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Mar/Apr 2017


Nutrition Trends for 2017 Is Alzheimers Diabetes of the Brain? Non-Member Floatfit Now Available! ‘Natural’ Sugars Review- which is best? Garden House Hospice Our Charity of the Year

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Start Feeling Better Today! Fitness | Racquets | Spa

01438 313320

The Ultimate Driving Machine


To find out more or to book a test drive* please call 01438 760 200 or visit

Specialist Cars Stevenage Arlington Business Park Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2BE Official fuel economy figures for the new BMW 5 Series range: Urban 60.1-29.7mpg (4.7-9.5l/100km). Extra Urban 74.3-47.8mpg (3.8-5.9l/100km). Combined 68.8-39.2mpg (4.1-7.2l/100km). CO2 emissions: 108-164g/km. Figures are obtained in a standardised test cycle. They are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not be representative of what a user achieves under usual driving conditions. *Test drive subject to applicant status and availability.

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Welcome W

New Sauna Scheduled for April Installation!

elcome to the Spring edition of Odyssey Mail. With Winter behind us we can look forward to warmer We are very excited to announce days and being able to enjoy that a brand new sauna will be the work you have put in during installed in April. The new cabin the dark nights. We have lots of will extend right into the corner activities, seminars and workshops and will double the size of the heat for you to enjoy during March & expereince. Using the sauna should April, so we hope you enjoy this be an integral part of anyone’s edition and we look forward to detox programme as sweating is seeing you in the club soon! one of the first lines the body uses to remove toxins from your system.

Let’s Move Challenge is Back!

Following on from the hugely succesful Make A Move Challenge last year, Technogym are launching the global activity tracker Let’s Move! The event runs from the 13th-31st March and every MOVE collected during your workout contributes to our club performance. There is a twist to this years event, we’re not competing with every other club, we will have certain markers to hit and if we achieve them, we win equipment that we can donate to nominated charities, or sports clubs! If you would like to get involved, even if you’re a non-member, then please contact phil.towersey@odysseyhealthclubs. com for more information.

We also have new windows being fitted along the pool to improve heat recovery in the area.

Importance of Freeweights Seminars 1. Seminar, with Ross and Joe Weds 29th March 6:30 - 7:30pm. 2. Seminar, with Lisa and Adam Thurs 30th March 6:30 - 7:30pm (WOMEN ONLY). Resistance training can and will help every single person; it will aid weight loss, increase strength, help everyday movements, better joint mobility, improved metabolism. During these seminars the coaches will be using the coach eye app to help teach and guide you through the correct technique when performing resistance exercises

The Truth About Stretching Seminar with Michael Bond Weds 26th April 19:00 - 20:00 The latest research into stretching is questioning its validity and making us rethink our approach to it. Join Michael Bond on this seminar to look at the different types of stretching and which type you should be using to maximise your results and recovery.

Yoga Workshop Saturday 29th April 12:30 – 2:00pm with Lisa This is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Yoga, including all the different styles available. Hear how it has changed people lives for the better and master some of the basic exercises for yourself. Open to non-members £5.00 Please book at main reception

Sugar Seminar Wednesday 12th April Adam & Michael Prentice 6:30 – 7:30pm The days of blaming fat for obesity and poor health are long behind us. This seminar explains why sugar is so bad for your health and what you can do to reduce your risks. Almost all of our major illnesses are driven by refined carbohydrate and sugar consumption, so this is a seminar not to be missed and will lead you onto your own discovery and to take control of your diet and your health.

A great turn& outSpa, and itOld looks Knebworth like Jean has won the bingoStevenage, round as well! SG2 8DU Odyssey Health Club Lane,

Food Trends 2017

Alkaline Water Is Everywhere — Many alternative health experts say that alkaline water (whether purchased in bottles or created from your own tap with a pricey, do-ityourself ionizing purifier) is a healthier type of water to drink, with claims that it slows the aging process, increases energy, helps people with fertility issues, regulates your body’s pH level and prevents chronic diseases like cancer. But many wonder if it lives up to the hype. My article titled Is Alkaline Water Extra Healthy or a Hoax? explores the claims and the This year is already seeing the mainstreaming of science, and the piece has been shared more than nutriton principles we have been discussing for some year.s. It is widely accepted now that fat is not the en- 5,000 times on social media. Google Trends showed emy to our health and suagr is a key driver in Cancer, that interest in alkaline water is growing. With all Alzheimers, Diabetes Type II, Heart Disease and more. the bottled alkaline waters on the market (such as Waikea, Iceland Spring and Essentia), we predict it will grow in popularity in 2017. As we look to the emerging foods for healthier and more nutritious alternatives, here are some trends appearing on Google searches: Avocado Oil Is the New Cure-All Oil! — Coconut oil has been increasing in popularity for years and is now known for its copious health benefits. It’s attracted some skepticism, too. But now there’s another miracle oil trending in healthy-living circles. Avocado oil is now surging in popularity on Google Trends, and we expect to see it spike even higher starting in January 2017. In October 2016, LIVESTRONG had the opportunity to interview Jillian Michaels at the MindBody BOLD Conference in Hollywood, and she told us, “Avocado oil is the new coconut oil.” Avocado oil has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and helping relieve arthritis and psoriasis.

8. Dragon Fruit — Dragon fruit is an unusual-looking anti-aging fruit that is high in vitamin C and carotene. It’s been growing in interest on Google Trends over the past several years and looks like it will be of strong interest in 2017.

Maca Powder — According to writer August Superfoods, “Maca powder comes from a P stamina, fertility and sex drive. According most of the research on maca has bee of human trials that yielded interesting function — in males.

Another study showed that it can incre a control group, thus making the finding source of B vitamins, vitamins C, D and E provides a simple way to increase your micr smoothies, yogurt, tea and cereals.” Maca is gro

Cauliflower Rice and Cauliflower Pizza Crust — These have both been growing hugely in popularity since January 2015, and after viewing the latest Google Trends data, we are confident these cauliflower low-carb substitutes will spike even higher in interest in January 2017! They are low-carb, grain-free, Paleo, nutrient-rich substitutes for regular rice and regular pizza crust. With just 25 calories per half-cup of cauliflower rice, compared with about 140 calories per half-cup of cooked white rice, you can see why diet and healthconscious people are loving this.

Black Garlic — black garlic has a less pungent flavor and nearly twice the antioxidants of fresh garlic. It’s long been valued in Asia, but only made its debut in Western markets in the past several years. As author Kate Farmand writes, “The powerful antioxidants in black garlic protect your cells from disease and can even help you stay younger longer. The gentle, sweet flavor of black garlic makes it a versatile superfood. Add it to any recipe in which you’d use fresh garlic — from pasta dishes to soups and stews. The best part? No garlic breath.”

g to writer August McLaughlin in The Secrets of 16 Strange and Popular der comes from a Peruvian root vegetable. It’s believed to promote energy, ex drive. According to the New York University Langone Medical Center, h on maca has been conducted on animals, but there have been a couple yielded interesting results. One study showed increased sex drive — not s.

wed that it can increase sperm count. However, this study did not have making the findings meaningless in the scientific community. As a rich itamins C, D and E, iron, copper and potassium, maca powder unarguably increase your micronutrient intake. Just add the powder to baked goods, ereals.” Maca is growing in popularity in searches as seen on Google Trends.

Matcha Tea — This green beverage exploded in popularity among the wellness set starting in 2015. Matcha is a stoneground powdered green tea used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. When you drink standard green tea, you’re drinking a steeped infusion of the tea leaves. With matcha, you’re drinking a powder made from the ground tea leaves mixed with water. This means matcha provides a more potent amount of both caffeine and antioxidants than regular green tea. Matcha is rich in polyphenols, which have been tied to protection against heart disease and cancer as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction and anti-aging benefits. Another polyphenol in matcha called “EGCG” has been shown in research to boost metabolism and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.

Bone Broth — Often confused as “stock,” bone broth differs from stock by the duration of cooking time and the lack of need for any meat (stock generally contains meat and vegetable aromatics), according to chef and Ariane Resnick. “Stock you buy in a box is a liquid; bone broth is cooked for long enough to allow the gelatin and collagen to be released from bones and will gel into a solid when cold,” explains Resnick in Why Bone Broth Is Good for You. Interest in bone broth began in 2015, and it will continue on into 2017. Some experts say a cup of bone broth a day will help resolve leaky gut syndrome. From what we see on Google Trends, we predict that bone broth is going up, up, up in 2017.

NJ Garden Services are a cut above the rest W

e are delighted to announce that NJ Garden Services, a company owned by Odyssey member, Nick Gearing has control of the outdoor presentation at the club.

A huge improvement has already been seen in the few weeks since he started and we have been absolutely delighted at the results and the feedback from members.

0800 075 2080

(obligatiry puns warning from here on)

As we establish this budding relationship, we are keen to see it blossom over the coming months and look forward to enjoying blooming marvellous gardens through the seasons.



Non Member Floatfit Places Now Available! If you have wanted to try Floatfit with a friend, or have thought about giving it a go but aren’t a member of Odyssey, then now is your chance! We have released places on some of our classes

so you can experience this fantastic new way to combine both gym based exercises with the instability of water - and it is great fun. Available spaces are Tuesday mornings, Thursday and Friday evenings or Sundays. £6 per session or £50 for 10.

Garden House Hospice Care, based in Letchworth Garden City, is an adult hospice serving the communities of North Hertfordshire, Stevenage, Royston surrounding Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire villages. The hospice provides free palliative care and support to patients and their families living with a life limiting illness, including chronic long term conditions. The focus is on individual personalised care. The Hospice has a fully staffed 12 bed in-patient unit. The Inpatient unit provides dedicated Medical and Nursing support with managing symptoms, caring for patients in their final days and respite care for patients. An advice line is available 24/7 for patients, cares and Healthcare Professionals. The Hospice at Home team work alongside the GP’s and Community Nursing Services providing practical and emotional support for patients and their carers in their own homes. The Family Support Team provides emotional and spiritual support for patients , their families and carers facing or coming to terms with a bereavement. Day Services are provided by a multi-skilled team in the Hawthorne Centre. The Hawthorne Centre’s aim is to reach and care for patients much earlier on in their illness or at diagnosis. The centre specialises in rehabilitative palliative care which allows people to reach their full potential at any stage of their illness. Garden House Hospice is well regarded locally and throughout the end of life care community. Our success can only be sustained with the kindness from our volunteers and supporters in the community. With your help we need to raise £3 million income each year in order to continue and develop our excellent services to the community free of charge For further information on the services we provide, please call 01462 679540 or visit

Our chosen charity of the year!

Purchase a course of 10 CACI Ultimate Anti-Ageing Facials during March or April, and we’ll give you 2 CACI Facials for free, plus a Pamper & Tea spa day for two!

Go Crazy for CACI OFFER

40 ive £2 ents e c e R atm E Tre E R F of CHILL OUT SPA DAY Pamper yourself for a day and enjoy a relaxing ELEMIS massage - a real treat! Also included in this spa day is lunch, Glass of Prosecco, Complimentary Tea & Coffee, Full use of our Club & Wet facilities, Robe, Towel & Slippers to use during your visit £40 To book please call 01438 313320

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ELEMIS Beautiful Bride

For centuries Eastern cultures have practiced the art of bridal preparation; hours, sometimes days are spent preparing the bride for her very special day. The secret to being a beautiful bride is a stress-free mind! Our ELEMIS beautiful bride package includes a Sensitive Skin Soother Facial, Garden of England Massage, GELeration Manicure and a free ELEMIS British Botanical Shower Cream. A complimentary glass off Prosecco and use of our club & wet facilities is also included! ÂŁ150 Available from March to August 01438 313320

Is Alzeimers Diabetes of the Brain?


he latest evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is, effectively, ‘diabetes’ of the brain. In fact, some researchers claim the two illnesses are so similar that Alzheimer’s should really be called ‘type 3 diabetes’. This might explain why a staggering 70 per cent people suffering from type 2 diabetes go on to develop Alzheimer’s, compared with only 10 per cent of the non-diabetic population who go on to develop the debilitating brain disorder. The risk of dementia increases with age, affecting some 5 per cent of people over the age of 65. Dementia is also much more common in women and is now their biggest killer, causing three times more deaths than breast cancer. Symptoms associated with a gradual decline in brain function, such as loss of memory and difficulty concentrating, tend to be lumped together as ‘dementia’, but there are two main forms of the disease with very different causes: Alzheimer’s (the most common) and vascular dementia. True Alzheimer’s disease is caused by plaques (of beta-amyloid) and tangles that develop in the brain. Spherical clumps that float among neurons, plaques prevent the transmission of messages from one nerve cell to another, while tangles choke neurons to death from the inside. Vascular dementia, on the other hand, results from a problem with blood supply to the brain.

Beyond the Pancreas

for learning and memory. Insulin is vital for healthy neuron function, especially in those areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s—the hippocampus and frontal lobes. Insulin is also important for the growth of blood vessels that help supply the brain with oxygen and glucose, and for promoting plasticity, enabling the brain to constantly make new connections over a lifetime. Yet other evidence is cropping up, showing connections between type 2 diabetes, where regulation of pancreatic insulin is affected, and Alzheimer’s. Research on rats with type 2 diabetes showed that the animals’ brain function deteriorated rapidly as the disease progressed. The high levels of insulin present in their bodies blocked the enzymes that break down amyloid, an abnormal protein, usually produced in bone marrow, which can then be deposited in any tissue or organ. The amyloid builds into toxic clumps (plaques), which disrupt neurological function. Other studies show that, in diabetic animals, Alzheimer-like changes in the brain arise in tandem with increases in beta-amyloid plaque. This suggests that, like the body, the brain can become insulinresistant, unable to respond to insulin properly—a situation seen in the brains of human corpses.


It’s now been shown that it’s not just your pancreas that produces insulin; your brain has its own supply and needs insulin for the survival of its cells. A low level of insulin in the brain is linked to brain-cell degeneration, while good levels of insulin are essential for their survival and function.

A review by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center concluded that treatment of type 2 diabetes with insulin sensitizers like metformin and pioglitazone, agents that lower blood sugar by increasing muscle, fat and liver responses to insulin, can improve brain function and also slow the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

Up until just a few years ago, it was thought that insulin simply regulated blood sugar, but it’s now understood to have a number of other functions as well. It regulates neurotransmitters and brain chemicals like acetylcholine, which are important

Nevertheless, the same researchers also reported that amylin, a peptide made in the pancreas, clumps together like beta-amyloid, causing pancreatic beta-cell damage (as in diabetes), and also aggregates in the brain in those with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.

It’s already known that people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk (about 50–65 per cent higher) of developing Alzheimer’s. This suggests it may be possible to both prevent and slow the progression of both diseases by using the same tools, as the causes behind both are effectively the same: too much sugar in the diet. Being on this blood-sugar roller coaster also releases the stress hormone cortisol, eventually increasing inflammation which, in turn, will worsen brain and memory function. Like melatonin, the hormone related to sleep, cortisol has a circadian rhythm. Levels are higher in the morning, revving us up to start the day, and are then reduced at night, while melatonin is higher at night and decreases by morning. But if cortisol levels stay high, then melatonin levels will remain low. In fact, it’s been noted that people with Alzheimer’s exhibit an effect called ‘sundowning’, when their symptoms get worse towards the end of the day. Production of beta-amyloid also follows a circadian rhythm, increasing during the day and reducing when the person sleeps. Even animals deprived of sleep experience a 25 per cent increase in beta-amyloid. This suggests that the sleep/wake cycle may play a part in Alzheimer’s through a connection with melatonin and/or cortisol, as the latter hormone is definitely related to blood-sugar levels.

High Sugar Diets Affect The Brain You don’t even have to have prediabetes or full-blown type 2 diabetes for these negative brain changes to take effect. In one study, people were given either a high or low glycaemic-index (GI) diet (the higher the GI rating, the quicker the food converts to sugar in the body). Within just four weeks, those on the high GI diet had higher levels of insulin and significantly higher levels of beta-amyloid in their cerebrospinal fluid compared with those on the low GI diet. And just having higher levels of glucose from eating too much sugar-rich food is a significant risk factor for dementia even if you don’t have diabetes. The rapid effects of glucose on the brain show how important it is to eliminate—or, at the very least, drastically reduce—added sugars and refined carbohydrates (like white bread and white pasta) from your diet. Get your blood sugar in balance by reducing and

eliminating hidden sugars from the foods you eat.

Pure, White and Brain-Deadly Research from Stanford University has provided the first large-scale, evidence that sugar has a direct, independent link to diabetes. For every 150 calories from sugar consumed above the recommended daily calorie intake, there was an 11-fold increase in the rate of type 2 diabetes compared with when the 150 extra calories came from non-sugar types of food or drink. The major pan-European study, the EPIC-Interact, has also confirmed that just one sugar-sweetened drink a day increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 per cent. Another interesting finding of this study was that pure fruit juices or nectars have no effect on diabetes risk. However, if artificially sweetened drinks are substituted for sugar-sweetened ones, they also increase your diabetes risk. Another major study from France, which tracked more than 66,000 women over 14 years, found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was higher for women who drank either artificially sweetened or sugar-sweetened drinks.Indeed, the risk was actually higher with the artificially sweetened ones, and the risk skyrocketed the more they drank. Half a litre of artificially sweetened drinks increased the risk by 15 per cent, while 1.5 litres caused a 59 per cent higher risk. But once again, this study found no link between drinking 100 per cent fruit juices and the risk of diabetes.


The persecution of quality dietary fat over the past 50 years since Ansel Keys first theories on Cholesterol were released, we have seen the largest human experiment in history take place. Obesity, Diabetes and now Alzheimers are all out of control simply because the dietary advice given has been to increase refined carbohydrates consumption. Combined with food manufacturers loading our foods with sugar to drive sales and we have a perfect storm for health deteriation. Cutting your sugar intake (visbile sugar and hidden sugars, can only be beneficial to your weight and your health). As Michael Pollen stated “Eat food, mostly veg, not too much”.


The Odyssey Spa is offering you the chance to experience our amazing deep tissue body massage with our team of experienced therapists at an unbelievable rate of £45. If you have never visited The Odyssey Spa before or you are already an Odyssey Health Club member but have never tried one of our massages, then this offer is for you. Available during March & April Only

Feel Good Friday’s

You can kick back and relax with this feel good Friday offer, escape from work and get ready for the weekend. This package starts with an ELEMIS back massage to deeply relax you and then followed by a luxurious hot oil scalp massage. To complete your feel good feeling you will enjoy a complimentary Bellini in our Moroccan relaxation suite. You will also enjoy complementary access to our pool, sauna & steam room. £40 To book please call 01438 313320

Odyssey Members Running The London Marathon!


Darren Gilbert’s Story

Darren is local and the director of Mather Marshall in Knebworth. He is a proud member of Odyssey and Stevenage Striders Running Club. He is running the London Marathon for Epilepsy Society, why? Darren knows first-hand how epilepsy can affect people’s lives and how stressful it can be if unsure how to act if you see somebody having a seizure. Darren adds “Since a young age my father has epilepsy and back then the support and medication wasn’t nowhere near as good as it is now, organisations like Epilepsy Society helps provide advice to people with or without epilepsy and I am proud to be running this gruelling distance for such a great cause. Your support is equally as vital. If you can spare a donation it is massively appreciated. Thank You. To Donate Please Text DGLM85 £10 to 70070

Darren Bennett’s Story

I am proud to be running the Virgin London Marathon this year for Keech Hospice Care. 6 years ago, I became seriously ill, and spent 4 weeks in hospital, with a virus, which left me paralysed from the waist down. It was a life changing experience, with not ever knowing, if i would ever walk again. We never found out what was the cause, but if it wasn’t for all the staff at the Royal Free, i would not be were i am now. This is a challenge for me, and if i can come back from were i was, to be able to do this, nothing is imposable. Thank You. To Donate Please Text DMBE70 £10 to 70070

Are Sugar Alternatives Really Good For You? Many alternatives to sugar called ‘natural’ are anything but. Here’s LIVESTRONG’s verdict (thumbs up or down) on the good, the bad and the ugly among alternative sweeteners. Wherever possible, rely on the natural sweetness of foods themselves rather than on sugar or artificial sweeteners, using carrots, raisins, beetroot, dates, figs and bananas as natural sweeteners.


Sold as a highly refrined white powder, which no longer has the goodness and fibre of fruit. Won’t cause the release of insulin as sucrose and glucose do, but will go straight to your liver—just like alcohol— causing weight gain and fat around the middle. Interferes with the production of hormones related to hunger and satiety (feelings of fullness), and so increases appetite. Also gets converted into unhealthy fats like LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and triglycerides. Verdict: Fine if naturally contained within fruit, but not as a white powder added to food


and traditionally produced products


A simple sugar mostly made up of glucose and fructose (up to 40 per cent in some honeys) that’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The ‘blended’ or ‘produce of more than one country’ varieties often heated to temperatures as high as 71° C (160° F), which destroys natural goodness. In winter, some beekeepers feed their bees white-sugar water or HFCS as a substitute for natural flower nectar. Verdict: Nothing more than a simple sugar that affects blood glucose quickly. If you must use it, buy organic and use very sparingly


This strong-tasting by-product of the three-stage process to extract sugar from sugar cane/beethas the least amount of sugar and highest quantities of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Half its sugar content is fructose and glucose in equal amounts, while the other half is sucrose. Verdict: May contain high levels of pesticides and other chemicals used in sugar cultivation and processing


Sold as a white powder and considered natural as it occurs naturally in plants like sugar cane and corncobs, but needs a lot of refining. Low in calories, it doesn’t trigger insulin, so useful for diabetics. Reduces dental caries, but as a sugar alcohol (polyol), ferments in the gut, causing diarrhoea and bloating. Verdict: Hard on the gut and too processed to be considered a natural product

A natural sweetener derived from the starch of the root bulb of the Mexican tequila plant. Essentially refined fructose, made by a process similar to converting corn starch into high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), shown to be damaging to health. Expensive if produced in the traditional way (by slowly boiling the sap).


Verdict: Could be up to 90 per cent fructose, as there’s no way to distinguish between commercially

Verdict: Heavily processed with negative effects on the digestive system

A sugar alcohol usually made from corn syrup and naturally found in stone fruits like prunes and plums. Often used in foods for diabetics as it triggers little or no insulin. A highly processed product, requiring hydrogenation. Gut side-effects are similar to those of xylitol.

Maple Syrup

Made from the sap of maple trees. Contains 34 beneficial compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, significant amounts of zinc and manganese, and 15 times more calcium than honey. Usually recommended for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) sufferers as it causes the least problems with digestion. Mostly sucrose, with very small amounts of fructose and glucose. Verdict: A good natural sweetener for cakes and for drizzling over crumbles, but buy organic if possible

Barley Malt Syrup (extract)

An unrefined natural sweetener derived from sprouted, dried, cooked and reduced barley malt, and a good source of some minerals and vitamins with almost no fructose or sucrose. Verdict: A good choice as a natural sweetener. Malty taste may not suit all recipes, but brilliant on flapjacks


Derived from the leaves of a South American plant of the same name and used for centuries as a sweetener in South America. Approved in 2011 for use in the EU. Up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose) but with a slightly bitter aftertaste, Avoid products not made with 100 per cent stevia, since some contain dextrose and flavourings. As not absorbed through the gut, it should be a boon for weight loss, but primes your body to expect a certain amount of calories for the sweetness, and so may increase appetite and cause weight gain. Verdict: Use in moderation and only as pure stevia

Whole Cane Sugar

Unprocessed sugar cane contains vitamins A, B and C, calcium, chromium, zinc and magnesium plus antioxidant polyphenols. During sugar-cane processing, the molasses pressed out of the sugar keeps all nutrients intact, as not refined or subjected to high heat. Verdict: A natural unrefined form of whole sugar

that’s absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream, but may be difficult to obtain

Palm Sugar

Made from palmyra palm flowers tapped to release their juice, which is boiled to produce a syrup and then crystallized. A traditional Ayurvedic ingredient containing B vitamins (including B12), it scores low on the glycaemic index (40), so is suitable for diabetics. Verdict: A good natural sweetener and sugar alternative for cooking as well as in drinks

Coconut Nectar

Also known as coconut blossom syrup. Made from the sap of coconut flower buds and turned into a syrup or crystals after minimal heating. Rich in B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, 17 amino acids, short-chain fatty acids, polyphenols, and antioxidants plus inulin, this prebiotic helps feed beneficial bacteria. Mixed opinions on its sustainability and whether collecting the sap affects the production of coconuts. Verdict: Reputed to taste like brown sugar and a useful substitute for white sugar, but buy organic

Yacon syrup

Made from the root of the yacon, or Peruvian ground apple, a member of the sunflower family. Tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear, with good amounts of vitamins and minerals plus a prebiotic (fructooligosaccharide, or FOS), which helps to feed good bacteria in the gut. Traditionally made (without chemicals) by evaporation, like maple syrup. Low GI makes it fine for diabetics. Verdict: Use instead of liquid sweeteners like honey and also for baking, but buy organic. May not be suitable for people with IBS due to high FOS content

Odyssey mail march: april 17  
Odyssey mail march: april 17  

The magazine of Odyssey Health Club & Spa exploring the latest fitness trends, nutrition and health advice.