Food for teenagers

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In our house, the teens eat the same food as us adults, just like they have always done. The most important thing is healthy, nutritious, real food and healthy fats. It is absolutely vital for growing children so that their bodies get all the nutrients needed, but good food is also needed to help them concentrate with their studies. We all know how harmful sugar is, but only a few parents realise just how much sugar many of the foods eaten by children these days actually contain. Foods like cereals, yoghurt, bread, fruit juice, crisps, energy bars or cakes don’t belong in the lunch box of anyone, let alone children. Yet, this is mostly what these kids eat these days, every day. No wonder there are so many health problems with kids from allergies to eczema, but also behavioural problems, mood swings, restlessness, problems with weight. These are very difficult for kids to handle, we as parents should take more responsibility. Your children will thank you if you teach them the basics of good food right from the start. Children don’t naturally want sweets or crisps, it is us adults who teach them to eat this stuff, until they, too become dependent on wrong food. You should not get your children dependent on these foods to begin with.

A big part of a healthy diet is a shared dinner at home, every day, and including your children in cooking and preparing the dinner as much as possible. Kids naturally love good, real food and when they learn to only eat proper food at home and are able to prepare it too, they lear to appreciate proper food later in life too. They will learn to make the right choices. Even with teenagers, when eating good food when growing up, they learn to make right, healthy choices later in life too. They learn to recognise how bad quality food makes you feel, compared to how real food makes you feel. Any possible problems with weight starts to resolve with teenagers very quickly after starting to eat properly, they feel better and have lots more energy.

 

Good food for students

They need a good breakfast packed with protein and fat, such as good old bacon and eggs. Breakfast like that will keep their hinger at bay and they have enough energy and are able to concentrate well at school. Eggs are actually a very good choice for breakfast and children usually like them. They can be prepared very quickly into a delicious filling breakfast.  Good quality natural yoghurt with berries and nuts is also a very good breakfast as well as different kinds of smoothies.

Kids need a good lunch at school. Most kids take pack lunches with them, and usually a packed lunch is the best option anyway because most ready prepared school lunches are made with cheap carbohydrates, so are basically just sugar. Not much protein at all, never proper good healthy fat. This kind of food does not fill them up, but cause them to be hungry again very quickly and will also make them tired. We normally go for a good salad that I quickly prepare at home, in the morning, with tuna, mackerel, chicken, cheese or eggs, or, soup that I pack into flasks. Home-made tomato soup, pumpkin soup, sausage soup or chicken soup are absolutely delicious and fill the kids up quickly.

Usually our kids need just a small snack when returning from school, such as a piece of fruit, until dinner.

One of the most important things in a family is shared dinners. We always sit down to eat together, every single day. Family meals are very important to children, even according to many studies. It is understandable that occasionally shared dinners are not possible because work commitments or hobbies, but, but all families should try and sit down together to eat as much as it is possible. No watching TV during meals! Every day dinners  don’t have to be complicated gourmet meals, but simple, delicious food. It is important though that these meals are healthy and real food. You can prepare a good meal on a budget too, do not go for anything ready-made. You want your kids to eat proper food that’s good for them.

I have found talking to my kid’s about health issues with food, the problems with artificial fats and the problems with sugar, to be very useful. They have learned to like proper food and know to avoid sweets because of the way sugar and additives make them feel. This way they learn to make the right choices later in life themselves.

In my family, the most popular meals with our teenagers are aubergine lasagne, sausage stew, chilli con carne and different kinds of chicken and fish dishes. Even the weekend specials can be made into very tasty, healthy versions, and it is certain that no one misses any ready made meals.

 

Home made kebab

First of all, make the sauces: Chili sauce (chop one small onion and sauté in a small saucepan in olive oil. Add a drizzle of vinegar and tinned tomatoes (one can), or fresh cherry tomatoes if you prefer. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper) and garlic sauce ( mix together one pot of creme fraiche, crushes clove of garlic, small amount of cream and a squeeze of lemon juice). Then all you need is good meatballs (lamb mince with some onion, garlic, one egg, fresh mint, ground coriander, salt and pepper), or meat skewers from lamb or chicken and a good fresh salad. Roasted peppers is something that also goes very well with this dish. This is easy to make and delicious.

 

Home made simple burger

You will need bread rolls made with almond flour for this one. Make some home made beef burgers with minced beef which you can season with salt, pepper, a spoonful of good mustard (sugar free, so Dijon is the best one) and some chill powder. Make some tomato sauce the same way as with the kebabs. Place one almond roll on the plate, add some crispy lettuce, mayonnaise (we use home made mayonnaise or garlic sauce) and the beef burger. Add some good cheddar cheese onto the burger and some tomato sauce. You can decorate the burger with two slices of crispy cooked bacon. I find this burger so much tastier than any other + it does not make you feel tired afterwards.

 

Pizza with cauliflower

Make a delicious pizza base by grating 300g of cauliflower and mix it together with 150g of grated cheese and an egg. Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the mixture onto non-stock paper on an oven pan and cook in 175 degrees for 15 minutes or so. Then add all the fillings you like, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until your cheese is nicely melted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super-healthy lamb

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We love our regular roast dinners and one of our favourites is lamb. This is not only because lamb tastes great, but also because lamb is actually one of the healthiest foods to eat. It is an excellent course of good protein for a start. It is a well known fact that grass-fed meat is extremely healthy food. There is no need to constantly scare people claiming that red meat is bad for you. It isn’t. However, the quality of meat matters, just like the quality of any other food that you eat.

The fat content in grass-fed meat is different to other meat. Lamb is usually grass-fed and that way a significant source of CLA, conjugated linoleum acid. CLA is known to reduce inflammation, so it lowers your risk to heart disease significantly as well as protects you against cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other type of cancers. is is the same for oleic acid which lamb also contains, the type of fat olive oil also has, and don’t forget omega-3 fats which grass-fed meat has. Grass-fed lamb is also a very good source of selenium, zinc and iron. Especially important iron is for the elderly and growing children because lack of iron has been found to slow down cognitive development. Most supplements cannot replace a good diet and so they are a very bad solution for iron deficiency. In meat, however, iron is in a very well absorbable form. This is one of the reasons I do not agree on vegan diets for children which seems to be something recommended by some celebrities . Lack of iron is something that paediatrics are worried about also. Healthy intake of these antioxidant minerals is also a protective factor against oxidative stress and development of heart disease. Lamb contains plenty of vitamin B12 and other B-vitamins, 1, 2, 6, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid and choline. The most important B-vitamins are B12, B6 and folate. Please note that folate should be folate and not folic acid which is synthetic.

Exercise

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In the past carbohydrates have always been considered as the only source or energy in sports. However, fat is so much better alternative. Our body can only store very limited amount of glucose as glycogen in muscles and liver. Regular exercise increases this capacity but still, this energy will not last long, only a few hours even with a top athlete. Fats stores last a lot longer. Once the glycogen stores have been used however, it is not possible for the body to convert into burning fat instead just like that. The reason for this is that the body is not adapted to burn fat, it cannot do it. For ketoadapted people, people whose bodies have been adapted to burn fat due to their diet, this works naturally. Their muscles have “learned” how to use fat as energy. They don’t need to rely on limited glycogen, but they have almost unlimited energy stores in fat. There is no need for any carbohydrates before, during or after exercise. Low carb diet together with exercise burns fat efficiently, but also grows muscles. This has been found in many studies.

Using fat as energy during exercise requires lipase enzyme. Lipase is very sensitive to many hormones, most importantly insulin. Insulin prevents the activation of lipase and fat cannot be used as energy. Because carbohydrates cause insulin levels to rise, they also prevent the use of fat for energy, so forget about the sugary sports drinks. The only way to make it easy for our body to burn fat for energy during exercise is low carb and ketogenic diet. When ketoadapted, blood sugar stayed very balanced and does not fluctuate causing unwanted symptoms. Ketoadaptation also  protects the body from the oxidative stress caused by exercising. During ketosis there are much less oxygen radicals compared to when burning sugar. Ketosis also increases the production of the body’s own antioxidants. Ketosis reduces inflammation caused by stress of exercise and any possible muscle damage and tenderness.

 

HIIT

When living a healthy lifestyle, food and nutrition is absolutely the most important thing. You cannot stay healthy or lose weight without a healthy diet. You cannot undo the damages caused by bad diet with exercise. However, exercise is important in keeping you fit and in reducing stress. It can also support your weight loss when combined with low carb diet. Actually, low carb diet, together with exercise has been found to be extremely affective in metabolic illness. We are not talking about just any exercise. The small research we have made on this subject shown that HIIT High Intensity Interval Training) is something worth trying. We have found it extremely affective in my family.

The idea of HIIT is to repeat a certain movement with a different intensity so that fast interval is followed by a slow interval. You start with a slow movement and continue with maximum speed or weight which continues only 20-30 seconds. After that you return to slow movement again to calm your pulse and breathing. There are 5-7 fast intervals during a single exercise and the duration of a single exercise should not exceed 20 minutes. I normally do these intervals during a brisk walk. I have learned to repeat a fast 30 second interval every other minute, for example during uneven minutes 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 when I run with my maximum speed. This can also be done easily with an exercise bike. This is a short, very effective exercise. Do not continue it for two long as then your cortisole levels will start to rise (stress) which is not good. Yes, too much exercise is just as bad as too little.

I have read about recommendations that HIIT should not be done more than twice a week, and no more than 15-20 minutes at the time, to maximise the benefits. Rest is just as important as exercise in HIIT and too much training can lead to problems.

For me and my family, HIIT has been extremely effective, combined with low carb diet. It makes you feels great and very fit. I am very pleased that I have found HIIT, and very surprised about the massive health benefits that this type of training has. This doesn’t take much of your time during the day either which is great. When going through much of the information I managed to find about HIIT, I was quite shocked to find how harmful exercising too much can actually be. 4-6 30 second sprints are actually just as effective as a 90-120 minute aerobic training. It is already known how long distance running harmful if done regularly, and any exercise done for too long causes stress in the body which, as we know is not healthy.

Mitochondria health

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Mitochondria in cells play a huge role in the health and immune system of a human body. They are the power producers of the cell. Therefore the health of the mitochondria affect every single cell, tissue and organ in our body. The main function of mitochondria is to metabolise or break down carbohydrates and fatty acids to generate energy. Many scientists seem to think that the DNA damage of particularly the mitochondria is the main reason for aging processes and as a result of this damage the oxygen levels are reduced in the whole cell which is a problem. As this situation continues, the DNA in the cell nucleus will be damaged as a result, which might lead to the destruction of the whole cell. The cells in the heart muscle have especially  large amounts of mitochondria and heart disease does begin with damage in them. Apoptosis, cell death happen naturally when the cell is damaged or no longer necessary. During this process, the cell contents are reabsorbed and the components can be reused for other purposes. This process also works as a mechanism for the regulation of cell numbers and a natural defence system for the removal of faulty cells. If apoptosis system is impaired, the result is too much growth, problems that can be seen in for example cancer.

As we get older, mitochondrial density and quality decline naturally. However, the speed of these changes can be accelerated greatly by wrong diet, lack of exercise, many medication or excessive stress. You can also prevent this damages very efficiently when you eat right and exercise. 

As well as the heart, also nerve cells in the brain contain very large amounts of mitochondria and the damage there quickly leads to chronic fatigue. Therefore tiredness might not be a sign of depression, for example, but a sign of problems with energy production in the cell level. Damage in mitochondria has also been linked to many other health conditions such as anxiety, atherosclerosis, Alzheimers, stroke, dementia, diabetes, early aging, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, muscle pains and neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, cancer and TIA.

Diabetes and metabolic syndrome  are very harmful for the function of mitochondria and that way these conditions do cause early aging. Mitochondria function with diabetics might be just 50% of the function with healthy people and so the cells of a person with diabetes are not getting enough energy. Just insulin resistance as such is very damaging to mitochondrial health. Metabolic syndrome increases free radicals in your body so much that this leads to mitochondrial damage.

Many medication also cause damage in mitochondria. This is the case especially with  all statins, which is why statins also speed up the aging processes. Most common problems that this damage causes are feelings of weakness and tiredness, muscle weakness and pain, burning sensation in lower limbs, changes in personality and problems with memory.

With the right diet and exercise you can prevent these mitochondrial damages. As sugar, trans fats or too much omega 6 fatty acid, lack of antioxidants, inflammation in the body, many drugs and alcohol as well as food additives are known to be harmful for mitochondria, a nutritious diet low in carbohydrates is very beneficial. Fasting also stimulates autophagy and mitophagy, the process of culling the old, dysfunctional mitochondria. So the ancient wellness practice of intermittent fasting essentially gets rid of the old mitochondria and at the same time stimulates new growth.

More about sugar

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As you probably know, glucose is the main sugar found in our blood. It is used by every cell in our body for energy. Glucose can be stored in our body, mainly as glycogen in the liver where it can be turned back to glucose if more energy is needed, via the gluconeogenesis process. 

Fructose is found naturally in fruit. Only liver can metabolise fructose as it does not circulate in the blood and most tissues such as brain or muscles cannot use fructose directly. Table sugar, sucrose contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose and some manufactured sugar syrups such as  high-fructose corn syrup around 55% fructose and 45% glucose.

Starches, the main carbohydrate in potatoes, wheat, corn and rice are glucose. When eaten, this glucose is rapidly broken down and absorbed into the cells. The glycemic index measures the blood glucose raising ability of different carbohydrates. Pure glucose causes the blood sugar (blood glucose level) to rise the most, so these foods have a high GI value. Bread (white flour) also has a very high GI value since refined starch from wheat is very quickly absorbed.  Fructose and lactose (in milk) do not raise blood glucose levels so much and have lower GI values. Sucrose is half glucose and half fructose, so it has an intermediate GI value because only the glucose portion of sucrose raises blood glucose.

Fructose does not raise blood glucose or insulin, so it was considered healthier option previously. However, this is not the case because fructose being metabolised only in liver, causing an accumulation of fat in the liver, fatty liver. Fructose is therefore much worse than glucose. It causes fatty liver and that way insulin resistance.

Eating a bowl of rice is therefore not the same as eating a bowl of sugar. Rice contains no fructose. Of course if you are eating rice or other starchy foods, you will gain weight. But fructose is even more fattening because of it’s effects on liver so avoiding sugar is the most important thing when losing weight and staying healthy. 

The metabolism if glucose and fructose are very different. Almost all cells are able to use glucose for energy, but no cell has the ability to use fructose, only liver. This places the liver under a lot of pressure as it is exposed to far higher levels of carbohydrates, both fructose and glucose that any other organ and so fructose is much more likely to cause fatty liver, the key problem of insulin resistance, compared to glucose. This explains why some people can tolerate quite high amounts of carbohydrates in their diet without developing insulin resistance, even when they are obese. 

When you ear fructose, the excess is changed directly into liver fat which leads to a development of insulin resistance. You don’t necessarily have higher than normal blood glucose level, or blood insulin level  when suffering from fatty liver and insulin resistance. 

Fructose is of course a natural sugar found in fruit and berries. Our bodies can handle small amounts of fructose naturally, so the problem clearly is not consuming too much berries. What our bodies cannot handle, is the excess amount of fructose eaten today in the form of sugar. It is everywhere, from pre-prepared meals to breakfast cereals to sauces. You cannot find any processed food without sugar, not even sausages. 

Glucose is a refined carbohydrate that directly stimulates insulin. Even when much of it can be burned for energy throughout your body, still high consumption of glucose may also lead to fatty liver. The effects of glucose are immediately obvious in the blood glucose and insulin responses. 

The metabolism of alcohol in your liver is similar to that of fructose which is why excess alcohol combustion is known to cause fatty liver and also a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.

More on fatty liver later…

 

 

 

What about calories?

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Low carb diet is not based on calorie restriction at all, but changes in metabolism which leads to weight loss when extra fat burns. Muscles and bones stay healthy and strong, unlike when following a diet low in calories, fat and nutrients. 

Low calorie-diets don’t work. Calories are not important in weight loss at all,  but actually our weight is carefully regulated by hormones, especially insulin. It’s all about insulin and insulin resistance. If you want to lose weight, you need to reduce insulin. Since insulin levels after meals are determined largely by the carbohydrates you eat, it is clear that if you want to lose weight, you don’t eat carbohydrates.  Dietary fat does not raise insulin like carbohydrates always do, so eating fat lowers insulin levels significantly, even when you take the same total number of calories you would if you were eating carbohydrates instead. If you reduce carbohydrates, insulin is reduced as well. Never mind about calories. Be careful with protein too because protein also stimulates insulin. Protein is important part of your diet, but you don’t need so much because our body cannot store excess protein directly, but converts it to glucose which again cause insulin spikes. This can stop your weight loss. 

So insulin is the hormone that signals your body to store energy in the form of fat. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to keep your insulin levels down. This you can only do with a diet low in carbohydrates and moderate in protein. Make sure you eat plenty of healthy fats and only unprocessed real food. Don’t eat all the time. Only max 3 meals a day, or take on intermittent fasting. Don’t snack between meals. You’ll definitely lose any excess weight.

Intermittent fasting

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With the three-meals-a-day rhythm recommended in low carbohydrate diet you automatically do a 12-hour fast every day, between your dinner and breakfast the next morning. This is ideal when preventing weight gain when you don’t suffer from significant insulin resistance. However, if you need to lose weight and do suffer from insulin resistance, including longer periods of fasting into your diet might be very beneficial.

Long term fasting is not necessarily healthy as it weakens muscles and bones (starvation). However, short term, intermittent fasting seems to be very beneficial. It actually is the ancient secret of health and has been practiced throughout human history.

“ Instead of medicine, rather fast a day.” -Plutarch

Fasting is natural. For example, when animals are sick, their natural instinct is to reduce food. Humans are the same. When recovering, and the body’s healing work has been done, appetite will return to normal.

“To eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.” -Hippocrates

Our bodies are also very efficient at storing energy and using this stored energy when food supplies are scarce. Our bodies work in two states, when we eat, the energy in our food is ingested and used or stored away for later use. When we are not eating, our bodies start burning energy that is stored as there is no more coming from food. These states need to be in balance. However, if you are constantly eating every few hours, there is no balance. Only eat max three meals a day.  Fasting will restore this balance even quicker and help you in your weight loss project also, as it simply allows the body to burn off excess fat. If you are constantly eating, like often recommended, your body will only use the food you eat as energy and never burn the body fat.

I found several studies about the health benefits of this type of fasting. The main benefits were that intermittent fasting supported cardiovascular health and also was a very efficient way to combat metabolic problems. Intermittent fasting does decrease insulin levels and increase fat burning. According to one study, intermittent fasting increased the amount of growth hormone significantly which means that this is one of the best anti-aging methods there is.

Intermittent fasting also improves mental clarity and concentration, and increases energy.

Intermittent fasting also stimulates autophagy, the cleaning process in cells in which cells are eating their own defective parts in order to recycle nutrients. This process is very important for our health and it is good to know that the modern way of constant eating actually prevents this from happening.

Intermittent fasting means that you don’t reduce the amount you eat, but have longer periods between meals. There are several ways to do this. Some people fast for 24 hours once or twice a week or eat just one meal a day.  Others fast for 20 hours and only eat during a 4-hour window, usually just their dinner.

What has worked best for me is that I fast for 16 hours,  and eat within 8 hours time. When fasting, I usually eat my dinner at 7 pm, and then don’t eat anything until 11 am the next day. There is no morning meal. When fasting this way, you can either eat 2 or 3 meals during the 8 hours of eating. I normally have a cup of coffee with cream at 11 am and then lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Or I skip my coffee and have my first meal of the day at 1 pm.

When fasting, don’t consume any calorie containing food or drink. Remember to drink enough water, fizzy and still at least 2 litres a day. You can also have tea or coffee if you like. I normally enjoy a lot of green and other herbal teas, like peppermint tea.

Remember that if you feel hungry, it will soon pass. You won’t be constantly hungry, but hunger comes and goes, in waves. As your body gets more used to fasting and is burning your fat stores, you will feel less and less hungry.

Ketogenic diet

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When starting my own weight loss project, I found that ketogenic diet was the one that worked for me very well. Once my excess weight was gone, I did slightly add the amount of carbohydrates, enough to call my diet low carb, rather than ketogenic. I don’t think that continues ketosis is necessary to stay healthy. However, ketogenic diet does have numerous health benefits, so I tend to go back to it every now and then. Here are some of the benefits you’ll get with ketogenic diet:

Improved metabolic health

Reduced appetite and cravings

Improved brain function

Ketogenic diet slows down aging processes

Ketogenic diet protects you against cancer

When your body is using ketones which are formed when your body is burning fat, as fuel, instead of glucose from carbohydrates, the blood sugar and insulin fluctuate much less. This reduces the risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes, as well as other conditions caused by high blood sugar. You won’t feel so hungry as ketones can suppress appetite by acting on the hypothalamus in the brain. Also as ketogenic diet has stabilising effect on blood sugar, you won’t feel hunger  because of that either, and you are free of any food cravings. Meals high in fat are always much more satisfying also.

For many, ketogenic diet has a mood-stabilising effect. As your blood sugar stops from fluctuating, you don’t get mood swings and it also reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Ketogenic diet has even been found to improve the symptoms in many mental illnesses and also prevent and even reverse the effects of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimers. Ketogenic diet supports mitochondria health and efficiently reduces inflammation in the body. It also reduces glycation processes in the body and so reduces oxidative stress.

Ketosis seems to also stimulate autophagy in cells which means that cells clean themselves by eating their own defective parts in order to recycle nutrients. As well as infections, autophagy can also protect you against cancer. It is also understood that cancer cells cannot feed on ketones, so ketosis is starving cancer cells while feeding the healthy cells.

Basically, a ketogenic is a diet high in fat and very low in carbohydrates and also low to moderate in protein. This forces the body to use fat for energy, instead of carbohydrates. The body will be in a state of ketosis where fat, both the body fat and the fat that has been eaten, is broken down to ketones by your liver. Approximately 70-80% of all calories should be from fat, 10-15% from protein and 5-10% from carbohydrates. This means that the amount of carbohydrates that you eat shouldn’t exceed 20-25g per day.

It is very important still to follow a healthy diet, which means eating foods that don’t cause inflammation, non-starchy vegetables, good quality protein and good fats. Still follow a three meals a day rhythm, preferably with a day or two of extended fasting when you skip breakfast and don’t eat until lunch. This may add extra health benefits and is very easy to do as it is natural for you to eat less hungry during ketosis.

Try to avoid these common mistakes: Too much dairy, too much protein, eating too much, not getting enough salt and minerals or eating too little non-starchy vegetables. Dairy can actually cause insulin-spikes so while butter is normally safe to use, I tend to be careful that I don’t consume too much cream or cheese when I am following a ketogenic diet. Too much protein is not good either as amino acids in it can be converted into sugar and this will prevent ketosis. Vegetables are important to be included in your meals as they contain lots of vitamins and minerals for your body. They also contain fibre important to your gut bacteria. Ketosis does cause the body to excrete more salt, so make sure you add enough to your food.

I have always felt great when following a ketogenic diet, and it did give me a very good kick-start to weight loss. It does seem to have extra benefits when cutting the carbs down to less than 25g a day, but once you return to “normal”, don’t forget to still keep them under 50-60g a day.

Please remember that with certain medical conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, you should not attempt ketogenic diet without medical supervision.

Insulin resistance

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Insulin resistance is extremely common. Insulin resistance means that the cells have become resistant to insulin and the insulin levels in the body are constantly raised as more insulin is being pumped into the body to maintain sugar balance when insulin no longer works as it should. You can still have normal blood sugar levels, and only elevated insulin levels, so insulin can be a problem even if you are not diabetic. Insulin resistance can be hidden for many years.

After reading about blood sugar and insulin, I learned that insulin is actually one the most important things to look at when talking about excess weight, but also aging, health and beauty. The lower your insulin levels the better, as raised insulin levels have been found to cause many illnesses.  The only way to ensure low insulin levels is to follow a low carbohydrate diet. Diet with plenty of carbohydrates raise insulin levels significantly, but also other factors do play a huge role; genes, smoking, lack of exercise, not enough sleep, stress, low vitamin D -levels, lack of omega 3 and too much omega 6 in your diet all cause problems.  Also many types of medication cause insulin resistance, especially statins.

Insulin resistance leads to metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes, but also many other illnesses. Raised blood pressure is one of the first signs of insulin levels being too high. Actually when starting a diet low in carbohydrates, the first benefits you notice health-wise are lower blood pressure levels. Even cancer has been linked to raised insulin levels as well as Alzheimers disease and, of course, type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is therefore just one of many problems that raised insulin levels cause.

If you are overweight, you are very likely to be suffering from raised insulin levels, even if your blood sugar is normal. You might also constantly feel hungry and have the need for snacks, crave carbohydrates and sugar, overeat, or suffer from symptoms such as skin problems, exhaustion, tiredness, anxiety, mood swings, depression, hair loss, problems with memory. As hypoglycaemia is behind many of these symptoms, people tend to treat them by eating sugar which only makes things worse.

If you have had your cholesterol levels checked recently, you can find signs from the results that point towards problems with insulin. Insulin resistance raises triglycerides and lowers HDL cholesterol.

There is no medication that help with insulin resistance. You can only treat some of the symptoms, but nutritious diet low in carbohydrates is the only way to keep insulin levels at bay, and you healthy.

Cold and flu

No antibiotics are needed for colds and flu!

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As we are currently still in the middle of the flu season, with many suffering from sneezes and cough, the NHS here in the UK is absolutely backed with patients looking for quick help for their symptoms. Flu and even common colds can sometimes lead to more serious infections that do require proper medication,  but I think most NHS customers suffering from cold symptoms and chesty cough have just an ordinary viral infection that would settle with just simple measures and rest.

Those hoping for antibiotics to cure these symptoms should remember that there is no medication for viral colds. It is also good to know the ill effects that antibiotics have on our bowel and that way our whole immune system.  It takes several months to recover from just one course of antibiotics, so antibiotics can lead to serious problems with immune system and several infections. There is also continuing global worry about the overuse of antibiotics leading to the formation of so called superbugs, resistant to most antibiotics. If we constantly weaken our immune system with unnecessary medication, we also increase our risk for catching these type of infections.

What to do then when you feel cold symptoms starting? I believe that good nutrition and avoiding sugar are the keys in maintaining strong and well functioning immune system. So I don’t get ill that much. But when cold or flu does strike (and it does sometimes), the advice I’ve learned is to first top up my vitamin C, D and Zinc, for the first three days of the cold. I normally take 125 micrograms of vitamin D3 a day, so I increase the dose and take 5 times that amount for the first 3 days of symptoms. I also make sure that I have enough vitamin C, usually 1g 3 times a day for three or more days. Also Zinc is very useful, 100mg once a day for a week.

This seems to significantly reduce the severity and the length of my symptoms. Also, rest is very important. If I am very ill, I don’t go to work. It is not fair on the people I work with, to spread my virus around, and also resting when my body needs rest to recover does reduce the time I am ill. I don’t even try to play a hero or martyr here.

To help with the symptoms, I do try some good homemade remedies. Lemon ginger honey tea is my favourite. It does ease the symptoms and helps my immunity. It is also very easy to make; just put 3 slices of fresh ginger and boiling water into a cup and let steep for 10 minutes, the strain. Add a good squeeze of lemon (and some lemon peel if you are using organic lemons) and some honey to taste.

I do also drink other herbal teas, such as nettle or peppermint tea. They do make me feel better during a cold, but I like to enjoy them otherwise too.

Good honey (preferably raw for the nutrients) makes a better cough remedy than any over the counter cough mixtures. You can use honey on it’s own, or mix it with small amount of olive oil ( 1 spoonful of olive oil to 3 spoonfuls of honey) and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Good old home made bone stock is great also,  you can use it to make healthy and tasty chicken soup.

If you still have relatively good appetite during your cold, consider making some good chili for dinner. Many spices, including cayenne pepper is known to be rich in nutrients which help with aches and pains caused by viral infection. Cayenne pepper also has good anti-inflammatory properties, just like garlic. Add a good amount of crushed garlic into your food once you are finished with cooking, to avoid cooking it too much and lose some of the nutrients.

Elderberries are delicious and very effective in supporting immunity and also have anti-inflammatory properties. Elderberry syrup is a very good one to use and can be made quite easily.  Just add half a cupful of elderberries into two cupfuls of water. Add a cinnamon stick and bring to boil. Simmer in low heat for 45 minutes or so, until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain, cool and add honey to taste. Enjoy 1-2 spoonfuls a day to relief symptoms.

Don’t forget steam inhalation which is very effective for cough and congestion. Add some herbs, such as thyme, rosemary and oregano into the water.

These simple measures should help you too, recover quickly from a cold or flu.