Monday, November 20, 2006

Nutrition - Mood Food - Top Tips!

The brain uses 30- 50% of total energy derived from the food we consume, more when used actively. So it's not just physical exertion which can be taxing if energy is not at optimum levels. Improving your energy will improve your brain power and your mood.

We know that a high sugar diet lacks the micronutrients needed to turn it efficiently into energy and because it is so ‘high octane’, it disrupts blood sugar levels.

The foods which allow the human body to function efficiently, with stable blood sugar control, and an ideal all-round supply of the many nutrients involved in maintaining a consistent energy, are the very foods we evolved to eat - unrefined, organic, nutrient-rich wholefoods with an emphasis on lots of vegetables and fruit.

Balancing your blood sugar by eating small regular meals including protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal is required for good energy, brain function and balanced mood (see diagram). Good mood also requires a diet high in tryptophan (precursor to serotonin) and Omega 3 fats, which aid the transmission of nerve impulses needed for normal brain function and help improve memory. The brain is made up of 60% fats!

The main mood modifying neurotransmitters include serotonin - which keeps us emotionally and socially stable, reduces anxiety and influences sleep - dopamine and nor adrenaline, which tend to make us more alert and responsive but anxious if in excess – and acetyl-choline, which keeps our memory working well. These are built from the amino acids: tyrosine, tryptophan and choline, using up specific B vitamins in their conversion; hence a good dietary supply of these is essential.

Depressed, anxious, moody individuals unfortunately often resort to junk food (of poor nutritional value) and comfort eating, or may miss meals due to a lack of self-interest – which further exacerbates the condition. Top tips for eating for better mood are:

• Balance your blood sugar by eating small regular meals including protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal.

• Eat nutrient-rich complex carbohydrates - whole grains, seeds, nuts, brown rice and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, to combat depression and insomnia.
White or processed foods may cause serotonin depletion and thus depression.

• Eat protein with meals for tryptophan – rich in: fish, eggs, soya protein, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, sesame seeds and lentils. Avocadoes, oats and bananas are also good sources.

• Eat Omega 3 essential fats found in - cold-water fish (mackerel, anchovies, trout, salmon and tuna) and nuts and seeds (hemp, linseeds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds)

• Eat more tyrosine containing foods (precursor to dopamine and adrenaline and will help to rebalance apathy, depression and anxiety, keeping us motivated) - leafy vegetables, beans, spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cottage cheese and avocadoes.

• Magnesium and Calcium are known as the calming minerals and help regulate mental health, energy production and sleep cycles. Good sources include: dried figs, cabbage family, brown rice, brazil nuts and almonds, dark green and leafy veg, watercress, sweet potatoes, sunflower and sesame seeds, quinoa, lima beans, peaches, fish and meat.

• Avoid aspartame – marketed as NutraSweet and found in many soft drinks, as it may block the formation of serotonin.

• Reduce your intake of processed, pre-packaged foods – these are high in chemicals, additives, preservatives and colours which research has shown to affect mental function and mood, often severely. Read labels, if you see many ‘E’ numbers (the worst: MSG or E621; E635; E211; E220; E104; E133; E110; E12; E124; E132) or other odd ingredients, avoid the food!

• Limit fried foods, hydrogenated and saturated fats – from meat, dairy and processed food. Avoid trans fats, as they cause blood cells to become sticky and clump together resulting in reduced circulation to the brain. To counter this, ensure a high intake of colourful, antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.

• Close to bedtime avoid tyramine (this increases levels of noradrenaline, that has stimulant properties and can contribute to insomnia and anxiety) – found in: Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, tobacco, cheese, chocolate, sauerkraut, wine, bacon, ham, sausage, aubergine, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.

• Avoid stimulants and all forms of sugary snacks and junk foods as the quick burst of energy supplied by these simple carbohydrates is quickly followed by a slump which exacerbates depression, anxiety and irritability. This includes caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

In addition to the above consider investigating the possibility of food allergies or intolerances and rule out toxic metal contamination, by testing. These contribute to poor brain function, mood and concentration.

Q & A - Gardening - Is it enough exercise?

Q - I love gardening and do about a morning's worth once a week. Is this
enough exercise? Should I perhaps try to do some every day instead of once a

A - Gardening can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to get some activity into your life, it incorporates many movements that were once integral to our life, pushing, pulling, squatting and bending. To really get the benefits of an active lifestyle though, you’d be right in thinking that trying to do something active most days is more beneficial.

The British Heart Foundation tells us that 7 out of 10 adults are not active enough to benefit their heart, despite regular exercisers being twice as likely to survive a heart attack as those who do nothing.

Modern society is making it easier and easier to be less active, but this sedentary type of lifestlye is now being recognised as a risk factor for the nations biggest killer, Coronary Heart Disease. There is good news though, you don’t have to sweat it out for hours at the gym to protect yourself against this and the many other chronic illnesses that are associated with it, such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Osteoporosis and even some forms of Cancer.

For many of us, changing our lives to incorporate some kind of fitness routine can be the biggest obstacle of all, while many have contemplated it or are aware of the benefits of being more active, far less actually do, overcoming this and taking some positive action is the first step to a healthier, more rewarding life.
There is a saying, use it or lose it, and this applies to our body well, in the same way that exercising can stimulate positive changes, doing nothing can lead to degenerative changes in muscle, bone and organ function. In some cases even daily activities can become tiring and hard work. In fact many of the changes that people associate with ageing are in reality down to inactivity rather than age.
However, it isn’t all bad news and you don’t have to put yourself through the mill at the local gym to benefit from a more healthy lifestyle. Simply by being more active in your daily life and finding hobbies that get you moving you will feel benefits. These benefits aren’t just physical either, exercising has been shown to positively affect moods, anxiety, stress and even help depression. All this by being active for a total of 30 minutes a day (and you don’t have to do it all at once, research has shown these benefits can come from accumulating exercise throughout the day)
This means that by gardening, hand washing the car, walking to the shops, walking the dog, taking a bike ride, or playing recreational sport you can benefit your health, protect yourself against illness, feel better within yourself and be better able to enjoy your life to the full.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Recipe - Ed's Simple Seafood Starters

Welcome back, this month I have decided to look at cooking some simple seafood dishes that will impress but are in fact extremely easy. I love seafood of all descriptions but I think many people are frightened of cooking fish, well not anymore. These simple recipes will give you confidence and hopefully some real enjoyment.

I have chosen three starter dishes using Mussels, Monkfish and finally Scallops, which I think are one of the finest foods you can get.

Whenever you buy fish be sure that it is fresh and doesn’t smell fishy, if you are ever unsure about fish it is probably best to avoid it. Always feel the fish, it should be firm and when pressed it should spring back and not leave an indent. If buying whole fish then the eyes should be bright and not dulled and the skin should not be slimy.

Classic Mussels with White Wine

1kg Washed Mussels – Discard any that wont close when gently tapped
2 Shallots – Finely Chopped
1 Clove Garlic – Very Finely Chopped
1 Handful Parsley – Coarsely Chopped
200 ml Dry White Wine (I prefer Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 tbsp Oil
Salt & Pepper

Place a large pan with a lid on a medium heat and soften the shallot and garlic, turn up the heat and add the white wine, when boiling furiously throw in the Mussels and place the lid on for 2-3 minutes or until all the Mussels are open, throw any that remain closed. Strain the Mussels and put the liquid back in the pan add the parsley and bring to a boil, season and taste. Pour over the Mussels in large bowls.

Steamed Monkfish with Red Pepper and Balsamic Dressing

2 x 150g portions Monkfish
100 ml Balsamic Vinegar
2 Red Bell Peppers
1 Shallot – Finely Chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Bake the peppers in an oven for 12-15 minutes at 180C place them in a container and cover with cling film until cool, they will then peel easily. Throw away the seeds and stalk of the peppers and dice into 5mm chunks. Place the Balsamic Vinegar in a saucepan and reduce over a medium heat to a syrup consistency. Season the Monkfish well with salt and pepper and place the monkfish in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes, you may need a little longer but check it earlier rather than later. The Monkfish should be fairly firm but not rigid, there should be a little give and will be slightly underdone. While the fish is steaming sauté the shallot in a pan and add the diced red pepper, cook until quite mushy and season to taste. Place a good spoonful on the centre of a plate and slice the monkfish and top the pepper, drizzle the balsamic glaze around the plate.

Seared Scallops with Soy, Ginger & Sesame Dressing

3 Large Scallops per Person
3 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds – Lightly Toasted in the oven or a dry pan on a medium heat
1tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
2 Spring Onions
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Sea Salt Flakes

Place the Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil and Ginger in a small pan and warm to infuse the flavours. Heat a non-stick fry pan or griddle until smoking hot, whilst heating chop the spring onions at an angle. Coat the scallops in the oil and place in the pan; they need no more than 30 - 60 seconds each side depending on their size. Place the scallops on a plate and spoon over some of the warm soy/ginger dressing and sprinkle with the spring onions and Toasted Sesame Seeds. You can serve any green vegetable with this dish, particularly steamed broccoli or Pak Choi, lightly seasoned.

I do hope that you enjoy these recipes; they are very simple and yet so tasty. Everyone should enjoy mussels cooked at home, they really do taste so wonderful and the cooking liquor has so much flavour you will want to drink a pint of it!

Next month I will be trying to give you all some alternative ideas for a healthy Christmas Dinner, but it is Christmas so I don’t have the heart to make it too healthy – just don’t tell Graeme or Greg!

If you have any questions or suggestions then please do not hesitate to contact Graeme or Greg, they can pass any comments directly to me and I will respond as quickly as possible.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Article - Osteopathy, what's it all about?

Aegis Osteopath Ben Ludlow explains the what, when, how, and why of Osteopathy...

Osteopathy is an established system of diagnosis and treatment that recognises the role of the musculo-skeletal system in the healthy functioning of the body. The musculo-skeletal system is a key element in maintaining health. This system makes up two-thirds of the body's mass. It impacts and reflects the condition of all other systems in the body.
Osteopathic theory involves the concept that structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) are inter-related. If the structure of a joint is distorted in any way, this will affect the normal mechanics of the joint resulting in dysfunction, which patients often feel as pain and stiffness.
The body has a natural ability to self-regulate and self-repair. Osteopaths rely on this innate healing ability to return their patients to good health. Osteopaths also promote good nutrition and fitness to sustain healthy body systems. It uses no drugs. Instead, osteopaths work with their hands using a wide range of treatment techniques, such as soft tissue and neuro-muscular massage, joint mobilising techniques and corrective manipulations designed to improve the mobility and range of movement of a joint.

With their highly trained sense of touch, osteopaths use these manual techniques both to discover underlying causes of pain and to carry out treatment. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the way that treatment is planned to suit the needs of the individual patient.

What happens when you come to me for treatment
• The process is similar to visiting any Registered Medical Practitioner.
• The appointment will be in private in a treatment room.
• I will ask you about how the symptoms began, and factors that affect them; and record your full details and case history.
• When attending for your first appointment please bring details of any medication currently being prescribed.
• I will ask you to undress to your underwear in order to give you a postural examination. I may ask you to perform a simple series of movements.
• This will be followed by a structural examination to identify functional abnormalities.
• I may also give you orthopaedic, neurological or circulatory examinations (e.g. reflexes, blood pressure, etc.) to aid the diagnosis.
• X Rays, blood tests and MRI scanning may be required in certain circumstances, for which I will refer you back to your GP.
• I will explain the assessment I make, the appropriate course of action and treatment for your specific requirements. I will begin any treatment required.
• I can also suggest exercise programmes to both improve and maintain flexibility, strength and core stability, as well as advising on work space ergonomics and working practices. These measures are designed to help prevent a recurrence of your problem.

How does my osteopathic support integrate with your experience of the Aegis concept
If you have an injury you will fall into one of the following categories:

New Client with injury:
• A full case history will be taken with emphasis placed on current injuries.
• I will also establish with you a history of past events which may aid the diagnosis and biomechanical assessment.
• All systems will be checked i.e cardiovascular, respiratory and endocrine together with a brief analysis of diet and current physical activity.
• After a diagnosis has been reached, a treatment plan will be developed with short and long term aims.
• I will usually prescribe some form of rehabilitation programme.
• After the initial injury has begun to resolve, you will be given the option to carry on the rehabilitation programme with one of the highly qualified personal trainers.
• I will recommend a trainer that best fits your needs recognising the various interests and areas of expertise the different trainers possess.
• I will then liaise closely with the trainer to formulate the most appropriate training regime which will also assist you in understanding your injury better; and why the trainer’s advice on exercise is critical to recovery.
• I may also refer you to the experienced sports therapists at Aegis with whom I would liaise closely on your progress.

Existing Client who sustains an injury:
• The same assessment and treatment procedure as above for the new client will be followed.
• However, there will be a greater emphasis on returning the client/patient back to training as soon as possible through intensive treatment and rehabilitation. Such treatment has been shown to be beneficial for musculoskeletal and joint injuries.
• I will liaise closely with your trainer/therapist to ensure your safe and effective recovery. This may include me being available to talk through any rehabilitation issues jointly with your trainer and yourself.

Existing Training Client at risk
• Occasionally, a trainer may see a potential gait problem or movement pattern which has not manifested in an injury but may have the potential of doing so. In this case, osteopathy could be useful as a preventative measure rather than a treatment for a specific injury.
• The client may also feel that something ‘isn’t quite right’ and feels that they may benefit from having a biomechanical assessment and provision of some preventative exercises which would improve performance and prevent an injury occurring.

I will always be contactable throughout your rehabilitation process. I believe that with proper education, careful planning and good liaison between yourself and the professional team at Aegis, most musculoskeletal and joint injuries will respond well.

News - Ben Ludlow B.Ost.Med joins Aegis

We are very pleased to officially welcome Ben to the team at Aegis. We have known Ben for a while now and are very happy to be able to add to our services at Aegis with his input both as an Osteopath and also as part of our new corporate health team. Look out for an article explaining more about Osteopathy on this months blog as well.

Ben explains how he first discovered Osteopathy...

"When I was 19 I sustained a serious back injury which curtailed my sporting activities for around 2 years. After seeing a number of practitioners of different disciplines, I found that only osteopathy provided treatment that supported my recovery and enabled me to return to participation in sport.

With the obvious impact this had on my life, I decided to undertake a profession which would help me to understand more about my condition and to develop the ability to treat others who were also suffering injury and pain"

Ben is highly qualified holding the following -

• Bachelor of Osteopathic Medicine (B Ost Med). This is a 5 year full time course; and few practitioners hold this qualification.
• Qualified osteopath registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).
• Diploma in Naturopathy
• Advanced Diploma in Fitness and Sports Therapy

He has a very keen interest in sport and in particular mixed martial arts training. His holistic treatment approach involves working closely with other fitness and health professionals to get the best results for the client. Do feel free to stop and have a quick chat with him if you see him at the studio, alternatively you can reach him by phone on 0781 2541080