Polly Douglas Nutritional Therapist

Polly Douglas Nutritional Therapist

Polly Douglas, Nutritional Therapist

I will use this blog to post recipes, nutritional therapy information and general info about healthy eating.

Functional Festivities

nutritional therapyPosted by Polly Douglas Wed, October 26, 2011 14:45:36

Functional Festivities

Tips to avoid feeling bloated and hungover

So Christmas is almost upon us once more, I know I can’t believe it either. All the planning, organising of diaries, shopping and food to think about, it’s no wonder we go back to work after the festivities feeling that our clothes don’t fit quite so well and we haven’t got quite so much energy as we used to have. We all over indulge at Christmas time, and that is part of the fun and excitement of the season, but it doesn’t have to mean that we feel tired and bloated and our hangovers take longer and longer to shift. The key to feeling healthier throughout the festive season is to getting your liver in tip top shape before the over indulging starts, and keep looking after it in between rich feasts and alcohol fuelled parties.

The liver is the power house to our detoxification system. All ‘toxins’ that we consume, including medications, foods, drugs, alcohol etc, put on our skin and breathe in, pass through our liver to be converted into harmless waste products which can be safely excreted from our bodies. This happens in two stages, the first phase breaks down the toxins, which can make them into even more harmful intermediary by-products, and then the second phase sticks them together again to make them into new harmless substances. The trouble is that quite often phase one works more quickly than phase two, so the toxic intermediate substances don’t get stuck together quickly enough, and they get back into the blood stream and circulate around the body, giving us less energy, headaches, nausea etc. Does this sound familiar following a big night out?

The liver relies on hundreds of different enzymes (biochemicals which breakdown specific toxins) to carry out its job. The enzymes require many different co-factors to carry out their job successfully, if the co-factors are missing the toxins don’t get broken down efficiently, or the correct bits aren’t there to stick them back together again, either way, the detox pathways can’t work properly and therefore we feel lousy. This may all seem a little bit complex, but hopefully it will make the upcoming advice make more sense.

These co-factors aren’t anything that you haven’t heard of, they are basically protein and vitamins & minerals, specific ones carry our specific jobs within the liver. If we prepare for the increased work that our livers will be doing over the festive period by increasing our co-factors and getting ourselves ‘cleaned up’ now, hopefully we will get through the festivities in better shape too. There may be other factors affecting our liver function, underlying health issues and medications being major ones. However eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals will not affect these, taking supplements with very high concentrations may have side effects, and medical advice should be sought before starting to take them.

So, which co-factors are the most important and how do we increase our intake? First of all protein is important, so we should be eating small amounts of protein rich foods 3-5 times per day. Protein at breakfast is an excellent way to start the day and helps to give the liver an all day round source of one of its major co-factors, needed in both phases of liver function. Protein coming from red meat and processed meat products (bacon, sausages) are difficult for our digestive system to get at and can form more of the toxic intermediaries, so plant based protein sources are gentler on the liver as a general rule of thumb. B vitamins are essential for many functions in the body, especially liver function. Most of the B vitamins can be found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains and other vegetables, however vitamin B12 can only be found in animal based products. Sulphur is one of the key components in phase 2, it can be found in eggs, garlic and green leafy vegetables.

As well as giving the liver the basic ingredients to do its job, we should also protect it from any extra toxins or intermediaries which slip through the net, so we need to have plenty of antioxidants. The main antioxidants are Vitamins A, C & E, selenium and zinc. These will boost your immune system, keep your heart healthy and improve your skin as well as protecting your liver. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, betacarotene is a precursor to vitamin A and is found in orange/yellow vegetables in particular. Pre-formed Vitamin A is found in liver and whole milk. Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables generally. Vitamin E is found in oils, seeds & oily fish. Selenium and zinc is found in highest concentrations in Brazil nuts and oysters respectively.

As you can see fruits and vegetables are mentioned quite regularly above, they supply the body with minerals, vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, natural fibre and water. You should eat a wide variety of colours to get all of the different nutrients you need. Aim to eat one salad a day in addition to a dark green vegetable with dinner such as broccoli, spinach, kale or Swiss chard to up your vegetable and fiber intake. Try making smoothies with fruit and natural yoghurt to increase fruit intake.

It’s not so difficult is it? I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t say that you should be monitoring your alcohol consumption and 2 glasses of wine per night is much easier for your liver to cope with than 2 bottles on Christmas day, but we all know we’ll have days like that. Drink plenty of water or herb/fruit teas to flush out excess toxins, caffeine and fizzy drinks may seem like the answer, but they just add to the toxins circulating through your system so avoid them if possible.

See if you can increase your intake of vitamin B and sulphur rich foods over the next 2 months and you will be surprised about the improvements you will feel in many aspects of your health and well being, and you never know, you might not get such a sore head on new years day!

Polly Douglas is a qualified nutritional therapist and a member of The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT). She will be carrying out nutritional therapy sessions on a one-to-one basis, or for families needing some advice on healthier eating, or more specific health issues, across Central Scotland. She can also offer food allergy testing, hair mineral analysis testing and many other tests which can help to give more specific information about what is happening within the body e.g. stool tests to check for parasites, or digestive inefficiencies and hormone screening for PMS or fertility issues. Find her at www.facebook.com/pollydouglasnutrition.

Co-Factor

Food Source

Protein

lean meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, soya, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, whey, hemp, quorn

B Vitamins (B2, B3 & folic acid)

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Lamb, asparagus, mushrooms, eggs, wholegrains (oats, brown rice etc), avocado, nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and pulses

Watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, bananas, squash, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, red kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, onions, nuts and seeds

Sardines, lamb, eggs, shrimp, cottage cheese, milk, turkey, chicken, cheese

Sulphur

Garlic, onions, cabbage, eggs, legumes, whole grains, Brussels sprouts

Antioxidants

Vitamin A

Betacarotene

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Selenium

Zinc

Liver, whole milk

Carrots, watercress, cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, mango, broccoli, apricots, tangerines, asparagus

Peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, kiwi fruit, melons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes

Unrefined corn oil, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, other seeds, nuts and beans, wheat-germ, sardines, sweet potato

Brazil nuts, molasses, mushrooms, herring, cottage cheese, cabbage, cod, chicken

Oysters (and other seafood), ginger root, lamb, pecan nuts, haddock, rye, oats, almonds, eggs