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A kelping hand

The age-old wisdom of eating your vegetables is showing no sign of subsiding, but what appears to be trending is the advice to also eat your sea vegetables. Enter – kelp. A superfood seaweed those in the know are predicting to be a standout ingredient in western cuisine this year.



Seaweed as a dietary staple is nothing new; it has been used in Japanese, Korean and Chinese food for thousands of years. Now, it’s breaking through into western cuisines beyond sushi and miso soup. You might have seen dried nori snacks at the supermarket, but gastronomical gurus are predicting this superstar ingredients is about to be big.

The sustainability factor of kelp is a big part of its predicted popularity, it can grow from a seedling to five metres full size in a season, doesn’t need fertiliser and actually helps keep the water clean. And that’s just the environmental pros, it is also nutrient dense and packed with calcium and B vitamins.

So how can we expect to see kelp on our plates? Pundits suggest looking out for kimchi made from kelp, a kelp cube for your next smoothie, kelp-based broths and soups, and even kelp-centric salsas. And, as kelp becomes more mainstream, who knows what form this functional food may take.


How to get financially healthy for 2021: Alistair Bean

If there was one thing 2020 taught us, it was how important it was to prepare for uncertain times. As we head into the new year, the only thing we know for certain is that there’s a Covid-19 vaccine. Its implications – and if this means the end of the pandemic? Only time will tell. And while we can’t predict the future, we can prepare for it. So if you’re resolving to secure your finances, that’s a resolution worth sticking to.




We all use professionals for specialist services – lawyers, accountants, hairdressers, airline pilots and chefs. We can attempt to do some of these things unassisted, but we put ourselves at risk of not getting it quite right. As anyone who tried an at-home haircut during lockdown could surely attest to.

You and your family’s long-term health is the most important priority of all, valuing your financial health should be the next most important long-term priority. Maximising your investments, managing risk and growing your assets will help provide important financial security for your lifestyle, retirement, and that of your children and grandchildren. And this important priority should be treated as such by using a trusted financial adviser.

Last year we saw many KiwiSaver investors who did not use a trusted financial adviser at the start of the Covid-19 crisis. Instead, they changed from growth funds to conservative funds, and they locked in losses as a result. It may take these investors up to seven years to earn their losses back. Records show hardly any investors who use a trusted financial adviser changed their funds, and as a result they are benefitting. Investors who sought such advice not only see extra value in their investments, they receive guidance while markets go up and down (which they always do), the opportunity to claim back fees in tax returns, and continued focus on their goals.

At Alistair Bean & Associates – Financial Advisers we manage your investments on a daily basis, we focus on the short, medium and longer-term, and we provide access to investments that can only be accessed by using a financial adviser, both in New Zealand and offshore. This level of expertise offers more – and more informed – opportunities.

One of the best things you can do this year is a simple budget. If your total monthly expenses, including spending money and holidays, is say $4000 per month, then leave $48,000 in your bank account as emergency funds as a one-year provision. Invest the rest of your funds.
Do not leave any other money in your bank account unless you have other special projects, as banks are currently paying less than 1 percent per annum for one year term deposits. Less tax and inflation, this is equivalent to -1.4 percent per annum.

Contact Alistair Bean & Associates – Financial Advisers on
(03) 288 0404 or via to help achieve your financial goals. Personal disclosure documents available free in the resources tab.


7 ways to incorporate healthy eating habits into your day to day life

Regularly maintaining healthy eating patterns can often be a challenge, particularly in especially busy times in your life when grabbing a quick tasty snack is just too tempting to resist. If you suspect that you may have given in to this temptation a few times too many recently, there are plenty of ways that you can get your diet back on track in a stress-free and efficient way. Have a look at the tips below to get inspired by a few methods and start your journey back in the right direction towards a healthy diet.



#1 Eat your veggies

A good rule to help you out is to aim for making at least half your plate fruit and veggies each meal. That way you can keep track of the amount of valuable nutrients you are getting and have a rule for regulating the other elements of your meal. Another good rule to remember is that the more colourful your plate is, the better it is for you. Eating your greens first is also a great way to ensure that you fill up on the good stuff first before moving onto the other elements on your plate. That way, instead of having your half plate of veggies as leftovers, they have been eaten before you’re too full and you don’t risk missing out on the nutrients they provide you.

#2 Cook at home

The more you cook for yourself at home, the more control you have over what goes into your body. Healthy eating can be fun and allowing yourself to experiment with the wide variety of tasty dishes out there is a great opportunity to flex those creative muscles. Trying a different recipe each week will help to keep mealtime enjoyable. It’s important to look forward to eating as this will further improve your attitude towards food and make you want to be invested in making healthy choices for yourself.

#3 Meal prep

If you find yourself pressed for time or don’t have the energy to come home and cook every single day, try setting aside some time on a quieter day to prepare all your meals for the week ahead of time. Be crafty with ingredients and find yourself some healthy go-tos that you can quickly whip up and have ready for any occasion.

#4 Only eat when you’re actually hungry

Another good tip for a healthier diet is to familiarise yourself with healthy eating guidelines and understand what you should be eating in a regular day in order to achieve a healthy balance. It’s important to eat when you actually feel hungry and not just when you’re bored. Reduce the chances of snacking by ensuring that you start each day with a good, filling breakfast that will sustain you through to lunchtime.

#5 Switch unhealthy snacks for healthy ones

If you do feel the urge for an energy boost during the day, opt for snacks that provide you with a healthy pick-me-up. For example, if you’re used to turning to chips, try a handful of nuts instead. If you fancy something sweet, grab a piece of fruit. There are many healthy snack options that are sure to satisfy your cravings just as well as their less-healthy counterparts

#6 Try keeping a food diary

A food diary is a great method to use to allow you to physically keep track of what you are eating. It’s difficult to keep track of every single thing you eat throughout the course of a day, particularly if you are prone to having a little snack here and there. Writing it down can help you remember and manage the amount of times you reach for the snack cupboard throughout the day, helping you keep track of your intake. Reviewing what you typically eat and refining your choices to better reflect your personal dietary needs is a significant step towards a healthier lifestyle.

#7 Shop with a list

How you plan your shopping trips can be a crucial element for your diet. Ensuring that you have pre-planned what you need to buy before you leave for the supermarket is an essential way to avoid any unnecessary purchases. This practice will also go hand in hand with your meal prepping and can be hugely beneficial for helping you maintain a healthier diet. As an added bonus, shopping with a list and with meal planning in mind will help you to reduce your food waste which is great for the environment. It is also beneficial to read the labels of the products that you buy to understand their nutritional value. Opt for healthier product alternatives such as wholegrain bread over white or low fat milk over full cream. These simple steps can have a large impact on the overall health value of your diet.


Healthy habits can be simple to incorporate into the routine of your everyday life. Informing yourself about a few basic methods that you can use for achieving a more balanced lifestyle is a great first step and a sign that you’re on your way to a healthier, happier you.


Healthy hacks

We’re quickly heading into the social – and too often, stressful – season. So, what are some simple seasonal habits we can adopt to keep fighting fit for the festivities?



It’s time to take the work out of working out. Soak up the sun – and a healthy dose of vitamin D – on the tennis court, in the pool or on a hike around Hagley. Known as the happy hormone, vitamin D has been shown to regulate mood and ward off depression, but it also helps support strong bones, muscles and overall health. Combined with fresh air and exercise and you’ve got the ultimate elixir.

There’s a clever way to eat well that means you can have your cake and eat it too – not that we want you thinking of cake! But if you are, why not think of a healthy wholefood one? That’s right, you can make nutrient-dense sweet foods using vegetables! Think rich beetroot mud cake or kumara brownies. It’s a thing! So why not let you fingers do the walking and find some sweet swaps of your own?

The key to heart health is to keep moving and that doesn’t just mean getting an extra kickboxing class in after work. From building a fence to mowing the lawn, all physical movement plays a role in keeping your heart healthy. So why not schedule some time in the garden or get your DIY hat on and paint the kitchen? Or maybe it’s just a matter of parking a couple of blocks away from the office in the mornings.

Packing your lunch – it seems so simple and yet this small change in your daily routine can help control your mood, your calories and your spending! When you’ve got a healthy lunch to hand, you’re much less likely to find your hand in the company snack box when low sugars hit. Stay energised and productive throughout the day with nutritious options such as nuts, dried fruit, roasted chickpeas and bliss balls.

It’s time to vege up, not out, by increasing your vege intake. Aim to have fruits and vegetables make up half of each meal. Why not make half of breakfast fruit and half of lunch and dinner veges? Better yet, throw some green smoothies in the mix and you can have the best of both worlds! For simple summer dinners, combine a marinade with fresh grilled veggies and your favourite low-fat protein for a great-tasting, healthy weeknight meal.


Healthy habits

We’re not here to talk about total body transformations, swearing off carbs or overhauling your fitness routine. We’ve got far better news! In fact, we’re here to fill you in on some simple ways to improve your health and wellbeing.

Walk it off

The process of digestion actually ramps up our metabolisms temporarily; a brief walk does the same. Together, a short walk within 20 minutes of eating is believed to increase the metabolism by 20 percent, leading to an increase in caloric burn. What better motivation do you need to get off the couch?


Just breathe

Ever noticed when you’re stressed, you tend to take shorter, sharper breaths? Diaphragmatic or belly breathing comes with a raft of benefits, like alleviating stress and even lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Research shows deep breathing through the nose, as opposed to the mouth enhances cognitive function, such as memory!


Something fishy

With its ability to prevent heart disease and stroke, we all need more omega-3 fats in our lives – but humans can’t produce them ourselves. Thankfully there’s a tasty way to get the benefits – eat more fish! Seafood is packed with high-quality protein, vitamin D and calcium, but low in total and saturated fat.


Super Citrus

The ‘spring clean’ may be something we associate exclusively with the homewares sphere, but the season of regeneration is also time to hit refresh on your meal mindset! With spring just around the corner, it’s time to pack all the veges and superfoods we can into our days; citrus may be just what you need to kickstart your health! We check out some of our favourite ways to pack in the nutrients.




SUPER CITRUS: It’s no secret citrus is a great source of immunity-boosting vitamin C. But there’s other lesser-known benefits to these tasty, fresh fruits, too. Did you know eating and drinking citrus may improve brain and lung function, and speed up your metabolism?

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS: Lemons are always in season in New Zealand, and the yellow gems can help hydrate, improve your skin and aid digestion. A squeeze of lemon will add a health-promoting zing to your water, tea, or salad dressing.

MARVELLOUS MANDARINS: Mandarin season is in full swing, and these handy little guys with their own natural packaging and convenient segments are an easy-to-eat addition to the kids’ lunch box (or your hand bag) for a no-fuss on-the-go health boost.

PHYTO-FIT: Citrus contains phytonutrients, clever little chemicals produced by plants which the fruit itself uses to stay healthy. When you eat or drinks foods rich in the compounds – like citrus – you benefit from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, too.

NAVEL GAZING: New Zealand produces about 9 million kilograms of navel oranges between July and December, so it’s no surprise they’re one of our favourite fruit bowl residents. However, you may be surprised to learn they’re also a great source of fibre and potassium.

ZEST FOR LIFE: There’s more to citrus than juice (though a freshly squeezed glass of OJ never goes astray). Consider freshening up your next winter salad with slices of orange or grapefruit, or use the zesty delights for tart desserts like an orange cheesecake or sweet-but-tangy lemon curd.

HANDY TIP: Focus on the nutrients count and not the calorie count, if you want to improve the quality of your diet.


Clean Cuisine

You’ve been told your whole life about the importance of clean eating right? Well what if you’ve been taking the concept of clean eating wrong this whole time? Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen is a clever little ditty that tells us that some of our veges are clean and some of them are not so much. We break it down for you.


We all know the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, but we often disregard how the produce was grown.

Take pesticides, for example. There’s a huge body of evidence that links these nasty chemicals to a variety of health concerns.

The Dirty Dozen refers to 12 most ‘dirty’ crops, or those which farmers use the most pesticides on.

Alternatively, the Clean Fifteen refers to 15 crops that use the least amount of pesticides.

It’s not just a random guess, nor is it static data; the list is compiled from an analysis of the United States government’s Pesticide Data Program report, a pesticide residue monitoring system enacted back in 1991.

A new report is released every year and, although most of the information stays the same, sometimes crops come in at different numbers depending on varying pesticide residue levels.

Importantly, these handy little lists determine which fruits and veggies you should be buying organic, where possible, making your next grocery shop that little bit healthier.

The Dirty Dozen defines the top twelve crops that farmers use the most pesticides on, and therefore have the most pesticide residue when the reach the shelves of the supermarket – despite being washed beforehand. The EWG recommends buying organic:

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale
4. Nectarines
5. Apples
7. Peaches
8. Cherries
9. Pears
10. Tomatoes
11. Celery
12. Potatoes

While it’s also wise to buy the Clean 15 when it’s organically grown, these fruits and vegetables are recorded as having little to no pesticide residue in a conventional setting:

1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Frozen sweet peas
5. Onions
6. Papayas
7. Eggplants
8. Asparagus
9. Kiwifruit
10. Cabbages
11. Cauliflower
12. Cantaloupes
13. Broccoli
14. Mushrooms
15. Honeydew melons


Eating for immunity

Great Greek Philosopher Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.


Science has found the proof is in the pudding and many of our tastiest foods are also immunity boosters, that are both affordable and versatile to boot.

A healthy habit is to have these superheroes as pantry staples. Whole, natural, colourful fruits and vegetables all have unique benefits, working in synergy with each other.

Kale was and still is king, and is rich in vitamin C. Its cousins in the brassica family, such as cabbage and cavolo nero, are also immunity-boosting powerhouses. Spinach has flavonoids which help ward off colds. Kumara is an antioxidant-rich satisfier, whereas berries such as blackcurrants and elderberries are renown beneficial flu fighters.

Onions and garlic offer allicin for immunity and are a great base for mineral-rich bone broths. Slow boil a chicken or cheap cuts of meat on the bone to extract the goodness – or buy the prepared version. Add in herbs and vegetables for more immune fuel.

Use the whole food. For example, grate the zest of a spray-free lemon, before you do the big squeeze – it’s an additional immunity boost. Beetroot leaves are delicious and nutritious in stir fries, salads or added to smoothies.

New Zealand harvests its own superfood spirulina – delicious with pineapple and banana in a Shrek-coloured smoothie. Also, our seaweeds, mussels and oysters are high in all-important flu-flighting zinc. And oily fish such as Tuna and Salmon have Vitamin D.

Add gelatinous all-round healthy chai seeds to desserts or soups. Ground flax seeds sprinkled onto breakfast or salads or smoothies add the anti-inflammatory Omega 3. Toss in the tempeh and mix in the miso to increase the immune system’s antibodies.

How lucky are we to live in the land of treasured manuka honey? An anti-viral, it supports the respiratory system, whereas too much sugar suppresses it. So swap to bee-made sweetness for toast and teas.

Hold the cheese overdose and pile a thin base generously with immunity enhancers like onions, broccoli, vitamin C-loaded red bell peppers, mushrooms for zinc, and top with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Use ginger for stir fries, pumpkin-soup pep, or medicinal hot drinks with honey and lemon. Superfood turmeric makes a warming latte or can be used to spice up your porridge, unless you prefer the flavours of cinnamon and nutmeg with their anti-inflammatory benefits..

Herbs are medicinal powerhouses. Thyme contains thymol – which is wonderful for the respiratory system. Oregano too, has anti-viral properties, so liberally add herbs for medicinal magic.

Healthful sauerkraut and kimchi are piquant sidekicks on the dinner plate. Immunity starts in the gut, so prepare an army of good bacteria.

Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, an essential micronutrient which contributes to the improved health of your immune system. Because our bodies cannot produce nor store vitamin C, it’s important we pack it into our diets wherever we can!


The stress eating equation

For many of us, stressful times means picking up the packet of chocolate biscuits instead of the kale salad. Dr Libby Weaver breaks down the ‘why’ for us and provides us with some effective strategies for eliminating stress.


Many people believe weight is all about calories in versus calories out, why do you think it is so much for complex than that?

The calorie equation, which was first published in 1918, and on which today’s dieting mentality is still based, fails to factor in crucial elements of the modern world.

For example, it does not consider the metabolic consequences of modern day food.

It continues under the false belief that all that matters to body shape and size is your fat, protein and carbohydrate (and alcohol) intake: the macronutrients from where you obtain your calories.

Yet there are nine factors that influence whether the body gets the message to store fat or burn it.

For example, when your fight or flight response is activated – done by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) – your body gets the message that your life is in danger.

To supply you with fuel to escape from the danger, you need one that is fast-burning.

The only two fuels for the body are glucose (sugar) and fat so the body will preferentially utilise more glucose than fat in this situation.

As a result, too many people have lost the ability to efficiently burn fat as a fuel due to stress, so they store more fat and crave sugar to top up what they are burning.

Yet the stress we face these days is primarily psychological rather than a physical threat to our life so the SNS is constantly and relentlessly activated for many people these days.

Another example involves our gut bacteria.

Research published from 2008 onwards has shown that the types of bacteria you have inhabiting your colon can influence what calories are worth – yet another example of how a calorie isn’t always a calorie.

There’s far more to it as most women who have tried a calorie-restricted diet from about age 35 onwards will attest and all of this is a major focus of my work.

How does stress make you put on weight?

Stress—whether real or perceived—communicates to the body that it is in danger and triggers the production of stress hormones.

It’s just how we are biochemically wired.

When that stress becomes ongoing and persistent, our long-term stress hormone, cortisol, begins to rise.

Because this hormone is linked to times historically where food was scarce (think of long-term stress sources in the past such as war, drought or famines), it signals to the body to start storing body fat as this can be used as energy.

To do this, it has a catabolic effect, meaning it breaks your muscles down so you’re your metabolic rate is slower, giving your more of a chance to still be alive when the food supply is restored.

However, for most people in our modern world, food isn’t scarce so all of a sudden we’re getting the message to store more body fat and it often influences us to make different food choices as well.

How does that stress influence whether we pick up a bag of chips or a kale salad?

There are two aspects to this—one is biochemical and the other is emotional.

Biochemically, as I just mentioned, the stress hormone cortisol, communicates to the body that it needs to start storing body fat in case food becomes scarce.

The quickest and easiest energy source for us is glucose (sugar) and so when our cortisol levels are raised, not only will we be more likely to store instead of burn body fat, we’ll also be more drawn to carbohydrate-rich foods which are broken down into glucose in the body.

Emotionally, when we are stressed we tend to feel less motivated and lack energy.

This in itself can lead us to make different food choices.

Throw into the mix that many people use food to TRY to make themselves feel better or numb out to what might be uncomfortable feelings (even though you may not recognise that this is what you are doing at the time), and you’ve got another scenario in which you’re more likely to opt for potato chips over kale salad.

What are some of the best foods that we should be reaching for during particularly stressful times to support our overall wellbeing?

When we experience stress, our need for nutrients increases because now, on top of all the other important biochemical processes that happen within us all day every day, we also have to build stress hormones as well.

Our body requires specific nutrients in order to build these stress hormones—many of which are needed for other vital biochemical processes – things like B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium.

Yet stress hormones are considered the priority so the nutrients will go to their creation before anything else.

This is one mechanism through which stress can begin to take a toll on our health and we may begin to experience symptoms in our body that we don’t initially connect to extended stress.

So what we really need to focus on during times like these is increasing our intake of whole, real food—especially plenty of vegetables.

What are some of the most effective strategies for eliminating stress?

It’s very difficult to reduce your experience of stress without exploring your perception of pressure and urgency as well as any beliefs you have that might be creating perceptions of stress.

Restorative practices such as diaphragmatic breathing, restorative yoga, tai chi, meditation or qi gong are wonderful balms to a stressed nervous system, however, we need to get to the heart of what is causing our stress in order to transform it.

Most often it is our mind.

To examine what’s truly at the heart of our stress, instead of scrutinising WHAT stresses us out, we need to examine HOW we actually think.

This is a concept I dive into deeply in my book, The Invisible Load.

For example, when a colleague phones you and asks where some work is as she needed it yesterday, we often don’t really hear what the person has said – instead we hear what we think they meant.

Behind their request for work, we’ll perceive that they think we are lazy, or inefficient, or not a hard worker – in other words we perceive that they now see us in an unfavourable way.

So the stress comes from worrying about what they think of us. Yet we dreamed that bit up. All they did was ask for work and we created their “disapproval” of us with our thinking. That’s the type of “stress” we can change. That’s the part I’m interested in.


Get your gardening on

What’s flourishing in the gardening world in 2020? From supersized houseplants to 80s flower inspiration, we give you the rundown on some of the coolest gardening developments expected to blossom over the coming year.

Super-sized species

2020 – the year of the houseplant? It’s no surprise that these indoor beauties are top of the list, but this year sees super-sized greenery take centre stage in many homes.

Forget the small decorative plants and modest, lonely aloe vera – it’s all about bigger, bolder species. Increase the health benefits of greenery by making a statement with showstopping varieties like the giant-leafed alocasia, the deep green monstera and the fiddle-leaf fig.

Don’t totally discount your miniature favourites, though – horticulturists predict 6-9cm plants will remain popular.


Your garden should always be a place of peace and purpose.

With environmental welfare at the forefront of many minds, what better way to take advantage of your outdoor space than sustainably sourcing your own fruit and veges?

Herbs, beans and peas are still high on the agenda this year, alongside highly nutritious microgreens, chillies, legumes and soybeans.

Sit back and reap the rich rewards of a fruitful vege garden; like fresh organic food and a reduced weekly grocery spend – not to mention the satisfaction that comes with it.

Add a creative touch to your food with edible flowers, flavour a cocktail with homegrown herbs or berries, or whip up a fresh vegetable salad, all with the fruits (literally!) of your labour.

Bug-friendly backyards

The new decade is all about being kind to wildlife thanks to growing concern over the catastrophic decline in insects and the overall impact of this on the environment.

In 2020, overgrown gardens teeming with wildlife take the top spot over neatly manicured lawns, as gardeners ditch pesticides and promote pollination.

Dubbed ‘rewilding’, the trend has sparked interest in outdoor spaces with a more natural aesthetic, which incorporate eco-friendly gardening concepts such as bee hotels, wildlife ponds, log piles, pollen-rich plants and compost heaps.

Plastic-free gardening is also a hot topic; consider using compostable plant pots made from rice husk and sustainable wood and bamboo fibres over wasteful black plastic ones.

80s flower power

The wild and beautiful blooms of the 80s are having a well-deserved revival with nemesias and diascias front of the line.

Not only do these pretty flowers offer a compact size, long flowering period and sweet scent that attracts bees and butterflies, they’re also incredibly flexible supporting plants that can be grown at the edge of any basket, bed or pot.

Expect to see a wider range of these beauties as new breeding programmes produce sensational colour schemes such as ‘berries and cream’.