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5 Tips to Kick the Flu this winter

While nothing can completely stop a cold in its tracks, a healthy immune system can help ward off the germs that cause colds and the flu. A healthy immune system can even minimize a cold’s duration

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can provide a challenge during the cold months. As the temperature drops, it’s tempting to abandon our healthy eating habits and exercise regimen for comfort food and huddling indoors.

However, keeping well-nourished is important in keeping our immune system firing and to ward off winter bugs. Following these tips can help you stay healthy through winter.

 

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which can boost your immune system. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are great to make hot stewed fruit or soups and casseroles – perfect warming foods for a cold winter’s day.

Watch your portion sizes.
To avoid a winter waistline try using a smaller plate, filling half your plate with vegetables, and avoiding distractions (like the TV) at meal times. Try to reduce ‘non-hungry eating’ by asking yourself whether you are actually hungry or whether instead you might be looking to food because you are bored or tired.

Keep hydrated.
Even when it’s cold out, you still need to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day. Remember that a warm cup of non-caffeinated tea counts!

Enjoy some sunshine.
The shorter days in winter mean we get less exposure to the sun, which can lead to a drop in vitamin D and serotonin. This drop can affect our mood and we may be more inclined to reach for high calorie comfort foods to make us feel better temporarily. This in turn impacts our immunity. Try spending some time outdoors during your lunch break or go for a quick walk before or after work.

Keep active.
Put your layers on and head outside for a walk or find an indoor sport or exercise class you enjoy. Increase your incidental exercise by taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking further away from your destination.

Food prevents disease

Perhaps more than anything else in our lives, the foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age. Whether vegetables, fruit, meat, oils or grains, foods contain influential substances including antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fiber and much more.

Some of the ways food prevents disease include:

Decreasing inflammation – Inflammation is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury, defend itself against foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria, and repair damaged tissue. Its job is to heal, but in many cases, it also contributes to chronic diseases.

  • Foods that decrease inflammation: tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Balancing hormones – Abnormal changes to your hormones can lead to accelerated aging, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, depression, low mental capacity, reproductive problems, and an array of autoimmune diseases.

  • Foods that balance hormones: protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avo, olive oil and green tea.

Balancing blood glucose levels – Poorly managed blood sugar levels can cause cravings, fatigue, neurological damage, mood disorders, hormonal imbalances, and more.

  • Foods that balance blood glucose: vegetables, melon or berries, higher-fiber foods: beans, brown rice, sweet potato, butternut and lean protein like chicken and fish.

Eliminating toxins – In modern society, we are bombarded by chemicals from our diet and environment. Toxicity contributes to inflammation, autoimmune diseases, infertility, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, etc.

  • Foods that eliminate toxins: greens such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, green tea, beans 

Success Story- Lihana – “Its not a diet, its a lifestyle”

Lihana has done amazing in her weight loss journey following her personalized meal plan, she has been so positive and determined from the start, to take charge of her health. Lihana shares her journey and what she has learnt through this amazing and inspiring transformation!

Kirby: How much weight have you lost in total?
Lihana: I weighed 79.9kg when I came to you, I now weigh 71.7kg. A total of around 8.2kg in 4 months.

Kirby: What was the most difficult part of the diet plan?
Lihana: I am a mom of a 3 year old and it is so easy to lose yourself in motherhood, work and being a wife. I have tried all types of diets and nothing was sustainable. In my mind I was quite healthy but I came to the realization that I actually don’t eat a lot, but when I do I eat all the wrong types of food. The biggest challenge was the mindset change and to realise that this will not be a quick fix but a LIFESTYLE. I had to decide to do this for me and in that way I can be an example to my daughter, of how to be healthy and it does not have to cost you a fortune to cook nutritious meals.

Kirby: What was the easiest part of this journey?
Lihana: The easiest part was the weigh in sessions with you as the anticipation of your results can be quite exciting.

Kirby: Can you share some tips and give advice to others in your shoes, just starting the diet plan?
Lihana: Do not see it as a diet, this must be a lifestyle change. You must do it for yourself and you will not lose the weight in one week, you definitely did not pick the up weight overnight. ALWAYS remember where you started and that will make the end result so worth it. Every kg, cm and body fat % I lost was like a brick off my shoulders.

I feel great and I cant wait to cook myself healthy real food! I actually eat a lot these days but I love every meal. Stay true to yourself and don’t overthink it JUST DO IT! 🙂

I am so glad I got to meet Kirby from Alex Royal Dietetics. She has guided me and supported me all the way.

New You Program

2019 – Your Year to Thrive

This is going to be a detox, challenge and health program all in one.

🌿 Our aim is to help you identify your health goals and support you along that path with a diet plan, motivational tips, recipes and a support group

🌿It can be quite tough to make the right choices and to say no to temptation so we are here to hold your hand every step of the way

🌿 We want you to start this year as the best version of yourself, the “New You”.

You will need to commit to giving up dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and meat for 5 days.

You will get a 5 day diet plan which you need to stick to. We will send this to you once you sign up.

We will add you to the WhatsApp group once you have signed up. This is a great support and will also include specialists in the field who can guide you. You will also get daily meditations on self love and daily recipes, tips and motivation.

Start date: 4 Feb

Cost: R390

🌿 HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Email info@alexroyaldiet.co.za your POP and cell number by Saturday 2 Feb. You will be sent your starter pack and whatsApp group link.

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.

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

 

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.

 

Fill up at Hungry Herbivore

Vegetarian? Vegan? Super health conscious?

We are well aware that around every street corner there is a new cafe or restaurant flaunting their freshly baked sourdough and croissants. It can be enticing and simply turning in the opposite direction isn’t always the easiest. To all our hungry clients in and around the Bree street area, we’d like to introduce you to – if you haven’t already heard of them – Hungry Herbivore.

We decided to give it a try and let’s just say that smashed avo on toast has never tasted so good! The menu offers everything from all-day breakie (always a plus in my books) to protein deluxe bowls and an array of nutritious smoothies.

Our personal favourites?

  • The Zesty Green smoothie – spinach, banana, spirulina, dates, lemon and soy milk (with the option to substitute for almond milk)
  • The Protein Deluxe Bowl – tofu, quinoa, corn, broccoli, beans and avo (uhhm yummy!)
  • Oh -sweet- Kim Burger – sweet potato, quinoa, kimchi and lentil patty

Yes to fermented foods and green smoothie goodness! They also have a secret menu so don’t forget to ask your waitron. Located in Orphan Street, City Centre. Have a look at the menu (beware: salivating may occur)