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  • Brixton Therapy Centre

Taking Care of Brixton: Eating Well for Health



Believe it or not, we’d rather NOT see you!

At least we’d rather see you to help you maintain your physical and mental well-being rather than see you when something has gone wrong. 

With that in mind we, at Brixton Therapy Centre, have created this article about eating well to help promote all-round, holistic health, and maybe prevent you from needing our services quite as much. 


Covering everything your body needs and why, including the main vitamins and minerals and most importantly what foods you can find them in, this is a quick and easy guide to nutrition basics. 


General Nutrition

The 6 basic nutrients that fuel our bodies are:


  • Water.

  • Protein.

  • Carbohydrates.

  • Fats.

  • Vitamins.

  • Minerals.


Water

Water helps transport nutrients around our bodies, making sure the areas that need them, get them. It also helps flush out waste and toxins from our systems, protects our organs and joints and helps to regulate our body temperature. 

The average recommended fluid intake per day is around 3 litres.  


Protein

Essential for tissue, bone and muscle growth and health. Protein is also key in some of the most important bodily processes including hormone production and regulation, enzymes, fluid balance, blood clotting and vision. 


Protein is made up of amino acids; there are 20 of these in total. Our bodies can make many of them but there are 9 that our bodies can’t synthesise. Foods that have these 9 are called complete proteins. 

Complete protein sources include:


  • Quinoa.

  • Soy.

  • Fish.

  • Beef.

  • Tofu.

  • Dairy.


Incomplete Proteins can be partnered with other incomplete proteins to create a complete protein such as:


  • Nut butter with whole grain bread.

  • Lentils, beans or peas with whole grain rice.

  • Vegetables with whole grain pasta. 


The average adult should aim for around 50g of protein daily. 


Carbohydrates

Poor old carbs get a bad press when they are an essential part of a healthy diet. A lot depends on the food that provides the carbs. Carbohydrates derived from sugar and refined grains (eg white bread) have little in the way of vitamins and minerals and tend to drive inflammation, whereas carbohydrates derived from root vegetables, such as carrots, are rich in vitamins and minerals. The body, if it has no carbohydrates to use, will burn fat for energy, however, if following a carb free diet it’s important to make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals from your other food.


Carbohydrates provide us with energy, aid concentration by maintaining good blood sugar levels, help us to feel full, and are a good source of fibre. 


The three types of carbohydrates are sugars, starches and dietary fibre. 

Mono and disaccharides are carbohydrates that end in ‘ose’: fructose, lactose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are ok in small doses but the real champions of the carbohydrate world are the complex carbohydrates or starches found in grains. These are in foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals, brown rice, wholegrain pasta and also in vegetables, especially root vegetables and pulses.

  

The non-starch polysaccharides are the type of carbohydrate that although our bodies can’t digest, are an important source of dietary fibre - these are found in the cell walls of plants including the grains and root vegetables. Having fibre in our diet slows the absorption of the sugars in carbohydrates and helps stabilise blood sugar. This is why it is a bad idea to strip the (vitamin and mineral-containing) fibre from grains. Eat wholegrains wherever possible.

Gut Microbiome

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is vital for overall health and well-being, an understanding that has become increasingly clear in recent years. The gut microbiome, a complex community of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract, plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions. It is not just essential for efficient digestion and nutrient absorption but also significantly impacts our immune system, mental health, and even the risk of developing certain chronic diseases.

Disruptions in this delicate ecosystem have been linked to a wide array of health issues, ranging from digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), to systemic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even neurological disorders like depression and Alzheimer's disease. 


The gut microbiome is highly responsive to lifestyle factors, particularly diet. Diets rich in diverse and fibrous foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. On the other hand, a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats can lead to an imbalance in the microbiome, favouring harmful bacteria.


Further underscoring the significance of a healthy gut microbiome, emerging research suggests that the gut-brain axis – a complex communication network linking the gut and the brain – plays a key role in mental health.


Look after your gut microbiome and it will look after you!


Fats

Fats are another essential part of a healthy diet that get a bad reputation. 

Truth is, we need fats for:

  • Protecting our organs. 

  • Absorbing nutrients. 

  • Energy. 

  • Supports cell growth. 

  • Controlling cholesterol levels. 

  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure. 


However, there is more than one type of fat:


  • Saturated Fat - unhealthy fat.

These fats tend to be solid and are found in meat and dairy as well as many processed foods pastries, pizza, hamburgers, biscuits etc. 

  • Unsaturated Fat - healthy fat. 

These fats are further split into two categories: polyunsaturated fats which include the Omega oils and are found in oily fish, flax and sunflower seeds, walnuts and oils made from safflower, soybeans and corn. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts and seeds and their oils, olive oil and avocado. 

  • Trans Fat - unhealthy fat.

Commonly called ‘partially hydrogenated fat’ in processed foods and should be avoided. Trans fats are a big driver of inflammation.


Fats should make up around 30% of what you eat with a maximum of 5-10% of that percentage being saturated fats. It is advisable to cut out trans fats completely or certainly reduce them as much as possible. 


Vitamins

There are 13 essential vitamins. Here’s a succinct list of what they do and what foods are rich in them:

Vitamin A

For healthy skin (inside and out), immune system, vision and protection against infections and many types of cancer. 

Best sources: Liver, carrots, sweet potato, watercress, mango and pumpkin. 

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

For energy levels, brain function and digestion. It also aids the body to use proteins effectively. 

Best food sources: Watercress, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lamb and beans. 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

For healthy skin, eyes, nails and hair and to help the body process fats and sugars to create proteins. It also regulates acidity levels in the body. 

Best food sources: milk, wheatgerm, asparagus and mushrooms. 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

For energy production, normal brain function as well as balancing cholesterol and blood sugar. Helps improve digestion and reduce inflammation. 

Best sources: Mushrooms, tuna, chicken, asparagus, mackerel, turkey, and whole wheat. 

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

For metabolising fat, and to keep the brain and the nervous system healthy. Used in the creation of anti-stress hormones. Helps keep skin and hair healthy. 

Best sources: Mushrooms, lentils, eggs, avocado.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

For healthy hormones and so is especially helpful during puberty, menopause and for PMS. Essential for the body to digest and use protein. Also helps manage allergic reactions and is a natural anti-depressant.

Best sources: broccoli, cauliflower, kidney beans, banana, seeds and nuts. 

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamine)

For helping the blood to carry oxygen and for effectively using protein. Also healthy nerve cells DNA synthesis.

Best sources: sardines, oysters, cottage cheese, eggs, tuna, 

 

Vitamin C

For a healthy immune system and for fighting infections. Keeps bones, joints, and skin healthy and is required to make collagen. 

It is an anti-oxidant and has a detoxifying effect helping to protect the body from various cancers as well as heart disease. 

It is also used in the metabolic process of turning food into energy and helps make anti-stress hormones. 

Best Sources: Peppers, broccoli, lemons, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries. 

Vitamin D

For helping the body to retain calcium, essential for strong and healthy bones. 

Best Sources: Herrings, mackerel, oysters, cottage cheese, salmon. 

Vitamin E

For skin and wound healing as well as fertility and protecting cells from damage including cancers. Supports the body to make use of oxygen. 

Best Sources: Corn oils (unrefined), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, wheat germ and other seeds, nuts and beans. 

Vitamin K

For blood clotting.  

Best sources: cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans, cabbage. 


Biotin 

For helping the body utilise fats for healthy skin, hair and nerves, especially during childhood. 

Best sources: sweetcorn, cauliflower, almonds, herrings and eggs.

Folate

For red blood cells and brain and nerve function supports the body to use protein and is essential during pregnancy for the healthy development of the foetal  brain and nerves.

Best sources: wheat germ, spinach, brussel sprouts, peanuts, sesame seeds and walnuts.  

Minerals

Calcium 

For healthy nerves, bones, skin, teeth, heart, muscles, nerves and aids with the balance of acid-alkaline in the body. 

Best Sources: cheese, milk, yoghurt, parsley, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.


Chromium 

For balancing blood sugar levels, normalising appetite, and is essential for healthy heart function. 

Best Sources: Brewer's yeast, wholemeal bread, rye bread, eggs.

Iron 

For effective transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide around the body as part of haemoglobin.  Essential for energy levels. 

Best Sources: Dried beans, red meat, shellfish, eggs, molasses, dried fruit, liver and spinach. 

Magnesium 

For strong bones and teeth and aid muscles to relax so is good for period pains and a healthy heart. 

Best Sources: Wheatgerm, buckwheat flour, nuts, beans and brewers yeast.

Manganese 

For healthy bones, cartilage and soft tissue. Also for the brain, nerves and red blood cells.

Best sources: Pineapple, blackberries, okra, raspberries, celery. 

Molybdenum

For healthy teeth and for removing waste from the body particularly those created from the breaking down of proteins and of toxins. 

Best sources: Tomatoes, lentils, pork, lamb, beans, wheat germ. 

Phosphorus 

For healthy bones and teeth and essential for milk production in lactating women. Also supports muscle growth, PH balance and metabolism. 

Best sources: Almost all foods contain phosphorus. 

Potassium 

For metabolic function, gut and bowel function and fluid balance. Also for healthy nerves, cells, and muscles including the heart and helps with insulin secretion. 

Best sources: white beans, potato, sweet potato, molasses, bananas, avocado and dried apricots. 

Selenium

For stimulating the immune system and supporting the body to eliminate toxins such as free radicals and carcinogens. Also aids heart health and works with vitamin E for healthy skin inside and out. Required for male fertility. 

Best sources: Seafood, brazil nuts, tofu, turkey and chicken. 

Sodium 

For muscle contractions (including the heart) and for maintaining the balance of water within the body. Also helps the transfer of nutrients into cells. 

Best sources: Shrimp, miso, crab, and olives. 

Zinc

For growth, hormones, healing, stress management and a healthy nervous system. Especially important during pregnancy to aid the development of bones, teeth and nervous system in the foetus. 

Best Sources: Oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds (and other seeds), nuts and poultry. 


A Final Word

One of the best ways you can keep your body healthy and well-nourished is to aim for natural, unprocessed foods as far as possible. 

This means avoiding fast foods, ready meals and heavily processed foods, which tend to mean foods which have a long list of ingredients that don’t sound like food!

Making your own food from scratch can be fun and more economical as well as better for your body. Batch cooking can help when it comes to ensuring we can still eat healthily when time is limited. 





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