Long haul flight? How to arrive on top of the world!

shutterstock_442890724 happy woman on beach July16You’ve planned, saved and looked forward to your holiday for a long time. The last thing you want is to deal with is any hassle or stress on a long-haul flight. So what are the best ways to arrive at your destination feeling relaxed, well and ready to get the most out of your holiday?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her top five tips for arriving in good shape at your holiday destination.

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shutterstock_408930358 happy tummy stomach July16BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

Many of us suffer from digestive upsets when we go away; constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps or worse. Long-haul flying can play havoc with the digestive system so you need to make sure your friendly gut bacteria are in good balance well before you travel (at least one month). One of the main reasons travellers feel ill on planes is also often because of digestive problems, so this is another great reason for boosting your friendly bacteria.

Plan in advance and take a course of probiotics (otherwise known as friendly bacteria) for a month before you’re due to travel. This will also help to prevent stomach upsets whilst in foreign countries.

shutterstock_402029926 woman relaxing on plane flight July16NERVOUS FLYER?

If the thought of flying worries you (and around 40% of people have a fear of flying), then a little preparation can make a big difference to your travel experience. Making sure you get to the airport in plenty of time already sets you up for a calmer journey. Let the cabin crew know if you are anxious and if you don’t like turbulence, try to reserve a seat near the centre of the plane – there’s definitely much more movement towards the back.

To keep calm, occupy your mind with a good book or try listening to the music channel specifically produced for nervous passengers. Additionally, the herb Passionflower, is brilliant at calming the nerves; start taking it a couple of days before you fly.

shutterstock_223206271 aisle on airplane July16KEEP MOVING

It will come as no surprise to learn that the most common medical condition on board long haul flights is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Limited movement and cramped seating can cause circulation to become sluggish, which leads to an increased tendency for a clot to form. However, there’s lots you can do to prevent this happening: drink plenty of water both before and during the flight, avoid drinking alcohol, stretch and move around as much as possible during the flight, but also wear compression stockings during the flight if you’re concerned.

Smokers, ladies on the contraceptive pill, those who are very overweight or who have other health issues tend to be most at risk, so prevention is always better than cure. Taking the herb ginkgo biloba for a couple of weeks before travelling really helps to improve the circulation, as do fish oils, which many people take as part of their daily supplement programme. Both will have a preventative effect.

shutterstock_185433806 glass of water Jan16EATING AND DRINKING

If goes without saying that drinking excessive alcohol during your long haul flight can really affect you on many levels! It can increase the risk of DVT, it makes you more dehydrated (which can make you feel much worse on landing) plus the time it takes to get over jet lag will definitely increase. At the very least, you need to be drinking lots of water all the way through the flight – never turn down the offer of water when the cabin crew come around.

shutterstock_321452081 olives July16In-flight food can often be the cause of digestive upsets either during or after the flight. Whilst it’s not always practical to take your own food on board a long flight, taking some oatcakes or rice cakes with some nut butter or some home-made muesli bars is always good, or buy some olives on board which make a great, healthy snack. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced so that your energy is good when you land; take some light protein snack bars on board; often ones that contain no gluten are best because, this will reduce the risk of any bloating.

shutterstock_272828168 can't sleep July16SOLVING JET-LAG

One of the worst things about flying is jet lag, which can last for several days, especially after a long-haul flight. Jet lag can cause fatigue, irritability and sleepless nights for a few days afterwards. However, the amino acid 5 HTP which helps to produce our sleep hormone, melatonin, can really help to re-set the body clock. You can buy it in supplement form from all health food stores so make sure you pack some before you leave.

shutterstock_333974420 time zone clocks July16The best advice is always to move straight into your new time zone and attempt to get onto holiday time straight away. Not always easy, and sometimes a small nap will be needed when you arrive, but avoid going for long sleeps unless it’s at the right bed time for you destination. If you take some 5 HTP an hour before you go to bed and for a few days after you arrive (and again when you return home) you can alleviate most of the unpleasant feelings of jet lag.

So, now you can look forward to your long haul flight and you’ll arrive in much better shape ready to kick off your holiday!


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Summertime detox: top dietary tips to cleanse your system

shutterstock_338406827 woman with detox juice drink July2016Whilst we often associate the New Year as the best time for a detox, the truth is that any time of year is a good time! Although the body has its own in-built detoxification systems, it’s bombarded every day with environmental pollutants, toxins from foods and drinks, and other substances that we choose to put into our bodies (for example, alcohol!)

There is no time like the present, so Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer provides us with some great ‘detox tips’ to keep you looking and feeling your best all summer long!

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The body’s main organ of detoxification is the liver and so building a diet regime which supports the liver as much as possible will in turn support your detox. By doing the right things for your liver for the next four weeks you are going to feel amazing. So here goes!


shutterstock_360385121 glass of water with lemon July16As soon as you wake up, drink one or two large glasses of warm water containing fresh lemons. This will have an immediate cleansing effect on the liver and if you can, drink this around half an hour before eating your breakfast. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, even if you’re detoxing – the liver can’t function without nutrients so don’t skip this key meal. Why not make your own muesli using rolled oats, soaked with coconut or almond milk with some berry fruits, or cook a delicious two egg omelette with spinach and red peppers.


shutterstock_280752443 less sugar July16There are many different ways of detoxifying the body and different levels of intensity to these detox programmes. However, the very least you should be doing on any detox programme is to cut out foods containing refined sugars. This means fizzy drinks and alcohol, cakes, pastries, biscuits, honey and cereals containing added sugars.

Sugar has to be processed by the liver, making it work harder, and provides little nutritional value. By really concentrating on cutting out or dramatically reducing your total sugar intake, you’ll lose weight, have more energy and you’ll jump out of bed in the morning!

shutterstock_364428113 protein sources July16DON’T DITCH THE PROTEIN!

There are a number of detox regimes that recommend fasting, or drinking only juices. Whilst these regimes are cleansing, they carry a major flaw; they do not contain protein and your body will start to draw on the protein of your liver, amongst other things, which is not ideal. The body might also start to break down muscle protein, which eventually leads to slower metabolism.

It’s the choice of protein that’s important. Try to alternate between animal and vegetable sources, for example eggs two or three times a week, any type of fish as much as possible, lean meats such as chicken or turkey, quinoa, wholegrain brown rice, peas and beans. Try to avoid any smoked meats or fish or any that have undergone any type of processing such as bacon. Any kind of smoked products contain more preservatives, fat and salt so should be avoided on a detox programme.

And don’t forget vegetables all contain a small amount of protein and you can have as many of these as you like!

shutterstock_272284241 Dandelion Tea July16INCLUDE CLEANSING DRINKS

You should certainly be eliminating caffeinated drinks during your detoxification period – it’s another chemical for the liver to process and it also upsets blood sugar levels, leading to low energy. Instead, enjoy a range of drinks that will also aid the cleansing process.

Aloe Vera juice, which is available in all good health food stores, is great for getting the bowels moving and cleansing the digestive tract. Dandelion is an excellent liver cleanser and is available as a tea or coffee. Camomile and nettle teas as well as homemade lemon or lime water are also great cleansers.

One of my favourite cleansing juice recipes is as follows: grab some celery, cucumber, lemon, apple and spinach and add a hint of ginger. Blitz it together and enjoy! If you can, try to include around 1 ½ to 2 litres of cleansing drinks every day.

shutterstock_356792099 dairy free milks July16CUT OUT DAIRY AND WHEAT

This may sound difficult to do but there are so many delicious dairy-free and wheat-free food alternatives that you’ll never feel deprived!

Look for coconut, almond, rice, oat or soya milks which can all be used in the same way as ordinary milk. Eggs are not classed as dairy so they’re fine to include in your plan and as you’ll be cutting out cakes and pastries, you’ll also be avoiding the dairy from these foods. You can replace butter with an olive oil spread.

shutterstock_225215197 wheat free July16When it comes to wheat, it’s primarily bread and pasta that you’ll be cutting out. There are so many wheat-alternatives in the supermarkets so it’s worth exploring the ‘free-from’ section and trying some new foods to replace these wheat-based products.

Overall try and keep your diet relatively plain and simple over the four weeks. Whilst it may seem a little dull, you can add as many herbs and spices as you like. Pair salmon with dill, quinoa with rosemary-roasted vegetables, grilled chicken with coriander or sea bass with lemon grass, ginger and spring onions. Delicious!


Congratulations! You made it! You should certainly be congratulating yourself on this wonderful achievement but you might just want to rethink having a celebratory ‘blow out’! After this kind of detox hopefully you will now naturally gravitate towards healthier food choices, so treat yourself wisely. But best of all, your sweet tooth should have disappeared!

So as you can see a detox diet doesn’t have to involve depriving yourself of delicious food. Plus any negatives will quickly be quashed by how amazing you will look and feel afterwards!


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Seven seasonal foods to brighten up your summer menu

shutterstock_249406810 woman eating on a budget Nov15We all know that fruits and vegetables are in season at specific times of year, but what’s hot right now? Although we’re used to being able to eat pretty much what we want all year round, there’s nothing better than tasting a fruit or vegetable that is freshly picked or harvested. And their nutritional content will be far superior.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her seven favourite summer fruits and vegetables together with some top tips on how to get the best from them!

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shutterstock_297863489 peaches July16PEACHES

Juicy and delicious, peaches are in their peak season right now, from May to September. They make great snacks and are easily transportable. As with most fruits and vegetables, they contain good amounts of vitamin C, but one of their main claims to fame is that they are rich in the highly nutritious carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these compounds provide powerful antioxidants to help hold back the years but they are particularly protective of the eyes – they are both found concentrated in the macula of the eye.

shutterstock_165452462 strawberries Aug15STRAWBERRIES

Although strawberries are generally available all year round, they really are worth eating in season; they are truly delicious at this time of year and especially when purchased fresh from local farmer’s markets. Their beautiful colour means they contain significant levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants which help to fight free radicals; they are nutritional powerhouses!

Strawberries also contain high levels of vitamin C, which is great for the skin and immune system, but vitamin C is easily destroyed during preparation, storing or cooking. So, there’s no better way to eat strawberries than straight away and just as they are – plain and simple!


shutterstock_203320249 tomato salad June15There is a classic conundrum around tomatoes; are they fruits or vegetables? They are, in fact, fruits because they contain seeds and indeed are often referred to as ‘fruits of the vine’. Tomatoes are supremely adaptable in terms of their recipe uses and are just as delicious on their own or in salads. They are great as a soup, in a salad with mozzarella and basil, in omelettes, in curry, tartlets, lasagne and moussaka – the list goes on!

Tomatoes are probably best-known for their lycopene content and lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that appears to be protective of the male prostate. Interestingly, the lycopene content of tomatoes is enhanced when they are cooked in oils such as olive oil. The content is also high in tomato ketchup but so is the salt and sugar, so be sparing if you love a bit of ketchup with your meal!


shutterstock_294970247 courgettes July16Another summer recipe staple at this time of year are courgettes, also known as zucchini. Although they don’t pack quite the nutritional punch of some of the other green vegetables, they still provide good amounts of potassium, which is great for heart health, as well as vitamin C to support the immune system.

As their water content is naturally high, they are best not boiled; one of the best ways to use courgettes is roasted in the oven with a little olive oil accompanied by onions, peppers and tomatoes.


shutterstock_358706516 peas July16Did you know that a serving of peas (or one cup-full) is packed full of nutritional benefits? One serving contains more vitamin C than two apples and more fibre than one slice of wholemeal bread! They are little nutritional powerhouses!

Unlike many other vegetables, peas are also an excellent source of protein so they’re especially great to include in a vegetarian or vegan diet. Pea protein products are often used as protein sources for vegetarian or vegan athletes and they are generally non-allergenic, unlike soya protein.


shutterstock_250834906 carrots July16We all know that carrots help you see in the dark! But is this an old wives’ tale? Carrots do indeed contain very high amounts of beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A, and Vitamin A is essential for vision – particularly night vision. They also contain those wonderfully powerful carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, as found in peaches, both of which have great affinity for the eyes.

Carrots are amazingly versatile and never fail as a store-cupboard staple! A common carrot treat is the ever-popular carrot cake. It does, of course contains some carrots and therefore some of the nutritional benefit of these, together with sugar, eggs, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and raisins, but it’s absolutely delicious, so do treat yourself occasionally!


shutterstock_57165961 spinach in a heart May15Spinach is actually one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. Even better, it’s in season right now! And whilst all fruits and vegetables contain a variety of phytonutrients (highly nutritious compounds), spinach contains some of the highest amounts of all vegetables.

The deeper the colour of spinach, the more vitamins – particularly vitamin C – it provides. Spinach is also rich in vitamin K which is needed for healthy bones and the heart, but even better it actually contains most of the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs on a daily basis.

There are so many uses for spinach: raw in salads with walnuts and blue cheese; in soups; on the breakfast menu with poached or scrambled eggs; as part of a wholemeal pasta dish. Because spinach ‘wilts’ down when cooked (preferably stir fried or steamed), it can also be disguised in lots of dishes if you have children who don’t like eating anything green!

So this summer why not try and eat more seasonally – the choice is endless for creating delicious dishes with these in-season fruits and vegetables.



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Ready to bare all? How to ‘beat the bloat’ this summer!

shutterstock_270884021 woman beach bikini July16If you are someone who often feels bloated it can make you feel uncomfortable and not quite like yourself. It can also affect the way you feel about how you look. Unfortunately it is a really common problem and can often become worse during the summer months, when the weather is warmer.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her five top tips on how to ‘beat the bloat’ and enjoy a more comfortable summer!

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Your body is made up of around 70% water, so when the weather is hotter, and your body needs more water, it tends to hold onto it; this can lead to water retention and, therefore bloating.

shutterstock_44618356 2 litre bottles of water June16It might seem counterintuitive but the best way of avoiding water retention is actually to drink more water – around 1 ½ to 2 litres daily! Additionally, certain herbs, such as dandelion, work as diuretics, helping to reduce water retention; drinking some dandelion tea throughout the day can work wonders and will also count towards your daily fluid intake.

shutterstock_163796705 woman deep breathing relaxing office July16Stress can also have an effect on water balance; aldosterone, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, helps to regulate water balance in the body by either holding onto or eliminating sodium (salt). So the more stressed you are, the more bloating you may experience. If you’re feeling stressed then it’s worth taking some time out of your busy day to practice some yoga or close your eyes and take a few minutes for some deep breathing, and help the body relax.



shutterstock_408930358 happy tummy July16The gastrointestinal tract is home to vast numbers of bacteria, commonly referred to as ‘friendly flora’; there are over 500 different types, and they can weigh anything up to two kilos in the gut!

Some flora are good and some not-so-good, so ideally there needs to be a balance of more good than bad for a healthy gut; an imbalance can cause various digestive upsets, including bloating and the dreaded flatulence! It’s always a good idea to take a course of probiotics for one or two months every year to keep the good bacteria in balance. Plus, if you’ve recently taken a course of antibiotics then you may need to replenish the good bacteria to reduce any feelings of bloating and discomfort.

shutterstock_271187414 asparagus and artichoke July16Additionally, try to eat foods that help to replenish the good bacteria. These include asparagus (great on the barbecue at this time of year), Jerusalem artichokes, onions, bananas, green tea and fermented foods such as tofu or miso (miso soup is delicious!)


There are a number of reasons for trying to keep to a low-sugar diet. In terms of contributing to bloating, a high sugar diet encourages the release of insulin, which in turn affects aldosterone levels (see Tip one), and this will encourage water retention and, therefore, bloating.

Sugar is sugar in all its forms, including things like honey. However, if you’ve got a slightly ‘sweet tooth’ then take steps to reduce the obvious culprits; cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks, alcohol and certain fruits including mangoes, pineapples and papayas are delicious, but should be eaten in moderation.

Interestingly, it’s always best to eat fruit, and in particular, melons, away from other foods, because it encourages fermentation in the digestive tract. This, in turn will, lead to bloating. Therefore, try to have at least an hour after eating other foods before consuming any fruit.


shutterstock_305555135 glass of wine June16Summer parties and barbecues are ideal opportunities to over-indulge and over-indulgence can lead to bloating. However, with a little forward planning, you can wake up feeling as fresh as a daisy the next day and your digestive system will be happy too!

shutterstock_419676757 water in a wine glass July16Your liver is the main organ of detoxification and has to work hard if too much alcohol and fatty food is consumed. If you’re going to be drinking alcohol then it’s always wise to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink consumed. Likewise, if you’re attending a summer barbecue, the burgers and sausages will often cause digestive upsets because they’re hard to digest.

One way to help combat this is to grab some digestive enzymes which are readily available in health food stores. They can be taken with each meal and will help break down food, supporting your digestive system in running a little smoother.

shutterstock_364922171 milk thistle capsules July16Additionally, the herb, milk thistle, is particularly protective of the liver and helps to combat the ‘morning after the night before’ feelings, including any of the associated bloating that may occur. Take one or two tablets before you go out either at lunch-time or in the evening.


There is a tendency to ‘self-diagnose’ food intolerances at the moment. However, if you’re eating foods that don’t agree with you, you will know about it as this will certainly lead to bloating.

shutterstock_375602608 wheat gluten food July16Common culprits are gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs or soya. However, anyone can be intolerant to any foods – we’re all different in that respect. Most importantly, it’s not always an intolerance to certain foods, just that we are eating them too frequently. As an example, there are many people who eat cereal for breakfast, a sandwich at lunchtime and a pasta-based meal for dinner. Consequently, there’ll be lots of wheat consumed throughout the day, and this in itself can lead to unpleasant symptoms, including bloating.

shutterstock_306399194 soup and salad July16Think about eating eggs with rye toast for breakfast, a salad and soup for lunch and some chicken or fish with rice and vegetables for dinner. However, if you’re really finding it difficult to identify the ‘culprits’ then a visit to a Nutritionist will certainly help and there are a number of blood tests available to properly diagnose the exact cause of your bloating.

So, don’t suffer in silence if bloating is ruining your summer; there’s lots you can do to help everything run smoother and put that smile back on your face!


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