Just before Christmas and the onslaught of the silly season (read: overindulging season) I was invited to attend a Sunday afternoon healthy cooking class at The Underground Cookery School in East London. Open only to lifestyle bloggers and organised by simplyhealth, the event was designed to show people how to eat well, both nutritionally and deliciously. I couldn’t have been more excited. It was the perfect way to spend a cold Sunday lunchtime in December.
Before we got into the cooking class, we had an enlightening nutrition talk from Kate Cook (yes, the name was meant to be!). You may know Kate from television (she worked on ‘The Truth about Beauty‘ with Martine McCutcheon) or from one of her six books that she writes from her Harley Street practice, The Nutrition Coach. Her book ‘The Feel Good Factory’ is already on my Amazon wish list.
Kate talked animatedly about how the secret to eternal youth is actually found in nutrition and not in a pill or the latest ‘superfood’ craze. It seems kale alone will not make you young and slim for life. She spoke about the Japanese community, where the average life expectancy is a staggering 81.5 and the one glaringly obvious difference between their lifestyle and ours is nutrition. You don’t see the average Londoner including seaweed in their daily diet. Maybe we should. And not just in our next spicy tuna roll. However, there is no need to be militant about nutrition and health. The Japanese have a balance and so should we.
Here are Kate’s ‘7 Secrets to Eternal Youth’
1. Digestion and Fibre: This is so important! 80% of your energy comes from your gut. If it isn’t working properly, neither will you! Do not ignore any problems with your digestion.
2. Stress and its Impact: Cortisol is the stress hormone. It’s good to have for fight or flight mode but too much stops your gut from working properly. Stay calm and so will your digestion.
3. Antioxidants: Nature is our own larder. It protects us, we need to embrace herbs and spices as well as vegetables.
4. Water: Our bodies need alkaline not acid. Water counteracts the acidity in the body. Make sure you sip throughout the day, as opposed to glugging. You can drink too much though!
5. Detoxification: We have enzymes in the body that help us to detoxify naturally. This can be genetic, but don’t worry about following a detox diet. Your body knows how to do it already – especially if you look after it most of the time.
6. Essential fats: We need fat in the brain. FYI, olive oil (omega 9) is not an essential fat. We are talking about nuts, avocado etc.
7. Balancing blood sugar: This is the foundation of your nutrition. It is so important to balance/control your blood sugar. Did you know that there are 9tsps of sugar in Lucozade drink? Probably. Did you know that there is the same in a smoothie?! A healthy smoothie can still create a sugar drop. You get an insulin rush after sugar intake and your blood sugar crashes as a result. Then you feel need to snack and have coffee etc to find some energy. If you avoid high sugar intake, you will avoid these insulin rushes and crashes.
How can you control your sugar intake?
With the Glycaemic Index (GI). Low GI foods make your body work harder to absorb them, which prevents the rush of insulin and the sugar is absorbed slowly, avoiding the crash. Examples of low GI foods are fibrous, textured foods like oatcakes and lentils. Sweet-tasting foods and light and fluffy things, such as rice cakes and ‘low calorie’ foods have a high burn rate and are not good for you. Make your body work harder with protein and natural goodness. The secret is the protein. Always eat breakfast and always have it with protein (eggs and salmon, not white cereal). Eat your fruit and fibre – don’t drink it from a juicer! You will not only gain short term benefits by eating this way (healthy skin and hair) but blood sugar levels also contribute to your health, many diseases can be traced back to poor control of the blood sugar, not just diabetes. Weight loss is also an obvious benefit. If your blood sugar is not balanced, then you will not sleep well and your middle will hold on to that imbalance. This is why they say that sleep affects diet and weight loss. Control your sugar intake and everything else will slot into place.
We have the power to change our destiny. You hold the key to your own future.
Kate’s final piece of advice however was this: ‘Don’t ever let a nutritionist lead the menu. It will be disgusting. Let the cook do it!‘
To find out more about Kate, visit The Nutrition Coach London.
You can buy The “Feel Good Factory” on Healthy Living: Life-boosting, Stress-beating, Age-busting Ways to Total Health by Kate Cook here.
Stay tuned to part 2 of this write-up where I tell you all about the delicious food we cooked after Kate’s talk!