Are All Calories The Same?

As a nutritionist, I’m often asked, “Is a calorie a calorie?” Well, according to the laws of thermodymanics, yes, all calories are created equal (at least on paper). But —and this is a big but— the way the body breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat, the three main sources of calories in our diet (four if you count alcohol), and the effect they have on our bodies differ vastly. There are semester-long courses that explain just how our bodies break down, burn and store each of these four calorie sources differently, but since this is a 750-word blog post, I’ll try do my best to briefly explain why not all calories are created equal.


In addition to being a potent and flavorful source of energy, fats slow digestion, deliver important fat-soluble vitamins to the body, and provide important building blocks for every one of our cells.

All dietary fats provide about 9 calories per gram but, as you likely already know, some fats are better for our health than others. For example, polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, found in foods like wild salmon and flaxseed, have protective, anti-inflammatory properties, whereas artificial trans fats have been linked to increased inflammation and heart disease. More...

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Kiwifruit

The kiwifruit makes a perfect addition to fruit salads and desserts because of its beautiful, brilliant green colour and exotic taste. But aside from its attractive appearance, the uniqueness of kiwifruit comes from its amazing health benefits too. Come in for some Nutritional Therapy at al Covo if you would like to know more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Kiwis offer the following benefits:

1. It helps control your blood pressure. The high levels of potassium found in kiwi makes it a great snack option for people with heart conditions. Potassium helps keep your blood pressure in check by combating the effects of sodium in your blood, which is a known factor for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.


2. It helps fight heart disease. Eating 2-3 kiwis a day has been shown to reduce the likelihood of blood clotting by 18 per cent and bad cholesterol levels by 15 per cent. More...

Dirty Facts about Processed Foods: Why You Should Cut Down

Between a bag of cookies and a big slice of whole wheat bread, what would you choose for breakfast? How about for lunch – which sounds more appetising, greasy burger or blunt pasta? And for dinner, what would you want to eat – pepperoni pizza or fruit salad? If you have troubles giving up processed foods over the healthier ones, it’s probably because you lack full understanding of how bad these foods really are. Here are the dirty facts about regular eating of processed foods that will surely keep you away from eating them day after day!

Processed foods cause chronic inflammation
Inflammation is the major cause of a wide range of illnesses, including heart disease, neurological disorder, respiratory failure, and cancer. Many studies have shown that the most common ingredients found in processed foods, such as refined sugar, vegetable oil, MSG, sodium and processed flour are responsible for inflammation epidemic.

They promote brain damage.
Researchers from Oxford University found that people who regularly consume junk foods are more likely to become irritable and angry. This is because the toxins and chemicals contained in these products cause critical damage to the brain. On the other hand, non-processed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables have been found to promote brain health, elevate mood and boost energy levels in humans. More...

Dealing with Migraine: How Magnesium Helps

One in 4 women and one in 12 men in the UK suffer from migraine, according to the NHS. But migraine is more than a severe headache. It is a chronic neurological condition that causes intense pain usually on one side of the head, and is accompanied by other debilitating symptoms such as vomiting, nausea and extreme sensitivity to light. A single migraine attack could persist for 2 hours to 3 days.

There are two types of migraine: with aura and without aura. A migraine with aura often starts with visual problems, dizziness, and stiffness of neck and limbs. This is usually followed by extreme headache. About a third of people have this, according to the NHS. The second type, or the one without aura, is also called common migraine which skips the visual problems and begins with dull pain that gets more painful. It comes with nausea and vomiting that persist for hours, and worse, days.

People experience varying severities of migraine. Some have attacks frequently (several times per week) whilst others only have it occasionally. It is possible for a migraine attack to occur after several years. Furthermore, there are people who experience migraine after being exposed to triggers like stress, polluted air, fluorescent lighting, strobe-like intermittent lighting, hormonal changes, and certain foods. More...

Natural Relief for Chronic Back Pain – Knowing Your Options

Did you know that back pain is much, much more painful than the pain felt in other parts of the body? That’s because our back is made up of complex muscles that are located too close to the spinal cord, making the sensation of pain more profound. Whilst over-the-counter medications offer a ‘quick fix’ to this condition, most of them do not really target the root cause of the problem, but only mask the pain. They also have side effects.

Here are some of the proven natural remedies that you can try when your back starts to hurt again:

Stretch it out. Poor blood circulation can lead to chronic pain. Stretching as a regular habit is one of the most effective ways to prevent back pain. Here’s a very simple stretching routine you may want to try: lie on your back and slowly, lift your right knee, bringing it towards your chest as far as it feels comfortable. Place your hands on your shin and hold for 20 seconds. Slowly release and do the same with your left knee. More...

Top 10 Foods for An Immunity Boost This Autumn

As autumn hits early this year, so do flu and colds. It’s important to keep warm and health so our immune systems can fend off those nasty seasonal viruses. So to protect yourself and your family from the illnesses that come with the cold weather, make the following foods a part of your regular diet:

1. Yoghurt

Not all bacteria are bad. You need to load your gut with good bacteria (also called probiotics) to improve digestion and strengthen your immune system. If you are on a diet, plain Greek yoghurt is a great dessert option.

2. Green Tea

Instead of coffee, you may want to warm up your morning with a cup of hot green tea. More...

Reducing Calorie Intake - Best Breakfast Choices

Why "break the fast"?

To kick start your metabolism! Your body has been resting overnight and in the morning needs an energy boost and some hydration to get you going for the day!
Eating breakfast has many benefits, including improved concentration.
Cereals are
• High in fibre
• Low in sugar
• Fortified with vitamins and minerals More...

5 Natural Antibiotics that Destroy Superbugs As Nature Intended

Antibiotics are perhaps one of the most used drugs in the world. We take it for many health problems, from bacterial infections to viral diseases. These drugs have been greatly revolutionised in the modern arena and have saved thousands of lives. Nevertheless, we know too well that antibiotics do have negative effects too. Mass produced by pharmaceutical companies with little regard to the fact that regular use of these drugs may lead to both short and long-term health consequences.

Natural antibiotics are a different thing. The way nature intended it. You really don’t have to always rush to the nearest pharmaceutical store just to get yourself an antibiotic that has the potential to do harm as well as good. Perhaps, in your kitchen, you already have some of the best antibiotics in the world! Here they are:

Garlic is one of the best, natural antibiotics widely available today.  More...

Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, commonly called heartburn, is a common condition wherein acid leaks out of the stomach into the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. Other symptoms include bloating, unpleasant taste in the mouth, flatulence, and difficulty swallowing. Many people experience occasional episodes of acid reflux and sometimes, over-the-counter medications or simply letting it subside is the best way to deal with acid reflux. However, some people experience it too often. If you are experiencing recurring symptoms of acid reflux, undergoing treatment is necessary.

Often, acid reflux is caused by the inability of the oesophageal muscles to contract after swallowing food – allowing the acid from the stomach to come up to the oesophagus. But what causes these muscles to contract poorly? Experts blame it to obesity, binge-eating, lying down after meals and eating lots of processed foods.

Medications are only going to relieve the symptoms and not totally the cause of your acid reflux. If you are looking for long-term solutions that involve no side effects, you better try the following natural remedies:

1. Increase your intake of digestive enzymes
Cut back on your consumption of processed foods.  More...

Reducing Calorie Intake -Coffee Shop Tips

Can you have your cake and eat it? Yes you can!

Choose skimmed milk in drinks and add sweetener to your tea/coffee instead of sugar.

Save up to half the calories by choosing a small size serving, for example a 'Primo' at Costa or a 'Tall' at Starbuck's.

‘Off-set’ your calories. If you really fancy an indulgent drink such as a latte or a hot chocolate, then skip the cake. Got an urge for cake? Then just have a simple filter coffee or a cup of tea with it.

Sugar free syrup can save you 20 calories per pump, compared with the regular version. More...

About the author

Steve from AlcovoBorn in Worcestershire, and educated to second (Masters) degree in Geography, I worked in a corporate company before being inspired more fully into well-being from travels to the Eastern and Tropical countries of the Philippines, India, Kenya, the Maldives, Mauritius and Mozambique.

I gained an understanding of spas, treatments and clients along my way, and have developed this into my own practice, al Covo, to which I welcome you warmly. I pride myself on al Covo's warmth, peaceful aura, hygiene and thoroughness.

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