Category Archives: Nutrition

Contact Care: Ease your Hay Fever Symptoms.

Looking out of my window right now the sun is shining, a breeze is tickling the curtains and although the trees are still bare of leaves, it is a blue sky I see beyond them. But not everyone welcomes this time of year….

Contact Alarm Service with advice on relieving hay feverHay fever affects ¼ of the British population

One in four people are effected by hay fever, and unlike the name suggests (hay – harvest time) for many the tree pollen swirling in the air now is causing a runny nose and watery eyes.

There is over the counter medication to help. Additionally, you can help yourself. These five tips are provided by NHS Choices using information from a survey undertaken by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit of more than 2,000 people with hay fever, found that lifestyle factors, such as stress and exercise, can have a major impact on hay fever.

Five tips to reduce hay fever symptoms

1. Reduce your stress: Easier said than done, but try it anyway because a clear link was found between stress and the severity of hay fever symptoms. As stress levels drop, symptoms become milder.

2. Exercise more: Regular exercise can improve your hay fever. The survey found that people with hay fever who exercise most have the mildest symptoms. Exercise will also help reduce your stress levels, too. Aim to do 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Now, as this is hay fever season, you’ll be better doing it indoors. So put on that exercise video and get bouncing in the living-room. Or go to the gym or swimming-pool.

3. Eat well: The survey suggests those who eat a healthy diet are less likely to get severe symptoms. Be aware though, that some healthy foods can make hay fever symptoms worse. Foods that can worsen hay fever symptoms for some people include apples, tomatoes, stoned fruits, melons, bananas and celery.

Eat foods rich in omega 3 and 6 essential fats which can be found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, and their oils. These contain anti-inflammatory properties, and may help reduce symptoms of hay fever.

 4. Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol worsens hay fever because it contains histamine.

5. Sleep well: Try to avoid too many late nights during the hay fever season. The survey found that those who get a good night’s sleep tend to have the mildest symptoms. Just one in eight (13%) people who had at least seven hours sleep a night reported severe symptoms, compared with one in five (21%) who regularly had five hours sleep or less a night.

Kat Navarro

Contact Alarm Service – Contact Care

Nuts are not just for Christmas!

nuts-articleI have just got back from my MOT with the nurse: cholesterol and blood-sugar levels were checked, blood pressure taken, BMI recorded. At the end of which the kindly nurse gave me a percentage risk score for developing heart disease or diabetes.

The process got me thinking, so I was particularly interested to then read about nuts reducing the risk of these very conditions.

Recent research shows that eating 28 grams (a handful) of nuts daily reduces your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

It is from a robust analysis of 20 previous studies, carried out in Norway. It was funded by a charitable trust, health authority and university, so is a pretty trustworthy source.

However, as is so often the case with studies into diet and health, the researchers cannot 100% prove nuts are the sole cause of these outcomes. It’s hard to discount the possibility that nuts were just one component of a healthier lifestyle pattern, including balanced diet and regular physical activity. It could be this overall picture that is reducing risk, not just nuts.

Bearing this in mind, the study of 376,228 adults did find nut consumption reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Each 28 gram/day serving was linked with a 21% reduced risk. (nb. if you have a family history of heart disease, a healthy diet including nuts can help, but still may not be able to eliminate the risk entirely).

The study of 304,285 adults found that one serving of nuts per day reduced risk of any cancer by 15%.

And of recorded 85,870 recorded deaths within the huge study group, one serving of nuts a day was linked with a 22% reduced risk of respiratory and diabetes deaths.

So it may be worth stocking up on some of those nut bags on sale in the supermarkets for the festive season. But carry the habit on right into the New Year and beyond.

Nutrition – Walnuts

Walnuts and indeed most nuts in their raw, natural state have a wealth of health benefits that can be enjoyed by all ages. They are proven to have many properties that actively boost health and reduce the risks of developing some illnesses and diseases. And walnuts have been shown to be particularly beneficial.  In fact, just 60 grams of walnuts a day (that’s around 6-8) provide more than 100% of the daily recommended daily intake of plant based omega-3 fats.

Studies have also shown that walnuts can help reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer. They contain the amino acid l-arginine which has benefits for those with heart disease and those at risk of heart disease. This is because in the body, the amino acid arginine changes into nitric oxide which is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and improves circulation, this also reduces the chances of developing blood clots. In fact, eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels.

The anti-oxidants found in walnuts can help even out the aging process by combating free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms which are unstable and highly reactive. Our modern lifestyles of unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, smoking and stress are said to be the major cause of age-related deterioration. Nuts, especially walnuts are a perfect age fighting food as they are full of omega-3 essential fatty-acids as well as B vitamins which are excellent for the complexion – promoting smooth, supple and younger looking skin.

Including nuts in our diets can also have a positive impact on our weight. They can improve digestive functioning, and strengthen immunity due to their rich mineral content. Although nuts are a high-calorie, high-fat food, they do not encourage weight-gain. This is because nuts are filling, and after consumption, people eat less afterwards. In fact, the body does not absorb up to 20% of nuts. Trials have shown that people whose diets included extra nuts lost weight.  A September 2008 review in “The Journal of Nutrition” reported that eating nuts regularly was associated with little or no weight gain and a lower body-mass index. (This excluded peanuts, however. Peanuts are in fact legumes, like beans or peas (edible seeds that grow inside pods), and grow underground.)

Ever noticed how walnuts look a lot like miniature brains? They are an excellent brain food! They contain high levels of vitamin E folate and melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that anticipates the daily onset of darkness, essential for getting a good night’s sleep. Vitamin E is often overlooked in how it benefits the brain but it in fact plays a key role in protecting membranes for oxidation (the gain of oxygen by a substance). And it is well known how valuable omega-3 is to brain function. Often we are encouraged to eat more fish for this very benefit but it can be sourced just as easily from the humble walnut.

As well as all of the benefits I have already mentioned, walnuts have been linked to improving metabolic parameters in those suffering from type-2 diabetes. Within three months of a study, participants had significant reductions in fasting insulin levels compared to those who did not include walnuts in their diet. [2]

We are all aware that a plant-based diet has numerous health benefits. But overhauling our diets can feel daunting and overwhelming. They great thing about nuts is that they are a powerful combination of fruits and seeds, combined into an easy to eat, delicious and easy to access food stuff. If you’re looking to improve your diet, eating more nuts is a perfect way to start once you realise the phenomenal amount of benefit it could have on your life. And smoother skin? I’m eating them for that reason alone.