Superfoods

The benefits of drinking water

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WE ARE WATER
I’m a big believer in the power of keeping the body well hydrated for optimal functionality. Whenever the kids come to me with an ailment, from headaches to tummy aches, the first question I’ll ask is have you drank enough water today. 60% of the human body is made up of water.

It is especially important to up the amount of water you drink during the warmer summer months. You may not feel you are sweating much but your body is constantly emitting perspiration to regulate your body temperature. You could end up quite dehydrated by the end of the day without even noticing it. Especially if you are drinking tea and coffee which are natural diuretics, in other words they make you pee out more than you’ve consumed. Rule of thumb is if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.

The recommended amount of water you drink per day varies depending on time of year, how much exercise you do, and if you have eaten enough fruit and veg in your diet. In general aim for a minimum of 2 litres per day which is about 8 glasses of water. You might find that initially you are taking lots more toilet trips, but your bladder adjusts as its capacity expands, and the sensors, which can be overstimulated by tea and coffee, balance out.

10 REASONS TO DRINK WATER
After oxygen water is our second most important source of fuel. We all know we should drink plenty of water but maybe understanding the importance of drinking water will help you to remember to get those daily dose of glasses in.

  • Keeps you regular - drinking plenty of water keeps everything moving and prevents constipation
  • Aids detoxification - the body works best when toxins, are regularly eliminated from the body. Water will help the bodied elimination system to do their job.
  • Boosts immune system - when the body is well hydrated and free of toxins the immune system can concentrate it’s resources on building strong.
  • Aids circulation - the blood is made up of 92% water, dehydration causes reduced blood capacity making it harder for you heart to pump blood efficiently.
  • Increases brain function - the brain is made up of 73% water. Drinking plenty of water help you to stay alert, focused and helps prevent headaches.
  • Relieves fatigue - one of the most common symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. Drink a large glass of water wakes body up and jump starts all the cells of the body
  • Regulates body temperature - the body naturally sweats to regulate optimum body temperature. When you get dehydrated the body temperature raises.
  • Regulates weight management - often we think we’re hungry and reach for a snack wne actually we’re mixing our hunger and our thirst signals up. Try a glass of water first when you feel peckish.
  • Brightens skin - drinking plenty of water gives your skin a lovely healthy glow.
  • Aids gum health - water helps to wash out your mouth after eating and helps prevent bacteria and tooth decay.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

The benefits of avocado

Avocados, or alligator pears, are currently very popular, and are fast becoming the king of plants in the world of healthy eating. Like the tomato, it is actually a fruit rather than a vegetable. Avocados tick all the boxes when looking for the right balance of plant, protein and fat in every meal. They are high in monounsaturated fat which is one of the ‘good fats’, essential for cell regeneration and for nutritional absorption. The reason they’ve become so popular, is due to the impressive list of health benefits they give, and to their versatility. Their texture adds a creaminess to soups and smoothies, and the added fat makes salads more fulfilling.

Benefits: Avocados are rich in omega 3s, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K1 and vitamin B6. They help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, aid cardiovascular health, aid brain health, aid eye health, lubricate joints, fight premature skin ageing, are anti-inflammatory, relieve arthritis pain, are an antioxidant, regulate blood sugar levels, aid weight loss by curbing hunger, boost women’s fertility and help protect against cancer.
Best with: Bacon, banana, chicken, chilli, chocolate, coriander, cucumber, eggs, grape, grapefruit, hazelnut, lentils, lime, mango, mint, nutmeg, oily fish, peas, pineapple, soft cheese, strawberry, tomato.

MORNING GREEN SMOOTHIE
Avocados are a great way to start your day with an energy boost. Blend half an avocado, half a cup of almond milk or coconut water, half a ripe banana, handful of spinach, 1 dsp superfood green powder, 1 dsp hemp protein powder and a generous pinch of cinnamon.

GUACAMOLE
Probably the most well known use for avocado, and one that goes with almost every snack, lunch, or dinner. Cut up and mash together 1 avocado, 9 cherry tomatoes, juice of 1 lime, a small handful of coriander leaves, a pinch of cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Add a dollop of guacamole to roast vegetables, quinoa and rice dishes, on top of a thick soup or on a big bowl of bean hotpot.

AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
I use this chocolate mousse as a healthy dessert for my kids. Treats can be used as an opportunity to add more nutrition, rather than an excessive overload of refined sugar. Blend together 1 avocado, 1 ripe banana, 2 dsp cacao powder, 1 dsp maple syrup and half tsp vanilla extract. Keeping bananas in the freezer is a great way to throw this mousse together, without having to chill it in the fridge after blending. It’s also just as delicious without the cacao, for a greener creamy dessert.

AVOCADO ON TOAST
To add some essential fat to breakfast, it's as simple as mashing half an avocado onto morning toast. It will keep you full for longer, curb your appetite till lunchtime and regulate your blood sugar levels. It works perfectly on whatever your favourite bread is, but sourdough is definitely the best. The creamy texture compliments the lovely, sour, fermented flavour of the sourdough. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and paprika to liven it up even more. For a weekend breakfast add poached or scrambled eggs to your avocado toast.

AVOCADO SALAD DRESSING
Homemade dressings are essential to have in your fridge for throwing together a quick salad. Shop-bought dressings are often full of preservatives and added sweeteners. They were one of the first things to go from my kitchen when I did a clear-out of all hidden sugars. Most dressings are a combination of fat and acid. To make this avocado dressing, blend 1 avocado, a handful of coriander leaves, juice of half a lemon, a drop of honey (optional) and salt and pepper to taste. If you want a more liquid dressing, add some water after you’ve blended all the ingredients, one tablespoon at a time, till you reach your required consistency.

SHAKSHUKA WITH AVOCADO
Shakshuka is a quick and very tasty one-pot dinner, which involves a tomato sauce base, eggs, and, in this version, avocado. Preheat the oven to 180C. Finely chop 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 sweet red pepper. Fry them in an ovenproof frying pan with a splash of olive oil, until the onions have softened. Add 1tsp paprika and 1 tsp cumin. Stir in a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes or 400g tomato passata. Let it bubble away for a few minutes. Cut 2 avocados into halves and remove the skin, make 4 nests in the sauce, and pop the avocados into them. Crack an egg into each avocado, add a grinding of salt and pepper, and bake in the oven for 15-20min until the egg whites are set. Enjoy with a slice of sourdough to mop up your delicious tomato and eggy sauce!

AVOCADO & PEA DIP
I regularly make hummus for dipping veg sticks into; as a quick lunch on oatcakes; or alongside a traybake of roast veg to increase the protein content. Peas are a surprisingly high source of protein. 1 cup gives 8g of protein, which is the same as the ever-popular quinoa, and more than chickpeas at 7g! For the avocado pea dip, blend 1 avocado, 1 cup of defrosted peas, 4 tbsp chopped walnuts,  juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chopped vegetables, add to salads, use as a sauce on the side of a buddha bowl, or in a salad wrap.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru