Wednesday 24 May 2017

Diet the key to winter health

Presenters Lucy Jones, Dr Gio Miletto and Dr Shaw Somers. PA
Presenters Lucy Jones, Dr Gio Miletto and Dr Shaw Somers. PA

Kate Whiting

As the colder weather descends, Channel 4's dietician and presenter Lucy Jones tells Kate Whiting how we can use the power of food and drink to combat common complaints through the winter

From avoiding chocolate to drinking red wine, the list of food-related suggestions from so-called health experts is long and often contradictory.



Yet as winter arrives and the annual calorie fest looms, there's never been a better time to think about what we're eating and how it's affecting our health.



"In the run-up to Christmas, our bodies have a multitude of attacks to deal with," says Lucy Jones, registered dietician and presenter of Channel 4's new health show The Food Hospital.



"Besides the usual colds and flu, we're also well known for abusing our bodies, with poor dietary changes and increased alcohol consumption."



In order to shed some light on how food affects our bodies, Channel 4 has examined the science behind using food as medicine in the new eight-part series. It's perfect timing for those worried about their immune systems ahead of the party season.



"This is known as the age of the dietician. Over the past 10 years, people have developed a real fascination with the way that diet can influence our health," says Jones.



From asthma to varicose veins, the series shows how, by eating (and avoiding) certain foods, you can ease the symptoms. Oily fish apparently helps asthmatics, while anyone with varicose veins should steer clear of white bread and other refined foods.



"We're not trying to promote nutrition as an alternative to medicine - people should always still go to their GP. But we're showing that there's a lot you can do to help your condition," adds Jones.



"Food impacts on the workings of every single cell in our body because it's our fuel, so every bit of cell renewal, every bit of metabolism, will be affected by what you eat."



The presenting team, including Dr Gio Miletto, a GP, and gastrointestinal surgeon Dr Shaw Somers, also aim to debunk some of the myths about healthy eating, from overdosing on so-called 'superfoods' such as blueberries and goji berries to relying heavily on supplements.



"You should be able to get everything you need from a healthy balanced diet," says Jones.



But your mental state can also affect your health and digestion, she adds. "Stress is closely linked to lots of illnesses, particularly gastrointestinal symptoms.



"This is why people who suffer with IBS and illnesses such as Crohn's often have flare-ups when stressed."



From avoiding chocolate to drinking red wine, the list of food-related suggestions from so-called health experts is long and often contradictory.



Yet as winter arrives and the annual calorie fest looms, there's never been a better time to think about what we're eating and how it's affecting our health.



"In the run-up to Christmas, our bodies have a multitude of attacks to deal with," says Lucy Jones, registered dietician and presenter of Channel 4's new health show The Food Hospital.



"Besides the usual colds and flu, we're also well known for abusing our bodies, with poor dietary changes and increased alcohol consumption."



In order to shed some light on how food affects our bodies, Channel 4 has examined the science behind using food as medicine in the new eight-part series. It's perfect timing for those worried about their immune systems ahead of the party season.



"This is known as the age of the dietician. Over the past 10 years, people have developed a real fascination with the way that diet can influence our health," says Jones.



From asthma to varicose veins, the series shows how, by eating (and avoiding) certain foods, you can ease the symptoms. Oily fish apparently helps asthmatics, while anyone with varicose veins should steer clear of white bread and other refined foods.



"We're not trying to promote nutrition as an alternative to medicine - people should always still go to their GP. But we're showing that there's a lot you can do to help your condition," adds Jones.



"Food impacts on the workings of every single cell in our body because it's our fuel, so every bit of cell renewal, every bit of metabolism, will be affected by what you eat."



The presenting team, including Dr Gio Miletto, a GP, and gastrointestinal surgeon Dr Shaw Somers, also aim to debunk some of the myths about healthy eating, from overdosing on so-called 'superfoods' such as blueberries and goji berries to relying heavily on supplements.



"You should be able to get everything you need from a healthy balanced diet," says Jones.



But your mental state can also affect your health and digestion, she adds. "Stress is closely linked to lots of illnesses, particularly gastrointestinal symptoms.



"This is why people who suffer with IBS and illnesses such as Crohn's often have flare-ups when stressed."



GIVE YOUR BODY A BOOST



Prevent or cure some of the most common health complaints of the season with Lucy Jones's top tips...



Prevent or cure some of the most common health complaints of the season with Lucy Jones's top tips

BLOATING



Cause: A lack of dietary fibre can lead to a build-up of gas in the stomach, as food sits and ferments rather than being digested. Bloating can also be caused by stress, owing to changes in the digestion of foods. Some people are also sensitive to 'fermentable carbohydrates' - known for their gas-producing properties.



Advice: Aim to spread meals evenly throughout the day and eat slowly and calmly. Limit alcohol, keep well hydrated to avoid constipation, which encourages bloating, and consume lots of fibre to keep your bowels moving.



Eat fruits, vegetables, pulses such as beans and lentils, oats and wholegrains, avoiding fatty foods. Some people may find certain healthy foods which easily ferment, such as apples and leeks, worsen their symptoms.

INSOMNIA



Cause: Trouble falling or staying asleep is closely linked to stress and can be caused by various illnesses and medications.



Advice: Avoid having excess caffeine, from the afternoon onwards, and alcohol, which causes broken sleep, and try having a high carbohydrate snack or hot milk shortly before bed as this can help stimulate insulin production.



Eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, such as almonds, cashews, bananas and dried apricots, as deficiency causes insomnia.

INDIGESTION/HEARTBURN



Cause: Stomach acid refluxing back into the food pipe (oesophagus) can cause a burning feeling. Stress can increase the amount of acid produced and being overweight also makes people susceptible.



Advice: Big meals, fatty foods, smoking, fizzy drinks and alcohol cause the valve at the top of our stomach to relax, which accounts for the massive increase in heartburn around Christmas time.



Avoid eating too much at any one time and don't eat for the two hours before bed. Vegetables offer protective nutrients, which can help repair the damage caused to your oesophagus from heartburn.

The Food Hospital: Simple, Delicious Recipes For A Healthy Life by Dr Gio Miletto, Lucy Jones and Dr Shaw Somers is published by Michael Joseph. The Food Hospital is on Channel 4 on Tuesdays

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