness.9

    *If your skin is blistered seek medical attention and do not pop sun burn blisters because they may become infected.9

    *Stay out of direct sunlight until your sunburn has completely healed.9

    * Drink water, it is highly important to keep hydrated and the cool the body.

    1. Nutrients that support skin health

    UV light exposure can generate harmful free radicals that can damage skin cells and contribute to premature skin ageing. Let’s take a look at some nutrients that can be used to support our skin health.

    *Collagen- Helps to promote our skin elasticity and suppleness. Collagen may also help to minimise the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.   

    *Vitamin C- When the skin is exposed to UV light it reduces the skin’s vitamin C availability.10  So how can vitamin C help keep your skin healthy?  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to rebuild collagen and neutralises free radicals that may have been produced during UV light exposure, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines to reduce premature skin ageing.10

    *Silica- Helps to rebuild and regenerate connective tissue to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.  Silica is also beneficial for the growth of strong hair and nails!

    So now you know how to protect your skin, what measures need to be taken if sunburn occurs and  what nutrients you can use to support your skin health, so now you can get outside and enjoy the weather this summer but stay sun safe!

  • How To Purchase Organic Foods When You're On A Budget

    We all know what it's like when we are in the produce isle of the grocery store and we see the "organic section."  The first thing that pops into our minds is dollar signs and then this is usually followed by the question, "Is the cost of organic food worth it?"  My response to you is, absolutely!  There are many health benefits associated with eating organically grown foods.  They are exposed to no synthetic chemicals, pesticides or artificial fertilisers during the growing process and you can have peace of mind that they contain no genetically modified ingredients, or are exposed to irradiation. PV-September-blog

    Organically grown foods have shown higher levels of certain nutrients, especially vitamin C and selenium. It is believed they have this stronger nutritional constitution because they are grown in soils such as compost and manure which are rich in nutrients.

    Organic farming also has the health and protection of the environment and existing ecosystems at the forefront of their practice. Sustainability is key, as is working together with the current environment and eco-systems to ensure renewable resources are used and the conservation of energy, water and soil is paramount.

    Organically raised livestock is also preferable because you can ensure that the animal has not been exposed to antibiotics, growth-regulating medications, steroids or hormones, and they are not fed animal by products.  These animals are also treated humanely and have a better quality of life because they are given organic feed and are able to graze freely outside in the natural sunlight and not kept in cages or feed lots.  They are free range. 

    An additional thought to consider is that organic farming practices are better for the environment as they don’t deplete the soil of nutrients, no genetic modification is use and there is less chemical involvement which reduces air pollution and helps to protect wildlife and residents that may reside in the growing area. 

    We all want to make the best food choices to support a healthy lifestyle but unfortunately eating healthy comes with a cost.  We all have different financial means and there is no doubt about it that eating organically grown foods can be expensive but here is some useful tips to help purchase quality foods when you’re on a budget.

    • Do your research 

    Find out where you can purchase organic foods in your local area.  Make sure that you shop around so that you can compare prices and get the best deal possible.  Also look for vouchers that may help to keep the cost down.

    • Eat organic produce that is in season

    This should go for all types of produce, but eating organic produce that is in season is more cost effective because there is an abundant supply available and there are less cost overheads associated with the growing process.  Organic produce in season also has a high nutrient content because it is picked fresh and does not have added preservatives to make it last longer.

    The next question that springs to mind is how do we know which foods are in season?  Well this has been made easy for us by Seasonal Food Guide Australia which has provided a breakdown of which fruits and vegetables are in season during spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Since Australian NaturalCare is located in Sydney, New South Wales I have chosen to use the seasonal food guide for New South Wales.  See what foods are season for New South Wales this year below!

    Spring

    Fruit: Cherries, lemons, mandarins, nectarines, oranges, peaches, plums and strawberry's. 

    Vegetables: Globe artichoke, Asian vegetables, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, leek, lettuce, mushrooms, parsley, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, silver beet, spinach,  squash, tomatoes and zucchini.

    Summer

    Fruit: Apricots, berries, melons, nectarines, peaches, plums and strawberries.

    Vegetables: Asian vegetables, beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, celery, chillies, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, parsley, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini.

    Autumn

    Fruit: Apples, berries, kiwifruit, pears, persimmons and strawberries.

    Vegetables :Asian vegetables, beans, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, chillies, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, parsley, pecans, pumpkins, radish, rhubarb, tomatoes and white turnip.

    Winter

    Fruit: Lemons, mandarins and oranges.

    Vegetables: Asian vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Lebanese cucumber, leek, lettuce, parsley, potato, radish, rhubarb, silver beet, spinach and white turnip.

    Don't worry if New South Wales is not your local area because Seasonal Food Guide Australia also provides information about seasonal produce in every state across Australia!  Simply follow this link and select the state that you live in to see what produce is in season in your local area, http://seasonalfoodguide.com/

    • Buy in bulk

    Buy larger quantities of produce that is in season at more cost effective prices and freeze it, or join a food co-op.  Buy in bulk for a group of people and share the buy at a reduced cost.  Foods that are frozen when they are still fresh generally hold their nutritional value.  According to Food Safety Information Council frozen products can hold their nutritional value for up to six weeks when using a fridge and freezer combination and three months or more if using a chest freezer as long as the temperature is maintained at approximately -18°C.  According to National Center for Home Food Preservation foods should be frozen in containers that are not too large because this slows the freezing process and could affect the nutritional content of the food.  If using containers they should be durable, leak proof and moisture vapour resistant.

    Alternatively you may wish to use flexible freezer bags or moisture vapour wrapping materials to package the food prior to freezing.  Ensure that you remove as much air as possible before placing these in the freezer.  According to the Food Safety Information Council it is also beneficial to blanch your vegetables by putting them in boiling water prior to the freezing process because this eliminates any bacteria that may be present.   It is also beneficial to purchase spices, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in bulk quantities because this can be more cost effective.  You can then store them in a dry sealed jar or container to ensure that they stay fresh.

    • Source a farmer's market in your local area

    Sourcing a farmer's market is a great way to support our local farmer's and to purchase fresh, organically grown foods directly from the source.  Ways to source farmer's markets are to read your local newspaper and to watch for flyer's that may be mailed out to you or displayed in your local area.  Alternatively check out the Seasonal Food Guide Australia website which provides information about local farmers markets across Australia, simply follow this link to locate the nearest farmer's market near you, http://seasonalfoodguide.com/

    • Grow your own

    Growing your own produce is the best way to know what quality of produce that you are actually getting because you helped to create it!  Before you go ahead and plant your vegie patch, have your soil assessed first.  Just to make sure it is good quality and there are no nasties that need to be dealt with before you get started!  If you don't have access to a yard you may wish to source a local community garden.  To source local gardens in your local area, use the Australian City Farms and Community Garden Network Website to source local community gardens near you!

    • Get it delivered

    Take the hard work out of it all and get someone to deliver your organic produce straight to your door!  Here are some great companies to check out:

    https://www.doorsteporganics.com.au

    http://www.lettucedeliver.com.au/

    https://www.aussiefarmers.com.au/fresh-to-your-door/pick-your-own/organic/

    https://www.farmfreshgrocer.com.au/products/SET+BOXES-9

    http://www.harrisfarm.com.au/collections/organic

  • Easy Ways To Kick Your Sugar Habit

    Refined sugar has no nutrients, but it does have a lot of calories. Consuming excess refined sugar can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, and other health problems. This four-week plan is designed to help you reduce your intake of refined sugar. The idea is that by cutting sugar slowly across a month your body won’t react negatively to the sudden change in your diet. PV-June-Sugar-Habits

    Week 1: Sugar-Free Snacks and Desserts

    The easiest thing to do first is to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of your snack and dessert food. Contrary to popular belief, there are many delicious healthy snack options out there. Avoid cakes, cookies and sweetened yogurts. Instead, opt for nuts, fruit, natural yogurt, veggie sticks, and nut butter. When it comes to desserts, refined sugar for cake can be replaced with agave syrup, rice syrup, or raw honey, or try making cakes with almond or coconut meal for a little extra sweetness.

    Week 2: Improve Your Breakfast

    The best way to combat sugar cravings is to ensure you have a healthy, protein packed breakfast that won’t give you a sugar low half way through the morning. Firstly, go through your pantry and get rid of any packaged or canned foods that have refined sugars, corn syrup, sucrose, glucose or fructose.

    Sugary cereals should be replaced for whole grains, brown rice, buckwheat, and other nutrient rich grains. Sweeten them by adding dried or fresh fruit.

    Increase the protein content in your breakfast to stop mid-morning hunger pangs by adding nuts or by eating an omelette or a protein smoothie as opposed to eating cereal. Chromium supplements taken along with breakfast can help control your blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.

    Week 3: Cut the Sugary Drinks

    Remove sugar from your tea and coffee. Cut the amount of sugar you add to these beverages in half every day until you no longer need it. If you need the sweet fix, replace sugar with natural substitutes, like stevia. Soft drinks (including diet soda), flavoured milk and fruit juice should ideally be removed from your diet completely. Replace these drinks with fresh water and a dash of lemon or with herbal teas.

    Week 4: Review your sauces, spreads and bread products

    Sugar filled jams, chocolate spreads and chutneys should be replaced with sugar-free fruit spreads, natural nut butters and home-made relishes. Eating an avocado spread, or a spread made of mashed bananas or hummus can be just as enjoyable as eating sugar filled jam. Making something at home means you know exactly what goes into it.

    Next, look at the bread you are eating. Does it have additional sugar? If so, replace it for bread that is made with whole grains. Sourdough bread, mountain bread, and pita bread made with whole grains are good options.

    Store-bought or canned sauces are usually laden with sugar. Start making your own. For example, make pasta sauce by adding fresh herbs to cooked tomatoes. Salad dressings can be made by mixing extra-virgin olive oil with mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and some fresh herbs.

  • Signs You Might Be Deficient In Vitamin D

    PV-Vitamin-D-DeficiencySymptoms of Low vitamin D
    Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to keeping your body healthy. But how do you know when you are lacking in vitamin D? There are a few telltale signs that your body is not getting the vitamin D you need to function optimally.

    If you have increased hair loss, you may have a low vitamin D level. Check the drain after a shower. If you see increasing amounts of hair loss in the bottom of the shower, you may have a vitamin D deficiency.

    Decreased levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased strength in your bones, making you susceptible to sore joints, bone weakness and osteoporosis. If you have suffered from several fractures or have bone or joint pain, it might be worth having your vitamin D levels checked.

    A reduced immune function and cognitive impairment may occur when vitamin D levels are low.

    What Causes vitamin D Deficiency?

    While sunscreen helps  to protect our skin, it also blocks the sun’s rays from giving you vitamin D. You should definitely avoid direct sun for long periods of time when UV rays are at their strongest, but you could try to leave the sun block off your skin for a brief time, say 10 minutes per day late in the afternoon or early in the morning, and soak up some vitamin D. How long and what time of day you expose your skin depends on where you live and your skin type.

    If you are dark skinned or live in colder climates that receive less sun, you are exposed to less vitamin D through sunshine. If you have a job indoors or are home bound, you are not exposed to sunshine. In these cases, you are more likely have a vitamin D deficiency. Lactose intolerant people or strict vegans may not get enough vitamin D from the foods they eat.

    How Can You Get More vitamin D?

    Sunshine is the primary way to get vitamin D. But you may not be able to spend enough the time in the sun to get your vitamin D levels up. In that case, be sure to consume foods that contain vitamin D. Foods high in vitamin D include milk, fish, cod liver oil and dairy products. Vitamin D supplements are also available to help you stay healthy and keep your levels up.

  • Six Supplements That Can Boost Energy

    Six Supplements That Can Boost Energy

    An active life, refreshing sleep and a diet of natural food is a good foundation for high energy levels. However, there are times when the stress of daily life increases or when some extra support is needed. Rather than reaching for a sugary snack or caffeine, give the natural supplements below a try. PV-march-blog

    Begin With a Multivitamin

    The proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in food employ a wide range of nutrients in order to convert them to energy. Deficiency of any of these nutritional factors can impede the production of energy. A broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral formula can insure that these nutrients are there for energy conversion. Be sure to choose a formula that contains the B-complex group, including folic acid, as well as iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc in the mineral group.

    Consider these other supplements to help boost energy levels in times of need:

    B-complex when stress levels are high

    The B group of vitamins are of utmost importance in converting food into energy, and are needed in higher doses during times of stress. Since they are water-soluble they are not stored in the body, and need to be replenished every day.

    Magnesium supports nerve function

    Magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function. It is also essential for the smooth production of energy. Being under stress increases the body's requirement for this mineral.

    Co-enzyme Q10 for an energy boost

    While Co-enzyme Q10 is a nutrient that is essential for energy production at the cellular level. As we age our bodies produce less of this substance, making supplementation a wise move. It has also been shown to be very important in heart health.

    Iron to combat fatigue

    Many women suffer from low iron level due to menstruation. This may result in fatigue, paleness of the skin and nails and mucous membranes, as well as lack of resistance to infection. Look for iron products that contains folic acid and vitamin B12, which work synergistically with the iron. See your doctor if you suspect your iron levels are low for a quick test to determine if you need to supplement with iron.

    Korean Ginseng for extra stamina

    Korean Ginseng is a traditional medicine herb that supports stamina and vitality. It aids the body and nervous system in adapting to stress, as well as enhancing physical performance. It is used to revitalise and strengthen the body during times of weakness, malaise, fatigue, exhaustion, and stress.

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