Wheat – friend or foe?

This post is a guest blog by Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Dr Megan Rossi. Follow her instagram here or visit her website

 

Confused by all the anti-wheat hype? Here’s the low down on the evidence behind whether or not wheat is for you. Grain-based foods, including wheat, are an important source of nutrients, such as B vitamins needed for cell metabolism and dietary fibre for gut health. In addition, any diet that unnecessarily restricts food groups can create nutritional imbalances. In fact, many foods advertised as wheat-free have added sugar and fats to compensate for the functional qualities of wheat.  What’s more, recent studies including over 300 000 people (without coeliac disease) have suggested those with low intakes of wholegrains compared to those with high intakes have an increased risk of type two diabetes1 and having a heart attack2.  So typically my answer to the common question “Is wheat bad?” is no! Whole-grain wheat (which is the minimally processed type of wheat) is healthy for the majority of people.

HOWEVER, there is a subset of the population who don’t tolerate wheat, which is typically related to one of three wheat components:
1) Gluten (type of protein in certain grains including wheat, rye and barley) main conditions: Coeliac disease– requires strict avoidance (effects 1% of the population3);  & Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)- newly defined condition with mechanism poorly understood (effects 1-6% of the population4)
2) Wheat proteins (proteins in wheat, other than gluten) main conditions: Wheat allergy– requires strict avoidance (>0.2% prevalence in adults1); & Non-coeliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS)- suspected crossover with NCGS.4
3) Fructans (fermentable carbohydrates found in many foods not exclusive to wheat) condition: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (15% prevalence5)- does not require strict avoidance of wheat nor is it known to carry any long-term health risk, although the associated gastrointestinal symptoms can be debilitating.
Non-coeliac gluten/ wheat sensitivity is a newly defined condition that recognises a wide spectrum of gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms including brain fog and fatigue. Given the co-existence of gluten and other wheat proteins in many foods identifying the culprit component ie. gluten vs. other wheat protein such as amylase-trypsin inhibitor (ATI) can be difficult which is why the terms NCGS and NCWS are often used interchangeably. The gold standard method to diagnose NCGS and NCWS is a placebo-controlled food challenge using isolated gluten and wheat protein.

If you suspect you react to wheat your first step should be to rule out coeliac disease and wheat allergy with your General Practitioner. It’s important you take this step so that you can determine how strict you need to be with your gluten/wheat exclusion, for instance, even traces of gluten from cross-contamination using a chopping board or toaster can have serious consequences for people with coeliac disease and wheat allergies. Once these have been ruled out the next step is to see a registered dietitian who can help identify whether you have NCGS/NCWS or instead are reacting to fructans (which may form part of a larger group of food exclusions known as FODMAPs). Unfortunately, there is no blood/breath/stool test that can accurately determine food intolerances, other than lactose intolerance (so please don’t waste your time or money!).

bio.jpg

Dr Megan Rossi is a Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian with a PhD in the area of Gut Health. Megan works as a Research Associate at King’s College London and Consultant Dietitian across industry, media and has just opened up a Gut Health clinic on Harley Street in London. To keep updated on the latest gut health news connect with Megan on social media @TheGutHealthDoctor
Web: www.drmeganrossi.com

References:

  1. Zong G, Lebwohl B, Hu F, et al. Abstract 11: Associations of Gluten Intake With Type 2 Diabetes Risk and Weight Gain in Three Large Prospective Cohort Studies of US Men and Women. Circulation. 2017;135:A11-A11.
  2. Lebwohl B, Cao Y, Zong G, et al. Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study. Bmj. 2017;357:j1892.
  3. British Allergy Foundation. 2016. allergyuk.org.
  4. Canavan et al. The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Epidemiol 2014; 6:71-80.
  5. Giorgio et al. Sensitivity to wheat, gluten and FODMPAs in IBS: facts or fiction? Gut 2016; 65:169-178.

 

 

Christmas confidence

Are you an introvert or extrovert? A mixture of both?

I used to class myself firmly in the introverted category, avoiding social situations where possible and finding myself feeling reluctant and awkward any time a situation required speaking real words to real people. Even now I find myself beating myself for saying X because no one laughed, or patting myself on the back when people seem genuinely interested in what I have to say.

I don’t think that talking to people with ease comes naturally to most people, and lots of us find it actively uncomfortable, but there are ways to make it less so, and maybe even enjoy it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay at home instead of go out and socialise (trust me), but as we head towards the Christmas season it might be helpful to try a few things in case you find yourself being dragged to a Christmas party where you know no one (events where I know no one still give me pretty bad anxiety).

Being an introvert is no bad thing, in fact it gives you qualities only someone who has spent a lot of time in their own company can have. But instead of finding yourself hiding in the loos (tick) or by the food counter shovelling food into your mouth so no one can talk to you (also tick), wouldn’t it be nice to get something from parties? Find a reason to enjoy them and relax? Here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful over the years – I still get anxious and socially awkward internally, but for the most part these tips have helped me enjoy almost all the events I go to, find new friends and have great conversations I would never have had if I had avoided people from the start.

 

Body language
This may seem a bit ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, but some evidence suggests that acting confident with your body language can actually make you feel more in control. Looking into people’s eyes is another thing that makes you appear confident, but this actually takes a lot of practise to get right if you’re not used to it. However, it can really help you connect with people and help them feel more at ease around you. Related to this is smiling – I can’t stop smiling now, it’s just a habit (and usually I’m pretty happy anyway). Everyone loves a smiley person. Everyone should do it more 🙂

Don’t worry what people think about you
This goes for anything – you shouldn’t spend your life thinking that you should/shouldn’t do X, Y or Z because people will like you more/less for it. It’s impossible to please everyone, and in trying you are putting yourself second. The only way to be able to make others happy is to also be happy and confident in yourself. Putting others first and worrying what people think all the time is unhealthy and can never lead to true happiness. Self-confidence needs to come from within, otherwise by definition it’s not really self-confidence. Life is too short to worry about wearing or doing something: just do it.

Find people you recognise
Finding people you recognise at the beginning of an event can help make you feel comfortable, but equally they can introduce you to people you would not otherwise have met. Anyone they introduce you to already has something in common with you – you both know your mutual friend, which is a good starting point! I also often think of parties a little bit like networking opportunities – new people you meet could be friends or business partners in the future. It may seem a weird way of looking at it, but for me that gives a focus for the party. Meet people, enjoy good conversation and network at the same time.

Wear clothes you feel comfortable in
This is important both physically and mentally. I used to try to wear ‘in fashion’ whatever, but quite frankly I couldn’t care less what’s in fashion now. I love clothes and I think they’re great for self-expression, but trying to impress people with clothes, when secretly you’re dying because you can’t breathe or you feel worried your left boob is going to pop out of your new top any second, is not cool. Wear clothes you love (yay sports clothes!) and own it.

 

This may seem like a bit of a random post for my blog, and I wasn’t sure about doing it. However, a few years ago it was just the sort of thing I wish someone had helped me with, especially in the run up to Christmas, and if I can’t be honest on my blog, where can I be? If this helps just one or two people be more confident this year, then it’s done its job. Just remember, you are enough as you are, you don’t need to impress anyone (seriously), and you should do what makes you happy. You do you.

I4vE7PNjqDXwcNxdKtQEHJvMUV4zdnzbzCpxg8HbW3Q

What christmas should be about – enjoying a relax and spending time with friends and family

 

Autumn – shoot with Kudzai

The post these photos were taken for was written for Gymshark and is featured on their blog. Go and take a read for some advice on how to keep active in winter!

_KJM6695-Edit

Cold weather shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve got the right clothes

As the days get shorter and weather less and less predictable, keeping active often seems a lot less appealing.

However in the winter, more than ever, it’s important to keep active to maintain a positive mindset and get some fresh air. Something that annoys me is this attitude that spring and summer are the only months when you should take care of your body, and the rest of the year your health just doesn’t matter.

 

To read the rest of this post head to the Gymshark blog. Or, scroll down to see more pictures.

_KJM6810

The Malvern hotel and spa

After a very exhausting and mentally draining week, I was unbelievably excited to head to The Malvern for a weekend (two days, one night) of relaxation, good food and some peace and quiet. Nestled at the base of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, The Malvern spa looks nothing special from the outside, but when you step inside it’s a totally different matter.

DSC_0417

There’s nothing better than jumping onto a warm and comfy bed after a long day!

Fiann and I arrived at The Malvern at lunch time, and although our room wasn’t ready (they’re not prepared until 3pm), we were given robes and towels and allowed access to their spa and wellness areas. There’s not much that’s more rewarding than heading to the spa after a long drive, and it was so nice to jump straight into relaxation to start the weekend right 🙂

After spending just over 2h between the gym and spa, Fiann and I headed for our afternoon tea, booked in advance. I told the restaurant (a little/very last minute) that we were vegetarian and they managed to pull together a huge and delicious spread of sandwiches, cakes and other desserts (with a decaf soya flat white, of course). The waiters were more than a little surprised when Fiann and I managed to demolish the entire 2 slates of food, without much effort – for 2 VERY hungry people post-gym session, the amount was perfect! For anyone else it would have been a bit much, but they did offer us doggy bags to take away any we didn’t eat (obviously none).

Having finished tea, we were taken up to our room, which was small but perfectly formed. I think the bed is definitely one of the comfiest I have ever slept on, and (possibly helped by the relaxation from the spa), I slept almost 9.5h in the night!

As part of our stay we were offered breakfast and a three-course dinner, both of which were impressive, although they could have done with some more vegetarian and vegan options. As vegetarians we were limited to 2 options for both starter and main, although they were VERY good! The food quality was 5* throughout, but range of healthy options could be bigger.

On the second morning Fiann and I were booked in for our treatments – a 75 minute back, face and scalp treatment, involving ESPA products that you can choose yourself with a little guidance at the beginning. The treatment area is ridiculously relaxing, with a ‘waiting room’ with a fire, fountain and comfy furniture all around. I nearly fell asleep multiple times in my treatment and it was amazing for removing tension built up from work and the gym. Getting rid of tension and tightness in your muscles is very important so you’re less likely to injure yourself through reduced flexibility, especially if you’re working at a desk most of the day and leaning over your screen. Stretching and massages are helpful if you struggle with tightness and pain in your lower back, shoulders and chest.

It would seem silly to not check out the hills themselves whilst in the area, so Fiann and I checked out of the room at 11am on the Sunday and asked directions to the nearest hills. A short drive later and we were walking up some of the steepest but most beautiful British countryside hills I’ve ever been up. It was a clear day (and icy cold) so we could see all the way across three counties (although which ones and where exactly they were I’m still not sure, but it’s the idea that counts!).

For anyone who lives in the west or south-west, the Malvern is one of the top spa destinations around. I would 100% recommend having a visit and would personally recommend staying for the night – whilst you can’t go to your room until 3pm on your first day, you can use the spa facilities from midday, giving you an excuse to relax before you’ve even made it to the room! You also get more for your money, with lots of the deals including a three-course dinner and two-course breakfast. Total review? A roaring 5* – the best weekend I’ve had in a while.

View the website here.

Disclaimer: The Malvern spa and hotel invited me to try their facilities free of charge, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Rhiannon – Winter wellness

This is a guest blog post by leading Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, taking us through some advice to keep us fit and healthy this winter. Find Rhiannon’s socials at the bottom of the post and enjoy!

 

As we enter these next few cold wintery months, our immune system can often get shot down by illness, whether that is cold and flu, sore throats or generally feeling exhausted. But what can we do to keep our wellness high and working in the winter?

Following a balanced diet full of nutrient dense foods such as complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats and of course vegetables and fruit are the key to a successful healthy winter. While there is no, one food that dispels infection, there are plenty of foods that can be introduced to help prevent infection and keep your body fit and healthy.

 

5 KEY STAPLE FOODS FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM:

  1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are full of Vitamin C, which is known globularly for its benefits to the immune system. Vitamin C is highly concentrated in immune cells that help fight infections fast, and since our bodies do not produce or store it, we must source it from the diet! Popular citrus fruits include; oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit. Have a piece of fruit for a snack, or infuse your water intake with lemon and lime!

  1. Spinach

Spinach is also a brilliant source of Vitamin C. But additionally, spinach is full of beta carotene and antioxidants, which increase the ability of your immune system. Spinach is also a darky leafy green, which we hear so much about as they are full of vitamins such as A, K, C, and B and minerals such as magnesium and calcium.  Cook your spinach, or eat it cold, either way claim the benefits of spinach.

  1. Ginger

Spice up your foods. You can even try a whole range of spices such as garlic, chili peppers, and turmeric to boost immunity and enhance circulation. Ginger is great to remedy a sore throat, and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Ginger is great in hot water on a cold winters morning, as well as in autumnal soups.

  1. Yogurt

When buying Yogurt, it is always important to look for one that contains “live and active cultures” as these cultures will stimulate your immune system to fight infection and disease in your body. Yogurt is also a great source of Vitamin D which can often be low during the winter months, but is needed in the diet as it can be beneficial to the immunity. A thing to note, often pre-flavoured yogurt contains high amounts of sugar so try to choose a plain yogurt and top with your own fruit for flavour!

  1. Protein

Everybody in their lifetime has been given chicken soup or broth when they are ill in bed.  Poultry, such as chicken and turkey is high in Vitamin B6. This vitamin plays a vital role in many chemical reactions in the body, such as forming new and healthy red blood cells.  Additionally, when making chicken broth, the use of boiling the bones holds benefits such as gut healing and immunity.

Vegetarian sources of protein, especially pulses, contain tons of fibre and nutrients to keep you fighting fit. Quinoa has a complete amino acid profile, which is excellent for the building blocks of protein (the structure of our body) and add some pulses to your meals. Pulses can also be a great source of iron and B vitamins providing you with energy and ensure your veggie sources are fortified as often as possible to get B12.

In total, we should be focusing on not only macronutrients, but the micronutrients that are often forgotten, such as vitamins A, B and C, and minerals such as Iron and Zinc.

Apart from keeping our diet full of goodness, there are other ways to keep your body both mentally and physically well in the next coming months.

rhi-pic1.png

Follow Rhiannon on her Instagram to see delicious food like this!

EXERCISE

Getting out and about, breathing in fresh air does your health a world of good. But also exercising stimulates the release of endorphins which makes you feel “happy”.

 

CLEANLINESS

Illness can spread fast in a home, especially the common cold. Preventing infection from spreading around the entire family is vital, and cleaning surfaces, door handles and objects that everyone touches; TV remote, toilet handle can minimise contamination from family member to family member.

 

REST

Taking enough time for yourself, to recuperate can be beneficial for your health. Getting enough sleep at night can make a big difference when waking up the next morning. We all know when we don’t get enough sleep we feel grouchy, and this can affect the rest of the day, and even your immune system. So be mindful in the winter months, give yourself rest to maintain your health.

 

There are so many ways to a healthy winter, and most are basic. Eat well, sleep enough, and get out. Most seem like common sense, but making an active effort to follow through can be beneficial in the long run and the key to winter wellness.

 

Don’t forget you can pre-order Rhiannon’s book, Re-Nourish, released on the 28 December 2017!