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A recent study published by the British Medical Journal has found that eating at least 2 portions of whole, not juiced, apples, grapes and blueberries per week, reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 23%.
This may be because these fruits contain high levels of anthocyanins which may reduce glucose production in the liver.
With 12 weeks to go you'd be forgiven for thinking I meant ...to be jolly. But what I'm really referring to is...get a cold.
Yup. Winter is nearly here. Sob. And with winter comes the snot, the sneezing, the coughs, the sore throats, the general horrific feeling of , illness.
So, other than eating lots of vitamins and staying warm - what can we do?
Well, because over 80% of our immunity comes from the gut (I know, weird right!) experts say one of the best things we can do to protect our immune function, and therefore our ability to fight off colds, is to cut out sugar.
And we should be trying to do this anyway, because sugar is so so so bad for us, and, as we all know, it's easier said than done. But if you are feeling coldy, or you really don't want to come down with a cold, try cutting out sugar completely for a few days - foregoing that biscuit will definitely be worth it if it saves you from a week of 'ill'.
..And this can even be true for your fitness regime. Yay. Recent research has found that exercising for 30 minutes per day could help you lose around 25% more weight than exercising for an hour a day.
Well, shorter workouts left the exercisers happier, more motivated and with more energy to continue their healthy lifestyle for the rest of the day. Those who spent longer in the gym were less happy, more tired and less motivated. Those in the high exercise group felt 'burned out' and were less willing to extend their healthy habits to the rest of their day - for example choosing to take the lift rather than the stair, and drive to the shops rather than walk.
So, if you struggle to get to the gym for those long and dull workouts, try reducing the amount of time you spend there and see if this makes any difference to you.
There are bazillions (not a real word) of studies out there linking a lack of sleep with weight gain and appetite increases. And, a recent study has found that people who report being 'tired' eat, on average, 500 calories more a day.
So, why is this?
Well, whilst we're asleep our bodies produce many regulatory hormones - and, it is thought, that not getting enough sleep negatively affects the sequence of this hormone release causing us to be hungrier and need to eat more the following day.
We can't all choose when we can get to the gym or do our workout, and, of course doing any kind of exercise, at any time of day is excellent. But, for those of you that can choose when to work out - this tip is for you.
A recent study looked at the effect of the time of day on training performance and found that 'force production' was greatest in the evening compared to the morning and afternoon. Other studies have supported these findings across aerobic and weight lifting trials.
So, if you are lucky enough to have the choice, you're probably best off heading to the gym, or class or onto the streets for your run in the evening, or late afternoon to be at your strongest.
For those of you with less choice, don't despair. Research also shows that having a caffeinated drink in the morning before your work out can help you to boost your performance. The body can also adapt to your regular training schedule!
Millions of women report feeling bloated after eating. And recent research suggests that this might be due to eating certain foods. Small carbohydrates, in particular FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di, mono-saccharides and polyols), aren't digested or absorbed well in the small intestine. What happens is that these food particles ferment in the large intestine forming gases which cause that horrible and uncomfortable bloating feeling.
Frustratingly some of the healthiest foods out there contain these pesky FODMAPs including avocados, leeks, brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
So, if you're prone to bloat it's best to avoid all foods which contain FODMAPs. For more info and a comprehensive list of foods to avoid - click here.
If you're one of those people who is always hungry - it may be that you have a particular version of what scientists call (very scientifically..) a 'fat gene'.
Recent research, carried out by University College London, shows that some people are biologically programmed to feel hungrier than others. Those with a particular variant of the FTO gene are more likely to crave high calorie foods right after eating, because they have elevated levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone).
If you are like me and have a very VERY sweet tooth then remember the following and make it a mantra for life:
Eat your sweet with FIBRE, PROTEIN or FAT
because any of these will help slow down the absorption of sugars to prevent a spiking of your blood sugar levels.
To prevent cancer we need to have a strong immune system. To function at their most efficient our immune systems need the boost we get from regular physical activity.
Recent research studies have found that moderate levels of physical activity can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50% and breast cancer by 20% (in post menopausal women). Exercise is also associated with reduced rates of endoemetrial and lung cancers.
As winter approaches we could all do with improving our immune systems too, to keep those horrible colds and flus away. So, if you don't currently partake in any physical activity check out my video blogs for inspiration and then try the exercises for yourself!
This sounds kind of silly. How can something that we need, in order to survive, ever been termed ‘addictive’?
Well, the point is, that certain foods, specifically foods that are ‘created’ for us to eat in laboratories and factories, are filled with things that make us want to eat more and more and more of them.
And this is where the problem lies. Naturally occurring, healthful foods aren’t the ones we’re worried about. It’s the foods that have been created for us, that make us fat and cause diseases like diabetes and cancer, that the scientists are talking about and that we need to be aware of.
A new study carried out by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides the strongest evidence of this, to date.
The researchers used fMRI scans to look at the effects of certain foods on the reward centre of the brain.
They found that simple carbohydrates, so foods like doughnuts, cakes, cookies, white bread and white pasta (that have a high GI) stimulate the reward centres of the brain in the same way that highly addictive substances like illegal drugs and smoking do.
In the study the researchers experimented on 12 overweight or obese men by measuring their blood sugar levels and hunger.
The men ate 2 meals consisting of beverages with the same number of calories, same level of sweet ness and the same taste profile. One of the meals contained high GI carbs and the other contained low GI carbs.
Using an fMRI scan the men’s brains were scanned 4 hours after eating. As expected, after the high GI meal, the men’s blood sugar levels quickly soared before dropping at the 4 hour mark. The men were also hungrier at this mark than those who had eaten the low GI meal and had intense activation in the nucleus accumbens. The nucleus accumbens is the same part of the brain that is stimulated by addictive drugs and practices (like gambling and smoking) and is often termed the brain’s pleasure centre.
So this study suggests that high GI foods are addictive because they lead to rapid changes in blood sugar levels which stimulate the brain’s pleasure centre. This helps explain why eating sugar laden foods like sweets and cakes can often lead to over-eating and what could be called ‘food-addiction’.
So, scary study aside, stick to healthful low GI foods whenever you can, particularly if you’re on a diet and want to lose weight.