A case for organic food


There tends to be quite a debate about the pros and cons of organic food. Some research studies come out claiming organic food is healthier in terms of nutrient density compared to no organic food. For example The Soil Association’s document “organic farming, food quality and human health report” concluded that the evidence supports the hypothesis that organically grown crops are significantly different in terms of food safety, nutritional content and nutritional value from those produced by non-organic farming and recommends that consumers wishing to improve their intake of minerals, vitamin C and antioxidant phytonutrients while reducing their exposure to potentially harmful pesticide residues, nitrates, genetically modified organisms and artificial additives used in food processing should, wherever possible, choose organically produced food.

However other research claims that organic food is not healthier than nonorganic food, see here for more on this. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8174482.stm

What seems to be missed in the debate on organic versus non-organic food is the irrefutable fact that most non-organic foods are covered in a chemical cocktail of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. There are over 400 chemicals licensed to be sprayed on crops throughout the UK, often times in combination. A field of wheat can be sprayed up to 8 times from the time it’s sown to the times it’s harvested with multiple chemicals. What we are starting to realise is that these chemicals are a leading cause of insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes.

There is now a huge body of evidence that links persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to diabetes. A study in 2006 study found a “striking” dose response relationships between six POPs and the prevalence of diabetes in U.S. adults. The higher the levels of these POPs found in their blood, the higher the prevalence of diabetes. In a follow up study published by the same authors PCBs and organochlorine pesticides were the most strongly associated with the prevalence of diabetes.

The mechanism behind the link between pesticides and diabetes is as follows. These PCBs and organochlorine pesticides are similar in chemical structure to your body’s own oestrogen. Therefore they are capable of mimicking oestrogen in the body and binding on to oestrogen receptors on cell membranes.

We now know that the beta cells in the pancreas that release insulin have oestrogen receptors on them. These beta cells can become stimulated by the widespread environmental contamination of pesticides leading to increased insulin secretion with or without the presence of sugar in the blood and leading poor blood glucose maintenance.  If you have constantly high insulin levels the cells become insulin resistant and you can develop diabetes or become obese.

Now earlier I stated that most non-organic foods are covered in these chemicals and the Environmental working group have published a list called the dirty dozen. This is a list of 12 foods that are most contaminated with pesticides and definitely should be avoided unless they are organic. These include:

  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Peppers
  • Spinach, kale and collard greens
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Imported grapes
  • Lettuce

They also published a list called the clean 15 – this is a list of foods that had the least amount of detectable pesticides on them. The Clean 15 include:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • Aubergine
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Onions
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet corn
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon

Some evidence from the past

The Haughley Experiment was the first scientific comparative study of organic farming and conventional chemical-based farming, started in 1939 by Lady Eve Balfour. In the book “The Haughley Experiment” you can find a reference to a school in New Zealand who began farming their own organic food. They had a noticeable reduction in children reporting to the school nurse and a significant reduction in injuries among rugby players, particularly ligament injuries.

So not only does eating organic foods protect us from consuming chemicals that may lead us to be overweight and obsess or develop diabetes, they may also protect our bodies from illness and injury. Bob Rakowski sums it up nicely when he suggests that if you are not buying organic food you are supporting and industry that is poisoning every man, women and child on the planet.

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Get more veg in to your diet


One thing that is common with many people’s diets is that they don’t eat enough veg. Veg is the true king of healthy foods providing fibres, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. So it’s no surprise that when I recommend people eat more veg I’m met with a blank look or the response of “I just don’t know how to eat more veg”. To be fair some veg can be pretty boring and sometimes it doesn’t taste great. So how can we get more of it into our diets?

I have come up with a couple of great tips to get more veg in your diet and still enjoy some of your favourite foods. We all love spaghetti Bolognese, curry or chilli con carne, but we have to eat these foods with rice or pasta right? Well, no! Substitute the rice, spaghetti and pasta for veg. Here is how…

Use spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti. A spaghetti squash is like a pumpkin – you roast it and scrape the flesh out from the inside and it comes out just like spaghetti (hence the name). Instead of rice or pasta try using diced kale, cabbage, chard or other winter greens as the base to put your sauce on. Also put loads of veg in to the sauces to bulk them out. Try these 2 recipes:

Lamb and chickpea curry

  • 500g of diced lamb neck or shoulder
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste
  • 1 onion
  • 1 2cm square of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Veg of your choice (courgettes, green beans)
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne,
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • Salt and pepper
  • Kale

Dice up and stir fry the onions and ginger. Add the lamb and brown to seal the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Add all the veg, chickpeas, curry paste, tomatoes and garlic and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked. Finish with adding the spices and serve on a bed of diced steamed kale.

Beef chilli

  • 500g of minced beef
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of cooked kidney beans
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Veg of your choice (carrots, sprouting broccoli and red peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne,
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chard

Dice up and stir fry the onions. Add the beef and brown to seal the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Add all the veg, kidney beans, tomatoes and garlic and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked. Finish with adding the spices and serve on a bed of diced steamed chard.

Also try bulk cooking it and putting it in to bowls and then freezing it. Then you came come home a heat it up for a quick healthy meal.

Here are some other great ways to get veg into your diet

Stir fry

Most veg can be stir fried – bean sprouts, cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic, chestnuts, peppers, mushrooms, green beans, peas, corn, mange tout, broccoli and chard. Throw in some prawns or chi9cken and add some tamari for a great tasting stir fry.


Broccoli, carrots, cabbage, chard, spinach, winter greens, squash and sweet potato. These are are a great addition to a roasted meat or fish.


Roast Mediterranean veg – onions, courgettes, aubergine, pepper, garlic. Also roast carrots, beetroot, parsnips and sweet potato. Lovely with a piece of fish.


Think salads – all leaves, tomatoes, spring onions, beetroot, artichoke, peppers, cucumber and corn. Great summer bites with meat or fish or just a boiled egg.

Good luck with these recipes and get more veg into your diet. London nutritionist Steve Hines: get more veg in to your diet.

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Get more fish into your diet


As an island nation surrounded by the sea and it’s rich produce you would think we would be a nation of seafood lovers, however the palate of the British nation doesn’t extend much beyond fish fingers, cod and chips and tinned tuna. This may in part be due to the lost art of preparing and cooking seafood or to the fact that people claim they don’t like fish. But it needn’t be this way. With a little bit of imagination you can make fish and seafood taste delicious and it takes no time at all to cook. If you take a trip down to your local fish monger you will see a whole host of different produce and expanding your horizons beyond cod and tuna can reignite your interest in this delicious food.

Look out for oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, trout, pilchards, herring as well as salmon. Mackerel for instance is quite cheap, and trout is a cheaper alternative to salmon. For white fish look out for pollock, sea bass, sea bream, gurnard as well as cod and haddock. Some other types of fish such as pangasius, snapper, tilapia are also becoming popular and can be bought at the fish monger. Then of course there is seafood such as mussels, prawns, crab and cockles.

Fresh fish is always better but eating some tinned fish now and then is also a good way to get more of this food into your diet. For instance as well as tinned tuna tinned mackerel, sardines, pilchards and salmon can also be bought quite cheaply in the supermarket.

If you don’t know what to do with fish just try one of these simple recipes.

Mackerel pate

Drain then empty a tin of mackerel into a bowel; add a dash of olive oil, some smoked paprika, salt and pepper and blend together with a hand held food processor (or mush together with a fork. Spread over two rice cakes for a delicious snack.

Fish parcels

Use Pollock, sea bream, gurnard or mackerel. For a Mediterranean flavour place the fish on a base of fennel tin foil, add a dash of olive oil, some thyme and oregano and some lemon juice. Fold up the parcel and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Serve with a garden salad, chopped tomatoes and olive. For an oriental flavour add the fish to a base of chopped chillies, ginger, garlic and lemon grass, add a dash of sesame oil and tamari sauce and cook. Serve with whole grain rice and some steam bok choy.

Fish and chips

Dice up some potato or sweet potato in to wedges (leave the skin on) and par boil for 10 minutes, then toss them in oil or butter and place in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes until cooked and crisp on the outside. In the mean time take some white fish like sea bass or pangasius, season with salt and pepper, bay leaves and a sprig of thyme and steam bake (place some water in the bottom of the baking tray and cover with foil) for 15-20 minutes. Serve with the potatoes and some tinned mushy peas.

Welsh mussels

Dice up an onion and a leek and sweat down in some butter. Chop up some smoked bacon back and add the onion and leeks. Finally throw in your mussels and cover until the mussels open and serve. Throw away any mussels that have not opened.

Squid salad

Chop up some squid and fry it off in some olive oil with chilli flakes, garlic, salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of mixed salad.

There you go, quick simple and delicious seafood in less than 30 minutes (often times 15-20 minutes)

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5 Top Tips to Looking Like a Supermodel


These are the top 5 things that you can do to look like a supermodel.

Eat a healthy diet

This seems obvious but if we delve a little deeper and distinguish what is a healthy diet we can actually get some results and a slender waistline and slimmer curves.

The golden rule is to reduce insulin release. Now, insulin is an important hormone to control your blood sugar and you need some released at regular intervals every day to be healthy, but what you want to avoid is large surges of insulin from eating sugary starchy foods like sweets, pizza, doughnuts, croissants, bread, chocolate, pasta, cakes and biscuits. You should also cut down servings of rice and potatoes as well. The more that you produce insulin each day the less fat burning you will get.

The best way to do this is to eat a Low GL diet or a Paleo diet both of which focus on eating healthy lean protein sources like meat, fish and eggs, as well as healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds and food low in sugar such as all green vegetables, some fruits, nuts seeds, beans and legumes.
If you centre your diet on these recommendations you will start to lose excess fat from your tummy, thighs and arms, drop a dress size or two and start to look and feel a lot better about yourself.

Exercise 4 times a week

We all know we need to take exercise and the general advice is to get 30 minutes of exercise a day. However if you want that supermodel body this is not enough. You will need to do a good hour of exercise at a high intensity at least four times a week – yes four times a week. Research has shown that weight loss results can be up to 70% greater when training four times a week compared to three times a week.

After you have warmed up you need to do two types of exercise 1) high intensity interval training and 2) resistance training.

High intensity interval training means you exercise very hard for a period of time, say 30-60 seconds – be it sprinting, walking uphill on a treadmill, spinning or even doing step ups on a step block, followed by a period of active rest for 1-2 minutes to get your breath back. This could be walking, cycling at a slow pace or just marching slowly on the spot. If you can do this for 20-30 minutes you will get a great workout and you will be burning fat for hours afterwards compared to going for a 20-30 minute jog.

Next you need to do resistance exercise. This means pushing, pulling and lifting things, be it a dumbbell, a kettle bell, resistance bands or just your body weight. You need to do exercises that use lots of muscle such as squats, walking lunges, deadlifts, kettle bell thrusters or chin ups that are used on our outdoor personal training group exercise classes. These exercises use much more fat as fuel then doing some biceps curls whilst sitting on a bench or doing tricep kick backs, and will give you leaner legs and a toned bum to look great in those skinny jeans


You’ve probably all heard you need to get your 8 hours sleep each night. If you don’t you can often times look very tired with dark circles under your eyes and lack that vital energy to get you through the day. But now science is helping us understand that a lack of sleep can make us fatter and sicker. People who get the least amount of sleep are more likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

But as we want to look like a supermodel a lack of sleep actually causes us to eat more through the day, with a tendency to eat lots of sugary snacks to boost energy. When we don’t get enough sleep we produce a substance from our stomach called grehlin. The less sleep we get, the more grehlin we produce. Grehlin’s job is to tell the brain we need to eat and hey presto you end up eating way more food than you actually need. We’ve all done it, only got 5 or 6 hours sleep and been ravenous all day. Well, now we know why. So make sure you get those 8 hours of sleep each night.

Take supplements

First and foremost we get our nutrition from our food, making healthy choices such as meat and fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds and some fruits. But due to our uniqueness some of us need more vitamins, minerals and healthy fats than others and our food is also less nutritious than it was 50 years ago because a lot of our food travels from all over the world – being picked unripe or losing nutrition on its journey; and because our soil has less nutrition in it to feed the plants.

So we should all be taking at least a daily multivitamin and mineral. Getting a little boost of these nutrients can add the finer details to looking like a supermodel. A little boost of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins can give you healthy hair and nails and some omega 3 can give you fresher healthier looking skin.


Stress makes us age faster, greying the hair, wrinkling the skin and giving us a paler complexion. So it makes sense in order to look your best to practice some stress reducing techniques.

Science tells us that stress is relived by have an outlet for our frustrations such as having a hobby or diversion. This could be exercise, playing an instrument, watching movies – whatever – but taking some time for yourself is a big help. Stress is also reduced by having a real or imagined sense of control and having social connectedness, so this is where being organised so that work and family life don’t get on top of you and spending time with friends and loved ones. It’s amazing how much better we feel after we have laughed so surround yourself with happy funny people and you will have a greater sense of well being that translate into a fresher healthier looking body.

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