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Nutrition and health - tips for different conditions

nutrition and health

If you're suffering from a specific health issue, good nutrition could be the answer. Following our in-depth Q&A with nutritionist and dietitian Jane Clarke, here are some tips and advice on how to eat for health and use food to help with various health conditions ranging from dementia to IBS.

 

Dementia | Osteoporosis and arthritis | PsoriasisExcess sugar consumption | Polymyalgia rheumatica | Fibromyalgia | Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) | Headaches and migraines | Stress Anxiety | Anaemia | IBS | Involuntary belching | Menopause | Chemotherapy Vasculitis | Insomnia Chronic fatigue | Nasal congestionVision loss and AMD | High cholesterol

 

 

Dementia and nutrition

"What would you suggest about instances where people with dementia are eating too much? I know of one person whose husband, instead of forgetting to eat, will often forget that he has eaten so wants to eat almost constantly and is suffering as a result."

Overeating can be an issue for people living with dementia as the normal feedback mechanisms which we rely on to tell us when we are full, or have eaten, start to let us down. To reduce overeating:

 

  • Set mealtimes by the clock – have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same times each day (you can include snack times too). If the individual's appetite isn’t great, and they don’t cope well with three larger meals, you could schedule five or six smaller frequent meals to ensure they get enough nourishment. The idea is that you check the clock and provide something to eat, or ideally join them in eating, only at the set times and not at any other time.

 

  • Give them a small cup of soup or broth (ensuring it’s not too hot, to avoid scalding) if they're hungry, or even a simple cup of milky tea, as these provide ‘stomach warmth’ which can settle an overly active appetite until mealtime. They also provide hydration – often the feeling of hunger is actually a confused need for fluid.

 

  • As well as having fluids between meals, having water with a meal can ensure the food in the stomach swells and sends the right messages back to the brain to register that ‘I’m full’ satisfaction, even if this is soon forgotten.

 

  • If they have a lot of visitors who bring them chocolates or cakes as a treat, encourage them to bring non-edible gifts instead. Photos of shared times, jigsaws, books and music can all be rewarding and encourage conversation and happy memories.

 

For information on dementia and reducing the risk of developing this condition, see our page on reducing the risk of developing dementia through diet and exercise.

 

 

Osteoporosis, arthritis and nutrition

arthritis

"What foods should women over 60 be eating to help prevent osteoporosis or slow down its progress? And are there any proven foods which improve the pain of osteoarthritis?"

We tend to think of our bones as being inanimate and something we can’t really influence, but in fact our skeleton is very much a living part of us. Bone cells are busy throughout our lives manufacturing new bone. The foods that help it do this are:

 

  • Dairy products
  • Oily fish
  • Vegetable oils
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Soya products
  • Nut milks (such as almond milk)
  • Seeds and dried fruits

 

There are also things we need to avoid in our diet to maintain our bone health, namely too much alcohol, salt and caffeine.

When it comes to arthritis (osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK), there is more evidence indicating links to specific foods in the case of rheumatoid arthritis than in osteoarthritis, but those with the latter condition do report that some foods appear to aggravate it and others seem to ease their symptoms. The Mediterranean diet, packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, oily fish and not too much red meat, appears to be the best way of eating. Most people with arthritis often say they can’t eat too many oranges, tomatoes or other acid-producing foods, which make their joints feel worse.

 

  • Look for links between certain foods and your symptoms (keeping a food diary will help). You may feel better eating white meat than red, for example.

 

  • Eat monounsaturated fats as your main source of fat, as these don’t cause inflammation – try olive oil and avocado oil.

 

Although cutting back on certain foods may be beneficial for people living with specific health conditions, exclusion diets should not be undertaken unless absolutely necessary and endorsed by your GP or specialist. There is a risk of them failing to cover your nutritional bases – plus, it’s just no fun to live on a hugely restricted diet.

 

 

Psoriasis and nutrition

"Two years ago I went on a very strict diet. Very very low in sugar - in fact, practically none. My doctor pooh-poohed it, but it has cleared my psoriasis up enormously. Was I imagining this? I don't think so but he said it was probably due to improve anyway!"

It’s true that the scientific evidence isn’t there to suggest that a very strict low-sugar diet is the cure for psoriasis, but we are all unique and you have found that it does work for your skin. Alternatives to a low-sugar diet include:

 

  • Lowering the intake of sweet foods, rather than avoiding sugar entirely. Eat more naturally sweet foods, such as fresh or stewed fruits, rather than those with added sugar. Avoiding all fruits for could aggravate any other health conditions as you can so easily miss out on essential nutrients, such as vitamin C, which is essential for recovery and healing. It also helps us absorb minerals such as iron, a lack of which in the diet can lead to anaemia and symptoms such as fatigue.

 

  • Keeping a detailed food and symptom diary to assess how your body reacts to different foods. For a couple of weeks, make a note of everything you eat, how much of it and how it makes you feel. Look for patterns – perhaps one food aggravates how you feel, making your skin react or your digestion worse. A diary can also help you to see if you’re eating as well as you thought as it’s easy to lose track of what we actually take in.

 

  • Eating a more nourishing, rounded diet, which can improve skin problems – especially check to see you’re getting enough oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, which is wonderful for the skin.

 

 

Reducing sugar consumption

sugar consumption

"Are the sugars found in fruit the same as processed sugars? I like to blend fruit and vegetables together, but sometimes it is mainly fruit. I often worry I might be consuming too many fruit sugars as I have a Nutribullet smoothie everyday for breakfast. What are your thoughts on sugar consumption?"

Sugars found in fresh fruits are superior to processed sugars as the fruit they are contained in will also provide you with valuable vitamins and micronutrients. Watch out for higher GI fruits like mango and pineapple as their sugar is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, but a freshly made juice or smoothie each day should be fine if you’re not eating too much sugar elsewhere in your diet.

A Nutribullet is a good option as it allows you to blend the whole fruit, rather than just extracting the juice; the additional fibre will help to slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. But to reduce sugar consumption overall:

 

  • Add vegetables such as carrot, beetroot and fennel, which add a wonderful savoury taste as well as more goodness – experiment and discover the balance of flavours you prefer.

 

  • Use fruit and the sweeter-tasting vegetables to add natural sugar at other times, too. Bananas, apples, pears, carrots and beetroot, for example, add a moistness and depth of flavour to cakes and biscuits, which means you can cook them with less fat.

 

  • Add a few other beneficial ingredients, such as nuts, and your sweet treat will also pack a nourishing punch. 

 

There are many low-calorie blood sugar diet recipes to try, as part of Dr Michael Mosley's 5:2 Diet.

 

 

Polymyalgia rheumatica and nutrition

"Last year I was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica for which I need to take steroids. I was advised to eat carefully as I would be susceptible to type 2 diabetes. I have tried to reduce my sugar/carbs and cut down on potatoes and bread, but when I look at the ingredients on packages so many include sugar, even my one Weetabix a day. I do miss toast and marmalade. What are your thoughts on a low sugar diet and is bread bad for you? Finally I love fruit and plain nuts what sort of quantities per day can I eat?"

It is a good idea to think about what you’re eating to help reduce your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, but labels can be confusing.

 

  • With starchy foods, such as bread rice, pasta, potatoes and cereals, it’s a good idea to keep the quantity down. For a balanced diet, roughly a third of our food intake each day should be starchy food and less than one sixth of our diet should be made up of fats and sugars.

 

  • If you're taking steroids, you may want to consume slightly less than that for these two food groups.

 

  • At least a third of your daily food should be fresh fruit and vegetables; with protein foods such as meat, fish and dairy products making up the remaining amount.

 

The glycaemic index (GI) tells us how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. High-GI foods include the obvious biscuits, sweets and cakes, but also bananas, melons, raisins, grapes, dates, mangoes and pineapples. Instead, focus on citrus fruits and stone fruits, such as apricots and plums. Instead of white rice and pasta, choose wholegrain versions which will have less of an impact on blood sugar levels and will also help you to feel fuller for longer, so you may eat less overall. Wholegrain bread surprisingly has a similar GI to white bread, so opt for rye or pumpernickel. If you want to enjoy that slice of toast, choose a granary loaf and a low-sugar, high-fruit content marmalade to spread on it. 

 

 

Fibromyalgia and nutrition

nutrition and health

"I'm wondering what your thoughts are about the impact of diet on fibromyalgia. Is there an approach you think can help to manage symptoms?"

 

  • Ensure you eat a well-rounded nourishing diet (incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates) that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce inflammation. Good sources of omega-3 are nuts, seeds and their oils (including rapeseed oil and walnut oil), plus oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and pilchards.

 

  • Keep a daily food and symptoms diary to see if there is any link between what you eat and a flare-up of your fibromyalgia. Sometimes people living with the condition feel lousy after having caffeine-rich drinks, alcohol, diet drinks or takeaways, specifically those high in MSG.

 

  • Fibromyalgia can cause difficulty sleeping, so a warm, milky drink before bed may help you to drop off and get the sleep you need to help cope with the condition.

 

 

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and nutrition

"I have SLE and have read that some people believe a gluten-free diet helps to relieve the symptoms. Is there any evidence for this?"

Researchers are still investigating any relationship between systemic lupus erythematosus and gluten so there isn’t yet a definitive answer. However, many patients find that their skin rash lessens, and in some cases virtually disappears, as soon as they cut gluten from their diet. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, so avoid products made with these grains. Instead, how about a stir-fry made with rice noodles, creamy chia seed porridge for breakfast or a delicious cake.

 

 

Preventing headaches and migraines

headaches and migraines

"I could do with some help on what to eat or not eat to prevent headaches and migraines. I know what people consider to be trigger foods, but I can't relate to them and wonder if there are any new ideas. I have arthritis but can't take nsai, and paracetamol gives me headaches."

The classic trigger foods are cheese, citrus fruits, chocolate, coffee and red wine, but these aren’t always a cause for some people.

 

  • Keep a diary of what you’re eating and drinking, and when your headaches and migraines occur. If they don’t tend to occur daily, it’s worth keeping this diary for, say, a month. Women especially may find they have clusters of headaches during the same time each month, even after menopause.

 

  • Look at your diary and check that you’re well hydrated; ideally, you need to drink 2.5 litres of water or herbal tea a day.

 

  • Look at whether you’re drinking too much coffee. There isn’t an absolute figure, but a couple of cups maximum per day is wise, but even this can be too much for people sensitive to caffeine. If you’re drinking more than this, then you need to make sure that you reduce your intake slowly as caffeine withdrawal headaches can be horrible. But it’s worth decreasing the quantity to see if you can obtain a clearer, less painful head.

 

  • Lack of sleep can be a trigger, too. If this is a key concern for you, then look at your sleep routine and perhaps think of simple things like drinking soothing chamomile tea at night. A glass of milk is a traditional remedy worth trying, as its magnesium content helps us to drop off.

 

Eating small meals regularly so that you’re not getting hungry can help, as can avoiding sugary foods, such as sweets and cakes, which can make our blood sugar levels wobble – it’s the blood sugar changes that can aggravate sensitive heads. For some people, taking a vitamin B2 and Co-enzyme Q10 supplement combination can decrease migraines, but check with your GP before starting any supplements as you want to make sure they don’t interfere with any over-the-counter or prescription medication you may be taking.

 

 

Stress and nutrition

"I wonder whether there are any foods that are particularly helpful when it comes to stress? It's so tempting at these times to just go for things you fancy which are inevitably sugar-based, but I am interested to know whether there are foods that can actually help with the condition as well as bringing comfort simply by eating?"

 

  • Avoid overly sweet foods, as these will give you an artificial ‘high’ as they flood your blood with sugar, followed by a crash in mood and energy as your body releases insulin to counteract the effects of the sugar.

 

  • Avoid caffeine at times of stress, as it can exacerbate anxiety. Instead, aim to boost the protein content of your meals (even a spoonful of crème fraîche or a grating of cheese on top of a vegetable soup can do it) to help stabilise blood sugar levels.

 

  • The amino acids in proteins can also help the body produce endorphins, which can help stabilise moods.

 

  • Stress can affect digestion. If your gut is complaining, go more towards cooked vegetables and broths rather than salads, and raw fruit and vegetable smoothies. Herbal infusions such as chamomile and lemon balm are also renowned for their soothing effect.

 

You may also find that taking control of your eating, so that you feel empowered to look after yourself, is a first step to dealing with your stress.

 

 

Anxiety and nutrition

frozen berry smoothie

"Some people say that they can't eat if they are stressed and then they lose weight, but I always have a longing for biscuits or cake if I feel anxious and I don't usually keep any in the house for that reason. My neutrophils are always on the low side due to medication. Do you have any tips for immune boosting foods which are easy to prepare?"

Avoiding temptation is a great idea, but also consider what foods you do want to have in the house to nourish your body at the moments you need it most.

 

  • Freeze leftovers as it won't impair the nutrient value of foods and means you can always have a wholesome meal to hand. You could make a big pot of immunity-boosting soup and freeze half for a later date.

 

  • Keep a pot of stewed apples in the fridge and you can add a spoonful to porridge, yoghurt or pancakes. They’re not too sweet and the fibre in them helps to balance the sugar they do contain; and when stewed, the pectin in the apples is easy to digest so it can help a stressed stomach.

 

  • Frozen berries will make a delicious smoothie that’s packed with immunity-boosting antioxidants; adding a vegetable such as fennel, celery or spinach will reduce its sweetness.

 

  • Protein-rich meals can also help. Not only do they help to improve mood, they also provide valuable nutrients and help to satiate you, so you’re less likely to reach for snacks.

 

Find out more about how to manage anxiety and panic attacks.

 

 

Foods to treat anaemia

"I have iron deficiency anaemia and have had it most of my adult life (I'm now 60 years old). My problem is that the usual iron tablets, which do bring me back into the normal range, really upset my system, and although I eat a fairly vegetable heavy diet with a bit of red meat every three or four days, I'm obviously not getting enough iron into my system."

Iron-deficiency anaemia is very common and good to identify as so often we can just get used to feeling tired or off-par without checking in with a doctor, and sometimes extra investigation and reassurance is needed.

 

  • It might help to partner iron-rich foods with sources of vitamin C, as this can help to increase absorption of non-meat sources of iron. Try squeezing lemon juice over dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and cavolo nero.

 

  • As well as meat, why not try vegetarian sources of protein which are rich in iron, such as lentils, beans and egg yolks?

 

  • Snacking on iron-rich dried apricots, figs, nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds can also help to increase your intake.

 

  • Too much tannin from tea can inhibit iron absorption, so try swapping in some cups of herbal tea. Or don’t drink your usual cuppa straight after a meal as the tannin can stop you taking in the goodness of what you’ve eaten.

 

  • Too much bran can also reduce iron absorption, so you might want to swap to an alternative cereal if you have a bran-based breakfast.

 

 

IBS and nutrition

nutrition and health

"Can you please advise me on what foods I should avoid. I have IBS. I've tried cutting out foods such as salad and onions, but it doesn't seem to make much difference."

 

  • Keep a food diary for a week recording what you eat, how much and how it makes you feel. It might help you identify specific foods that aggravate your IBS.

 

  • IBS has many symptoms, including constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and bloating. If you’re suffering with bloating, avoid broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, onions, lentils and beans, plus fatty foods such as cream and butter which will trigger this.

 

  • Eat less wheat - eat rice or rice noodles, for example, instead of pasta.

 

  • Increase your level of prebiotics and probiotics by eating natural live Greek yoghurt, which can help to alleviate IBS symptoms.

 

Anxiety and stress can increase acid secretion in the stomach, which can change the way food is dealt with. We can become tense and less able to go to the toilet, leading to constipation. Or we may have to rush to the toilet when we’re worried. Anxiety can also lead us to skipping meals, eating on the run, or craving foods that trigger IBS symptoms.

 

 

How to stop involuntary belching

"I've had a problem with belching for quite some time. I could even just have a sip of water first thing in the morning and find myself belching within a short time. I don't gulp and I'm not aware of taking in a lot of air. There seems to be no particular foods that sets it off, but I'd like to alleviate the problem. Have you come across this before? Do you have any suggestions about what it could be and ways to cure or prevent this?"

 

  • Get this checked out with the doctor as sometimes hernias and other gut issues present themselves in this way. If nothing obvious appears to be the cause, assess whether you suffer from sleep apnea and snores – it can be a reason for swallowing a lot of air without realising it.

 

  • If snoring or sleep apnea appears likely, it could be worth looking at whether you need to lose some weight. Losing excess weight can often result in these conditions disappearing.

 

  • Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting quantities and frequencies of what you're eating, then seeing if you can cut out excessive calories. The snacks we forget about between meals – especially sweet biscuits and cakes, or high-fat crisps and other savouries – can soon add up.

 

  • Rather than feeling like you have to cut out every treat, try to control your meal portions or swap in naturally sweet foods such as dates and dried apricots; the fibre in them helps to slow absorption of sugar while helping you to feel fuller, so we’re less likely to overeat them.

 

 

Reducing menopausal symptoms through nutrition

menopause

"I've been taken off HRT after nearly 30 years. Are there any foods that would help me counteract the effects of menopausal symptoms such as overheating and mood swings?"

Foods that contain phytoestrogens – nature’s oestrogen mimickers – could be your answer. There seems to be an absence of menopause symptoms in countries where diets are naturally rich in phytoestrogens, such as the Far East and Japan. Genetics and environmental factors may play a part in this, but it could be worth trying if you’re struggling with menopause symptoms. Options include:

 

  • Soya milk
  • Soya yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

 

Some women find two large glasses of soya milk beneficial; calcium-enriched soya milk will also help counteract some of the bone-thinning that occurs after menopause. But if soya isn’t your thing, other sources of phytoestrogens include:

 

  • Pulses (lentils, chickpeas, beans)
  • Beansprouts
  • Peanuts
  • Linseeds
  • Sweet potatoes

 

Research also shows that fruit and vegetables can be beneficial during menopause (aim to eat eight portions a day). You should also aim to eat up to four 140g portions of omega-3-rich foods each week as these help ease hormone-induced symptoms such as hot flushes, breast tenderness and mood swings. Good sources include oily fish, nuts and seeds. Lastly, some women find that cutting out caffeine helps their symptoms, although there isn’t yet any scientific evidence to support this.

See our menopause index for more information about menopause and how to combat menopausal symptoms. And if you're considering hormone replacement treatment, here's what you need to know about HRT.

 

 

Chemotherapy and nutrition

"A very good friend and neighbour of mine is currently recovering from chemotherapy. I would love to know if there are any recommendations for things I could take round that a) she would enjoy (she has a sweet tooth) and b) will still have nutritional value and help her in her efforts to gain some of the weight she lost."

The perfect answer would be to try this delicious ginger cake, which is temptingly vivid in colour and flavour, yet is soft and easy to eat (chemotherapy can sometimes lead to a sore mouth). It will provide your friend with a sweet but nourishing boost in calories to help her regain weight.

Alternatively, you could make some small ramekins filled with a fruit crumble. The forced rhubarb is wonderful right now, or a simple apple crumble might work well as apple can help to settle a sensitive stomach. Make a batch of them, which she can freeze and then take out every couple of days if she fancies a calorie boost. Even though she has a sweet tooth, make a few savoury things for her, like some chicken pies, again made in ramekins or small individual casserole dishes or tart rings.

Our instinct is to want to feed someone up with large portions, but if you make small quantities she won’t feel over-faced by the food in front of her and be put off eating anything, which can often be the case when you’ve been through cancer treatment. If she has a few mouthfuls at a time, her body is far more likely to want more and slowly but surely the weight will creep on.

 

 

Vasculitis and nutrition

salmon omega-3

"Five and a half years ago I was struck down with Churg-Strauss Syndrome. As it is such a rare form of vasculitis, I had a late diagnosis and as a result I have nerve damage in my feet and right hand. I feel the damage is slowly getting worse, probably because I'm getting older. I'm 70 now, but I wonder if there are any foods that might help slow the decline. When I was in hospital, my consultant said to eat plenty of fat. My cholesterol is high so I am reluctant to eat too much."

Fat is an essential nutrient for everyone. It provides insulation under our skin, produces hormones to ensure healthy growth, and enables the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. But you are correct to be concerned about eating too much fat as it can raise cholesterol levels.

 

  • Rather than eating saturated butter and animal fats, opt for vegetable-based monosaturated or polysaturated oils, such as olive, rapeseed and avocado oils, which are less likely to increase levels of the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in your body.

 

  • Omega-rich fatty foods, such as oily fish, also benefit virtually every part of the body.

 

  • Dairy products are a good source of vitamin D, so if you’re reducing your intake of these you may want to ask your GP to check your levels and investigate taking a supplement.

 

Your treatment may involve taking steroids. If that is the case, you will need to take measures to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. 

 

 

Insomnia and nutrition

"What should I do diet-wise to help my insomnia? I have tried eating bananas and avoiding cheese and sugar too close to bedtime, but I'm reaching a point where I need to try something new desperately."

 

  • Sip herbal infusions at bedtime. Sedative teas include skullcap, blue vervain, valerian and hops, but you may also benefit from calming herbs such as chamomile, bergamot and lemon balm.

 

  • Try a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow.

 

  • If you like them, milky drinks have a soothing effect.

 

  • Earlier in the evening, a dinner based around a wholegrain starch, such as rice or pasta, can begin the relaxation process; avoid spices, as these can be too stimulating and disrupt sleep.

 

  • And for a non-nutritional solution, try the sleep app Pziz.

 

For more tips, check out these insomnia cures that aren't sleeping pills.

 

 

Chronic fatigue and nutrition

nutrition and health

"I'd be very interested in any dietary help you can give for chronic fatigue. Suggestions I have heard include cutting out gluten, carbs, sugar and dairy. That doesn't seem to leave much! I do eat quite a lot of fruit but also enjoy eating fruit with yoghurt."

Enjoying fresh fruits is a great start and delicious with natural Greek yoghurt, which is full of beneficial probiotics that aid digestion. Avoid high-GI fruits like mango and pineapple and perhaps try the stewed fruits instead if you fancy something sweet.

Don't cut out carbohydrates completely - see if reducing the amount you eat, swapping for wholegrain versions and increasing your intake of lean proteins, helps.

Finally, do check that you’re drinking enough water – 2.5 litres a day is the recommended intake – as water will help to boost the energy levels of people with chronic fatigue.

 

 

Nasal congestion and nutrition 

"I suffer from a sudden onset of extreme nasal congestion either during or shortly after eating. This lasts from 20 minutes up to an hour. Someone suggested it could be histamine intolerance. My doctor said this does not exist despite it being listed on the NHS website. Do you have any suggestions about what could be causing this problem and what I could do about it?"

There can be specific histamine-rich foods which can have a negative effect on your breathing. Keep a food diary for at least two weeks so that you can identify what foods trigger your symptoms. High-histamine foods include alcohol, pickled foods, mature cheeses, smoked meat, shellfish, nuts, chocolate and processed foods made with preservatives and artificial colourings. Where you can, eat fresh, homecooked meals made with fresh meat and fish, vegetables and fruits, and wholegrains.

 

 

Vision loss, AMD and nutrition

nutrition and health

"Is there any way I can adjust my diet to help with vision loss and AMD?"

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects sharp, central vision so that we struggle with seeing fine details and may eventually cause a loss of vision. Research into what we can do to prevent our risk isn’t conclusive, although smoking is a major risk factor. The changes in the eye are largely down to free radical damage, so a diet rich in antioxidants that scavenge free radicals may help to protect our sight. There is also some evidence to suggest that eating oily fish may reduce our risk of developing AMD.

When you have the condition, it appears that increasing your intake of vitamin C, carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin helps. Spinach, kale, broccoli and orange and red peppers are all rich in these nutrients.

Cooking improves our body’s ability to absorb them, so you could try ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta, or a delicious Tuscan bean soup with peppers and curly kale. Steamed spinach with a squeeze of lemon juice would be a great side dish, too. Zeaxanthin can be found in greatest quantities in mangoes, oranges, nectarines, squashes and honeydew melons. Despite their benefits, don't eat only these options. A varied diet of colourful fruits and vegetables will increase your chance of gleaning a range of antioxidants that will benefit your whole body, eyes included.

Read more about foods for eye health.

 

 

How to lower your cholesterol

"I'm finding the need to alter my diet to try to lower my cholesterol, combined with a stressful time of downsizing (very debilitating and boring), but I don't want to end up on drugs. I'm missing chocolate and sausages in particular. Any ideas?"

There are two types of cholesterol: the good one, called HDL, and the bad one, LDL, which is the one we try to lower. Foods high in saturated fat - such as butter, cream, cheese and fatty meats - tend to produce LDL, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up your favourite sausages completely.

 

  • Choose sausages with at least 75% meat content (it will be marked on the label, or ask your butcher) and grill them so that excess fat drains away, and enjoy them as a once-a-week (or less) treat. Ideally, serve them with something high in fibre on the side, such as baked beans, sliced tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, or spinach, as part of an every-now-and-then cooked breakfast. If by making small tweaks and ensuring that 80% of what you eat is a healthy choice, then enjoy a lean sausage!

 

  • Pastries and buttery dishes aren’t great as they can lead to too much LDL being produced, so be sure to reduce these in your diet. Instead of a pastry topping, enjoy a cottage pie with fluffy mash made from celeriac, swede or sweet potato. And instead of butter and animal fats, swap in heart-friendly olive, rapeseed and avocado oil.

 

  • Get over the myth that anyone with high cholesterol should avoid eggs and prawns. These foods contain cholesterol but they don’t produce it in the body, so you can still enjoy some as part of your diet.

 

  • Fibre can also help to lower cholesterol levels, so be sure to have plenty of vegetables and fruits (peel on, where possible) and wholegrains, such as porridge and wholemeal bread, in your diet.

 

  • Cut down on calorie-intense fattier foods, such as butter, cream, cheese and oil. Use a cheese slicer to give thin shavings of intensely-flavoured hard cheese, such as mature Cheddar or Parmesan, rather than a chunk.

 

  • Drizzle oil or use a cooking spray when frying, to reduce fat. Instead of fatty bacon and sausages, choose leaner cuts.

 

  • Pack your plate with vegetables and salads for low-calorie flavour and goodness. Delicious meals might be a roast chicken with lots of roasted veg on the side; a simple omelette with herbs, spinach and tomatoes, or baked cod with a squeeze of lemon, with a salad on the side.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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