Baked Lentil Falafels

Try this baked lentil version of falafels for a change from chickpeas. Lentils are full of protein, fibre and vitamins and are a great addition to any lunch or dinner. 

What are Trans Fats?

Trans fats are an unsaturated fat but the trans form results in a straight fatty acid like a saturated fat and so is more solid at room temperature.

They were manufactured in order to make a solid fat that would have a longer shelf life than saturated fats. They do occur naturally in some meat and dairy but in very small amounts. 

The body does not digest them as well as other fats and so they can cause problems such as increased cholesterol, decreased visual acuity, increased heart disease, insulin resistance (leading to diabetes), reproductive difficulties, decreased nutrition in breast milk and cancer. 

Read labels and avoid anything that contains ‘trans fats’ or says it is hydrogenated (the process of making a trans fat).

Stay Healthy this Winter

We are very lucky in Australia to have the day-to-day freedoms that we do.  In most other countries at the moment, they continue to be restricted on where they can go and how many people they can interact with.  But with these freedoms and interaction comes the transmission of bacteria and viruses.  We are entering into cold and flu season where your body is more susceptible to getting sick. 

So here are some tips to keeping healthy this winter.

Sleep is the most important activity your body needs. When sleeping, your body restores, heals, and creates important hormones. Get to bed early and stay there for at least 7-8 hours each night.  Avoid caffeine after noon to ensure you get a good quantity and quality of sleep.  Read my blog article “Having Trouble Sleeping?” for more advice.

Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, heart disease and infectious diseases.  Take time out – exercise, garden, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to relax.

What would one of my articles be if I didn’t mention exercise?  Exercise is important for everyone. To keep your immune system at its best you want at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day.  If you are an avid athlete, you also need to take care, as very high intensity exercise can put a strain on your immune system.

Our bodies are composed of 70% water. Proper hydration is important for the optimum functioning of all your body systems. Increase your water intake slowly getting up to 2L per day.

Hot-Cold showers are an excellent way of improving your immune system, increasing circula­tion and elevating energy levels. After finishing your regular shower routine, do 20 seconds of cold and 1 minute of hot. Alternate 2-3 times, ending with cold.  The increase in circulation will also help decrease sensitivity to the cold.

There are several supplements you can take to help boost your immune system. Daily zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold, reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections in preschool children by 45% and reduce the incidence of pneumonia by 41%.

Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells and is quickly consumed during an infection.  It is a natural antihistamine and has been found to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections.

More than 80% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract.  A lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract can cause a reduction in the immune system allowing increased infections.  Take a good quality probiotic to prevent bad bacteria from taking hold.

Vitamin D has a direct effect on the immune system. Vitamin D stimulates the production of natural antibiotic proteins thus killing more bacteria.  Insufficient levels are related to a deficiency in our immune system to protect us against infections.  

If you get sick, try warming socks.  You will be surprised at how effective they are!

These are just a few suggestions for staying healthy this winter.  For personalized advice, contact your local naturopath. Let’s stay healthy this winter!

To Breakfast or Not to Breakfast?

Breakfast.  This is a surprisingly contentious issue for such a simple meal.  Some people say to always eat it while others say to never eat it.  And yet another group say to eat it sometimes.  So, what is right for you?

Well, that’s just the thing.  We are all different and what is right for one person is not going to be right for the next.  Here are some things to consider as you think about whether you should eat or skip breakfast.

Do you feel light-headed and hungry in the morning?  Then you should eat breakfast.  Don’t force yourself to wait until later because someone else said it worked for them.  Make yourself something healthy with a good portion of protein and some healthy fats and you will start the day off right.

Are you completely exhausted and stressed? (Think mum of young kids who is barely keeping it together or other completely rundown equivalent).  You should eat breakfast.  Skipping breakfast adds stress to your body.  This can be a good stress for some that can help get the right hormones motivated and going, but if you are already exhausted, it is too much and will just make you more tired.  

Are you skipping breakfast but then eating something sweet at 10am?  Then you should really eat breakfast.  Craving sweets means that your body wanted protein earlier but didn’t get it. Try having breakfast with a good portion of protein and your morning tea sweet cravings will start to dissipate.

Do you wake up feeling like the last thing in the world you want is to eat food?  Then you should probably skip breakfast and wait to eat until later as long as your lifestyle allows you to eat something healthy later in the morning.  Eating an early lunch around 11am can be a good option if it works for you.

Whether you are eating or not eating breakfast, is it working for you?  Do you wake up feeling great?  Are you feeling satisfied in the morning?  Then keep going with what works. You don’t have to change just because your neighbour had a great experience with the opposite.  

Also, some days you might want to eat breakfast while others you don’t.  That’s ok.  Some days it might be more appropriate to eat it based on what you ate the night before, your energy level and what you have going on that day.

If you think you should be eating breakfast, but it still doesn’t sound appetising, try starting with something lighter or even liquid.  These tend to go down easier.  A protein shake, some chia pudding or yogurt tend be easier options first thing in the morning.

Most people I see as patients have issues with fatigue and energy so I usually recommend breakfast.  But if you are feeling ok, then you can try experimenting with skipping breakfast and see how you feel.

So, what are you going to do tomorrow?  Will you have breakfast and if so, what will you have?