Nutritional Tips Archive

Latest Nutrition/Food News


NINA'S NUTRITIONAL DIARY - sharing my foodie experiences with you in my blog please click on Nina's Blog the link is just on the left hand side of this page. 




Having been approached by a colleague who was quite upset following a drs check up about 6 months ago, where she was advised that she was in the prediabetic range of blood sugar and to do nothing wasnt an option unless she wanted to develop full blown diabetes.  Her blood sugar was 6.8 putting her into a high risk range.  She came to me for advice and I advised her to check all the food and drink that she ate.  I told her how to work out how many teaspoons of sugar were in some of her favourite foods, You need to look at the nutritional label, check out the carbohydrates, of which sugars.  Whatever this number is divide by 4 and that gives you the equivalent amount of sugar in teaspoons for the serving you are looking at..... eg carbohydrates of which sugar per serving is 12 - divide this by 4 and you can see that one serving contains 3 teaspoons of sugar.! 

Over the next 6 months my colleague became quite savvy on measuring her sugar intake, resulting in a blood sugar result of 5.4 taking her out of the diabetic risk zone , a loss of nearly a stone in weight and a very happy colleague and Dr.



 A lot of bad press meant that many people removed dairy from their diet, I know if you have a true allergy you have to but I am talking about the "press" telling people to cut down or leave it out!!!! DONT - it is essential for the formation and maintenance of your teeth and bones, it plays an important part in making your muscles contract and relax, helps with blood clotting, regulates normal heart beat, stimulates hormones to work, activates enzymes which help in the absorption of Vitamin B12.  In addition it has been said lately that keeping dairy in your normal diet will help you maintain a healthy weight.  So to make sure you get enough from it and other than the normal source you think of, which is the dairy products - yoghurt, milk, cheese, butter there are many other sources that might not seem so obvious;-

Eggs, salmon [ currently wild salmon is in Season], sardines, tinned salmon is a good source especially if you mash in those tiny soft bones too], dried beans and peas, dark green leafy vegetables.  So a few here to include in your food intake to support calcium in your body.


Following on from a twitter enquiry around Vit C, @agathasvintage mentioned that they were interested in getting more magnesium through food so I thought I would give them a helping hand.

A sometimes forgotten mineral but one that is vital for the formation of bones and teeth and works alongside calcium, sodium and potassium in moving nerve signals around the body and helping muscles to contract.  It is also very important for the processing of fat and protein in the body, helps with thyroid functioning. Without enough magnesium the result is lower levels of calcuim and potassium in the blood, it will affect your digestive and nervous systems, it can cause problems with circulation and the overall health of your heart and if that isnt enough it also stops your blood cells developing properly.

So to ensure you get enough magnesium - the daily requirement is approx 300mg per day but by encorporating the following food and providing you dont have any underlying health issues you should soon achieve this level through the foods you can eat;-

50mg of magnesium is found in every 100g of the following foods.

red meats               spinach                      Tofu                        sesame seeds [ unlikely to have 100g though!]      

wholemeal bread     beans and pulses        sunflower seeds       Nuts [ brazil, almond, cashew]                            whole grains


Also by using dried herbs you can also increase your magnesium for example dried coriander contains 14mg per tablespoon, you will also get slightly smaller quantities from chives, dill, sage, basil and spearmint

When making houmus, each tablespoon of tahini that you add into it will also add just under 60mg of magnesium.

Include over 70% dark chocolate in your diet and apart from enjoying the treat you will get aprox 95mg per square! wow so dont ditch the good chocolate.



Vitamin D 

It is integral for a healthy body, it's jobs include protector, anti-inflamatory, keeping your immune system healthy, preventing auto immune diseases, helps to keep your heart healthy, reduces the risk of diabetes by over 50%.   It is reported that around 50% of the UK population do not get their recommended level of Vitamin D every day, especially during these winter months when the rays of the sun are shorter.  HOwever there are some foods that can help you to increase your Vitamin D levels;- oily fish, eggs, tofu, and wholegrain cereals.  When Summer comes [ lets hope we get a good one!] an ideal way to improve the Vitamin D in your body is to try and get 50% of your body [ arms, legs and face] exposed to sunlight for 20 minutes each day - not to burn just expose.


EXERCISE- replenish your body's nutrients.

When you have exercised, or during a walk or even before walking your dog.  Dont spend money on branded sports drinks/foods, use the following natural foods/drinks instead.


Caffeine Boost - make a smoothie with one banana, berries of your choice,low fat greek yoghurt, oats, soya milk and honey. This is full of Vitamin B and will give you the natural energy boost.

Carbohydrate - electrolyte - make your own energy drink if you are exercising for more than 90 minutes.  Take 500ml of pure fruit juice [ no added sugar] mix 500ml of water and approx 2g of sea salt - mix well.

Glucose and Carbohydrate fruit is a carbohydrate [ eat approx an hour before exercise] then following exercise a handful of unsalted nuts and another different piece of fruit - this will boost energy and help to repair muscles

Protein just a simple glass of milk after exercise will help your body recover from exercise and also burn more fat too.


CHOCOLATE over 70% cocoa solids

Just because its Easter, dont go mad eating any sort of chocolate... But stick to the over 70% cocoa solids sort. A couple of squares of equivalent will help to keep your heart healthy, so no need to feel guilty look at some of its other potential benefits

Can help lower blood pressure whcih in turn protects against heart conditions and stroke

Colon Cancer - cocoa polyphenols from this dark cholcolate reduce the risk of colorectal cancer [ study conducted by Nutrition society of Spain proved this]

Blood sugar - helps to inhibit blood sugar

Healthy FAT = contains oleic acid which helps protect against heart disease and promotes antioxidants in the body

Mood - contains serotonin which increase endorphin production this acts like a natural anti depressant.

It can also help with PMS issues in ladies, and help to keep the brain focused and functioning properly



Having had a few enquiries regarding gluten free the following information might be useful for you.  Obviously you know what you can and cant eat, as some people who are gluten sensitive are able to eat oats but you will know whether you can or cant.  One of the main questions is what can be substituted instead of gluten, so I have pulled together some food that you may like to try in your cooking.

Flour alternatives can include

rice flour, quinoa flour, corn flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, chickpea [ gram] flour,potato flour, soy flour

For thickening of sauces, stews try using arrowroot, agar agar or cornflour

Gluten Free Flour Mix

obviously you can purchase ready made gluten free mixes but if you want to experiment try the following quantities

50% rice flour, 25% cornflour or potato flour and 25% of ground almonds - this makes a good pastry mixture and would be ideal as a pastry base where you want a light nutty flavour.

Gluten Free Bread Mix

Again you can buy ready mixed gluten free bread mises but perhaps try this out too.

300g white rice flour, 100g potato starch flour, 50g tapioca flour, 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum and 1teaspoon of gluten free baking powder





Artificial Fizzy Drinks!!!! -

ouch not too much now, in fact cut it out completely if you can.  This is because the carbon in the drink attaches itself to minerals in our bodies and can rob us of these essential minerals.  Long term this can cause problems with lower bone density.  

Drink Naturally Carbonated water instead - because this takes in some of the minerals it is runs over in the rock bed, so when you drink this it includes some minerals therefore helping you to take in those essential minerals that your body needs.

PS I talked about this on Stafford radio yesterday and the Alex and May who were sitting in were horrified and really didnt want me to say this - they are both young girls who enjoy their fizzy drinks, so we came up with some alternatives using freshly juice fruit and veg added to the natural mineral water.......

Diabetic News  - Researchers in Canada have made a surprising discovery regarding the effect of Beans and Pulses on Diabetic's Blood Sugar.  Over three months the diabetics who ate one cupful of legumes[ lentils, peas] a day , were found to have much better blood glucose control.  In addition they also saw a drop in blood pressure.

30g of Banana Chips will add potassium to your diet, which will help to control your blood sugar and counts towards your 5 a day
A Banana contains certain antioxidants which are not found in sports drinks, they also include potassium, fibre, Vitamin B6 - they are easy to carry making then an ideal snack for walkers, cyclists, runners etc.
30g of pumpkin seeds contain iron, zinc, copper magnesium and potassium - make an ideal snack mid afternoon to help beat the slump
Roast Potatoes make over - brush peeled potatoes in rapeseed oil, sprinkle some rosemary over and cook on an oven tray till crispy outside and soft inside - perfect with lamb
Cholesterol - foods claiming to lower cholesterol myst contain at least 1g of beta glucan [ soluble fibre] per serving.
Green leafy veg often has a higher mineral content of iron, zinc, calcium, folate, beta carotene for vitamin A and magnesium than other vegetables.
Oats contain a soluble fibre in their outer layer of the grain, this dissolves in water to form a gel in the intestines which helps keep your blood sugar level stable.
Sesame seeds contain 1.5 mg of iron just in 1 tablespoon, add them to the flapjack recipe, pop them into your dough mix - how easy is that to increase iron in a very hidden way!
Trying to lose weight, make sure you dont cut out dairy products from your diet as the calcium in them can help to break down body fat as well as ensuring you are protecting your body from calcium deficiency.
22% of women are at risk of iron deficiency, to ensure you get the maximum iron from your food drink a glass of orange juice as the vitamin C supports iron absorption from food.
Protect your body's calcium levels by keeping your caffeine intake in moderation, high caffeine intake can cause the body to expel calcium via urination.


Co-enzyme Q10

So what is it?  it is a natural vitamin-like chemical, found throughout the body especially in tissues which have a high metabolic activity, so the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas.  It's main role is in energy production but it is has good antioxidant properties.  Food sources include oily fish, peanuts, soy, spinach and meat.

Why is it important?

  • effective antioxidant - helps maintain helathy nails, skin and hair.
  • essential for healthy gums
  • energy booster - it was found that in a study of 20 elderly who were suffering with chronic fatigue, that their co-enzyme Q10 levels were depleted, following a three month period of a daily dose their fatigue improved and they went on to take exercise.
  • Prevent migraines, co-enzyme Q10 supplements have been used to prevent migraines, and also decrease migraine frequency by up to 40% - it unfortunately cannot treat a migraine once you have one though.
  • High blood pressure sufferers are often found to be low in co-enzyme Q10, once an increase is in the body it is found to often lower blood pressure
  • a decline of co-enzyme Q10 in the body can also be linked to an increase in heart disease 

Should you be on any medication already for any of the above, please discuss with your GP before you start to take any supplements of co-enzyme Q10.