Let us help you control those Bad Behaviours!

donal blog image

Donal – Pharmacist Aylesbury

The more i read from the latest research articles the more it seems that the old sayings we’ve heard repeated again and again about food, sleep and exercise are true. We should go to bed early, eat natural foods and exercise every day.

But often in the media we see people who break these rules idolised and celebrated. People who work around the clock, who party through the night, people who binge and diet in repeated cycles. These behaviours are enticing and misleading. Often we believe we can accomplish something greater, meet deadlines by pushing through walls of fatigue, or that we can make up for bad eating behaviours afterwards by upping our exercise regimen.

I  will often hear people relate and discuss behaviours such as late night snacking, insatiable appetites and craving snacks, remarking on them as inexplicable and unavoidable. Night binging can leave a person with low energy levels the next day. People who regularly do this often have high insulin levels which can lead to diabetes and they find it difficult to exercise from fatigue and lack of sleep. Without knowing how our bodies work it can be difficult to understand where these cravings come from. Being now in my thirties some of these bad habits have already caught up with me and I see the effects of poor diet and snacking in my energy levels and some of my blood tests. Not a good scenario to be in at such a “young” age. LOL.

What I have found helpful in trying to control my own bad behaviours is an understanding of what exactly is going on in my body to drive these unhealthy habits I seem drawn to constantly repeat. In this blog I will briefly discuss one aspect of the body’s many mechanisms that control appetite, weight fluctuations and as researchers are currently finding out potentially a lot more.

Ghrelin is an appetite stimulating hormone released from the empty stomach. It signals our brain to encourage anticipatory and goal-directed behaviours. This basically means it makes us look out for our next meal, make us think about food and it affects what we crave in terms of sugar, fat, protein and carbohydrates. On its own ghrelin seems to direct us toward a more nutritious meal than we might choose without its influence. This might sound familiar if you think of what you crave when you are really hungry. Usually the ice cream, chocolate or biscuit treat (my personal favourites!) doesn’t seem sufficient and we actually want a heart slap up meal with more nutritious ingredients. This is actually a good effect of the hormone.

However studies have shown that as ghrelin levels rise, the amount of eating it encourages rises dramatically. This makes sense in the natural world. The longer the period between eating the more our body is going to want to stock up on energy the next time food is available. However this effect is contributing to our modern day obesity problem. We have such busy lives that people are often jumping from the bed out the door skipping what the old maxim calls the most important meal of the day. Breakfast. Breaking the fast.

As we sleep our bodies are stilling whirring away with countless processes like a laptop on standby. In fact the energy our body would use if we were to simply lie on the couch all day accounts for up to 60 to 70% of the energy we spend each day even when we move around and work as normal. That is why it is so important to supply your body with a source of healthy energy soon after waking up in the morning. Otherwise the body will demand an even greater meal off you later in the day.

Studies have shown that  ghrelin, the hunger hormone, will not be suppressed without a proper breakfast. People who skip breakfast think they are cutting out part of their day’s calorie intake but it is proven that those people eat more for lunch, dinner AND supper partly due to higher ghrelin levels the skipped breakfast causes.

Also sleep deprivation has been shown to increase cortisol (our stress hormone) and in doing so mimic starvation and hunger. Both stress and cortisol increase our hunger hormone ghrelin which increases our cravings and likelihood to overeat. Poor sleep is another of the factors linked to increasing obesity in Ireland.

There are several ways we can affect our ghrelin levels. One large egg provides varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin yet regular consumption of eggs is still met with uncertainty. In the 1970s excess cholesterol in our blood was linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Many scientists assumed that eating high-cholesterol foods like butter, red meat and eggs must then be bad for our health. In fact sugar, trans fats or excessive saturated fat is more harmful to use and produces more cholesterol in our blood that dietary cholesterol.

In a study comparing eating eggs for breakfast versus a bowl of healthy oatmeal on the symptoms of heart disease (a change in the cholesterol and lipid balance in the body) there was not a huge difference between the two. The eggs did raise cholesterol levels somewhat compared to the oatmeal but not in an unhealthy amount and the sugar levels, liver function and fat levels in the body were the same. The eggs did seem to keep the person eating them fuller for a longer time than the porridge. I have tried alternating both porridge and a boiled egg into my breakfast regime and from my experience I can see how an egg can help space out meals across a day and prevent the urge to snack in between. But the benefits of porridge on health are also proven so if anything I would recommend fitting both into your morning diet if possible.

Being a daily porridge devourer I want to explain how it can benefit you. When food enters the stomach it lowers your ghrelin but it doesn’t stop you from eating. The signal for satiety and to stop eating is actually located twenty two feet or almost seven meters into the intestine! Naturally it takes time for food to travel this far. The Japanese have a saying which is “eat until you are 80% full” which is basically allowing your food time to reach this point. Alternatively trying to eat with chopsticks will get you there! The best way to get food moving faster through the intestine is through fiber.

Ever notice how a plate of pasta or chips and cheeseburgers doesn’t always make you feel full? This is because fast food and processed cereals have had their fibre stripped away to improve taste and shelf life. They sit into your stomach instead of moving into the intestine where they should be signalling the brain that the stomach is full. Anything that speeds food transit through the gut will make you feel fuller faster and reduce hunger and the amount eaten. The insoluble fiber in porridge does this. Its soluble fiber also helps by forming a sticky gel that delays stomach emptying which makes you feel fuller faster. Processed foods and cereals contain little of these or have it artificially added back in which doesn’t seem to work as well as when it is in its original form.

There was a study I found interesting on how water, milk, a yogurt drink and fruit juice drunk either before or with a meal would affect appetite, satiety (feeling full after eating) and the amount of food eaten. Milk reduced the overall  food intake and appetite while increasing the satiety (feeling full after meal) compared to a sweetened yogurt or fruit drink. But in all cases drinking water meant the overall calorie intake was less before and after the meal. One esteemed dietician in America suggested keeping to milk, water and tea only as the beverages of choice and leaving the rest out of our diets. Sugary beverages and even fruit juice are thought to be unnecessary additions to our diet that we might be better avoiding. Fruit it appears is best eaten whole rather than juiced or pulverised into a smoothie. Also I will add in here that fructose which is known simply as sugar when it comes to talking about our modern processed foods does not affect ghrelin release unlike other carbohydrates and proteins which lower ghrelin levels. So sweets and sugary drinks in the morning will not reduce the amount of food you are likely to consume later for lunch and dinner compared to the egg and porridge discussed earlier.

Is it better to spread out calorie intake over a period rather than breaking the day into say three solid meal times? One study used liquid meals of protein, fat and carbohydrates taken in a single go versus splitting it up into five smaller portions taken every half hour to examine this idea. No difference was found in how the food was burnt off meaning that splitting meals up across the day has little effect on avoiding hunger later in the day or keeping up your energy. In fact where the food was consumed in a single go the people reported great and longer lasting fullness.

We often hear about losing weight by different approaches (intermittent or irregular dieting versus continuous dieting). A study tried to determine the effect of this on the body’s systems and discovered little difference in how the body was reacting to the weight loss. The people who achieved the same weight loss by dieting on and off seemed to be under no greater or lesser drive by their bodies to regain weight than those who had dieted in a more consistent manner. To me this study shows the power of habit. Studies have shown that consistent dieting has a greater chance of success but this study shows there is no biological measurement (in terms of hunger hormone, insulin levels) to account for it. Making lifestyle changes your everyday practice is the way to sustain weight loss because the likelihood that all lost weight will be regained is simply the reflection of how likely you are to return to old habits if you haven’t been practicing new ones.

So in summary breakfast is still the main meal of the day. Don’t skip it and try to have healthy oats and maybe an egg as a large part of it, though don’t forget your daily intake of whole fruit. We in LloydsPharmacy are here to support you in attaining a healthy lifestyle and so we can advise you on your diet, help motivate you and supply a range of products that will boost the positive changes you make in your daily life. Chromium is supposed to aid in reducing cravings by enhancing insulin function and effect in the body. Our pharmacies can supply this in more than one brand (Sona or Pharmanord). Products such as Miss Fit Skinny Tea and XLS Medical have proven popular among customers who are making healthy changes in their diets. We have Change Your Health Direction experts in each store so please pop in and tell us how you are doing and ask us how we can help.

 

 

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TOASTED SOURDOUGH WITH: ALMOND & AVOCADO, COCONUT & BLUBERRY OR PEANUT BUTTER & BANANA! – SNACK

Toast. Pretty much universally adored and missed most by low carb aficionados (though they would completely deny it!!). The fact is bread is perfectly fine as part of a balanced diet. But I have only one rule. Please get yourself a decent loaf of real bread! That is, bread that doesn’t have a ‘best before’ date or more than 3-4 main ingredients (unless you are buying gluten-free). My top recommendation is a good quality sourdough.

Sourdough is more digestible and nutritious than industrial loaves thanks to naturally occurring acids that ferment the dough to bread down phytates (which impair nutrient absorption) and gluten (which may cause intolerances, though not to be confused with celiac disease). This fermentation process makes nutrients more available for absorption, and renders simple sugars less available, which may help to control blood sugar, particularly for people with diabetes.

This is not so much a strict recipe as it is a source of ideas for making a slice of toast into a nutritious, energy sustaining, mid-afternoon or evening snack. My advice is to stay away from overly processed shop bought spreads and try to make your own, or purchase whole, nut or seed spreads with no added sugars or oils. Real Irish butter, goats butter, olive oil or even coconut oil are also perfectly fine options if you’re not a fan of nut and seed spreads.

Serves: one to multiple

You will need:

  • Bread: 1 slice per person (I used a small loaf of german-style rye sourdough bread).
  • Nut Butters* (1 tbsp per person): choose from Meridian Almond butter, Meridian Peanut Butter and Coconut Butter.
  • Fruits: choose banana and avocado (3-4 slices per person), or blueberries (2 tbsp per person).
  • Nuts, Seeds & Sprinkles (1/3 tbsp) per person: 85% cacao dark chocolate (grated), black sesame seeds, coconut flake, ground cinnamon.

Topping Combinations featured:

  • Savoury: Crunchy Almond butter, Avocado & Black Sesame Seeds
  • A bit posh: Coconut butter, Crushed Blueberries & dark chocolate
  • Old-school: Crunchy Peanut butter, banana, cinnamon & coconut shavings

Instructions:

  1. Simple! Lay out small bowls and jars of your favourite toppings. Toast the bread and get creative!

To make your own coconut butter: dump 250g unsweetened desiccated coconut into a high-speed food processor and pulse for 8-10 minutes until smooth and runny. Decant into an airtight jar and store at room temperature. Note: coconut butter tends to harden even in the warmest cupboards. To soften, submerge the jar in warm water for 10 minutes before use.

To make other nut butters: you only need ONE ingredient to make any nut butter! Nuts! If you roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 150C (350F) you will get a lovely creamy texture as roasting helps to release the natural oils in nuts.  My favourites are walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds. Macadamias are also great but quite pricey! Cool the nuts slightly before tossing into a food processor and blending for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Store in an airtight jar.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Option Serving Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Almond Butter, Avocado + Black Sesame Seeds 1 slice 266 15.7g 8g 26.7g 2.6g 5.8g
Coconut Butter, Blueberry & dark chocolate shavings 1 slice 239 13g 3.5g 28g 6.2g 3g
Peanut butter, banana & coconut 1 slice 259 11.1g 8.1g 32.6g 9.3g 4.4g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

We must fight back against sugar

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Dr Nina Byrnes

Ireland is grappling with sugar addiction. If we don’t wean ourselves off it, we risk an uncontrollable Type 2 diabetes epidemic affecting hundreds of thousands of people. This will put immense financial and infrastructural pressure on our health service.

Beyond tooth decay, headaches, mood swings and upset stomachs, long-term, unmoderated sugar consumption can lead to serious conditions like obesity. Obesity, in turn, can lead to heart disease, liver disease, cancers of the digestive system and Type 2 diabetes. I see this on a regular basis in my practice.

Type 2 diabetes, which impairs the body’s ability to create the hormone insulin, is on the rise in Ireland. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition caused by genetic and environmental factors, Type 2 diabetes is caused, in the main, by an unhealthy diet with poor food and drink choices, and sedentary lifestyles.

In 2015, the International Diabetes Federation released some startling statistics. That year, 171,800 Irish adults, or more than 5.5 percent of the population, were found to have the disease, and more than 1,200 died from it or diabetes-related diseases. The findings also estimated that almost 65,000 people were living with undiagnosed diabetes.

The prognosis for 2017 and beyond does not look much better. Irish men already have the highest BMI in Europe and Irish women the third. According to the World Health Organisation, we are on course to become Europe’s most obese country by 2030. Obesity, as we know, is the perfect kindling for Type 2 diabetes.

I am delighted to be supporting LloydsPharmacy’s diabetes awareness campaign as it is vital that people are educated on the adverse effects of sugar, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and diet, and the importance of screening for diabetes.

As part of the initiative, LloydsPharmacy conducted a survey on attitudes to diabetes and sugar consumption among 1000 Irish people over the age of 16. The survey revealed some shocking trends.

80 percent of Irish adults do not know their daily recommended sugar intake, and almost half never check the sugar content of their food. 37 percent eat sugary confectionery on a daily basis, and 18 percent admit to drinking soft drinks—which are laden with sugar—every day.

Children and young adults are at high risk of developing obesity and developing lifestyle diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Primary and secondary school pupils need continuous education in healthy eating and exercise, but particularly the latter who have far more personal control over their own nutrition. It must be made crystal clear to them that crisps and cans of Coca-Cola cannot be consumed on a daily basis without detrimental health effects. Government-supported initiatives are essential in this area.

Thankfully, when Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, it can be treated with a mixture of diet, exercise and medication. Most diabetic patients lead perfectly healthy lives. Prevention is, of course, preferable, and in high-risk individuals, diabetes can be staved off with lifestyle changes, like frequent exercise, dietary modification and weight loss. In addition, the HSE also recommends limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking.

Colleagues at 84 LloydsPharmacy stores nationwide have received extensive training from Diabetes Ireland to help support those at risk and living with diabetes.

For more information or if you are concerned about developing diabetes, call into your local LloydsPharmacy store.

 

LloydsPharamcy diabetes information events

To help customers understand, prevent and manage diabetes, LloydsPharmacy will be hosting four information events in pharmacies nationwide in partnership with Diabetes Ireland and bestselling author Jules Coll. Diabetes Ireland will also provide free diabetes screening before each event. The events are free to attend, and all are welcome.

 

LloydsPharmacy, Blackrock, Co Dublin – 7 February at 6 pm

Free diabetes screening 2pm-6pm

LloydsPharmacy, Ballincollig, Co Cork – 28 February at 6:30 pm

Free diabetes screening 2pm-6pm

LloydsPharmacy, Northside Shopping Centre, Dublin 17 – 7 March at 6 pm

Free diabetes screening 2pm-6pm

LloydsPharmacy, Castletroy, Co Limerick – 21 March at 7:30 pm

Free diabetes screening 3pm-7pm

WALNUT BREAD WITH DATE & CINNAMON ‘JAM’ – SNACK

Not just that little knobbly nut you used the pick off the top of your walnut whip as a kid, walnuts are an underrated, yet nutritious package of protein, healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Eating just a small handful of whole walnuts every day could help to control body weight as well as helping to reduce chronic inflammation in the body which is associated with heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.

The essential fatty acid found in walnuts is called ALA (alpha linolenic acid). ALA is an omega-3 fat that can significantly reduce fasting insulin levels over a period of about 3 months in people with type 2 diabetes as well as notable improvements in the composition of blood fats.

This is a great recipe to try at the weekend and save individual slices to eat during the week as an afternoon snack. Of course you could very easily just grab a handful of walnuts and a piece of fruit but sometimes we need something a little extra special to keep us on track…especially with the prospect of multiple delicious topping options!

(makes a loaf, approx. 10-12 slices)

For the bread

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds*
  • 1 tbsp Chia Bia ground chia seeds (or flax seeds)*
  • 1 tbsp maple or agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Equipment: food processor, large bowl, loaf tin, oven

Step by Step

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 F). Grease a loaf tin using a little coconut oil*.

  1. Put the walnuts in a food processor and blend until they form a paste (usually takes about 5-8 minutes).
  2. Transfer the walnut paste to a large bowl and stir in the eggs and maple syrup until well combined (you could also just add the eggs and syrup to the food processor bowl and pulse to combine).
  3. Add the ground almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and baking powder and stir with a spatula (the mixture will still be quite wet).
  4. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. You know its cooked when a skewer comes out clean and a crack forms down the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before slicing.

Tip: the bread stores well in an airtight container the fridge for about 1-2 weeks but you can cut and wrap individual slices in parchment / clingfilm and freeze for up to 1 month, defrosting/toasting them only as needed.

Serving options:  Date & Cinnamon Jam

Soak 20 deseeded dates in a half cup hot water to soften. Add 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon and using a hand blender to make a paste.  Store for up to 1 month in an airtight jar in your fridge. Makes about 12 servings (teaspoons).

  • Try this bread with an ounce of good quality mature Cheddar cheese or soft brie cheese and sliced fresh figs.
  • For a quick breakfast spread with a little Meridian almond butter* and top with some sliced banana.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER ONE SERVING (1 slice)
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
153 13.6g 5.7g 4.1g 1.8g 1.6g
A source of folic acid, vitamin B6, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – (Golden) Milk & Cookies!

How time flies when you’re having fun (and eating great food)… can you believe it’s our 12th and final week of recipes by nutritional therapist Pamela! We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. But fear not, you can still find more amazing recipes on Instagram @the_healthonist and at  www.thehealthonist.com

This weeks recipe is (Golden) Milk & Cookies, enjoy!

Turmeric. The golden spice associated with Indian cuisine has been used for centuries, particularly in Ayurveda (the ancient healing system of India) for its powerful healing properties. It’s no surprise then, that scientists soon became interested in the seemingly magical medicinal properties of this golden root.

Curcumin – the main bioactive compound found in turmeric root is probably one of the most heavily researched compounds in the world in relation to its potent anti-inflammatory effects.  This compound has been proven effective in treating inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline and multiple sclerosis as well as being effective in preventing the progression of some cancers. I love when science and ancient wisdom agree!

As curcumin is not easily absorbed into cells on its own,  it is often taken with black pepper and coconut oil or milk to enhance absorption so the recipes here optimise the bioavailability of  curcumin. Whats more, golden milk is a particularly effective tonic for balancing female hormones and may be an effective in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with PMS, PCOS, Uterine Fibroids and Endometriosis and for balancing blood sugars.   This is my version of milk & cookies – no dairy, gluten or refined ingredients….

Turmeric & Ginger Cookies (Makes about 12)

  • 125g ground almonds
  • 100g organic gluten free oats, ground into a coarse flour using a food processor
  • 1/3 cup organic maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons organic ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground ginger
  1. Line a baking tray with parchment and pre-heat the oven the 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In a bowl combine all the ingredients to form a crumbly dough that sticks together easily when pressed.
  3. Take heaped tablespoons of mixture and shape it into balls using your hands. Place onto the baking tray and press down lightly with the base of a small glass.
  4. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire wrack. As the cookies cool they will become more crunchy.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Golden Milk (Makes 1 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup unsweetened nut milk (almond, coconut, hazelnut, hemp etc)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic maple syrup, raw honey or coconut palm sugar.
  1. In a small bowl mix the turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper and coconut oil to make a paste.
  2. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat gently for a minute then pour in your chosen milk.
  3. Heat gently for about 5 minutes (do not boil).
  4. To serve, pour the golden milk into a cup and add a 1/2 teaspoon organic maple syrup, raw honey or coconut sugar to taste.