A Healthy Start to 2023
A very wise friend of mine once said that when an animal becomes unwell the first question the vet asks is ‘what are you feeding Buster or Tiddles?' Her point was that, unlike vets, doctors rarely make the connection between food and health unless they have diagnosed something with a direct correlation like cholesterol.
But what of your general well being? How healthy are you feeling right now? Any joint stiffness or odd aches and pains? Any bloating, indigestion or stomach cramps? Any headaches or migraines? If you recognise any of these maladies, the chances are that you have put most of them down to your age.
Have you also considered that some of these unpleasant bodily discomforts may be down to the specific foods that you are eating, exacerbated but not caused by the natural process of ageing?
As a migraine sufferer, I have long known that certain foods trigger devastating headaches which are accompanied by hourly vomiting. Culprits for me include alcohol and caffeine, so no red wine or coffee has passed my lips for well over 40 years. It’s so easy to resist something tempting when you know the immediate effect it’s likely to have. However, it’s slightly more complex if certain harmful elements of our diet are found in a wide range of common foodstuffs.
So, to give you the best possible advice, I have asked our very own resident nutritionist, Leonie Wright, to tell us why she is particularly concerned about the harmful effects of both sugar and gluten on our ageing bodies. Over to Leonie:
Food and Ageing
There is substantial literature linking nutrition to ageing. Ageing is a natural process that often goes hand in hand with a decrease in health and increasing likelihood of experiencing age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and other conditions. A low level of antioxidants has been shown to be a major factor in the ageing process, leading to inflammation and further degradation of healthy cells.
Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to anything it recognises as a threat, and the way it reacts is designed to protect your health. Without a certain degree of inflammation, your health would be at risk from invading bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The trouble is that some foods, such as refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, foods that contain gluten and red meat can cause too much inflammation in your body. Eliminating or reducing them in your diet can keep you healthier and reduce the signs of ageing.
Fortunately, the healthy foods that fight inflammation are appetising and easily accessible. Your best chance to live a long, active life is to avoid those foods which cause inflammation, and especially those that contain sugar and gluten.
Why No Sugar… ?
The WHO recommends 6 tsp a day, but average daily consumption in the UK is around 15 tsp, mainly because it is hidden in so many commonly consumed foodstuffs. Can it really have a head-to-toe impact on the human body? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Here are the main reasons:
- Sugar impacts brain function, it can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes and increase your risk of heart disease.
- Sugar changes the gut microbiota. Added sugar feeds yeast and bad bacteria that can damage the intestinal wall of the gut, creating a leaky gut. This means the chronic, low-grade inflammation that sugar triggers can lead to the transfer of substances from the gut into the bloodstream. This can lead to obesity and other chronic, metabolic diseases.
- Added sugars appear to increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs.
Finding the sugar content of food is challenging because there are dozens of names for added sugar on ingredient lists and natural versus added sugars are not differentiated. One rule of thumb to find hidden sugars is that any ingredient ending in “ose” is a type of sugar.
Don’t be fooled by more natural-sounding names either. Sweeteners like cane juice, beet sugar, fruit juice, rice syrup and molasses are still types of sugar. Check out their place in the ingredients list too. The higher up an ingredient is on the list, the more of it is included in a product.
How can you reduce your sugar intake?
Simply eating fewer processed foods and drinking fewer sugary drinks (and alcohol) can dramatically lower your sugar intake.
Eat high-quality protein, like fish, nuts and chicken. Ensure plenty of fibre with oats, vegetables and fruit. For gut health add fermented foods to your diet, like Kefir, Sauerkraut and Miso. All these can help you to lose your sugar cravings over time.
If you do use sugar, use less processed forms, but use them sparingly. Alternatively, I recommend using pure liquid stevia or erythritol sugar for sweetening purposes.
Why No Gluten…?
What’s the deal with gluten? It’s a type of protein found in grains including wheat, barley and rye. It makes up about 80 percent of the amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) found in these grains. Although gluten isn’t found in many other ancient grains like oats, quinoa, rice or corn, modern food-processing techniques usually contaminate these foods with gluten since they are processed using the same equipment used for wheat processing.
On top of this, gluten is now used to help make many highly processed chemical additives that are found in packaged foods of all kinds. Coupled with the fact that manufacturing can lead to cross-contamination, this means trace amounts of gluten often end up in food products that are seemingly gluten-free — like salad dressings, condiments, deli meats and sweets.
Gluten can have the following effects when eaten by humans:
- It may interfere with normal digestion and can cause bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea, due to its effect on bacteria living in the gut.
- It can cause damage to the lining of the gut, known as “leaky gut syndrome” and autoimmune reactions in some cases.
- It binds to certain amino acids (proteins), essential vitamins and minerals, making them unabsorbable (or impossible to absorb).
Generally, by cutting out gluten people feel more energetic, and experience less bloating and ’brain fog’.
A gluten-free diet is one without wheat, rye and barley. This means you need to avoid most baked products found in stores, flour-containing foods (like pizza or pasta at restaurants), the majority of packaged foods (bread, cereals, pastas, cookies, cakes, etc.) and some types of alcohol, including beer. Check ingredient labels carefully since gluten is hiding in many packaged foods.
You probably wonder what on earth there is left to eat! Let me assure you there are loads of sugar and gluten-free options and alternatives available.
If you have always consumed the same types of food, changing your eating habits isn’t easy. How do you know you are getting the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals? What should you be eating and how much? Finding recipes to make meals that will nurture your body, and which are simple and quick to make can be a challenge, but I’ve made it easy for you by writing my latest book CookWright Feel Great* to give you all the help and guidance you need.
All recipes are:
- Low in carbohydrates
- Low in lactose
Look Fabulous Forever Success Stories
Since the weekly cooking demonstrations with Tricia at the beginning of 2020 (see here on Tricia Cusden YouTube Channel), I have been working with many LFF clients in different ways. They bought recipe books, booked consultations, followed the 21-Day Turnaround in Eating Habits Programme or embarked on the 4-week CleanseWright Programme.
Here's what they had to say:
Maree from Ireland
“Like many women my age I've dieted on and off for many years with less and less success. Until I discovered Leonie's Eatwright programme. In the end it was so simple, just cut out sugar, gluten and refined carbohydrates and eat a balanced diet. No more calorie counting. No more waiting until the diet was over to go back to "normal eating". With Leonie's support and her fabulous recipes, this has been my normal eating pattern for a year and a half and I've no intention of going back to the old ways. I lost 21 lbs and have kept it off for well over a year.”
Pauline from Colorado USA
“I was introduced to Leonie and her EatWright program through Tricia Cusden and her Look Fabulous Forever make-up for older women site. Leonie’s program is a well-rounded, educational program with the intent to gain health. Whether it is through weight loss, learning about foods in order to have a stronger, healthier body, or simply learning about one’s body, it's better function through food choices, and through exercise and lifestyles.
With Leonie’s nutritional education and experience, as well as her research, she provides great ideas for lifestyle changes; exercise programs; cooking ideas for the most nutritious meals; better digestion and absorption of nutrients; and many other related subjects. Our zoom group is an added benefit as we, in so many ways, provide a forum for success to each other. The camaraderie of the group is infectious as I cannot remember ever not having a laugh or two.
I confess that it did take some time to adjust as I am in my 80s. However, through Leonie’s programs I have gone from a large size in clothing to a medium size. First, I did the 21-Day Turnaround program and found it a wonderful choice to gain energy, with the obvious next step to try the CleanseWright program when it became available. The ultimate help was Leonie’s CleanseWright program as I began to feel so much better. At this time of year with the many traditions of the holidays I am choosing to enjoy some foods I typically would not eat knowing now how to manage this and return to the journey of healthier living. As we have learned, the ultimate choice is ours.”
Lois from Norwich
“I was first introduced to Leonie and her way of eating healthily in Lockdown March 2020 when Leonie was cooking recipes weekly via Zoom on Tricia Cusden’s “Bright Spots”.
At Easter this weekly programme of recipes finished and Leonie stated that she was going to start the EatWright 21-day Turnaround programme. I had bought the EatWright cookery book and decided to take this opportunity and signed up.
I had been diagnosed previously with Osteoporosis and felt this was a way to get stronger. So, in the middle of April, I started and it was slow at first. I bought the various ingredients I needed to cook the recipes and slowly incorporated Leonie’s healthy way of eating into my way of life. In January 2021 I started the 4-week CleanseWright programme.
As a result of eating the “EatWright” way my cholesterol has come down, my blood sugars are good and my bones are much stronger. Thankyou Leonie for the effort you put in for us and for all the information and regular support.”
Yes - thank you so much Leonie for your inspirational guidance and brilliant recipes. In my mind ageing, nutrition and health are inextricably linked. Maree, Pauline and Lois are testament to the fact that your approach works brilliantly to support all three. As someone who once suffered from an eating disorder, I also love the fact that you stress health benefits over weight loss, although that may also happen - as these stories demonstrate.
If you want to kick start a healthier and more energetic 2023 get in touch with Leonie who is offering a 10% discount to all LFF followers:
Details about CookWright Feel Great Recipe Book can be found HERE
And more about the 21-Day Turnaround in Eating Habits can be found HERE
And details about CleanseWright can be found HERE
Watch Our Latest Video...
Tricia's 5 Minute Feel Good Makeup - How To Add Colour To An Older Face
In this video Tricia shows you a super quick 5 minute feel good makeup tutorial for over 50’s!
Friday 20th January
Monday 5th December
Film Club: Another Round
Available on Amazon Prime
Watch the film beforehand and join us for a group discussion!
Day: Friday 20th January 2023
Meeting ID (if needed): 861 0928 8705
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB
I do agree with the idea of healthy and unprocessed foods and being retired I have the time to cook from scratch most days which I enjoy. I'm just slightly worried by the 'avoiding gluten at all cost' idea though. I have two grandsons with coeliac disease so am well aware of the necessity of them following a gluten free diet. As a family we have learnt to adapt our recipes if they are staying with us and they are very good at following it for themselves. But having read dietary advice I feel anyone who doesn't need to follow a specialist diet is probably better including a sensible amount of wheat and whole grains as part of a balanced diet. It's very difficult sometimes to make the right choices when there are so many conflicting opinions about what is or isn't good for us.
Hi Jane, Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear your grandsons have coeliac disease. You and your family must know all about following a gluten-free diet. Following a gluten-free diet is for them a necessity. Cutting gluten out of the diet can come with big benefits when it comes to health. A gluten-free diet, much like a gluten-sensitivity diet, could improve fat burning, provide a burst of extra energy, reduce inflammation, and ease digestive symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhoea. For others, going gluten-free could even be the key to reducing behavioural issues and improving symptoms of autism and irritable bowel syndrome. I have found that my clients have more energy as well when cutting out gluten.
I gave up gluten some 20 years ago after becoming frustrated with the NHS telling me there was nothing wrong with me despite my symptoms. I had my blood analysed and got almost immediate relief from my constipation when I followed an exclusion diet. It was very difficult then but much easier now to find gluten-free foods. Unfortunately a lot of them contain sugar so must be consumed sparingly. After radiotherapy when I had to eat a high calorie diet as eating at all was very difficult I'm gradually returning to my previous healthier eating, minus the alchohol which I admit had got a bit out of hand.I hate cooking so trying new recipes has no appeal whatever, unfortunately!
I would like to enroll for the 21 day turnaround plan but don’t seem to be able to do this. Seems to be due to the fact that I live in Germany and the postal charges can’t be calculated. Is there no other way for me to enroll. Best regards Sheila Thuermann
I will let Leonie help you with this. I'm sure she will find a way. People join her from the USA, Ireland and France (from my knowledge) so am sure Germany will not be a problem. Tx
I haven’t eaten gluten for over 15 years (other than by mistake when someone inadvertently poisons me, and I’m violently ill!) since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. It had its advantages, as I could not longer be tempted by pies, pastries and other naughty wheat based foods! Over the past 50 years or so, wheat flour has been bred to increase the gluten content as it makes the bread manufacturing process quicker and cheaper, but it’s bad news for us and probably accounts for the increase in gluten intolerance. When I was first diagnosed the things I missed most were bread and real ale, but I hardly feel I’m missing out these days as I cook everything from scratch. I also use a variety of gluten-free flours, and this year for the first time ever I’ve found a fabulous recipe for home made gluten-free bread which is delicious!
Thank you Tricia and Leonie for the inspirational blog! What a difference healthy eating makes! Request! : I see that that one of the FAQs on Leonie's amazing site is 'do I have do eat separately from the family' type query: this makes the assumption that one has a family (partner) ! For a large number of older women, this is not a problem, the problem is eating alone and enjoying it! Eating alone sometimes may sound brilliant for folks who are on busy grandchild meal duty several times a week! - but frankly it does get a bit of a pain to make a nice meal, and really relish it, by oneself! So I guess it's just dust off the old chestnuts of always doing a nice table layout, candle, flowers in vase, etc etc, for one's solo meal! But it gets a bit of a bore when one has made the lovely meal, and there's no one to say 'Wow, that was brilliant, but maybe ease off on the chilli/bit more parsley ...' etc etc. Any suggestions from LFF solo eaters out there would be welcome!