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The cooking Journal

Posts in 'Nutrition in the Workplace'

Is turmeric the solution to fighting superbugs?
In this week’s Sunday Times I read a very interesting article by Andrew Gregory about how scientists have discovered the power of using curcumin (the plant compound that gives turmeric its colour) along with other natural ingredients to fight superbugs without the need for antibiotics. Using nanocapsules of curcumin they have successfully neutralised one of the world's most pernicious superbugs- helicobacter pylori. In a world where we are increasingly hearing about antibiotic resistance, a discovery like this could spell a huge change in the way we fight these bugs.

Whilst wider trials are still ahead, as many of you will know I have long been an advocate of turmeric, for me it is the undisputed superpower in the spice cupboard. Originally used as a food preservative, turmeric has had a long standing ovation in Asia for its many medicinal values.

We already know that turmeric has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and neoprotective properties. Curcumin is also understood to break up heavy metals and plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Could a microcapsule of curcumin really be the answer to many modern ailments?

There are plenty of simple ways to incorporate turmeric into your daily meals - you can add a pinch to scrambled eggs or rice dishes, pickle it or even incorporate it into a drink- turmeric latte or "golden milk" as it is sometimes known has developed something of a cult following and is now widely available. Do bear in mind when ordering your latte that turmeric needs to be combined with black pepper in order to be effective. Black pepper contains the bioactive compound piperine which aids the absorption of curcumin. Which is why I’ve developed my own turmeric latte blend available for sale via The Cooking Academy website.

So with the elevated importance of this super spice, now’s the time to be a turmeric convert. Start cooking with this jewel of the spice cupboard or swap out a coffee or two for a delicious turmeric latte- it’s easy when you know how.

Click here to buy my turmeric latte blend.

Click here to read the original article.
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Team Building with a difference- 'Ready, Steady... Unite'
At The Cooking Academy, we offer a very different type of team-building activity, a cookery challenge in the form of a ‘Cook Off’ between colleagues.
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Improve your cognitive function with Peanuts

A higher nut consumption could be the key to better cognitive health in older people according to new research from the University of South Australia.


In a study of 4822 Chinese adults aged 55+ years, researchers found that eating more than 10 grams of nuts a day was positively associated with better mental functioning, including improved thinking, reasoning and memory.

Lead researcher, UniSA's Dr. Ming Li, says the study is the first to report an association between cognition and nut intake in older Chinese adults, providing important insights into increasing mental health issues (including dementia) faced by an ageing population.

"Population ageing is one of the most substantial challenges of the twenty-first century. Not only are people living longer, but as they age, they require additional health support which is placing unprecedented pressure on aged-care and health services," Dr. Li says.

"In China, this is a massive issue, as the population is ageing far more rapidly than almost any other country in the world.  "Improved and preventative health care – including dietary modifications – can help address the challenges that an ageing population presents.

"By eating more than 10 grams (or two teaspoons) of nuts per day older people could improve their cognitive function by up to 60 per cent– compared to those not eating nuts – effectively warding off what would normally be experienced as a natural two-year cognition decline."  Dr. Li says peanuts have specific anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which can alleviate and reduce cognitive decline.

Nuts are known to be high in healthy fats, protein and fibre with nutritional properties that can lower cholesterol and improve cognitive health. While there is no cure at present for age-related cognition decline and neurogenerative disease, variations in what people eat are delivering improvements for older people.

The World Health Organization estimates that globally, the number of people living with dementia is at 47 million.

By 2030, this is projected to rise to 75 million and by 2050, global dementia cases are estimated to almost triple. China has the largest population of people with dementia.

As people age, they naturally experience changes to conceptual reasoning, memory, and processing speed. This is all part of the normal ageing process; however age is also the strongest known risk factor for cognitive disease. Thus finding ways to help older people retain their cognitive health and independence for longer is imperative, modifying their diet is a good start and absolutely worth the effort.

Research taken from University of South Australia – Dr li and Dr Shi  published January 2019
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Sleep hygiene… should we be counting sheep?
There is nothing better than waking up after a good night’s sleep.  However for many people a good night’s sleep is a distant dream and lack of sleep can seriously affect our health and wellbeing.

Some people can function on very little sleep and famously Margaret Thatcher allegedly only needed 4 hours’ sleep a night.  However most of us as adult need an average of 8 hours’ sleep a night to function properly.  We spend a third of our lives asleep so it is important we get the benefits of good sleep.

We need sleep to recharge our bodies, if we are deprived of sleep there can be long term health issues such as obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes as well as long term memory loss and dementia.   Not getting enough sleep can result in you putting on weight, because you have reduced levels of leptin the chemical that makes you feel full and an increased level of ghrelin which stimulates hunger.  It can also affect your immunity, so if you’re susceptible to picking up any cold or bug going round the workplace, you may be lacking sleep.

In terms of mental health, lack of sleep or poor sleep can affect our mood, increasing negative emotions leading to an increase in anxiety, depression and stress.  Sleep helps our brains rest and often helps us process thoughts and face the next day with a more positive attitude.

Research on sleep patterns has suggested that trying to catch up on sleep by having long lie-ins at weekends does not make up for not sleeping for long enough during the week.  However if you have been sleep deprived for a while, it is a good idea to let yourself sleep for as long as possible.  Go to sleep when you feel tired and get up when you wake up, rather than relying on the alarm clock.

How do we improve our sleep?

Sleep improves with routine, by having a pattern or schedule for sleep you will get into the habit!  Even add it to your to do list, however sleep shouldn’t be the thing you do once you’ve completed your to do list.

The habits to adopt to help you sleep include:

  • Sounds strange but make a to do list before you finish the working day for the following day so that it’s all down on paper, this will help you ‘clear your brain’ of thoughts that might be distracting you

  • Light exercise and fresh air during the day will help you sleep

  • Avoiding caffeine too late in the afternoon and evening (coffee, tea, Red Bull, Coke, etc)

  • Have a warm bath or shower

  • Try and have set a regular bed time and get into the routine of going to bed at the same time every night.

  • Read or listen the radio or an audio book will help distract your brain

  • Alcohol can make us sleepy initially but it will affect our sleep if drunk in too large a quantity


The environment where you sleep is also important.  This may sound obvious but there are some small changes you can make to improve your bedroom for a better night’s sleep.

  • Make sure your bed is comfortable, that includes the pillows and weight of the duvet/bedclothes

  • Ensure the bedroom is cool, between 18 and 24 degrees

  • Don’t have any screens in your room, TV, smart phone, computer or other gadgets

  • Good curtains or blinds on your windows to shut out any light and noise from outside


As for counting sheep… that is more likely to keep you awake than help you drift away to the land of nod.

 

For more information go to the NHS website

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Resilience
Resilience is a topic that comes up in many corporates and is often a training course for dealing with stress and work life balance.  However an individual’s resilience can be affected by many external factors apart from work and a one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work.  How people manage stress will be different depending on the person and the levels and types of stress they are facing.

In a recent global survey by IBM, work is seen as one of the biggest contributors to stress.  This was attributed to the speed of change in business across the world, and in certain areas the uncertainty of the political situation.  This is particularly noticeable in the UK with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit with the deadline of 29 March fast approaching.    Added to this the speed of communications and the ability to be online 24/7 has resulted in business cultures expecting instant responses to emails and texts.  This hardly allows for a work life balance.

Stress can have a positive effect in the short term, with adrenaline kicking-in to help us cope and work at peak performance.  This is a basic human response to a situation, going back to the primitive reaction of ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ when faced by a sabre toothed tiger.  However over a long period of time stress will have a negative impact, affecting sleep patterns, and mood which can result in burn out.

There are many ways in which an individual can boost their ability to cope with stress, work life balance and increase their resilience which is beneficial to both work and home life.

Managers need to make sure workloads are balanced across teams, and also set a good example themselves.  It’s no good to be demanding instant or out of hours responses to emails or phone calls.  If your team is always ‘on call’ they may be engaged with the company or work, however stress levels increase and work life balance takes a hit.   In France a law was enacted in 2017 to give employees the right to disconnect from work out of hours.

Compartmentalising our workload, ie breaking it down into manageable chunks and focusing on one task at a time will help.  It is estimated we receive 11m bits of information a second, but we can only process 40 bits of information effectively.  Added to that, research shows that if we are interrupted it can take up to 23 minutes to get engaged properly with the activity again.

Taking breaks in your work is also essential, to rest your brain, stand up and walk about to give yourself a break from the screen and desk, but also give yourself a different view which can aid thought processes and give mental clarity.   90 minutes’ work is deemed to be the maximum time for effective concentration.   If you’re able to take a walk around the block, this will give you fresh air, exercise and a different perspective.   When you’re home, if you have to go back to the emails, limit your time and set boundaries for your colleagues so they know you are not available!   With the time you’ve given yourself ensure you spend quality time with your family and friends, pursue your hobbies and get some good sleep - we all need down time to be able to recharge our batteries.

Eating nutritious foods and staying hydrated is essential for Resilience and especially for your brain to work effectively - as the biggest muscle in your body it needs sustenance.  Relying on junk food and caffeine or sugar rich drinks will give you a short boost of energy but a bigger fall once the caffeine or sugar runs out.

Finally cultivate compassion – be good to yourself and others.  Research has shown that this increases positive work relationships and with your family and friends, it improves cooperation and collaboration.

Good managers should be able to understand the stress levels of their teams.  Keeping them up to date and informed of what is going on in the company is a great way of helping your team in managing workload.  Resilience reaches far beyond the ‘resilience training’ that HR teams develop that’s often aimed at smarter working.  It should be a companywide change.  Company cultures take time to change, if you can start building resilience as individuals and with your immediate colleagues, you will be supporting each other.

 

Harvard Business Review

People Management
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