The Truth About Carbohydrates

The Truth About Carbohydrates; why a whole foods diet is best!

There is substantial research indicating that eating too many of certain types of carbohydrates, broadly termed white and beige carbs, may increase our risk of weight gain, obesity, fatty liver, type II diabetes and infertility in both men and women. Eating a lot of these white and beige carbs can even pre-dispose our unborn children to obesity through changes in fetal DNA brought about by a high carb diet. Conversely, other types of carbohydrates can benefit our health and even help to prevent weight gain, type II diabetes, infertility and bowel cancer. 

So,what are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates (or carbs) are macronutrients, along with protein and fats. We all need carbohydrates for energy, but eating the right type of carbs is essential. There are 3 types of carbs:

  1. Sugar (or white carbs), this includes white & brown sugar, honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates etc.
  2. Digestible Starch (or beige carbs), this includes most types of bread made from flour, mass produced breakfast cereals, pasta, potatoes and white rice.
  3. Resistant starch & fibre, this includes breads made from whole rye grains, porridge oats, vegetables, beans and lentils 

In general, many of us eat too many of the 1st two types of carbs, and not enough of the 3rd type. The latest scientific research tells us that we should be changing the balance of our diets in favour of the 3rd type of carbohydrates. In summary the reasons for this can be explained as follows:

  • Sugar and digestible starch (White and beige carbs) are digested very quickly and as a result rapidly release sugars into the bloodstream when we eat them. This causes an unhealthy rise in blood sugar which encourages weight gain, an increase in liver fat and increases the risk of type II diabetes. Moreover, none of the energy (or calories) from these type of carbs can be used by our gut bacteria, which may be a crucial factor in helping us to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Resistant starch and fibre on the other hand are digested much more slowly and therefore release their sugars more gradually. This results in a more gentle, healthy rise in our blood sugar level which helps to prevent weight gain. Recent research also shows that resistant starch is not fully digested in the stomach, instead some travels to the gut where it acts as a food for our gut bacteria. This essentially means that less of the energy (or calories) from resistant starch is available to us that is; we absorb less calories from these types of carbs than from either white or beige carbs. 

Consequently, we not only obtain more calories from eating white and beige carbs but these carbs also quickly and significantly increase our blood sugar level and provide no benefits to our gut bacteria, and this is why we should be eating less of them. 

This latest research adds weight to the already substantial body of scientific research supporting the health benefits of eating plenty of whole, unprocessed plant foods which are rich in fibre and resistant starch. For instance, previous research has revealed that people who eat high fibre diets based largely around whole plant foods have a lower risk of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

So, how can we change our diets so that we benefit more from resistant starch and fibre? Why not start by swapping some of the white or beige carbs in your diet for foods rich in fibre and resistant starch instead, for example;

  • Swap commercial breakfast cereal for porridge oats or sugar free muesli
  • Swap mass produced supermarket bread (whether it’s white or wholemeal) for whole grain rye bread (German or Scandinavian style rye bread), or sourdough whole grain rye bread
  • Swap standard pasta for a whole grain variety, or for a legume based version e.g. Chickpea or lentil pasta
  • Swap white rice for brown rice, quinoa or millet
  • Swap cream crackers for oatcakes or rye crackers
  • Replace meat and animal produce at some meals with lentils or beans e.g. use beans in chillis and stews, lentils in curries and soups, serve salads and baked potatoes with hummus instead of cheese etc.
  • Swap sweets and chocolate for whole fruits
  • Snack on nuts and seeds instead of crisps 

If you still want to include white and beige carbs in your diet, try the following cooking and preparation tips to help make these carbs better for your gut health. These include;

  • Keeping sliced bread in the freezer and cooking it from frozen
  • Cooling and then reheating meals made from pasta, rice and potatoes before eating them (just ensure to reheat thoroughly!)

Both of these methods increase the amount of resistant starch in these carb based foods, making them better for our gut bacteria and long term health.

NEW; Detailed dietary analysis service!

How could a detailed analysis of my diet benefit me?

Are you unsure as to whether your diet is meeting your vitamin and mineral needs? Concerned that you may not be getting enough protein or essential fats, or that you might be eating too much sugar? Confused about which supplements to take, or whether you even need supplements at all? A detailed nutritional analysis of your diet can provide the answers!

What do I need to do?

Clients will need to provide me with a detailed 7 day diet diary covering a typical week’s meals.

What information will the dietary analysis include?

In return for clients providing me with a detailed diet diary I will carry out a detailed nutritional analysis of your diet, from which I will create an in depth report outlining your average caloric intake, macronutrient (fats, protein, carbohydrate), vitamin and mineral intakes. Based on the findings of your personalised report I will put together a summary of dietary recommendations such as which nutrients and foods you should try to increase or decrease in your diet and how to do this, which supplements you may need to take (if any), and any possible deficiencies in your diet which may need to be addressed or investigated. For example, a consistently low dietary intake of iron may suggest low blood iron levels which may need to be checked by your GP. I will also take into account dietary anti-nutrients such as alcohol, sugars and phytates (found in grains) which may cause nutrient losses or impair nutrient absorption and which could effect your unique nutrient requirements.

How much will the analysis cost, and how can I find out more?

The fee for your personalised dietary analysis report will be £300. Your report will be created within 10 days of my receiving your food diary.

To find out more contact me at, or use the contact form on the website.


One of the nutrition concerns people often have when switching to a plant-based diet is meeting calcium requirements; this is especially important for women and girls because they generally have a higher requirement for this mineral than men. We are brought up to believe that dairy produce is the best source of calcium, but did you know that in fact only about 30% of the calcium in dairy produce is actually absorbed by the body? The remaining 70% fails to pass through the intestinal wall. Furthermore, dietary animal proteins in general increase calcium loss in the urine. Therefore a plant based diet may be the best way to both obtain and retain sufficient calcium.

By far the best sources of well absorbed dietary calcium are green leafy vegetables such as spring greens, kale, sprouts and broccoli (with the exception of spinach which contains oxalates; chemicals which bind to minerals inhibiting their absorption). In addition to these vegetables’ beans and legumes such as black beans, green beans, chickpeas, lentils, soya beans and kidney beans etc. along with butternut squash, sweet potato, celery, figs and oranges are also all good sources of calcium. By eating a wide variety of these foods on a daily basis it is perfectly possible to meet calcium requirements without resorting to dairy produce. 

If you are a post-menopausal woman, or anyone with osteoporosis then your calcium requirements may be a little higher and you may wish to consider supplementing your diet as well. The most well absorbed form of calcium supplement tends to be calcium citrate; it is best to avoid cheaper calcium carbonate supplements. Post-menopausal women following a largely plant based diet are thought to require around 800mg of calcium per day.

Furthermore, Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Try to get out in the sunlight every day when the sun is high in the sky; you only need 15 – 30 mins of skin exposure to produce sufficient vitamin D during the summer months. However, many of us don’t achieve this and during the winter months the sun is not strong enough in the UK for sufficient Vitamin D production in the skin. As a result, Vitamin D deficiency is very common. This vitamin is not only essential for bone health, it is also vital for healthy immune function. As such, low or deficient levels may increase the risk of certain cancers, infections (including viruses) and auto-immune disease. It is sensible for most people to supplement with at least 400 – 800iu of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) all year round. This dose may be increased to 1000 – 2000iu during the winter months, and anyone with a deficiency may need even more. Vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified foods such as mushrooms, cereals and dairy free milks and yoghurts etc. 

Finally, reducing caffeine intake may help to minimize bodily calcium loss, and avoiding drinking any type of tea with meals is advisable as the tannins in tea can inhibit the absorption of minerals such as calcium and iron.   

Spring Supplement Offer!

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I am currently offering 10% off all Cytoplan supplements between now and the 31st of May! Cytoplan are pioneers of Whole Food and Food State supplements. The company considers “that the supplements most appropriate and safe for human ingestion are those in which the nutrients are presented in the same form as those in food – as the nutrients are in our Food State and Wholefood supplements. These are bio-active nutrient complexes containing all the associated food factors in which they occur in nature. If a substance is appropriate to metabolic activity, you do not need high levels – and that is fundamental to our nutritional philosophy. Click here to read more about our Food State and Wholefood supplements

My personal and client favourite Cytoplan products include their comprehensive multi formula’s Foundation Formula I and II, Women’s WholeFood Multi, Pregnaplan (an excellent formula for support pre-conception, during pregnancy and breastfeeding), Vegan Omega 3, Whole Food calcium and their fantastic range of gut health support supplements including Acidophilus Plus.

To view the full Cytoplan range and choose your products visit To place your order simply contact me via email at A PayPal invoice will be issued and your order will then be processed within 48 hours and will normally be dispatched directly from the supplier within 5 working days.

Please note that if you are taking regular medication, or have a diagnosed health condition it is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking nutritional supplements. If you would like professional nutritional advice on which supplements to choose to suit your requirements, a mini consultation session may be of benefit. Please see my ‘consultations’ page for details.

Dark chocolate, date & hazelnut mini cookies

I always find baking to be therapeutic, and in need of something to cheer me up on the dawn of another lockdown I made these easy to bake mini cookies.. High in fibre, a good source of protein & mono-unsaturated fats and low in added sugar, the combination of dark chocolate, dates and hazelnuts is delicious, but pecans or walnuts would also work very well.. Enjoy!

Ingredients (you will need U.S style baking cups for this recipe)

  • ¾ cup of ground almonds
  • ¾ cup of jumbo oats
  • ¼ cup of oat granola, OR just use more oats or ground almonds
  • ¼ cup of date sugar (or other unrefined sugar)
  • 10 chopped dates
  • 4-6 squares of chopped dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa content (or an equivalent amount of dark choc chips)
  • 1 handful of chopped hazelnuts (or pecans or walnuts)
  • ¾ tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • ¼ cup of canned chickpea water (aquafaba), OR 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp of nut butter (e.g. almond, hazelnut or peanut)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dairy free milk e.g. soya or oat
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (fan) or 200 (standard).
  • Mix the ground almonds, oats, granola, chopped dates, chocolate chunks/ chips, chopped hazelnuts, baking powder, sugar & salt in a large bowl.
  • Next, in another bowl whisk the aquafaba (or the egg) for 1 minute, then whisk in the nut butter, oil, dairy free milk and vanilla until smooth and well blended.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until completely mixed; you should have a firm slightly sticky dough which holds together well. 
  • Place small walnut sized balls of the dough onto a lined baking tray and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand into mini cookies. There should be enough dough to make around 16 mini cookies. You can of course make fewer bigger cookies if you prefer!
  • Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating. Store in a sealed container in a cool place for around 7 days. The cookies also freeze well. Enjoy!

Zinc; why we need it and where to find it


The trace mineral zinc is essential for immune system function and also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Zinc deficiency may lead to an increased risk of infections, including respiratory infections, and may also increase the risk of developing allergy and auto-immune disease. Ensuring we get enough zinc in our diet is therefore an essential way to protect both our short- and longer-term immune function and health.  


The best dietary sources of zinc are meat and seafood, especially red meat and oysters. However, many plant foods also provide a reasonable amount of zinc, nevertheless those following plant-based diets need to take extra care to ensure their diet meets their zinc needs. The chart below lists some of the best plant-based sources of zinc;

Oatscooked1 cup2.3
Tofufirm, raw1/2 cup2.0
Cashewsdry roasted1/4 cup1.9
Sunflower seedsroasted1/4 cup1.7
Chickpeasboiled1/2 cup1.3
Lentilsboiled1/2 cup1.3
Peanutsraw1/4 cup1.2
Almondswhole1/4 cup1.1
Pecanshalves1/4 cup1.1
Tempehraw1/2 cup1.0
Kidney beansboiled1/2 cup1.0
Peasboiled1/2 cup1.0
Chia seedsdried1 oz1.0
Walnutschopped1/4 cup0.9
Peanut butterroasted2 tbsp0.9
Cornyellow, boiled1 cup0.9
Pinto beansboiled1/2 cup0.8
Pistachiosroasted1/4 cup0.7
Misopaste1 tbsp0.4
Broccoliboiled, chopped1/2 cup0.4

Some components of plant foods, such as the phytates found in grains and cereals and lectins found in legumes, bind very effectively to zinc and impair absorption. The ratio of zinc to copper in the body is also very important.  Zinc competes for absorption with copper, and as copper tends to be abundant in many plant foods it is relatively easy to consume too much copper in relation to zinc. This in turn can lead to an imbalance between these two trace minerals. Therefore, it is especially important for those following plant based diets to monitor their zinc intake, especially over the winter months when the immune system comes under more pressure.

If you are following a largely plant based diet, there are a few key things you can do to increase the absorption of dietary zinc;

  • Pre-soak grains for at least 2 hours or overnight before cooking e.g. oats, rice etc. and dispose of the soaking water before using the grains.
  • If you eat tinned beans, dispose of the canning water and rinse your beans well before consuming. 
  • Choose sourdough, long fermentation or sprouted bread. All of these processes help to reduce the phytate content of the grains and can therefore improve zinc absorption rates.  
  • Don’t eat lots of grains at every meal; fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds all provide fibre and therefore most people do not need to eat whole-grains at every meal as long as they are eating plenty of other whole plant foods. 
  • Eat protein rich foods with every meal; protein has a positive influence on zinc absorption. However, if you eat dairy, don’t have it at every meal as the protein in dairy (casein) may moderately reduce zinc absorption.


If you have any symptoms of zinc deficiency which could include catching colds or infections regularly or finding it difficult to fight off mild infections, poor wound healing, dry, scaling or flaky skin, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, appetite loss, hair loss, diarrhoea, decreased taste & smell, or acne (which in some cases can relate to zinc deficiency) then you may also need to take a zinc supplement. Zinc citrate is one of the most effective forms of zinc supplementation, with zinc oxide (often found in cheaper supplements) being more poorly absorbed. It is not advisable to supplement with more than around 30mg of zinc per day for more than 3 – 6 months without seeking medical advice. 

Iron requirements on a plant based diet

People often wonder if iron requirements can be met on a plant based diet, and with careful dietary planning the answer for most people is ‘Yes’. However, women in particular may need to take extra care to ensure their iron needs are met, and many pre-menopausal women will need to supplement their diet with extra iron.

Iron is required to oxygenate red blood cells, convert food into energy, for normal immune function and for normal cognitive (brain) function. A lack of iron can therefore lead to fatigue, breathlessness, fainting, reduced immunity and poor concentration along with other symptoms such as a pale complexion, pale nail beds or even thinning hair (especially in women).

 There are two types of iron in the diet; haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is found in meat and non-haem iron is found in foods of vegetable origin. Although non-haem iron is the main form of dietary iron in most people’s diets, it is not as well absorbed as haem iron. Therefore, vegans and vegetarians may have a higher need for iron than meat eaters. Men eating a largely plant based diet may need approximately 14 mg of iron per day, women may need around 33mg per day. If you are eating a largely plant-based diet you may need to supplement your diet with iron, however it is advisable to have your iron level checked by your GP before doing so. Men in particular should not take iron supplements unless their blood iron level is low, as excess iron can build up in the body and be harmful. Women have a greater risk of iron deficiency than men and need to take greater care to ensure requirements are met.

Although the body responds to low availability of iron by increasing absorption, iron is not as readily absorbed as some other nutrients. The absorption of iron is affected by the presence of other foods in the gut. For instance, tannins & phenols (found in chocolate, tea and coffee) and certain proteins, for example those found in cow’s milk and egg, all tend to hinder the absorption of iron. It is therefore advisable not to drink tea or coffee with meals. Phytates (phytic acid) found in grains, bread and pasta can also hinder iron absorption. Also, some vegetables contain substances known as oxalates e.g. spinach, beetroot, broccoli and swiss chard, which can interfere with iron absorption. However, the oxalate content can be much reduced by cooking these vegetables, and as they also provide other important nutrients these foods should certainly still be included in the diet.

Vitamin C helps to increase the absorption of iron and, in particular, the non-haem form of iron found in plant foods. Therefore, combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C rich foods can significantly increase iron absorption. Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, blackcurrants, guava, kiwis, strawberries, cantaloupe melon, mango, papaya, sweet peppers, lamb’s lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens; try to eat some of these foods every day to optimise iron absorption.

Whole-wheat bread provides a source of iron but owing to its wheat content it also contains phytates. The normal bread fermentation process reduces the phytate levels in the finished loaf, however sourdough bread-making is more beneficial for iron absorption as the extra-long fermentation time produces bread which is much more digestible and has much reduced phytate levels.

Good plant-based sources of iron include:

  • Pulses including chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soya beans and tofu
  • Sprouted beans and seeds such as aduki beans, alfalfa, sesame and sunflower seeds
  • Cereals & grains and iron fortified products such as breakfast cereals, bread and quinoa
  • Green leafy vegetables including kale, cabbage and broccoli (but make sure to cook those with high oxalate levels)
  • Nuts, e.g. almonds and cashews
  • Seeds, e.g. hempseed’s and pumpkin seeds
  • Dried fruit especially apricots, dates and raisins
  • Date syrup and molasses



Nutrition for Healthy Hair

Many of my clients, especially women, ask me how they can support healthy hair growth and condition. Whilst there are many factors which can influence hair health that do not relate to diet (such as hair dyes, heat application, over-brushing, sports such as swimming, sea-water and sunlight), there is no denying that what we eat can have a real impact on the condition of our hair. The following guide outlines the most important nutrients needed for healthy hair..

woman in beige dress stretching her hands

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A number of nutrients are required for strong, healthy hair and hair growth. Overall the key to healthy hair is to have a balanced, nutrient rich whole foods diet, but some of the most important nutrients for hair health include:


As hair is made of protein, ensuring you have enough protein in your diet is crucial for keeping hair strong and healthy. If you are not consuming enough protein your hair may become dry, brittle and weak, and a very low protein diet may result in hair loss. Eat a source of protein rich food at every meal; choose from good quality plant proteins such as beans (including soya), peas, lentils, quinoa, seeds and nuts. If you eat animal products excellent protein sources include fish, eggs, meat and dairy products.


Iron is an especially important mineral for hair and too little iron (even in the absence of anaemia) is a major cause of hair loss in women. The hair follicle and root are fed by a nutrient rich blood supply. When iron levels (serum ferritin) fall below a certain point this disrupts the nutrient supply to the follicle, affecting the hair growth cycle and may result in shedding. Animal products such as red meat, chicken and fish provide iron with a high bioavailability, meaning the iron is readily available to the body. Vegetarians and vegans can obtain iron from lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa, leafy green vegetables (such as broccoli, kale and salad greens), molasses, fortified cereals and breads and dried apricots. Vegetarian and vegan women may also need to supplement with iron to meet their needs, but this may be best confirmed with a blood test. Men should generally not take iron supplements unless iron deficiency has been confirmed by a medical professional.


This amino acid is found in protein rich foods and works alongside iron to boost health growth. A lack of L-Lysine can therefore affect health hair and may contribute to hair thinning. L-Lysine can be found in all high-quality proteins such as meat, fish, eggs & dairy. However, it is in shorter supply in plant foods which emphasises the importance of vegetarians and vegans including a wide variety of plant-based proteins in their daily diet. Vegetarians and vegans, particularly women who are concerned about hair thinning, may need a supplement.


Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron from food, so foods high in vitamin C are good to eat in conjunction with iron-rich foods. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant so is used readily by the body. The best sources are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen that strengthens the capillaries that supply the hair shafts.


Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats our body cannot make itself, and therefore must be obtained through our diet. Omega-3 fats are found in the cells that line the scalp and also provide the oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated. The best sources of omega 3 are oily fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, trout and mackerel and plant sources including flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, rapeseed oil and dark green leafy vegetables. Vegetarians and vegans can also increase their omega 3 levels with micro-algae (available in supplement form).


Vitamin A is needed by the body to make sebum. Sebum is an oily substance created by the hairs sebaceous glands and provides a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp. Without sebum we may experience an itchy scalp and dry hair. Animal products (such as oily fish, dairy and eggs) are good sources of vitamin A, and orange and yellow coloured vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, squash and sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A). Green leafy vegetables are also a good source of beta carotene.


Scalp protection also involves other important minerals, notably zinc and selenium. A lack of zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp. Fortified cereals, whole grains, nuts, seeds and quinoa are all good plant-based source of zinc along with seafood, beef and eggs.


The sun can damage our hair just like it can damage our skin, so ensure you eat foods rich in vitamin E to provide protection for your hair. Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, providing zinc and selenium as well as vitamin E so try to include them as part of a balanced diet. Seeds (such as sunflower seeds) are also a good source of vitamin E.


Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin. Too little biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss. Biotin rich foods include whole-grains and egg yolks.


Persistent hair loss that does not respond to a healthy diet (or that doesn’t appear to be related to normal life changes such as menopause or the post-natal period) should be investigated by a medical practitioner, as it could indicate an underlying medical condition and / or nutrient deficiencies.

Overnights chia oats, Danish style!

Inspired by a recent trip to Copenhagen where we enjoyed one of the best breakfast’s we’ve ever eaten at ‘Grod’; a small food company found in the indoor market near Norreport metro station. ‘Grod’ translates as ‘porridge’ and the company has become renowned for their innovative and delicious take on breakfast.

This overnight oat and chia bowl is hearty, nutritious and rich in protein and can be prepared in 5 minutes before bedtime. In the morning you can choose any toppings you like to make it delicious e.g. fresh or dried fruits, nuts or seeds, nut butter, yoghurt, coconut flakes, spices etc.. It can be eaten hot or cold; to enjoy warm in the morning just place the oat & chia mixture in a pan with a little extra milk, stir and heat gently for 3 – 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and add your toppings.

Ingredients (serves 1)

60g jumbo oats

1 tbsp chia seeds

handful of almonds

200ml dairy free milk

1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice, as you like)


2 handfuls of blueberries

1 small apple, grated 

1 tsp of nut butter

1 tbsp dairy free yoghurt

more cinnamon


1. Place oats, chia seeds, almonds, milk and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk or stir well, cover and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.

2. When ready to eat, remove from the fridge, stir and add more milk if its’s too thick. Then add your toppings in any order you like. Enjoy! 😊