The best juicer is………the one you will use!
(The Juice Lady)
The best juicer is………the one you will use!
(The Juice Lady)
I am not a brave person; many things frighten me: injury – I was very fortunate to escape with only whiplash and bruises last year when someone drove across a junction and took the front off my car; cancer – of course; loss of mental faculties – for me the worst of all.
Currently in vogue, the carb heavy, low fat diet that has led to the obesity and diabetes epidemics has also been linked in new studies with Alzheimer’s (first referred to as type 3 diabetes in 2005).
What to do? Minimise sugar and cut down on processed grains. Eat some plant food at each meal. Vegetables are good carbs giving you vitamins, minerals and fibre; their antioxidants protect your brain. Berries contain antioxidants too plus other beneficial phytonutrients. Celery, peppers and carrots contain luteolin which may calm inflammation in your brain.
Your brain is mostly made of fat so get plenty of omega 3s (eg from oily fish, chia seed or walnuts) and keep down your intake of damaged omega 6 (eg processed vegetable oil). Eat butter, olive oil, coconut oil and foods like nuts and avocados.
The spice turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Curcumin has been shown to boost memory and stimulate the production of new brain cells. For the B vitamin choline, eat eggs, meat, broccoli and cauliflower. Choline may boost brain power and slow age-related memory loss. Red meat is an excellent source of vitamin B12 which is vital for brain function. When you’re short of B12, your brain actually gets smaller.
Other ways to keep your mental sharpness: physical exercise, standing up regularly to break continuous sitting, mindfulness, knitting, word or number puzzles, learning a language, making music, a stimulating career, social interaction.
Top tip – eat well for the sake of your brain
I recently went to Norway on holiday, brilliantly arranged by the lovely people at Cockermouth Travel. As well as the breathtaking beauty of the place, I was struck by the slim, healthy build of the population and the fabulous food! Game stew was a highlight plus lots of fresh fish (they love their herrings) and vegetables. (OK there were fast food places for tourists in the town centre; you’ll find that everywhere in the world nowadays.)
Breakfasts were a feast of cold meats, cheeses, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and yoghurt. That’s a high nutrient breakfast to fuel the national pastime of walking up mountains, come rain or shine. Over here continental breakfast has been diminished to coffee and a croissant – not satisfying, not healthy and not continental.
Going on holiday is a great opportunity to reconnect with real food. You might go to more exotic places that I do. Perhaps you’ve sampled the delights of young coconuts or fresh bananas which I’m told are divine.
It’s a shame we emulate the Americans more than Europeans. We eat more processed food than any other European country. We also have the fattest population plus the resultant deteriorating health. The French and Italians love their food and you can enjoy locally grown produce, artisan breads, grass-fed meat and amazing cheeses. Food is a high priority for them. They spend money on good ingredients and take time cooking and eating. Meals are not rushed or gulped down alone in front of a TV or computer. There’s a strong social element with lots of talk and laughter round the table. Enjoy it while you’re away and keep it up when you come back.
Top tip – make good food culture a holiday souvenir to bring back home.
It’s always worth keeping an eye on fresh produce that’s being sold off. The other day I spotted big lettuces on sale for 25p. I immediately thought of my Mum’s lettuce soup recipe – here it is:
Put the butter in the pan with the lettuce and spring onions. Cook until soft. Add the flour, then the stock. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Cool a bit. Blend. Add milk.
I bought one of the lettuces which weighed nearly 2lb, plus a bunch of spring onions, and made a big pan of lovely soup which I froze in portions. I often eat soup and cheese for my lunch (no bread). There was still lots of lettuce left for us to have in salads that week so nothing was wasted.
Getting so many meals for so little reminded me of a student I know in Leeds. He goes to the market, buys whatever they’re selling off and makes soup. His mates spend a fortune on processed rubbish but he’s getting good, fresh, real food at a monthly price of <£30!
Read more about saving money – this is a joint blog post with my Survival Guide for the Skint blogsite.
There’s a management maxim that states, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’ Our brains love to measure and compare. It works for business and it works in our personal lives too.
It’s human nature to want to improve. Knowledge is power. If you know how much you do, you’ll want to do more.
For exercise there are tools like pedometers and fitness aps that measure your activity levels. Ask anyone with a pedometer how much they walk and they’ll tell you it’s more since they got one!
I’ve been keeping training records for many years using a chart I developed when I was first selected to represent Great Britain in archery – see my book Succeed in Sport to develop your own chart. Colouring in the chart lets me see immediately the training I’ve been doing.
Use a measurement method that appeals to you. Gold stars are great for kids – and for adults too; a client of mine has been successfully using stars. Some people like tables of numbers. I coached a man once who drew a graph when he decided to stop smoking. His motivator was the cumulative money he saved and it went up and up!
For eating well, how about giving yourself credit each time you snack on nuts, have a drink of water, eat some vegetables or cook unprocessed meat / fish. Be observant, catch yourself doing something right and measure only what’s good. Let your natural motivation increase it. By building up the amount of nutrient-rich natural foods you eat, bad foods will automatically get squeezed out.
Top Tip – measure what you do right
I am a person who tends to move at speed; this is not always a good thing. A while ago, in the supermarket, I failed to notice the state of the floor as I rounded the corner of an aisle. Someone had dropped a glass jar of tomato sauce and I slipped in the huge sticky mess on the floor. My foot was now covered so I stood stranded in the red splat. Walking on would have spread it far and wide and other people might have slipped too. Plaintively, I called for help.
While I was stranded, a lovely lady came along who was trying to see the jars of sauces. I apologised for being in her way and asked what she wanted. It turned out she was doing pizza and didn’t know which tomato sauce to buy for the topping. I suggested she make her own instead, but she didn’t know how. So we had a little chat.
Later she came back. She had looked at the tomato puree I suggested but said that her chosen jar contained less sugar. By the time a supermarket herorine with a mop came to rescue me (bless you), the pizza lady had gone. But I was puzzled. Surely tomato puree doesn’t conatin any sugar, only tomatoes. So I went to investigate.
I realised that the lady had looked at the nutritional breakdown part of the label, where it said ‘of which sugars’. This is about carbohydrate content. Vegetables and fruits are primarily carbohydrate so the percentage was high. The ingredients list stated simply, tomatoes – there was no sugar. The jar on the other hand had lots of added sugar. I once saw someone advise that a sugary breakfast cereal was a better choice than natural muesli on the basis of the nutritional breakdown. That is complete nonsense. Since that part of the label seems to cause confusion, it can be more helpful to skip it.
For me, what matters is the list of ingredients. No 1, is there a list of ingredients? When you buy a tomato, a cauliflower or a piece of meat, there is no list of ingredients. Fresh, natural foods are always best. No 2, is there added sugar? Look for any word ending in ‘ose’ and other terms such as modified maize starch. Sweeteners are as bad if not worse. Each type of sugar might be listed separately so you have to add them up. Notice how the percentage is given for many ingredients but often left a mystery for the sugar. You can take a guess because the ingredients are listed in order of content, with the highest first. No 3, is it made with vegetable/sunflower oil? No 4, are there lots of chemical additives? These might be emulsifiers, stabilisers, artificial colours and flavours.
Next time you reach for a jar, packet or box of anything ready-made, pause to consider whether you could avoid eating so much sugar, sweeteners, vegetable oil and additives by making a healthier version yourself starting with fresh, natural ingredients.
Top tip: Know what’s in your food.
For the ultimate luxury breakfast, start the day with lightly scrambled free-range eggs topped with smoked salmon.
If you’re eating chicken or turkey on Christmas day, find a butcher who buys directly from a local farm where animal welfare matters. Boil up the carcass afterwards to make some health-boosting stock and use to make delicious soup with any leftover meat and veg. If you prefer a joint of beef or some steak, the best is grass-fed and organic.
Cook roast potatoes in lard or go for goose fat. Vegetable oil is damaged by heat and should never be used for cooking. Choose organic veggies of different colours to make the plate look cheerful as well as giving you a variety of vitamins and minerals. Steam your veg to retain flavour, texture and nutrients.
Upgrade your snacks with bowls of natural nuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Or cut crispy vegetables into sticks and serve with a home-made dip eg cream cheese, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and herbs.
Having a cheese board? Seek out traditionally made artisan cheeses rather than anything mass-produced or processed. Cumbrian cheeses come in a remarkable array from mild to head-blowing. Unpasteurised cheeses are rich in beneficial bacterial (avoid if you’re in a high-risk group eg pregnant or elderly). Enjoy real butter on your crackers; it’s much healthier than ‘spreads’. Serve with grapes and celery for a refreshing crunch.
Finish off with some high-cacao rich, dark chocolate. Yum.
Top tip: Eat really well. Merry Christmas!
The Eat Well Gang got together in November for a special Jackie’s Gee Up, led by Paul Heslop, juicing enthusiast. Since doing the Eat for a Better Life course, juicing has been a regular activity in the Heslop household and they’ve reaped the benefits in great health. See Paul’s testimonial video here.
You can juice many fruits and vegetables. For health, it’s best to concentrate on veg with just a little fruit to take away the bitter taste. Wheatgrass featured prominently on our night and was combined with vegetables and fruits giving a range of flavours. See Paul in action on the videos page under superfoods.
In the New Year, I’ll be challenging my readers to make green juices. Christmas is coming soon, so if you don’t have a juicer perhaps some kind person might buy one for you as a present.
The long dark nights, wind and rain confirm that we are heading into winter. All around me, people are coming down with coughs and colds. In spite of their generosity in sharing – I don’t want one! Do you?
Did you know that most of your immune system is in your gut? Your susceptibility to disease can be affected by what you eat and drink. So when my husband came down with a cold, I reached for echinacea, wheatgrass and vegetable juices and coconut oil. Then I cooked up some of James Wong’s special chicken soup for colds including garlic, ginger, chillies. Effective and delicious.
To strengthen your immune system, eat more:
Coconut oil – has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Sugar – it feeds bad bacteria, unbalancing your system.
Processed food – you want your body to fight infection, not use all its energy fighting bad food.
Eat right for your metabolic type (I can test if you don’t know)
Get lots of sleep to make the powerful anti-oxidant melatonin.
Exercise, especially out in the fresh air (but not vigorously once you have a cold).
Give up smoking.
Top tip: Eat well to protect your health.
There was quite a furore in the nutrition world recently over a pronouncement that rather than our ‘5 a day’, we should eat 7 portions fruit and veg. The headlines shouted that this could save lives by reducing cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The number 7 is arbitrary, as was the number 5, not a conclusion of good science. Lifestyle differences were possibly the dominant factor in the findings of the study in question. However, there is a sound underlying message; vegetables contain goodness. Most of us (¾) don’t get anywhere near 5 a day, let alone 7.
Here’s a link to a piece Zoe Harcombe wrote about the study.
The right amount of veg is not the same for everyone and depends on your metabolic type but if you think you’re probably eating too little, what can you do? In the winter, soup is a warming way to get quantity and variety. Start with a good knob of butter in a pan and cook chopped onions, carrots and celery for a few minutes before adding stock, tomatoes, beans, herbs and any other veg you like. Bring to the boil. After it has simmered for about 10 minutes it’s ready to eat. In the summer, have a salad with your lunch and another with your evening meal.
Juicing is an effective way to get lots of raw vegetable goodness (although you lose the fibre). Mix lots of different types of vegetables plus a very small amount of fruit just to sweeten it – half an apple is plenty. In England, we’re not advised to distinguish between fruits and vegetables and that’s a shame. It’s better for your health to go easy on fruit. In Australia, the advice is 5veg + 2fruit. Buy more fresh food rather than processed products.
Top tip – don’t argue about the numbers, just eat more veg.