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.

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 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.

 

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

 

Gene Testing FAQ

Gene testing is making the rounds, whether it is on Facebook, the Longevity magazine or your friend who heard about it in yoga last week. Many of our clients are also becoming curious and there seems to be some confusion around the new concept of gene testing. There are four different DNA tests: DNA Health, DNA diet, DNA oestrogen and DNA Sport.

The DNA Health tests for variations in your genes that have a significant effect on chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. DNA Diet tests genes that have an association to weight loss and body mass index (BMI). The DNA Oestrogen test determines how well your body detoxes oestrogen; this test can also give an indication of your risk for developing Breast Cancer. DNA Sport is a popular test among avid sportsmen or sportswomen, but this test is also invaluable in determining your susceptibility to injury. Each test provides tremendous insight on an individualized level.

Gene Testing FAQ:

1. Do I have to go for a blood test?

To do the gene test, all we require is a cheek swab. A simple, painless procedure that will take two minutes.

2. What is the best time of day to do the cheek swab?

There is no ‘ideal time’. The most important thing is that you avoid eating and drinking for 2 hours before your swab is done. If you have an appointment in the early morning, it is best to not brush your teeth until after the swab is taken.

3. How long do I have to wait for my results?

Once payment is made for the DNA test, it is sent to the DNAlysis labs in Johannesburg. It takes anywhere between 2-4 weeks to get the report.

4. Will medical aid cover the DNA testing?

Medical aid will not reimburse you for the DNA tests, however, depending on your medical aid plan, the expense of your referring practitioner will be covered.

5. Do I need genetic counselling before doing the tests?

All the genes tested are what we call ‘low penetrance genes’. What this means is that our diet, stress levels, exercise, medication and environment (all the epigenetic factors) affect the way in which these genes express themselves. There are genes tested in the DNA Health and in the DNA Oestrogen that are strongly linked to certain Cancers but you can opt to leave these genes out of the report if you’d prefer.

6. Do I need to have another test in 6 months or a year?

Your genes never change and so you will never have to go for another gene test. Nutrigenomics is a rapidly growing field and new research is being published everyday. It is always good to keep up to date with new information.

If you are still unsure about something – you can contact us on kvalexroyaldiet@gmail.com or k.alexroyaldiet@gmail.com.

Click here to book your appointment now!

 

Nutrition Week 2017 #RethinkYourDrink

The theme for Nutrition Week 2017 is # Rethinkyourdrink – choose water! Sounds so simple, so easy. It is. Water is a crucial part of overall health and most people don’t get in enough on a daily basis. Instead, everyone is opting for ice teas, carbonated drinks, alcohol or warm delights like tea and coffee.

The concept for this years theme is to make you more aware of what you are actually drinking. So not to scare you off, but I have listed a couple of facts that might make you #Rethinkyourdrink now!

The number of teaspoons of sugar in 500ml of:

  • Carbonated drinks – 15 teaspoons (58.8g)
  • Energy drinks – 14 teaspoons (56g)
  • Fruit juice – 13 teaspoons (53.8g)
  • Sweetened flavoured milk drinks – 10 teaspoons (41.8g)
  • Sweetened ice tea – 9 teaspoons (37.8g)
  • Sports drinks – 7 teaspoons (27.1g)
  • Flavoured water – 6 teaspoons (24g)

The high sugar content is something to fear. Studies have shown that adults who drink two or more sugary drinks a day increased the risk of developing diabetes by at least 24%.

5 Tips to increase water intake:

  1. Always keep a water bottle with you
  2. Drink a glass of water before you brush your teeth in the morning and evening
  3. Create habits, for example, drink a glass of water with every meal
  4. Flavour your water with mint, lemon, rosemary, strawberries or cucumber
  5. Set reminders on your phone to drink water every 2 hours throughout the day

Equip yourself with knowledge. Read food labels to identify the amount of sugar in your drinks. Look for various forms of added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar and sucrose.

A good goal heading into the Summer months: #Rethinkyourdrink and remember that water is a scarce resource, be careful not to waste.

 

Going nuts for Wild Sprout

Invested in a Genes to Plate recipe book yet? If you have, you would have seen some of the most spectacular recipes done by Wild Sprout. A new eatery to hit the Loop Street mayhem. A farm to plate concept with a different harvest table everyday and homemade almond milks – what’s not to love? We couldn’t wait to give this one a go.

Definite must try’s:

  • The daily harvest tables are a hit – wholesome, fresh salads with different protein options – focusing on plant-based proteins (WINNER!)
  • Smoothie bowls named after the geniuses themselves – Berry B-Rad or Coo Cacao
  • Superfood juices and smoothies with combinations that will blow your mind! Seriously, the ginger has a real punch. Tummy issues? Have one of the brews that contain kombucha.

That’s not even the best part. Wild Sprout sells a range of their freshly made ginger balls, grain-free rusks, biscotti and so many other tantalizing treats that you just can’t resist buying. All their products are in line with our concept of holistic living. Do yourself a favour and head on over to their Facebook page @wildsproutcpt and pop in for a healthy lunch or mid-morning treat.

 

Heart Awareness Month: Hypertension

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is above the normal range. Risk factors for high blood pressure include age, genetics, family history, excess weight, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, inactivity and a diet high in salt and sodium. A blood pressure of above 140/90mmHg is considered a hypertensive state and lifestyle and medical intervention is required.

 

Start with lifestyle modification, which includes:

  • Maintain normal body weight for adults (e.g. Body mass index 20–25 kg/m2)
  • Engage in regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking (≥30 min per day, most days of the week)
  • Reduce dietary sodium intake to less than 6 g (1 tsp) of salt or 2.4 g of sodium per day
  • Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 2 units/day in men and no more than 1 unit/day in women
  • Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Consume a diet rich in fruit and vegetables (e.g. at least five portions per day) and fat free dairy
  • Restrict red meat intake to twice per week and replace with skinless chicken, grilled fish and legumes
  • Replace saturated fats (such as butter, cream, fatty meat, chocolate) with unsaturated fats (avocado, nuts, soft tub margarine, canola or olive oil, oily fish)

It is also very important to CUT SALT from the diet and use the following “safe seasonings”:

  • Chilli
  • Garlic
  • Curry powder
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Pure Spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, coriander
  • Dried and fresh herbs

Avoid hidden salts and sodium by reading labels and avoiding the following foods:

  • Cheeses
  • Processed foods such as vienna’s
  • Frozen foods
  • Tinned foods
  • Smoked foods
  • Spices (“Spice for Rice”, BBQ, Aromat etc.)

Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring is in the air! Can you feel it?

If Winter did some damage (it happens to the best of us), and your exercise regime is almost non-existent, give these 10 Spring tips a go. No juice cleanses, restrictions or fasts – just good, healthy eating to break those nasty Winter habits so you can get back to feeling energetic and happy.

 

  1. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier – if you managed to wake up at 5am throughout Winter to fit in your 30 minutes of activity for the day, we salute you. For those who woke up when the sun made an appearance, try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier to get into a good routine.
  2. Give caffeine the boot – limit yourself to 2 cups of coffee daily and instead of the 3rd and 4th (and sometimes 5th) cup of coffee, drink a glass of water. If water seems like the most unappetizing drink to opt for, try herbal teas or add cucumber, rosemary and strawberries to your bottle of water for a bit of flavour.
  3. Spruce up your pantry – no need for heavy, hearty meals. Ensure your kitchen is stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains such as oats, bulgar wheat, rice noodles and quinoa, fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat and all the herbs and flavours of spring. We love grapefruit, pineapple, coconut and alllll the greens.
  4. Say no to sugar – it’s time to break the habit of tea and rusks, sugar-laden cereals, pastries and the frequent chocolate. Get in healthy sugars from fruit instead – your gut will thank you.
  5. Put a spring in your step – aim to get in some form of exercise at least 4 times a week. Gym, walking, hiking, or yoga… just get active and moving.
  6. Greens, greens, greens – a change in season usually means a stubborn flu is making the rounds. Load up on all your greens to ensure you are getting in all the immune boosting vitamins and minerals. Spring is also the time to get sprouting. Sprouts (broccoli sprouts specifically) are fantastic in helping your body to naturally detox itself.
  7. Load up on anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods – fighting off infection, eliminating bloating, decreasing oxidative stress. There is no reason to not be getting in these superhero foods. Include in your spring diet: cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, olives, walnuts, almonds, avocados, herbs and spices (turmeric, ginger, rosemary, cayenne pepper), garlic, spinach, kale, bok choy (all collard greens), tomatoes, beetroot, cacao, berries, prunes, raisins, apples, plums, oranges, red grapes, alfafa sprouts, red pepper and aubergine.
  8. Go meat-free Monday – start your week off right by opting for bean, peas, protein-rich grains or an egg-based lunch and dinner. This sets your week off right and gets you going for the week ahead. Try combining different beans, peas and grains to ensure you are getting in all the important amino acids that your body needs.
  9. Be mindful – listen to your body. Some days you need an extra green juice or a power nap. Be in tune with what your body is telling you. Rest when tired. Stop eating when you’re full.
  10. Take in your surroundings – be outside. Go for walks, hikes or picnics. Getting in a healthy dose of Vitamin D will work wonders for your energy levels.