How to fuel your bike rides with these top nutrition tips

View of a woman mountain biking

With some warmer weather now appearing, it’s a great time to get outdoors and do some exercise in the open air.  And there’s no better time to enjoy a bike ride. 

One of the many advantages of cycling is that it’s an activity that can equally be enjoyed as a family or singularly and it’s great exercise for the heart, lungs, and legs.  But how can you ensure you’re your body is properly fuelled and hydrated in order to get the most out of your rides?

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top tips for hydrating and snacking on your bike rides.


SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic


Bananas are a great ‘on-the-go ‘snack!  They are not only high in energising vitamin B6, but they’re loaded with potassium, which is an electrolyte, so helps prevent dehydration.


Most of us can digest bananas well; you can often see tennis players eating them in between sets.  However, they are relatively high in starch which some of us can have trouble breaking down.  The point being, that if you’ve never eaten one previously, perhaps try eating one before you take one on a bike ride as your snack, just to make sure.


Dates are rich in both glucose and fructose so can provide quick energy when needed.  As their sugar content is high (around 80%), they’re best not eaten all the time, but do provide a treat and great energy-boosting snack during your cycle ride.


Dates are also loaded with magnesium and potassium, key electrolytes which help prevent dehydration and are easy to digest, so won’t cause any tummy troubles.


You’ll need all three key macronutrients during the day, and much of this can be provided by the right kind of sandwiches.


An easy and effective way of including protein, fat and carbohydrate into your sandwich is to spread nut butter with some jam.  Peanut butter is of course a favourite for many people, but do remember, whilst peanuts are high in protein, they are not tree nuts, therefore lack any of the advantages of the essential fats.  If you can switch instead to cashew, almond, walnut, or hazelnut butters, your body will be getting many more beneficial nutrients.

homemade hummus with seed sprinkles


Wraps are also an easy to pack option, and cream or cottage cheese, avocados, turkey, or eggs make great fillers and will provide much-needed macronutrients.

Energy bars

You can either buy ready-made energy bars which are high in carbohydrates, therefore providing energy or even better you can make your own muesli, flapjack, or granola slices. 

Homemade flapjacks

Generally, these all contain oats and nuts, as well as seeds which will help support your energy levels. In essence, oats are what’s commonly referred to as slow release, meaning they take longer to be digested in the stomach. They are also rich in energising B-vitamins as well as magnesium which will help electrolyte balance and hopefully avoid any unpleasant cramps.

Importantly, any kind of energy bar will ‘hit the spot’. Bars that are mostly made of dried fruit will provide a quicker boost.  Dried fruits, especially raisins and apricots, are also high in iron which helps with energy, plus vitamin C to support immunity.

The importance of hydration

If you’re planning a long ride, then being properly hydrated the day before is as important as hydrating on the day itself. Make sure you’ve had at least 1.5 litres of water the day before (more if you’re exercising in the heat) and have around 500ml of water with breakfast before setting out.


You’ll probably need to top up with around 200ml just before you start, and then make sure you keep liquid intake high throughout the day – at least every 20 minutes or so.  Again, depending on the length of the ride, you might want to take some slightly diluted water with fruit juice with you as this helps the body to rehydrate quicker. 

If the weather is hot, then hydration becomes even more important.  Essentially, if you’re feeling really thirsty, you’re already dehydrated so try to be ahead of this.

So, load up your backpack or saddle bags with some nutritional goodies, and keep your energy up for those lovely bike rides this summer.



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What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?



Female,Make,Shape,Of,Heart,With,Her,Hands.,Light,SummerYou’ve probably heard the words, but you may not be too sure of the differences or what they do. 

Probiotics and prebiotics play essential roles in our overall health, especially when it comes to digestive health.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer gives us the low-down.

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

What are probiotics?

A word cloud around Probiotics

The word probiotic literally means ‘for life’ such is their importance in our overall health.  They are live bacteria and yeasts that live inside the body, mainly in the digestive tract. The exact number of probiotic strains is thought to be around 400 but more research is being carried out all the time.  Much current research tends to be around some of most prevalent strains being Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Probiotics are often referred to as ‘friendly bacteria or flora’.

What are prebiotics?


Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fibre that help feed the friendly bacteria. They are found in many different types of foods, especially specific fruits and vegetables. Prebiotics are sometimes referred to as the ‘fertiliser’ of the digestive tract because they stimulate growth and wellbeing of probiotics, and crowd out disease-causing bugs.

What do they do and how do they work together?

Essentially, probiotics do most of the work, but prebiotics are no less essential in providing their fuel (and they have big jobs to do too!)

Probiotics are crucial for human health and the more we know, the more we realise just how critical they are to our wellness.  They fulfil many different functions throughout the body, including encouraging healthy digestion and helping normalise constipation and diarrhoea. They also help to control and limit the production of parasites and pathogenic intestinal yeasts.

Close up of woman's tummy with her hands making a heart shape in front

Probiotics help to produce vitamins including vitamin K, Vitamin B12, folic acid and biotin, hence they have a big role to play in skin, bone, brain, and hair health.  They are essential for keeping the immune system in good shape and are needed to produce hormones, aid detoxification, and play a key role in mental wellbeing too.

We know that if probiotics aren’t correctly nourished then they can’t flourish, hence prebiotics being essential too.  Prebiotics not only help to feed the good guys, but research has found they aid calcium absorption, hence they are important for bone density. They play a key role in brain health, help the body process carbohydrates and have a role to play in balancing blood sugar levels. Prebiotics are often used on their own or alongside probiotics in supplements, to great effect, in cases of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.

Where can you find them?

Probiotics are primarily found in fermented foods, which are widely eaten in traditional Asian diets.  They are naturally found in kefir from goat, cow, or sheep milk with kefir grains, and in kimchi made from fermented cabbage, cucumber, and radish. Sauerkraut, produced from fermented cabbage, miso, produced from fermented soya beans, and natural live yoghurt are other good probiotic choices.  Whilst they are not always the first-choice foods in traditional western diets, more and more people are realising their health benefits so are including them in recipes.


Prebiotics are widely found in bananas, oats, Jerusalem artichokes, green vegetables, onions, garlic, soybeans, chicory, and asparagus.  And if you’ve ever wondered why you may have more flatulence after eating these foods, it’s because they start a feeding frenzy in the gut.  However, once the gut is in better shape, the effects of eating these foods will be much less noticeable.

A range of onions

How often should you eat them?

They can actually be incorporated into the daily diet quite easily since there’s a good choice of foods containing probiotics and prebiotics. You don’t necessarily need to have probiotics and prebiotics in the same meal. Natural yoghurt is often part of the daily diet and kefir is readily available in drink form or in yoghurts, in supermarkets.  

A bowl of natural yoghurt on a wooden background

And whilst there are certain foods that contain plenty of prebiotics, all fruits and vegetables will encourage the good bacteria to flourish.  Eating a colourful diet will really encourage the diversity of live strains and prebiotics that keep the all-important gut microbiome super healthy.



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Get the perfect smile: top tips for taking care of your oral health

Cloe up of woman smiling brightly with a becah background

A lovely smile can light up the room!  But what if your teeth aren’t as lovely as you would like?  Having healthy teeth and gums is very important for overall health and can sometimes be neglected.

This National Smile Month, Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares five top tips for getting a smile to be proud of!


Have a healthy gut

Whilst daily brushing is essential for healthy teeth and gums, it’s just as important to look after your nutrition, and especially your gut health.

The good bacteria in our gut needs to outweigh the bad bacteria in the mouth that can be the cause of issues with our teeth and gums.  As an example, the bacterium that causes peptic ulcers and the H. pylori infection actually lives in the mouth. 


Feeding the good guys in the gut, especially with live natural yoghurt, can really help crowd out the bad guys.  Additionally, any fermented foods are great including tofu, tempeh, kombucha and sauerkraut.

Nutrition is key

As with everything in the body, good nutrition underpins health, and teeth need ‘feeding’ with the right nutrients.  Top of the list are vitamin D and calcium; both essential to building and protecting healthy teeth.  Whilst most of this is done during childhood development years, just like bones, the teeth need feeding from within throughout life.

A range of foods containing calcium

Vitamin D deficiency is still widespread in the UK as it’s not easy to obtain from food.  Therefore, supplementation with a minimum of 10 micrograms daily, is needed throughout the year, even through the summer months. However, some foods that are rich in calcium like oily fish with bones (sardines) also contain some vitamin D.  Other great sources of calcium are dairy, calcium-enriched plant milks, green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds.

Keep it colourful

Compounds in fruits and vegetables, called flavonoids, have been found to target the bacteria that cause tooth decay.  This means including lots of colourful fruits and vegetables into the daily diet will certainly benefit your oral health.  Top of the list are dark cherries, prunes, blueberries, raisins, and blackcurrants, but all fruits and vegetables are going to deliver benefits.


Another great reason for eating lots of fruits and veggies is that they’re all high in vitamin C which helps build strong blood capillaries, supports the immune system, and helps protects gum health. 

Iron is another key nutrient for gum health which is not only rich in meat but found in dark, green leafy veg too.

CoQ10 is great for oral health

Fully named coenzyme Q10, it’s literally our spark plug as it’s found in every body cell, within the mitochondria, where energy is produced.  Whilst we naturally make CoQ10, production reduces with age (which may explain one of the reasons why our energy levels decrease as we get older), and it’s very important for oral health.

Composition,With,Food,Contains,Coenzyme,Q10,,Antioxidant,,Produce,Energy,ToCoQ10 is one of our key antioxidants, so it’s needed for the immune system and also for keeping bad bacteria in the mouth at bay.  Interestingly, there is also a connection between gum disease and heart disease, hence another reason for really looking after oral health.  It’s also the reason that CoQ10 is often taken as a supplement. If your dentist has noted some declining gum health, then it might be worth considering taking a supplement of CoQ10.  It should also help energy levels.


Keep them clean!

It may sound obvious, but it’s essential to be fastidious with your brushing routine; it’s surprisingly common for this to be overlooked!  Regular visits to the hygienist will help flag if your brushing routine is not up to scratch and will also encourage the use of small brushes to clean in between the teeth and protect the gums too. Your teeth should feel very smooth as you run your tongue over them.


If you haven’t already invested in one, an electric toothbrush is certainly your friend in this respect, enabling a much more thorough clean than using a manual toothbrush. And don’t forget flossing and using a mouthwash too.

Good teeth and gum care is important not just to feel great about smiling but for overall good health.

So, keep on smiling with these top tips to keep your oral health in tip top condition!



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The five fruits and vegetables that should be top of the list in a vegetarian diet

Blueberries in a heart shape

It’s National Vegetarian Week where we celebrate all that is great about plant-based diets. 

However, whatever type of diet you’re following, it should always be rich in fruits and vegetables because of their endless health benefits.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite fruits and vegetables to help support a vegetarian diet


This wonderful vegetable delivers many nutritional benefits.  Indeed, there are very few people on the planet that wouldn’t benefit from eating some broccoli, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s green or purple!

Whilst broccoli is rich in a range of vitamins and minerals, its exciting claim to fame is that it’s part of the super healthy cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These types of vegetables contain indoles which have been found to provide some protection against some of our nasty diseases.

Broccoli florets on a plate

Additionally, broccoli is high in fibre so it’s great for the digestive system, and all cruciferous vegetables are brilliant for helping the liver to detoxify.

Since its vitamin C content is lost during cooking, it’s best to lightly steam broccoli and perhaps serve with a little butter or stir fry with some garlic and toss in sesame seeds.  It doesn’t need to be complicated to get the most out of this superstar.


Whilst the green, leafy tops of beetroot do contain plenty of nutrients, including immune-boosting beta-carotene, it’s the roots that provide some real gems in terms of nutrients.  

Beetroots are loaded with folate, which is very protective of DNA. They also contain energising iron, and potassium which is great for the heart, plus good amounts of vitamin C.  However, more recently beetroot has been found to help with endurance sports performance.  This is down to its ability to produce nitric oxide which helps open the blood vessels and therefore encourage more oxygen to flow through.

Whole beetroots

Since beetroot is slightly sweet, it works in both sweet and savoury recipes.  As we’re coming into the summer season, why not keep it simple? Fresh beetroots can be easily peeled, diced, and quickly boiled to be used in salads with goat’s cheese. Try them mashed with chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and olive oil to make beetroot hummus. Or make them into chocolate brownies which contain half the fat of regular brownies.


Blueberries are naturally sweet so need no added sugar, unlike some other berry fruits. Just like most fruits and vegetables, berries are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C but it’s the presence of plant compounds called anthocyanins that make them so special.

A wooden bowl of blueberries

Essentially anthocyanins are found primarily in the pigment of the fruit which is what gives blueberries their amazing colours. Anthocyanins contain powerful antioxidants which help protect the body.  Whilst the body does have its own antioxidant systems, it’s these kinds of foods that provide the extra protection that the body really needs.

I love blueberries as a snack with a few walnuts.

Sweet potatoes

This is another ‘go-to’ vegetable for me, all year round. Sweet potatoes deliver more in terms of nutrition than white potatoes and are less starchy which helps with blood sugar balance.

Their main claim to fame above white potatoes is their orange colour which means they’re high in beta carotene. This is not only great for the immune system but helps protect the skin and hair from sun damage and oxidative damage from environmental toxins.


Additionally, sweet potatoes are high in fibre so are great for digestion.  I try and buy organic sweet potatoes if I can, lightly boil and mash them with a little butter and pepper with the skin on, so I get maximum nutrients.  Equally, they make fantastic wedges, roasted in the oven in a little olive oil and salt.


There are many wonderful benefits to carrots, but they are also so easy to include in the diet as a snack or an easy vegetable side. Carrots are high in lycopene which is great for the heart; in a diet without heart-healthy omega-3s from oily fish, this is important.

Carrots are also rich source of beta carotene.  All the carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, but they specifically protect the eyes against free radical damage.  Importantly, beta carotene is turned into vitamin A in the body as it’s needed, which is also essential for eyesight and especially night vision.  It’s the reason why carrots are said to help you see in the dark; it’s not a myth!

shutterstock_250834906 carrots July16

Unlike most vegetables, carrots provide more nutritional benefit when cooked than raw as it helps to release the beta carotene. Additionally, if carrots are eaten with fats – carrots and hummus make a great snack – or with some meat or fish, the fat-soluble beta carotene is better absorbed.

So why not add some of these delicious fruits and vegetables to your diet and reap the nutritional benefits!



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Hike your way to health this National Walking Month

shutterstock_171654062 woman hiking Oct15

It’s National Walking Month and a great time to celebrate the amazing benefits of this wonderful outdoor activity.  Whether you call it a walk or a hike, being on the move outdoors has many benefits for both your physical and mental health.

To get the most out of your walks, supporting yourself nutritionally, especially where your joints and bones are concerned, is so important so that they carry you along the miles without complaining.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top tips to ensure you can keep moving, however tough the hike may be!

Put the nutrients in

There are many nutritional components that make up our skeletal frame and support its strength, growth, and repair.  However, there are a few essential nutrients to be aware of.

Vitamin D and a sunshine symbol written in the sand

One of the key nutrients is vitamin D.  Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is made on the body when the sun is shining (and skin is exposed to it). However, deficiency within the UK population is still widespread.  Importantly, one of vitamin D’s main functions is to metabolise calcium, a key mineral in our bones.  It’s certainly worth continuing to supplement with vitamin D through the summer months too, especially if you’re active.

A range of foods containing calcium

Calcium-rich foods include dairy (natural Greek yoghurt is great), leafy green vegetables, sesame seeds, tofu, and other soy products, so ensure your diet is rich in these.  Magnesium is also important for the bones and is found mainly in whole grain foods, avocados, legumes, nuts, and leafy greens. These are all foods that are going to help put some power into your walk.

Herbal helpers

We know that nature has provided us with some amazing herbs and one that is especially good for supporting joints and bones is Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum). It has been found to help decrease any swelling in the joints, and generally reduce inflammation, which could certainly stop the enjoyment of your hike.

Close up of knee representing joint pain

Devil’s claw is frequently used for back pain which can also be a common problem amongst keen walkers, partly because you’re often walking off balance on rough ground or going up and down hills. If you’re suffering, then it’s certainly worth a try; anything that keeps you moving.

Resistance training

Keeping the bones and joints strong by doing some resistance or weight training can really help support the body, and reduce the likelihood of injury, when you’re out walking.

Close up of woman working out at home

You certainly don’t need to become a body builder!  It’s just about doing movements such as squats, bicep curls or walking lunges with some weights to suit your ability.  For women, during and after the menopause, this is especially important, as reducing oestrogen levels mean our bone density is also reducing.  This negative effect can be reversed by doing resistance work.  It’s certainly a ‘win-win’ situation for a more comfortable walk.

Don’t forget to stretch

If the weather is a little chilly and your body is not really warmed up, this is the time when you can easily sustain an annoying injury.  A calf tear, or jolt to the knees is common.  However, you can help prevent problems by doing some gentle stretching before and after your hike.

CLose up of woman exercising and stretching outside

Before you start, get the blood pumping around the body by doing some shoulder rolls, body twists and body weight squats.  Then you can do some stretching of the knees, calves, ankles, hamstrings (back of the leg) and quadriceps (front of the leg) and repeat when you return from your walk.  It doesn’t need to take long but could save you grief further down the line.

Put out any fires

Not literally (hopefully)!  However, if you sustain any kind of injury or have an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, then the body is effectively on fire within.  This can cause pain and may prevent you from getting out and about.


Obviously, all the measures above will help but it’s also important to ensure your diet is rich in colour overall.  Colourful fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which help support the body’s inflammatory processes naturally. We know that leafy green vegetables are rich in several key minerals so make sure you have plenty in the diet.  Equally, red, orange, yellow, purple, and red fruits and vegetables are also high in antioxidants, so try to include some every day in your diet.

Celebrate National Walking Month and keep moving  – your health will thank you for it!



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Seasonal eating in May – five of the best fruits and vegetables



As we come into May and things are really starting to feel like Spring, nature also provides us with an array of seasonal fruits and vegetables to tempt the taste buds and load up the body with nutrients. 

Fruits and vegetables always taste so much better when they’re locally grown and are at their best nutritionally too.  So, what’s on the menu for May?

Clinical Nutritionist  Suzie Sawyer shares her top five recommendations.

Jersey Royal Potatoes

The flavour of Jersey Royals is like no other potato! Their flavour and texture are just magnificent.  This uniqueness is purely down to the growing conditions on the island of Jersey.  Interestingly, around 99% of the crops are exported to the UK; Jersey Royals represent such an important part of the island’s economy.

A pan of just boiled jersey royal new potatoes

Their nutritional value is not really any different to any other potato.  However, all potatoes are rich in vitamin C which is easily lost during storage, hence Jersey Royals are going to retain this nutrient much better when new and in season.  Additionally, potatoes are high in fibre, so are great for keeping the digestion in good working order.


Strawberries look almost too good to eat!  Their beautiful red colour demonstrates the high levels of antioxidants they contain which help protect the body from free radical damage.  Just as important is the great nutrient profile strawberries deliver including vitamin C (another key antioxidant), manganese (great for the joints), folate (essential for energy and protecting DNA) and potassium (good for the heart).

a punnet of strawberriesInterestingly, one of the many antioxidant compounds in strawberries are known as anthocyanins. They are responsible for their lovely colour and also help protect the heart from any damage and keeping it beating strongly.


At this time of year, strawberries are beautifully sweet, so just enjoy them as they are (or with a little cream as enjoyed traditionally at Wimbledon!)


Also called bell peppers because of their shape, they come in a variety of colours including red, orange, yellow and green.  However, it’s the red ones that have most vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Additionally red peppers are especially rich in two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for the eyes and for protecting them from damaging blue light and macular degeneration.


Another great benefit to eating peppers of whatever colour, is that they’re super-versatile.  You can eat them raw as a snack with hummus, roast them, make them into soups (tomatoes work really well alongside) or add them to chillies, stir fries or pasta dishes.


Marrows can often look a little strange because it’s perfectly possible for them to grow to a very large size (just like other members of the squash family), but they’re certainly nutrient loaded. Although marrows are high in water content, which also makes them low in calories and fat, marrows certainly don’t skimp on their nutrients.  It’s important to eat them with the skin on as this contains good levels of immune-boosting beta carotene.

A whole marrow and slices of marrow on a chopping board

Marrows contain calcium which will help to keep bones healthy, plus vitamin C, essential for the immune system.  Marrows are also high in fibre, therefore have been found to reduce cholesterol levels.

How to cook them? They’re delicious stuffed!  Simply slice them in half, scoop out the flesh and then add a pre-prepared mixture of fried onions, peppers, garlic, chopped tomatoes, breadcrumbs and mixed herbs.  Roast in the over for around 40 minutes and you’ve got a delicious dish.

Spring Greens

Essentially spring greens are thick green leaves without the hard core often found in other types of cabbages.  For this reason, they just need to be sliced quite thinly but then there are endless options of what to do with them.

In terms of nutrient content, just like peppers, they’re high in that all important lutein and zeaxanthin but are also a rich source of vitamin K, Vitamin C, and the mineral iron.

A dish of collard greens

Spring greens work well with stronger flavours and with other vegetables, especially purple sprouting broccoli (also in season now). Just shred the cabbage, lightly boil both veggies and then stir fry with some olive oil, garlic, lemon, and sesame seeds.

Enjoy these five seasonal beauties this May!



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Discovering the delights and nutritional benefits of English Asparagus

Close up of a woman holding a bunch of fresh asparagus

It is English Asparagus season again and a time to celebrate!  We know that all fruits and veggies taste better when in season, but English asparagus outshines all its competitors because its taste is simply like no other when fresh and local.

Imported asparagus in the shops year-round can sometimes be tasteless and often has a woody texture but there is nothing like fresh English!

 Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares the wonders of asparagus.  But hurry, as the season is short and traditionally ends on the Summer Solstice!

A nutritional powerhouse

Asparagus really packs a punch when it comes to nutritional content. Asparagus is loaded with vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system, energy and, importantly, it’s one of our key antioxidant nutrients.  This means it can help protect the body from free radical damage, partly responsible for the ageing process.


Additionally, it’s rich in vitamin K, which we need for our bones and healthy blood, the B-vitamins for energy, and fibre to help keep the digestive system in good working order.  Importantly, asparagus is rich in glutathione which helps the liver to detoxify; it’s been found to be a great hangover remedy.  Furthermore, this little gem helps feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut which is essential for all body systems to work correctly.  It’s certainly impressive in the nutritional stakes.

What else is it good for?

Most people notice a rather unpleasant smell in their urine after eating asparagus!  However, this isn’t all bad; it’s down to the asparagusic acid in asparagus which is a sulphur compound that not only helps the liver but is great for the skin too.  Conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or rosacea may all benefit from a diet rich in asparagus.

Grilled asparagus wrapped in parma ham

Another little-known fact is that asparagus is a natural diuretic, so it can help if you’re suffering from any kind of water retention.  This also works as part of the body’s natural detoxification processes.  And interestingly, people often eat lots of asparagus as part of an effective weight loss plan. It’s certainly a win-win with asparagus

How to cook it

There’s not much you can’t do with asparagus.  It can be steamed, boiled, barbecued, roasted or grilled and works with a wealth of other foods.


Asparagus can be simply roasted with a little olive oil and sprinkled with shaved Parmesan as a perfect vegetable side, or with some cubed feta and chopped walnuts. It works with any form of pasta dish, especially with garlic prawns and spaghetti. Or try it freshly steamed and added to a salad or roasted on top of cheese on toast.

shutterstock_545808604 asparagus and egg May17

Why not start the day with a protein and detox punch?  Asparagus works really well lightly steamed with eggs (think about runny eggs for dipping) or roasted with a poached egg on top.  Eggs are high in protein, containing all the essential amino acids, but also help with liver detoxification as they’re high in sulphur too. Certainly, a powerful hangover recipe.

A bowl of watercress soup

Soups are brilliant because they retain all the nutrients when the ingredients are cooked.  Asparagus soup is a nutritional winner when made using fried garlic, shallots, spinach and vegetable stock. Garlic and shallots are brilliant for feeding the good gut bacteria, and spinach is loaded with energising folate, iron, and bone-loving calcium.  Even better, it’s really quick to make and will easily keep in the fridge.

So why not pick up some English asparagus today and enjoy this delicious vegetable at its best.



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The importance of rest and relaxation


With our 24/7, ‘always-on’ lives, getting sufficient and much-needed down-time can sometimes fall to the bottom of our to-do list. However, as part of the body’s daily functions, it’s very important to make time for adequate rest and relaxation. 

Stress, both long and short term, can have a negative impact on both mind and body so getting that all-important calm into our lives should be a priority.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her three top tips for reducing stress and inducing calm.


Become a super-organiser

When there’s so much going on and daily chores and commitments can seem overwhelming, the best way forward to is be super-organised!  This doesn’t mean living to a fixed time schedule as such, but it does involve making lists and prioritising from there.

Close up of a woman's hand writing a to do list in a journal

The brain works hard for us, and we carry so many thoughts within its millions of brain cells.  These thoughts can often become muddled, which means we effectively run around in circles and are less efficient. Writing every job down, however small, that needs doing, can help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Everyone has a different way of processing this information; some people need to see a spreadsheet with headings, some prefer a written list.  Whatever works for you make sure it has a form of prioritisation, perhaps numbered jobs, so that you tackle them in a logical or priority order.

shutterstock_243120193 woman writing in note pad diary Feb17

It’s also really helpful to do a ‘brain dump’ at the end of each day.  Add to the list anything for tomorrow or for the future and this will help stop the night-time agonising of what jobs need to be done.

Make your bedroom your sanctuary

There is more and more research available on the absolute necessity for quality sleep.  It’s essential for our wellbeing, but also longevity.  However, getting quality sleep is a problem for many of us, so it does need to be prioritised for it to happen.

Close up of a woman asleep in bed

Any kind of blue light emitted from electronic devices is a complete ‘no-no’ if you want to get some shut eye.  Taking a laptop to bed with you is certainly not going to help.  Turn off all electronic devices two hours before bedtime and use that time for relaxation techniques.  This might include a warm bath, reading a book or meditation. 

Woman with legs crossed sitting on bed meditating

For those who struggle to meditate, then deep breathing is a great way of putting the body into the parasympathetic rather than sympathetic (also known as fight or flight) part of the nervous system.  Even deep breathing from the belly so the diaphragm expands, six seconds in and six seconds out, for a couple of minutes, can really make a difference.  If you used this technique a couple of times a day, the changes to how you feel within will be noticeable.

Lavender oil and fresh lavender on a pillow

Lastly, love your bedroom.  Rather than seeing the room as a functional space, try to make it a real sanctuary, where you feel relaxed and calm.  Even using some lavender spray in the room and on your pillow, will help. And love your bed too; an uncomfortable mattress might need changing.

Use the power of nature

Everything the body needs for wellness is provided by nature.  And this includes some amazingly calming and restorative herbs, together with colourful foods. When trying to get more relaxation and calm into your life, it’s important to feed the body with nutrient-dense foods, but you can also utilise various herbs to help too.


A diet high in caffeinated drinks and sugar can contribute to feelings of anxiety, but also impair your quality of sleep.  Only you know how much you have in your diet but do make a conscious effort to reduce significantly or stop both completely.  Additionally, eating foods rich in colour, in a form as near to their natural state, will provide the nutrients the body needs to ensure its biochemistry functions correctly.

Close up of Passion Flower

When it comes to herbs, passionflower has long been used for relaxation and to help sleep.  And the good news is, it can work quickly, especially if you’re suffering from a nervous stomach, for example.  Likewise, valerian taken about an hour before bedtime can really help and won’t cause drowsiness the next day. The mineral magnesium can also help support your sleep.  Try them individually to start with and notice what works for you.

If you prioritise rest and relaxation, hopefully you’ll be rewarded with more energy and less anxiety in your life!



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Walking wellness: five ways to get the most out of your hike

Woman walking through a forest glade

Walking is often dismissed as being an effective form of exercise because it doesn’t seem sufficiently hardcore! However, walking provides some amazing health benefits, both mentally and physically.

With the warmer weather and longer days on the way, it’s a great time to get outdoors and enjoy this type of exercise.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares how to get the most benefit out of our walks.

Get pacey

Walking is great for any level of physical fitness, and it can be tailored individually.  If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey or recovering from injury, then you can build up physical fitness quite quickly.

However, whilst it’s not about doing an endurance stint, research suggests that by getting slightly out of breath (meaning the heart rate is elevated), you’ll be rewarded with greater benefits.  Not only is this good for the cardiovascular system, but also the brain. 

A woman with a rucksack enjoying a walk outdoors in a forest

The brain has a large blood flow feeding it, and by elevating your heart rate, this also helps the brain both in the short and longer term.  If you’re feeling a little brain foggy, a brisk walk can really help.

Be in the moment

One of the many benefits to walking in the great outdoors is being close to nature with all the beauty that brings.  If you live in a busy town or city, you might not always be able to escape to the countryside but try and find a green space such as a local park of woodland.

shutterstock_171654062 woman hiking Oct15

Our lives are very busy and noisy, especially because we tend to live in an ‘always on’ world.  The countryside enables you to practice mindfulness by just enjoying the peace and tranquillity that nature provides.  As such, walking provides myriad benefits to mental wellbeing, especially if you turn off your devices and enjoy the moment.

Fuel your body

The body does, of course, need to be properly fuelled, especially if you’re going on a longer hike.  Before you start, make sure you’ve eaten a good breakfast.  Whole grain porridge oats provide a great pre-walk power-up, as their energy is released slowly into the bloodstream.  Plus, porridge oats are loaded with energising B-vitamins.

Porridge topped with bananas and blueberries

If you’re going out for the day, then pack some lunch that provides both protein and carbohydrates. Sandwiches made with whole grain bread are fine and easily transportable.  However, if you’re gluten-free, then there are loads of multi grain wraps available, that contain millet, chickpeas, or other gluten-free ingredients. 


Load them with protein and some veggies such as egg, tuna, feta, cucumber, rocket, hummus, avocado, chopped carrot – there’s no shortage of tasty options.  If you’ve got colour in your wrap or sandwich, you’ve got plenty of nutrients too! Importantly, you don’t need to eat loads just because you’re out on a walk; the body has plenty of fuel stored as well.

Don’t forget to hydrate

There are plenty of sports drinks on the market but unless you’re walking or running a marathon, they really aren’t needed, and they tend to be high in sweeteners or other sugars.  If you’re able to plan ahead drink plenty of water the day before and then take a litre with you – you’ll need more if you’re out for a long time and the weather is warm.


Hydration is as important as food, and even more so when it comes to exercise.  You can start to feel very sluggish if you haven’t drunk sufficient water. If plain water is not your bag, you can always dilute it slightly with some fruit juice, which can help rehydration quicker.

Rest and recover

With any form of physical exercise, recovery is as important.  This is when the body heals and re-builds. As part of the body’s normal processes, it is constantly breaking down and re-building.  However, it needs plenty of protein, especially in the meal after the walk, and some rest too. 

CLose up of woman exercising and stretching outside

Stretching is often forgotten about, but it really helps prevent injury and stop that feeling of stiffness in the muscles and joints that can occur the next day.  If you find you get lower back ache when walking (which is very common), this is sometimes down to tight hamstrings so lying on your back and pulling your straight legs individually towards the body, can really help.  Equally, tight calf muscles can create problems in the feet or knees.  So be kind to your body; it’s working hard for you.

Enjoy all the wonderful benefits walking can bring this spring.



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How to have a healthy but tasty Easter!


shutterstock_1676194471 easter family Mar21

Easter is traditionally a time for eating delicious food, and, if we’re lucky enough, to be enjoying some down time with family and friends.

Food is a great way of bringing people together, as well as being essential for health too.  So how do we get the best of both worlds?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares here three favourite nutritious and tasty meals this Easter.



Garlicky Lamb

For the meat eaters, spring Lamb is probably one of the top foods we can eat for Easter.  Lamb is naturally tasty and tender – it just needs the right accompaniments.

Whilst lamb is slightly higher in fat than other meats (which also contributes to its flavour), it provides a great source of protein, essential for the immune system, muscles and bones, hormone production and much more.

shutterstock_446946859 roasted lamb Mar21

Garlic is a natural partner for lamb and also provides some amazing health benefits, especially for the all-important gut microbiome.  Having a healthy gut is the key to a healthy mind and body.  Make sure the garlic cloves are pushed into the lamb, so the flavours really infuse well.

Additionally, roast the lamb with some lemons and rosemary, both loaded with antioxidants and will enhance the flavour.  Why not serve the lamb with some mashed potatoes and spring greens, both high in vitamin C and fibre. There’s certainly no need for any guilt with this recipe!

Parsnip and Celeriac Gratin

If you’re wanting a vegetarian Easter treat, then a gratin is certainly going to hit the spot.  It’s sufficiently indulgent to feel special but also healthy too, containing two ‘super’ veggies. 

Whilst parsnips tend to be around during the winter months, there’s still plenty to be had at this time of year, and their vitamin C content is going to keep the immune system in good shape into spring.  Additionally, celeriac is full of potassium which is great for heart health and helping to reduce blood pressure.

Potato,Gratin,-,Graten,(baked,Potatoes,With,Cream,And,Cheese)This dish is also really easy to prepare simply by boiling up both vegetables (the parsnips will need slightly longer cooking).  When tender, then mash with some cream, salt and pepper and all-important nutmeg.  Not only does nutmeg really add some sparkle to a dish when used in this way but, just like any spices, it has many health benefits namely for the immunity, liver detoxification and cognitive function. The parsnips and celeriac can then be put into a dish and covered with homemade breadcrumbs, sprinkled with Parmesan, and roasted in the oven.  Delicious and healthy!

Chocolate Brownies Bites

Easter wouldn’t really be Easter without eating some form of chocolate!  However, for those watching their waistlines, it’s certainly possible to enjoys this treat without blowing the diet. 

Chocolate,Muffins,On,White,Ceramic,Plate.,Homemade,Fluffy,And,MoistThis recipe is a traditional brownie dish but using small muffin cases.  Use flour, beaten eggs, sugar and dark chocolate as per a normal brownie recipe.  Also include some cocoa powder.  Interestingly, cocoa has many health benefits; it’s very high in antioxidants and has also been found to reduce blood pressure.  Incidentally, if you or your friends and family can’t resist a full-blown Easter egg, then choose a dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate one so you get some real health benefits too.


The Easter twist for these brownies is in the decoration; use plenty of mini eggs and enjoy them without any guilt.

Have a happy and healthy Easter!



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Visit us at for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

All images: Shutterstock