Hydrate your way through the summer: how to keep your water levels in check

shutterstock_357288659 glass of water June16The body is made up of 70% water, so it makes absolute sense that we need to keep it continually hydrated. However, how much water do we really need and what are the best ways of keeping properly hydrated in the hotter weather?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her what, why, when and how, on keeping hydrated through the summer months and beyond!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic


The body contains a very high percentage of water. Of course, this isn’t just plain H20; fluid in the body contains a complicated makeup of many solutes (other substances dissolved within the water). However, for normal daily needs, plain – preferably filtered – water is one of the best ways of replenishing and maintaining the body’s fluid content.

shutterstock_400163152 glass of milk June16As a general rule, you should be looking to drink between 1 ½ to 2 litres of water daily. Interestingly, drinking milk is also another great way of re-hydrating, but drinking that amount of milk everyday would not be recommend due to the other nutrients within it such as protein and fats; one glass a day as part of your fluid intake would be sufficient.

shutterstock_44618356 2 litre bottles of water June16It might sound a little unpleasant but a great way of assessing your hydration levels is to look at the colour of your urine! Apart from the first ‘pee’ of the day, your urine should be almost clear, so the darker it is usually means the less hydrated you are. If you’re worried that as soon as you start drinking more fluid, you’ll be constantly going to the bathroom, this may happen for the first couple of weeks or so, particularly if you’re generally de-hydrated. However, after that time, the body will usually adjust and you’ll not need to go as frequently!


It goes without saying that if you’re exercising, particularly for long periods, you’ll need to be properly hydrated before, during and after. If the body is de-hydrated, the heart, amongst other things has to work much harder, therefore you’ll feel fatigued quicker.

shutterstock_284081948 woman exercising drinking water June16Interestingly, a reduction of about 2% in terms of fluid loss within the body can lead to around 10% loss of performance: that’s the difference between winning or coming second, the difference between hitting your goal or missing it! Clearly, it depends on the intensity of exercise and the length of time you’re doing it; as a general rule, try to drink around ½ litre of fluid per hour of exercise.

shutterstock_134844665 isotonic drink fitness woman June16However, your body is not just pure water – it contains electrolytes or minerals including sodium. Therefore, when exercising, the best way of re-hydrating is to drink the equivalent of what you’re losing, both in terms of water and electrolytes. This could be an isotonic drink, which usually reflects the same electrolyte balance as the body and therefore can be more easily absorbed meaning you’ll re-hydrate quicker!


shutterstock_377592403 watermelon and papaya June16Many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, have a very high water content, so they will also help to keep you hydrated. Indeed, these foods also contain electrolytes, so they will help maintain and rehydrate the body really well.

If you’re having a vegetable juice each day, this will count towards your daily fluid quota. And, of course, if it’s really hot or you’re exercising hard, then having a juice, as part of your overall nutritional programme before or after your training will certainly be a good plan.

Cucumbers, water melon, papaya, strawberries and butternut squash are all great choices to include in your diet as much as possible, in order to keep the body optimally hydrated.


Water, freshly made juices and milk are some of the best fluids to drink. However, there are also some drinks that don’t really count.

shutterstock_135532949 coffee June16shutterstock_183416243 glass of cola June16Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and cola can often act as diuretics, which means the body actually tends to lose more fluid as a result. Black tea contains tannins which tend to deplete the body of certain minerals, generally the essential electrolytes, therefore it’s best to not drink too many in one day. If you can’t go without your coffee though, try to aim for just one or two caffeinated drinks per day.

shutterstock_305555135 glass of wine June16With the warmer evenings now upon us, a nice glass of wine in the sun is often a lovely post-work treat. Whilst this can be a great way of relaxing and socialising with friends and family, if you overdo it, the tell-tale headache the next morning is generally a sign of de-hydration. In order to minimise these unpleasant after effects, make sure you drink one glass of water for every glass of wine or alcoholic beverage you consume.


shutterstock_427818367 woman drinking water on the beach June16Summer is here and many of you will be getting ready to jet off to hotter climates: having a sufficient daily fluid intake becomes even more important the hotter it gets. So apply all the tips above – you might even want to increase your fluid intake to around 2 ½ to 3 litres daily.

And, if you needed any more convincing to keep well hydrated, especially if you are dieting, trying to lose weight is even more difficult without sufficient fluid so keep yourself topped up!


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Fun in the sun: get fit outdoors this summer

shutterstock_78391000 family cricket beach June16Summer is officially here! Well, at least according to the meteorological office! With the warmer and longer days now here, or at least around the corner, it’s a great time to get active outside with the family, with friends or for a solo adventure and have some fun in the sun!

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares five great outdoor activities together with some nutritional tips to send your energy levels soaring this summer!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic


Whilst many people dismiss walking as being a bit slow and boring, it is actually one of the best exercises we can do for the body. Our ancient ancestors walked everywhere, therefore we have completely evolved for this type of exercise.

shutterstock_310378145 hill walking June16Walking is an aerobic exercise which sufficiently elevates the heart rate, meaning your body is burning fat, as opposed to anaerobic exercise (which reflects more intense bursts of energy where you are not burning fat as efficiently). Walking is also one of the best ways of building strong and healthy bones. And you don’t need to be tackling monster hills – just some nice undulating scenery!

shutterstock_270983414 porridge with blueberries June16In order to keep your energy levels sustained throughout the walk, make sure you eat some porridge with blueberries or another wholegrain cereal, for breakfast, and you’ll just need to drink plenty of water as you go along. You won’t need to be eating lots of snacks unless you are planning an all-day hike – your body should have sufficient energy stores to keep you going until lunchtime!


shutterstock_375534670 woman cycling June16Cycling has emerged as one of the most popular sports across the country, and for very good reason! You don’t need to spend loads of money on a bike, it’s a great family activity and it will tone up your legs perfectly! Plus, it’s excellent cardio exercise!

If you’re new to cycling and you just want to gently enjoy the countryside around you, then as with walking, have a good breakfast before you start out. Again, porridge would be great – why not try quinoa porridge with apple for something different? It provides an excellent source of protein, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

shutterstock_166492592 quinoa porridge with apple June16If your bike ride is one to two hours long, you shouldn’t need to eat a snack during this time – just keep sipping water. However, if you are going a little more ‘hard-core’ or planning a longer ride then a specialist carbohydrate sports drink to keep you hydrated (available in supermarkets and health food stores) or a protein bar will to keep your energy levels in top gear!


shutterstock_125669204 frisbee outdoors June16An hour spent throwing a Frisbee and running around the park will really get the heart rate going and burn some calories to boot!

It’s makes great family fun or indeed an entertaining day out with friends, and if you choose a sunny day, you’ll also be getting some much-needed vitamin D to help boost your bone health and immunity.

shutterstock_324733493 fruit picnic June16Taking a summer picnic can also be a real treat at this time of year – there’s so many different colourful and healthy foods you can include; why not make a large salad with lots of tomatoes and peppers, plus some strawberries, raspberries, cherries or melon slices for afters. There’s an abundance of colourful foods around at this time of year which contain a wealth of antioxidants to help protect the skin from sun damage and keep your immune system in tip-top shape! Why not go into your local fruit and veg store and choose some that you’ve never tried before?


shutterstock_232853251 woman swimming outside June16You may have to be a little brave swimming outdoors in the UK (the Mediterranean has certainly more appeal), however, swimming is another all-round great exercise. It works the heart and many different muscle groups in the body, without any impact. Therefore, any injuries you may have are not aggravated.

Whilst you might just want to enjoy swimming in a pool, sea swimming is completely different and will help to burn even more calories. If you can manage half an hour of fairly constant swimming, you’ll feel really refreshed, plus it’s a great stress-buster.

shutterstock_362941577 egg mushroom tomato breakfast June16It’s always best not to swim on a full stomach so make sure you’ve eaten breakfast at least an hour and a half before swimming. An egg-based breakfast will keep you feeling fuller for longer and your energy levels will be sustained. And if you get really into swimming, there are many triathlons organised now, especially for the new-comer, that include a short distance of sea swimming; why not sign up for one and challenge yourself further?


This may be an exercise for the slightly more brave but it’s another great activity that can be done with friends and family and you’ll be enjoying the great outdoors at the same time!

shutterstock_328052888 woman rollerblading June16Clearly, some flat roads or park paths are required – it’s ideal along the seafront and it’s certainly really ‘on-trend’ right now! If you’re heading out for a day of fun, then you can pack a light picnic or just some snacks to keep you going; some fruit, particularly apples, together with some cashews or almonds will balance your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels high, plus provide you with both some vitamin C for your immune system and some calcium for strong bones.

The action of roller blading uses both your legs and arms, so you’ll get a good body work, tone your legs and your glutes as well as building your bone strength. An hour’s roller-blading will leave you feeling invigorated and energised – plus it’s just so much fun!

So, just a few ways to get active and have some fun in the sun this summer – plus you’ll be getting fitter and healthier at the same time!


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Have a fabulous Festival: how to stay healthy during festival season

shutterstock_368143457 woman music festival camping June16It can sometimes be difficult to stay healthy during festivals, with so many fast food options on offer, often increased alcohol consumption and a general lack of sleep. And whilst festivals are there to be enjoyed – it’s basically a weekend-long  party – what can you do before you get there and during the festival to try and stay healthy?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her five top tips on how minimise the health mishaps, and therefore enjoy the festival experience even more!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

With summer well and truly here (certainly in name), many people’s thoughts turn to the festival season – for some people the Great British Summer wouldn’t be complete without attending one! However, it’s no secret that they can sometimes be ruinous for your health. So what can you do in order to have a healthy festival and take care of yourself, whilst soaking up the music and culture in a field somewhere?


Whilst festivals are often rain-soaked, equally you could be basking in glorious sunshine! So, as well as doing the obvious of protecting your skin by wearing a hat, sunglasses and using a high-factor sunscreen, try taking the supplement astaxanthin for two weeks leading up to the festival (or indeed, any time when you’re planning to be away in the sun).shutterstock_169844339 woman hat sunglasses June16

Astaxanthin is an amazing algae with powerful antioxidant qualities which help to protect the skin against sunburn. And what’s more, its antioxidant qualities help to prevent the skin from ageing: specifically it helps to lock more moisture into the skin, which is key for youthful-looking skin.

Talking of prevention, the combination of less-than-perfect hygiene, a range of weird and wonderful foods plus throw in some alcohol and you’ve got an excellent recipe for a tummy upset.

shutterstock_432899935 woman fast food outside stomach pain June16Try a course of probiotics for at least a couple of weeks before going to the festival. Probiotics help to replenish the body’s good bacteria, which, in turn, protects the gut from unwanted invaders that cause nasty symptoms. Indeed, it’s always advisable to take a course of probiotics before travelling, particularly if going abroad. Additionally, don’t forget to take lots of anti-bacterial hand wash – you can never use too much at these events!


shutterstock_272962934 woman drinking water June16It sounds obvious but you really need to keep drinking bottled water throughout your time away. The combination of sun, dancing and alcohol can cause massive dehydration problems. You need to be drinking at least two litres of bottled water daily throughout your stay; if you’re drinking alcohol, try to have at least a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed!


shutterstock_379041322 smoothie juice stall June16Festivals are renowned as places where health food and drink manufacturers ‘trial’ their products: this is exactly how Innocent Smoothies started out life… selling smoothies at a music festival in 1999. Therefore, if you’re lucky enough to have these kinds of companies at your festival, then make a dash for their stands and pop-ups.

shutterstock_431122087 street food vegetarian festival June16Any nutrients you can take in during this time will have a positive benefit. Specifically, any juices or smoothies on trial will provide you with some much-needed vitamin C which supports the body’s immune system; you don’t want to be falling foul of a cold or flu either during or after the event, especially if it’s a wet one.

shutterstock_423832564 egg potato baked beans June16Additionally, you’ll need as much energy as you can muster to make the most of any festival; therefore any food stands offering whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice or wholemeal toast will help to provide a sustained energy boost. You might also find trucks selling jacket potatoes with beans, as an example – again great for energy. Plus try to get some eggs on your plate for breakfast: however they’re cooked, the protein will stabilise blood sugar levels after a long night partying!

And whilst the burgers are very tempting at these events, just remember that their high fat content can make them really indigestible, potentially causing stomach discomfort.


shutterstock_242698879 aloe vera June16Always being prepared is one of the best mottos for any outdoors experience, and especially when camping at a festival. Anything can happen and whether it’s a graze, an insect sting or sunburn always pack some aloe vera gel; it has amazing soothing and healing qualities and can be found in hand travel-sized bottles, perfect for being on the go at a festival.

Aloe Vera has been described as the ‘Elixir of Life’ because it bears so many health-giving benefits. It’s the ‘go-to’ ingredient for soothing troubled skin, but it’s also great to use all year round, particularly if you suffer from unwanted break-outs.


shutterstock_417250732 couple sleeping in tent June16This may sound strange, but at some point you will need to sleep! However, don’t fall into the trap of packing some tablets to help you sleep; the combination of alcohol and sleeping tablets is not ideal and will cause you to feel much worse in the long run.

Instead try taking the herb valerian, which is licensed to help sleep, around two to three weeks before going away (and this can apply to any travel plans as well). It takes a few weeks to work, so won’t be as much use taking it during the event, however after two to three weeks, you should find you sleep much more peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed!

So enjoy the festival season and hopefully by following these top tips, you won’t need to take the next two weeks off work to recover!


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Not a fan of dairy? Try these five alternative calcium-rich foods

shutterstock_138896735 woman and milk June16Calcium is an essential mineral found mostly in our bones and teeth. It is an important part of any diet but if you’re not a fan of milk and cheese, how can you make sure you are getting enough?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, tells us why it’s not all about dairy and shares five foods that are great sources of calcium.

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

When we think of the mineral calcium, we normally think of dairy foods as being the best sources of this essential mineral. Whilst this is mostly true, for those that don’t like the taste or have allergies or intolerances to dairy, this can often be a problem. So, time to find some great alternatives!


shutterstock_152130665 canned fish June16People often push back against canned versus fresh fish but it’s actually one of the best ‘alternative’ sources of calcium, whether you go for salmon, sardines or pilchards. Since most of our calcium is stored in the bones, it therefore makes sense that eating fish containing soft bones will also provide calcium.

With canned fish, you get both the flesh and the bones, which makes it better for calcium than fresh fish, which is either filleted, or the bones are inedible. Canned fish makes a great lunch with salad and avocado, on toast, or as part of a healthy evening meal.

shutterstock_252012256 almonds and almond milk June16ALMONDS

Although you’d need to grab quite a few almonds to get anywhere near the required daily amounts of calcium (the recommended daily amount of calcium or NRV – Nutrient Reference Value – is 800 mg), they still pack a nutritional punch. A daily handful of almonds makes a great snack plus they are the most nutrient-dense of all nuts.

Almond milk, which is readily available in the supermarkets contains some calcium and is a delicious alternative to cow’s milk that you can include in your daily diet. Almond butter, also widely available, makes a great snack with some oat cakes and even better will help stop that 3 pm energy slump!

shutterstock_390376168 broccoli spinach kale Mar16GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES

There are quite a number of green leafy veg that have good amounts of calcium. Top of the list ranks spinach with a cupful yielding around 55 mg of calcium. So definitely include some spinach in your diet, but also think about broccoli (an excellent vegetable packed full of nutrients), Pak choi (great steamed or in stir fries), kale (excellent added to juices) or leeks (always tasty when steamed). Basically if the vegetable is green, it’s going to contain some calcium in varying amounts – another reason to be eating as many greens as you can each day!

shutterstock_380364823 quinoa salad June16QUINOA

Time and time again, this humble grain comes up trumps in terms of it nutritional benefits. If you’re going to choose a grain, then quinoa wins hands down over rice or other grains, in terms of its calcium and, indeed, protein content.

Quinoa is such a great all-round healthy food; it’s an excellent accompaniment to fish or roasted vegetables or it can be cooked in advance and eaten cold in a salad. Why not add it to roasted stuffed peppers with mushrooms and garlic, for a really delicious and filling evening meal?


In the same way that many green leafy vegetables deliver great amounts of calcium, so do many beans, so definitely include this food group in your diet where you can.

shutterstock_81566332 beans legumes June16All beans will deliver some calcium – white, soya, kidney, lima – the list is endless. One point to note with beans; if you’re going to use them in their dried form they do need to be soaked, preferably overnight, in water. The process of soaking helps to eliminate all the anti-nutrients and parts of the bean that make them indigestible. The canned varieties are of course pre-soaked so they are much quicker and easier to use.

Top of the leader board, though, come white beans – for example, haricot beans or cannellini beans. White beans are great when added to soups or stews and they also make an excellent side to meat or fish. Cannellini beans work particularly well alongside lamb, and all beans work really well as part of a delicious salad dish.

So there you have 5 non-dairy options that are packed with calcium along with many other health-giving nutrients – why not try adding them to your meal plans this week?


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The nutritional benefits of fish: 7 reasons why eating fish supports your health

shutterstock_327993407 woman eating fish June16Love it or hate it there’s no getting away from the fact that fish provides a wealth of nutritional benefits which in turn are great for our health. There are so many different types and flavours of fish that even for those of us who are not  big fish-lovers, trying some different varieties and different recipes may be the answer.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us seven great reasons why you should make sure fish is at the top of your menu list!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic


Protein is essential for growth, repair and hormone production. Many people tend to stock up on carbs, thinking it will keep them feeling fuller for longer. However, it‘s protein that actually keeps you feeling full and ideally you should be eating some at every meal.

shutterstock_292081001 salmon June16Obviously the amount of protein in the different varieties of fish will vary, but, as an example, a salmon fillet will contain around 20 grams of protein (we need around 70 grams daily), so you’re making great headway to the daily goal. Having protein at every meal will not only keep you feeling full, but it will keep your blood sugar levels in balance, so your energy levels will be better sustained throughout the day.

shutterstock_376614814 omega 3 fish foods June16IT PROVIDES OMEGA 3’S

The omega 3 fats are the ‘king of fats!’ They are termed ‘essential’ because the body can’t make them – they need to be eaten in the daily diet. And fish, particularly oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, really packs an omega 3 punch!

Omega 3’s are essential for healthy skin, brain, joints, and hormones, so your daily portion of oily fish provides some amazing health benefits. What’s more, fish is low in saturated fats, meaning that they won’t sit around your waistline after you’ve eaten them!

shutterstock_306844715 tinned tuna June16IT PACKS A CALCIUM PUNCH

Calcium is the body’s most abundant mineral, mainly stored in the bones and some in the teeth. Certain types of fish, especially those with soft bones such as sardines and pilchards, provide great sources of calcium. Even canned tuna contains some good levels of calcium. This can be particularly helpful for people that don’t have dairy in their diet.

shutterstock_123973114 grilled sole fish June16IT’S A GREAT SOURCE OF ZINC

Zinc is another really important mineral, especially for supporting the skin and hormones, and fish provides an excellent source. Flat fish, such as sole, are particularly high in zinc. However, the best place to find zinc is in oysters, which leads us to another upside of this particular seafood …

shutterstock_81162511 12 oysters Sept15OYSTERS ARE AN APHRODISIAC!

Oysters are also known as the ‘food of love’ and for very good reason. Oysters have the highest amount of zinc of all seafood and zinc is essential for fertility and reproduction in both men and women, hence their well-deserved reputation. However, they also contain certain amino acids that happen to trigger the release of sex hormones. Even better, oysters are actually at their most ‘potent’ right now so pop down to your local fishmongers and grab a few!

shutterstock_289157948 tuna steak June16IT’S QUICK TO COOK AND VERSATILE

There are so many was to eat fish and, the great new is, you can rustle up a meal really quickly! Cod roasts really well in the oven with some basil, cherry tomatoes and garlic; salmon happily cooks in a foil parcel with some lemon juice and dill; sole fillets can be quickly pan-fried with some butter and salt and pepper and served with some salsa verde.

Additionally, fresh tuna steaks can be griddled or pan-fried in about three minutes. So, if you’re time-starved (and let’s face it, who isn’t), then there’s really no excuse not to whip up a quick fish dish!


shutterstock_227387758 smoked salmon and eggs June16Whilst fish isn’t always the first choice in people’s minds for breakfast, it’s actually a great choice. The high protein content of fish makes it excellent for starting the day right with well-balanced blood sugar levels. Plus it’s a great side with eggs; think smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and you’ve got an ideal combo.

shutterstock_256747903 prawn and avocado salad June16When it comes to lunch, tuna or prawns with some avocado and salad vegetables is a real winner. If you’re on the run, there are a number of well-known food chains that provide tasty fish-based salads or if you have access to a microwave in the office, a small jacket sweet potato with canned tuna provides an excellent quick lunch that will stop the cravings and the 3 pm slump!

shutterstock_388126837 cod fish June16When it comes to dinner, some of the above suggestions are just as quick, easy and delicious or you can be more adventurous with some Thai cod or sole. The fillets can be wrapped in foil with some peppers, onions, garlic and ginger and cooked in the oven for around 15 minutes. Lovely!

So whichever variety you choose, eating more fish on a regular basis means you’ll be sure to be benefiting from a wide range of health-boosting nutrients.


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