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Simple nutrition advice
A nutritionist provides five simple steps to reboot your approach to healthy eating.
1. Stop eating sugar. Not only does it increase the risk of weight gain, when it comes to hormones—one of the keystones of health—it can cause imbalances. A diet high in sugar or refined carbohydrates causes overproduction of insulin, which leads to the deposition of fat around the middle. It is also linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. Sugar also interferes with female hormones, increasing the risk of PMS and, in some cases, it can affect fertility and the ease with which you conceive.
2. Balance your levels of omega-3 and omega-6.
The average Western diet contains about ten times more omega-6 fats than omega-3. This puts the body in an inflammatory state, which can trigger hormonally-linked problems. The easiest way to rebalance things is to eliminate vegetable oils, and everything made from them, in your diet and increase omega-3 from oily fish, nuts and avocados. Ironically, the evening primrose oil that many women take to tackle PMS is very high in omega-6: if you use this it’s important to counteract it with more omega-3.
3. Don’t be afraid of phytoestrogens. There’s a myth that these supply the body with oestrogen, and so women have become a little fearful of them. What they actually do is provide oestrogen-like substances that balance hormone levels. You can find them in food.
Soy provides isoflavone (a phytoestrogen), but there are many other types and it’s good to have a variety of them. Other foods you should consume include beans, lentils, peanuts and flaxseeds.
4. Look after your adrenal glands. They are one of the body’s hormonal-production centres. Our stressful lives tend to put them under pressure, which can lead to fatigue, weight gain and poor concentration. Aim for a good work-life balance, regulate blood sugar by eating low-GI (glycemic index) meals and ensure your diet is high in B vitamins and magnesium (wholegrains and leafy greens). If you are stressed try an L-theanine supplement, which is calming and supportive.
—Written by nutritionist Marilyn Glenville
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