Health

EVENT: Wellbeing in the West End

Wellbeing in the West End will offer three days of self-exploration, nutrition, fitness, yoga, meditation and mindfulness between 11 and 13 January 2019

If you live in the Capital and are looking to shape up, detox, chill out or become more mindful this January, get along to Edinburgh West End’s first ever wellbeing festival!

Local health professionals are coming together to host Wellbeing in the West End on 11, 12 and 13 January – when they’ll be offering a range of workshops and classes at different venues throughout the district – and they’re inviting you to join them.

The £20 ticket price, which will help to raise money for The Joshua Nolan Foundation and The Rock Trust, includes access to all activities, classes, workshops and talks – each of which have been designed to help nurture and nourish your own wellness.

According to organisers, the three-day celebration of self-exploration, nutrition, fitness, yoga, meditation and mindfulness will be like nothing Edinburgh West End has ever seen before. The itinerary features a series of different talks, covering the likes of goal setting and managing anxiety, and exhibitors will showcase a range of health and wellbeing products and services, such as organic food, jewellery, crystals and therapies, at the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre.

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Beneficiary The Rock Trust works with homeless and socially excluded youngsters aged 16 to 25 across Edinburgh and the Lothians. Meanwhile, The Joshua Nolan Foundation believes it’s possible to prevent every suicide. The charity offers support, training and advice to people living in Scotland of all ages and gender identity, who may identify as being ‘at risk’ or affected by suicide.

Holistic Scotland Magazine stockist Calm on Canning Street is one of the West End venues taking part.

“We are so excited about this event, which combines all the things we love: community, self-care and self-kindness,” says Calm on Canning Street founder Katy Lomas (pictured).

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“We wanted to make this accessible and affordable for everyone and we are delighted to be able to support two very special local charities doing amazing work within our community, as well as support local therapists, wellbeing practitioners and promote all the amazing businesses within the West End.”

For tickets, click here 

Or, to find out more, check out the Facebook page 

 

 

Nutrition

Confused about basic vitamins, minerals, elements and ingredients? You’re not alone

‘Nutrition’ has become a bit of buzz word lately but it turns out that lots of Brits actually have no idea what it means. 

While researchers have discovered that a third of people in the UK are interested in nutrition and 28% go out of their way to avoid unhealthy foods, many struggle to identify basic vitamins, minerals and ingredients – despite claiming to be experts on the subject. 

For example, more than a quarter think mercury – a pollutant toxic to humans – is safe to eat.

When it comes to fats, 32% of people don’t know if monounsaturated fats – which can reduce cholesterol and are found in avocados – are good or bad for health.

One in 10 don’t know Omega-3 – which is believed to lower the risk of heart disease – is a fat found in fish, flax seeds and walnuts, with some even mistaking it for a watch brand.

Twenty-nine per cent confused choline, an essential nutrient found in the likes of cauliflower, with chlorine, which has been used as a chemical weapon.

Know Your Nitrates

The research of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned to launch the KNOW Your Nitrates (NO3) campaign, which has been designed to help educate people on nitrates in drinking water.

It found that 77% of people polled have no idea what nitrates are or whether they are good or bad for you – when, in fact, they have been linked to potentially serious health issues including thyroid and circulatory problems.

And it’s a similar story for vitamins – of those who take vitamin C, 35% have no idea it’s essential for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues.

Six in 10 don’t think they’re getting enough vitamins in their diet but 67% wouldn’t be able to spot the signs they are vitamin deficient or not.

“This survey shows that people don’t find it easy to identify vitamins, minerals and other ingredients,” says nutritional health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville. 

”That’s why it’s so important to read the labels on your food and drinks. It’s crucial to know what you are putting in your body as this affects your health both physically and mentally.”

The research also found that maintaining health is our biggest priority when it comes to nutrition.

This was closely followed by upping energy levels and getting all of the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly.

Interestingly, 27% of those polled they don’t read the ingredients list on food and drink purchases at all.

Nine in 10 aren’t aware nitrates in drinking water can have a negative impact on health.

While 5% wrongly believe nitrates in mineral water – pollutants and heavy oxidants which enter the water table from agricultural fertilisers and leaking septic tanks – are good for you.

Only 21% know nitrates can end up in mineral water from chemical fertilisers, and just 9% know nitrates are pollutants from the water table.

Dr Marilyn Glenville added: ”The lack of understanding about nitrates, particularly in water, shown in the survey was of concern.  

”And also, for me, as a nutritionist, to learn that in many European countries, the legislation requires that the nitrate content in water should not exceed 10mg per litre.

“But in the UK the limit is 50mg per litre for adults and there is no legislation in place for children.”

Nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer said: “While our interest in health and wellbeing is increasing, it’s clear from AQUA Carpatica’s research that more information is needed around even simple, everyday products like drinking water.

”Few people are aware that nitrates, which can leach into water from fertilisers, manure and septic tanks, have been linked to potentially serious health issues including breathing problems for newborn infants, thyroid and circulatory problems, and headaches.

”Some people may prefer to choose a water that is nitrate-free.” 

Win! Award-winning, pure mineral water that’s nitrate-free

For a chance to win a batch of award-winning AQUA Carpatica Still Natural Mineral Water, which is naturally extracted from two pure aquifiers deep in the Carpathian Mountains, pick up a copy of the December/January issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine, in which you could win everything on the page.

Through a natural 20 to 40-year filtration process in a location with no agriculture or industrial activity in the surrounding areas, AQUA Carpatica’s source is protected from chemicals, fertilisers, CFCs and other contaminants.

Nutrition

Everything you never knew about beetroot

In Season: The Beetroot (Beta Vulgaris)

Resident blogger Megan Mclean reflects on beetroot’s magical history 

The beetroot, or “beet” as it’s commonly referred to, is actually comprised of two different sections: the taproot which is the main body of the vegetable, and the beet greens which are the colourful leaves shooting out of the top of the taproot.

Both parts of beetroot are edible and offer healing properties when consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet.

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For a vegetable of such magnificent ruby red, it’s only fitting that the beetroot has a somewhat magical history. According to ancient Assyrian texts, beetroots were farmed and consumed in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – in 800BC.

The Greeks were also fond of this earthy-flavoured vegetable – even if they did only eat the beet greens. The taproot section wasn’t wasted, however, as it was offered as a gift to the sun god, Apollo; used as a medicinal substance to heal wounds, and even as a laxative.

At this point in time, the beetroot is thought to have been more of a carrot-like shape, the rounded root evolving only after thousands of years of production. Other less whimsical sources state that the beetroot evolved from the wild seabeet off the coasts of India and Britain. These days you can find this love-hate vegetable very easily all over the world, especially in Europe, Scandinavia and Russia.

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For those who haven’t yet braved the bold flavours of the beetroot, what does the beet actually taste like? Well, taste varies enormously depending on preparation and cooking method, but the general consensus is that beets have a somewhat earthy or muddy taste about them.

It’s important to point out that this taste isn’t due to actual soil and the flavour will remain as strong as ever however hard you scrub at the surface. This taste is because of an organic compound within the beetroot called geosmin. There are two theories relating to geosmin: 1 – this compound is a by-product of beetroot metabolism, or 2 – it’s synthesised by micro-organisms within the soil, then taken up into the growing beet.

Either way, if the earthy taste and farm-like smell aren’t your cup of tea, try to avoid the peel as this contains six times more geosmin than the beet itself.

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What colour are beetroots? Most answers will be somewhere in the ball park of ruby red, perhaps a purple here and there. But, believe it or not, this blanket opinion isn’t true. There’s a whole secret world of varieties out there that UK supermarkets haven’t yet exposed us to. Here are some examples…

The Golden Beet – not quite as sweet as red beets but sometimes favoured because of their weaker, earthy taste and sunny appearance.

The Chioggia Beet – or ‘The Candy Cane Beet’ if we are going by appearance. Slicing into this beetroot reveals beautiful natural stripes inside with orange, yellow or red-white.

The Cylindra Beet – a red-pink colored variety that contains very little fibre, but with a surprisingly sweet taste, comparable to caramel.

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The Chioggia or Candy Cane Beet

So far, the beetroot is ticking boxes for both appearance and taste, so let’s look at the health benefits next:

Eye health

Beets contain high levels of biologically active compounds called phytochemicals which, in general, have strong evidence supporting their ability to help prevent disease. Eye-related diseases and their prevention using phytochemicals is one area of research that has shown promising results. It has been found that consuming a diet high in phytochemicals can prevent the progression of glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two phytochemicals of particular interest which can be found in abundance in beet greens, just 1 cup (340g) contains approximately 275g of lutein.

But the majority of the population are not consuming enough of these phytochemicals, despite the fact that benefits have been seen from taking just 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin a day and, with no upper toxicity level for either phytochemical, an occasional cup of beet greens will give you a spectacular health kick.

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Lowers risk of heart disease

Beets are a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory compounds that work by lowering the bodies level of homocysteine, an amino acid which can cause inflammation that damages our blood vessels and arteries. In particular folate, betaine, isobtanin and vulgaxanthin stand out as having excellent anti-inflammatories properties which could help prevent heart diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Improved blood flow   

The production of nitric oxide within our bodies may sound daunting at first, however research shows it has extensive health benefits, and lucky for us its production is triggered every single time you consume a beetroot.

Nitrates within the vegetable are converted to nitric oxide, which itself is a neurotransmitter with the ability to expand blood vessels and thus lower blood pressure.

Nitric oxide has a positive effect on our hearts not just from this drop-in blood pressure, but also from the increased blood flow through expanded blood vessels, potentially reducing the symptoms of clogged arteries, chest pain, angina and coronary heart disease.

Adding to this ever-lasting ode to nitic oxide is the fact that blood flow will not only be increased to the heart, but also to our brains. Studies carried out on older adults investigated the effects of a high-nitrate diet on mental functioning and concluded that there was increased flow of blood to the frontal lobes, meaning that incorporating high nitrate foods (including beets) in a diet may reduce the risk of dementia.

A word of caution 

But before you go jazzing up every salad with sliced Chioggia beet or drinking 500mls of beetroot juice on the way to bed every night, it must be advised that you should remain calm after visiting the toilet the next day.

Discoloured urine and stools are an unnegotiable side effect after eating any decent quantity of beetroot and are nothing to worry about at all!

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To add to the beetroot’s perfect track record of appearance, taste and health benefits, it’s also immensely versatile and can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled, juiced or as the main ingredient in the Eastern European soup – Borscht.

If boiling your beetroot, it is best to leave the peel on to prevent the loss of nutrients into the cooking water, once boiled the skins should fall away easily and the root can be sliced, pureed or diced. The highly nutritious beet greens can make a wonderful change from spinach when wilted down and eaten as a side.

Here are just a few ideas on how to incorporate beets into your meals and snacks –

  • Stir fried beet with roasted garlic and sesame oil
  • Wrap beets in tin foil and roast over heat (perfect for cooking on the campfire!)
  • Honey roasted beetroot and carrots
  • Beetroot brownies
  • Beetroot & mint hummus

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This information is all well and good for fresh beetroots pulled straight from the soil and unaltered until reaching our kitchens, but what about pickled beetroot?

Beetroots often don’t stay ripe for long which makes pickling an attractive preservation method for the vegetables shelf life and also many of its health benefits. Pickled beetroots are high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, fibre and are low in fat. Sodium intake must be kept in mind if eating this form of beetroot often, one cup (340g) of pickled beetroot contains more than one third of the recommended daily sodium intake.

So that’s that, a truly magical vegetable with not only the powers to wow a dinner table of guests, but also with the ability to heal the body while enhancing life, without a doubt a food fit for the seven wonders of the world.

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious,” – Tom Robbins, author 

For more healthy food inspiration from Megan, check out Oats & Ends.

 

Nutrition

Why gluten-free products might not be what you think

Gluten pioneer Dr Kenneth Davin Fine says food labelled ‘gluten-free’ isn’t always what you think

Think you’re following a gluten-free diet? Not so fast.

A physician who is said to be a pioneer in discovering and diagnosing the problems with gluten says many products touted as gluten-free today are not.

Dr. Kenneth Davin Fine, who is a gastroenterologist and creator of Oro-Intestinal Fitness Products, as well as gluten and food sensitivity diagnostic laboratory EnteroLab is said to have brought gluten sensitivity to the public consciousness more than 20 years ago.

He says that during those early years, gluten-sensitive patients usually experienced significant improvement in their health on a “gluten-free diet” but his patients have told him in recent years they have seen fewer improvements.

“Products can now be labeled ‘gluten free’ even if that food contains up to 20 parts per million of gluten,” he says.

“While that doesn’t sound like a lot, a little gluten can go a long way in the reactions of the most active immune systems.”

Dr Fine says gluten is a protein found in the cereal grains wheat, barley, rye, and oats and is a mixture of proteins which causes illness in people with either celiac disease, (when the immune reactions to gluten damage the intestinal tissues visible on a biopsy), or (more commonly) non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is diagnosed when symptoms and intestinal dysfunction are present in the absence of such changes on a biopsy.

Recent studies found that most (but not all) celiacs could eat gluten without resulting in damage to their small intestine. But, in his research, Dr. Fine has found that only about half of celiacs or non-celiac gluten sensitive patients can tolerate oats. He says “gluten-free oats” is a misnomer and may be responsible for symptoms experienced by people who think they are eating a gluten-free diet.

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Dr. Fine believes the gluten sensitivity epidemic is caused by:

  • A combination of greater immunoreactivity in most people stimulated by mainly environmental factors (stress, exposure to hormones in food, medicines, pollution, and possibly EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) from electronic devices).
  • The way many foods have been altered by producers so they can be manufactured in mass quantities more efficiently.
  • Widespread use of stomach acid-inhibiting medicines.
  • A general lack of breastfeeding from 1955-1985 (when synthetic infant formula was falsely touted to be more healthy than breast milk).
  • Public health directives recommending that the public should eat mostly grains
  • An evolution of agricultural practices leading to hybridisation of grains to increase their gluten content, and more widespread use of herbicides and pesticides.

Dr Fine says that, recently,  there also has been a significant increase in the mass marketing of products said to assist the gut microbiome in digesting food. The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, viruses, and fungi – in the body.

He claims the best way to keep a healthy gut and microbiome is to eat the right foods. “Researchers have sometimes detected a different microbiome in obese individuals compared to non-obese individuals; although this has attempted to be the blame for the obesity, it cannot be ruled out that their microbiome is different because they make different, and perhaps less healthful food choices,” he says.

According to Dr Fine, other reasons for a poor microbiome are frequent exposure to antibiotics, the bactericidal chlorine added to public water, improper sleep, stress, and diets heavy in meat, cooked food (as opposed to raw vegetables or salads and fruit), and “junk food” and other sugar-laden foods.  This is all typical of the modern lifestyle, which Fine says is a primary contributor to poor overall health.

“If you really want to achieve a healthy body, you must have a healthy intestine and intestinal flora,” says Dr Fine.

“And when it comes to immunologic food sensitivities, one must really be more restrictive of antigenic foods than was necessary years ago because of the progression of this immunologic epidemic.”

Health

5 easy ways to give yourself more energy

We all know what it feels like to be exhausted, lacking energy and lethargic, now here’s what to do about it!

Dr Emma Derbyshire shares her tips for boosting energy levels:

Care-free commute – many of us face at least an hour’s commute every day, often on public transport, with delays which do nothing for our mood or energy levels. But instead of focussing your energy on getting annoyed, use your commuting time to do something just for you. Read a book, practise mindfulness or meditation, listen to your favourite music or catch up on small admin tasks. You can’t control commuting woes, so just go with it.

Natural energy release – get up and dance, do star jumps or go for a walk and create some of those feel-good endorphins. You could also try a supplement such as Red Kooga’s Natural Energy Release, which works with the body to help increase alertness and vitality, boost energy and wellbeing and ward off fatigue.

Ditch the digital –  we are a nation addicted to our smartphones and laptops. But this digital dependency also impacts our energy levels. While we play with our phones, time ticks away and we become more sedentary. Seeing social media posts from others can also affect our moods. Try to allocate certain times during the day to check social media and emails instead of all the time.

Get moving – schedule in some movement time every day. It’s easy to get so involved in your work that three hours have gone past and you haven’t so much as stood up! We might think being in front of the screen hours on end makes us productive, but actually it makes us sluggish, while energy levels drop and productivity goes down. Get up from your desk, stretch, make a round of teas, talk to colleagues and get out for a walk at lunch – it will refresh you and leave you with more energy to tackle the afternoon!

What’s on your plate? – we all grew up with the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. And it’s true – we need to pay attention to foods which are going to give us sustainable energy and satisfy our body’s nutritional demands. Rather than just grabbing at food because we have a hunger to satisfy, nutrient-rich foods such as lean protein, oily fish, fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds) should be our go-to. They will help sustain our energy levels and see us through the day.