Healthier Snack Ideas For The Superbowl

The Super Bowl, aka an opportunity to cram in nachos drowned in cheese, chicken dippers, ice cream, chocolates all washed down with a fair few beers. This isn't exactly the healthiest picture. For some of you, you'll be more than happy to enjoy this night (and that's so fine) but for others you may feel that there's nothing else and so you'll join in against your will. So here are some of my healthier Super Bowl suggestions which you can whip up super quickly (if you're hosting) or take with you if you're a guest at someone else's palce. 

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  • Sweet potato wedges topped with guac and tomato salsa. 
  • Lettuce wrap with veggie or beef mince 
  • Chicken skewers with a peanut butter and yoghurt dip 
  • Mixed bean salad
  • Emily crisps and hummus - these air dried vegetable crisps spice up your typical hummus and crudites by adding an extra crunch and the salty taste you’d often crave from a bag of crisps.
  • Banana ice cream or even a healthier ice cream (my current favourite is CoFro)

There you have a few simple ideas. They don't have to be show stoppers or even anything fancy. Just a healthier alternative to some of the now 'Super Bowl classics'. 

 

Nutrition and Depression

Depression - it’s one of those words that gets thrown around. It’s often used for being in a bad mood or feeling down. However, when it comes to true depression and suffering this is  something which doesn’t get discussed as easily. Much like many mental health issues nutrition and lifestyle can play a huge role in symptoms. This isn’t to say food alone can cure  depression but certain nutrients can definitely enhance mood and reduce the risks of tumbling down the dark trap that is depression. Here I’ve laid out my top 5 tips of how to use nutrition  to reduce the risks of depression. 

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1. Vitamin D: vitamin D is synthesised through sunlight exposure. It can be difficult to derive  from the diet. Salmon, mushrooms and eggs are the key sources of Vitamin D but other than that it’s fairly difficult to obtain. Research has shown that vitamin D plays a role in enhancing mood and reducing the risk of depression. It is recommended to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months in order to reduce the risk of deficiency. The majority of the UK population are walking around severely deficient in vitamin D during the winter due to a lack of exposure. The current recommendations sit at 10ųg.d

2. Zinc: Research has shown a relationship between zinc deficiency and depressive symptoms. The lower zinc status has been associated with more severe symptoms. Some studies have put this down to increased cortisol production in depressed patients, the by product metallothionein binds to zinc and consequently reduces zinc status. Foods rich in zinc include: oysters, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, chicken, nuts, mushrooms and  spinach.

3. Folate and B12: Both of these B-vitamins have been associated with depression and a rise in homocysteine levels. It has been  hypothesised that high levels of homocysteine contribute to increased risk of cerebral vasculardisease which affects blood flow in the brain, neurotransmitters and consequently reduces  mood. Maintain adequate folate and B12 status through: eggs, meat, fish, green leafy vegetables, Marmite, nutritional yeast and avocado. 

4. L-tryptophan: This amino acid plays a key role in seretonin production which is commonly  referred to as the ‘happy hormone’. Low serotonin is strongly associated with mood disorders and depression. Increase your tryptophan levels through the consumption of foods such as cheese, tofu, turkey, fish, oats, beans and lentils. 

5. Selenium: Recent research has suggested an association between low selenium status and  depression. Selenium is required for the production of glutathione peroxidase (a selenoprotein) which is an antioxidant. GP reduces the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the cell membranes  from becoming oxidised. Studies have suggested that the link between selenium and  depression is down to the role of the selenoproteins. Foods rich in selenium include oysters,  brazil nuts, fish, turkey and chicken. 

There you have some of the key nutrients associated with depression. Ensure you’re  consuming a wide variety of sources to reduce the risks and symptoms associated with low  mood and depression.

Curing Your Hangover

So for those of you who haven't taken part in dry January then this is for you and for those of you that have... Well save this article ready for next week (trust me... you'll most definitely need it). 

This week I've been giving talks at universities and so I figured the best way to tie that in with you is through an article on hangovers... I mean they affect all of us... The older we get the more we suffer... It's actually becoming embarrassing. 

Anyway here are my top 5 tips to reducing your hangover.... 

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1. Let's start with dinner: typically people think loading up on a carb heavy meal (e.g. pasta or bread) will help to 'line the stomach and soak up the alcohol. However, you're much better off eating a meal rich in protein and healthy fats as these take longer to digest and consequently help to slow down the absorption of the alcohol. Opt for a piece of meat, fish or tofu with vegetables. 

2. Drink plenty of water! No this I'm not recommending this to be a kill joy. Alcohol contributes to dehydration (which is part of the reason you get hungover the next day) and so drinking water between each drink can help to rehydrate you gradually. Drinking a large amount of water at the end of the night may just contribute to increased urine volume, you're better off to drink a small amount more regularly. 

3. Opt for lower sugar drinks: Sugary drinks contribute to the calorie content of the drinks and may worsen you're hangover. Opt for clear spirits, lime and sparkling water or champagne as an alternative to prosecco (it's much lower in sugar... albeit more pricey!)

4. Vitamins: As the body sees alcohol as a poison it works to remove it as quick as possible. This uses up a lot of your nutrients which contributes to that hangover feeling. Taking a multi vitamin (or two) before bed can help to replenish the losses and consequently reduce the effects of your hangover. 

5. Start well: Often a hangover also comes with cravings for foods high in fat with a side of grease. Rather than going for a Maccy D's opt for breakfast rich in protein and vegetables to help stabilise your blood sugar. Make sure you wake up to a glass of water too rather than a coffee as coffee will contribute to your dehydration. 

There you have it. Enjoy your night out, have a few drinks and look after yourself during the process! Trust me, you'll thank me the next day.