Diet and nutrition

Nutrition for good health

Diet and Nutrition

25 August 2020

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Liverpool FC’s Head of Nutrition, Mona Nemmer joined our panel of experts to discuss the important role nutrition plays in achieving overall good health and share their tips for fitting a healthy diet into our busy lives.

If you missed the session you can catch up with the live webinar recording here.

Read on for our top takeaways from the webinar. Plus enjoy bonus material from the event, in the form of questions posed by the audience that we weren't able to get to on the day. They've been answered by our in-house experts, Registered Associate Nutritionist Gina Camfield (ANutr) and Dietician Rita Makri. Maybe yours is one of them!

Top tips for fitting a healthy diet into our busy lives

  • Organisation is important – cooking meals in batches saves time and effort later – and you only have to clean the kitchen once!

  • Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list of everything you’ll need – that way you’ll save money on impulse purchases, cut down on food waste and avoid those last minute dashes to the shops for missing ingredients, but…

  • Don’t be afraid to go off plan if a recipe calls for an ingredient you don’t have, or something else needs using up – some of the best dishes are created when we’re experimenting.

  • Eat colourful, local and fresh – fill your plate with lots of different coloured fresh foods and you’re more likely to be getting all the nutrients you need.

  • Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry!

  • Don’t be swayed by the latest fad diets – focus on your own nutritional needs and what you want to achieve and fuel yourself accordingly.

  • Start making a difference from your next meal - if you think you’ve had too much or too little of something in one meal, plan the next meal to balance it out.

  • Enjoy it! Building a positive relationship with food goes a long way towards building a healthy routine.

Bonus Q&As

What should I be having (or not having) in my diet as a peri-menopausal woman?

The menopause can present symptoms, some of which could be managed through our food and lifestyle choices. However, this doesn’t differ too much from what we would recommend for good health. During the menopause, muscle mass reduces which means we may need fewer calories each day to maintain weight. Reducing our intake of artificial sugar, simple carbohydrates and processed foods can help with managing mood and energy levels. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intakes can help to manage hot flushes.

It’s not only about looking at foods that we should reduce but also foods that could have a positive effect. With the decrease in oestrogen levels comes a risk to bone and heart health, therefore ensuring adequate intake of calcium (milk, cheese, yoghurt, green leafy veg, tofu and soya products) and exposure to vitamin D (around 20 minutes sunlight per day) may help to reduce risk of bone weakening and fractures. Boosting our intake of omega 3’s (oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, flaxseed/soybean oil) will help in protecting our heart health. 

See our articles on osteoporosis and bone health and women's vitamins, minerals and supplements or click here for more information from The Association of UK Dieticians.

I understand sugar in foods can be quite harmful but berries are regarded as a good, if not essential, part of a balanced diet. Can you please explain the difference in these sugars and if it is only berries rather than all sweet fruits that are beneficial.

You're right in that berries provide us with a wealth of vitamins and minerals that we need for a healthy diet, as do many other fruits. It's important still to get a variety, rather than rely on one type, as different types of fruits contain different properties that we need for good health. With regards to the sugar aspect, fruit does contain sugar however it is ‘natural’ sugar as opposed to the ‘free sugars’ that we find in manufactured products. Health risks from sugar are related to consuming too much ‘free sugars’ and not from eating those found naturally in fruits. 

The different structure effects how our body breaks them down but we also have to consider the other nutrients that we get from fruit and are unlikely to find in products that contain lots of free sugars. Fruit is also packed full of fibre, minerals and vitamins which we believe help us break down the sugar in fruit more efficiently than we break down sugar found in confectionary products, for example.  

Do we damage or alter the qualities of fruit and veg by liquidising or making into smoothies?

When we blend fruit and vegetables, natural sugars are released from the cells in the fruit and act more like sugar from our manufactured products. Having the fruit as a whole also means that we are getting the important fibre that they contain which helps to break down the sugars in whole fruit differently to how our body breaks down refined sugar (free sugars).

Changes to guidelines suggest that juices and smoothies actually only count towards one of our 5 a day, even though they can contain several servings of fruit/veg. That's because of them being considered a source of ‘free sugars’ as opposed to naturally occurring ones when we consume as a whole piece. 

What types of food/meals would you recommend for a type 1 diabetic, to have before and after exercise such as running, to help keep glucose levels constant during the activity and remain stable afterwards?

(Answered by Dietician Rita Makri)

Generally, glucose levels fluctuate during the day (and the night!), so asking from a meal to stabilise your BG during/after exercise could be unrealistic.

As long as you can count carbs and take the insulin needed, you can have exactly the same kind of meals pre- and post-exercise, as anyone else (see our article for information on eating before and after exercise).

As ever when fuelling for exercise it come down to exercise type, intensity and duration. We know there's a large variation in how type 1 diabetic individuals react to exercise, so you'll need to take some extra steps to make sure you do it safely. You can find information about this on the Diabetes UK website, but it’s important to remember that while guidance of this kind is useful, you may react differently and you should tailor the information to suit how you feel and react.

What I would say is start exercising gradually and the sessions can be longer as the time goes by. This way you can monitor glucose levels and minimise the risk hypoglycaemia during exercise. And if you’re new to exercising, please do seek advice from your GP, diabetes specialist or other suitably qualified professional before you start.

Further information

Osteoporosis and bone health

Women's vitamins, minerals and supplements

What to eat before and after exercise

Sports nutrition and type 1 diabetes, Diabetes UK [Accessed 28 August 2020]

Diet and nutrition hub

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