Three yoga poses for a beach ready body

Monday, 28 July 2014

Summer is here, and the beach beckons! Here are three yoga poses that will help you achieve your best shape this summer. 

(p.s. These poses aren't for you if you are pregnant or have disc problems.) 

Let's kick off with Fierce Pose. This tones shoulders, legs and abdominals. 

Stand tall with your arms by your sides, chest lifted, feet together and a yoga block (or cushion) between your thighs. Take a breath in, and take your arms up to shoulder width as you bend your knees deeply.  Imagine you are about to sit in a chair that is just a little too far back.  Squeeze your thighs together, tuck your tailbone under, and lift your chest.  If your neck allows you can look up at your hands, if not, look straight ahead. Hold for 10 breaths if you can, and with each breath out draw your naval back to your spine.  

Boat Pose. This is fab for toning abdominals. Ahoy there flat tummy! 

Sit with your knees bent towards the ceiling and hold onto the backs of your thighs.  Be sure that if your 'boat' sinks you will not hit your head on anything behind you! That wouldn't be good. Bring your shins parallel to the ceiling as you rock back onto your sit bones.  Don't let your lower back round, and keep your chest lifted.  If you feel stable, stretch your arms forward.  If this variation is too much you could do the 'anchored' Boat variation with your hands behind your hips for support. To come out of the pose lower your feet to the floor as you sit upright. 

Finish with a reclined twist to tone your waistline.

Lie with your knees bent, and a block between your thighs.  Take your arms out to shoulder height.  Breathe in and as you breathe out, let your knees fall to the right.  If it feels comfortable for your neck, turn your head to the left.  Hold for five breaths then inhale and lift your knees back up, centre your head.  Repeat on the other side.
This pose is great for detoxyfying too.

Have a great time on the beach this summer!

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Summer skincare

Sunday, 27 July 2014

I’m no sun worshipper, but I do like to go out walking each day whatever the weather.  Now that summer is here and, in Yorkshire, at least, we seem to be in the middle of a heat wave (I mean, when did THAT ever happen?), applying sun cream has to be a priority.  In fact, I believe we should apply sun protection even in autumn and winter.  The burning rays (UVB) may not get through in autumn and winter, but the aging rays (UVA) do.  The sun damages collagen and elastin, which leads to lines and wrinkles at best, and at worst can cause skin cancer.  Use a suncream that has at least SPF30, and when temperatures soar, try to avoid being out between 11am and 3pm.  Ideally wear a hat or carry a parasol (very chic!) to protect your face.

Choose your sun protection carefully.  Many of the sun creams on the market may actually INCREASE the risk of skin cancer because of ingredients which generate free radicals.  For instance retinyl palmitate, a derivative of vitamin A, has been linked with skin cancer and oxybenzone acts like oestrogen in the body, causing hormone disruption- it is best to switch to a mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and apply it at regular intervals.  

Another point to think about is that the sun generates vitamin D in the body which actually protects against cancer, including skin cancer.  In order to get your vitamin D you could spend up to 15 minutes in the sun each day without protection. 

Lastly you can protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun from the inside by eating beta-carotene rich foods, such as carrots, peppers, squash, peaches, melons and mangoes.  

Stay safe and enjoy the summer!

Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Sweet potato and lentil mild curry

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Serves 2

Coconut oil
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ large or 1 medium sweet potato, diced
½ red pepper, diced
Can organic lentils (250g drained weight)
200ml organic coconut milk
4 tbsp tomato puree concentrate
Stock made with 1 heaped tsp organic vegetable stock powder in 200ml hot water
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp organic tumeric

1.      Sweat the onion in a little coconut oil.
2.      Add garlic, pepper, sweet potato, tomato puree and stock and simmer until potato pieces are tender.
3.      Add lentils, coconut milk, garam masala and tumeric and heat through.
4.      You’re done! Serve with organic brown rice and a green vegetable or salad. Enjoy!

Love Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Italian bean and vegetable stew

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Serves 2 

Coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 aubergine
4 small courgettes
250g organic cannelloni beans (from carton or cooked weight)
400g Italian chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 heaped teaspoon organic vegetable stock powder
1 tsp dried oregano
Olives (optional)

1. Sweat the onion in a little coconut oil in a saucepan.   
2. Add diced aubergine, courgettes cut into pieces, chopped tomatoes in juice, vegetable stock powder and oregano.  Simmer until vegetables are cooked to your liking.  
3. Stir in cannelloni beans and heat through

Serve with bulgar wheat and a green vegetables.

That’s it! A simple yet delicious meal in minutes- super healthy too! 

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Diet Focus - The Vegan Diet

Monday, 21 July 2014

This is a personal subject for me, because my daughter, Becky, has been thinking about becoming a vegetarian for a while. Recent tests have shown that she cannot properly digest animal protein and is lactose intolerant, and so she has decided to become a vegan.  This means she has stopped eating meat, fish and dairy.  Like many vegans, her reasons are partly moral ones.  It feels uncomfortable to see the animals in the fields where we live each day, coo over the lambs and aah over the calves, and then sit down to eat roast lamb or minced beef.

Becoming a vegan is also better for the environment.  It has been claimed that if everyone became vegan, there would be enough food to feed everyone globally. 

Much has been claimed for the health benefits of a vegan diet.  It is said to lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer and so lead to a longer, healthier life.  Some have claimed though, that vegans tend to avoid other “health robbers” such as sugar- leading to a so-called “healthy bias” in the data. There does seem, however, many good reasons to cut our meat intake- if only the cost of good-quality, organic meats.

The downside of a vegan diet is that it is more difficult to absorb iron from plant sources. The amount of iron absorbed can be increased by having a vitamin C source at the same time- for instance, you can absorb more iron from lentils or beans if you have an orange at the same meal.  The vegan diet may also be deficient in B12 which is mainly obtained from animal sources, so a supplement may be needed.  Deficiency in either of these nutrients will lead to anaemia. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more about getting your nutrients on a vegan diet, along with some delicious vegan recipes.

A vegan diet however may not be for everyone- in terms of diets, I do not believe there is ‘one size fits all’. I’ll be talking more about tailoring your diet to you in future posts. In the meantime, happy eating!  


Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Should you drink water with meals?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

I’m going to try and answer a tricky question that’s been causing a lot of controversy in the “health world”- should you drink water with meals?

We all know that it is important to try and drink eight glasses of water each day (or the equivalent in herbal tea, etc.) to keep us hydrated. Being well hydrated is important for every part of our wellbeing, allowing our bodies to function optimally. The big question is, should we avoid doing any of this drinking at mealtimes?  

Some say drinking with meals ensures digestive juices reach all the food in the stomach. My feeling is that, although this may be true, the reasons against drinking with meals far outweigh the reasons for.  

Drinking with meals may dilute the digestive enzymes and stomach acid which allows food to be properly digested.  The strength of our stomach acid tends to lessen over time anyway, so drinking water with meals will only add to this problem.  

If food is incompletely digested it may also to food intolerances, because when food is not broken down properly in the stomach, larger molecules enter the bloodstream. This makes it difficult for our bodies to “recognise” what has entered the bloodstream, and so your body treats it as a foreign substance- which it then tries to attack. 

 Also drinking cold water slows down digestion. This means that food stays in the digestive tract longer, and is therefore more likely to produce toxins.  Overloading the stomach with water at mealtimes can even lead to acid reflux and heartburn.  It is even said that drinking water affects insulin levels, leading to blood sugar problems.

My advice would be to drink plenty- but away from meals. Try and leave the drinking to 30 minutes to an hour before and after meals, and see whether it benefits your overall wellbeing. 

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Sugar and skin – Not So Sweet

Sunday, 13 July 2014

We all seem to like something sweet, and many of us would describe ourselves as having a “sweet tooth.” Our love for sugar, however, might be showing on our faces. 

This BBC News article suggests that we are all eating too much sugar: The effect of this is not only bad for our general health, but can also have negative effects on our skin. 

Here’s the “science bit” of why this happens. Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates (such as white pasta, white bread and white rice which are easily converted to sugar by the body) results in glucose ‘spikes’ in the blood. Your body cannot process such ‘spikes’ fast enough, and so the glucose molecules attach themselves to the collagen in your skin in a process known as glycation. Because collagen gives skin its structure, this process can lead to the skin losing its elasticity, which in turn leads to sagging and wrinkles.  These rapid rises in blood sugar can also trigger an inflammatory response, which generates chemicals that can damage skin.  As if that were not enough, the body uses antioxidants to normalise blood sugar levels, depleting the antioxidants that neutralise skin- damaging free radicals.  So if you want to keep your skin glowing and wrinkle-free, forget botox and fillers and ditch the sugar!

I’ll be giving you sugar-free recipe ideas over the next few weeks- where ditching the sugar doesn’t mean ditching taste! 

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Superfood focus: Lettuce

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

I think lettuce is one of those healthy foods that need a cheerleader, as it's so often overlooked. You may think of it as just part of your salad or the garnish on your plate, but in fact lettuce has amazing benefits.
Not only is it low in calories but also rich in nutrients such Vitamin C and beta-carotene which is made into vitamin A in the body.  Both Vitamin C and beta-carotene are antioxidants which help keep the immune system healthy.  Beta-carotene also helps prevent macular degeneration- so goodbye reading glasses!  The darker the variety, the richer it is in foleate which maintains healthy blood. As an extra bonus, lettuce also helps you to sleep.
The good news is that organic lettuce is really easy to grow.  This year I have been growing 'Little Gem' lettuce from organic seeds.  The seeds were planted in April in the greenhouse (indoors is fine) and as the weather warmed up, they were planted out in a raised bed.  They have been covered with netting to keep nibbling mouths from eating them.  For weeks now we have been harvesting fresh lettuce leaves for our salads (see Instagram photos) and more keep growing!
But if you do buy lettuce, make sure it is organic.  Lettuce is on the 'Dirty Dozen' list of foods important to eat organic (see previous post)- so eating it organic makes sure you get the maximum nutrients and none of the nasties.
So get munching on that lettuce!
Love Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Why eat organic?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

At first, organic fruit and vegetables might not seem to be the smart option- expensive, sometimes less “pretty”, and smaller in size than you might be used to. However, there are several very good reasons to choose organic.

Do you really want to be eating over 40 pesticide residues with your apple? Avoiding pesticide residues is the major reason to go organic. You can’t even rinse the pesticides off, otherwise farmers would need to re-spray each time it rained. 

Eating organic fruit and vegetables therefore reduces your ‘toxic load’.  According to the journal of the National Cancer Institute up to 75% of cancer is caused by diet and environmental factors- and a big factor in this is pesticide intake. I will be posting more on this soon.

As well as reducing your toxic load, organic fruit and vegetables also have up to 50% more nutrients including antioxidants, in particular vitamin C.  These are the ‘good guys’ that neutralise free radicals in the body- which if left unchecked age us, lead to heart disease and cancer and lowered immunity.

Oh, and one more (rather tasty) thing- organic fruit and vegetables have far more flavour than non-organic. Once you have tasted an organic carrot you will never want the non-organic kind again!

The expense of organic fruit and vegetables is an issue for many people. The good news, however, is that you don’t always have to go organic to avoid pesticides. The Environmental Working Group have produced a list of fifteen fruits and vegetables that are safe to eat non-organic, called the ‘Clean 15’. Check out as well the “Dirty Dozen”- the most important fruit and vegetables to buy organic. If you’re on a budget and can’t afford all organic, these are the ones to focus on.

More on organic food soon- in the meantime, happy eating!

Love Janet x 

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell