March For Fitness

I’ve had a bit of a blogging delay – but I’ve been doing lots behind the scenes! Not least in the middle of my Plant Based Health Professionals Nutrition Diploma which I am loving. I’ve also been creating workshops – although now online ones due to the COVID-19 situation. See events tab for information.

Anyway here we are in March and March’s theme is all about being active and getting fit.  We are not meant to be sedentary beings, in the last century ill health and obesity have dramatically increased as technology has grown. Lives are lived in buildings and vehicles with the air being breathed via air-conditioning and no exposure to nature and the probiotics present out in the soil and trees etc. If you are not used to exercise or have been ill and immobile then it can seem such a huge mountain but it literally is one step at a time. Walk 10m, the next day walk 11, etc. Start and build up slowly and surely.  Information gained by studying the @bluezones shows just how important physical exercise is for maintaining a healthy lifespan. 

Movement encourages the synovial fluid in the joints to lubricate the surfaces. Ever wondered how you can feel stiff in the joints and then once moving it improves? Same with stiff and sore muscles, movement will encourage the muscles to relax and ease up therefore reducing pain and stiffness.

Daily exercise improves blood flow and cardiovascular health – it doesn’t have to be a hard run. A 30 minute walk is massively beneficial, also get out in the fresh air, enjoy the sounds of nature and soak up the benefits of sunlight on vitamin D in the body. Not only will that be better for the health of your bones, natures sounds have been proven to help us relax so leave the head phones at home. Wherever you live find a park or open space where you can enjoy this time – explore your local area, who knows what you may find just yesterday I found a little community garden just two streets away from where I live – a lovely little space of grass and shrubs and trees.

There are so many benefits from regular exercise – most people probably associate it with good cardiovascular health but did you know it is also protective against cancer and many other detrimental physiological processes.  

Studies have shown that regular exercise decreases the risk of at least 13 cancers.  It decreases insulin resistance, decreases oestrogen levels, decreases inflammation, improves immune function and decreases cancer recurrence.

As a general guide you should aim for about 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week but daily is even better. 

As always get in touch and let me know your thoughts and please reach out if you would like some advice on attaining your fitness goals.

Helene x

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Blood Pressure – How is yours?

Blood pressure how is yours?
As a doctor anti-hypertensive drugs are probably the medicines that most patients are on that and statins that we covered the last couple of days. However, one drug often doesn’t do the job and this becomes the start of the poly-pharmacy that we see so frequently when documenting what drugs patients are on.
Recent studies have shown that the number one risk factor for death is high blood pressure or hypertension as it is known in medical jargon and this is because it contributes to death from a wide variety of causes such as aneurysms, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke. Increased blood pressure puts a strain on the heart and can damage the small and sensitve vessels in your eyes and kidneys and can cause ballooning of vessels (aneurysms) causing them to rupture.
Studies over the years have shown that the 2 main dietary risks for high blood pressure and its effects may be not eating enough fruit and eating too much salt.

Salt – salt is a compound of which apx 40 % is sodium now sodium is an essential nutrient and it naturally occurs in vegetables and other natural foods. But when you add additional salt that is more than your body needs – it responds by water retention and this can cause your body to increase your blood pressure to push the excess salt out.
Most people consume double the amount of salt that they need and estimates for what you actually need is…..3/4 tsp! That is all – I know on the rare occasions I have chips I def have more than that. What about you?
So action plan – just stop adding salt in, also look at the labels if you eat processed food and be aware of the salt content. Interestingly, I was looking at the tins of baked beans I had a month back and I realised that the organic baked beans had significantly more salt in them than a well-known brand so I’ve now swapped as I feel the low salt content out-weighs the lack of organic certification of the beans as I eat baked beans almost daily.

So if the key to BP management is to cut out salt as mentioned (your taste buds will adjust in just a few short weeks) what foods can you add in to help?
Whole grains – 3 portions of whole grains a day can significantly reduce BP – whole as in not refined so oats, whole wheat and brown rice – refined grains can actually increase your risk.
Ground flaxseeds (linseed) has one of the best anti-hypertensive effects a few tablespoons a day can have a powerful reduction but introduce it slowly if you are on meds as you find it reduces it too much too soon.
Eating more vegetables – raw appears to be slightly more protective.
Legumes – all those beans, lentils chickpeas help a bit – I don’t have high blood pressure I didn’t before going vegan and now with my daily baked bean habit I definitely don’t.
Hibiscus Tea – studies showed that 2 strong cups of this floral tea every morning is as effective as a starting dose of a leading anti-hypertensive.
Keeping the vessels healthy is also vital for normalising BP and eating lots of fruit and veg you flood your body with anti-oxidants which eliminate the free radicals and boost your body’s production of nitric oxide (which signals your arteries to relax and therefore increase blood flow) and by increasing your consumption of nitrate rich food (beetroot, Swiss chard, coriander, rhubarb, rocket to name a few) that your body can then convert into nitric oxide you improve blood flow further – great for athletes, heart disease, patients with erectile dysfunction.
So there is some food for thought… How do those foods feature on your shopping list? Remember prevention is always better than cure.

Let me know what you think.

Helene xx

Food For Ageless Ageing Part 2

So continuing my blog on foods to have daily in your diet

Onions – Smash or pass? Does it depend on colour? Well anything colourful from the plant kingdom is actually more beneficial so choose red onions which in my opinion are also more flavoursome. Onions plus garlic, leeks and chives are all hugely beneficial for the cardio-vascular and immune system and can help lower cholesterol. Lots of evidence shows too that they are cancer protective especially for colorectal, laryngeal and ovarian cancer. They are nutrient dense with an abundances of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A, B6, C & E and sodium, manganese,potassium and Iron) plus fibre. They are also great source of folic acid. Pretty much any savoury dish is enhanced with the humble onion or garlic -personally I am not so keen on leeks but I do like a nice leek and potato soup – recipe to follow. I love red onion in a sandwich with avocado and some vegan cheese mmmmmmmmm

Mushrooms – I love mushrooms what about you? Mushrooms have a high content of a particular anti-oxidant called ergothioneine which works on protecting the cells and because of this they have great immune and anti-cancer benefits. Mushrooms should actually be cooked as there is a toxin contained in them which is destroyed by cooking – I just boil for a few mins and as such can be added to all meals including salads. Now mushrooms are great sources of vitamin D which is essential for health and especially so as we get older. We make our own Vitamin D when we are in sunlight but with daily working inside this can be limited. By putting your mushrooms upside down out in sunlight for an hour or two beween 10am and 3pm can boost their Vitamin D levels significantly. That really is a more pleasant way of boosting your vitamin D levels that taking tablets that are unpalatable and to be honest have very little compliance with patients for that reason.

Berries – Who doesn’t like berries? If green veg is The Veg, then berries must be The Fruit. These are little powerhouses of anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients helping to boost the immune system and protect against cancer, they guard the liver and the brain and are cardio-protective too. And are great for the collagen in skin. Aim to eat at least 1 portion a day and that is ½ cup of fresh or frozen. Now interestingly unlike many other fruits and veg – frozen doesn’t matter as the freezing process actually means more of the essential phytonutrients are actually released from the berry and so you actually get more benefit. Blueberries especially have shown to be especially good for eyesight and eye related conditions especially macular degeneration.
They are extremely palatable so however you eat them just eat them, I especially love them on my overnight oats recipe, or in smoothies. But mixed with live yoghurt is also pretty good too.

Seeds – In studies it was showed that vegans who did not eat seeds did not live as long as those who incorporate them into their daily diet. So why are they so important? Very good sources of protein and fibre but also other essential benefits.
Flaxseeds especially are fantastic in lowering high blood -pressure which is a huge problem today with so many people on anti-hypertensive agents that have a lot of side effects and often not just one drug is needed leading to a poly-pharmacy approach. A couple of tablespoons a day of ground flax seed (must be ground otherwise they pass right through and not pre-milled buy a little spice grinder and I blend a jam jars worth at a time which lasts about a week for me as my dogs have them too) is actually over twice as powerful as popular blood pressure medication with only good side effects! They are also effective in lowering cholesterol, blood sugar levels and inflammation. Really easy to incorporate into your food as well, sprinkled on oats, in a smoothie in recipes they make a great thickener and as an egg replacer in cakes and other baked goods.
Chia seeds and flax seeds are both good sources of omega 3 which is essential for brain health – more about that later and just takes a tablespoon a day which is incredibly easy to do. More to come in some recipes!

G-BOMBS how easy is that to remember – focus on adding into your diet rather than swapping or eliminating other things will make it so much easier for you to get into the habit of eating for health.

Ageless September

Ageless September is all about prevention and treating common symptoms that occur as we age. Please don’t be put off if you are in your 20s or less – we all age and changes now can make a vast difference to the future, plus it can help you maybe plant the seed in your parent’s health to improve any issues they may have. I know that has been the case with mine, many of the tips I will share this month I have enticed my parents to embrace and although they are still a work in progress 🙂 small changes can definitely make huge steps.

Although we have the means and health to live longer and health span is not matching our lifespan and I see daily in my work as an ED doctor people who would be considered elderly in their 40s and 50s. My mother who is 79 (don’t tell her I told you) remarked the other day that a trip they went on everyone was very elderly at over 80! I pointed out her age and she retorted that she didn’t feel her age at all – and that really is the best attitude to have, I come from a family with a young mindset and my grandpa was climbing ladders well into his 80s. And my best friend was 30 years older than me til she passed away aged 81 but she was never old to me, had a wicked sense of humour and was every bit as much fun as people decades younger than her. Age really is a mindset and if you are dreading various age milestones or “physical decline” maybe I will be able to alleviate some of that.

Over the course of the month, I’ll look at ways you can help yourself energetically in mind, body and spirit . This will deal with nutrition and what to add in and swap out and possibly eliminate all in all. I’ll also address how to ensure your mental and cognitive health stays is optimized and also look at various energetic ways to also address issues.

Now you may be thinking well that is all very well but I come from a family who all have high-cholesterol, have died young with heart attacks and everyone has diabetes – its in the genes! Well not quite epigenetics shows us that we are more a product of our environment and our beliefs rather than our DNA. Epigenetics is the study of how genes express themselves and it shows that the external factors influence the gene expression as opposed to the genes themselves. The Bruce Lipton Book I’ve mentioned in Things I like is a great read to explain this in more detail –The Biology of Belief

Simply put if you live in a family with bad health and follow their daily lifestyle practices – bad diet, smoking, drinking etc then you will encompass that in your own health. But if you alter your actions and beliefs then you can change that or maybe at the very least mitigate it. With some of the inherited characteristics say breast cancer only 5% of this cancer is through an inherited cause that means the other 95 people out of 100 had non-inherited factors. And although the gene may make you more disposed to an illness it doesn’t guarantee you will be affected and modification of lifestyle factors that also contribute to the expression of a dis-ease will still play a huge role. So start by looking at you lifestyle practices – most of the time people know what is detrimental without any outside help and acknowledge them, write them down and see what you can do to change them. Feel free to get in touch if you would like any help in pursuing this further.

Don’t forget to check out the Plant Fit Summit more info on link or under Thing’s I like – Events there is some great advice on ageing and I just listened to an excellent interview with Victoria Moran in vibrant at any age who definitely looks at least 20 years younger than her 69 years!

Be Healthful


Skinful August

So Skinful August was all about getting and keeping your skin in tip top condition.  We ingest and put so many toxins in and on the body it is hardly surprising we have so many issue.

My top 10 for skincare

  1.  Drink 2.5L of water a day – to keep you and your skin hydrated and to flush out those toxins
  2. Stop using harsh laundry detergents and conditioners -anything that claims to get your clothes bright white will have optical brightners in and enzymes that can cause your skin to be dry and cause or worsen eczema – chose natural products like soap nuts, eco-friendly detergents or good old bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Fill your diet with fresh fruit – berries in particular are full of anti-oxidants and great for 
  4. Eliminate dairy
  5. Think about what products you are using on your skin -the humble extra virgin coconut oil is a great moisturiser and good for wound care and especially good for chapped skin like nappy rash and eczema
  6. Cutting out refined sugar and oil from your diet can also eliminate acne flare ups to name just one benefit – you are what you eat so nourish your skin from the inside out.
  7. Sleep well, we need sleep to let our body rejuvenate and that goes for your skin as well – compare how awful your skin looks after a couple of hours sleep to a proper restful 7 hours.  There is a glow and a plumpness to it that sleep deprived skin will not have.
  8. Facial massage and dermal rollers are are a great way to improve your skin naturally without harsh toxins being injected the true side effects will only be really known about in years to come.
  9. Eat well, wholefood plant based has so many benefits – for more information from experts such as medical doctors and olympic athletes check out the plant fit summit
  10. Smile, have fun with friends can give your immune system a huge boost by raising those endorphins.

For more info on any of these points check out my Facebook and Instagram Posts for complete info.

Please get in touch if there is anything in particular you would like me to cover or any comments in general and I will do my best to obliges.

Yours Healthfully Helene