4 Must-Read Books for Better Health + Nutrition

4 Must-Read Books for Better Health + Nutrition

The main point I want to make with this article is that the vast majority of the information in these books should be common knowledge.

I can’t stress that enough.

It horrifies me to think that this incredibly valuable information is out there, pretty much for free, and yet some people are never exposed to it.

Here are 4 must-read books to help you improve your health + nutrition.

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Understanding Dairy Intolerance + the A2 Milk Protein

Understanding Dairy Intolerance + the A2 Milk Protein

As you will know if you have explored other articles on my blog, I am really interested in the topic of food intolerance.

Over a year ago, I discovered through a food intolerance test that I don’t tolerate milk well. My first food intolerance test through York Test gave me no more information than that. 

However, knowing that food intolerance testing of this kind tests intolerance to proteins in foods, and knowing that there are several types of milk protein, I went on a quest to find out more. 

My next food intolerance test (and the one that I would recommend to anyone) from CNS revealed my ‘milk’ intolerance to be to casein specifically. 

Since then, I haven’t generally consumed dairy products, and in particular, I have avoided buying and drinking cow’s milk.

Within the last month, I have bought and drunk cow’s milk again for the first time in at least a year. 

Read on to find out why I did this, as well as learn more about dairy intolerance and what’s really in the milk that we as a population consume so much of...

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Guide to Collagen for Women

Guide to Collagen for Women

There are a lot of collagen products appearing on the market within joint supplement formulations as well as supplements that come with the promise of younger looking skin. The latter especially appears in many perfectly-packaged forms from drinks to jellies.

I was intrigued as to whether there was any difference between the supplements on offer, in format, dosage and price. Most importantly though, I wanted to look into the evidence base to find out whether I could expect them to really work.

So, here's everything that I think you should know about collagen, plus reviews of some of your best supplement options

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Monkey Nutrition Ape testosterone Booster - Reviewed By A Girl

Monkey-Nutrition-APE-Testosterone-Booster-Supplement

If you've read my previous posts on Hormones and on Testosterone in Women, you'll know that keeping hormone levels healthy is really important.

I always thought that I had healthy testosterone levels. My body responds well to strength training and my body composition is pretty stable, to name just a couple of indicators.

However, with a growing market for nutritional supplements, there is a growing number of testosterone boosters emerging and I'm pretty interested to know what they can do.

So, armed with APE from Monkey Nutrition, and a couple of testosterone level test kits from MediChecks, I embarked on a month-long trial of a testosterone booster.

The Brand - Monkey Nutrition

Monkey Nutrition is a relatively new brand to the supplement world and, to me at least, they really stand out. Not only are they uniquely branded (although slightly masculine - not that it really matters), they offer products that are really high quality and very obviously well-researched by a passionate team.

The Product - APE Testosterone Booster

First thing’s first: this supplement does not contain testosterone. The supplements aren’t hormones in themselves and absolutely do not contain steroids.

APE is marketed as a testosterone booster. A tub includes 30 days of individual daily packs, containing 4 capsules, 2 tablets, and 2 softgels. I found the way that this was packaged really useful, as I could drop the packets into my handbag or leave them discreetly on my desk at work.

Here’s what Monkey say about the product:

“Monkey APE is a potent fusion of natural testosterone boosters and nutrients essential to hormone synthesis and regulation. The matrix and support systems within APE are designed to boost growth, development and libido, whilst inhibiting aromatisation [the process by which the body converts testosterone to estrogen] and preventing the biosynthesis of estrogen.

Increased testosterone levels encourage the growth and development of muscle tissues, assist fat loss, improve immune function and are key to maintaining positive sexual health and energy levels.”

The Ingredients

This stack is packed full of vital nutrients to support your body’s functions. There are lots of ingredients that are highly recognisable (hopefully from your own supplement supply) such as vitamin D3, zinc, essential fatty acids, and lots of fruit extracts. Not too scary, hey?

Zinc, vitamin D and fatty acids are the nutrients that appear to have the most research behind them in this area.

Other ingredients may appear a little less familiar.

Fenugreek is commonly used in testosterone boosting supplements. While it's used as a herb and spice, it also plays a role in improving milk production when breast feeding. The research on it's ability to increase testosterone has been debated.

This is also the case with tribulus terrstris; while it's inclusion in testosterone boosters is popular, the evidence behind it is inconclusive.

Other ingredients in the testosterone amplification matrix also lack concrete evidence behind them when it comes to enhancing testosterone, such as Maca Powder and Horny Goat Weed Extract.

However, what all of these ingredients have in common is that they are typically linked to an increase in libido. This is associated with healthy testosterone levels, but the ingredients don't appear to be proven to have a strong correlation with increased testosterone levels.

Monkey-Nutrition-APE-Ingredients-Nutrition

Does it Work?

Before I started taking this supplement, I suspected that I already had healthy testosterone levels, for a few reasons.

As I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about the topic lately, I decided (in the interest of curiousity, as always), to use a MediChecks Testosterone Test to see if this was the case.

My results came back normal, at 1.5 nmol/L (nanomoles per litre). While what is considered the normal range can vary between labs, a guide for women is 0.52–2.4 nmol/L (to put this into perspective, a normal range for men is 9–38 nmol/L).

Given that I had already done this test, I decided to follow up with another test after completing a 30 day period of supplementation with APE.

My second test result came back, also normal, at 1.3 nmol/L. This shows a slight drop after taking APE. Of course, I’m not suggesting at all that this is due to the supplement itself, but it’s a great example of how variable hormone levels can be!

Testosterone levels are higher in women in the morning than later in the day, and this could explain this difference. Levels also fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. I’d love to see MediChecks provide this information, to allow people to better plan their testing. Instructions such as to take a testosterone test blood sample between 8am - 10am would be useful. I took my levels at different times of day, because the chaos of life just didn’t allow for consistency here!

I don’t consider this a reliable ‘experiment’ that can draw a conclusion on whether APE works for the above reasons.

In terms of what differences I noticed when taking APE, there were a few, albeit subtle.

Firstly, I seem to have noticeably better definition in my arms; less fat, more muscle.

Secondly, I’ve had more energy. During the 30 days, I started a full-time job, have still been trying to fit in adequate training, as well as a lot of other activities and projects, and have been getting up earlier but still functioning really well with plenty of energy.

Thirdly, my recovery from training has been quicker and less painful. Possibly due to improved sleep, as above.

Price

The price of APE £28.99 for 30 packs. To me at least, that can seem like a lot to spend for a single tub of stuff. Realistically though, under £1 a day for all of those quality ingredients, is pretty good!

The Verdict

The results that I saw were quite subjective and could have been down to any number of variables.

However, I’ve definitely been feeling good and had no symptoms that are commonly associated with low testosterone.

I personally don’t think that these tablets can do any harm, and regardless of whether they do or do not effectively boost testosterone from one person to another, there’s no denying that some of the nutrients in this stack are really important to be taking.

I probably wouldn't buy a testosterone booster supplement stack in the future because I have healthy levels and tend to build my own 'stack' based on my more individual needs.

If you don't know what individual supplements to take, or if you feel that you would benefit from boosting your testosterone levels, I would recommend APE.

What is your perception of testosterone boosters? Has it changed since reading about my experience? Would you try it for yourself?

Hormones + Hormone Disruptors: What You Need To Know

Testosterone-in-Women

We have all heard of hormones. We all have hormones. But do you really know what hormones are and what effect they have on your body?

Hormones are responsible for regulating nearly every function of your body. So whether you want to gain muscle, lose weight, improve energy levels or enhance your mood, you should be paying your hormones a lot of attention.

One of the reasons that you probably don't think about your hormone levels very much is that their job is to maintain homeostasis in your body; to keep your body's processes stable. So unless your hormones are significantly out of balance, you are unlikely to be aware of their impact.

Or at least, that probably used to be the case.

In the process of researching healthy hormone levels, I discovered that we are exposed to a terrifying variety of hormone disruptors every day, as part of our modern lifestyle. These can greatly upset our health and wellbeing, manifesting as seemingly ordinary symptoms such as fatigue or weight gain.

What are Hormones?

Hormones are the ‘chemical messengers’ in your body. There are over 60 types of hormones in your body, secreted from the many glands that make up your body’s endocrine system.

After being produced, hormones travel around your body (usually in your blood) and interact with specific cells that possess receptors for specific hormones. By interacting with target cells, hormones stimulate those cells to take a specific action.

Your hormones maintain a delicate balance within your body. It is their job to regulate important functions including metabolism, growth, sleep, mood and reproduction.

Many hormones you will not have heard of, but others we refer to day to day, perhaps without even realising that they are hormones. Insulin, for example, is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar.

As illustrated by insulin, for example, levels that are too high, or too low, can have a big effect on your wellbeing.

What Affects Hormone Levels?

While hormones can be artificially manipulated by taking contraceptives or through hormone therapies to control medical conditions, it's possible that your hormone levels can also be affected without your knowledge.

Hormone imbalances can be caused by hormone distruptors, predominatly environmental toxins and diet, with stress also having a large impact.

Environmental Toxins

Common chemicals found in everything from cleaners to cosmetics, and even in the food you eat and air you breathe, contain toxins known as endocrine disruptors. Worryingly, you are exposed to a vast number of hormone disruptors every day. Once in the body, they are hugely detrimental as well as difficult to excrete.

Diet

A diet high in processed food and lacking nutritional value can also cause hormonal imbalance.

Not only that, but many non-organic foods are contaminated with dangerous pesticides. Animal produce is contaminated with the hormones and antibiotics used to make the animals grow bigger.

Stress

When you are under stress, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the stress hormone. Your body’s stress response takes priority over other functions; think fight or flight. When there is high and consistent demand for cortisol, the precursors needed to make other hormones are depleted by this ‘cortisol steal’.

Gillian-Day-Hormones-Talk

Tips for Hormonal Health

I met nutritionist and naturopath Gillian Day at an event where she was talking about hormones (this is where I learnt about the NaturalCycles Contraceptive App) and was fascinated by her knoweldge and holistic approach to health. So, I invited her to share her top tips on hormonal health:

1. Limit the caffeine

I love coffee - a lot, but unfortunately it is a potent hormone disruptor and that can wreak havoc on the endocrine system.

2. Eat organic + live organic where possible

Dairy and meat can contain excess oestrogens which can throw hormones out of balance, so consider eating a more plant-bssed diet.

Toxins found in pesticides, plastics, household chemicals and even the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) can contain hormone disrupting chemicals called xenoestrogens that can mimic our natural hormones in the body and keep us from producing real hormones.

Top tip: cook in glass or non-coated metal pans (i.e. no teflon!) and avoid heating or storing foods in plastic.

3. Avoid high omega 6 oils and PUFA – polyunsaturated fatty acids

Getting rid of or greatly reducing vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine and swapping for coconut oil, real butter and olive oil can dramatically reduce inflammation in the body.

Reducing inflammation = happy healthy hormones!

4. Reduce sugar

There is a connection between an imbalance in oestrogen and progesterone and the way the body uses the hormone insulin (which is used by the body to deal with sugar). If we have too much insulin (normally from too much sugar or starch) it can trigger too much testosterone, and too much testosterone can suppress ovulation. Any disruption to ovulation will have a knock-on effect on the production of progesterone.

5. Reduce stress

Stress knocks your hormonal patterns completely out of rhythm. There’s a greater demand on hormone raw materials, plus stress places a greater demand on our nutrient reserves. Head to my website for 5 simple strategies to reduce stress and reconnect with yourself and your food.

6. Get Good Sleep

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your hormones won’t be balanced – end of story! Sleep disturbances can decrease the release of testosterone by almost half, so make sure you get your nightly quota.

I like to take ZMA supplements to help with my sleep and regulation of testosterone. Read my Guide to ZMA for Women for more details

7. Supplement wisely

I am a big fan of supplements as I’ve seen the benefits of my clients using good quality supplements and herbs for a wide range of hormonal imbalance symptoms in my clinic every single day.

However, not all supplements are created equal. There’s the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly! If supplements have the ability to heal, they also have the ability to harm. Supplementing wisely is crucial to happy healthy hormones. Some supplements that have been useful for happy healthy testosterone levels and hormones include spearmint tea, DIM, calcium D glucarate and chaste tree.

8. Exercise right for your body

If you have hormone imbalance, intense extended exercise can actually make the problem worse. Swap your body pump class for some restorative yoga or swimming or rebounding.

For more details on how you can work with Gill, visit her website, Nurture Thru Nature.

Hormone Level Testing

If you're concerned about your hormone levels, consider paying a visit to your doctor, as well as following Gill's advice.

Hormone level testing can be carried out by a doctor. Then they, or another health professional, can guide you through your results.

Alternatively, companies such as MediChecks offer home hormone testing kits, which can be a good start if you think that you may be suffering from symptoms of low or elevated hormone levels.

Have you suffered symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Do you take measures to minimise hormone distruption?

CNS Food Print 200+: My Food Intolerance Testing Experience 2.0

CNS-Food-Print-200-Intolerance-Test-Review

The Most Advanced + Comprehensive Food Intolerance Test from CNS

I make no secret of my fascination for health monitoring, and that includes food intolerance testing. It’s also no secret that I was a left a little confused and dissatisfied by my first food intolerance testing experience.

After a little (a lot, actually) of research, I discovered the FoodPrint® 200+ test from Cambridge Nutritional Sciences.*

The test is incredibly comprehensive, testing for reactions to over 200 ingredients. One of the reasons that I chose this test was the inclusion of four types of milk (cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo) and the independent proteins within the milk: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin (whey proteins) and casein.

If you’ve read my posts on my food intolerance journey so far, you’ll know of my distress when it came to compromising my whey protein intake, and why having this breakdown is so important to me!

CNS offer a range of other FoodPrint® tests including an indicator test, FoodPrint® 40, FoodPrint® 60, FoodPrint® 120, FoodPrint® Vegetarian, FoodPrint® Vegan and FoodPrint® Herbs & Spices.

The FoodPrint Testing Process

After receiving your test pack, it’s simply a case of using the lancets provided to prick your finger and take a very small blood sample before returning the pack in the pre-paid envelope.

Your results report and guidebook arrive with you via email very quickly. The quality and comprehensiveness of both of these is brilliant, so I’ll go into a little more detail below.

Interestingly, CNS also offer a Food Detective self-test, which, although a little less comprehensive, will provide you with immediate results. The short video on the website showing how this is carried out is definitely worth a watch!

CNS-Food-Print-Review-Food-Intolerance-Test

The FoodPrint® 200+ Report

I love the report format provided by CNS. In fact, there are two different formats within the test report that you receive.

As well as listing the tested foods by order of reactivity (as was done in my YorkTest results), foods are also listed according to their respective food groups.

This really helped to put into perspective where my greatest problem areas are, and to help me to quickly identify alternative foods.

As well as a traffic light colour coding system for the ingredients tested, CNS provide the numerical values of the antibody levels detected in the test. This is something that is hugely important and was completely neglected by YorkTest.

The higher the assigned value, the stronger your body’s immune response to that particular food. Elevated results are over 30 U/ml, borderline is 24-29 U/ml, and anything under 23 U/ml is considered normal.

Knowing this really helps to put your results into perspective. By seeing that my reaction to cow’s milk was 117 U/ml, for example, it was immediately clear that my priority was to remove that from my diet before anything else.

Especially when dealing with a high number of reactions as I am, knowing that some are vastly stronger than others helps you to focus your attention on the foods that will have a bigger impact, and know which you can afford to treat with a little less caution in order to make the process manageable.

This is a concept that was reinforced by CNS’ nutritionist, Nicky, who was keen to speak to me over the phone following my results. It was great to speak to someone so mindful of the differences between individuals and how to make results seem manageable.

The guidebook provided by CNS also suggests that when reintroducing foods after carrying out an elimination diet, the numerical values good to refer to as reintroducing the least reactive foods first is a good idea.

This kind of guidance is something that I felt was neglected a little with the YorkTest FoodScan that I did. While YorkTest are definitely stronger on their branding, sending out both the test kit and the results in well-presented packages, I’ve come to realise that they lack some attention to detail where it matters.

CNS-Food-Print-Intolerance-Results

My FoodPrint® 200+ Results

Suffice to say, I have a lot of elevated results. But, recognising how overwhelming this can seem, one of the first things that CNS Nutritionist Nicky said to me was this:

“Stress in itself can be worse than eating the food that you’re intolerant to”

If you’ve read my post Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You, you’ll understand why this was music to my ears.

She also reiterated that, as with any test, these results are not concrete and definitive. However, they definitely give a brilliant starting point for improving my diet. The sheer volume of elevated values that I have could indicate leaky gut, and so as well as removing trigger foods, I would benefit from working with a nutritionist to speak further about digestive support.

Dairy + Eggs

As with my previous results, dairy and eggs showed a definitely reaction. My milk reaction was especially high given that I’ve almost entirely cut out dairy from my diet, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m doing the right thing by steering clear.

Of course, my biggest relief was to see that my reaction to whey proteins (alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin) were normal. Hooray! While Nicky would generally recommend avoiding whey for the 3-month elimination period when all other dairy results are highly elevated as mine are, she advised that for my lifestyle, the benefits of taking whey most likely outweighs this concern.

So, I’ll be sticking to high-quality whey isolate supplements, and I’ll continue to search for some good vegan protein supplements to ensure that I get variety, too.

Gluten-Containing Grains

As anticipated, my scores for gluten-containing grains are elevated. As with dairy, I already avoid gluten because of the symptoms that I get when consuming food such as bread, so I’ll continue to do this.

Generally, I opt for rice, corn or potato in place of gluten-containing grains. This was reflected in the slightly raised levels on the tests for these foods, so I will look into getting more variety by trying things like buckwheat and millet.

Yeast

Yet again, this was a high reaction for me. I really struggled to cut out yeast before, but the guidebook provided by CNS contains a whole section on yeast, including which foods to avoid, ingredients to avoid and alternative foods.

The list includes the obvious, such as bread, yeast extract and fermented food and drink including alcohol. Of course, dried fruits are on the list too, which I feel I may struggle with as they make a great alternative to processed sweeteners like sugar when satisfying a sweet tooth or choosing a snack bar. The list also includes less obvious products such as hydrolysed protein and Quorn, which require yeast to be used as part of their processing.

My Verdict + Next Steps

I’d love to find a great nutritionist who can advise me a little more going forward. I pride myself on the knowledge that I have on nutrition, and certainly by normal standards my diet is really healthy. However, I’m at the point now where I really need to refine it further and enlist someone who can take some of the hard work off my hands!

It would be great to find an experienced nutritionist who can guide me with a tailored food and supplement plan, taking a holistic approach that also considers my lifestyle and training goals alongside medical history, too. I welcome all recommendations!

Overall, I’ll be aiming for moderation and variety in my diet. Unsurprisingly, (and perhaps a little boringly!) that’s what it always comes down to.* Whether you suffer with food intolerances or want to prevent them, this is undoubtedly the way forward*.

I highly recommend the CNS FoodPrint 200+ test. I always strive for the best quality and to gather as much information as possible, and this test has definitely ticked those boxes for me. The large number of proteins that were tested for, the way the results were reported, and the advice that I received from CNS was exactly what I hoped for, and more!

The test costs £291.00, which is definitely a bit of an investment, but an investment in the best possible thing; your health.

Have you had any experience of food intolerance testing or dealing with an elimination diet protocol?

An Interview with Madeleine Shaw - Nutritionist, Yoga Instructor + Author

Madeleine_Shaw_Yoga_Health_Interview

I recently had the pleasure of taking an amazingly revitalising morning yoga class with the beautiful Madeleine Shaw. We caught up afterwards to enjoy a smoothie and some chit chat. I discovered that her down-to-earth nature is enchanting and her calm and happy nature is easily contagious.

Here you can learn what you can expect from Madeleine’s glowing new book, how she feeds her thirst for nutrition knowledge, and what it’s like to build a healthy career.


There will be few people who aren’t familiar with you since the release of your beautiful new book, Get the Glow. But in case anyone has been hiding under a rock, could you please briefly describe who you are and what you do?

I’m a qualified nutritional health coach, yoga teacher and author. I love creating recipes and giving advice to people to help enliven the hottest, happiest and healthiest version of themselves. This includes gluten and sugar free recipes that help heal the body from within.


I’ve already touched on it, but you’ve recently released your first book, congratulations! Can you briefly describe what people can expect to find inside?

Of course! All of my recipes are gluten and sugar free so you can find one hundred yummy, natural recipes in my book. They are all easy to prepare, and the kinds of foods you would like to eat everyday. There’s a good mix of vegan, vegetarian and of course, meat dishes in there so there really is something for everyone.


Where did your health and nutrition journey begin?

It began when I moved to Australia and started working in an organic cafe on Bondi. I used to think low fat and calorie free foods were good for you and lived on a diet of low fat yoghurt and rice cakes. I had terrible digestive problems, bad skin and limp hair. My job in the cafe, and the healthy Australian way of life educated me about food and what I should be putting in my body. I knew in that moment that I wanted to follow a job path into health and nutrition.

Madeleine_Shaw_Health_Interview

How do you educate yourself on nutrition?

I first studied at the Integrated Institute of Nutrition and trained to be a nutritional health coach. I am now studying a three year course in Neuropathic Nutrition at CNM in London.


What do you love most about your career?

I love that I get to help people and change people’s perspective on food. It makes me so happy to hear from people whose lives I’ve had an impact on no matter how big or small it may be.


And what is the most challenging aspect?

That just hard to switch off, owning your own business means it everyday 247 so its hard to have down time.


What exciting things can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m working on an online wellness platform for mindfulness, exercise and nutrition called the Glow Guides. It’s not quite ready yet, but I’m so excited about it!

Madeleine_Shaw_Recipe

What sort of things might you get up to on a typical day?

I’ll wake up early and go to an exercise class, and if not I’ll go to a yoga class later in the day.

I love to cook, so if I’m working from home I’ll be whipping up something in the kitchen. It’s really sad but I spend a lot of time on my laptop sending emails, and researching. If I’m not working from home I’ll be running around to different meetings in London.


What do you eat in a day?

I love eating eggs and avocado for breakfast. This is pretty much a staple meal for me.

For lunch I’ll then have something light like a salad with some form of protein.

Then for dinner, I’ll sit down with my boyfriend and have a big hearty meal at home. I love cooking dinner in my house for everyone it makes me feel happy to have people enjoy my food!


You’ve recently qualified as a yoga instructing (and I’ve had the pleasure of practising with you!), but are there any other fitness disciplines that you enjoy? Do you follow an exercise regime?

As I said, I love going to classes. I love Core Collective, Lomax and I also have ClassPass which is great - there’s so many amazing classes in London to choose from so in that respect I’m spoilt for choice!


What is your ethos?

I try to only eat foods that you can pick, hunt, or gather. It's very caveman but it's also a very natural way of eating!


I highly recommend picking up a copy of Madeleine's beautiful book, Get the Glow for some hot, happy and healthy inspiration. If you already have your hands on a copy, let me know what your favourite recipe is so that I can send it to the top of my list!

Are Fruit Snacks Actually Good For You?

Fruit-Snacks-Urban-Fruit-BEAR

We all know the abundant dangers of sugar. There’s plenty of information circulating the internet that I don’t need to regurgitate it here. Suffice to say, the negative impacts that sugar can have on your health are abundant.

Lately, the media has warned that fruit snacks ‘contain more sugar than Haribo’.

I love Haribo as much as the next person, and on the rare occasion that I choose to indulge, I know what I’m letting myself in for.

When it comes to ‘real fruit’ snacks, however, it’s a different story. Many fruit-based snacks are actually processed and high-sugar, sneaking into your shopping basket under the guise of having ‘natural’ or ‘real’ ingredients that contribute to your five-a-day.

Fruit

Fruit as it occurs naturally is great for you. It contains natural fruit sugars but also a high amount of vitamins and minerals that are really beneficial to your overall health.

Here’s how the sugar content in some different fruit compares (per 100g):

Banana - 12g

Apple - 10g

Pineapple - 10g

Cantaloupe melon - 8g

Strawberries - 4.9g

Fruit-Snacks-Healthy-Urban-Fruit-BEAR

Natural Fruit Snacks

Fruit snacks have to be processed to some extent, but my favourite ones are processed very minimally through processes such as drying or ‘squishing’.

The important thing here, is that they don’t have other ingredients added.

As they are fruit, they do of course contain natural fruit sugars. While this is preferable to processed, added sugar, it’s worth being a little mindful of the quantity that you consume.

These fruit snacks have a higher percentage of sugar per 100g compared to fruit in its original state as they are dried or pressed, removing the water content that would otherwise make up a large proportion of the weight.

When I’m on-the-go and need a satisfying and convenient snack, my favourite fruity go-tos are Urban Fruit snackpacks, BEAR paws, nibbles and yoyos (these are usually the ‘cleanest’ snack available in coffee shops) and Fruit Bowl school bars (mainly because I’ve often found them available for £1 a box!).

Fruit-Snacks-Nutritional-Information-Sugar

Fruit Snacks To Avoid

It’s important to recognise that it’s more highly processed fruit snacks, with other added ingredients that are the problem.

To determine what you should avoid, it’s as simple as checking ingredients labels.

The worst culprits are:

Yogurt Coated Fruit Snacks

Prime example are the yogurt coated fruit flakes offered by Fruit Bowl, which contain added sugar and more processed ingredients in the yogurt-like coating.

Fruit Gummies

These include snacks such as fruit strings, fruit stars and fruit hearts from The Fruit Factory, which contain added sugar, glucose syrup and fructose syrup.

Dried Fruits Sold at Health Food Stores

What appears to be little more than dried fruit are actually ‘sugar-infused’. The worst (but, unfortunately, most delicious) nibbles of this nature are tropical fruit chunks, such as pineapple and papaya.

Some of these contain a whopping 74g of sugar per 100g!

The Verdict

What it always comes back to is balance. Whatever you eat, eat in moderation, especially if it isn’t in its most natural form.

There are some fruit snacks that are certainly better than others. However, it’s still not a great idea to eat packet after packet of them every day. They aren’t a substitute for whole fruits.

Essentially, if I’m on-the-go and need a snack, I will always opt for the least processed and most nutritious option.

While natural fruit snacks may have just as much sugar as sweets, I think it’s important to recognise that those sugars are natural and come hand in hand with micronutrients that, despite how delicious they are, gummy bears just don’t deliver.

What’re your thoughts on fruit-based snacks? Do you have a favourite?

Love Life Supplements Primal Power Review

Primal-Power-Paleo-Protein-LLS

The Concept

Primal Power is a whey protein powder also containing healthy fats. It’s a really unique product within the sports nutrition industry, and one that I love.

The product was designed with a paleo diet in mind, something that LLS founder Ben Law passionately follows. However, there are lots of other people, like me, who would find massive benefits in taking it.

Like all of the Love Life Supplements products, this is produced to really high quality standards, in the UK.

Nutritional Information + Ingredients

A typical serving contains 215 calories, including 20g protein, 10g fat, 6.6g carbohydrates (only 2.5g sugar) and a brilliant 9.2g fibre.

The proteins in this drink are a standard blend used in many sports supplements. It’s the additional ingredients that make this product really unique.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

The fat content of the shake comes from the addition of MCTs, which are derived from coconuts.

MCTs are metabolised in a different way to most fats as they are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy.

MCTs are really easily digested and are so tolerable, in fact, that they are often used in medically treating people who are unable to digest other types of fats well.

LLS also sell MCT oil, which is great for adding to smoothies or making bulletproof coffee.

Flax Seeds

As well as being a great source of fibre, flax seeds contain one of the richest sources of the plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Fructooligosaccharides

Fructooligosaccharides are considered a soluble dietary fibre, and are used in Primal Power for their prebiotic effect. Essentially, they are the food for ‘good bacteria’, which is great news for your gut!

Digestive Enzyme Complex

The digestive enzymes in Primal Power include amylase, protease, lipase and lactase for aiding digestion of carbohydrates, protein, fats and lactose.

Natural sweetener

Unlike many protein powders that are full of artificial sweeteners, typically sucralose, LLS use stevia to sweeten Primal Power for a really natural taste. Read my post on the benefits of stevia

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Taste + Texture

Primal Power is available in two flavours: chocolate and vanilla. Both taste deliciously natural and a lot like drinking ice cream.

A serving of Primal Power is 50g of the powder. This is quite a large serving size considering that the average for a regular protein shake tends to be around 25g-35g, but the mixability is brilliant and the shake is always amazingly silky smooth and easy to drink.

Price

The RRP for a 1.5kg tub of Primal Power is £39.95 on the LLS website, although it is often cheaper.

It is very hard to compare the price to other protein powders as it isn’t an ordinary whey protein powder by any means.

While I would say that it isn’t cheap, I would absolutely advocate that it offers value for money.

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My Verdict

I love this product. It’s truly unique and it’s great to know that it is made in the UK with the finest natural ingredients. As well as the use of MCTs, Primal Power contains plenty of ingredients to aid your digestive health, something that I’m really passionate about.

I think this protein is perfect to take first thing in the morning. I always have protein after waking up, with breakfast, and Primal Power has become one of my favourite options. The fats are great for giving you energy to take on the day.

To be honest though, Primal Power is great taken at any time of day, whenever you need a boost. Ordinarily, I try and avoid consuming fats immediately post-workout with my protein shake as they slow digestion, but MCTs are different in this respect and are perfectly fit for purpose here!

Despite this, I would probably only consume Primal Power once a day due to the fact that I get plenty of healthy fats elsewhere in my diet, and the fact that is isn’t incredibly affordable, although it is definitely value for money.