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With researchers widely reporting the benefits of tea for reducing the risk of developing cancer, high blood pressure and even the common cold, tea can a great addition to a healthy life. But the endless options on the market can make choosing the right one an intimidating process.

Tea is not just a soothing drink to drown out a stressful day’s work, but it also has powerful antioxidants which target free radicals in the body – these are major contributors to the development of disease – and studies show this may play a role not only in reducing the risk of various ailments, but may also slow down the ageing process.

Lifestyle, environmental and diet choices, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or skimping on regular exercise, are some of the main causes of oxidative stress; a state in which there is an imbalance of free radicals in the body. This imbalance can damage our DNA and could eventually lead to a number of health conditions, including:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Diabetes
  3. Inflammation
  4. Heart disease
  5. Cancer

Research on green tea consumption found that regularly drinking the beverage has a proven reduction in cellular damage and it proved that the antioxidants, specifically polyphenols, in the tea trapped the free radicals, leading to a decrease in oxidative stress.

tea health
Photo Credit: Matthew Henry on Unsplash

It is clear that tea is a powerful aid to maintaining good health and, although tea may not cure illnesses, it can offer some relief and lessen the burden of some symptoms. Below is a list of some beneficial teas and what they can do – find out which one is right for you.

Camomile Tea

Best for

  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Aiding sleep regulation
  • Reducing inflammation

Camomile has a long history of uses dating back to ancient times when it was highly esteemed throughout Europe and Asia for its many healing properties. Today, this tea is most popularly known as a calming drink, often recommended to those with jittery nerves. However, it has also been found to reduce inflammation – which is a major contributor to the development of conditions like high blood pressure, arthritis or even skin ailments like eczema. Some studies have also found that this tea can help manage blood sugar levels.

chamomile tea
Photo Credit: Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Peppermint Tea

Best for

  • Indigestion
  • Bloating

The cooling and refreshing flavour and smell of this tea prove that it’s for good reason that so many products, including toothpaste, sweets and gum, use mint as a main ingredient. But the taste alone is not where peppermint tea’s best qualities lie.

Recognised for its benefits in reducing the pain of indigestion and bloating, this tea can be a great option for those with digestive issues. However, studies show that if one’s symptoms stem from GERD, this tea could further irritate the condition, but those suffering from IBS symptoms may find relief with peppermint, according to previous research.

Peppermint tea
Photo Credit: Anton Darius on Unsplash

Liquorice Root Tea

Best for

  • Supporting kidney and liver function
  • Reducing symptoms of respiratory illnesses

Liquorice root is in fact the same plant that the beloved confectionary liquorice is derived from, and unsurprisingly, the tea has a natural sweetness to it. Studies have found that the oleanolic and asiatic acids in this tea make powerful antioxidants, which in turn can fight the symptoms of some respiratory conditions including colds and bronchitis, by protecting the cells in the lungs.

This study also shows that liquorice root tea contains antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Though there is limited evidence, some believe this tea may reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.

licorice tea
Liquorice root tea is known for its healing qualities.

Ginger Tea

Best for

  • Aiding digestion
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing congestion

This antiviral tea can aid in pain relief for menstrual cramps, indigestion and bloating and is a popular choice for reducing cold symptoms, including congestion. Ginger also has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, with one study reporting 5% less oxidative stress-related kidney damage in the subjects that consumed ginger than those that didn’t.

Ginger tea
Photo Credit: Julia Topp on Unsplash

Green Tea

Best for

  • Skin health
  • Antioxidants

This aromatic beverage is a powerful option and its health benefits are a force to be reckoned with, ranging from aiding digestion, boosting brain function and supporting skin health. The antioxidants found in green tea are a driving force for preventing cancer and inflammation. This tea may also fight halitosis – studies have found green tea reduced the severity of bad breath by inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

green tea
Green tea is packed with antioxidants.

Nettle Tea

Best for

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Bone health

This tea, sourced from the stinging nettle plant, is a nutritional powerhouse, providing doses of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus and it also contains all the nine essential amino acids. Like the other teas on this list, nettle tea provides free radical-fighting antioxidants which are vital for maintaining healthy cells and preventing the development of many illnesses.

Nettle tea
Photo Credit: Debby Hudson on Unsplash

While these choices all provide a range of health benefits, it is important to remember not all teas are safe for everyone and some teas may interact with one’s medication and, as such, it’s always best to check with your physician before making any dietary changes.

 

 

You don’t have to be Australia’s best chef to make baby food at home. In fact, it is quite simple and the advantages are endless. By being homemade, bub will be eating foods free from preservatives and harmful chemicals. It also sets up your children with a love for healthy eating right from the start, making them appreciate fresh, wholesome food.

TOOLS AND APPLIANCES

The tools needed to make baby food are staples already lying around the kitchen. Not many are needed – minimal equipment will still make delicious food.

Blender or food processor

 Options like the Chicco 4-1 baby blender or Cherub Baby steamer blender are good options if looking to purchase. Otherwise, any blender that makes smoothies or purees food will work. If the blender is older, add an extra dash of liquid to make food a smooth consistency. 

Ice cube trays

 If the ice-cubes are calling these home already, check the local op shop to stock up on trays for an inexpensive price.

Steamer basket or insert

 This is needed to steam the food for purees. Steamer inserts can fit more produce but both will get the job done.

 Other tools include:
  • Baking sheet
  • Saucepans
  • Peelers
  • Spatulas
  • Knives
  • Freezer bags
  • Storage containers

COOKING TIPS

Main cooking techniques include steaming, roasting, baking or microwaving until food becomes tender. To preserve the nutrients from fruit and vegetables, opt for steaming not boiling and if ripe, they don’t need to be cooked at all.

Once cooled, transfer to a food processor of choice and blend for one to two minutes. Slowly add water, breastmilk or formula to reach a desired consistency – which ultimately should glide off the spoon.

Enhance taste and your baby’s palette by adding herbs and spices like sea salt, ginger, cinnamon and rosemary.

 STORAGE

Food will need to be kept in airtight containers, freezer bags or ice cube trays. Before transferring to the fridge or freezer, allow food to cool. Ice cube storage allows flavour combinations to be created as the small dosages of food can be mixed and matched.

The storage timeline for baby food is up to four days in the fridge, two months in the freezer for purees with meat and beans and up to three months in the freezer for fruit purees.

Labelling containers with the date and what is inside will allow for no confusion when choosing baby’s next meal.

RECIPES

Recipes from Babyfoode.com

Apple and coconut milk baby puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:
  • 6 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp cloves
 Method:
  1. Put the apples, coconut milk and cloves in a medium saucepan and cover. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until apples can be cut in half with a spoon. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth.

Broccoli and olive oil puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups broccoli – chopped into small florets
  • 1 small potato or apple – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
 Method:
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to boil over medium heat.
  2. Place broccoli and potato (or apple) into a steamer basket and place over boiling water. Cover and steam for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly.
  3. Add the broccoli, potato (or apple) and olive oil into a blender and puree until smooth, adding water from the steamer in ¼ increments if needed.

Mango and Vanilla puree

Age: 4 months +

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen mango
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or a pinch of fresh vanilla bean seeds

 Method:

  1. Put frozen mango and vanilla extract/bean into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Stir often until heated all the way through and tender roughly 3-4 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer into a blender. If mango mixture gets an excess of liquid while cooking, strain mangos and reserve liquid into a bowl.
  3. Blend on high for 1 minute or until the puree is smooth.

The top five teas you should be drinking this spring.

Tea. It’s been around for centuries. It’s been used for medicinal purposes, beauty products and has even become a euphemism for gossip, but what is all the rage?

Tea has been essential to so many cultures around the world. There have been proven health benefits between the properties of tea and their effect on our immune systems, mood and health that have been around for centuries.

“When we sip tea, we are on our way to serenity,” says lifestyle philosopher, Alexandra Stoddard.

Green Tea

Research has shown that green tea is one of the healthiest drinks going around.

Green tea is made with unoxidized tea leaves which contain flavonoids – a group of plant-based chemicals that have been shown to reduce coronary inflammation.

Here are some of the major health benefits associated with daily consumption of green tea:

  • Contains healthy bioactive compounds – The nutrients found in green tea have been linked to treating various disease including some cancers, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and may help prevent type two diabetes.
  • Boosts metabolic rate which increases fat burn.
  • May improve brain function – Green tea contains caffeine which is a stimulant that increases brain activity including mood, memory, vigilance and reaction time.

In a season where immunity is still compromised, the antiviral properties of green tea are a natural way to help fight off colds this spring.

Peppermint Tea

With its minty properties, peppermint tea has been used for its taste and medicinal properties for hundreds of years.

Some reasons to incorporate peppermint tea this spring are:

  • Can reduce headaches – A 2016 study into peppermint oil found that there was a link between the cooling nature of the substance and the easing of migraines.
  • Breathing in the vapours of hot, peppermint tea can reduce nasal congestion. This is particularly useful in combatting winter colds.
  • Peppermint tea can aid in digestion relief for those suffering with upset bowels.
  • Peppermint capsules may help fight bacterial infections while tea several types of mouth bacteria.

Chamomile Tea

This flowery tea has a relaxing essence that soothes the senses. Chilly nights can be warmed with this fragrant tea that the whole family will enjoy.

People incorporate this tea into their diet for a variety of health benefits as seen below:

  • Proven to help irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and can be a fantastic preventative measure for harmful bacteria.
  • Can help with sleeping as it relaxes the nerves, according to Dietician Anshul Jaibharat.
  • In a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry, it found that chamomile can help reduce muscle spasms and period pain by decreasing the production of prostaglandins.

Ginger Tea

Despite its infamous, polarising reputation, ginger tea is one of the best teas to help with unsettled stomachs. Its light spice soothes and relaxes stomachs.

  • Can reduce nausea and morning sickness in expectant mothers through acceleration of the gastric processes.
  • Ginger tea can help alleviate issues surrounding the heart all the way from relieving heartburn to helping to protect against heart disease.
  • May help to alleviate pain from inflammation and sore muscles. 

Lavender Tea

The refreshing scent of lavender perfectly transitions to the calming brew of lavender tea. Here are the main reasons lavender tea is a winner:

  • May help boost sleep – enjoying a cup before bed can help you to unwind.
  • Can help improve skin health.

After only two months in lockdown, I was horrified to jump on the scales to find I had gained 15kg.

I found myself to be eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and too much of it and because I
wasn’t exercising regularly (thanks to the gym being closed down), the weight piled on.

I’ve never been someone who diets. I’ve tried shakes, cookies, all protein and Keto, but I could never stick to them and even if I lost weight, I put it back on again. Knowing this, I used intuitive eating and I got creative with the meals I made. They were still my ‘naughty’ foods, but they were much healthier for me. Lesser in carbs, fats, sodium and sugars. Before I knew it, I started to lose weight.

Intuitive eating is making smarter decisions but not banning myself from the foods I loved. If I
wanted chocolate – I ate the chocolate, but I was intuitive in how much I ate. I listened to my body
when it told me I was full and didn’t binge eat because I wasn’t restricting myself from the foods I
loved.

Within 2 months I had dropped 10kg by staying within my calorie deficit, but I didn’t count any
calories. I dropped carbs and sugar, and increased my protein intake. Combined with my averaged
day of activity, half an hour walks and household cleaning, it was able to lose 10 kilos the weight I
had put on.

One of the main ways that I managed to lose weight was by swapping out my favourite foods with
low carb and vegetable alternatives. These are the foods I used:

Pasta

Pulse Pasta Rotini Red Lentils - San Remo - US

6x Edamame Bean Organic Fettuccine - Slendier

 

Instead of whole grain pasta, I used red lentil pasta or edamame fettuccine as an alternative, which
are available at Coles, Woolworths and online.
I also used zucchini or sweet potato spaghetti. Coles has these already pre-cut and packaged ready
to eat, but I also made these using a vegetable spiralizer. This helped me increase my daily vegetable
intake.

I followed the packet serving instructions and paired it with my choice of sauce (usually bolognaise).
I used the same sauces as previously but whole grain spaghetti changed.

Spaghetti Squash is also a popular alternative. I cooked the squash in the oven for 40 minutes and
used a fork to scrape it out.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash - Recipes by Love and Lemons

Rice

Birds Eye Frozen Cauliflower Rice | Coles Online

Sweet Potato Rice 500g | Carb Alternatives | Frozen Vegetables ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I swapped white rice with cauliflower or sweet potato rice, which are available in the freezer section
of Coles or Woolworths. Similar to the approach with the pasta, I paired it with anything I
traditionally ate. People often boil cauliflower rice, but it goes gluggy, so instead I fried this for 5 to
10 minutes and it tastes much better. My favourite meal with this is curried sausages.

Wraps and bread

High Protein Low Carb Bread - Aldi Mum

Mission Low Carb Wraps 6 pack | Coles Online

I swapped bread or wraps that I loved for lower carb alternatives and I could barely taste the
difference. If anything, I preferred these lower carb options. I avoided cereals or muesli as much as
possible because of their high sugar. Instead, I found a slice of toast with an egg would be perfect. I
would also make myself a ‘McDonald’s’ brekkie wrap with scrambled eggs, fried bacon and BBQ
sauce (lower salt).

Ice-cream

Aldi finally dupes Halo Top - $4.99 Kenny's Frozen Dessert in ...

Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream Tub | Coles Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies are slowly becoming much more friendly to low-calorie options when it comes to sweets.
I found Halo Top’s ice cream fantastic for curbing my cravings for sugar. Each tub has 360 calories or
less so I didn’t feel guilty about eating it. They’re stocked at both Woolworths and Coles, but Aldi has
a cheaper version called Kenny’s 360. Keep an eye out for these products because more variety are

Here are a few of my favourite recipes:

Raw Caramel Bites

photo of how the raw caramel slice bites will look like when you have finished making them

Ingredients

Base layer

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 6 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Caramel layer

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 7 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate layer

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder

Instructions

  1. To make the base layer, add the ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor and blend until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Spoon mixture into a 24 mini muffin pan (see note below) and press down with the back of a teaspoon. Place it in the freezer.
  2. To make the caramel layer, add the ingredients to a high speed blender and process until completely combined and smooth. Spoon the mixture onto the bases and smooth over with the back of a teaspoon (see note below) and place back into the freezer for at least 1 hour to set.
  3. To make the chocolate layer, melt the coconut oil in saucepan on low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add the sweetener. Whisk briskly until well combined. Then add the cacao powder, stirring until well mixed through. Pour the chocolate on top of the caramel layer and place back into the freezer and let it set completely, approximately 3-4 hours. Once frozen, they are much easier to remove.
  4. I keep mine store in the freezer in an air tight container and remove them a few minutes before serving/eating.

 

Chaffles

Chaffles! What they are, how to make them, and all your FAQs answered about these low carb waffles that are taking the internet by storm! #lowcarb #keto #chaffles

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Plug in the waffle maker to heat.
  2. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Add the mozzarella and stir to combine.
  3. Spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray.
  4. Pour half of the egg mixture into the heated waffle iron and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove waffle carefully and cook remaining batter.
  6. Serve warm with butter and sugar-free syrup.

2 Ingredient Pancakes

Banana Egg Pancakes | hurrythefoodup.com

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs

Instructions 

  • Mash up bananas in a large bowl.
  • Whisk eggs (using a fork is just fine!) and add to banana paste.
  • Fry gently in a pan on low-medium heat with a little heated oil or butter.

You know that what you put into your body affects how you look, but do you know how the foods you eat can benefit or hinder your overall health? With modern nutritional science, dieticians and other experts know precisely how and why different foods cause changes in the human body and what an optimal diet looks like.

However, just because science has discovered the facts about healthy eating doesn’t mean everyone is going to adopt the best possible diet necessarily. As humans, we tend to poison ourselves with things that give us short-term happiness but contribute to long-term health issues (such as smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol), but healthy eating will have a long-term positive impact on your happiness.

If you want to live as long as possible and avoid chronic health conditions later in life, you should switch to a healthy diet. The following will examine some common dietary lifestyle behaviours and how they affect your health.

Leaning on takeaway meals

One trend that’s becoming more noticeable with younger generations is a lack of ability and will to cook at home. Even people who rent apartments or buy houses with lovely kitchens will never touch them other than to use the microwave or prepare something simple like scrambled eggs.

This is because spending a little extra money to avoid cooking and have a pizza delivered or go through a drive-thru is more convenient than learning to cook. This is especially true for people who may be overworked and find it too difficult to prepare food from scratch every evening when they feel exhausted.

If you want to cook healthier recipes at home and still enjoy the convenience of home delivery, then a meal-kit delivery service could be the perfect answer. This involves having fresh ingredients delivered to your front door along with easy instructions that remove a lot of the often frustrating and dull parts of cooking that might have preciously dissuaded you from giving it a go.

Consuming too much sugar

Too much of a good thing never turns out well, and our relationship with sugar over the decades has become one of the leading causes of issues like obesity in modern society. In our quest to make food taste better we have become accustomed to seasoning all our food, even savoury dishes that you wouldn’t typically classify as being sweet.

It can be hard to avoid the consumption of sugar when it seems to be everywhere that we go and prevalent in so many social activities. For example, going to the cinemas with friends often mean stopping by the snack bar and buying sweets to snack on while you enjoy the film together, and you might feel like you are missing out on the full experience if you refrain.

You should try to make a commitment to consume less sugar and let your friends and loved ones know about it, so they don’t pressure you or put you in situations where consuming sugar is encouraged. Doing this won’t just help you, but it will also inspire others to follow suit and enjoy the health benefits of reducing sugar from their diets by making the switch to low sugar alternatives or simply not consuming as many sweetened products.

Eating too much red meat

Over the last few years, the vegan movement has caused millions to swear off the consumption of animal products to promote a more sustainable and ethical relationship between humans and animals. While the choice to become vegan or not is still a personal one for many people, you should be aware of the net negative effect that overconsumption of red meat can have.

While there is still a lot of debate around red meat, with biases that inform opinions on both sides, there’s no doubt that it is possible to consume too much of it. Studies have shown that many types of red meat are high in saturated fats that can contribute towards issues like cholesterol, which is notorious for clogging arteries and stressing the heart, potentially leading to heart failure. Also, the cooking of red meat (especially on smoky grills), can produce carcinogens in the meat, which are known to contribute to the development of some cancers.

Summary

After your genetics, your diet is the primary determining factor in your health and well-being. Proper nutrition is the basis from which healthy and long-lived people operate, so if you want to enjoy the benefits then you might need to think about changing some of your eating habits.

Community Educator at Ngala, Stephanie Fairbairn, explores some reasons toddlers become averse to vegetables, and suggests some strategies for getting them to eat more greens.

Have you ever wondered why your once-vegetable-loving baby turned into a vege-phobic toddler at around 14-18 months of age? Why does this happen, and how can we get them back on track with their greens?

Firstly, developmentally, toddlers have a growing sense of independence and this self-determination can also sometimes affect their food preferences. They push boundaries and some tend to say “no” a lot.

Scientists studying behaviour and evolutionary adaptation have proposed some fascinating possible reasons for this. In other words, how humans adapted to their environment in order to survive. Scientists have put forward the idea that babies being carried by an adult in the ancient savannah were relatively safe from harm and potential hazards, but as soon as they became mobile and independent, self-protecting behaviours had to kick in to prevent them from putting anything and everything into their mouths.

This applies particularly to green vegetables. Spinach, broccoli and other green leafy veg possess a group of chemical compounds that provide an ‘alkaloid’ taste – think of the smell when we’ve left the brussel sprouts on too long. Plants have sophisticated defence mechanisms, like spikes, thorns, stingers and chemical poisons to dissuade from being eaten, and many poisons have bitterness as a hallmark taste whereas sweetness tends to be ‘safe’, like breast milk – hence our preference for sweet tastes. The aversion to bitter taste is heightened at toddlerhood, to alert them to potentially harmful things to eat.

The aversion to bitter taste is heightened at toddlerhood, to alert them to potentially harmful things to eat.

To test this theory, researchers from Yale University in the US conducted an experiment with toddlers, looking at how they interacted with non-food items like wooden spoons, metal toys and cardboard, compared to green leafy plants. They found that the toddlers were significantly less likely to touch the green leafy items compared to the other objects, and took longer to reach out to them. There is also research to show that humans are likely to possess a gene that makes us particularly sensitive to detecting bitterness from our taste receptors. As children have more taste sensitivity than adults by nature of their age, adults may not taste flavours as sensitively as children.

 

All this is very interesting, but how do we overcome the battle to get our toddlers to eat their greens? There are several strategies that we can put into practice:

  • What tends to work in the long term so that we enjoy our five vegetables and two fruit a day later in life, is for parents to be seen to role model eating a variety of vegetables and fruit at mealtimes and snacks. You may have noticed already that your toddler copies your actions; what you say, do, and items you use (think mobile phones!). You may have also noticed that there are times they eat food off your plate that they would never eat off their own, this is down to feeling safe to eat food you eat. 
  • Have a fruit bowl in the middle of the table for visibility and accessibility. Think creatively about how you prepare and serve vegetables – cut them in different shapes, use a crinkle cutter, keep vegetables raw rather than cooked, use a dip or sauce, get your toddler to help you wash vegetables and put them on a plate.
  • Be persistent and patient – it can take many times presenting the food to your toddler before it’s accepted.
  • Let your toddler help themselves from a serving plate on the table. 
  • Grow something simple like herbs or tomatoes with your toddler – it’s worth the effort and they learn along the way.
  • Google it! If you are fresh out of ideas pick the brains of millions of others who have gone before. Pinterest and image sites are a good resource for triggering your imagination and creativity.
  • Offer healthy foods and snacks. If your toddler refuses to eat their vegetables, it does not mean they get rewarded with non-healthy food.
  • Relax! We are working towards a long-term habit not a mandatory daily chore. Vegetable success will only come when your child gets there in his own time.
  • Remember, toddler’s tummies are tiny – appropriate servings at this age are two vegetable and two fruit a day – about the size of their own fist.

Remember, toddler’s tummies are tiny – appropriate servings at this age are two vegetable and two fruit a day – about the size of their own fist.

 Unhelpful strategies include:

  • Force feeding: You might win the battle, but you lose the war in the longer term.
  • Cheerleading! Parents who get really excited their two-year-old has finally put the broccoli up to their mouth should not be surprised that this overly emotional response encourages the toddler to press their emotional buttons by putting it down again. It’s a great game!
  • Bribing: ‘If you eat your carrots now, you get ice-cream later’ – this will tend to create a negative association that ‘I have to eat the nasty stuff to get the good stuff’.
  • Telling a toddler that a particular vegetable is good for them and therefore they should eat it. You can try this strategy, but toddlers are not that easily convinced – and it may become the trigger sentence that reinforces an automatic ‘No’.

Check out further information and parenting workshops at www.ngala.com.au

Hydration is the key to beating feelings of dizziness and nausea while exercising.

Dear Dr. Benson,

I work out three to four times per 5 day week and keep fairly active on weekends. Of late, I’ve been experiencing some light-headedness while doing weights, and a few times following workouts have been experiencing nausea or vomiting.

A deciding factor in the nausea episodes seems to be where I work out, as the upstairs area of the gym has lots of air conditioners and the downstairs area has a low roof and feels quite hot, and although I do different exercises in both locations, there are some cross-overs during which I find I have less trouble in the better ventilated area. Dizziness has been experienced at both. There are occasionally times it has been experienced during the working day, although this normally follows periods of high stress or poor sleep, so I have not really been highly concerned with it. I’m also experiencing lethargy far earlier in my workouts that I was a few months ago.

I’m not sure if it’s a dietary thing or if it’s something I should see a GP about. It’s certainly the case that if my food consumption is slightly increased, I experience dizziness less frequently, although if I increase it significantly, then vomiting and nausea increases during workouts (this, I assume, is more related to undigested food in the stomach as blood is diverted to the muscles than to anything else).

I take protein supplements post-workout and occasionally pre-workout if I lack the time at work for a mid-morning snack. My first meal is usually around 8am and the post-workout consumption is about 1pm, sometimes 2pm. Consistency of mid-morning meals is erratic at best- maybe one day out of five, as usually I get swamped with work.

Is this likely to be a simple case of needing a greater energy intake? Could it be related to blood sugar? Or should I consider seeing a GP just in case?

Kind regards, 

Reuben

Dear Reuben,

Obviously it would be important for you to see your GP for a basic check up and blood tests to rule out any significant problem.  If these episodes of dizziness, nausea and vomiting are also associated with headaches for example, your GP should do a thorough neurological examination to ensure that there is no intracranial pathology.

However it is possible that your symptoms are related to either the environment, as you have identified with it being more likely to happen in hotter, less ventilated areas; or occasionally these symptoms can be due to hyperventilation that occurs in some people when they work out and lift heavy weights, so ensure your breathing is slow and controlled.

More possible though I feel that it may actually be the result of low blood sugar and/ or some dehydration during your workouts, which leads us to a good discussion on exercise hydration and nutrition advice…

The fluid and energy you consume before, during, and after an exercise session are all equally important, not only to optimise your performance (and hence the effectiveness of your work-out), but also to maintain comfort and hence make the experience more enjoyable.

 

Before exercise it is important to drink at least 500mls of water in the 2 hrs leading up, including 200mls of water  in the 15 minutes before starting;

You also need to eat an easily digested carbohydrate 1-4 hours leading up e.g. fruit such as banana, pasta, potato, rice, breakfast cereal, etc.

Protein is too heavy pre-exercise, and won’t provide a source of quick acting energy.

During exercise you should aim to drink at least 200mls of water or sports drink every 20 minutes.

If you don’t use a sports drink, make sure you have some form of quickly digested carbohydrate at least once an hour e.g. fruit, sports bars etc.

 

After exercise you should drink at least 500-1000mls of water in the 2 hours following

(until your urine is clear!), and eat a source of carbohydrate and protein e.g. fruit smoothie, nutritional supplement drink, yoghurt, etc.

If you are trying to gain muscle, adding protein powders is useful here.