Cacao – a superfood worth celebrating on World Chocolate Day!

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Historically referred to as the “food of the Gods”, it’s no coincidence that we’re singing cacao’s praises today, on World Chocolate Day. We all know chocolate is delicious but when it comes to the superfood qualities of chocolate we must give thanks to the mighty cacao bean… that’s what we’re really talking about.

Reasons to eat celebrate cacao:

  1. Bursting with antioxidants

Raw organic cacao has 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries! Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that protect our cells against free radicals that can cause cellular damage and disease.

  1. Improves heart health

Cacao is rich in plant flavonoids called flavanols. Flavanols work similarly to antioxidants in that they help repair cellular damage, and they also improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart and brain.

  1. Magnesium-rich food

Magnesium is an essential mineral required for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and aids in maintaining a healthy immune system, normal nerve and muscle function, a regular heartbeat, strong bones and the production of energy from food.

  1. Makes you feel good

When we consume cacao, our brain releases neurotransmitters giving us a natural high. Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a chemical compound our body releases naturally when we’re in love or excited and can be supplemented to treat depression. It is also one of the many feel-good chemicals cacao produces in our bodies when we eat chocolate!

  1. Improves gut health

Cacao is a high-fibre food and has the potential to not only make you feel fuller, but also keep your gut healthy and bowel movements regular!

  1. Makes you look good

The antioxidants found in cacao may also prevent wrinkles and protect the skin from the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun. Substances found in cacao promote healthy looking skin by increasing blood flow, improving skin density and hydration.

  1. Potential to fight cancer

Whilst the results are only suggestive…  researchers have investigated dark chocolate’s role in preventing the growth of cancer cells in the body, due to its rich supply of flavonoids. Suggestive is enough for us…

Nuzest Clean Lean Protein Rich Chocolate utilizes cacao powder due to its many health benefits as we’ve discussed above. Try our nourishing cacao protein latte today!

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 serve (2 scoops) Nuzest Clean Lean Protein Rich Chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut butter
  • 300ml plant milk of choice (rice, almond, coconut, soy)
  • 50ml water
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Method:

  • Add your milk, water and coconut butter to a small pot and stir them slowly over a very low heat – making sure it doesn’t come to a boil
  • When very hot, add your protein and cinnamon and whisk into the milk until smooth
  • Pour into a tall mug and sprinkle a little extra cinnamon or cacao powder on top to serve

A busy person’s guide to priorities in stress transformation

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Now that you know what your nutritional toolbox looks like, let’s take a look at the self-help side of managing stress. The first take home is that you are anything but powerless – no matter where you are on your stress continuum. Depending on your current level of stress, swallowing that chill pill might not seem the easiest thing to do, but taking the first step towards it is all you need to do because the next step will magically present itself to you.

As human beings, our natural state is happy, stress-free and mindful. All too frequently modern life intervenes and with many people living at the edge of their adaptive ranges, physically, mentally and emotionally. Given that our natural state is encoded deep in our genes, taking a few active stress-lowering steps during your day can make a world of difference to how you feel and how you cope with your individual challenges.

Creating your chill-out toolkit

  • Just like getting travel directions, you need to know where you and where you want to go before you start. Get SMART and be clear on your goal, no matter how simple or basic it is. Goals don’t have to be huge or challenging watersheds in your life, they just need to be meaningful to you. Whilst you may have a laundry list, try to focus on one at a time to give yourself the best chance of success and avoid overwhelm:-
    • Specific – what EXACTLY do you want to achieve?
    • Measurable – how will you know if you’ve achieved it?
    • Attainable – is it something you have control over it?
    • Relevant – is it applicable to the place you are in?
    • Time-bound – what is your deadline for change?
  • Be honest with yourself, how ready are you for change? On a scale of 0–10 — and take a moment to draw it as a horizontal line — with 0 being not ready for change and 10 being rip-roaring raring to go. If you mark your line at 8 or above, you’ve hit a high confidence score and are in the right ballpark for succeeding. Don’t beat yourself up for anything lower, it just means you might need to incorporate some of the tools below first to get yourself into a more resilient state of mind.
  • Mindfulness may seem like the buzz-word of the moment, but it’s a powerful element in any chill-out toolkit. Frequently confused with meditation, mindfulness simply means being fully engaged and present in the moment. Your moment can be 10 seconds or 10 minutes depending on how much time you have and how able you are to harness your mind. Whilst we wield the ability to multitask like a badge of honour, it’s actually the fastest way to unmindfulness that exists. A mind that flits from one task and one thought to another is actually disengaged, distracted and often, unhappy. There is robust research out there that proves that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind and contributes to increased stress. Stop, focus on a point in front of you/your breathing/the moment at hand/the feeling in your body – basically anything to still and center your mind – and breathe slowly and rhythmically. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the present moment and keep breathing. The quiet space that ensues within is mindfulness and you’ll derive benefit from as little as 10 seconds if that’s all you have time for. Ideally you’ll take ‘mindfulness breaks’ a few times a day for 30 to 90 seconds.
  • Appreciation isn’t just about recognising nice things about people or things, it’s a powerful way to centre yourself and bring you into harmony with the earth and the world around you. As a slight adaptation to the mindfulness exercise above, use something you have huge appreciation for as your focus and then beam that appreciation out of you and imagine it flooding the space around you.
  • Build some ‘me’ time into your week – you deserve it and it’s an essential sanity-preservation strategy!
  • Actively listen to your self-talk and rate it for negativity. If you’re overly negative, critical or even hostile make strides to reframe your self-talk and reach for positives.
  • Engage in supportive lifestyle activities like sleeping an appropriate number of hours (anywhere from 6-9), eating right and using appropriate and targeted supplementation, and being active outdoors in nature.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are powerful stress-busting needle-movers for your tool-kit. Twenty minutes a day of mindful activity (and it doesn’t have to be in one session either) has been proven to create measurable healthy changes in the brain. Mindful activity also helps to increase happiness and positivity, to cope with chronic pain, to support the immune system and reduce days off work. It doesn’t stop there, research shows that it also slows the ageing process, increases energy metabolism, supports better blood sugar management and leads to less inflammation and stress. Basically, you climb off the edge of the precipice and increase your adaptive range. What are you waiting for, stop reading and start appreciating!

Transform stress using food and nutrition

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You’ve got the idea now that we need to drop all the clap-trap about ‘stress management’ and do things differently in the name of ‘stress transformation’. People who say they like stress normally mean they like a challenge. If you like challenges and you are something of a high-achiever, you probably have the reserve to deal with the level of stress in your life. We can think of that as positive stress and it often creates an increase in your performance – at least for a while. But if you over-extend yourself, don’t give yourself enough opportunities for recovery, it can all start going pretty pear-shaped—and sometimes quite quickly. The trick is to avoid this happening altogether or to change what you’re doing as soon as you experience any or all of the early warning signs that tell you you’re not coping.

You found out in Meleni’s last blog how you can use lifestyle to transform stress. Now let’s look at how you can use nutrition to improve your reserves or capacity to handle stress. You’ll recall that it’s chronic, ongoing stress that causes the greatest problems as our bodies are simply not designed for it. We need the sympathetic nervous system and its intimately linked endocrine system, that includes the HPA axis which in turn initiates the cascade of events that triggers the stress response, to be in fine fettle. We also need the parasympathetic system—the counterbalance—that helps restore balance and normality again to be in equally good shape and ready for business. This requires healthy cells throughout the body—nerve and glandular ones in particular. It necessitates strong, flexible and resilient muscles, and a gastrointestinal system with its associated gut flora to be great shape. All the resources needed by all these cells and tissues need to be on hand for peak function each and every day.

What should my nutritional toolbox look like?

On the resources front, right up there is folate, the key vitamin required for one-carbon metabolism, the system in our bodies that allows new cells to be formed. But B vitamins work as a team, so we need the complete football team including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyroxidine (B6), methylcobalamin (B12) and biotin (B7). A stressed body with high energy demands needs these not just at the minimum levels required for survival, but at higher levels to allow us to face the challenges head on.

Your adrenal glands have a particular requirement for supplementary pantothenic acid (B5), with up to 250 mg a day being about right for many adults. If you eat a very well balanced diet, day in day out, you can get these vitamins at the government recommended de minimis levels. But an adrenally stressed body generally requires supplementation on top. Vegetarians and vegans will find it almost impossible to acquire enough vitamin 12 from the diet, so a supplement containing the bioactive form, methylcobalamin, is strongly recommended. Also, give supplements containing the folic acid form of folate a miss, as this can accumulate in the blood and cause long-term health problems. You’re better off using supplements that contain the stabilised, bioactive form of folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (available in the calcium or glucosamine bound forms), that contain the same essential form that exists in green-leaved veg like spinach and kale that’s notoriously unstable.

You then need to make sure you’re replete with all the cofactors your body needs to ensure its energy and musculo-skeletal systems are fully supported. That means a gamut of vitamins and minerals in optimised forms, including vitamin K, plenty of magnesium, potassium and some boron.

You’ll need to be consuming ample protein (1-2 g per kg body weight), healthy fats and carbs, particularly complex ones from vegetables or grains, preferably gluten-free ones to reduce additional stress on the all-important gut. Around half your ‘daily food plate’ should consist of a diverse range of veg, with a smaller amount of fruit, that reflect all six colours of the phytonutrient spectrum (namely green, red, orange, yellow, blue/black/purple and white/tan)

Speaking of the gut, it needs all the help it can get. That means not overloading it all the time by snacking often or eating loads of sugar and other refined carbs. Your intake from sugars shouldn’t exceed more than 5% of your total daily energy intake – and bear in mind most people in Western countries are three times over this level!

Two to three solid, balanced, varied and not oversized meals a day is the maximum amount of food most people need. Snacks are not only unnecessary – they can stress your body unless you’re burning huge amounts of energy by way of some kind of endurance activity. On some days, especially if you’re expending less energy, you might be down to just one or two meals a day, again with no snacking in between. It’s the fasting phases between meals that are so important for recovery and rebuilding. Food is in fact a stressor: it triggers release of cortisol and it upregulates the immune system because the body needs to be on red alert to determine if the food you’re consuming is friend or foe.

Eat less, and less often, you put less stress on your system overall. You allow your gastrointestinal lining more time to recover and rebuild, bearing in mind the cells of your gut lining like to replace themselves every 2 days as compared with every 8 years or so for the neurons in your brain. You also benefit from giving the trillions of microbes in your gut some respite so they can be primed for their essential role in digestion and as key regulators of immune health. Add to this a need for some probiotics and prebiotics to help your digestive tract assimilate and handle food with minimum fuss. Throw in some good digestive herbs, like dandelion, hawthorn, globe artichoke and slippery elm—and a bunch of plant-based antioxidants like citrus bioflavonoids, quercetin, grapeseed extract, turmeric, green tea extract and resveratrol—and your tool box is starting to look well stocked

Take homes

Let’s boil all of this down to three simple take-home messages.

First, eat a balanced and varied diet that is heavily plant-based, includes all the 6 colours of the phytonutrient spectrum, yet avoids refined carbohydrates like sugar and white bread.

Second, take a super-high digestibility protein like Clean Lean Protein on a daily basis if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you don’t eat a lot of meat or fish, you exercise a lot or your immune system needs some extra support. As sleep is so crucial to recovery, if you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, down a Clean Lean Protein shake an hour or so before bed. For those who need some further help, you can enhance the levels of your feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin even further by adding 200 mg of tryptophan as a supplement which will slightly more than double the amount of natural-occurring tryptophan you get in a 25g serving of Clean Lean Protein.

Third and finally – do you recall all the vitamins, minerals, botanicals, antioxidants, pre-and probiotics mentioned above that can help a stressed body and brain? Well, you’ll find 77 of them in the incredible Good Green Stuff. We urge you get a full 10 gram serving into you every day, especially if you’re under pressure. We formulated it specifically for the modern human, where stress in its multitude of different forms has become a natural part of life.

You’re now ready to chill…

Transform your stress with lifestyle choices

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Recognising and acknowledging that you are stressed is the first step in the transformation process. What you don’t know, you can’t change. In most instances, the mere fact that you have taken stock and accepted that you’re stressed also allows you to see reasons why. You may not have that magic wand to sprinkle fairy dust and make it all go away, but you can certainly use a range of lifestyle choices to ease some pressure and give yourself some breathing space. Here is a selection of powerful stress-busting techniques to choose from:

Getting your beauty sleep
Whether you’re a lark or a night owl, sleep is not a luxury, nor is it something to be caught up at weekends, or saved for holidays. Sleep is probably the most powerful, but natural, stress transformer we have – and it’s free!
Without banking sufficient sleep hours into your ‘account’, not only is your body unable to regenerate but, more importantly, your brain winds down, hindering your ability to think clearly and keep your emotions balanced. We are meant to spend around one third of our lives asleep and yet it’s the first activity we sacrifice when the pressure is on. Why? Healthy sleep is one of the sure-fire ways of maintaining youthful, resilient, vitality of both body and mind and allowing us to cope better with stress.
But how much sleep is enough? If you’ve been scrimping on your sleep for whatever reason, it’s time for a re-think. Adults, regardless of gender, typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night for optimal brain and body function. Under-sleeping by even one hour every weeknight amounts to a monumental 5 hours of sleep debt by the time the weekend arrives – impossible to recoup. But, just like your bank overdraft, sleep debt has to be repaid. All too often the price is your health and spiraling stress levels as you increasingly lack the resilience to adapt to the pressures of life.

Positive self-talk
You are what you think. The orientation of your self-talk can mean the difference between super hero or super zero. Our thoughts underpin our beliefs and beliefs quickly become self-fulfilling prophecies. What we believe determines what we do, so if we believe we can’t do something, or clog up our mind with negative thoughts, we will remain stuck in our unhappy stressed-out state. Negative thoughts can seriously limit our experiences and quality of life.

Conversely, if our self-talk is positive, even if that means consciously reframing a negative thought, our behaviour and life experience follows suit. As part of the re-framing process, ask yourself these 3 questions:

• What else could ‘this’ mean?
• Is there a positive flip side I can reach for?
• How else can I think about this?

Use a notebook if you need to in the beginning, but note your negative self-talk and change it. Negative thinking is a luxury we can ill afford.

Grounding in green spaces
Do you feel better when you’re outside in nature, barefoot on the green grass, under a sunny blue sky? Doesn’t everyone? Well it’s not all about the sunshine. It’s a lot to do with electrons. The Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. So when you’re in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, which synchronises us to the same electrical potential. Living in direct contact with the Earth grounds your body, inducing favourable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimum health eg. proper functioning of the immune system, circulation and synchronisation of biorhythms to name just a few. This electron exchange during grounding is also deeply relaxing and stress-relieving.

These positive effects from ‘grounding’ aren’t surprising because throughout our evolutionary history humans have been in constant contact with the Earth. It’s so simple — next time you’re on the grass, a beach or the earth, take your shoes off and synchronise a little.

Releasing your inner recreational ‘drug’
Cannabis isn’t the only source of ‘feel-good’ cannabinoids out there. Your brain can make them too! Cannabinoids may be responsible for cannabis’ classification as an illicit drug in many countries, but you can become your own legal dealer just by working out a bit more. For many years endorphins were thought to be behind the post work-out euphoria or ‘runner’s high’, but actually we now know it’s down to cannabinoids – endocannabinoids, because we make them in our bodies. It’s fascinating to find that there are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are receptors for other well-known brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and ten times more than the opioid receptors. We also have cannabinoid receptors in our digestive systems and reproductive organs. Getting physically active on a regular basis not only brings you a lean, fit, healthy body, but also a serene antidote to stress. Not only that, endocannabinoids also protect your brain’s neurons from early death, which is hugely important in maintaining cognitive function as we age.

Committing to the present moment
Easier said than done. When we’re stressed, part of the reason for the stress is not knowing what to do to get out of where we find ourselves. It seems like a mountain of steps have to be taken all at once if we are to stop ourselves from drowning. Life feels out of control and it’s a natural impulse to keep looking outwards at all those steps in front of us that feel so overwhelming. But it’s actually the step right in front of us, in the here and now, that holds the key to release. All we need to do is stop looking into the stressful future, take a breath and connect fully to the present moment.

Change always begins with one step. Only one. So, try doing what our ancestors did: look to the sky and find your guiding star. Go out into the night sky. Sit in peace. Look up at the stars. Relax a little and take a moment to get away from the stress of your life and all those overwhelming steps in front of you. In the space and the quiet, in the relief and the stillness, you will regain focus. And you will feel the one step that’s in front of you. Have the courage to take that first step and commit to a daily practice of immersing yourself in the present moment – even if it’s just a fleeting 30 secs in your busy day.
You have time now to practice some of these lifestyle transformers before the next blog in this ‘Quit Stressing’ series. Next time, Rob will outline what a stress-busting nutritional toolbox should look like and why you definitely want Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff and Clean Lean Protein in it.

Quit Stressing! But Why?

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Most of us know stress is bad for us. But turning it off isn’t always easy – it’s not just a simple switch you can turn on and off at will. What’s more, stress isn’t always bad for us – in fact, some of you will be pleased to learn (if you didn’t know it already) that we’re actually designed to function with some level of stress. Importantly, there is good stress and bad stress, or positive and negative stress. If we’re interested in being the best, most vital and healthy beings we possibly can be, we need to ensure we’ve got the right amount of positive stress, combined with as little negative stress as we can muster.

 

What kind of stress are you under?

Dr Hans Selye, the widely acknowledged ‘father’ of stress research, devoted an entire book to the subject of ‘stress without distress’. What’s clear from more than half a century of research on the subject is that we all have different levels of stress tolerance. Some people are able to cope with much higher levels of negative stress than others, and one person’s positive stress might be another person’s negative stress.

Stress is a reaction caused by a stressor of some sort. It might be excessive hours of work, a series of seemingly unrealistic deadlines, or a tyrant of a boss. It could be exams or a bully at school, a poor diet, or an under-par immune system that’s struggling to ward off infection. It might also be pushing yourself to the limit in a given sport or overdoing it in the gym. As Dr Selye said, “a painful blow or a passionate kiss can be equally stressful” — at different times, or to different people. He also reminded us that “complete freedom from stress is death”.

The nature, duration, severity and, in particular, our response to stress, are what determine whether stress is ultimately going to do us good or harm. And don’t forget, you can suffer negative stress that also does you good. An example of this is being caught in traffic on the way to the airport and then running late for a plane. The psychological and physiological stress response that causes you to run to the check-in juggling all your bags, and then through the terminal feeling as if you want to bowl over any slow-moving passengers or over-zealous security officers isn’t good for you. Your nervous system is on red alert, your heart has nearly punched its way out of your chest, and your adrenals are spent. But, although severe, it’s short-lived. Once you are seated in the aircraft, the relaxation that comes over you allows you to recover quickly. Ultimately it was your stress response that got you on the plane and, as unpleasant as it was, it might well have put you in a better and healthier position than facing the consequences of missing your flight. In evolutionary terms, you’ve successfully escaped a sabre-tooth tiger and that’s why the ‘flight-or-fight’ response remains with us today.

 

The stress response

Psychologists have come to define the stress response as the biological and psychological response to a threat that we don’t feel we have the resources to cope with adequately. That of course relates specifically to negative stress. Multiple systems in the body come into play, from the endocrine (hormonal) system, the nervous system, the immune system and the digestive system.

When confronted with a threat or potential stressor, the first thing we do is evaluate it with our senses. Our ability to do this very quickly helps us to survive as a species. If we decide the threat is real, and that we need to act quickly to reduce its impact, we trigger a cascade of events affecting multiple systems in our body, including three key endocrine organs – the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in our brain, and the adrenal glands that sit atop our kidneys. This is known as the ‘HPA axis’ and is a key part of what is sometimes called the psychoneuroimmunological (PNI) or—wait for it— psychoendoneuroimmunological system, owing to the multiple systems affected. More recent work suggests the gut and the gonads are also involved in the stress response; as a result, some functional medicine practitioners find themselves referring to the system as the HPAGG axis.

The key ‘stress hormones’ released from our adrenal glands belong to a group of steroid hormones called the glucocorticoids, the most important actor of which is cortisol which is synthesized from cholesterol. Cortisol and the HPA axis operate a complicated negative feedback system to control the stress response with hormones like adrenaline, and also to bring it quickly back into balance once the stress or threat has subsided.

 

What happens if you over-stress your body?

Typical stress responses include elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, elevated blood sugar levels (caused by cortisol triggering glucose production in the liver), decreased digestive activity, loss of appetite and a suppressed immune system. It’s not hard to see how this system that was designed primarily to help us survive more severe and short-lived threats and stresses, starts to create havoc with our bodies in our modern world where chronic stress, even though less severe, is so common. If our bodies are not given the chance to get back to our unstressed balance point things often go awry.

Gaining weight, developing ‘cortisol tyres’ around the mid-section, suffering gastrointestinal problems or regular infections, a failing memory, and losing our capacity to tolerate ‘normal’ levels of stress, are all examples of symptoms of chronic, inadequately managed stress.

The good news is there’s lots we can do to transform negative stress into something more positive, as well as supporting the body nutritionally so it can cope better with stress. And that’s going to be the subject of the next three articles in this series.

10 Steps to Getting – and Staying – lean!

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If you’ve read the preceding 3 blogs in this series you’ll now know the ‘What’ and the ‘Why’ regarding healthy weight management. This final blog is all about the ‘How’ – in 10 easy steps, because it’s really, honestly, not complicated. And I can say that because I’ve done it. After 25 years of trying to find a solution to my own health and weight management issues, these are the steps I took which led to both my professional aha-moment and my personal weight management salvation. What’s more, it didn’t take long to make huge changes that have now become permanent.

Here you go…

  1. Start by working out a weekly menu plan that incorporates three meals per day, with no snacks or drinks in between, other than water. Prepare to be on this for 8-10 weeks. Leave at least five hours in between meals to let your digestive and immune systems rest and recover. Some scientists uphold that our digestive tract typically receives more immune challenges in a single day than our whole body does in a lifetime. That’s because food, which comes from outside our body, generates an immune reaction because it needs to be screened and responded to accordingly to make sure it won’t harm us. This is why resting your digestion for extended periods between food or drink is so important.  Grazing through the day puts your immune system on continuous red alert, saps your body of energy and leaves it in a permanent state of low-grade inflammation, all of which predisposes you to a significantly higher risk of chronic disease, let alone upping the number of calories you’re eating that aren’t offset by your activity level.
  1. Include good quality protein at every meal and make sure you get at least a gram of actual protein (not simply protein-containing food) for every kilogram of body weight (that about 2 oz for every 10 lbs of body weight). For instance, 100 g of chicken breast contains about 20 g of protein, 100 g of beef, typically about 25 g of protein and 100 g of legumes averages between 7-9 g of protein. Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein is a perfect choice for meals on the go or for a cost effective way to increase your daily intake of protein. It’s particularly useful for vegans and vegetarians who may well be getting insufficient protein. Make sure you’re mixing it with Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff if you’re using it as a meal replacement to feed all 12-body systems with targeted nutrition.
  1. Drop your fears about fat, including saturated fat, and make sure you’re getting enough of the right kind, but avoid trans fats, hydrogenated fats and fats damaged by high temperature cooking. That means including some good quality, organic butter (exclusively grass fed cows where possible – as long as you’re not sensitive to dairy. If you are, use coconut, avocado, olive oil or another healthy fat instead), extra virgin coconut oil, avocadoes, tree nut oils (e.g. macadamia nut oil), olives and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Clear your cupboards of common vegetable oils e.g. rapeseed (canola), sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn etc. It’s the protein and higher level of fat that keep you fuller for longer and give you better fuel for making energy so that you won’t crave sugar and refined carbs.
  1. Keep your portions sizes modest and if necessary eat off a breakfast rather than a dinner plate. Eat mostly whole, real and unprocessed food.  Minimal processing of some foods is OK, but always avoid ultra-processed and highly refined foods. Check out the Alliance for Natural Health’s Food4Health plate to get some guidance about how to balance your protein, carbs and fats, along with key pointers on food preparation and eating habits.
  1. Make sure you’re eating all the six main colour groups of vegetables and fruit on a daily basis (green, orange, red, yellow, blue/purple/black and white/tan/brown). We call this eating a rainbow every day. Plates of colourful food every day help you ensure you’re getting the full phytonutrient spectrum into your diet. Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff is loaded with phytonutrients to bump up what you’re getting from your food because they are Nature’s best (and safest) medicine. Try to introduce a new vegetable that you may not have had before every week.
  1. Remember that not all carbs are created equal. For the ominovores among you, in order to optimise your fat-burning metabolic pathway, try and remove all refined, starchy carbohydrates (e.g. refined grains, pizza, pasta, pulses/legumes, quinoa, amaranth, bread, cakes, biscuits, sugar and bagels etc) from your diet. Instead of starchy carbs, use a diverse colour range of vegetables as the carbohydrate base of your meals. These not only provide complex carbs, but also all-important phytonutrients. For vegetarians and vegans, keep the pulses/legumes and quinoa in your diet (as these are important protein sources), but do cut out other grains and all refined, starchy, sugary carbs as above. Vegetables and fruit are great sources of complex carbs and, eaten in sufficient quantity, they provide an ample intake of carbs for most people’s energy requirements. For those who have particularly high energy requirements, such as athletes, rice, especially brown rice, and coarse oats, in small to moderate quantities according to need, alongside other protein and vegetable sources, are the grains least likely to cause adverse inflammatory or immune reactions in most people.  Always try to source certified gluten-free oats if available.
  1. Fruit, whilst full of good stuff (phytonutrients), is also full of sugar, so limit yourself to no more than three fruits (or a handful of berries instead of one fruit) a day – eaten with or immediately after a meal, where possible. Remember, no snacking!
  1. By increasing your vegetable content, with some fruits, you will naturally increase your fibre levels, both soluble and insoluble. Fibre is essential for the healthy functioning of your digestive tract and isn’t something you can scrimp on.
  1. Recover the lost art of chewing! The slow, methodical, mechanical chewing along with the release of associated salivary enzymes is actually the first stage of digestion and is really important for gut function and general health. Try chewing each mouthful of solid food 30 times before swallowing.
  1. Where possible and when available, buy certified organic, biodynamic or sustainably produced meat, poultry, dairy, vegetables and fruit. Where you can’t, check out the US’ Dirty Dozen that are likely to contain no or harmless levels of pesticide residues if sourced from ‘conventional’ production.

If you’re a meat eater and once you’ve established this eating pattern for 8 – 10 weeks, you’ll probably find that you’re ready to drop one meal of the day to naturally create a longer fast. Whilst each of us is different, many people find that they want to drop breakfast and fast through from dinner the night before till lunch the next day. But you may also want to keep breakfast and drop one of the other meals. This is a perfectly natural progression – or I should say regression – back to a more evolutionary norm given that we’re built for famine and not for feast. Intermittent fasting also has the benefit of calorie restriction because you eat less in a day, so trust your body and go with flow. If you’re vegan or vegetarian this will likely be more difficult to achieve without using a protein shake like Clean Lean Protein, as you’ll have to eat more carbs in order to get sufficient daily protein.

Lastly, if you feel like you’d benefit from starting this journey with a more personalised, tailored program, supported by others and able to ask questions of myself and other experts, then check out www.bitethesun.org. It’s a member’s club with a wealth of information, an interactive personal dashboard and an integral social hub.

The Demand for Additional Nutrients Due to Stress

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Good nutrition is the key to vitality, longevity and defence against illness. Although drugs may help keep us living longer, it is a lifetime habit of good nutrition that will help make it enjoyable. Just because you do not show any symptoms of illness now does not necessarily mean that you are healthy. These things manifest over a period of time – years. They creep up and take you by surprise. By taking care of yourself now, you are insuring yourself for the future.

Today’s lifestyle and environment mean that we need to do a little extra to cover the nutritional gaps caused by missed meals, fast food, soil depletion and modern harvesting methods.

Did you know…???

  • Studies have shown that the average loss of Calcium and Iron in some fruits and vegetables due to soil depletion is 30%.
  • That for storage and transport reasons, many commercial farms harvest produce green; before the real nutrition can naturally form in the plant?
  • A cooked carrot loses nearly all of its vitamin A and vitamin E activity?
  • That when cooking spinach you lose nearly all the zinc, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and folate?
  • That in processing of many foods there is a significant loss of saccharides and sterols?

This does not mean that you cannot get all the nutrition you need from your food; it simply means you need a lot more of it; that in turn means accepting the additional calories… and financial cost!!

Then there is the problem of stress.

Psychological Stress
We live in a fast paced world with unprecedented levels of social and work-related pressures. Scientific studies have clearly shown that psychological stress lowers immune function. The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

Physical Stress
As the body creates energy to move our muscles we release free radicals which require antioxidants to prevent them doing damage. People who exercise intensely are going to require more antioxidants than average. However, even the exercise from standing and walking generates free radicals. If your diet is deficient you may be accumulating oxidative damage that may adversely affect your immune system and ultimately may contribute significantly to serious disease. At best you may experience fatigue, or lethargy.The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

Dietary Stress
We have already mentioned the nutritional gaps caused by soil depletion, poor eating habits, modern harvesting methods and processed food. Nor was the human body designed to function with white bread, biscuits, french fries and overcooked food; it was designed to eat fresh, raw, natural food. Heated food loses nutritional value and some become nothing but empty calories. However, there are very few of us who will not indulge in the modern way of life but how many of us will compensate for it. And even if we try, do the extra fruits and vegetables we eat really contain the nutrients they should, or that are needed? The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

Environmental Stress
We believe that the most serious threat to human health is the oxidative stress caused by toxins in the environment. In the last 70 years over 75,000 synthetic chemicals have been introduced into our environment and only a fraction of them have been tested for safety in humans. They are in our water supplies, in our soil, in the air we breathe, the products we use and the materials we build, furnish and decorate our homes with. There is no getting away from it. Pesticides have been found in the snow at the North Pole and in the tissue of Penguins at the South Pole. Just because a food is certified organic does not mean that it is toxin free. The more stress, the greater the demand for nutrients.

You can try to compensate for this extra demand by simply eating more and eating extremely well; grazing all day on raw broccoli, freshly juiced raw vegetables, more broccoli and more raw vegetables… you get the picture! And even then you cannot be sure. That’s why we advocate supplementation and it is also why we advocate that supplementation be largely superfood based like Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff; raw, concentrated, nutrient-rich greens, fruits vegetables and berries… with an added dose of extra vitamins and minerals… just in case!

Acid-Alkaline Balance and Diet

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Your body needs to remain ever so slightly alkaline (the opposite to acidic) to survive. One of the simplest ways to stay in perfect pH balance is through diet and alkaline-forming foods. Naturopath Cliff Harvey explains the importance of acid/alkaline balance in your diet.

Whatever we eat is digested and broken down into much smaller compounds: proteins into their constituent amino acids, long chain carbs into simple sugars such as fructose, glucose and galactose and fats into glycerides and fatty acids. There are also many non-caloric (not energy providing) components of the food we digest and these also exhibit effects on the body.An area that has garnered some interest recently, especially in complementary medicine and holistic nutrition fields is that of the acid-base (or acid-alkaline) balance of the foods that we eat.

The various compounds that result from digestion and end up circulating through our bodies for eventual utilisation and/or excretion will be either acidic or alkaline. If we eat a lot of foods that are (net) acid forming in the body and few that are alkaline we will create a level of what has been called ‘low grade metabolic acidosis’.It is not technically correct to say that the blood ‘will become overly acidic’ as many claim, because blood pH, and cellular pH is one of the most tightly controlled mechanisms in the body, however there are significant general health effects from having a diet that is too acidic and many of these stem from our need to ‘buffer’ blood and cells that are potentially too acidic (bring them back to normal range.)

Some of the ways the body seeks to maintain normal pH:

  • Breaking down bone tissue to supply calcium (a highly basic compound), potentially weakening bones.
  • Breaking down muscle to free up glutamine a highly basic amino acid and the most abundant amino in muscle tissue. This may result in lower levels of muscle mass, impaired recovery and reduce glutamine stores that may also play a role in immunity and gut health.

When blood pH is elevated, even fractionally, there may be additional effects of greater inflammation and increased insulin resistance, both of which are co-factors in the development of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other metabolic disorders.

Food can be analysed for its net effect on the body’s acid-alkaline balance using a measure known as Potential Renal Acid Load or in short it’s PRAL score.

Food Item PRAL value*
Cheeses (more than 15g protein/100g serving) 23.6
Meat and meat products 9.5
Cheeses (less than 15g protein/100g serving) 8
Fish 7.9
White Flour 7
Pasta 6.7
White Bread 3.5
Milk and other (non-cheese) dairy products 1
Fats and Oils 0
Vegetables -2.8
Fresh fruit and juices -3.1
Potatoes -4

*PRAL values provided in mEq per 100g edible portion

Good Green Stuff is a highly alkaline supplement that can help the body to redress its acid-alkaline imbalance.

Golden pea protein isolate is the world’s ONLY alkaline protein. Clean Lean Protein – the alkaline advantage, has a pH reading of 7.8!

Brain-Boosting Good Green Stuff

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Juggling the endless tasks we need to get through each day can often mean that our memory for remembering details is not always great. How often do you forget passwords, phone numbers, even just why on earth you walked into the room? Mental function is impaired when we’re stressed and tired; and declines as a natural part of the aging process that (scarily) begins around the age of forty.

The great news is that our brains are able to be trained. With the right nutrition and environment they can build new brain cells and slow cognitive decline. For centuries, herbs have also been used to boost memory and cognition and now there is strong research to support their use in improving attention, cognitive processing and memory by activating neurotransmitters and protecting damage to neurons that cause mental decline.

The following herbs you can find in NuZest’s Good Green Stuff – scientifically supported, memory-boosting herbs – just one of the plethora of benefits to taking your Good Green Stuff every day!

Panax Ginseng Extract – aids in concentration and enhanced mental function by activating neurotransmitters

Rhodiola Rosea – recognised as one of the best memory-boosting herbs, it enhances physical and mental performance and helps to retain a higher level of mental function by stimulating the central nervous system

Gotu Kola – thought to be able to improve blood flow to the brain, thereby enhancing memory and brain function

Sunflower lecithin – plays a role in nerve function so may be beneficial for neurological performance

Orgranic Chlorella – may help to prevent the progression of mental decline

Rosemary Leaf extract – traditionally used for improved memory, it also acts as an antioxidant, neutralising free radicals.

 

Good Green Stuff can be used as simply as adding two teaspoons to a glass of water, but if you want to get creative, visit our recipes section for ideas and inspiration.