31 Aug 2012

Wheat Price Rise may have Healthy Impact for You & Your Workforce!

Hi folks,

The cost of alcohol, cereals, pasta, bread & anything else that involves wheat may increase in the near future as wheat supplies become dwindled. Due to the weather this year, agriculturists are predicating a poor wheat yield.

We know wheat as a healthy complex (starchy) carbohydrate that digests slowly to release energy. Many people who are over a healthy weight consume too much of these wheat based foods, their body cannot store anymore as glycogen & is then stored as excess body-fat.

The question is, how severe will this predicted wheat shortage be & will the resulting rise in shelf price be enough to make people cut down? People may opt for soups or salads instead of sandwiches, replace Wheetabix with porridge, pasta with quinoa, all consequently reducing body-fat.

As mentioned in previous blogs, your workforce canteen has a very powerful role to play. What they put on the menu (& its specific ingredients) has a massive affect on the health of your company & the personal health of hundreds. I have just come back from providing health support for a client company & their head cook openly admitted that they're afraid of what a health check would find because they have a very unhealthy lifestyle. This is worrying coming from someone who controls what hundreds of people eat every day. Hopefully one day every canteen (inlc those in schools) should have the input from a nutritionist.

Whilst I launch a 'Jamie Oliver style' campaign tell me what your view is on the forecast wheat shortage, would you alter your shopping list accordingly?


24 Aug 2012

Are Oils in Food Good or Bad?

Hi folks,

This can be pretty confusing; we are told that frying & roasting are bad for us but that some oils can be good for us. All oils are fats so which ones do we use?

Cooking with oils:
Coconut oil, palm oil, & peanut oil are all examples of fats high in saturates. These are hard for our bodies to break down & so too much will get stored as body fat. However, the high levels of saturates cause these oils to have a higher resistance to heat, delaying their breakdown into free radicals (atoms that can have an oxidative effect on our body & can cause cell damage / disease). Intense exercise can also increase free radical levels so if you also have a healthy balanced nutrition (with lots of anti-oxidants) then a little extra saturated fat is probably the lesser of two evils.

Oils as dressings:
Rapeseed oil, olive oil & other oils low in saturated fat will have a higher ratio of monounsaturated & poly unsaturated fats. These are no good for heating but very healthy cold pressed. They contain vital nutrients such as the Omega’s which help maintain our immune system, brain health, blood clotting, eye sight & many other important functions. Try to use these oils as a light dressing on foods instead of a sauce.

In the workplace: If your company operates a staff canteen then a small investigation into the cooking methods of the regular dishes has the potential to have a huge positive affect across your workforce!

So in conclusion we could have an oil that’s moderate / high in saturates for heating, & an oil low in saturates for dressings. If in doubt then olive oil is a good all-rounder.

Hope this helps,


17 Aug 2012

Chocolate health benefits

Hi folks,

Yep, the stuff we all love can be healthy – well the dark variety anyway. More research this week says that dark chocolate can lower our blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most common health conditions in the UK & can lead to many other serious illnesses.

The main ingredients of chocolate are sugar, cocoa butter (fat) & cocoa mass. White chocolate is the most unhealthy as it has a higher ratio of sugar & fat whilst the dark chocolate is healthier with a higher ratio of cocoa mass (with milk chocolate being somewhere in the middle). High levels of cocoa give you more flavanols producing nitric oxide in the body which then causes blood vessel walls to ‘relax’, allowing your blood to pass through at lower pressure.

The problem is that some manufactures remove the flavanols as they have a bitter taste. So now this ‘dark chocolate’ is just dark in colour & doesn’t carry the health benefits. My advice is to always buy good quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 80% or higher, also check out the ingredients & any labels saying ‘high in flavanols or antioxidants’.

Employers: As stress is a key factor raising blood pressure, how about giving out a few healthy dark chocolate bars in the canteen one day or at their desks to raise moral to a valued workforce?

If you want to further boost your levels of flavanols then try mixed beans, apricots, blackberries & good old apples!


10 Aug 2012

Exercise feel like a chore?

Hi folks,

Ever wonder if your exercise training sessions are making any difference?  Well, firstly ask yourself if your routine is challenging, then secondly if you’re giving it your all. Even if the answer is “Yes” to both of these, sometimes the hours spent at the gym feel like hard slog, so here’s a bit of psychology that you may help keep you going:

An Olympian recently said in an interview on TV that “every training session counts”. Imagine that each single training session counts for 2% progress, so if you train 3x per week for two months then that’s over a 25% progression right? – Wow! You will be able to mentally feel & physically see how your hard work has paid off.  At this point in time you will need to modify your exercise session in order to keep progression going.

So next time your about to miss a training session remember - the ones when you feel really strong, the rushed mid-week ones, & the ones when you just feel weak… EVERY TRAINING SESSION COUNTS!



5 Aug 2012

An Olympic opportunity to boost Staff Engagement

Hi folks,

Talking about the latest medal winners at work? Switching the TV on as soon as you get in? Feeling proud to be British?....yep you've got Olympic fever too! London 2012 has lifted our spirits & got as all enthused. Even those people who normally don't care about sport, exercises or health are following it just as avidly as the rest of us & we can use this to benefit workplace health. It well known that when Wimbledon returns every year we all want to go & smash a few tennis balls, when Wiggo won the Tour De France we all felt like jumping on our bikes, so lets capitalise on this major international opportunity & entice those employees that most need it into a healthy lifestyle!

Having a corporate sports day or running company sports teams is fantastic news for those who are already active & will therefore put-off those who know they are unhealthy. A better approach may be to choose sports or games that aren't so stereotyped such as an assault course, tug-of-war, salsa or Zumba dance class, table tennis, & some of the ones that we did at school such as ‘stuck in the mud’. Yes some may childish but that’s why they're a good laugh, physical but not exhaustive & no-one will specialise in them, you could even have a Wii / X-box connect competition mid morning / afternoon & a free 'healthy banquet' for the winners! Separate men’s & women’s teams may be a good idea depending on your workforce dynamics; women are generally put-off by us sweaty grunting guys. 

At the end of your company Olympics day / week, you will have had an element of team building, had a massive laugh, but most importantly managed to reach those who are hardest to engage whilst they are in the mood, possibly starting a lifestyle change. The Olympics’ strap-line of inspiring a generation can apply to all generations!

C'mon Great Britain!!!!!!