Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19 - Be Prepared Emergency Kitset

We are going through uncertain times and things are changing on a daily basis.  It is good to be prepared, do not panic, and if you have not done your shopping, I would suggest you do it to prepare about 2 weeks’ worth of supplies  Be prepared, in case you need to self isolate.  This is what I would make sure there is adequate supply for 2 weeks.

  •           Canned tuna/ salmon/ sardines
  •       Cold smoked salmon that are vacumn packed can stay in the fridge for 2 weeks
  •           Dried beans and lentils
  •           Dried sea vegetables like wakame, kombu
  •           Miso paste that you can store in the fridge
  •           Frozen vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beans, peas that you can store in the freezer
  •           Garlic, ginger and onions
  •           Brown rice/ buckwheat/ millet/ quinoa/ amaranth
  •           Eggs
  •           Olive oil or coconut oil
  •           Dried herbs for flavouring – e.g. rosemary, basil, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, paprika, etc.  If you  are self sufficient and grow herbs in your kitchen or garden, that would be a substitute for dried herbs.
  •           Salt, soya sauce or tamari, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  •           Raw dried nuts and seeds
  •           Some extra lean meat/ chicken that you can store in the freezer
  •           Tissue paper and toilet paper (yes, have some toilet paper in case you run out!)
  •           Toothpaste, mouth wash, body wash, shampoo
  •           Sanitary pads or tampons (for menstruating women)  

When you are prepared, you will not panic.  There will be those of you who are on specific dietary interventions and need more of something and less of others, you will need to tailor this list to your specific needs.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Kale and Beetroot salad

These two dark coloured vegetables, kale and beetroot, are super food for your liver.  This easy to make recipe is super tasty.


2 medium size beetroot

1 bunch of kale, removed from the hard stem and torn

Sea salt
Mustard seeds
Olive oil
Lemon juice


Chop beetroot into chunks, drizzle with oil and slow roast in the oven at 160C for 45 minutes.

Wash kale, spin dry, remove leaves from hard stem and tear large leaves up.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle seasalt.  Rub the kale, oil and salt together.

This can be roasted on a lower tray from the beetroot for the last 10-20 minutes of the beetroot.  Short period of roasting of kale just wilts the kale, longer periods will result in some kale chips.  You can choose if you just want it wilted.  I often go for just wilted kale.

When beetroot is soft and kale limp, mix in lemon juice and mustard seeds.

This is a nice roast that can be made in advanced and extras stored for next day's lunch or next meal.  As there is very little manual job once you put the beetroot in to roast, you can spend the time vacumming the floor or wiping down surface whilst the veges are roasting!

Friday, 13 March 2020

Do you need to worry about the coronavirus COVID-19?

With the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and massive panic and uncertainty going on around the globe, people should look at facts and take smart action to reduce their risk.  Most importantly do not panic but take the necessary precaution and plan ahead with an emergency kit set (which I will share in the next blog).  Supporting your immune system is important as the weather changes anyway, as we are going into the colder months.

Here are some facts about the COVID-19 virus:

  1. The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are very similar – fever, cough, fatigue, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing
  2. 85% of people who contract it will have mild symptoms
  3. Those who suffer severe symptoms and complications often have other chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease and the elderly.  Smokers are also at higher risk.
  4. This virus spreads through mucus membranes.  There has been a run on masks, but are they really protective?  According to Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, the answer is NO. A more specialized mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against this coronavirus.  However, it is not recommended as it is challenging to put on these N95 masks properly and wear them for long periods of time. (source:  https://www.livescience.com/face-mask-new-coronavirus.html).
  5.  It is also not wise to have a run on these masks as medical workers are hospitals will need them. If you are sick, then please use a face mask but what you really should be doing is stay home and refrain from sharing your pathogens with other people.  
  6. Talking mucus mebranes, should we also have a run on goggles? If you are using masks without goggles, you need to think again.  
  7. The coronavirus can live on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days.  Hand washing is really important.
  8. Children who have contracted this coronavirus seem to have mild symptoms compared to adults.  However, this may pose a risk to the adults in the family, or elderly, as they may not be aware that the children have the said virus.
  9.  Wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly.  It is a better strategy compared to hand sanitisers.

Preventative measures:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly.  It is a better strategy compared to hand sanitisers.
  2. Support your immune system – take Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate – we have lots of sodium channels in our body to take in vitamin C.  Take about 3000mg of sodium ascorbate daily in split doses of 1000mg, 3 times a day, upto maximum bowel tolerance.  Vitamin C is water soluble so splitting the dose is beneficial.
  3. Take Vitamin D, get free Vitamin D from the sun, and orally if your levels are low to have the protective effect.
  4. Zinc is a crucial mineral for the immune system.  Keeping this level in check will help your immune, gut and skin health.  We have simple test in clinic to assess your levels of zinc.
  5. Eat lot of vegetables, some of which need to be dark coloured vegetables.  I made a beautiful kale and beetroot salad which I’m sharing the recipe on this website.
  6. Keep a healthy microbiome, by eating whole foods and cutting out junk food and unnecessary, especially recreational drugs.  If you gut is healthy, adding fermented foods is useful.  However, if you suffer a lot from gut pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation or alternating between the two, you can get a worsening of symptoms when you introduce fermented foods.  You will benefit from healing the gut first before adding fermented foods.  A Complete Microbiome Profile can be ordered to understand your microbiome, gut integrity, enzymes and digestive function.
  7. 70% of your immune system reside in your gut.  If you have problems in the gut, fix it now.  Some patients with no overt gut symptoms but have autoimmunity should also be working on the immune system in the gut.
  8. If you suffer from colds and flu in the winter typically, this is a good time to start on an immune enhancing tincture.
  9. Maintain a positive state of mind.  It is easy to get panicky with the doom and gloom and uncertainty worldwide as the media keeps reporting.  The panic will do more harm than the virus.  Economically, we are already seeing the effects on stock market, tourism declining, restaurant businesses needing to shut down and the list goes on.  Be smart.  Manage your risk.  If all of us play our part in supporting our immune system and maintaining hygiene, we will conquer this pandemic.
  10. Have enough rest.  Avoid late nights on Netflix.
  11. Avoid crowded places.  Keep a social distance.  We will conquer it, and life will return to normal.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Support your immune system with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and increasing number of people being infected, it is only prudent that everyone of us should be supporting our immune system.  Why wouldn’t you?  The statistics show that the number of deaths has way surpassed the number of deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003 and MERS epidemic in 2012.

Put a group of people in a room and have the same virus present, not all the people are going to come down with the disease.  Those who are immune compromised or have other ongoing health issues (also called comorbidities) will be the ones most susceptible.

In situations like this, it is wise to be proactive rather than reactive.  Sure, put on your masks and wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds(basic personal hygiene) and avoid crowded places, but what else?

Here’s what you can do:

1.    Get your vitamin C up.  Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C, but only if they are fresh.  If you have irregular intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, you should supplement.  I would recommend the sodium ascorbate form of vitamin C rather than any other form considering bioavailability and cost effectiveness, about 3000mg or upto maximum bowel tolerance. 

2. Increase your antioxidant intake.  This comes easily from dark coloured fruits and vegetables, minerals like zinc and selenium , and vitamins A, C and E.

3. Get your vitamin D from the sun, eggs, sardines, shitake mushrooms.  Get a test at Labtest to know your levels.  If your levels are too low, supplement.  If you just need to maintain, get vitamin D from the above sources.

4.  Keep your body alkalised.  Adopt a 80:20 rule when it comes to alkalising and acidifying foods.  Minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium increases alkalinity.  Squeeze half a lemon in water or 1 Tablespoon of Apple cider vinegar in water daily.  Detox if you feel sluggish, heavy or tired. 

5. Manage your stress.  What do you do to de-stress?  Do you practise yoga, deep breathing exercises, have a hobby, go for a walk, exercise or keep a pet?  These activities can help to de-stress. 

6.  Adequate amount of sleep.  Making sure that you have restorative sleep is crucial to building a strong immune system.  Lack of sleep with difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep can wreck havoc on your immune system.  An express detox, increasing mineral intake and keeping a healthy gut microbiome is important to maintaining good sleep.  

7.  Hydration, keeping your fluid intake adequate is absolutely crucial.  30ml/kg of body weight is what you require daily (excludes coffee and alcohol). 

8.  Do not panic – there is no reason to panic.  Although it seems like this pandemic has spread far and wide, the mortality rate is relatively low compared to SARS and MERS.  The best strategy is still preventative and keep your immune system healthy is crucial. 

9.  If you love herbs, use them.  Immune modulating herbs are useful in supporting the immune system.  When a virus infects a body, it latches onto the surface and enters through a vesicle.  Once it is inside this vesicle, the virus releases its RNA and hijacks the cells mechanism to produce viral proteins.  These viral proteins assist with the virus replication.  Nature has provided us with many antiviral herbs and essential oils. 
Culinary herbs like garlic, ginger, oregano, turmeric (ingested internally) and essential oils of tea tree, clove and eucalyptus put into a burner or used to clean surfaces can be good preventative measures.  NOTE: DO NOT ingest essential oils, these should only be used externally.  

10.  Eat good nutritious food, lightly cooked, steamed, stewed, baked or panfried.  Avoid processed foods.  

11. Cut down on sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup and artificial sweeteners.  If you have diabetes or are prediabetic, this is the best time to naturally work on improving your blood sugar control and support your immunity.  

12.  Have plenty of rest if you are coming down with an infection and do not attend work or school or any social events.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Almond Butter Cookes (No flour, no sugar)

3 cups almond flour (or almond meal)
½ cup coconut flour
150g butter, melted
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
20 drops stevia
Pinch of salt

Mix flours, salt and baking soda together.
Melt the butter, add vanilla extract and stevia drops.
Add flour to liquid ingredients.  Break egg in and mix together to form a dough.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes.  In hot weather, you may want to refrigerate it for this 10 mins so it is easier to handle the dough.
Roll into balls and flatten with your palm or a fork.
Bake at 170C for 10-15 minutes.
Makes 25 cookies.

Add shredded coconut for Almond coconut cookie
Add unsweetened cocoa powder for Almond cocoa cookie

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

How not to gain weight with Christmas and festive season food

If you are worried you are going to undo some of your weight loss efforts this year or putting on weight which you cannot accommodate anymore over the Christmas holiday season, do not fret.  

Here are 10 strategies to help you survive the festive season without putting on weight:
  1.   Eat something satiating first in that meal – start your meal with something that contains more fats – like salmon, avocado, nuts or nut butters, dark chocolate, eggs. 
  2. Eat some high protein snacks whilst waiting for your meal, especially if you are attending a dinner party.  Having a Shape Up smoothie or shake first before leaving home helps keep you in check.
  3. Pile your plate with salads and vegetables.
  4. Eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full, even if there is still lots of food on the table!
  5. Manage your stress – stress increases weight gain, stress can also make you eat to de-stress.  Most stress over this festive season is about pleasing people, financial strain and being perfect.  Focus on the relationships rather than the material things, and you do not have to throw the perfect party, just have fun! Help children to be realistic.
  6. Avoid overindulging – alcohol and festive foods, be “Treat Mindful”
  7. Do some exercise or go for a walk – enjoy nature with your family.  Exercise in the morning, when your stomach is empty and have your meal after you have worked out.
  8. Pamper yourself – have a long bath, listen to music, or go for a massage.
  9. Get adequate rest and sleep.
  10. Above all, make sure you are well hydrated with water and choose non-sugary, non-artificial sweetener laden drinks.  Simple, plain matcha tea, herbal tea or black tea can break the monotony of just drinking water.  To understand why artificial sweeteners will put weight on for you long term, refer to my article here:  http://blog.nutriactionz.co.nz/2019/10/sugar-substitutes-which-ones-can-we-use.html

Friday, 4 October 2019

Sugar substitutes - which ones can we use?

As spring approaches, and we try to shed those few extra pounds gained in winter, sugar is the first to get struck off the list.  But which are good substitutes?  In this article, I explore the different sweeteners, natural and artificial, and recommend the ones that can be used and the ones we should avoid.

Fructose - Avoid
Many of a weight loss diet or low carbohydrate diet use fructose as a sweetener.  Fructose goes straight to your liver for processing and gets converted to glycerol, so whilst it does not create an immediate spike in insulin, it does create an insulin spike a few hours later.  Fructose raises triglyceride (cholesterol) levels.  Fructose is naturally found in fruits and some vegetables, but in its natural form, the naturally occurring fibre in fruits and vegetables slow down the fructose absorption.  However, high fructose corn syrup, a processed fructose from corn added to many processed foods like fruit juices, jams, desserts, soft drinks, protein shakes and other commercially processed food or drinks create huge imbalances in blood sugar levels and can increase fatty deposits in the liver leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Fructose can also create bloating in patients with gastrointestinal problems.

Sucralose - Avoid
The most common tradename for Sucralose is Splenda, although a few other companies also make sucralose sweeteners.  Sucralose is bound to maltodextrin, which has about 12-15% sugar which causes insulin response, making it difficult to reverse diabetes and work on weight loss.  This additive has a E number index of E955.

Stevia – Can use 

Stevia is a plant with extremely sweet non-caloric leaves that contains no carbohydrates.  It is 30 times sweeter than sugar, and putting too much of stevia powder or liquid into your food or drink makes it bitter.  It does not stimulate an insulin response.  Be careful that you do not use stevia with maltodextrin.

Buddha’s fruit (or Luo Han Guo) – Can use
This is a relatively new sweetener, with zero calories and does not raise blood sugar levels.

Aspartame - Avoid
The most popular brand names of aspartame are Equal and NutraSweet. Typically, if the product/ drink says ‘Diet’ it is may be sweetened with aspartame.  Long term use of aspartame can create other problems particularly of the neurological systems like headaches, migraines, dizziness and mood disorders.  Aspartame in powder form sold as Equal or NutraSweet contains maltodextrin which leads to weight gain and metabolic syndrome.  This sweetener has been shown to affect the gut microbiome.  This can have a huge impact on weight loss.  This additive has a E number index of E951.

Acesulphame K - Avoid
This is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners.  It is used in many ‘diet’ products.  Though it contains no calories, it sparks an insulin response and weight loss is difficult with Acesulphame K.  This additive has a E number index of E950.

Saccharine – Avoid
This is one of the oldest brand names around.  Whilst it contains zero calories, the latest tests have shown that saccharine disrupts the gut microbiome which we now know has a great impact on weight loss.  Hence, this is not a good sweetener for weight loss purposes.  This additive has a E number index of E954.

Erythritol – Can use with care
This is a sugar alcohol with very little sugar and very low glycemic index (GI=1).  It is good for dental care (does not contribute to tooth decay) but is not easily digested in the stomach, so is fermented by bacteria in the intestines.  This can increase flatulence.

Xylitol – Can use with care
This is a sugar alcohol with a higher glycemic index (GI=10).  Like erythritol, it does not contribute to tooth decay and some clinical trials claim that xylitol may even prevent dental plague.  However, xylitol may cause diarrhea in susceptible individuals or in larger doses.  Use with care.

Thaumatin – Can use
This is a natural sweetener and has zero glycemic index.  This is extremely sweet.  This sweetener is not easily available.  However there are no known disadvantages using it.