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

Controlling your bladder during and after pregnancy

Pregnancy places a lot of new additional stress on your pelvic floor muscles, causing them to weaken in as little as twelve weeks. At times it may feel as though your baby is playing a game with your bladder at the most inconvenient times.

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If you are having trouble controlling your bladder while pregnant, here’s a few tips to help you manage the symptoms:

  1. Do your pelvic floor exercises!
    Pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises are designed to support and strengthen the pelvic floor. Correct contraction of the pelvic floor muscles involves squeezing and lifting under the pelvis up into the body, around the vagina. Other parts of the body should be completely isolated avoiding activation of the glutes and inner thighs. Complete at least 30-40 contractions a day, aiming to work up to 10 seconds per contraction. For instance, complete 10 repetitions, 3-4 times per day. We know it can be difficult to find the time but you will be grateful in the end. And even if you can only manage a handful of some days that will be better than none at all.
  2. Keep your weight gain moderate
    Ensure your weight gain during pregnancy is progressing moderately by staying active and exercising within your limits. Follow a healthy and nutritious diet, as well as including fibrous foods to avoid constipation as this can add additional pressure on the pelvic floor.
  3. Don’t cut back on water intake
    Avoiding water will not solve the issue and may make you prone to other conditions such as urinary tract infections and dehydration. It is advised to keep drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day.
  4. Avoid foods and beverages that irritate the bladder
    Beverages such as tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks can increase bladder activity, as well as acidic products and spicy foods can also irritate the bladder. Try to avoid these items, however continue to include essential fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  5. Manage the issue
    If you suffer leaks during pregnancy, it is advised to use panty liners to absorb any urine. This will help you cope rather than to restrict your activity or interfere with daily life.

Despite continuing with pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, it is possible that your pelvic floor will weaken due to the weight of the baby and the impact of child birth. Innovotherapy is recommended from six weeks after giving birth, with significant improvements in as little as four weeks.1 Ensure you seek medical approval from your doctor before using the INNOVO® device. Now available in LloydsPharmacy stores and online here.

1) Soeder S, Tunn R. (2012) – Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) of the Pelvic Floor Muscles using a Non-Invasive Surface Device in the Treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI); A Pilot Study. IUGA Poster Presentation Conference, Dublin, Ireland (2013)

 

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – AUTUMN SUPERFOOD SALAD

Our week 10 Love Your Health recipe, by nutritional therapist Pamela, is AUTUMN SUPERFOOD SALAD!

I am a firm believer that salads are not just for summer. With such a variety of gorgeous vegetables coming into season at this time of year it seems a shame not to show them off in all their glory.  I adore the deep, rich tones of beetroot, figs and purple kale. This earthy salad features lots of familiar superfoods that deliver an abundance of nutrients including protein, iron, vitamin B1 and folate; antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds found in purple kale, beetroot and figs and antioxidant vitamins C and K. The soluble fibre in lentils and essential fatty acids in extra virgin olive oil and avocado make this a vegetarian main course for lunch or dinner.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 2 hungry people as a main course (or 3-4 as a light lunch or side dish)

  • 2 beetroot (approx. 250g peeled weight) chopped into cubes
  • 1 red onion, peeled & quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 cups cooked green lentils (or 1 can organic cooked lentils, drained)
  • Juice of 1 small (or 1/2 large) lemon
  • Handful of fresh basil or parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 whole fresh figs, washed and quartered
  • 4-5 stalks purple kale washed and chopped into chunks
  • 1 avocado, peeled, stone removed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • Sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the beetroot, red onion, garlic, cumin and thyme onto a roasting tray, douse with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Roast in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onions slightly caramelised.
  3. While the beetroot is roasting, prepare the rest of the salad:
    • Place the lentils, lemon juice, basil, figs, kale, avocado and pine nuts into a large bowl and toss gently to combine the ingredients.
    • When the roasted vegetables are ready, discard the thyme from the roasting tray and allow the vegetables to cool slightly.
    • Toss the beetroot, red onion and garlic into the bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients and gently combine. Taste and season with more lemon juice, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – APPLE & BLACKBERRY HAZELNUT CRUMBLE

It’s week 9 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s mouth-watering healthy recipes and she is making it harder & harder for us to pick a favourite! This weeks recipe is Apple & Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble. It’s Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free & contains No Refined Sugar.

“Late August, given heavy rain and sun for a full week, the Blackberries would ripen”

– From ‘Blackberry Picking’ by Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney’s poem is by far one of my favourites….so evocative of summer’s end and the arrival of autumn. This healthy dessert showcases the best of local autumnal fruits. Blackberries are high in antioxidants which are responsible for their deep purple colour and I used new season apples from last weekends farmer’s market haul. Apples are high in pectin fibre, and slow releasing sugars so they control blood sugar levels and promote healthy digestion. The crumble topping is grain free and deliciously nutty.  Hazelnuts are an indigenous nut and are rich in antioxidant vitamins E and K which protect the heart.  They are also bursting with folate, which is particularly beneficial if you’re planning a pregnancy; and biotin, which supports skin and hair health. I like to serve this with whipped coconut or almond cream but you can use dairy cream if you wish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Apples (peeled, cored & chopped)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 50g coconut palm sugar
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 100g raw hazelnuts
  • 100g mixed seeds
  • 100g almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 125g coconut oil
  • 1 cup dates soaked in 1/2 cup hot water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the apples, cinnamon, star anise, coconut sugar and water into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes until the apples begin to soften.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the blackberries.
  4. Pour the mixture into a deep oven proof dish and dust with a little almond flour.
  5. To prepare the crumble blitz the hazelnuts and seeds in a food processor until coarse. Transfer to a bowl and add the almond flour.
  6. Use a hand blender to blend the dates & hot water to make a paste, add the coconut oil and mix.
  7. Combine the nut and seed mixture with the date paste and coconut oil and combine.
  8. Pour the mixture over the apple and blackberries. Cover with a sheet of tinfoil to prevent the nuts from burning, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes (remove the foil after 30 minutes to allow the crumble to brown).
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving warm with coconut or almond cream.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – ULTIMATE BEET BURGERS!

Welcome to week 8 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s divine but healthy recipes. This weeks recipe is ULTIMATE BEET BURGERS…. & ruby-stained fingers!

INGREDIENTS

Makes 10 burgers

  • 1 small red onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 large beetroot (approx. 600g), peeled & chopped
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 2 ounces raw walnuts
  • 2 ounces Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 150g ricotta cheese
  • 150g organic oat, buckwheat or millet flakes
  • 1 teaspoon maldon sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil for brushing

September is probably one of my favourite times of year at the farmer’s market.  A feast of courgette, squash, pumpkin, kale and savoy cabbage, the last of the summer cucumbers and first of new season apples.

My local market is on Sunday mornings at The People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire, but you’ve got to get to McNally’s Organic Farm stand early for the richest pickings! Last week I grabbed some humongous purple beetroot, which feature in this week’s recipe. Beetroot contains betacyanins – a group of antioxidant compounds that give this root vegetable its rich jewel tone – betacyanins support liver detoxification, reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation (the latter being the reason that beetroot is an athlete’s best buddy!).

These nutrient-rich vegetarian beetroot burgers are packed with protein from ricotta cheese (another farmer’s market purchase), walnuts and hulled hemp seeds (Nua Naturals to the rescue yet again), and are a rich source of omega 3 fats, iron and B-complex vitamins. These are truly delicious, ideal in the lunchbox or for dinner with sweet potato fries or a gigantic green salad (see serving suggestions below).

INSTRUCTIONS

Place all ingredients (except the oat / millet / buckwheat flakes & the olive oil) into a food processor. Pulse until fully combined, but with plenty of texture. Transfer to a large glass bowl and stir in the oat flakes. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour (this step is important, as the oats will absorb excess water from the beetroot).

Heat the oven to 200oC. After 1 hour, remove from the fridge and use your hands to shape the mixture into burger patties. The mixture will be moist, but if it feels too wet, stir in another handful of the flakes you used or add 1 tablespoon of coconut flour (I use Nua Naturals). Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each side of the burgers with olive oil and place onto an oven dish lined with greaseproof paper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the burgers and turn them over gently with a spatula. Bake for another 10-12 minutes and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Delicious warm or cold!

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • On grilled portobello mushrooms with sliced avocado, rocket leaves & tomato, sprinkled with mixed seeds
  • In a wholegrain bun with sliced tomato, lettuce & hummus.

 

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – Carrot, Coconut & Lentil Soup

This is nutritional therapist Pamela’s 7th enticing recipe she’s provided for us. This weeks recipe is Carrot, Coconut & Lentil Soup… perfect for this cooler weather and a lot easier to make than you’d think!

(serves 4)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger root, peeled & chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 600g organic carrots, washed, ends removed & chopped
  • 4 heaped Tbsp dried red lentils, rinsed in cold water
  • 1 organic vegetable bouillon dissolved in 650ml hot water
  • 1 can full fat organic coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon maldon sea salt
  • Large bunch of fresh coriander leaves, roughly torn
  • Freshly ground black pepperThis vibrant soup is easy to digest, nourishing and warming, whilst cooling coconut milk and fresh coriander offer subtle hints of summer, which is fortunate because as I write this, Ireland’s summertime is having its last hurrah (you’d know the schools are back!!). Serve with a big green salad, or a chunk of rye or sourdough bread spread with almond butter or some smashed avocado to make a satisfying, incredibly nutritious meal.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A. A diet high in carotenes is associated with a reduced risk of some cancers, as well as promoting healthy skin, hair and nails. Lentils add protein, iron and a trace element called molybdenum which is excellent for oxygenating the blood (oxygenated blood = mental clarity + great skin….so that’s beauty and brains!!). Spices such as black pepper, coriander, cumin and tumeric posses powerful antioxidant and antibiotic qualities. Turmeric in particular contains a compound called curcumin which is both clinically and scientifically proven to reduce inflammation in the body. Coconut provides medium chain fatty acids. Fat has numerous important functions – it transports antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E into our body cells where they can go to work mopping up free radicals and repairing damaged cells, and its satiating, which prevents overeating and snacking too much between meals!

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Sweat the onion for about 10 minutes before adding the ginger, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Cook for a further minute then add the carrots and lentils. Stir well over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock, water and sea salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending. Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth. Add a few cracks of black pepper to taste.  To serve, spoon into bowls and add a handful of torn coriander leaves.

 

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

‘The Healthonist’ Recipes by Pamela Ryan – Raw Cacao, Nut & Seed Bars

Welcome to week 6 of nutritional therapist Pamela’s delicious nutritious healthy recipes. This weeks recipe is Raw Cacao, Nut & Seed Bars.

Don’t forget you can also get a free printed version of this recipe and more at your local LloydsPharmacy… enjoy!

Not only are these bars magnificently tasty, they are packed with fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They are an ideal post-workout snack and will feed  a few hungry kids after school. Add a piece of fruit or a green vegetable smoothie and you’ve got the perfect breakfast! So why are these little superfood bars so good for you?

  • Nuts have some of the highest antioxidant levels of all plant foods which help to fight inflammation and cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals.
  • Hemp, poppy and sesame seeds are equally nutritious as well as being an excellent source of protein and calcium.
  • Dates are excellent for supporting digestion, and balancing blood sugar.
  • Raw cacao powder is hands down one of the best sources of iron and magnesium as well being known to boost mood and energy levels.
  • Bee pollen. These miniature golden nuggets are high in fibre, iron and zinc that enhance energy, support the immune system and may even reduce histamine levels in people with allergies.
  • Note: I use Irish brand Nua Naturals’ superfoods for this recipe. Nua Naturals products can be found in your local Lloyds Pharmacy.

Makes 15-18 bars

Dry Mixture:

  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups of mixed raw nuts (walnut halves, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • 1 cup Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Nua Naturals bee pollen
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 heaping handful of rolled oats

Wet Mixture: 

  • 1 cup of dried dates (about 20 dates)
  • 3 Tbsp hot water
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp light tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 4 Tbsp Nua Naturals raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Line an 8-inch baking tin with greaseproof paper and set aside.
  2. Place all of the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse. Don’t over process, you want the mixture to be fairly coarse. Transfer the mixture to a large glass bowl and leave aside.
  3. Now add all of the ingredients for the wet mixture into the food processor and blend until thick and smooth.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix really well until combined into a slightly sticky ‘dough’ (use a large metal spoon or a spatula, or use your hands).
  5. Transfer the mix to the lined baking tin and press down firmly. Use a small rolling pin or heavy glass jar to flatten the mix evenly.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or freeze for 15-20 minutes.

Once set, remove and slice into bars. Wrap in parchment and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

 

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist