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Nutrition

Autumnal Foods by Lindy Cook, Nutritionist

By | Seasons, Nutrition | No Comments

The days of bright berries, crisp salads and exotic summer fruits are behind us for another year. With autumn upon us it is time to slow down and allow our energy to slowly turn inward and contract. Autumn is the season to regain balance, a time to pull inward and gather together on all levels, a time to store food and prepare for the approaching stillness of winter. Allow yourself to find comfort in your inner sanctuary through meditation and contemplation.

Heartier, richer dishes will support and ground you. Add a little more sea salt and some extra oil (avocado, olive, coconut, macadamia) to warm your body while avoiding the raw, cooling foods of summer. Brown rice, miso, lentils, tofu, tempeh, greens and root vegetables and mixed seaweed vegetables will provide the nourishment and sustenance required for the cooler months ahead. 

Fruits are still plentiful throughout the autumnal season. Choose from an abundant array of apples – pink lady, gala, fuji, granny smith, jonathans, red delicious, golden delicious and snow!

Nature’s superfood

Another of nature’s super foods, they offer countless health benefits. Make sure you always consume the outer peel as pectin levels are concentrated here. Pectin contains soluble fibre that slows digestion and helps balance the blood sugar levels, while also lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. Research has shown that phytochemicals in the apple skin restrict the growth of colon cancer by 43 percent. Apples are also the richest source of the flavonoid quercertin, a powerful compound that protects the body from many cancers, exerts an anti-allergy action and reduces the risk of thrombotic strokes.

Apples are delicious and can be prepared in countless ways

Grate them onto your cereal to make a juicy bircher-style muesli. Stew them with pears and apricots, add a dollop of natural yoghurt, a tsp of chia seeds and a sprinkle of ground linseeds then serve as a sensationally sweet but healthy dessert. Alternatively, try baking apples with cinnamon and cardamom to warm and strengthen your digestive fires. Freshly juiced apples tone and cleanse the body by purifying the blood, promoting intestinal activity and easing constipation. Apples are rich in vitamin C and potassium. 

Autumn is the season of balance. Allow a calming, grounded energy to bring focus in preparation for the peace and stillness of the winter months ahead. 

APPLE CINNAMON QUINOA BREAKFAST BAKE

A warm, wholesome, and satisfying breakfast or snack for those cooler mornings. 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 apples, peeled, diced

1/4 cup raisins

2 eggs

2 cups soy/almond/rice/cows milk 

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

Topping (Optional)

Yogurt: Greek (cows)/coconut/soy

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 18cm x 28cm (7-by-11-inch) baking dish (20cm x 20cm or 8-by-8 inch works too).
  2. In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into greased dish.
  3. Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.
  4. In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the soy/almond/rice/cows milk and maple syrup.
  5. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.
  6. Bake for one hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.
  7. Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate.
  8. In the morning, cut a square, microwave it on a plate, and enjoy alone or with a few dollops of Greek/coconut yogurt.

from http://www.popsugar.com.au

A Nutritionist’s Guide to Sweeteners by Lindy Cook

By | Nutrition | No Comments

Without doubt sugar is one of the hottest nutritional topics of the moment.

Foods have trends too and what is healthy one day can be out of favour the next.

One thing we know now is that eating too much sugar is NOT good for you.

So here is my guide to the sweeteners available out there to help you make the best choice possible.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a healthy, completely natural unrefined natural substitute for refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.  Made from the Agave plant (yes, that is where tequila comes from) it has been used in native societies of Mexico for centuries as a sweetener and healing ointment. Agave is thought to have anti-bacterial properties that can heal wounds and fight off infections.

  • Agave ranks lower than many other sweeteners on the glyceamic index, so it doesn’t cause extreme spikes in your blood sugar like common table sugar.
  • It is a natural sweetener that comes in a liquid form similar to honey and can be used as an alternative to traditional white and brown sugar
  • The calories in a serving of traditional white sugar and agave nectar are the same so you still need to be mindful of your intake. However, because it is about 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar, you tend to use less.
  • Be aware that agave contains the highest levels of fructose of any commercial sweetener. Fructose suppresses the release of our three major satiety hormones (insulin, leptin and cholecystokinin) and instead of being used by the body like other forms of energy it goes straight to the liver where it can be converted into fat. This explains why our ever increasing consumption of fructose in foods is one of the key factors contributing to our obesity epidemic.
  • Agave can range from 90% to a lesser 55% fructose. Choose 100% organic, with minimal processing to ensure a lower fructose content.

Coconut Sugar

  • Coconut Sugar is a great tasting cane sugar alternative produced from coconut palm blossoms. It has a rich toffee-like flavour.
  • Naturally low on the Glycemic Index (GI), which has benefits for weight control and improving glucose levels in people with diabetes. Its GI rating is 35 compared to most commercial Honeys GI 55 and Cane Sugars GI 68
  • It also has a nutritional content far richer than all other commercially available sweeteners.
  • Coconut Sugar has a high mineral content. It is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. In addition to this it contains Vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6. When compared to brown sugar, Coconut Sugar has twice the iron, four times the magnesium and over 10 times the amount of zinc.
  • It has fewer calories than honey or agave nectar.
  • It is the most sustainable of all the sugars. Coconut palms produce an average of 50-75% more sugar per acre than sugar cane and use less than 1/5th of the nutrients for that production.
  • The not so positive news is coconut sugar also contains around 40% fructose meaning the energy from it is poorly utilized and it tends to wind up being stored as fat, particularly when eaten in excess.

Stevia

Stevia has been widely used as a natural sweetener in South America for centuries and in Japan since 1970. It is completely natural and non-toxic, deriving from the sunflower family native to subtropical South and Central America

  • Stevia has zero calories!
  • It is high in chromium and has no effect on blood sugar levels making it the perfect option for people trying to lose weight and diabetics. One study showed stevia reduced blood sugar levels by 18% in type 2 diabetic patients.
  • Stevia aids weight loss in two ways; by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing sugar intake and therefore calorie consumption.
  • Other health benefits include anti-hypertensive qualities – stevia may lower blood pressure.
  • It has to be said the only real down side to stevia is its taste – you really need to get used to the excessive sweetness. I have friends who have grown to love their cup of tea of coffee sweetened with stevia and many recipes from fabulous Nutritionist use it as the sweetener so there is absolutely no doubting its popularity or health benefits. All I can say is for me, I am not such a fan it’s just too sweet.

Honey

Honey is about as natural as any sweetener gets.  A good quality honey may also have a few added benefits and extra medicinal benefits that other sweeteners don’t. Manuka honey from New Zealand and Ulmo honey from Chile both have incredible antiseptic, immune stimulating and healing properties.  Make sure you always opt for raw honey to ensure all of the valuable nutrients and enzymes are retained.

  • Honey has a high GI of 50, like table sugar, so needs to be used sparingly
  • It is also 40% fructose which means, once again, the energy produced from its consumption is not utilized by the body, resulting in the production of fat, via the liver, that tends to ‘stick’.
  • Because honey is up to 50% sweeter than sugar  so your sweet tooth will be more readily satisfied with smaller amounts.
  • A good quality, raw honey increases free-radical fighting, antioxidant content of your diet.

Brown Rice Malt Syrup

Brown Rice Malt Syrup is a fabulous substitute for sugar and one of my favourites. As the name suggests, it is a whole food derived from brown rice. Even better it is completely fructose free (hooray!) and has a low glycaemic level, so it doesn’t send you off into the crazy blood sugar highs and lows that sugar can.

  • The sugar profile in this syrup is 50% soluble carbohydrates, 45% maltose and 3% glucose. The glucose is immediately absorbed and metabolized, maltose takes from an hour to an hour and a half, and soluble carbohydrates take 2-3 hours to be metabolized and energy released. This results in constant supply of energy spread over a long time rather than a sudden rush (1)
  •  I use Pure Harvest Brown Rice Syrup. It is 100% organic and has no issues with arsenic content (there has been some concern over this with other products). The taste is not as sweet as other sweeteners and that is one of its added benefits. This ‘reduced’ sweetness gives your body (and your taste buds) a chance to adapt and not need those sugar hits for instant energy pick-me-ups
  • Use it in cooking and baking. You won’t need too much (experiment, start with ¼ of a cup) to give those biscuits and muffins that sweet edge for taste and flavour.
  1. From www.triedtastedserved.com

Hot Cross Muffins

SERVES: 12 MUFFINS PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES COOKING TIME: 30-35 MINUTES

All the delicious fruit and spice flavour of a hot cross bun but in a cute as a button muffin.

Ingredients

  • 150 g almond meal 
  • 100 g Pureharvest Organic Buckwheat Flour or other flour if non-gluten free 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice 
  • 150 g butter 
  • 1/2 cup Pureharvest Rice Malt Syrup 
  • 2 apples grated 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit 
  • zest and juice of 1 orange 

Cross decoration

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 12 patty pans. 
  • Combine flour, almond meal, baking soda and spices in a bowl and set aside. 
  • Melt the butter and Rice Malt Syrup in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the dried fruit and grated apple. Add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. (Hint: the mixture is quite runny so don’t be worried)
  • Spoon into the patty pans and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile prepare the cross mixture. Mix the flour and water together to form a dough. Break small amounts of the dough off and roll between your hands to form a thin sausage like shape (5mm strips of about 8cm long). You will need 24 strips in total, 2 for each muffin. After the muffins have baked for 20 minutes, remove them from the oven and decorate with the cross strips. 
  • Place back in the oven and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and a inserted skewer comes out clean.

Hot cross muffin recipe: http://www.pureharvest.com.au/recipes/hot-cross-muffins/

A Nutritionist Guide to Surviving The Festive Season, by Lindy Cook

By | Seasons, Nutrition | No Comments

I don’t know about you but life seems to speed up a notch (or two) once the festive season begins. End of year work parties, catch ups, warm weather and dinners out, things just start to get just a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I really love it and spend most of winter looking forward to pulling out my summer dresses and sandals, enjoying the warmer weather and a bit more socializing. It can also feel like a bit of a survival test. Just how many times can you go out in one week and keep your health and energy levels up? It’s always good to know that quieter times are not too far off, when you get to kick back a little and really enjoy summer. Still, the goal is to get there feeling pretty good, ready to embrace a new year with spark. Here are a few of my tips to help you get there not just in one piece, but in great health too.

Energy Boosters

Being extra busy is fun but it can be tiring and stressful. At times like these our need for certain nutrients can greatly increase. If you don’t generally take supplements, this may just be the time to consider it, to give the boost you need to get you over the line in good shape. Consider a good quality B Complex or Magnesium (more on that later) or herbs like Withania, Siberian Ginseng, Rhemania and St John’s Wort. These help increase your resistance to stress, leaving you feeling calmer and more able to cope with a full schedule. The B group vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 — play an important role in keeping our bodies running like well-oiled machines. These essential nutrients help convert our food into fuel, allowing us to stay energized throughout the day and are involved in the manufacture of neurotransmitters like serotonin. They are critical nutrients for all things mind-related: mood and memory can benefit from the B’s. In the right amounts, the B’s can quell anxiety, lift depression, ease PMS, and boost your energy. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. Add them to your salads, smoothies and spread on your wholegrain bread.

Magnesium – Adrenal Superfood

Magnesium is probably the most prescribed nutrient I use in clinical practice and truly is your nervous systems friend. It helps regulate cortisol levels and promotes feeling of wellbeing. One of the great things the majority of my patients find is that it gives them a very quick boost to their energy levels. I generally recommend supplementing with a powdered form, it is better absorbed and faster acting. Apart from nourishing the adrenals, magnesium is also a key cofactor in the ATP cycle – how we manufacture energy – and is also an essential mineral that is used by the body in over 300 different biochemical processes. Because magnesium is so widely used, it is easy for it to become depleted. Common signs of magnesium deficiency include muscular cramps and spasms, headaches, eye twitches and even a decreased resilience to stress. Magnesium deficiency is surprisingly more common than you may think.

Magnesium comes in a wide variety of foods, from nuts and seeds, to leafy greens and grains. Include these nutrient-rich foods in your diet to support your magnesium status:

  • Nuts and seeds – Raw almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and sesame seeds.
  • Green leafy vegetables – Kale, silver beet, chard and spinach.
  • Whole grains – Quinoa, wheat, buckwheat and rye are not only high in magnesium, but other nutrients too.
  • Dark chocolate – Feel like a treat? Raw cacao is also high in magnesium and makes a great guilt free treat in moderation. Just make sure it has above 75% cacao content and is low in sugar.

Here’s a few simple ways to increase the levels of magnesium in your diet.

  • Make your own trail mix to snack on at morning or afternoon snack time. This has the added benefit of boosting your protein and ‘good’ fat levels, helping to balance your blood sugar levels and keeping you full for longer. Mix almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts with cacao nibs
  • If you are always looking for a sweet treat in the afternoon as your energy levels flag, make your own protein ‘bliss’ balls using raw cacao, nuts and dates to sweeten.
  • Over the summer months make a tasty, fresh chicken salad with magnesium rich foods – quinoa, spinach and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds for added flavour and crunch.
  • Start the day with buckwheat pancakes. Buckwheat is rich in magnesium, gluten free and not even classified as a grain, coming from the rhubarb family.
  • If you need a straight chocolate hit, stay away from the processed stuff and have a couple of squares of dark, organic chocolate. Just make sure it is over 75% cacao. It’s a good source of magnesium and has much less sugar.

Blood Sugar Balancers

One thing I hear myself saying it over and over again in clinic to my patients is to include protein with every meal. Increasing your protein intake helps you feel full for longer, boosts your metabolism and maintain your lean muscle mass.  Protein also increase’s your brain’s levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you when your belly is full. Keep this in mind before you head out to your work party or Christmas function – pop some protein on your plate with a good serve of salad.

  • So how much protein do I need? The general rule of thumb is 1 – 1 1/2 palms per snack. You will be amazed that not only do you feel full for longer by doing this, you also find your blood sugar levels stay much more constant during the day.
  • Tuck in to an egg/protein shake/scrambled tofu/smoked salmon at breakfast.  Include a few nuts with your apple at snack time and make sure your salad/soup has some added chicken/fish/lentils/meat at lunch and dinner.  Between meals good protein based snacks include nuts, yoghurt, hummus with vegetables, and cottage cheese.
  •  ‘Green’ shakes with some added protein powder are one of my very favourite ways to keep my vegetable and protein intake up and are perfect for breakfast or as a snack. An easy, tasty one to start with is ½ cup frozen berries, big handful of spinach, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1/4 frozen banana blended in a base of coconut water or almond milk.

Happy Liver Foods

It’s pretty hard to avoid not having a few extra drinks at this time of year, it goes with the territory. While it’s important to remember to keep your alcohol intake moderate and stay well hydrated by keeping your water intake high, there are also numerous herbs and foods that will support the livers detoxification pathways and regeneration of cells. Herbs such as St Mary’s Thistle and Schisandra have regenerative qualities, while dandelion root, globe artichoke and golden seal get the bile moving to break down some of those extra fats you might be indulging in and ensure your detox pathways are fired up and working well. As always, my favourite way to look after your liver is through the use of ‘food as medicine’. Try including a few of these goodies in your diet to keep you and your liver happy throughout the festive season.

  • Include foods rich in the liver’s favourite nutrients (lipotropics) to support fat metabolism – choline and inositol (whole grains, legumes, egg yolks and lecithin, methionine (garlic, onion, legumes, eggs, yoghurt and sardines  and carnitine (avocado, fish, beef and chicken)
  • B Vitamins (raw nuts and seeds, wholegrains and vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables and legumes)
  • ‘Good’ fats generally improve liver function, support blood sugar regulation keeping us feeling full for longer, reduce inflammation and enhance our immunity.  Think oily fish, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seed oil, coconut oil, olives and legumes. ALWAYS check your fish is sustainably sourced. Our oceans are incredibly depleted and we need to do our bit to help conserve those that are left.
  • Dandelion root tea is a natural liver tonic. With a slightly coffee-like taste, it can be drunk with your choice of milk or ‘black’. The bitterness stimulates digestion, enhances the detoxification role of the liver and can improve bowel function. Try making your own chai dandelion for extra digestive support and deliciousness.
  • Cruciferous vegies such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy help support the detoxification process of the liver.   There really is a good reason to eat extra kale this time of year!

Chocolate Chia Superfood Pudding

1 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk

1/4 cup chia seeds

3 tbsp raw cacao

Pinch Himalayan salt

1 tbsp of maple syrup or brown rice syrup

Optional – organic dark chocolate shavings to serve

Place all ingredients in a large jar with a lid and stir well.

Put lid on jar and pop it in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Serve with toppings like goji berries, chopped nuts, coconut and mixed berries for extra deliciousness.

Source –http://tasty-yummies.com/

Healthy Sweet Treats, by Lindy Cook, Nutritionist

By | Nutrition | No Comments

So your day on a plate has looked pretty good so far. You have eaten some complex carbohydrates (wheat free where possible), plenty of protein (with vegetarian options), good fats, vegetables and a serve or two of fresh fruit. Now you want something a little extra, a reward at the end of a busy day. Let’s face it, we all love a sweet treat now and then! Eating a healthy, nutritious diet doesn’t have to mean never having sugar again. To me it is all about balance – a ‘clean eating’, ‘whole food’ diet can still include some indulgence. Of course those sweet treats shouldn’t be daily, but you really can enjoy some guilt free deliciousness occasionally. Here are a few of my nutritional tricks of the trade to keep your healthy treats just that – healthy.

Protein

By including protein you help ensure your blood sugar levels are balanced. Protein keeps you feeling full for longer by increasing your brain’s levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you when your belly is full. It helps you avoid those blood sugar highs and lows that so often come with eating sweet foods. Try to include some nuts, nut butters, LSA, hemp seeds, coconut flour, seeds or a dollop or two of yoghurt with your treats.

 

Raw cacao

Who would have thought eating chocolate could be good for you! I love cooking with raw cacao because, not only do I love dark chocolate, it has amazing health benefits. Raw cacao is dark chocolate in its most unrefined form and to the Aztecs, it was the food of the Gods. Some of its many health benefits include:

  • More antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and black & green teas
  • The highest whole food source of magnesium.
  • The theobromine naturally found in raw cacao stimulates the release of endorphins that provide a gentle anti-depressant action

So kick back, relax and enjoy some raw cacao deliciousness knowing your mood will naturally be uplifted, your nervous system nourished and free radicals banished.

Coconut oil

Another superfood that helps to keep you feeling full for longer! Good quality virgin coconut oil is more satiating than simple carbohydrates and sugars. It contains medium-chain fatty acid (MCTs), whereas most saturated fats are long chain-fatty acids. These MCTs are more easily metabolized, providing quicker energy, improved blood sugar regulation and are not typically stored as body fat. When combined with protein, it you can fuel your energy reserves properly, and get you off the sugar roller coaster. Even better, a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition found that coconut oil boosts metabolism. Researchers found that participants who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil per day burned more kilojoules than those who consumed less. Coconut oil will not turn rancid and oxidize when heated, unlike many other oils (including olive oil), so it is ideal for heating and baking. Try using it instead of butter when making goodies like Anzac cookies, muesli slice and hedgehog.

Healthy Sweeteners

There really is no excuse for using white, refined table sugar any more as there are just so many mineral rich, low glycaemic alternatives out there. Think maple syrup, coconut sugar, organic cold pressed honey, agave nectar and brown rice syrup. Brown Rice Syrup is a fabulous substitute for sugar and one of my favourites. As the name suggests, it is a whole food derived from brown rice. Even better it is completely fructose free (hooray!) and has a low glycaemic level, so it doesn’t send you off into the crazy blood sugar highs and lows that sugar can. I use Pure Harvest Brown Rice Syrup. The taste is not as sweet as other sweeteners and that is one of its added benefits. This ‘reduced’ sweetness gives your body (and your taste buds) a chance to adapt and not need those sugar hits for instant energy pick-me-ups

Home Made

There is a reason why this is my final point – the only way you can really control the health and nutritional content of your treats is to make them yourself. As always, if you have children I really encourage you to get them cooking with you. They can help you choose the recipe, shop and then create. Talk to them about the ingredients you are using and their health benefits, there really is no better nutritional ‘education’ than learning to cook a ‘whole-food’ diet with your parents. As Jamie Oliver likes to say “pass it on”.

Here is one of my absolute favourite healthy, sweet treats using all the elements I discussed. Enjoy!

Raw Cocoa Fruit & Nut Slice

Ingredients:

1 cup raw macadamia nuts

½ cup raw cashews

½ cup raw almonds

½ cup sunflower seeds

1 tbsp each chia seeds and flaxseeds, ground

1 cup coconut

16 prunes, pitted

10 fresh dates, pitted

¼ to ½ cup water

2 tbsp rice syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla

1 cup raw cacao

1 tbsp cold pressed coconut oil

 Method:

1. Place macadamias, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds and coconut in food processor until broken up into crumb size.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed.

2. Press evenly into a plastic container 30cm x 20cm, cut lines for squares and refrigerate. When firm, remove and break into squares and place in air tight container.

Personal Sustainability for Mental Health, by Lindy Cook

By | Yoga, Meditation, MIndfulness, Nutrition | No Comments

One in five Australians will experience mental illness this year and it is an issue many workplaces are now taking very seriously.

In 2015, Mental Health Week will run from Sunday 4th to Saturday 10th October. World Mental Health Day is marked every year on the same date, 10th of October. The week aims to raise awareness and understanding of the issues facing so many.  Anyone can get involved, all you need is an interest in your own good health and wellbeing.

We all have a role to play in looking after our mental health – eating a nourishing, balanced diet, exercising, getting adequate rest and being kind to yourself and those around you. These all sound good, but in reality they often get forgotten in our busy lives.

In the lead up to World Mental Health Day focus on a simple activity that would benefit you – make a mental health promise to yourself. It might be writing  a gratitude journal, walking for half an hour several times per week, cutting your sugar intake,  signing up for yoga, downloading (and using) a mindfulness app or committing to be kind to yourself and your colleagues. Simple actions and intentions can have powerful consequences.

At Corporate Chillout we can visit your workplace and activate, educate and engage your staff in some simple (and sometimes surprising) ways to nurture their physical and mental wellbeing. During Mental Health Week we can also send daily motivational messages directly to your in box. Let us  provide the inspiration for your staff to work on their own personal sustainability.

Nutrition

It’s not just your waist line eating a poor diet can impact upon. Research now suggests that depression and dementia are affected by the quality of our diets. Indeed, studies from countries as diverse as Norway, Spain, Japan, China, England, America and Australia show people whose diets are healthier are less likely to experience depression. Research also shows that people who eat a more unhealthy diet, high in junk foods are at increased risk of depression. Processed foods – high in sugar, fat, salt foods – not only undermine your optimal nutritional status, but impact upon our mental wellbeing.

So, it really is true you are what you eat.  Most people fail to realize that your gut is quite literally your second brain, and actually has the ability to significantly influence your mind, mood and behavior. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! So it actually makes perfect sense that eating a healthy diet to nourish your gut flora for optimal serotonin function will have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behaviour. In fact, recent studies have shown foods and drinks rich in probiotics can play a role in curbing social anxiety in young adults.

Aim to include fermented foods in your diet on a regular basis. You can try making some of these foods yourself or visit your local health food store, they generally to stock a large range. It won’t just be your digestive system that reaps the rewards.

Fermented Foods

–          Sauerkraut

–          Kombucha

–          Tempeh

–          Kefir

–          Pickles

–          Natural Yoghurt and Coconut Yoghurt

–          Miso

–          Kimchi

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. By focusing on the here and now, many people find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Meditation and Yoga

Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on our body. By encouraging relaxation, it helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This has many related benefits including lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia. Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind/body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory. The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more satisfying place in their lives.