The Nutrition Coach Blog London Nutritionist The Nutrition Coach offers advice on healthy living, nutrition and diet issues such as IBS, bloating, gluten intolerance and more.

Nutrition help for headaches

July 23, 2009

Headaches seem to have been a bit of theme for me over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve seen quite a few clients complaining about thumping headaches that are becoming far too regular a feature in their lives.

We’ve all had the occasional headache, and often even know the cause of it.  The heavy night out, working late to reach a deadline or general lack of sleep can all be triggers.  Most can be treated with painkillers, but many don’t like taking them on a regular basis.

The problem with painkillers is also the fact that although they make the pain go away, the underlying reason why the headache started in the first place may still be there.  As soon as you stop taking the painkillers, the headaches often return.

So what are the alternatives?  As this is a nutrition column, I’ll talk about how your diet can help, but there are also other disciplines, such as acupuncture that can be extremely helpful and are also worth exploring.

One of the simplest ways to reduce your chances of getting headaches is to keep well hydrated.  Dehydration is almost certainly also contributing to those morning after headaches and most people know that drinking plenty of water before you go to bed after a boozy night out can make big difference to how you feel the next day.

But you can also get dehydrated during the day.  Drinking endless cups of tea or coffee, or cans of fizzy drinks all rob your body of its most important nutrient – water.  So cut back on your caffeine, and put a large bottle of water on your desk in the morning and sip from it throughout the day, aiming to finish by the time you leave work.

Other areas we nutritionists look at when rooting around for the underlying cause of the headaches are levels of certain nutrients and possible food intolerances.

I recently saw a client who had suffered from recurring headaches for as long as he could remember.  He had got to the stage when he almost didn’t notice the milder aches, and it was only when I asked that he realised that he had a headache even as we spoke.

His food intolerance test indicated a handful of problem foods, so I asked him to eliminate those from his diet for a trial two week period.  I also gave him some extra magnesium and vitamin B3, both of which can make a big difference to the severity and frequency of headaches.

After the two week period he reported a gradual decrease in the number of headaches he was getting.  We decided to continue with the same approach for another four weeks, and this time also eliminate caffeine and increase water intake.

After two months the headaches were no longer chronic, and only seemed to appear on a more occasional basis.  He also confessed to me that those occasional bouts were mostly caused by a night out, or stress at work.

Children’s Energy Breakfast

July 21, 2009

Go to work on an egg

Go to work on an egg

Children’s Energy Breakfast

What is it about the cereal aisle in the supermarket?  There we are thinking that we’re doing the wholesome thing taking our precious little ones to the shops to teach them about all the wonderful healthy foods they can eat and prepare…..and then it looms.  That symmetrical, brightly coloured, never ending tower of cardboard and sugar, silently calling to your child (anyone watching Torchwood right now will know exactly what it’s like!).

I’m even more comfortable in the biscuit aisle and that’s saying something for a nutritionist, but the point is that you would never dream of giving your child biscuits for breakfast BUT will allow them to start their day with something from one of those fabulously enticing boxes.

Being a mother of 3 sons I am constantly in awe of all that they achieve. But children need the right fuel and nutrients in their bodies so they can think straight, concentrate, work hard and play hard.  For long lasting energy and vitality for your children look at foods like eggs – nature’s best fast food – scramble, poach, boil or omelette. Try porridge with berries or maple syrup or find a yummy chunky muesli.  Cheese and tomato on toast would be a great start to the day and it’s pretty much pizza!  Even a ham sandwich would cut it.

If your child were a car – what car would it be?  If they are going to be Ferrari’s and Aston Martin’s then

Perfect vegetables for detox juices

July 20, 2009

At the beginning of the month the European Commission abolished 20-year old rules that prevented imperfect fruit and vegetables from being sold on supermarket shelves.  This is fantastic news, especially for organic growers.  With organic fruit and vegetables the focus is on the inner quality of the food, rather than the outer appearance, and fresh, seasonal produce is often naturally mis-shapen.  Now naturally knobbly carrots and wonky cucumbers can be sold, and at an estimated 40% reduction in price.  Fantastic.

I think we should all embrace this change as a wonderful opportunity to reach for our juicers.  The fruit and vegetables might be slightly wonky, but they’ll be cheap and still nutrient-rich and delicious.  Fresh juices are amazingly detoxing, and ideal for health rejuvenation and vitality.  The nutrients from juices are absorbed extremely fast, so they really are liquid nutrition for the body.  So a mis-shapen vegetable detox juice is a perfect way to start the week and a great detox from the weekend excesses.  Be brave and experiment with some greens – include some cucumber, celery, spinach, and sweeten with a little apple or pear, or spice it up with some ginger and lemon.  Once you start, you wont be able to stop!

Find out more about our detox diets and detox programmes and contact us to make an appointment at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Detox with meat-free Monday’s

July 13, 2009

The McCartney family are backing leading climate scientists by calling on people to go meat-free one day a week.  The focus of their Meat Free Monday campaign is to encourage people to go veggie for a day to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, which is among the most serious contributors of global warming.  According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, meat is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is significantly less than the 13% from transport emissions.  In addition, more of the Amazon rainforest is lost each year as it is turned into pasture for cattle, and it’s more energy efficient to eat crops directly rather than use them as cattle feed.

Having a meat free day once a week can really have an impact on the environmental mess that we’ve found ourselves in, but it doesn’t have to stop there.  Eating less meat and upping your vegetables can also do wonders for your health.  Vegetarians have been shown to have less heart disease, obesity, premature mortality, and cancer.  In fact, the World Cancer Research Fund recommends eating only up to 500g of red meat per week.  There are so many delicious vegetarian recipes out there, so why not start experimenting?

In know in biased as a non-meat eater, but i dont think it has to stop there.  I think meat-free Mondays are a fantastic opportunity to embrace pure, healthy eating as a whole.  So why not kick-start your week with a detox Monday?  Cut out the culprits: caffeine, alcohol, sugar, meat, wheat and dairy for one day a week, and fill it with detoxifying organic fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lentils, seeds and nuts.  Monday is a perfect post-weekend detox day, so why not give it a go?  You would be making a meaningful contribution to a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable world, as well as a healthier, happier you.

Find out more about our detox diets and detox programmes and contact us to make an appointment at one of our London nutrition clinics.


IBS – there’s more to it than diet alone

July 10, 2009

This week has been a real week for IBS clients, irritable bowel syndrome being a blanket term for an array of symptoms including bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and cramps. Many IBS clients are at their wits end with their symptoms and come to me as a last resort.

From experience, I have learnt that whilst diet can have a dramatic effect on IBS and bloating, it is not always the only answer. If there is some underlying digestive issue, even the best diet in the world will not clear up IBS entirely. For this reason I often recommend stool testing to assess digestive health and identify any ‘nasties’ such as parasites (surprisingly common), and bacteria and yeast infections.

Once we’ve worked on restoring a client’s digestive health and ensuring a healthy balanced diet, IBS symptoms such as bloating and constipation can be left firmly behind in the past.

Find out more about how we can help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and contact us to make an appointment at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Kim Porter

Top tips for avoiding holiday stomach upsets

July 9, 2009

Travellers’ diarrhoea can last up to five days so if you’re on holiday for a week then you could end up spending most of it in the bathroom!  To reduce your chances of succumbing to ‘Delhi belly’ read on for some top tips:

  • Check out the cleanliness of where you are eating – chances are that if the restaurant or café doesn’t look very clean then the hygiene standards won’t be that great either.
  • Don’t eat meat or fish that looks undercooked. Ask for your food well-done if in doubt.
  • Avoid salads which don’t look fresh. In countries where the water isn’t safe to drink, avoid salads altogether and avoid chopped and peeled fruit – peel your own.
  • If you’re eating in a seafood restaurant which is a long way from the sea, check when and where the fish has been caught – fish goes off quickly.
  • Avoid buffet food unless it looks really fresh. It may have been sitting there for some time!
  • If you’re in any doubt about whether or not you should drink the water then buy bottled water. Also avoid ice-cubes and use bottled water for cleaning your teeth.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before eating and handling food.
  • Take a friendly gut bacteria (probiotic) supplement at least one week before you go and take it with you – friendly gut bacteria produce acids and antibiotic-like substances that help us fight infection. Contact The Nutrition Coach for advice on the best probiotics to take.
  • Don’t let your guard down on the plane home – plane food can be contaminated if a flight originates from a country where the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea is high such as India or South America.

And if you are hit by Delhi Belly, what should you do?

  • Keep hydrated. If you are very ill and have been vomiting and have diarrhoea then you will need to replace lost fluids and may need an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) – consider packing some if you are visiting a high risk area. You can buy sachets at chemists. If you don’t have any sachets, an alternative can be made up using eight teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of salt added to one litre of safe, drinking water.
  • If there is blood in your stool, if you have a fever, or if the diarrhoea does not settle within 72 hours contact a doctor.
  • Once you feel like eating again, stick to very plain foods such as boiled rice or vegetable soup.
  • If you continue to experience digestive problems or develop other health problems on returning home, then it is worth considering testing for parasites. The Nutrition Coach can arrange parasite testing and can design a protocol aimed at getting rid of them.
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