Refresh your winter skin: top nutritional tips to get your glow back for spring!

shutterstock_123625708 woman winter skin Feb16How your skin looks if often just a reflection of what’s within. For example, if you’re suffering from digestive issues, this can be reflected in your skin looking dull, you may be more prone to spots and you may have dark circles around the eyes. But the harsh winter weather can also take its toll on your skin from the outside, leaving it feeling dry and flaky and generally in need of some TLC! However, help is at hand! Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her top tips on how to revive your skin from within and how to refresh your skin from the outside.

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Three nutrients that have great affinity for the skin are Vitamins A, C and Zinc. If you’re suffering from break-outs or dry patches, then you may be deficient in any of these nutrients.

shutterstock_267665951.sweet potato Nov15jpgA great source of vitamin A is sweet potatoes; eat them like jacket potatoes or mash them with black pepper and a little butter. You can find Zinc in sea food, wholegrains, red meat and eggs so make sure you’re including these on a regular basis in your diet. Vitamin C is another skin-loving nutrient. It plays an essential role in the production of collagen and elastin, helping to keep the skin looking young and fresh, so make sure you’re eating at least five fruits and vegetables a day, particularly berries, red peppers and kiwi fruits.

shutterstock_108676646 body brush woman Feb16BRUSH UP YOUR SKIN

Dry skin brushing boosts your circulation and will give your skin an all-over glow; it helps the flow of lymph through the body which aids detoxification, as well as stimulating blood flow throughout the body.

Ideally use a pure bristle brush and brush each part of your body in upward strokes towards your heart. This is especially important for the legs which can take on that slightly mottled appearance during the winter months, signifying a lack of circulation. Try to do this every morning before you get in the shower and your skin (and you) will quickly look and feel more invigorated!

shutterstock_221308501 omega 3s Feb16BOOST YOUR ESSENTIALS

Centrally heated homes and offices and too much carbohydrate-laden foods can really dehydrate your skin from the inside out. So how can you keep your skin well hydrated?

The skin needs to be hydrated at cellular level which is where your omega 3 fats become really important. These fatty acids are part of your cellular make-up and literally trap water in the cells. If you’re lacking in them, your skin will become more dry and flaky and this appears even more noticeable during the winter months.

The best advice is to eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines three times per week: if you’re vegetarian or don’t eat fish, include flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds into your daily diet.

shutterstock_196052645 avocadoes Oct15AVOCADOS ARE KING

Avocados are a super food for the skin in more ways than one! Firstly they’re packed full of skin-loving Vitamin E, which helps to protect the skin from free radical damage and harsh winter weather. Secondly, they contain healthy monounsaturated fats, which provide the body with the good fats it needs, helping to retain hydration levels in the body.

It is important to know that diets which are too low in fat are generally higher in sugar, and sugar depletes the body of essential nutrients, especially skin-loving nutrients, such as Vitamin C. So it is better for your skin, and healthier in general, to have more fats but less sugar in your diet, and avocados are full of healthy fats!

Avocados are great in salads, smoothies, as the main ingredient in guacamole or just smeared on crackers. Even better, then can be mashed with some lemon juice and used as a face mask on your skin: you may look slightly scary but your skin will feel beautifully smooth and soft when you’re done!

shutterstock_239132320 Coconut oil Feb15COCONUT OIL

Forget face packs, which are often loaded with chemical preservatives and expensive ingredients: Coconut oil is cheap and makes one of the best face and body moisturiser’s money can buy!

Coconut Oil has anti-bacterial properties which means it can often help with skin conditions such as fungal infections as well as calming other conditions such as eczema. You can apply it liberally all over the body as often as you like and leave it on for as long as you can. Your skin will feel silky smooth, you’ll glow all over and the coconut oil will also help to trap moisture into the skin so you’ll look fresher for longer!

shutterstock_127629347 glass of water with splash Feb15WATER

And, don’t forget to drink at least 1 ½ – 2 litres of water daily. There’s really no substitute for pure, fresh water to hydrate the body effectively, and you’ll definitely notice the difference in your skin within a couple of weeks.

So I hope these little tips help bring a new lease of life to your skin: your skin will look and feel so much softer and fresher and you’ll also have more energy to enjoy the longer days ahead – roll on spring!


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Stay healthy at work: healthy hacks to improve your working day

shutterstock_15446956 woman eating lunch at desk Feb16When you’re working hard and have a lot going on, it’s not always easy to eat as healthily as you’d like. Planning what you’re going to eat ahead of time and taking some time out of the workplace every day is essential to create a healthier lifestyle at work. Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer gives us her top hacks for a healthier working day.

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It is easier than you may think to eat healthily during the working day without too much planning – a few simple changes here and there can have a massive impact on your stress and energy levels throughout the day. And, most importantly, they’re all realistic and sustainable!

shutterstock_104489192 business woman taking lunch break Feb16MOVE AWAY FROM YOUR DESK

Moving away from your desk to eat is my number one tip. By moving away from your desk and eating slowly and mindfully, you’ll sit much more comfortably during the afternoon and you’ll have absorbed a lot more nutrients from your lunch!

It’s important to know that if you’re not digesting your food properly, it can have a massive impact on your overall health. For example, if you’re stressed, and the stress hormone cortisol is rushing around your body as part of the normal fight or flight response, blood flow to your digestive organs will be impaired. This means that you’ll secrete fewer digestive enzymes and your digestive organs will be less effective at breaking down food. So just taking your mind (and yourself) away from work whilst you’re eating can improve your digestion tremendously.

shutterstock_230424046 protein foods Sept15EAT PROTEIN

Do you suffer from the dreaded 3 p.m. slump? It is around this time that workers often start to feel very sleepy, concentration waivers and productivity is reduced.

Part of the reason for this afternoon sleepiness is eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein at lunchtime. People mistakenly believe that starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and jacket potatoes are filling but it’s actually protein that provides that feeling of fullness. Additionally, any wheat-based foods can contribute to the tiredness.

So make protein the main part of your lunchtime meal: consider sources such as chicken, tuna, prawns, sardines, eggs or why not try lentils, beans and tofu as veggie options. These foods can be part of a salad, wrap, soup or pasta dish, but pasta with a tomato sauce alone is not going to keep you going through the afternoon!

shutterstock_128060603 bowl on quinoa Feb16EAT QUINOA

On the subject of protein, quinoa specifically is top notch. Although it looks just like a grain it’s actually a seed and it packs a punch in terms of its protein content (around 8 grams per cupful).

It makes a fabulous base for a salad or risotto that’s delicious cold and can be easily transported to your workplace. You can boil up a batch at the beginning of the week and it will happily keep for a few days in the fridge. Let your imagination run wild with what can be added to quinoa; tinned tuna, prawns, salmon, tomatoes, sweetcorn, avocado, chicken, tofu, roasted vegetables …… the list is endless.

Quinoa is very low in fat, high in fibre and contains a good spread of minerals. Other grains that you might consider instead are spelt, kamut or amaranth. They all taste slightly different but each has a great protein profile plus they’re all gluten-free for those whose digestion can’t tolerate gluten.

shutterstock_281476277 hummus and cracker Feb16SNACKS FOR YOUR DRAWER

You need to eat at least every three hours or so. However, this can be challenging if you’re spending eight hours or more at work. Therefore, you’re going to need to eat some form of snack, perhaps halfway through the morning and during the afternoon, in order to keep your energy levels stable.

Again, protein is key in order to keep your blood sugar levels and, therefore, your concentration in good order. Walnuts, Brazils, and almonds, together with some seeds make great snacks to keep in your desk drawer and you can find some lovely combinations of these mixed together, in the supermarkets.

Alternatively, here are some other snack options that you might want to try: a few spoons of natural yoghurt with some berries, apple or pear; oatcakes with hummus; Trek Bars which have a high protein content; healthy seed/dried fruit bars, perhaps sweetened with some cacoa.

Cacoa itself is a great and delicious alternative to chocolate, is high in protein and lower in fat. You can also buy it as a butter which is excellent on crackers or oatcakes and makes a great snack. Even better, cacoa also gently satisfies those sweet cravings.

shutterstock_292441592 business woman walking in town Nov15GET SOME FRESH AIR

Whilst you should be eating away from your desk, if you can also take at least a 15 minute brisk walk every day you’ll be doing your overall health a massive favour.

Firstly, taking a walk after eating really helps the insulin and glucose response in your body. This means blood sugar levels will be better balanced, but it’s also very effective in terms of weight management, so it’s the best time to get walking. Secondly, it goes without saying that getting some fresh air is going to clear your head: taking some really deep breaths whilst you’re walking is also great for stress – it helps to better metabolise the adrenalin surging around your body and relaxes your muscles.

Many people, particularly within the larger corporates, are now holding meetings whilst walking, with managers connecting with individuals within their teams and conducting the meeting on the move. It’s a fabulous idea and hopefully more companies will adopt this practice.

So with a few healthy hacks that  just require a little planning, you can have a much healthier working week. Stick to these changes and the benefits to your health will be incredible!


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It’s National Heart Month: what you need to know about keeping your heart healthy

shutterstock_205649467 heart with hands sun Feb16February is the month of love, with Valentine’s Day being the traditional day of the year where we show our loved ones just how much we love them. But alongside showing your love for others, it’s also important to take care of yourself during National Heart Month – so what can you do to support a healthy heart? Suzie Sawyer, Clinical Nutritionist, shares her healthy heart advice just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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Your diet and lifestyle massively impact on the health of your heart. Here are my five top tips on how best to look after your heart, especially as it’s the only one you’ve got! 

shutterstock_360050087 oats in a heart bowl Feb16HEART HEALTHY FOODS

Many of us know that too many saturated fats found in red meat, butter and full-fat dairy products can have a detrimental effect on the heart because they promote an increase in cholesterol levels. And whilst you certainly shouldn’t be eating a juicy steak every day, once a week is fine – so you can treat yourself and your loved one this Valentine’s Day.

More problematic for the heart are the trans-fats found in margarines, pastries, cakes, biscuits and some cereal bars. Too many of these in the diet promote the production of ‘bad’ cholesterol known as LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein), which circulate around the body and can attack and damage artery walls.

So what should we be eating instead?

Oats, apples, wholegrain foods and oily fish increase production of good cholesterol or HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) which actually helps to get rid of the bad LDL cholesterol from the body. Foods high in fibre, such as oats, also contain pectin which is another helper in the body to support the elimination of LDL cholesterol, so it’s a win-win situation. Another reason to eat your porridge for breakfast – Goldilocks certainly knew a thing or two!

shutterstock_230194054 heart blueberries strawberries Feb16HEART HEALTHY COLOUR

Eating colourful fruits and vegetables has so many positive health benefits, but it’s especially beneficial for the heart. Fruits and vegetables are very heart-protective primarily because they contain lots of antioxidants which can help prevent free radical damage to the artery walls.

So rather than counting how many portions of fruit and veg you’ve eaten in a day, try to ensure that your plate is as colourful as possible at every meal. Think of all the colours of the rainbow – the more colours you can eat at each meal the better!

Think red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet: peppers, sweet potato, yellow plums, apples, blueberries, aubergine and purple-sprouting broccoli! And that’s just a quick, colourful list – there are so many to choose from! If you think about it, there’s a fantastically long list of foods that are really heart healthy and are readily available all year round.

shutterstock_265733306 ballroom couple dancing Feb16HEART HEALTHY EXERCISE

Many people really hate the thought of going to the gym but taking more exercise doesn’t need to be that structured: the most important thing is to lead a more active life generally.

The popularity of Strictly Come Dancing has certainly encouraged more people to join a dance class (nearly 5 million people at the last count!*) With spring around the corner, just getting out into the fresh air and taking a brisk 30 minute walk as many days a week as you can, is one of the best and safest forms of exercise you can do! Your heart will love you for it and you don’t have to do it alone – take your Valentine for a walk with you!

shutterstock_350880479 woman outside joyful Feb16HEART HEALTHY MIND

We use the expression ‘a broken heart’ quite frequently and particularly when referring to losing a loved one either through bereavement or relationship break-up.

When trauma happens in life, it can really impact on the health of your heart. It’s no secret that the happiest people tend to live the longest. If you’ve hit some sad times either because you’re facing some difficult life challenges or you’re just feeling sad because of the time of year and lack of sunlight, then the herb St John’s Wort can be really helpful in lifting low mood – you need to take it for a couple of weeks and then you should start to feel more positive.

Finding a positive mantra to say every day and eliminating the negative thoughts can really help. Remembering what you are grateful for in life and letting go of the negatives is not always an easy thing to do, but for the sake of your heart and mind, do whatever works for you to get happy again.

shutterstock_249083275 yoga relaxation Feb16HEART HEALTHY RELAXATION

When the body is stressed, part of the normal ‘fight or flight’ response is to release adrenaline from the adrenal glands. This in turns raises blood pressure so that blood is pumped to vital organs

If this rise in blood pressure is happening on a regular basis, and you are often feeling stressed, this can cause a continuous and potentially permanent rise. High blood pressure is detrimental to the health of the heart because it puts pressure on the artery walls; it can also cause strokes if it is left unchecked. Therefore, if your life is really busy and stressful and you’re aware that you frequently run on adrenaline, then you need to make time to slow down and actively relax.

This may sound strange, but just watching TV is not very relaxing because your brain is still active. One of the best way of relaxing is by taking up yoga; the deep breathing, the yoga postures and an environment that encourages you to remove any ‘harmful’ thoughts is one of the best ways of completely relaxing your mind and body.

So, make this February the month you decide to really love your heart as well as your Valentine!


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*NHS Choices:


Seven must-have foods for your pantry: how to keep a healthy cupboard!

shutterstock_327076697 woman with pantry jars Feb16Meal planning can really help you stay on track with a healthy diet. Making sure you have a good range of fruits and vegetables available to add to dishes and to snack on is always a great tip but what else should you have to hand? Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her pantry staples that we should keep in stock all year round.

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How many times do you rush in from work, open the food cupboard door and look at empty shelves? The daily question of ‘what shall I eat today?’ can be partly relieved by planning your meals ahead but to help support the daily decision-making, here are my seven top foods that you should always have in your cupboards:

shutterstock_128060603 bowl on quinoa Feb16QUINOA

Quinoa is such a versatile grain that can be included in so many different recipes, plus it’s super healthy! Quinoa is high in protein, low in fat, is gluten-free (gluten can be digestively problematic for many people) and is low glycaemic, meaning that its energy is released slowly into the body. It’s a super food!

It’s so easy to prepare – it’s just like boiling up a saucepan of rice. Why not prepare a large batch and then it can be kept in the fridge for two to three days. You can add some cold roasted vegetables or some salad vegetables, together with some tuna for a great lunch-time meal, particularly if you’re on the run.

Quinoa makes an excellent meal-filler alongside roasted chicken or salmon. It also makes a perfect veggie risotto with some sautéed mushrooms, butternut squash and onion, finished off with some grated parmesan cheese – delicious!

shutterstock_239132320 Coconut oil Feb15COCONUT OIL

This is an absolute ‘must’ for your store cupboard. Firstly, coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils for cooking as it has a high melting point and is, therefore, chemically stable. However, coconut oil is also great for energy production, therefore it should be used lavishly in other dishes.

Think delicious chocolate brownies, beautifully roasted potatoes and authentic-tasting Thai curries. Additionally, coconut is not just for the food store cupboard – it should also be in your cosmetic cupboard as coconut oil is one of the best body moisturisers around!

shutterstock_267665951 sweet potato Jan16SWEET POTATOES

When you’re short on time and ideas, make sure you’ve always got some sweet potatoes in the cupboard. They provide a wealth of amazing health benefits including high levels of vitamin A which is great for the immune system. Additionally they don’t upset blood sugar levels, unlike ‘normal’ potatoes.

Sweet potatoes can be used in exactly the same way as your humble white potato. Why not try them in their jackets with some tuna or prawns, mashed with some black pepper and a knob of butter or used as a healthier topping on your fish or shepherd’s pie.

shutterstock_360523724 flaxseed Feb16FLAXSEEDS

Ground flaxseeds are readily available in all major supermarkets and provide a great source of gentle fibre, which keeps your digestive system running smoothly, plus

They’re also a great source of omega 3 essential fats, so if you don’t eat or don’t particularly like oily fish, then flaxseeds provide those essential omegas. Omegas are needed for healthy hormone production, beautiful skin, and a healthy heart, eyes add joints – quite an impressive list!

Flaxseeds have a slightly sweet and are therefore great added to the top of your porridge or cereal, stirred into a yoghurt with some blueberries or they make a very healthy addition to your smoothie.

shutterstock_332709455 ginger Feb16GINGER

Ginger looks slightly strange on the supermarket shelves, in its raw state, but this makes it no less attractive in terms of its nutrient punch!

Ginger is a great natural anti-inflammatory food; this makes it especially useful for joints, particularly after injury or for those people suffering from arthritis. Additionally, it’s a great digestive soother, particularly in cases of nausea: ginger has proved to be invaluable for helping morning sickness in pregnant women and also for sea-sickness.

Ginger can be incorporated into the diet in so many different ways; it provides an amazing ‘zest’ when added to fresh juices such as beetroot, carrot and apple. You can even pour hot water over it to make your very own ginger tea and it’s an essential ingredient in a good stir fry.

Which bring us on to yet another ‘must-have’ in your stir fry…

shutterstock_157278356 garlic Sept15GARLIC

No stir fry is complete without garlic! And by including it in your cooking as much as possible, you’ll also be giving yourself some amazing health benefits.

Garlic is great for the heart, specifically reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and supporting the immune system. It also feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system, keeping everything running smoothly.

Adding garlic to your roast potatoes, to lamb with some rosemary, making cheesy garlic bread (slightly naughty) or wilting some spinach with a little oil, are just a few ways of enjoying all its health benefits. Garlic keeps well in a cool, dry place for around two weeks, so there’s no excuse not to always have some on hand.

shutterstock_90650398 walnut Sept15WALNUT BUTTER

Walnut butter provides an excellent source of protein, particularly if you’re vegetarian. However, for those who are especially rushed in the mornings, if you have to eat breakfast on the run, then you could do a lot worse than packing up a few oatcakes with some walnut butter to help keep you going throughout the morning.

Equally, it provides a great snack with some crackers or oat cakes any time of the day. And if your children are particular insistent on having some chocolate spread in the cupboards then you can make your own with walnut butter. You just need to add some cocoa powder and maple syrup and you’ve got a much purer version that any ‘shop-bought’ variety.

Walnuts are a good source of those healthy omega 3 fatty acids and they’ve also been shown to reduce blood pressure, so another great all-rounder cupboard staple with health benefits to boot!

So hopefully these little tips mean your store cupboard can become a whole lot healthier and your meal decisions a little easier! Happy Cooking!


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