Monday, February 24th, 2014
This month is National Heart Month! This public health awareness campaign helps to raise awareness of the UK’s biggest killer – cardiovascular disease.
Risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease include: smoking, drinking, high blood pressure, stress, sedentary lifestyles and poor diets.
A healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease; we have included some tips below to help with a balanced diet:
- Ensure food is in its most natural state
- Try to eat a variety of foods, of a range of different colours
- Limit intake of sugary foods
- Choose healthier fats and oils
- Include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables into your diet daily
- Include wholegrains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds into the diet on a daily basis
Here are some further helpful tips taken from the British Heart Foundation website (http://www.bhf.org.uk/), to help support a balanced diet:
A balanced diet
The best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups.
Everyone should aim for a well balanced diet. Faddy crash diets may not provide the balance of nutrients you need.
Try to eat:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
- some milk and dairy products
- some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or sugar.
Choose options that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever you can.
Fruit and vegetables
A well-balanced diet should include at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Try to vary the types of fruit and veg you eat. They can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned. Pure unsweetened fruit juice, pulses and beans count as a portion, but they only make up a maximum of one of your five a day, however much you eat in one day.
A portion is about a handful (80g or 3oz), for example:
- 4 broccoli florets
- 1 pear
- 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots
- 7-8 strawberries
Sign up to our free service Heart Matters where you can access our portion finder to find out what makes up a portion of other fruits and vegetables.
To help look after your heart health it is important to make sure you choose the right type of fats.
So to help keep your heart healthy:
- Replace saturated fats with small amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats
- Cut down on foods containing trans fats.
It’s also important to remember that all fats and oils are high in calories, so even the unsaturated fats should only be used in small amounts.
Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Unsaturated fats, which can be monounsaturated fats (for example olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds, unsalted cashews and avocado) or polyunsaturated fats (including sunflower oil and vegetable oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds and oily fish) are a healthier choice.
Another type of fat, known as trans fat, can also raise the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Eating too much salt can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Want to cook healthily?
Our exclusive Heart Healthy everyday British cookbook contains tasty recipes for food lovers that are guaranteed to inspire a well-balanced diet.
If you drink alcohol, it’s important to keep within the recommended guidelines - whether you drink every day, once or twice a week or just occasionally.
Monday, February 10th, 2014
Well Done Jenny Jones!!
Sunday 9th February 2014 – What a day for the Great British Olympic Team!
Jenny Jones, from Bristol, has stormed the Sochi Olympic Women’s Slopestyle event to become the first Briton to win an Olympic medal in a snow event.
We hope that Jenny’s Bronze medal spurs you on to take up (or keep going) with a winter fitness plan.
We know it is horribly wet and windy in the UK at the moment so we thought we would share our Gut Active link to get you thinking about everyday physical activity to keep moving this month.
Check out: http://www.loveyourgut.com/getting-gut-healthy/gut-active/
Please share your simple ‘keep fit’ ideas with us!
Monday, January 27th, 2014
Yet again we have another wet and windy start to our week!
We thought we would spin this time of terrible weather into a pun on gut health and highlight the importance of stool consistency. The state of your gastrointestinal tract is a good indicator of how well or how unwell your body is. Below we highlight some common stool samples, identifying the type of stool that is healthy and those that are less healthy.
Using the Bristol Stool Scale (above) you ideally want to aim for a Type 3 or 4, that does not have a repulsive smell and is medium to light brown.
If your bowel movement is hard, dry or lumpy (Type 1 & 2) making it difficult to pass or soft or fluffy (Type 5 & 6) passing too quickly; simple steps such as, increasing your water intake, introducing more fruit/vegetables (fibre) to your diet and increasing gentle exercise can all help to improve the transit time of a stool and either increase or reduce its softness. You may also think about introducing a prebiotic or probiotic (see previous blog posts) to help improve your gut health.
If you bowel movements are entirely liquid (Type 7) it is recommended to visit you GP as soon as possible.
We thought we would leave you with this lovingly made Bristol Stool Scale cake!
Friday, January 17th, 2014
As expected, the most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less and get fitter!
We’ve picked a couple of our favourite blogs from the last few years that highlight these areas.
Did you know that, as well as harming the lungs, smoking can damage the digestive system? It contributes to disorders such as heartburn and peptic ulcers, and can increase the risk of Crohn’s disease.
But addiction to nicotine makes it hard to quit. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include cravings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and disturbed sleep. It’s a real challenge to try and quit smoking, but here are some tips that may help you along the way:
- Make a date: Set a specific date for stopping … and stop on that date!
- Buddy up: Ask a friend or colleague to also stop, for mutual support.
- Chuck it out: Throw away any smoking ‘paraphernalia’ – lighters, ashtrays, etc.
- Take it slow: Take it one day at a time; don’t think ‘I can never smoke again’, but instead, simply ‘I will not smoke tomorrow.’
- Take a break: Change your routine so as to eliminate all the ‘cigarette breaks’ that have previously slotted into the day.
- Save the cash: Save up the money normally spent on cigarettes and put it towards something special. 20 cigarettes a day, means saving around £2,000 per year!
- Get advice: Make an appointment with the GP – there’s lots of advice and support available free on the NHS.
As the weather changes and it begins to get colder, it is very easy to develop a more sedentary lifestyle. Exercise offers numerous health benefits to the body and could help play a vital role in how we feel as we head towards autumn and the colder months.
Not only does exercise help with the release of our ‘happy hormones’, it can also help to keep our bowels moving regularly. Exercise helps to tighten the muscles of the digestive tract, control weight gain and reduce stress. Aerobic exercise will help to lessen constipation by improving muscular contraction and assisting with the movement of food through the body.
For adults, the government currently recommends the following:
(taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-physical-activity-guidelines)
- Adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
- Alternatively, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.
- Adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
- All adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.
Monday, January 13th, 2014
Research shows that the average person in Britain consumes 700 g of sugar per week – that’s around 140 teaspoons!!
Last Thursday we experienced huge media coverage about the ‘over use’ and ‘hidden’ sugar in our diets. This week we want to provide some useful tips on food labelling to help you avoid hidden sugars.
Not only is it vital to reduce our added sugar intake to help protect our teeth from dental caries, there is also a growing body of evidence to suggest excessive added sugar intake is linked with obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
When it comes to ‘hidden’ sugars it is often very confusing to read food labels and packaging. The below bullet points provide some useful information to help identify sugar on food labels; added sugar has many different names and can be communicated differently for each product.
- Check the ingredients list for common names for sugars added to the diet. These include; glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, syrups (e.g. glucose, fructose, corn and maple), dextrose, honey, invert sugar, molasses, treacle.
- Look for the “Carbohydrates (of which sugars)” figure in the nutrition label – a high amount of sugar would be over 22.5g of total sugars per 100g and low would be under 5g of total sugars per 100g – aim for food low in sugar.
- Sugars are naturally present in fruit and milk, therefore food containing lots of fruit or milk will be a healthier choice than one that contains lots of added sugars, even if the two products contain the same total amount of sugars.
- When you’re in a hurry the colour-coding front of pack labelling (red-high, amber – medium and green- low) can guide you to make a quick and easy decision on food choices. Aim for foods that have lots of green rather than amber. Try to avoid foods that have lots of red.
Currently the Action for Sugar campaign group aim to tackle the food industry to reduced added sugar in food products and educate the public about impact consuming too much sugar can have on their health. Further information can be found on their website: http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/actiononsugar/index.html
The Change4Life website is also a useful tool with helpful tips on food swaps to replace high sugary foods, check them out at: http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/pages/low-sugar-healthy-snacks.aspx