Posts Tagged ‘vitamins and minerals’

Diet and Exams

Monday, May 27th, 2013

What students eat and drink in the run up to their exams can affect their performance. Taking the time to eat healthily, get fresh air and exercise are very important preparations for a clear and focused mind during exam time.

Nutrition Tips -


Skipping breakfast can mean loss of recall and concentration both detrimental to a student so ensure you choose foods that are high in fibre and give your body a slow steady release of glucose for example

• Wholegrain cereal with milk, fresh orange food

• Bowl of porridge with sultanas.

• Wholemeal bread toasted with chopped banana.



Snacking regularly on healthy foods can also ensure a steady slow release of glucose to the brain. Useful foods as snacks include

• Fresh fruit or vegetables.

• Popcorn.

• Fruit /Wholemeal scone.

• Dried fruit /nuts.

• Wholegrain cereal bars.



Many students will be sitting two exam papers /day so eating a good lunch is very important. Here are some good options -

• Bowl vegetable soup and wholemeal scone/bread

• Wholemeal chicken/ham/egg/cheese sandwich

• Chicken/tuna wrap


Nutrition tips to help avoid colds and flu

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The cold and flu season has begun. While there is no way to cure the common cold or the flu, healthy eating during cold and flu season can help prevent you getting sick.

Researchers have found positive links between immune function and components in food.

Garlic may boost your immune system, increasing resistance to infection and  stress. Raw garlic is an expectorant – good for chest infections and coughs.

Yoghurts and other dairy products contain probiotics, beneficial bacterial with immune boosting benefits. Also check dairy product labels for vitamin D. Early research suggests low levels of vitamin D may be linked to a seasonal increase in colds and flu and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.

Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices, may also help the body’s immune system.

Zinc, found in meat, chicken, peanuts and peanut butter, plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system in the body

Healthy eating during cold and flu season means getting the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from all food groups.

Boost your immune system

Healthy bodies have an easier time fighting off infection. To stay healthy and boost your immune system:

  • Get plenty of rest. Get at least seven to eight hours sleep a night.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains, etc. are an important part of keeping your body nutrition at its best. Processed, fatty, and sugary foods don’t give the immune boosting protection that healthier food does.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Reduce stress levels.
  • Keep well hydrated. Dehydration inhibits the immune system’s functioning.
  • Cut back on unhealthy habits, such as smoking and over consumption of alcohol

Studies have shown that a session of moderate physical activity produces positive effects on the immune system. Over time, this means catching fewer colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Monday, July 2nd, 2012


1 banana

200ml low fat strawberry yoghurt

120ml low fat milk

120ml crushed ice


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds to a smooth, thick drink.
  3. Pour into a tall glass, add ice and strawberries to decorate if you wish.


Getting Active for Kids

Monday, June 18th, 2012


We all want our children to grow up to be happy, healthy adults. Whatever Active kidstheir weight it is important that children eat properly and get lots of exercise to build a healthy body.

Children need to do at least 60 minutes of activity a day to help them stay happy and healthy. Activity does not always have to mean sport – running around and having fun outside counts too.

The following activity chart should help us all to do something active every day.

  • Try to do at least 20 minutes of green activity every day.
  • Work towards 60 minutes of green and amber activities every day.
  • Agree on a limit to spend on red activities every day.

Green (Very active)

Playing outside – football, skipping, dancing, swimming, cycling.

Amber (Moderately active)

Walking to school, cleaning your room, washing the car, getting off the bus one stop earlier.

Red (Non active)

Spending time on the computer / play station, watching TV.


Try to spend more time on green and amber activities and less on red.

Vegetarian Eating

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A well planned vegetarian diet can be nutritionally balanced for both adults and children however it is very important not to simply avoid animal products but to substitute them with nutritious alternatives such as dairy foods, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, and cereals.


There are 2 main types of vegetarians –


Lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid meat, poultry and fish but eat eggs, milk and dairy products as well as cereals, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts. The nutritional issues that these group face are similar to those following a conventional diet i.e. watch out for high fat, high salt. Choose mainly low fat cheese for example Edam, Gouda along with plenty of grains, vegetables, and fruits. Ensure you take an iron and folic acid supplement before during pregnancy as requirements are higher for these nutrients.



Vegans avoid meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy produce but eat cereals, fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts. Vegans have very different nutritional issues. Without any foods of animal origin getting enough calories to maintain a healthy weight can be difficult especially for growing children and nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and iron (needed for healthy red blood cells),Vitamin D and calcium (needed for healthy bones/teeth) and zinc (essential for healthy growth) all require special attention.


How to achieve a healthy vegetarian diet

The current healthy eating guidelines recommend that we reduce fat, sugar and salt in our diets and eat more fruit and vegetables; this can be achieved by a vegetarian diet. No single food contains all the nutrients that our bodies need so a variety is required.


Cereals, rice, potato and pasta group

6+ portions recommended/day. Choose fortified cereals to help with iron and Vitamin B12 intakes.

Fruit and vegetable group

5 or more recommended daily. Good sources of Vitamin A and C and folic acid.

Milk and dairy group.

The main nutrients supplied by this group are calcium, Vitamin B12, protein, energy and Vitamin A. Soya Milk and products are used by those following a vegan diet but ensure that the products you choose are fortified with calcium, to help meet your requirements.

The meat alternative group

This group includes peas, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, textured vegetable protein, quorn cheese and eggs.

Fats and oil group

This group also contains sugar sweets confectionary, crisps, biscuits etc. Vegetarians who require a higher energy may need to include additional servings from this group.


How to Eat Your Way to Good Skin

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Golden rules to keep your skin looking youthful – the best way to do this is by choosing the right diet.

Eat your 5-a-day

Fruit and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect against the cell damage caused by free radicals, which include smoking, pollution and sunlight. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is found in all fruit and vegetables but especially in citrus fruits, red peppers and kiwi fruit. Betacarotene, found in pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and lutein, found in kale, papaya and spinach are also antioxidants.


Cut out crash diets

Repeatedly losing and regaining weight can take its toll on your skin, causing sagging, wrinkles and stretch marks. Crash diets are often short in essential vitamins, too.


Stock up on selenium

This is also a powerful antioxidant – studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. One way to boost your intake is to eat brazil nuts, fish, shellfish and eggs.


Drink up

Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. Drink at least six glasses of water a day – all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the healthiest.


Don’t be afraid of fat

Good fats – the type found in avocados, nuts and seeds – provide essential fatty acids, which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple.


Zap up your zinc

Zinc is involved in the normal functioning of the oil-producing glands in the skin, and also promotes skin healing. Zinc-rich foods include red meat, wholegrains, wheatgerm and shellfish.

Good Nutrition when Planning a Pregnancy

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Good nutrition is important all through life and particularly so when trying to become pregnant.


It is a good idea to make any changes to your diet and fitness in plenty of time before you become pregnant (at least 3-4 months beforehand). This helps to boost your fertility and makes sure that your stores of key nutrients are at their best and that your weight is stable.


Lifestyle changes are just as important for men as for women. Obesity, alcohol intake and nutritional deficiencies can have a negative effect on both male and female fertility- so look at taking these positive steps together.


So here are some tips to achieve that healthy lifestyle and help you on your journey to become pregnant -


  • Try to get to a healthy weight – follow healthy eating guidelines and exercise routines.


  • Take a folic acid supplement every day – Folic acid is a B vitamin that plays a crucial role in the formation of the spinal cord and brain by helping the neural tube to close over properly. Simply start taking a 400mcg folic acid tablet every day at least 10-12 weeks before you plan to get pregnant. Continue to take it until week 12-14 of your pregnancy.


  • Eat more iron rich foods – Most women in Ireland don’t eat enough iron rich foods. Including rich sources like lean red meat, chicken, turkey and oily fish several times a week will help to boost your stores. Including plenty of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables and cutting down on your tannin (tea, red wine) boosts your iron absorption.


  • Calcium & Vitamin D – Good stores are needed for baby’s development and to protect mother’s bones. Be sure to eat at least 3 servings of dairy foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt) every day to meet your calcium needs. Vitamin D is found in foods like oily fish, margarines, cheese and eggs. It is also made in the skin through the action of sunlight. Just 20 minutes daylight on hands and face everyday will help to boost your stores.


  • Alcohol- cut it down or cut it out – Alcohol intakes higher than the guideline of 14 units a week for women and 21units a week for men may have a negative effect on fertility for both men and women. Excessive alcohol is harmful to your baby’s development, and the early days and weeks of life (when you may not know that you are pregnant) are most sensitive to even moderate amounts of alcohol.


  • Smoking- quit now – Smoking cigarettes reduces your fertility. Smoking when pregnant is harmful to your baby and is linked with low birth weight and premature birth.

Eating for a Healthy Heart

Monday, July 18th, 2011
  • Eat fewer fried and fatty foods such as cream, butter, full-fat dairy products, fatty red meat, cakes, biscuits and takeaways – and find lower-fat alternatives instead.
  • If you have to use oil, go for one that is packed with monounsaturates such as olive oil or rapeseed oil.
  • Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day – they are low in fat and calories but will help to fill you up.
  • Go for high-fibre carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, brown rice and wholewheat pasta. They are far more filling than the white stuff.
  • Start your day with a bowl of porridge.
  • Use a little less meat in dishes like stews, soups and casseroles and add barley, lentils or beans instead.
  • Eat oily fish once a week. Lunch on sardines with toast or serve salmon for dinner.
  • Slash the salt content of your diet – check salt levels before you buy.
  • If you drink, stick to sensible limits – that means no more than 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units daily for women.

Summer Berries

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Berries are some of the most healthy foods, and summer is the season of the berry. Besides being delicious, berries are low in fat and calories, but high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, these not only contribute to overall health, but may even help prevent cancer and heart disease. They are more affordable in summer, being in season and thanks to the freezer, we can have the advantages of berries year-round.


Ideas for Serving Berries

Most berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sweet enough to be served just as they are; however, here are some more ideas:

  • Add strawberry slices to a bowl of whole grain cereal
  • Sprinkle blueberries on a salad
  • Stir fresh raspberries into yoghurt
  • Combine frozen berries with bananas and low-fat milk to make a smoothie

Easter Eggs

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Easter time is here again and our thoughts turn to eggs. Here is some information on eggs of the healthier variety.

Eggs are a good source of protein and contain vitamins and minerals. They are also easy to prepare.

How many eggs?

There is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat. Eggs are a good choice as part of a healthy balanced diet. However, remember that it is important to eat a variety of foods each week to get the wide range of nutrients we need.


Eggs are a good source of:

  • protein
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B2
  • iodine


Eggs can make a really healthy meal. Why not try one of these for your breakfast, lunch or evening meal:

  • Spanish omelettes served with steamed vegetables or a salad.
  • Poached or scrambled eggs and baked beans served on wholegrain toast.
  • Boiled eggs chopped into a summer salad.


Fried eggs are higher in fat than boiled, poached or scrambled eggs, but there is nothing wrong with having them occasionally. If you do want a fried egg, use oil that is high in unsaturated fat such as sunflower oil.


Eggs and cholesterol

Eggs contain cholesterol and high cholesterol levels in our blood increases our risk of heart disease.

However, the cholesterol we get from our food – and this includes eggs – has less effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the amount of saturated fat we eat. So, if you are eating a balanced diet you only need to cut down on eggs if you have been told to do so by your GP or dietitian. If your GP has told you to watch your cholesterol levels, your priority should be cutting down on saturated fats.