Fast food

Sitting down to a nutritious, homemade dinner within an hour of getting home is a busy person’s dream, says Sophie Wright, medal-winning chef and author of new book Home at 7. Dinner at 8 (Kyle Cathie, £14.99). But when time and energy are in short supply, many of us end up buying a ready meal, ordering a takeaway or preparing the same old spaghetti bolognese week after week. In her new book, Wright helps you make easy, tasty, healthy and fresh dishes in well under an hour -often in less time than it takes to heat up a ready meal! You should also save some pennies into the bargain. Taking a few shortcuts for mid-week meals is the way forward, says Wright ‘It’s fine to use some pre-prepared ingredients to make your life easier and make cooking less stressful and time consuming.’ Buy cooked lentils and pre-cooked rice for your store cupboard, for example. Most of the time, there’s no need to be a complete stickler for a recipe either, says Wright. ‘Cooking isn’t about getting worried you’re missing a certain ingredient or you can’t find what you need in the supermarket. Just go with what you have. The minute you start to get stressed, the less enjoyable and relaxing your cooking time will be.’ Wright’s own week-day philosophy is to keep meals simple, healthy and quick – and use the freezer. ‘I often have some stuff in the freezer, so I look in there the day before and think, what can 1 do with those bits of marinated chicken?’ Think ahead and you could have speedy home-cooked suppers every night of the week!

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GLUTEAL BRIDGE

GOOD FOR

This move works the big muscle in your bottom, the gluteus maximus. It also strengthens the often-neglected hamstrings (back of thigh), deep abdominals and pelvic floor and helps stabilize your pelvis and lower back.

HOW TO DO IT

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, raise your hips off the floor until you’re resting on your shoulder blades and your body’s in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.  Squeeze your bottom muscles to maintain the position and hold for 20 seconds. Do this three times.

MAKE IT HARDEH

 If this move becomes too easy, extend one leg when you’re in the raised position, to form a straight line from the toes on your raised foot to your shoulders (pictured right). Clench your bottom muscles and hold this position for 10 seconds. Release and perform on the other side.

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Balance your body…Part 2

Food for thought

The most acidic-tasting foods aren’t necessarily the worst culprits-what causes pH imbalance in our bodies Is acid-forming’ foods explains Cassandra Barns, nutritionist at The Nutri Centre (nutricentre.com).

‘The most acidic-tasting foods aren’t necessarily the worst culprits’

‘When lemons are digested and absorbed, they’re alkalising. Foods that break down to leave a residue high in minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium tend to be alkalizing.’

The ‘acidifying’ group includes foods rich in protein, anything animal-derived including dairy, plus whole grains, refined sugars, alcohol, pulses and nuts. Acid-forming foods are obviously not universally bad. Bit to keep your body tissues well-balanced, you need to outweigh their intake by eating mostly fresh, natural vegetables and some Fruit, says Jevtic. Try to eat meals that are three quarters alkaline forming and a quarter acid forming; she says.

It’s not just food that’s acidifying- stress and pollution are too. Stress not only triggers unhealthy eating habits. It causes us to shallow breathe, leaving more carbon dioxide – and hence acidity -in the body. Harmony alkalises and disharmony acidifies/ says Courteney.

Any kind of de-stressing activity will benefit your pH but natural health experts are now pioneering targeted therapies. North London alternative health centre Alchemy (alchernythecentre.co.uk) is leading the way, with alkalised yoga studios. ‘In a pollution-dense environment, it’s harder for yoga to work its alkalising magic,’ explains Alchemy co-founder and yoga teacher Stmon Andresz. ‘So by using state-of-the-art machines to cleanse the air, we give our bodies an even better chance.’ Alkalising negative ions are also abundant in mountain air and around flowing water, so try spending more time outdoors.       

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Balance your body

From blood pressure to cholesterol level most of us are aware of our vital health statistics But do you know what your pH is? A marker of how acid or alcaline your body is, your pH level is increasingly being hailed by natural health experts as a key indicator of health and wellbeing The body needs to maintain a certain acid-alkaline balance. This balance is one of the keys to keeping healthy and slowing the ageing process,’ explains Hazel Courteney, author of 500 of the Most Important Health Tips You’ll Ever Need.

Modem life is destabilising our innate balance, continues Courteney. The body needs to be around 70 per cent alkaline and 30 per cent add. But in the West, the average person Is SO per cent acid and 20 per cent alkaline. MOST modern lifestyles and diets are acid-forming and if the body remains in an acid state for LOO long, this acidily can trigger degenerative diseases” Now there’s a new wave of pH-balancing therapies, from alkalising juice cleanse programmes to exercise classes to help counter the problem.

The pH scale is a measure of how acid or alkaline your blood and bodily fluids are. On a scale of 0 to 14. below seven is said to be acidic, seven is neutral and above seven is alkaline. Every cell functions more efficiently when it’s predominantly alkaline, says Courteney. By which, we’re talking around 7 4 on the pH scale. When your acid-alkaline balance is out of kilter the consequences are wide-ranging, explains homoeopath and nutritionist Maria Jevtic.

Enzymes, which conduct chemical reactions in the body, need a specific pH to function properly, otherwise they’ll slow down, getting worse over time.’ What may start out as fatigue, poor digestion and dull skin, may eventually contribute to chronic conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis. If the blood becomes too acidic, it may start withdrawing alkalising minerals such as calcium, from the hair, skin and nails, then moving on through the body’ says Courteney, Healthy esting and staying active will help balance your pH. There’s no definitive test for bodily pH-some natural practitioners test saliva or urine – but a good starling point is to give your lifestyle the pH once-over.

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Do the minerals in one and a half litres of bottled water make much difference to my health? What if it’s high in sodium?

Important minerals, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and sodium, are present in many bottled waters but the levels are low compared to those in the food you eat, However, studies show high sodium in your diet can elevate blood pressure, so if you suffer from high blood pressure it would pay to check you’re drinking a low-sodium water (below 5mg per litre). You can also choose a mineral water with high levels of
calcium, at over 100mg per litre [and magnesium to aid absorption of calcium), if you have a low-dairy diet and worry about getting enough of this mineral to maintain healthy bones and teeth. However, in general, drinking up to two litres of bottled water a day won’t make a vast difference to your overall mineral intake, and it’s worth noting tap water in your area can sometimes contain more of these minerals than bottled, The important thing is to stay hydrated!

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