As we race to the end of what feels like a shortened year, we face a few uncertain weeks which would normally be filled with festivities and fun. There would also be a heaped tablespoon full of stress, served with a side of anxiety, this year it has doubled.
Normal does not feel like it used to, and we are faced with creating our new normal for the year ahead. Strengthening our immunity, our resilience and our mindset will help us get through the challenges of the year ahead.
Placing the emphasis on improving health and fitness in 2022 will dramatically help this cause. Over the past 18 months many of you have discovered the glorious countryside that surrounds us and enjoyed not only the cardiovascular benefits they provide but the emotional and mental well-being they facilitate. Being fit and healthy is not something you can achieve and then tick off on your bucket list, it is a lifelong journey that changes direction as we age and has to adapt to the challenges that life throws in our path.
It is easy to write off the month and plan to do the January detox or diet, but what if you could have fun over Christmas without putting on half a stone?
Here are a few simple ideas for you to try that will help you keep the ‘Christmas’ weight off this December
Thank you to all 34 diners who attended our ‘Pop Up’ on 22nd November.
Speaking of which, three fantastic events for you to visit this weekend:
Jane Barnes PhD BSc PGDip | Registered Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach
I sometimes think that I spend a lot of my life warning people about the dire consequences of eating the foods that they love and encouraging them to give up many of their regular indulgences……..so I am overjoyed to report the good news ‘Chocolate is officially good for you!’.
There is a caveat (yes, I know, there is always a catch) the chocolate must be dark chocolate containing at least 85% cocoa solids or more.
A recent randomized controlled trial (1) divided healthy subjects into 3 groups. One group ate 30g of 85% dark chocolate every day for 3 weeks. A second group ate 70% dark chocolate, and a control group ate no chocolate (spoiler alert - no wonder they turned out to be less happy!).
The 85% group (unlike the other two groups) significantly improved their mood scores when assessed using a standard mental health questionnaire and they also had significant changes in their gut microbes which may have explained the difference.
This study just adds to a long list of the purported health benefits for high cocoa content dark chocolate which contains several compounds (flavonoids, phytonutrients, polyphenols) that are commonly found in foods labelled ‘superfoods’ by marketing departments the world over.
Studies have described blood sugar modulating, cholesterol-lowering, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as being linked to a lower risk of developing high blood pressure (2)(3).
Natural, unsweetened raw cocoa is one of the most powerful dietary antioxidants as assessed by the ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) and walks all over superfoods we traditionally think of as the cancer fighters and heart helpers:
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC)
Now I don’t want to rain on the parade of those who enjoy milk chocolate, but I’m afraid that the evidence suggests that the high sugar and lower cocoa content does away with all the above benefits. As an ex-milk chocolate fiend, myself, you might like to consider following in my footsteps and undertaking some progressive training to increase your enjoyment of dark chocolate. It takes around 3 weeks for your taste buds to adapt to a big dietary change, so start by swapping your milk chocolate for 65% and gradually work your way up until you get to 85% or more.
Thank you to all 32 diners who attended our ‘Pop Up’ on 18th October. This was the first time that Three Storeys had held such an event but shows how wonderful this venue is for a variety of events. Thank you to Nicki for allowing us to run the event and to Chris at the Fine Fish Company for providing the amazing Salmon. I am sure that those of you who tasted it will agree it was excellent and worth reminding you that more high-quality fish available here - https://www.thefinefishcompany.co.uk/
Also, a big thanks to Vicky Keble-Williams for her generous donation of table flowers, they were a real delight! If you are interested Vicky is holding a workshop in December
The ‘Pop Up’ was such a huge success, that another one has been arranged and SOLD OUT to those who missed out on the first event. Such is its popularity; we may be forced to run another in January!
These Pop Ups are just part of a whole host of events planned at the Three Storeys throughout the Autumn. There will be an INSPIRED Exhibit featuring many of the artists involved with the project from Tuesday 12th October until Sunday 14th November
The exhibit is situated in the Café and free to visit.
If the weekends deluge was not enough to persuade you that winter is on its way, the clocks going back, and the longer darker nights will have no doubt convinced you.
For many this is not a welcome prospect as it leaves them open to “winter depression". More commonly known as SAD (Seasonal affective disorder), as the symptoms are usually more apparent and severe during this season.
Sunlight heighten the brain's production of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin, consequently the more sunlight we are exposed too, the more serotonin we produce and vice versa!
With indifferent weather on the horizon for the next few months, plus the remnants of Covid restrictions forcing many people to work from home, getting into good habits and making the absolute best of the daylight hours available would be a wise choice.
To help keep you healthy we would thoroughly recommend a 'fake commute' to work. Fresh air, daylight and moderate exercise will help boost your immune system and your mood!
*(I must add that lots of preparation, reading and research had been carried out before hand, but as a student household we referred to these as ‘Lionel Richie’s’ after his 1983 hit All Night Long).
Aching or painful joints are one of the main reasons why people pay a visit to our clinic. Although pain can occur anytime throughout the year, it can often feel worse and harder to cope with during the cold and wet winter months. Our Chiropractic associate, Jason Cott, explains:
If you have any questions about any of the information or would like to discuss your joint pain issues, please feel free to contact our clinic team.
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Thanks for supporting the INSPIRED Cookbook in aid of Stroud Women’s Refuge. We have been overwhelmed with the support to date, but this is just the beginning as we need to sell a lot of books to raise much needed funds for the Refuge.
Here are a few events that might be of interest to you.
Monday 18th October 7pm
‘Pop Up Bistro’ @ Three StoreysNailsworth. Join us for a ‘one night only’ meal inspired by the recipes from the INSPIRED Cookbook. Spaces are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment!
The ‘Pop Up’ is just part of a whole host of events planned at the Three Storeys throughout the Autumn. There will be an INSPIRED Exhibit featuring many of the artists involved with the project from Tuesday 12th October until Sunday 14th November.
The exhibit is situated in the Café and free to visit.
Starting this weekend and running until 10th October, there is an exhibition of new print-based artwork from the Studio of Hayley & Marcus Walters. Marcus provided the artwork for the INSPIRED front cover, plus several pieces feature in the book. https://www.threestoreys.co.uk/whatsonarticles/in-house-studio
Please feel free to share via email or via our Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/inspiredcookbook/ using the hashtag #inspiredcookbook!
As we head towards yet another winter facing the prospect of soaring covid rates alongside increased rates of influenza, it has never been more important to ensure that your immune system is in tip top condition.
So, is there anything you can do to help optimise your immune function to help fight off infections?
The answer is definitely ‘yes’ and research suggests that eating a good diet (rich in nutrients and fibre but low in processed foods and sugar) plus moderate exercise, getting enough sleep (8 hours per night), not smoking and managing your stress levels all support healthy immunity.
While eating a good diet may provide adequate amounts of nutrients like zinc (best sources in meat, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds) and vitamin C (in citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes) that are known to support healthy immune function, it is unlikely that diet alone will provide sufficient levels of vitamin D. The best dietary sources of vitamin D are from oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, liver and fortified foods like breakfast cereals - but the majority of vitamin D in our bodies is generated by the action of sunlight on our skin. Obviously, in the UK (particularly after the summer we have just had!) this may be problematic, and studies have found that up to 75% of the UK population may have sup-optimal vitamin D levels – particularly by the end of winter.
Since 2016 government advice has been that between October and March, all adults and children over the age of 5 should consider taking a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms per day. In addition: people with darker skins; those who are not exposed to much sunlight; breastfeeding infants; or children aged 1 to 4 should consider taking 10 micrograms of supplemental vitamin D per day all year round.
What is vitamin D and what does it do?
Vitamin D behaves like a hormone and nearly every cell in our body has receptors that interact with it. Traditionally vitamin D was known for its importance in bone health and preventing rickets, but it has become increasingly apparent that it is also an important modulator of immune function. It does this by supporting the part of our immune system which is the first line of defence against viral invaders, and also by modulating the inflammatory response.
Multiple large observational studies have documented that having a lower vitamin D level is associated with increased risk of developing: upper respiratory infections 1; influenza 2; HIV 3 4; autoimmune diseases like MS 5 and rheumatoid arthritis 6; and even Covid 7.
These studies, however, do not prove that having a lower vitamin D level is what causes the problem, and the evidence is less clear when we look at studies that examine whether administering supplemental vitamin D protects against developing infections.
So, should you take a vitamin D supplement?
The good news is that there is very good evidence that vitamin D supplementation can indeed reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infections8 particularly in those who have low baseline levels of vitamin D.
The evidence for any reduced Covid risk is however far from clear. While there is some preliminary indication that supplementing with vitamin D may reduce Covid infection rates, symptom severity and mortality9 10 11 - much more evidence is needed to prove any conclusive link. Watch this space!
In the meantime, I would suggest that in addition to regularly including vitamin D rich foods in your diet, everyone should follow current government guidelines to take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D3 per day through the coming winter. More advice can be found on the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
While this may be sufficient for most people, genetic variation can mean that a minority may need a higher intake to ensure optimal vitamin D status. Private testing for vitamin D levels is possible and anyone who would like to discuss this option can contact me via the reception at Personal Best.
1. Laaksi I, et al. An association of serum vitamin D concentrations < 40 nmol/L with acute respiratory tract infection in young Finnish men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(3):7147. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
2. Cannell JJ, et al. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006;134(6):1129–40. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
3. Villamor E. A potential role for vitamin D on HIV infection? Nutr Rev. 2006;64(5 Pt 1):226–33. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
4. Rodriguez M, et al. High frequency of vitamin D deficiency in ambulatory HIV-Positive patients. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2009;25(1):9–14. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
5. 21. Munger KL, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis. JAMA. 2006;296(23):2832–8. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
6. 23. Merlino LA, et al. Vitamin D intake is inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50(1):72–7. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
11. Cangiano B., Fatti L.M., Danesi L., Gazzano G., Croci M., Vitale G., Gilardini L., Bonadonna S., Chiodini I., Caparello C.F., et al. Mortality in an Italian nursing home during COVID-19 pandemic: Correlation with gender, age, ADL, vitamin D supplementation, and limitations of the diagnostic tests. Aging. 2020;12:24522–24534. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
‘I was inspired to get this by seeing all your cooking demos on FB before this went to print, it’s such a wonderful idea to create this book for a very worthwhile cause. It’s not just a cookbook, it has a lot of insight into the work that Stroud Women’s Refuge does, which is invaluable in these testing times. Love the artwork too, it truly is inspirational.’
‘I've just bought my copy of the cookbook from Stroud Bookshop - what a triumph. I've been sitting reading and looking at it for the last couple of hours and it's certainly a visual feast! You have done brilliantly in every respect, and I think it's so distinctive in its approach with the artwork, personal stories, and local emphasis. Thank you so much for having the vision and determination to develop the overall concept with such flair and for seeing this project through to completion!’
‘I think it's really fantastic - there is a great range of recipes, including leftovers, which is really excellent, and the photographs of the food are so good. I also like the fact that it's not just a cookbook, I've just been reading about our R.A.S. (which took me back a few years !!!!) and also about 'everything in moderation’ which is a reminder of my years of 'weight watchers' as that was their punchline. So much more than another cookery book.’
‘What a lovely book! I love the mixture of recipes, artwork, stories and gorgeous pictures of food and it seems a really good idea just to have a limited number of recipes for each type of food so that you don't get overwhelmed by choice. I've bought one for myself and one for my sister and am thinking of giving it to everyone at Christmas!’
'The cookery book is a huge success! I think I said that the courgettes and chickpeas were yummy. I’ve also made the cauliflower tikka - a winner. It seemed a bit time consuming but that is because the recipe was new to me. Next to try is the butter squash and cashew and coconut korma!'
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