Eat Smarter


Are you looking for dinner ideas that tick the healthy but delicious box? It might be time to consider octopus.

Octopus is rich in vitamins and minerals, is low in fat and is a good source of protein. Here is a closer look at what it has to offer.

Heart health

Octopus is a good, affordable source of omega-3 fatty acids, commonly known as ‘good fats’. These fats can reduce blood pressure and lessen the buildup of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels. This in turn can lower your risk of stroke and heart attack.

Octopus also contains an amino acid called taurine which reduces blood pressure and cholesterol.



Taurine is also an antioxidant. It protects cells from damage often associated with inflammation and cancer. Octopus contains other antioxidants such as selenium, vitamin B12 and folate.


Brain health

Octopus contains magnesium which can help support healthy brain function. The omega-3 fatty acids found in octopus may lower the risk of developing depression.

Note: While for many people octopus is a healthy choice, some people need to avoid or approach with caution.

  • If you have a shellfish allergy, you need to avoid octopus as well.
  • Octopus has a higher salt content than some other lean protein sources. Factor this in if you are watching your sodium intake.

Is It Bad to Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach?

For most of us, the answer is no. But your symptoms may worsen if you have a sensitive stomach, are predisposed to certain gastrointestinal conditions such as reflux, or already have damage to your stomach lining, says Kim Barrett, professor of physiology and membrane biology at the University of California at Davis’ School of Medicine, in The Washington Post.

The caffeine in that first shot of coffee may also increase the effect of cortisol, which is usually highest in the morning. Cortisol is the stress hormone that produces the fight-or-flight response and can also raise blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and love your morning coffee, you might want to make sure you are combining healthy carbs with protein to balance out your blood sugar levels.

Even though coffee can be acidic and stimulate the production of stomach acid, this is not likely to be a problem for most people, and the stomach is “extremely well equipped to protect itself,” said Barrett.

Power Up Your Brain!

For a long time, exercise was seen as a way to keep our physical selves healthy. Now we know that it is good for our brains as well.

Large studies have shown that physical exercise can lead to better memory, improved thinking skills and can protect against conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease.

How can exercise change your brain?

Neuroplasticity is a term that describes your brain’s ability to change itself in response to various experiences or exposures. A review article published in Neural Plasticity in 2021 draws on many smaller studies to describe how exercise releases various chemicals that change the number and function of nerve cells (neurons) and their neighbouring support cells (astrocytes). It found exercise also improves blood flow to nerve cells in the brain and increases the connections between nerve cells.

Other studies using brain scans in people have shown that those who exercise have an increased size of the parts of their brain that control thinking and memory.

These findings support the growing understanding that exercise leads to structural and functional changes in the brain.

Scientific Reports published a study in 2023 that included data from more than 350,000 people. It showed that physical exercise leads to better memory, better thinking skills and lowers the risk of developing dementia.

What counts as exercise and how much do you need to do?

The research describes physical exercise as being different to just ‘activity’. To get the benefits of exercise for your brain, you need to aim for 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate exercise (for example a brisk walk, light jog) or 15 minutes fives days a week of more intense exercise. It takes six months before you start to see the benefits, so it is important to develop a habit and stick with it.

How does exercise help my brain overall?

As well as the changes the scientists saw in the structure and function of the brain, physical exercise is also known to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood and often helps you get a better night’s sleep. This all contributes to better brain function.

Getting started

As tempting as it may be to strap on your running shoes and race out for brain health, if you are a novice exerciser, it is a good idea to start slow and build up. Aim for 10 minutes a day and build up to half an hour. Find something you enjoy whether that be a walking group, solo runs or a dance class. You want to start something you can stick to.

Finding your fit

1. Aerobic exercise. Studies show it is never too late to start. Get your blood pumping to boost blood flow to your brain.

2. Weight training. Research shows the benefit of weight training for both memory and other thinking skills. When you practice unfamiliar movements, you activate the nerve pathways in your brain.

3. Yoga. A 2016 University of California study showed that yoga can help your visual-spatial skills and some aspects of memory.

4. Tai Chi. Tai Chi combines both mental focus and movement. It often has a community aspect to it which is also helpful for making your brain feel good.

5. Dancing. A landmark 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed regular dancing reduced the risk of dementia by 76 per cent.

Geriatrician Dr Tabitha Hartwell reminds us ‘Exercise, preferably a mixture of aerobic, strength and stability, is the single most important factor in maintaining physical, mental and emotional health across your lifetime’.

Become A Joy Detective

Do you find yourself dreaming of a circuit breaker? A tropical holiday, a silent retreat, a hike through pristine wilderness? Anything to chase that elusive feeling of happiness and joy?

Dreams are lovely but often feel out of reach, or come around too rarely to sustain your joy levels. How then can you help yourself out of the ‘rut of doom’ you find yourself in? Experts suggest the answer might be in becoming conscious of the small moments of joy that exist in everyday life.

Joy is a tricky thing to define. It is often fleeting and is different for every person. Some consider joy to lie somewhere between happiness and ecstasy. Others say joy is a sense of wellbeing, of hope.

Joy is closely linked to the things that are important to us. For some, joy can be found in the feeling of the sun on their back on a winter’s day. It might be comfortable socks, the first bite of a peach, the opening notes of our favourite song. Joy might be walking in nature, patting a dog, the soft curl of a child’s hand reacting into your own.

What all these different experiences have in common is that they are often the quiet moments in your day that get missed when you are worried or rushing.

Author and mental health expert, Robyn Haney Dafoe, writes in Psychology Today, ‘Cultivating joy is a (re)learning how to foster a feeling of ease and a sense of hope, even when things might still be uncertain.’

This reminds us that bringing joy into our life is not about creating big moments, it is about finding joy where it already is. Becoming joy detectives.

Focusing on joy does not mean you deny things that are hard in your world. But it opens you up to see that both can exist at the same time, that there is room for joy in your life. Over time, your brain will more naturally tune into joyous moments, allowing you to experience happiness and hope more often across more of your day.

Another reason joy feels so good is that it brings energy and connection. Oxford University philosopher and leading joy researcher Matthew Johnson wrote in the Journal of Positive Psychology, ‘joy… is energising, joy is motivating’. He also describes joy as ‘a gathering emotion’. Harnessing that shared positive energy can help you keep going, even when things feel hard.

So perhaps rather than waiting for a grand expensive holiday, start now. Start small, start simple, look for the moments that bring an exhale, a drop of your shoulders, the ‘eye sparkle’ smile, the warm lift to your heart. Find the joy that is already there, waiting for you!

Finding joy

Try these tips to add more joy to your daily routine.

1. Get curious and creative.

It may be a while since you have thought about what makes you feel joyous. Instead of feeling daunted, get curious and creative! Try listening to different types of music, going for a walk, do a taste test of different foods to see what brings that smile to your face. Focus on the fun in the small things.

2. Do more of what feels good

Once you know what brings you joy, do more of it and give yourself time to savour the experience.

3. Think gratitude

Yale-Professor Laurie Santos teaches that joy is connected to appreciating particular things. Remembering to ‘count your blessings’ helps focus on the good things in your life that brings joy.

4. Be mindful

Slow down, connect to the moment, and adjust your expectations around what joy is. If you are only looking for grand moments, you will miss all those beautiful tiny daily bits of joy life gives you.