Vitamin D Deficiency

After a recent doctors visit for some routine blood work, I discovered I have vitamin D deficiency. You may be thinking, how can a dietitian be deficient in any vitamin? Well, vitamin D is different from other vitamins because food is generally a poor source.  So, no matter how balanced my diet might be, I can still be deficient. Our skin makes vitamin D when it is directly exposed to sunlight, especially in the summer months.  Sadly, like most people today, I spend most of the day light hours inside the office. And with my fair skin, I try not to expose myself excessively to the sun and when I do I cover up with sun screen. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a vitamin D deficiency.

But, I am not alone, a study from 2007 from the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal, analyzed vitamin D status in three areas of Australia: southeast Queensland, Geelong region, and Tasmania. The results showed that study participants in Tasmania had the greatest prevalence of low vitamin D levels approximately 67.3% of subjects had levels less than 50 nmol/L, followed by those in Queensland (40.5% of subjects), and lastly 37.4% of participants in the Geelong region.

Certain population groups are also more prone to vitamin D deficiency.  People with darker skin do not absorb the vitamin from the sun as well as those with lighter skin.  Also, people who live in colder climates, who have illnesses that prevent proper absorption of nutrients, and breastfed children who do not receive supplemental vitamin D, are all at risk for developing a deficiency. The elderly are also at high risk due to time spent indoors and the skin becomes less efficient at absorbing the vitamin as we age.

Why is vitamin D important?

I am concerned about my vitamin D levels because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems. People with low vitamin D may experience more bone fractures or muscle weakness, due to the role that vitamin D plays in calcium absorption. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to specific cancers such as thyroid, prostate, and breast cancer. Vitamin D is also vital for a healthy immune system and can help us fight off bacteria and viruses, especially in the winter months.  People who are obese tend to have lower levels of vitamin D, as vitamin D is fat soluble and gets trapped in the body’s fat cells.

Treatment of Vitamin D deficiency

The first thing to do if you believe you might be deficient in vitamin D is to ask your doctor for a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD). This specific vitamin D blood level should be ? 70 nmol/L.  For those with a significant deficiency, your doctor may prescribe a high dose of the vitamin temporarily to quickly correct the deficiency. The upper limit of vitamin D is 10,000 IU.

If you want to take an over the counter supplement look for one with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which more closely matches the type vitamin D naturally found in the body, therefore it is the preferred form for supplementation. If you are deficient, try to take 1000 IU daily to get your levels up, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Many people may need a “maintenance” level of vitamin D during the winter months of 600 IU. But, the best thing you can do to naturally get your vitamin D levels up is to spend a little time enjoying the sunshine. Just 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight during the summer months will help keep your vitamin D levels up. So get out there and enjoy the sunshine!

 

Benefits of Beetroot

This is the first of many featured ingredients for our new blog series ‘GOODNESS ME!’.  Each fortnight we will feature a new ingredient and tell you all the amazing health and nutritional benefits and give you some tips of how to use them in your every day diet.  

Comment below or on our Facebook page if there are any ingredients you would love to know more about!

I love beetroot not only for its delicious taste and powerful nutrient properties but also for its ability to add vibrant colour to almost any dish.

There are so many health and nutritional benefits to beetroot. Beetroot is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, potassium and our digestive systems best friend – fibre! The rich purple colour is due to high levels of phytonutrients (a potent antioxidant), which fights free radicals (those nasty things that damage our cells) keeping your immune system strong and body healthy. A recent study also suggested that beetroot juice may assist with maintaining good blood pressure! To boost a juice, ask for added beetroot!

Lucky for us, beetroot is available year round but is most plentiful (and cheap) in the warmer months.

 

How to include beetroot in your diet

Choose small-medium sized deep-coloured beetroots with smooth skin. Grated raw beetroot is a yummy addition to any salad and the best way to keep all of those antioxidants intact – just don’t be alarmed when that wonder juice we were talking about before turns everything pink!

You can also roast, steam or boil beets for around 30-40 minutes (depending on the size), before consuming whole, peeled, diced or sliced with meals. Beetroot, pumpkin, spinach and goats cheese is a great combination for risottos, salads or pizza toppings. You can also add the leaves to your salad for added nutrients.

Try my beetroot dip, which is perfectly paired with vegetable sticks or crackers for a quick and protein rich afternoon tea or a delicious spread for sandwiches or wraps. If you are feeling creative – try our bean and beetroot brownie recipe.

 

Beetroot Hommus

This recipe is packed with protein, fibre, antioxidants and good fats!

 Ingredients

1 tin chickpeas, drained

3 baby beetroots

1 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ clove garlic

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

 

Directions

  1. Boil or steam beetroots for around 25 minutes until tender. Drain and cool.
  2. In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Add an extra tablespoon of water if the mixture seems too thick.
  3. Serve or store in small containers for a quick snack on the run!

Dairy Free Sources of Calcium

dairy free calciumCalcium is an abundant and vital mineral found in our bodies. The main function of calcium in our diets is to help maintain strong bones and teeth. Almost all the calcium in our bodies is stored in our bones, but our body will sometimes remove calcium as needed for other bodily functions such as to help release hormones, maintain blood vessels, and to build enzymes. When the body begins to take out too much calcium from the bones, when we don’t get enough from our diet, this may lead to a weakening of the bones called osteoporosis. Therefore, it is important to consume enough calcium via diet, so that our body is not forced to access the stored calcium.  The daily recommended amount (known as RDI) for calcium for adults is 1,000 mg.  Consuming this amount daily may be challenging for some people with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, as milk, yogurt, and cheese contain a significant amount of calcium. But, there are several dairy free sources that actually have almost as much calcium as dairy, without any of the consequences.

Vegetables

Several vegetables contain a significant amount of dairy free calcium. All of the green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and spinach, contain calcium. A cup of broccoli has 180 mg and spinach contains 240 mg per cup. Other vegetables to try: arugula, bok choy, and swiss chard. The only issue with getting all of your calcium from green leafy vegetables is that they are high in oxalates, which can block calcium absorption so it is hard to determine how much is actually absorbed. Try to vary your high calcium foods so that you don’t just rely on vegetables to supply your daily needs.

Seafood

Fish is a surprising source of dairy free calcium. In order for fish to contain calcium, it must also contain bones. Seven sardines contain about 321 mg of calcium, as they are consumed whole with the bones intact. Canned salmon, which contains small bone fragments, contains 232mg for only ½ a can. Seaweed is also very high in calcium, provides 126 mg per cup.

Nuts and Seeds

Several varieties of nuts and seeds can be great sources of calcium. Chia seeds are amongst the highest in calcium, they provide 179 mg per 28g AA026294serving. Not sure how to eat chia seeds? You can sprinkle them on salads or other cold dishes or just add them to tea or water for an extra dose of calcium. Sesame seeds provide 64 mg per tablespoon and Tahini (sesame paste contains 119 mg calcium per ounce. Almonds are also high in calcium, containing 75mg per ounce. An ounce of nuts can provide an excellent filling snack and a great source of dairy free calcium!

Milk Alternatives

For those that have a dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant, there are several beverages considered “milk alternatives” that can be substituted for milk as a source of dairy free calcium. Lactose-free milk is a good alternative for those with lactose intolerance, but would not work for people with a dairy allergy. Soy milk can contain between 200-400mg per cup depending on the brand. Almond milk is also very high in calcium, containing about 200 mg per cup. Even orange juice is calcium fortified, but watch out the sugar content.

Supplements

If you feel you are not reaching your calcium goals for the day, you may want to consider a supplement. Make sure it is a calcium citrate supplement which is better absorbed than calcium carbonate.  But, your body cannot absorb more than 500 mg of calcium at once, so split up your dose if you are aiming for 1,000 mg per day.

Even if you have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy, with these high-calcium dairy free alternatives it will be easy to get enough calcium daily and maintain strong teeth and bones.

 

Gluten-free, low-sugar, banana bread

Here is a great recipe for those of you craving a healthier, sweet dessert. Since this doesn’t contain any flour it is great for those of you following a gluten-free diet. The sweetness in this recipe comes from the bananas and dates, which also provide a great deal of fibre. There is no refined or processed sugar in bananathis recipe at all. Bananas provide not only 3g of fibre, but also a good dose of potassium, Vitamin A, and folate. Dates are also super high in potassium, iron, and magnesium. A dessert packed with all these amazing nutrients? Yes, please!

I made these as muffins or you can use a traditional banana bread dish. Be aware if you cook it in a bread dish, you will have to cook it for slightly longer.

This recipe is GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY FREE, GRAIN FREE, PALEO, NUT FREE, SOY FREE, LOW ADDED SUGAR, HIGH FIBRE

Ingredients

For the banana muffin

  • 6 bananas (brown ones are sweeter)
  • 4 dried dates, pitted
  • 4 eggs
  • ? cup coconut cream concentrate or homemade coconut butter  (see recipe)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Coconut Butter Recipe

  • 200g unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can also use almond extract)
  • Pinch of Kosher salt.

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend together until smooth. This may take up to 10 minutes to get smooth depending on the power of your blender or food processor.  Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Toppings
Frozen blueberries or raspberries
Sliced banana
Dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
Flaked almonds

                                                Instructions
glutenfreeveganbananamuffins_158x2001. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Add dried dates to the food processor and puree until you get a lumpy paste.
3. Then place bananas in the food processor and pulse until completely pureed.
4. Next add eggs and coconut butter and puree.
5. Then add coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt.
6. Pour batter into well-greased muffin tins (baking paper works best).
7. Add blueberries, cacao nibs (or chocolate chips), flaked almonds or whatever other topping you like onto the muffins. Mix with a knife to incorporate if you like.
8. Place into the oven for 30 minutes or until you poke each one with a skewer and they come out clean.
9. Let rest for about 5 minutes.

 

Quirky Quinoa Salad

We have posted about how much we love the super grain Quinoa before (check it out here) so I thought we should post another recipe for you all to try!  I made this for a family Summer BBQ we had last weekend.  I knew my sisters would love it however I was less certain about the boys in my family.  Our boys love salad – but they are very quick to tell you how much they hate the way we add ‘all that other junk’ (i.e chickpeas, fruit, noodles) to them – they just want normal green salads ‘like mum makes it’.  Time to think outside the box guys!

The result? My husband was at first cautious about this strange looking salad but I think it was proof that he loved it when he scoffed all of the salad leftovers before any of the others the following day!  SUCCESS!

If you’d like to make this more substantial (i,e as a complete meal), add some chicken or boiled eggs. Perfect for lunches as it can be pre-made just leave the dressing in a separate container until ready to eat.

This salad is GLUTEN FREE, LOW GI HIGH FIBRE.  Leave out the white part of the spring onions and the chickpeas to make it LOW FODMAPS.

quinoa salad

What you need…

  • 170g (1 cup) mixed coloured quinoa as desired, soaked in enough water to cover for minimum 30 minutes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tin (425g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ sweet potato or pumpkin (approx. 250g), sliced approx. 1 cm thick pieces
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 4 spring onion/shallots, sliced on the angle
  • 3 sticks celery, sliced thinly
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 100 g reduced fat feta, cubed
  • 100g (approx) mixed toasted nuts and seeds, (I used walnut, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pepitas lightly roasted in the oven on a baking tray)
  • ½ bag mixed salad greens or baby spinach
  • Few Italian parsley leaves (optional)

 

Dressing:

  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) tamari or soy sauce
  • 40g fresh lemon juice (or juice of approx. 2 small lemons)
  • 30g (1-2 tbspn) extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil

 

How the magic happens…

Doing it the traditional way:

  1. Combine water and quinoa in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat chargrill or oven grill on med-high. Spray lightly with oil. Cook the sweet potato/pumpkin for 8-10 minutes or until slightly tender. Break up roughly into large pieces.
  3. Add the all other ingredients to the quinoa.
  4. Blend together the lemon juice, garlic, oil and soy sauce until well combined.  Add the dressing to the quinoa mixture.
  5. Toss salad gently.  Top with extra seeds and serve!

 

Thermomix magic:

  1. Drain quinoa and place into simmering basket. Fill Thermomix bowl to 1L mark with water and set basket into bowl.
  2. Place the lid on the bowl, with Varoma on top, and pumpkin/sweet potato spread evenly in Varoma dish. Ensure it is spread apart enough that steam can get through.
  3. Steam quinoa 18 min/Varoma temp/speed 2. Remove basket from bowl and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the salad by combining all remaining salad ingredients.
  5. Make dressing by placing all ingredients into Thermomix bowl and blending 20 sec/speed 8.
  6. Pour over prepared salad and add quinoa. Toss gently.
  7. Garnish with additional seeds, nuts, spring onions etc.

 

Recipe inspired by Quirky Cooking and Tenina

 

Green Smoothie – a power punch of nutrition

So what is a Green Smoothie I hear you say!

Basically, green smoothies are a blended drink made up of three main components –  fresh green leafy vegetables, some fruit and a liquid – usually water, coconut water or milk (regular, soy, almond, coconut etc). Green vegetables (he darker the better!) like spinach, lettuce, kale, silverbeet, bok choy, celery, cucumber and herbs like parsley and basil are incredibly nutritious foods – packed full of fibre as well as essential vitamins, mineralsand antioxidants.  The problems for most people however is the ability to get enough of these important vegies in their daily diet (or knowing how to cook them in a yummy way) – which is why green smoothies can be a great option! These are also a fun way to encourage kids (the little ones and the big ones) to get their daily greens.

green-smoothie2

The best thing about a green smoothie is you can literally add anything to them. The only rule is that they must contain green vegetables and liquids.  The rest of the ingredients you can add as you please. (In fact, they are a great way to hide powdered supplements like Maca powder, spirulina, hemp powder, chia seeds, glutamine etc…).  If you are new to green smoothies, a good idea until you get the taste for it, is to start with about half fruit (whole, not juiced) and half vegetables – starting with milder tasting vegies like spinach.  The ultimate goal however is to get mainly vegetables in there and perhaps just half a serve of fruit for a little sweetness.

To help you get started, here are some yummy recipes to inspire. Blend them altogether in a powerful blender (Vitamix‘s are awesome!) otherwise a food processor will also work.  Most of these will make quite a lot so store in the fridge for up to two days and drink as snacks.  Another great idea (especially for the kids), is to freeze these into ice block moulds for cool and refreshing treats).  If you have any other favourites, I would love to hear about them!

 

green smoothie

So Green

  • Quarter of a whole Green Cabbage
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 Kiwi Fruits
  • 2 cups of Spinach
  • 1 peeled Lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of Spirulina Powder
  • 1-2 cups water

(Source:  www.girlonraw.com)

 

Crazy Coconut

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pineapple
  • ½ cup coconut
  • 1 cup spinach

 

Citrus Cooler

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup dark lettucegreens
  • 1 cup spinach

 

Melon Magic

  • 2 Cups of chopped Melon
  • ½ Lemon with pith
  • ½ Cup fresh Mint
  • 2 Handfuls of Spinach, Kale and/or Silverbeet
  • 3 Cups Water 

 

Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 2-3 Apples
  • 2 Sticks of Celery
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 3 Handfuls Spinach
  • 1/4 lemon, with zest and peel
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of nutmeg powder
  • 3 Cups of Water

(Source:  www.kemisrawkitchen.com.au)

 

Body BalancerKaleMangoOrangeSmoothie

  • 1 mango
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup water

 

And one for the kids…

The Laughing Gorilla

  • ½ head romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup kale
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen
  • 2 oranges, peeled, seeds removed
  • 1 mango
  • 2 cups water

(Source – www.rawfamily.com/recipes)

Juice: Health food or junk food?

Often people suggest that instead of softdrink, they will have a juice. I’ll put it out there – I hate juice. It provides a false sense of security as it comes from something healthy like fruit. However, when you look at how many teaspoons of sugar a juice has, you may think again!

A freshly squeezed medium sized fruit juice typically contains around 11 teaspoons of sugar, and while it may be natural and not refined cane sugar, ultimately, it’s still sugar with none of the fibre you’d get from eating the whole fruit. I always like to think about how many oranges you would need to juice to get a glass of juice – would you eat that many oranges in one sitting? I would say probably not!

Juice teaspoon sugar

Just as a side note, the type of juice we are talking about here, is not your popular juice bar smoothies.   Smoothies from these shops can have up to 30 teaspoons of sugar in a serve!! (eeek!) That is astounding – especially considering they are marketed as a healthy product!  The worst of these are those that are based on frozen yoghurt, sorbet, fruit concentrates and syrups.

If you choose to buy a juice, get one which is freshly squeezed, stick to a small size and combine the fruit with even more vegetables.  If you must buy supermarket juice, choose those that have no added sugar and include the pulp – however keep you serve to 1/4 of a glass and dilute it with lots of water!

Another even better alternative, why not make your own Green Smoothie at home!  For information about Green Smoothies head to my blog post all about them here.

Low Carb Spaghetti Bolognaise

Serves – 4

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garli,c chopped
2 x 120g lean mince (try kangaroo!)
1 large carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 x 500g jar low carb pasta sauce – Leggo’s spaghetti sauce with beef  OR  tinned tomato passata
6 green zucchini
6 yellow zucchini
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of sea salt (optional)
light spray of olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in a little water until softened. Add the mince and cook, stirring constantly for 5 mins, until browned. Add carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minuted, adding a little water if necessary.
  2. Stir through low carb pasta sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 mins.
  3. While sauce is cooking, use a potato peeler on the zucchini to create spaghetti
  4. Just before serving, blanch zucchini in a pinch of sea salt (optional) and bring water to the boil for 1 min to heat through, then drain.
  5. Toss with a light spray of olive oil (optional) and a tablespoon of the parsley.  Keep warm.
  6. Season saute with pepper. Fold in the rest of the chopped parsley just before serving.
  7. Divide zucchini spaghetti into serving bowls and top with bolognaise sauce.

 

OTHER IDEAS:

 ** Alternative to making spaghetti bolognaise is to make mince into a meatball mixture.  Add the below ingredients to the mince and roll to form meatballs.  Cook in a non-stick fry pan until becoming golden brown then continue at Step 2 to continue cooking meatballs in the tomato pasta sauce.

  • 1 egg
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • ¼ tsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • pepper,
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • thyme

** Alternative to zucchini is to use carrot, cabbage (prepared in the same way) or SPAGHETTI SQUASH.  Directions for preparation of spaghetti squash as below.  (This was inspired by my client Gill who gave me her home grown spaghetti squash!)

  1. Prick the spaghetti squash all over with a skewer so it will not burst while baking.
  2. Place whole squash in a shallow baking pan.
  3. Bake in preheated 180*C oven for 1 hour.
  4. When cool enough to handle, cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a serrated knife.
  5. Scoop the seeds and fibrous strings from the centre of the cooked spaghetti squash
  6. Gently scrape the tines of a kitchen fork around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands.
  7. Cooked spaghetti squash is usually served with a sauce or gravy because the flesh is very bland in flavour.

 

Foods that make you go zzzzz….

Anybody that knows me well, knows that I’m a fabulous sleeper. You say the word ‘sleep’ (or pyjamas for that matter) and I’m in la-la land. Despite my innate ability, not being able to get a good night’s rest is an issue that I find many of my clients struggle with on a regular basis. Not only are poor sleep patterns frustrating, but they can also affect our health and weight. Most of us know the feeling of being tired, but not enough shut eye on a regular basis can negatively affect our mood making us irritable, anxious and more prone to becoming depressed. It’s also been shown that inadequate rest slows down our brain activity including our ability to learn, remember things and concentrate while also reducing how we handle stress and maintain a healthy immune system.

Another important reason to get enough sleep is the effect that a lack of sleep has on our waistlines. It seems that when it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze – you lose (weight that is). Not sleeping seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite and as a result putting on weight. According to a number of recent studies, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30% more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. The current research has focused on the link between sleep and the hormones that regulate appetite.

Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates hunger and leptin is the hormone that signals fullness to the brain and helps to suppress appetite. It seems that sleeping less is associated with a decrease in leptin (the satisfaction secret) and an increase in ghrelin (the hunger gremlin). Having said all this, not only does sleep loss make you hungrier, it also stimulates cravings for those ‘fatty’, ‘sugary’ foods like cakes, chocolate and biscuits to give you a boost of energy to keep you going during the day. Vicious circle.

 

There are a number of things to consider to help you get a restful night of shut eye and eating the right foods can certainly help you to fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.

THE ‘NO NO’S’

  1. Caffeine – Avoid any caffeinated beverages from 2pm, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. This includes coffee, tea, energy drinks and coke. Also, don’t forget that chocolate also has caffeine in it (along with lots of sugar) so probably best to keep your intake of this to a limit also!
  2. Large meal close to bed time – Heavy meals high in fat and calories less than three hours before going to bed rev up active digestion and can often leave you feeling uncomfortably full or, even worse, cause heartburn or reflux. Watch out for spicy foods for the similarly  aggravating effects they can have.
  3. Processed  meats – They’re an easy choice for a quick meal but processed meats such as ham, bacon, sausages and smoked meats contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which stimulates the brain to give you a buzz.
  4. All liquids 90 minutes before going to bed – It takes about 90 minutes for the body to process liquids, so limit liquids of any kind for at least 90 minutes before bedtime if the need to urinate wakes you up in the middle of the night.
  5. Alcohol  – Do not use alcohol to help you fall asleep. Although alcohol may initially induce sleep, once it wears off, the sleep tends to be broken. Plus, alcohol generally makes you need to go to the loo through its dehydrating effect on the body which means you’ll probably be waking up to pee throughout the night.

 

THE GOODIES

  1. Almonds –   Almonds contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation, they have the added benefit of being high in protein which can help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping
  2. Banana  – Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax stressed muscles. They also contain tryptophan which is the amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin and melatonin – the hormones that slow down the traffic in your brain and make you sleepy. (Serotonin also helps to regulate your mood and appetite).
  3. Dairy – Yogurt, milk and cheese contain tryptophan but they also contain another important nutrient – calcium. Calcium is a sleep-inducing vitamin as it relaxes muscles and nerves in the body but it also helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Makes a glass of warm milk the perfect little sleeping tablet!
  4. Cherries – This yummy summer fruit have been shown to contain a significant level of the hormone melatonin which will help you to start feeling sleepier at night.
  5. Porridge – The low-GI carbohydrates in a bowl of oats triggers the body to produce insulin which can speed up the release of serotonin leading to sleep. Plus the milk in it will have an added positive effect.
  6. Tea – Yes, avoiding all caffeine in the evening is essential, but some herbal varieties can help get you into sleep mode. Chamomile tea is well known as a helpful and safe sleep aid and green tea (must be decaf) contains theanine which helps promote sleep.

 

SLEEPING PILL OR BEDTIME SNACK?

An all-carbohydrate snack, especially one high in added sugar is less likely to help you sleep. You’ll miss out on the positive effects of tryptophan and you may set your body off on the roller-coaster ride effect of plummeting blood sugar followed by the release of stress hormones that will keep you awake. The best bedtime snack is one that has both low GI (slowly released) carbohydrates, protein and some calcium.

For a good night’s sleep try:

  • a glass of warm milk
  • small bowl of traditional oats made on milk
  • almond butter on a slice of grainy toast
  • grainy cracker (like Ryvita) topped with a small slice of low-fat cheese
  • low fat natural yoghurt with fresh or frozen cherries
  • banana smoothie made on low fat milk

But keep in mind that it takes about one hour for the tryptophan in the foods to reach the brain, so don’t wait until right before bedtime to have your snack.

 

OTHER THINGS TO SNOOZE ABOUT…

  1. Exercise – While exercise is good for you in many ways and can assist with relaxation, if it is done to close to bed time, it can actually stimulate your body too much to allow rest. This happens as a result of the endorphin/adrenaline rush of high intensity exercise and also because of a higher body temperature (a cooler body temperature promotes sleep). Best advice is to try to schedule your exercise in the morning or at least five hours before your scheduled bedtime (takes about that long for your body to cool down properly).
  2. Stress – If you have a lot on your mind, consider keeping a journal next to your bed so you can scribble down any thoughts that won’t let your mind settle.
  3. Tiredness – It might seem obvious but go to bed when you are tired. Don’t wait until Desperate Housewives is finished because there is a good chance that you will start to feel more awake again which will make it more difficult to get to sleep.

 

Let me know how you go with these tips and if anybody has any other tips that have worked for them, please feel free to comment below.

Sweet dreams!

Julie.

 

Welcome to New Life Nutrition

New Life Nutrition

Welcome to New Life Nutrition’s first ever blog post!

I am Julie Masci – an accredited practising dietitian and the director of a private practice in Brisbane.  From a proud Italian family, you can only imagine that I have been surrounded by food my entire life (and yes I am still struggling to convince  my father that olive oil doesn’t have its own food group).

I am passionate about nutrition, health and wellbeing and as a result I use every ounce of energy I have educating and infusing the same enthusiasm into the patients I see.  Afterall, food isn’t just about eating – it’s about the thinking, the choosing, the tasting and most importantly the enjoying.  From this we get well nourished, happy and healthy people.  And this is what I plan to be blogging about in future – the ‘ins and outs of food and eating’.  I will of course also be posting my comments and views to recent nutrition topics in the media, reviews of new recipes and products I have tried as well as general banter about interesting topics that pop up (especially revolving about weight loss, nutrition myths, IBS and food intolerances).

I must admit that I am quite excited to finally be writing as it has been a long time coming.  As the Summer of 2011 comes to a close, new and exciting things are happening and I’m busting to share them.  Firstly, we have just launched our brand new website whichFood Intolerance can be found at old.www.newlifenutrition.com.au.  Please visit it and let me know what you think (…and if you need a web designer recommendation I have just the man for you – he is amazing to work with!).  On top of this, tweeting has also become ‘my new thing’ (@julie_masci) and I have met some amazing ‘tweeps’ via this ever growing network.  Who would have thought that you could have nutrition and food discussions with complete strangers and experts in other states and countries – how the world of food has developed from the lowly afternoon cooking shows (sorry Huey).

Well that’s enough from me for now but expect to hear from me once to twice per week.  In the mean time, please following New Life Nutrition on Twitter or Facebook and let me know if there are any nutrition, health or food topics/products you’d like to know more about.

I’m looking forward to sharing my life of nutrition with you.

Julie.