All you need to know to keep up to date with nutrition

All About the Whale Trail

I was fortunate enough to do one of the best hiking trails South Africa has to offer!

If you love hiking and appreciate the outdoors, then the Whale trail is a MUST. It is a five day, 56km slack-packing trail through the De Hoop Nature Reserve that introduces you to some of the most beautiful scenery along the Western Cape coastline. The route from Potberg mountain to Koppie Alleen includes five overnight stops. The distance to each overnight cabin differs each day from easy to strenuous and takes approximately 4-8 hours of hiking per day.

What added to the atmosphere was the fact that this hike could cater for up to 12 people sharing. I met some amazing people who joined me on this incredible experience. Knowing this, I would suggest if you planning on going, you need to book in advanced because of the space limitation.

In order to enjoy the full extend of this amazing adventure, one needs to take the true sense of mother nature into consideration! In saying that, you should not be squeamish when it comes to mice or crickets or other bugs, as you would expect being out in the wild! Being in the nature reserve, we had to adhere to letting them roam as free as they like without harming them, and leave the food pyramid to its own devices. Snakes were pretty common too, as we saw the infamous Cape Cobra as well as the Berg Adder which was both scary and amazing at the same time! At one point, I had a meeting with the one Cape Cobra as it decided it wanted to introduce itself across my path. Bird life is incredible, having had an opportunity to see the Fish eagle and our countries National bird. Overall, you can expect to be greeted with a vast range of wild life. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales, as whale season ended in August/October.

What to eat

What made this hike even more enjoyable was that your food and clothes were transported to each hut which made exploring nature just that much easier and exciting as you only carry your day pack. When it comes to food, avoid things that needs refrigeration, so preparation is key, as only the first hut had a fridge available.

Make sure you carefully plan your meals and snacks, these are essential for keeping your energy levels up while hiking.

Snacks

I wanted quick and easy snacks to keep me going throughout the hike which included:

  • A energy bar e.g. fututrelife lite – make sure that the sugar content is low
  • Nut butter/ nuts/ trail mix
  • 1-2 fruits (I always had fruit in my bag, I love my fruit and would always start off with a fruit)
  • Handful of mints
  • Biltong

Breakfast

  • Keep breakfast simple, you could have eggs, however I preferred a bowl of cooked oats topped with dried cranberries. This breakfast was quick, easy and kept me going for a couple hours.

Lunch/Dinner

  • I decided that the easiest thing to do was braai and have leftovers for lunch, which worked out quite well and saved a lot of time, this included:
    • Boiled baby potatoes and corn on the cob
    • Salad that was easy to travel with e.g. cucumber, cherry tomatoes, gherkins and onion etc.
    • And a variation of protein e.g. mostly chicken and some red meat, I prepacked the protein into vacuum sealed bags (this is key as your meat can go off by day 4-5) and kept it frozen in a mini cooler box that fitted in our portage.

I love my beans and fish, so it was a bit of a struggle having chicken and red meat everyday, so I quickly started craving fish. I promised myself to enjoy some lovely sashimi after and I have been eating fish everyday since!

What to pack

I found a check list to be quite helpful, as space is limited and you don’t want to forget your most important items:

  • Bed sheet
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Binoculars
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Matches
  • Torch
  • Hats
  • Sandals
  • Washing liquid and dish clothes + cutlery (it was provided
    but I packed in just in case)
  • Mosquito repellent or cream
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper (this was provided)
  • Small medical kit
  • Water boots
  • Clothes
  • Sunscreen (preferably higher than SPF 20)

MORE TIPS…

1.Use Ziplock bags

Pack dry food, like oats or trail mix, into ziplock bags. Ziplock bags work well and can double up as trash bags afterwards.2. Wear a hat

2. Wear a hat

It is important to bring a hat to keep your ears and face protected from the sun. The tops of your ears and back of your neck are highly susceptible to getting burned while on the trail, so either get some sunscreen and or wear a hat that keeps them covered, I used both.

3. Sunscreen

If it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely burned.  Get yourself some waterproof sunscreen (I recommend SPF 50) to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.

4. Sunglasses

Sunglasses is a MUST, I used polarized sunglasses.

5. Cellphone

I would suggest you pack your phone away and enjoy nature, there is limited reception throughout the trail, so all we used our phones for was taking beautiful pictures of the scenery, also there is limited space to charge your phone at each hut depending on your group size. I would suggest bringing along a power bank if you have one.

6. Keep hydrated

Always make sure you are keeping well hydrated, we went through 2-3L water while hiking, we were lucky to have great sunny weather but you sweat a lot in this warm weather. Its a good idea to add re-hydrate to one of your water bottles to replenish your electrolytes.

7-Day Detox to get the SPRING in your step

Happy Spring everybody. The sun is up for longer, the days are getting warmer, and flowers are beginning to bloom, we don’t know about you, but this got us at Alex Royal Dietetics feeling all inspired and motivated. So we decided to develop a 7 day detox program, following on from the incredible success of our 10-Day Thrive Detox we ran in August.  The 7-Day detox is just what you need to kick start the new season and get that spring in your step. 

 

What does the 7-Day Detox Entail?

The 7-day detox is done on an on-line platform. You will be assigned to a small Whatsapp group, of +/- 4-6 participants. One of our dietitians Aimee or Kirby, will also be part of the group, and will be your go to dietitian for the duration of the program. You will get the 7-Day Detox guide, as well as daily support, motivation, recipe’s and meal ideas. The Whatsapp group will also enable you to lean on each other for support and motivation, as well as allow you to share recipe’s, ideas and tips. The cost of the program is R400.

             

 

Feedback from our last detox…

“I modified my detox a bit, but what I will say is that it was fantastic to have a group and daily prompts from your team to remind us to stay on track and share ideas and inspiration. I have done many detoxes on my own and it is waaaay harder without this support.” TK

“I wanted to say WELL DONE! You guys did that so well! I loved the mindful aspect, the holistic approach.” J

“Just thought I would let you know how wonderful I think you all are. I am done with my 10 day. I did a 4 day juice cleanse in-between and have lost 5kg in the 10 days. Pretty happy here. 1.5kg to go & I will be at my target weight.” TG

“Feeling fantastic, and so happy to have done this” T

 

Interested?

Email info@alexroyaldiet.co.za and one of our dietitians will be in contact with you to sign up for our next enrollment. Enrollment opens on the 6’th September, and start date is 12’th September.

The Ketogenic Diet: What its all about…

In case you missed Kirby’s interview on Heart Radio Station, see Q&A below…

What is a keto diet?

The keto diet is a very high fat (70-80% of total calories), extremely low carb (less than 80g but can be reduced to 20-30g per day), moderate protein diet.

What is ketosis?

The idea is that when you deprive your body especially your brain of its primary fuel source (carbohydrates -starchy veg, all grains, all sources of sugar or fruit) it forces the body to use an alternative fuel source, fat for energy instead. This causes the body to produce something called ketones. These are chemicals made by the liver that can be used by cells for energy. When you are in this state, it’s called being in ketosis.

Is a keto diet safe?

A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time, so we need more evidence to fully understand long term effects.

How do you know when your body is in ketosis?

Once ketone levels in the blood rise to a certain point, which you can test with a urine dipstick. This also depends on how strict you limit your carbs as well as other factors: genetics, medical history, body composition, energy needs.

What foods can you eat on a keto diet?

A few examples include:

Fats- olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, lard, some nuts and seeds, avo.

Veg- cruciferous, leafy greens, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini etc.

Protein- grass fed meat, poultry, eggs, bone broth, wild caught fish, organ meats, some full fat dairy.

Is a keto diet safe for the kidneys? -do you have an answer to this one?

It should be, if done correctly as you are not increasing your protein at all. The concern is more the liver, heart and arteries.

Is ketosis safe for diabetics?

Ketosis has been shown to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes at least in the short term. *no long term studies have concluded this, more research is required.

What can you drink on the keto diet?

  • Water
  • Unsweetened coffee+tea
  • Bone broth
  • Bullet proof coffee
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir

FASTING

IS THE WAIT WORTH THE WEIGHT?

First thing’s first, let’s explain what fasting is, as it is important to note the difference between fasting and starvation.

The definition of fasting is ‘the voluntary abstinence from food intake for a specified period of time’. Fasting is not starvation, but merely an altered meal frequency and or pattern.

Fasting basically adjusts your “feeding window”, and in doing so, it gives your digestive system time to rest and kicks off a number of benefits in the body.

TYPES OF FASTING? 

There are a few different types of fasting and because this is a relatively new concept, their definitions often overlap, but these are the main four:

1. Time Restricted Feeding (TRF): TRF is when food is ingested in a certain period of time during the day and the person refrains from eating for the other part of the day.

2. Intermittent fasting/Alternate day fasting: Fasting on less than 500 calories for women or less than 600 calories for men for two non-consecutive days a week.

3. Short term fasting: less than three consecutive days

4. Prolonged term fasting: also referred to as the Fasting Mimicking Diet, this is fasting with food for 4-7 days

 

SO WHY THE CRAZE NOW?

So even though the concept of fasting and the health benefits associated with it have been around for hundreds of years, it’s popularity has definitely increased more recently.  There are numerous studies (albeit mostly animal studies) that have now been done, which are able to identify as well as quantify these benefits during periods of fasting. The increase in this evidence is revolutionizing the way we look at dietary intake and patterns.

THE BENEFITS OF FASTING

Studies have shown that fasting could potentially:
– Improve blood lipid (fat) control
– Improve blood glycaemic (sugar) control
– Reduce blood pressure
– Reduce insulin levles
– Decrease inflammatory markers
– Decrease fat mass
– Improve lean muscle mass

THE SCIENCE BEHIND FASTING

So how exactly does fasting induce these claimed remarkable benefits?  It is achieved through changes in key metabolic pathways and cellular processes, some of the main ones include:
– Autophagy
– Stress resistance
– Lipolysis

 

A BIT MORE ON AUTOPHAGY

The word ‘autophagy’ is of Greek origin, and directly translates to “auto” (meaning self) and “phagy” (meaning eating). It is basically your body’s way of carrying out cellular renewal processes. It clears damaged cells from the body; these damaged cells serve no function but tend to linger inside tissues and organs, which can be potentially harmful. Autophagy is present in all cells, but is substantially increased during periods of fasting. By ridding your body of these damaged cells, it results in a number of benefits, beyond just weight control, but also improved longevity as well as improved daily bodily function.

SO HOW CAN YOU IMPLEMENT FASTING?

As discussed, there are numerous different types of fasting, however two of the most popular and relatively easiest to implement are the 16/8 and 5/2 methods.

These two methods are explained in a bit more detail below, however if you are interested in implementing fasting into your routine, enquire with one of the dietitians at Alex Royal Dietetics, to ensure you are able to implement this correctly and safely.

16/8
All calories for the day are consumed within an 8 hour period, followed by 16 hours of fasting.
For example: eat dinner by 6pm, then only have your first meal the following day after 10am to ensure a full 16 hours of fasting.
NB: don’t break your fast prior to this with any food or drink that contains calories.  You can have water or black tea/black coffee (with no milk, sugar, or honey).

5/2
5 days of the week consists of normal caloric intake, and 2 days of the week consist of restricted caloric intake.
With this method, more so than 16/8 method, it is very important to consult with a registered dietitian to ensure the correct calorie intake is achieved.

NOTE: Fasting is a controlled diet method and shouldn’t be attempted without the guidance of a health care practitioner.

Summer Health Program – get the boost you need!

Take charge of December and better yet, get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions! Our Health Program has been so successful, we just want to shout it at the top of our voices!

The program is 4 weeks long and focuses on getting you off sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy and gluten to give your body a much needed boost. Each week targets a new goal making the program manageable and super easy to follow.

What’s more?? To help get those resolutions on the way – if you buy the Health Program in the months of December and January, we’ll give you 15% off. Interested? Click here to view the program.

See what our very happy clients had to say about the program:

“It was so easy to follow, and has definitely resulted in me changing some long-term eating habits. Before I was living on caffeine as a busy working mom and using coffee as short-term fix. Now I’m more conscious of how much I’m having and feel much better for it.” ~ Robyn Talbot

“This program worked for me. It is a bit of a ‘vasbyt’ for the first couple of weeks but you won’t go hungry, ultimately you will lose weight and even if you don’t, you will feel a lot better for trying it out.” ~ Johan de Waal

Fasting Mimicking Diet… to fast or not to fast?

Fasting has been on everyone’s ‘to try’ list, probably just below Banting. But how healthy is fasting really? Before hitting you with the good stuff, it is important to be aware that there are many different ways in which one can fast.

The various fasting types:

  1. Time Restricted Feeding (TRF): TRF is when food is ingested in a certain period of time during the day and the person refrains from eating for the other part of the day.
  2. Intermittent fasting/Alternate day fasting: Fasting on less than 500 calories for women or less than 600 calories for men for two non-consecutive days a week.
  3. Short term fasting: <3 consecutive days
  4. Prolonged term fasting (also referred to as the Fasting Mimicking Diet): fasting with food for 4-7 days

Each type of fast has its benefits but only the prolonged fasting causes changes on a cellular level.

Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD)

The FMD, designed by Professor Valter Longo at the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California is a controlled fast (this is important to note!) that lasts anywhere from 4-7 days. The FMD is a calorie restricted (ranging from about 1100kCal to 750kCal as the fast goes on), plant-based diet.

FMD improves levels of:

  • Fasting glucose
  • C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation
  • Insulin-like growth factor 1, a marker associated with increased mortality and DNA damage in cells
  • Stem cells and regenerative markers

And has been proven to promote longevity, overall health, and reduce excess fat. Sounds good right? This type of fasting is fairly new but so far has seen amazing outcomes. Research has shown that doing a FMD once monthly will reprogram the body into a regenerating and rejuvenating mode, resulting in long-term reduction of IGF-1, glucose and markers of inflammation and aging (only in subjects with high levels of these markers).

If your goal is purely weight loss, this might not be the diet for you but in terms of the benefits, it is worth looking into.

NOTE: FMD is a controlled diet and shouldn’t be attempted without the guidance of a health care practitioner.

 

“Pregnancy Bites” – Nutrition tips for expectant moms

Being pregnant has been the most humbling, grounding, incredible experience. Yes, it bites (hard) sometimes, but it is equally as amazing. Pregnancy nutrition is such an important topic that we don’t emphasise enough.

To start, I found pregnancy a tough road, laced with morning sickness, fatigue, discomfort and, surprisingly, anxiety (paralysing anxiety) of the upcoming “challenge” that is motherhood. I also found it hard to hand over my body. Being an active person I battled with being tired and weak, constantly. I was growing a human and my body needed all the energy and fuel I could muster.

So I committed to giving my little boy everything I could during the amazing, scary, beautiful, overwhelming and all-encompassing time.

We know that your baby will take what it needs to grow and maybe leave you feeling drained. So even if you can’t eat optimally babs will still be okay. But my goal was to feed him up and get him super duper healthy. Also I needed to keep myself well.

Here are the most important tips on my loooong mom-to-be list:

  • Sleep, rest, sleep and rest some more. Listening to my body was one hell of a lesson and slowing down was the hardest part. But I soon learnt that it is one of the most important things to do to keep yourself well.
  • Keep moving. I know this may contradict the first point but this one is all about gently moving your body and keeping the muscles strong. I managed to jog until about 6 months but very lightly. Swimming is just the bomb, because you feel weightless. Keep doing what you were doing just gage your energy level. I found exercise extremely helpful for the morning sickness.
  • Supplement according to your needs. Do not follow blanket supplementation because you can easily over supplement and cause nausea or anxiety – which is exactly what you need to avoid! Folate (not folic acid!) should be taken at 400-800ug for example. Omega 3s, probiotics, and later on vitamin D, are all vital. I highly recommend you chat to a Dietitian about supplementing during pregnancy.
  • Eat what you can stomach but skip the marie biscuits and rusks! It’s an old wives tale – you don’t need the marie biscuits! You need dry starch yes but not sugar! Did you know that sugar crosses over the placenta directly effecting your baby. Yikes!
  • Juice daily to get your vitamins
  • Eat oily fish for omegas
  • If you are feeling flat have a beetroot juice for the nitrates
  • And last but not least, try to enjoy this amazing time.

Enjoy every fluttering kick and movement. And know that the upcoming time of meeting your baby will be the most incredible experience.

The answer is in our Methylation

We were recently fortunate enough to attend a conference given by international speaker Dr Kara Fitzgerald on the trending topic of Methylation. To many of our clients who have had their genes tested with us, this term should ring a bell. If not, read on, you won’t want to miss this.

Methylation

First things first, what is Methylation and why is it necessary?

Methylation is a biochemical process that happens in all our cells. The process is involved in DNA repair, detox, hormone balance, histamine balance, gene building and gene expression (it makes sure the right genes are ‘turned on’ and the bad genes are ‘switched off’) – so you can only imagine why it is so important!

Hyper and hypo-methylation:

Methylation needs to be BALANCED. Both hypo-methylation (not enough methylation taking place) and hyper-methylation (excessive methylation) can be detrimental to your health. This balance is dependent on many factors, the critical ones being: poor nutrient intake, inflammation, oxidative stress, environmental toxins, gut-health and your genetic variation. I hope you are starting to realise the importance of this process… cue flipping through your DNA health report now.

Conditions associated with insufficient Methylation

This list looks frighteningly endless… from ADD/ADHD to bipolar disorder, addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, cancer, chronic fatigue, dementia, diabetes, fertility issues, hypertension, insomnia, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and thyroid disease  (to name a few, OK, to name many, but there are more).

How do we achieve balanced Methylation?

As mentioned before – methylation balance is what will ensure that all the right genes are turned on while all the bad genes are switched off, so the balance is what you must strive for. Taking high dose supplementation can often cause you to create an imbalance so the best way to achieve optimal methylation is to tackle your diet.

Start reaching for…

  • Animal protein such as eggs, salmon and liver
  • Bright fruit and vegetables, think beetroot, spinach and broccoli kind-of-bright
  • Omega 3-rich nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and spices
  • Good, healthy fats (trans fats and refined oils are a big no!)
  • Legumes and grains
  • Dairy, as tolerated

Steer clear from…

  • Charred foods
  • Added sugars
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Hydrogenated fats
  • Alcohol
  • Folic acid fortified foods

As you can see the list of foods to eat is far longer than the list of ‘banned’ foods. If you think a ‘Methylation promoting diet’ is bland, think again. Have a look at some of the amazing food we were treated to at the seminar.

Do you have any queries? Is gene testing of interest to you? Book your appointment now.

 

 

 

Breast Cancer, our Genes and Diet

October is Breast Cancer awareness month and there is no doubt that you have seen a parade of lovely women wearing a little pink ribbon at some point throughout the past 4 weeks. According to the latest research, breast cancer has the highest incidence in South African women. Knowing it can affect you, your mom, your sister or your friend makes it vastly important to be aware of what can increase your risk of developing breast cancer and knowing how to screen yourself properly.

Do our genes impact our risk of developing breast cancer?

Up to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary. Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two). Everyone has these genes and their function is to repair cell damage and keep breast and ovarian cells growing normally. If these genes have mutations or abnormalities, your risk of developing breast cancer increases.

It is important to note that having an abnormal BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 doesn’t mean you WILL develop breast cancer. There are many other genes that come into play as well as diet, lifestyle, environmental toxins, stress and previous trauma. If you are thinking of having your genes tested, it is highly recommended to see a genetic counselor before.

Can our diet protect us from developing breast cancer?

A diet rich in vitamin D, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can have a protective effect. The avoidance of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars will also impact your overall health. There is more to it than the types of food you are choosing to eat; it is also important to avoid processed foods, pesticides, braai’d or barbecued meats and anything cured or smoked.

Fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, fish, chicken, lean meats and healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds will ensure you are getting in a variety of nutrients allowing your immune system to function on all cylinders.

Do environmental factors play a role?

The reality is, women tend to be more overweight than ever before, oral contraceptives are seen to be the norm, we live a sedentary lifestyle indoors getting minimal sun exposure (and thus, too little Vitamin D), smoking is a go-to for teens, stress levels are soaring while sleep is non-existent, and the food we are eating has become even more processed and sugar-laden. All these factors increase our chances of developing not only breast cancer, but a host of different diseases.

These problems sound easy to fix yet health is still not a priority for many. Download the Breast Cancer Organisation’s Think Pink, Live Green document on 31 risk-reducing steps you can put it action today.

How to do a breast self-exam:

Click here to learn how to examine your own breasts. Early detection is vital. If you want to know more about gene testing – read our Gene Testing FAQ blog.

Book your appointment for gene testing now

 

 

Skinny Legs café – yes please!

I’m sure by now you have noticed that we have been on some what of a hunt to find delicious (and healthy) spots in the City Bowl area. Well… delicious we have found. Skinny Legs cafe – a luxury cafe and we know why. This gem in lower Loop Street opens at 7 am making it the perfect pit stop on the way to work. What had us coming back for more you ask?

Make everyday great with one of these dishes:

  • Coconut Quinoa – there is already a dish called ‘Porridge of the Gods’ but this one has to be a close second. Vegan and gluten free!
  • Buckwheat pancakes – another gluten free treasure with minted pea puree, creamed feta and rose harisa.
  • Gluten Free Lentil Salad with smoked trout, a poached egg and saffron aioli. A high protein and omega 3 powerhouse.

The sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere makes you want to linger just a little longer every time. Boost your breakfast or lunch by adding a freshly squeezed juice or green smoothie. View their menu here or have a look at their magnificent Instagram page: skinnylegscafe