Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on January 14th, 2020 by www.nutritionfacts.org
Recommendations on limiting sugar consumption vary around the world, with guidelines ranging from “limit sweet desserts to one every other day” to keep sugar consumption to 4 or less occasions per day.” In the United States, the American Heart Association is leading the charge, “proposing dramatic reductions in the consumption of soft drinks and other sweetened products” and recommending fewer than about 5 percent of calories a day from added sugars, which may not even allow for a single can of soda.
Why is the American Heart Association so concerned about sugar? “Over consumption of added sugars has long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” meaning heart disease and strokes.
We used to think added sugars were just a marker for an unhealthy diet. At fast-food restaurants, for example, people may be more likely to order a cheeseburger with their super-sized soda than a salad.
However, the new thinking is that the added sugars in processed foods and drinks may be independent risk factors in and of themselves. Indeed, worse than just empty calories, they may be actively disease-promoting calories, which I discuss in my video Does Diet Soda Increase Stroke Risk as Much as Regular Soda?.
At 1:14 in my video, you can see a chart of how much added sugar the American public is consuming. The data show that only about 1 percent meet the American Heart Association recommendation to keep added sugar intake down to 5 or 6 percent of daily caloric intake. Most people are up around 15 percent, which is where cardiovascular disease risk starts to take off. There is a doubling of risk at about 25 percent of calories and a quadrupling of risk for those getting one-third of their daily caloric intake from added sugar.
Two hundred years ago, we ate an estimated 7 pounds of sugar annually. Today, we may consume dozens of pounds of sugar a year. We’re hardwired to like sweet foods because we evolved surrounded by fruit, not Froot Loops, but this adaptation is “terribly misused and abused” today, “hijacked” by the food industry for our pleasure and their profits.
“Why are we consuming so much sugar despite knowing too much can harm us?” Yes, it may have an addictive quality and there’s the hard wiring, but the processed food industry isn’t helping.
Seventy five percent of packaged foods and beverages in the United States contain added sweeteners, mostly coming from sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, which are thought responsible for more than a 100,000 deaths worldwide and millions of years of healthy life lost.
Given this, can we just switch to diet sodas? By choosing diet drinks, can’t we get that sweet taste we crave without any of the downsides? Unfortunately, studies indicate that “routine consumption of diet soft drinks is linked to increases in the same risks that many seek to avoid by using artificial sweeteners—namely type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome heart disease, and stroke.”
At 3:15 in my video, you can see data showing the increased risks of cardiovascular disease associated with regular soft drinks and also diet soda. They aren’t that dissimilar.
“In other words, the belief that artificially sweetened diet beverages reduce long-term health risks is not supported by scientific evidence, and instead, scientific data indicate that diet soft drink consumption may contribute to the very health risks people have been seeking to avoid.”
But, why? It makes sense that drinking all that sugar in a regular soft drink might increase stroke risk, due to the extra inflammation and triglycerides, but why does a can of diet soda appear to increase stroke risk the same amount? It’s possible that the caramel coloring in brown sodas like colas plays a role, but another possibility is that “artificial sweeteners may increase the desire for sugar-sweetened, energy-dense beverages/foods.”
The problem with artificial sweeteners “is that a disconnect ultimately develops between the amount of sweetness the brain tastes and how much glucose [blood sugar] ends up coming to the brain.” The brain feels cheated and “figures you have to eat more and more and more sweetness in order to get any calories out of it.” So, “as a consequence, at the end of the day, your brain says, ‘OK, at some point I need some glucose blood sugar here.’ And then you eat an entire cake, because nobody can hold out in the end.”
If people are given Sprite, Sprite Zero (a zero-calorie soda), or unsweetened, carbonated, lemon-lime water, but aren’t told which drink they’re getting or what the study is about, when they’re later offered a choice of M&M’s, spring water, or sugar-free gum, who do you think picks the M&M’s?
Those who drank the artificially sweetened soda were nearly three times more likely to take the candy than those who consumed either the sugar-sweetened or unsweetened drinks. So, it wasn’t a matter of sweet versus non-sweet or calories versus no-calories. There’s something about non-caloric sweeteners that somehow tricks the brain.
The researchers did another study in which everyone was given Oreos and were then asked how satisfied the cookies made them feel. Once again, those who drank the artificially sweetened Sprite Zero reported feeling less satisfied than those who drank the regular Sprite or the sparkling water.
"These results are consistent with recent [brain imaging] studies demonstrating that regular consumption of [artificial sweeteners] can alter the neural pathways responsible for the hedonic [or pleasure] response to food.”
Indeed, “the only way really to prevent this problem—to break the addiction—is to go completely cold turkey and go off all sweeteners—artificial as well as fructose [table sugar and high fructose corn syrup]. Eventually, the brain resets itself and you don’t crave it as much.”
We’ve always assumed the “consumption of both sugar and artificial sweeteners may be changing our palates or taste preferences over time, increasing our desire for sweet foods. Unfortunately, the data on this were lacking”…until now. Twenty people agreed to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks. Afterwards, 95 percent “found that sweet foods and drinks tasted sweeter or too sweet” and “said moving forward they would use less or even no sugar.”
What’s more, most stopped craving sugar within the first week—after only six days. This suggests a two-week sugar challenge, or even a one-week challenge, may “help to reset taste preferences and make consuming less or no sugar easier.”
Perhaps we should be recommending it to our patients. “Eating fewer processed foods and choosing more real, whole, and plant-based foods make it easy to consume less sugar.”
A new year often signifies a fresh start for many people. For some, this means setting health goals, such as losing weight, following a healthier diet, and starting an exercise routine.
However, more often than not, the health and wellness resolutions chosen are highly restrictive and unsustainable, leading most people to break their resolutions within a few weeks. To break that cycle, it’s important to make resolutions that can add to creating healthy habits for life.
Here are 17 New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep:
1. Eat clean unprocessed whole foods
One of the easiest and most sustainable ways to improve overall health is to eat clean whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish / seafood and lean meats.
Research shows that following a whole-foods-based diet may significantly reduce heart disease risk factors, body weight, and blood sugar levels, as well as decrease your risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
2. Sit less and move more !
Whether it’s due to having a sedentary job or simply being inactive, many people sit more than they should. If you have a desk job that requires long periods of sitting, make a resolution to go for a 15-minute walk at lunch or to get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour.
3. Cut back on sugary drinks even the ones labeled "zero" calories or "stevia" etc..
Cutting back on sugary drinks is really important because sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults.
4. Sleep, sleep and sleep.
Sleep is an essential part of overall good health. Sleep deprivation can lead to serious consequences. For instance, lack of sleep may increase your risk of weight gain, heart disease, and depression.
5. Find a physical activity that you enjoy
To get started, choose an activity based on enjoyment and whether it fits into your schedule.
For example, taking a half-hour walk, jog, or bike ride before work, or swimming at a gym that’s on your way home, are simple and sustainable exercise resolutions.
Then, set an attainable goal, such as planning to walk a few specific days per week instead of aiming for every day.
6. Take more ‘me time’ and practice self-care
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s imperative for optimal health and well-being. This is especially true for those in caretaker roles, such as parents and healthcare workers
Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. It can simply mean taking a bath every week, attending your favorite weekly yoga class, having a cuppa tea with a friend, going for a walk in nature, or getting an extra hour of sleep.
7. Cook more meals at home
Research shows that people who cook more meals at home have better quality diet and less body fat than people who eat more meals on the go.
In fact, a study in 11,396 adults found that those who ate 5 or more home-cooked meals per week were 28% less likely to be overweight, compared with those who ate fewer than 3 home-cooked meals per week. Start by making one meal a day, then increase the frequency over time until you’re making the majority of your meals and snacks at home.
8. Give nature some loving and get outside
Spending more time outdoors can improve health by relieving stress, elevating mood, and even lowering blood pressure. Take walks in the park, on the beach or even go camping !
9. Limit screen time
Many people depend on their phones and computers for work and entertainment. However, spending too much time on electronic devices — particularly on social media — has been linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness in some studies.
10. Try meditation
Meditation is an evidence-based way to promote mental well-being. It may be particularly helpful for people who have anxiety or depression. There are many ways to meditate, and it’s easy to find books, podcasts, and apps that teach you how to start a meditation practice.
11. Cut back on alcohol
Though alcohol can certainly fit into a healthy diet, indulging too often can negatively affect your health. What’s more, drinking alcohol frequently may keep you from reaching your health and wellness goals. Limit yourself to two drinks a week.
12. Take a vacation
Taking a vacation — even a short one — may have significant and immediate positive effects on stress levels and may enhance well-being.
13. Try a new hobby
It’s common for adults to let once-loved hobbies fall by the wayside as they get older due to busy schedules or lack of motivation.
However, research shows that partaking in a hobby that you love can help you live a longer, healthier life (study).
14. Visit your doctor
Getting examined regularly by your healthcare practitioner is important for many reasons. Having regular blood work and necessary screenings can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious.
15. Take care of your teeth
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can help prevent oral conditions like gum disease and bad breath . In addition, recent research shows that gum disease may be associated with serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, making oral care all the more important.
16. Create a sustainable, nourishing diet
Instead of making a plan to follow yet another restrictive fad diet, this New Year, make a resolution to break the dieting cycle and create a sustainable, nourishing eating pattern that works for you. The healthiest diet is one that’s rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods and low in heavily processed, sugary products. A healthy, long-term diet should not only be nutritious but also adaptable, meaning you can follow it for life — no matter the circumstances.
A sustainable eating pattern can be maintained on vacation, during holidays, and at parties because it’s nonrestrictive and suited to your lifestyle. Check out my book to get started.
17. Drink herbal teas
Drinking at least 3 mugs of herbal teas a day will definitely benefit your health. Herbs are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties just to name a few. As they say there is a herb to treat almost every ailment. So make a cuppa of herbal tea… choose from ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, anise, mint, moringa, tulsi, turmeric, cloves and so much more. Get imaginative and make your own mix !
Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to create healthier eating and lifestyle habits for life. It's all about creating a healthier relationship with food and taking better care of your body and mind which can drastically improve your health in various ways.
Are hidden food sensitivities making you fat, fatigued, foggy?
How hidden food sensitivities promote degenerative diseases
Food could be your greatest ally in helping prevent and treat illness.
Statistics clearly reveal heart disease as the leading cause of death for men and women globally.
The number one killer thrives on an arsenal of risk factors, such as hypertension, abnormal lipid profiles, obesity and chronic inflammation. Some of these factors are interdependent.
An adequate supply of healthy essential nutrients is one of the most effective preventative measures against heart disease.
To address the problems of abnormal cholesterol, obesity and hypertension, we are strongly advised to consume heart healthy food groups including fibres, lean proteins, healthy fats and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid the most blatant culprits like trans-fats, sugar, white flour etc.
These are general guidelines and a great start to a better lifestyle. Followed with some consistency, they should allow the body to build healthy tissues and occasion permanent weight loss, reduction of blood pressure and inflammation.
And yet, though 108 million Americans are on diets, a statistical follow up after dieting shows, that two years later 83% weigh more than before they started dieting.
74% of Americans are living with digestive disorders.
What are the causes for the often frustrating lack of response to nutritional therapy? Are you to blame for your weight gain?
The question requires deeper insight into the underlying causes for these conditions. Over time genetic modification, drastic increase of pesticides in our food supplies and environmental stressors in our living environment cause toxins to accumulate in the body and effect changes in its biophysical mechanisms.
The resulting imbalances and disturbances of metabolic processes bring about intolerances known as food sensitivities.
These in turn cause weight gain, because they damage the digestive system, forming holes and leaks in the intestinal walls. Our gut is not just an elimination organ, as commonly assumed. The digestive tract is one of the body‘s largest organ system, designed to move food from one end to the other and make it available as energy, for building tissues etc. In the small intestine, liquids, nutrients and minerals get absorbed into the blood stream through the intestinal walls.
These also produce important hormones and house 70% of the body ‘s immune cells. When the cell walls have holes, undigested food particles get prematurely absorbed into the blood stream, causing the body to react with inflammation.
Inflamed intestines can no longer absorb nutrients.
Therefore the body develops sugar and carbohydrate cravings, as the damaged digestive tract can absorb these more easily.
That means you could be following a perfectly healthy meal plan, or starve yourself on a new fad diet, but the toxins generated by inflammation could still be barring any weight loss or blood pressure improvement.
Toxic damage to the intestines based on food intolerances is a major cause of obesity and high blood pressure. The vicious circle can be broken by approaching the subject of food sensitivities.
Food sensitivity versus food allergy
Food intolerance/sensitivity is different from food allergy.
An allergy is a volatile reaction of the immune system. The body conceives an ingredient in food (usually a protein) as a harmful threat and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it off. A microscopic amount of the allergen is enough to cause potentially life threatening reactions.
The allergic response occurs when antibodies engage in combating the apparent “invader”, usually a protein substance. Such overreactions of the immune system can be quite dramatic and rather easy to detect. The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness.
Food sensitivity is a lower level reaction, which involves the digestive system. It is an abnormal physiological response when the body has difficulty breaking down a particular food. It results in inflammation.
The reaction gets provoked by either natural food compounds or additives in foods and beverages. They produce symptoms in one or more organs and systems.
More chronic, less acute and less obvious, food sensitivities are more challenging to diagnose than allergies. Isolating the poorly tolerated substance can also be difficult, as reactions may be delayed and dose-dependent.
Small amounts of the indigestible food may not cause a problem, but cumulative effects might be detrimental. Symptoms of food sensitivity vary greatly and can begin to manifest about half an hour after eating or with a delay of up to 48 hours.
Symptoms of food sensitivities include weight gain, obesity high blood pressure fatigue mood swings, anxiety bloating sleep problems mid-section weight gain irritable bowel gas skin problems, acne, eczema, psoriasis, intermittent diarrhea, dermatitis, hives constipation headaches abdominal cramps migraines headaches indigestion, nausea, cough, heartburn/reflux, sinus problems, asthma, high cholesterol and more …
Different mechanisms of intolerance
• Mechanical intolerance means certain foods can mechanically obstruct a digestive function or the assimilation of nutrients.
• With functional intolerance a certain type of food comes into conflict and causes dysfunction or lack of specific enzymes and chemicals required to digest the substance.
• In the case of biophysical intolerance, a certain food creates biophysical alteration of frequencies and thus causes an abnormality in the body ‘s intestinal tissues. As a consequence, these tissues become incompatible and lose the ability to absorb this type of nutrient (malabsorption). This mechanism causes true intolerances.
• The psychosomatic mechanism is based on trauma associated with certain foods, which then become incompatible on a psychosomatic level.
Methods of diagnosis
Not all bodies are created equal. Different organisms react to different substances. There is no “one fits all” rule we can establish.
For survival, the body has to function properly and repair tissues needed to convert food into energy.
Difficulty in breaking down certain foods causes the undigested particles to become toxins and promote inflammation.
Identifying food sensitivities can be challenging.
Elimination diets may be used to assist in diagnosing them.
The most common inflammatory foods get eliminated and then added back into one ‘s diet, one by one, to observe whether there is a reaction.
The process might be lengthy and inaccurate, as several different foods may contain the same substance, and symptoms can manifest with a delay of up two days.
Blood tests measure the immune system response to particular foods by measuring allergy related antibodies such as immunoglobulin E.
These tests are capable of creating a clinical picture covering a time span of about 2 days with a reliability of about 50 – 60%.
An advanced methodology
International scientists and doctors at London and Gibraltar based Daphne Labs collaborated in the development of an advanced methodology of food sensitivity testing, employing meta tests. That means combining a great variety of tests, while using cutting edge technologies.
Hair samples get analysed with the use of microscopy technologies (biospectrophotometry), providing a multi-frequency wavelength, allowing to view a 2 months period (rather than 2 days with a blood test).
The resulting wavelength is then compared with those of 600 different foods on file in the laboratory ‘s data base.
The outcome gets further evaluated in other labs with geno-bionics, a method which uses a genetic algorithm and the most advanced form of infinity valued logic, to establish the degree of compliance or resistance for all 600 foods.
Thus it is possible to determine an index of inflammation for all food groups, customised to the individual with an accuracy of 94%.
Food Intolerance Solution With the results of the method described above, the patient receives a colour coded chart of 600 foods, divided in different categories.
Green means completely fine, yellow allows limited intake and red should be avoided for two months.
In the third month these foods get reintroduced. A coach and diet advisor assists with meal planning and answers any questions during that period.
By avoiding the category of high-level inflammatory foods, the organism is no longer confronted with inflow of toxins, and therefore can start healing the holes in the intestinal walls and other damaged tissues.
It can let go of excess water and fat, as it is no longer receiving toxins to be stored away.
This results in reduced inflammation, weight loss, improved blood pressure, less joint pain, more focus etc.
After three months another sample gets submitted.
In most cases the patient is now more tolerant of a greater variety of foods, as the body has had a chance to repair the digestive system.
Novak Djokovic credited his moving from number 5 to the rank of number 1 tennis player in the world to the “secret weapon” of identifying his hidden food allergies. He says with eating foods that enhance his metabolism, he feels mentally sharper, happier and calmer, and physically stronger, faster, more dynamic, more coordinated.
For more information about Food Intolerance
Heating systems in our homes and workplaces create dry air, posing a challenge for skin and mucus membranes.
Protect them with sufficient supplies of vitamin A from fresh vegetables like carrots, spinach and broccoli.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, reduces oxidative stress and is one of the requirements for collagen production. Let and abundance of fresh citrus fruits, bell peppers, cauliflower, hawthorn and black currents provide you with an extra boost of this essential nutrient. For maximum benefit these fruits and vegetables should be consumed fresh and raw.
Vitamin D supports calcium household and immune system. While a certain amount can obtained from consuming meat and fish, you should insist on daily exposure to sunlight for the body to synthesise sufficient quantities.
Iron is an important component for the process of oxygen transportation, cell renewal and energy metabolism. Lack of iron can lead to damaged nails and hair, lack of energy and increase the risk of infection. Meat, fish, lentils, red beets, dried apricots and black currents are excellent sources.
Zinc supports healthy hair growth, wound healing and helps prevent infection. Get it from apples, beef, cheese and hazelnuts.
Adequate immune response is based on sufficient supplies of proteins and amino acids from meat, fish, cheese, lean ham, turkey, chicken, plain yoghurt, eggs and nuts.
If your not eating as healthy as you should, it may be best to get the whole family to take a good quality nutritional supplement. They are a great way to obtain the missing nutrients which are of course the vital to an optimum functioning immune system.
Let your creativity run wild and splurge on using these exquisite flavours in foods, snacks and beverages.
Get your senses to indulge in the experience of other places, new sensations and invigorating health.
1. Allspice is the fruit of a West Indian tree and popular in spice mixes for soups, roasts, marinades and mulled wine. It is also known to aid digestion.
2. Cardamom is a pod containing seeds. Its aroma has a hint of eucalyptus and is sweet, strong and heady. The taste is camphor like, a bit lemony, pleasant and warm and pairs well with sweet and savoury dishes, baked goods and tea-spice mixes. It may protect against heart disease and improve digestion.
3. Cayenne is the fruit of a pepper plant originating in Central and South America. The fiery powder infuses lemon or chocolate drinks, soups, meats, rice, vegetables, pastas and fruit with punch and passion. It is highly beneficial for circulation, digestion, and immune defense.
4. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree with a sweet and woody aroma. Its warm and delicately spicy taste is equally suited to both savoury and sweet dishes, and beverages. Use it with fruit, desserts, soups, casseroles, pies, breads or enjoy it as part of tea or coffee blends. The numerous health benefits linked to cinnamon include blood sugar management, weight loss, vasodilation, and many more.
5. Cloves have a camphor-like warm aroma and a hot, peppery taste. They bring seasonal spirit to fruits, soups, meats, breads, desserts and tea blends. Their health benefits include immune-boosting, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Coriander seeds are harvested from coriander plant (you may know its leaves as cilantro). They have a mild, warm flavour with undertones of orange peel and are used in soups, spice mixes, with sausages, cured meats, game and in breads. Their numerous health benefits include support of bone health, eye health and management of cholesterol.
7. Cumin comes from the delicate cumin plant and belongs to the parsley family. It’s warm, spicy aroma and pungent earthy taste make a great addition to vegetables, soups, dressings, roasts and stews. Health benefits include increased absorption of nutrients from other foods, stimulation of pancreatic enzymes, relieves bloating and gas.
8. Ginger is a bulbous root with warming pungent flavour, adding zing and zest to water, tea, soup, vegetable dishes, smoothies and juices. It is also the defining ingredient in the gingerbread spice mix. Numerous health benefits linked to ginger include supporting digestion, promoting energy flow, alleviation of colds and flu symptoms and nausea.
9. Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen Caribbean tree. The original meaning of its name is „nut which smells like musk“. Its warm and spicy, slightly peppery taste is indispensable for creamy vegetable soups, spinach dishes, pumpkin dishes and eggnog. Health benefits include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
10. Saffron is one of the most precious and legendary spices on the market. It comes as thin threads of red and orange, the harvested stigmas from crocus flowers. The exotic, slightly sweet aroma and delicate, mildly bitter taste are exquisite companions for soups, risottos, pastas, fish dishes and cakes. It promotes heart health, digestive function, vitality and memory function.
11. Turmeric the “Golden Goddess” is a bulbous root, dried and ground into golden powder. Aside from its famous anti-inflammatory health benefits it lends an earthy exotic touch to everything from salads, soups, stews, meats, vegetables, fruit and desserts. It is especially beneficial when prepared as a Golden Milk drink.
12. Vanilla is the edible pod of an orchid variety. The most prized kinds come from Reunion Island and Tahiti. Its sweet, indulgent exotic flavour delights in desserts, sweets, baked goods, fish dishes, spice mixes and drinks. Powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol balancing properties some of the numerous health benefits.
Increasing numbers of nutritional experts are praising the incredible effects of an anti-inflammatory diet on long term health. In fact, it’s never been more apparent how powerful overall gut health can be in terms of how we function day-to-day. Gut health also affects how we feel, with our digestive systems responsible for producing a portion of our serotonin – the neurotransmitter which not only helps us feel happier, but also plays a part in mood, quality of sleep, temperature regulation, and more.
Poor gut health then should be avoided, not least because it may lead to chronic inflammation. Long term, chronic inflammation may increase the risk of certain conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, or even heart disease. Signs of inflammation could include constant fatigue, anxiety, depression, and digestive issues like abdominal pain.
What triggers inflammation?
There are many lifestyle attributes that can trigger inflammation – stress, lack of exercise, or over exercising and diet.
Problems in the gut may occur when foods that cause inflammation are regularly consumed. Regularly feasting on irritants like fried foods, refined sugar, and fizzy drinks could aggravate your immune system and may lead to your body working overtime to compensate.
Even those eating an anti-inflammatory diet may unknowingly be increasing their risk of inflammation by eating seemingly harmless foods that they are intolerant to, their bodies then wrongly identifying the food’s proteins as a threat. It’s important to listen to your body and cater your diet to your personal needs in order to avoid inflammation.
What is the fastest way to get rid of inflammation in the body?
While inflammation can be measured by monitoring levels of C-reactive protein, the easiest way to alleviate symptoms and improve gut health is by eating an anti-inflammatory diet packed with natural anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory herbs.
Inflammation could be greatly reduced by following an approach of eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising regularly, minimising stress, and taking supplements that work to fight inflammation such as probiotics and fish oil.
A Mediterranean diet is often recommended by nutritionists due to the fact it is nutritionally dense and balanced, consisting of lots of whole grains, fish, and healthy fats.
Another method of eliminating inflammation is by cutting out foods that you’re intolerant to. If you’re unsure of what these may be, find out more about intolerance tests on my website.
What foods are bad for inflammation?
Foods high in saturated fats should be avoided – these include dairy products, red meat, and many unhealthy snack foods. Eliminate corn, sunflower, and other oils and margarines that are overly processed; favour instead natural anti- inflammatory foods, such as olive oil.
Sugar, artificial sweeteners and certain grains are also foods that may cause inflammation. Nutritionists advise the easiest way to eliminate foods that cause inflammation is to remove anything processed from your diet. It’s important to identify your trigger foods and everyone has a unique food fingerprint.
What is the most effective natural anti-inflammatory?
Here are some natural anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory herbs that are worth knowing:
Ashwaganda: Alongside food intolerances and eating inflammatory foods, stress can be a huge factor when it comes to inflammation. The ancient anti-inflammatory herb Ashwaganda, used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, has been found to help reduce the negative effects of stress, increase the body’s ability to reduce cortisol levels, and lessen chronic inflammation.
Ginger: Ginger is known to reduce nausea and vomiting, but it also serves another holistic purpose. High in gingerol, it is a strong anti-inflammatory. Add ginger to your food as an anti-inflammatory herb, or drink ginger tea to aid your anti-inflammatory diet.
Moringa: Do you know that inflammation is the main cause of pain and soreness after a workout? Moringa has powerful anti-inflammatory properties owing to its high concentration of isocyanates, biophenols and essential amino acids that reduce inflammation and assist in muscle recovery.
Blueberries: Blueberries garner their status as a superfood from their incredibly high levels of phytoflavinoids, antioxidants, and vitamin C – a powerful combination that may help combat stress in the body.
Broccoli: Research shows that the antioxidants within broccoli work powerfully against inflammation in the body. This natural anti-inflammatory food is also rich with minerals, vitamins, and fibre, making it a nutritious addition to any meal – especially for vegetarians or vegans looking for alternative protein sources.
Cinnamon: High in taste, cinnamon originates from trees that grow bountifully in Asia. The sweet spice is antimicrobial, as well as potent in its anti-inflammatory capabilities. Looking to lower your stress levels too? Cinnamon can be added to hot porridge or tea for a relaxing food experience.
Olive oil: Perhaps the strongest of all-natural anti-inflammatory foods on this list, olive oil is great for your heart and for your gut. Antioxidants and oleocanthal are what make it such a beneficial food for an anti-inflammatory diet, with oleocanthal’s effects having been likened to that of ibuprofen but in natural form.
Spinach: When it comes to natural anti-inflammatory foods, leafy greens are perhaps the best known. Spinach itself is an incredibly versatile vegetable – able to be consumed in smoothies, in salads, or on the side of any meal – containing high levels of water-soluble vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, and flavonoids, omega-3s and carotenoids The nutritional and anti-inflammatory benefits of spinach are hard to beat.
Salmon (Wild-Caught): Omega-3 fatty acids may help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases, such as pain and stiffness, may help reduce inflammation and could also prevent its onset. Salmon is renowned by experts as the best food source when it comes to incorporating omega-3s into your life, and is a great place to start with your anti-inflammatory diet.
Turmeric: Curcumin, found in turmeric, is thought to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Supplements will often carry more curcumin than turmeric in its ground form, but the bright yellow spice can be easily added to everything, from regular cooking to turmeric lattes, making it an adaptive and flavourful natural anti-inflammatory food.
Avocado’s: Avocado’s are rich in Potassium, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and more. A great source of healthy fats which reduce the body’s inflammatory response, researchers have been recently speculating about the anti-inflammatory benefits of another part of avocado’s – its seed, which carries high levels of polyphenols.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found naturally within the cells in the body. You need cholesterol to maintain optimum health, but too much in the body may increase your risk of major diseases, such as heart disease. Some cholesterol is found in the foods you eat, but most of it is made in your liver.
If you have a raised cholesterol level, there is an array of treatment options for you, including the use of statins.
Statins are widely used to lower your cholesterol levels and they often work best when paired with a healthy lifestyle.
What is a high cholesterol level?
The NHS recommends that total cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults, and 4mmol/L or less for those at risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease. But there are different types of cholesterol and it can be confusing to establish exactly what your cholesterol reading is.
What types of cholesterol are there?
There are two main types of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol (also known as low density lipoprotein cholesterol and referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’) and HDL cholesterol (known as high density lipoprotein cholesterol and commonly referred to as ‘good cholesterol’).
How do I check my cholesterol?
Your cholesterol can be checked through a simple blood test which can be through a finger-prick or syringe. The test measures for different types of cholesterol and triglycerides, which is another type of blood fat.
It is important your GP or a suitable expert explains the results to you as sometimes they can be confusing to understand.
How to lower cholesterol?
Do you have high cholesterol and looking to improve your health and well-being? Do you have an average cholesterol level but conscious of your health and well-being?
There are simple and natural ways to lower your cholesterol levels. Here are five healthy changes:
• Quit smoking
It is estimated that 7.2 million people in the UK smoke cigarettes. Smoking may cause more of your bad cholesterol to cling to your artery walls, according to Heart UK. Quitting smoking not only helps your overall health but reduces your risk of raised cholesterol and heart disease.
• Increase your physical activity through exercise
It is recommended that adults aged 19 to 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week. 150 minutes sounds like a long time, but to break this down it is only 30 minutes every day for five days.
Exercise can help improve cholesterol and raise the HDL cholesterol (the good kind). We recommend taking up exercise with a friend or loved one to boost motivation.
• Lose weight
Losing weight may not only be beneficial for your overall health and well-being, but this is one of the most important lifestyle factors to improve your cholesterol levels. In fact, sometimes losing weight alone can be enough.
Use a calorie counting app to track your calories as you can be surprised how quickly calories can add up. You will then be able to see where you can cut back.
For example, you could be drinking a 500ml bottle of coke a day after dinner – that’s 1,421 calories a week! Simple calorie cutbacks could make all the difference.
Other weight loss tips include parking your car further away from work or the shops and use the stairs where possible to increase your activity levels.
• Limit your alcohol
Moderate your intake and stick to the advised limit of no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
• Indulge in heart-friendly foods
Diet forms a vital role in actively making a difference to your cholesterol levels. Now more than ever, there is an abundance of dietary advice online on how to eat healthier.
Want to start now?
There’s no better time to start. After all, simple changes are often the ones which easily form a habit.
For most people, stress is inevitable in certain stages of life – starting a new job, buying a house, leaving home for university. For some, however, a high level of stress can be a daily battle, leading to anxiety or depression. This may lead you to searching on the internet, topics such as ‘stress symptoms’, ‘how can I reduce my mental stress?’ and ways to manage it.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
It’s worth noting that anxiety can be a symptom of depression. If you feel as though you’re currently experiencing a high level of emotional stress in your life and you’re concerned you may have depression, it’s worth checking in with your GP to talk to them about your current well-being.
It may feel daunting to open up but be assured that they will have the knowledge and support to help you.
Symptoms of depression can be especially complex.
However they can include:
Can autumn/winter cause anxiety or depression?
As we progress into the final months of the year, it’s safe to say that summer is long gone. The trees are shedding their final few leaves, the chill in the air is ever increasing, and nights are becoming longer and longer. The turning back of the clocks signals autumn’s transition into winter, and a final effort to maximise on those precious few hours of daylight. Here we take a look at the relationship between food intolerances and low mood.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
For many people, this time of year can be difficult. It’s estimated that around 2 million people in the UK experience signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, or winter depression. For sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder, with winter and the lessening of daylight hours comes a lack of interest in life, and a feeling of low mood.
Frequent symptoms include:
Can food trigger anxiety or stress?
The exact causes for SAD are not fully understood, with lack of exposure to sunlight often being suggested as a potential contributor, as well as changes in diet and eating habits during the colder months. The role of diet on mood cannot be understated, and in recent years there has been an increased focus in scientific circles of the relationship between the digestive system and the brain.
Did you know that the gut produces 90% of the body’s serotonin, the hormone responsible for feelings of happiness?
Or that 90% of the fibres that make up the body’s main nerve, the vagus, are responsible for carrying information from the gut to the brain?
This means if the gut is unhappy, it’s likely you’ll be unhappy too. Around a quarter of people will suffer from depression at some point in their life, and according to a leading UK charity* around 45% of people will show symptoms of food intolerance.
Research has discovered that gastrointestinal inflammation, one of the most frequent symptoms of food intolerance, is frequently found in those showing signs of depression. The relationship between gut health and depression has also been suggested to be bi-directional.
This means that if you’re feeling depressed, the health of your digestive system is likely to suffer. Likewise, if you’re suffering from digestive problems, the chance of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety markedly increases.
In the past 5 years, prescriptions for anti-depressants have risen by around 40%...
While these medications may work for many, they potentially represent dealing with the problem of low mood at a surface rather than root level. For those undergoing feelings of anxiety and depression, tackling these problems first hand may be a daunting prospect.
If you find yourself feeling lower than usual at this time of year, it’s a good idea to have a think about what the contributing factors might be, and if changing your diet could help.
What foods cause a reaction for one person may not be the same for another, we refer to this as an individual’s ‘food fingerprint’.
This is one of the main reasons I know offer diagnostic tests to help you find out your own food fingerprint.
I am happy to announce that I now offer tests for food intolerance, intestinal dysbiosis, mineral analysis and many more. These tests have a 94% accuracy level.
There have been studies which show that after changing eating habits after a food intolerance test; mood improvements occurred.
If you notice a low mood, increased feelings of anxiety, or feel tired, stressed and unmotivated at this time of year, you don’t have to suffer in silence. There can be many contributing factors towards the state of your mental health, and it’s always important that you check these out with your GP, but the influence of diet and nutrition is hard to neglect.
If you think food intolerance is having a negative effect on your mood, please contact me to get the process started.
It is painless and only a few cells are collected from your inner cheek and sent away to Daphne Laboratories based in Italy. Results are received in 7-9 days maximum.
Choose the test that's right for you.
Millet adds flavor and nutrition to your diet and work as a versatile alternative to staples like rice and wheat. It is gluten-free, has a low glycemic index, and is a good source of antioxidants. Millet can help reduce the risk of diabetes, prevent heart disease, promote weight loss, lowers cholesterol and fights aging. It may also have a role to play in the prevention and treatment of several cancers.
Millet is a good source of protein, high in fibre and is rich in multiple vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
One cup of cooked millet contains the following nutritional values:
Millet also contains trace amounts of copper, zinc and manganese.
Thanks to its nutritional profile, millet offers several health benefits and here are some of them:
1. Has Antioxidant Properties
All varieties of millets abound in phytochemicals known as polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant properties. Polyphenols flush out harmful free radicals from the body and prevent several potentially fatal conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer. They also reduce inflammation, up your immunity, and help fight viruses.
Millets even outperform rice in terms of antioxidant power. Pearl millet and finger millet pack in 1478 and 612 mcg of phenolic acid per gram, respectively, whereas different varieties of rice contain 197–376 mcg of the phytochemical.
2. Controls Diabetes
Most millets have a low glycemic index and high amounts of soluble dietary fiber, enabling better sugar control and making them a diabetes-friendly cereal. When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, finger millet is considered a superfood with its high magnesium content – 408 mg per 100 gm of cooked grain, which pretty much meets the daily requirement of men (400-420 mg/day) and exceeds that for women (310-320 mg/day).
Magnesium significantly boosts the efficiency of insulin receptors and decreases insulin resistance. Studies even indicate that consuming a diet rich in this mineral can reduce the chance of developing diabetes by 30 percent.
3. Is Good for Your Heart
As a good source of magnesium, millets help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis – a condition where arteries become narrower due to fatty deposits on their inner walls. Millets also contain substantial amounts of potassium, another heart-friendly mineral. Animal studies show that proso and finger millets can even improve the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol.
4. Guards the Gut If You Have Celiac Disease
Some millet breads contain small quantities of wheat flour. So make sure you check for the gluten-free label before picking your millet goodies.
If there is one property that makes millets a nutritional superstar, it is the absence of gluten. Aside from the variety, millets offer the bonus benefits of a host of micro- and macronutrients and phytochemicals. Just the combination you’d want if you are struggling with celiac disease.
5. May Offer Protection against Cancer
Research shows that some of the phenolics found in millets may help prevent the initiation and progression of many types of cancer, including breast and colon cancers. The anti-tumorigenic agents in finger millet have also been found to be particularly effective against chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a rare type of blood cancer.
6. Keeps your Bones Healthy
Finger millets contain 344 mg calcium (which is more than the amount of calcium present in milk) that meets 34% of your DV. Calcium is your body’s bone-building mineral, without which your bones may become brittle and weak. Finger millets are also rich in magnesium, which is another mineral that maintains your bone health. Plus, some studies suggest that magnesium may decrease your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
7. Helps Digestion
If you frequently suffer from digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, and gas, it might be due to your low intake of dietary fiber. Millets, especially pearl millet, have a significant amount of resistant starch and soluble and insoluble fiber, which regulates your digestion process and prevents the food moving too fast or too slow in your digestive tract. Furthermore, since millets are gluten-free, they also reduce the stomach problems that occur due to the celiac disease.
8. Prevents Gallstone
The fiber in millets is also helpful in reducing the risk of gallstones. Foods rich in insoluble fiber can speed up the transit of undigested food through the colon and also reduce the secretion of bile acids which help form gallstones. In fact, a long-term study found that women who ate a fiber-rich diet were 17% less likely to have gallstones than those who had no fiber.
9. Helps Manage Weight
Whole grains that are rich in fiber also assist with weight loss. Millets are no exception. They also increase your satiety and keep you full for longer periods of time. This decreases hunger pangs and keeps you from snacking between meals. In addition they lower cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity which helps you manage your weight.
10. Improves Your Mood and Helps You Sleep Better
A standard serving of millets contains about 120 gm of an amino acid called tryptophan, which meets about 42% of your daily requirement. Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin – a chemical that regulates your overall mood and fights depression. Tryptophan is also shown to increase the quality of sleep and improve morning alertness. Additionally, the amino acid is believed to increase cognitive function by improving memory and facilitates learning.
11. Fights Aging and Improves Skin
Antioxidants and phenolics that millets abound in are renowned for their anti-aging properties. Millets have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce cell damage due to aging. Animal studies indicate that polyphenols found in finger millet and kodo millet may also boost the production of collagen to give you firmer, healthier, and younger-looking skin. Moreover, the benefits of millet for your digestive system as well as your sleep quality are bound to show up on your skin too.
12. Increases Breast Milk Supply
Millets are traditionally used to increase the production of breast milk in breastfeeding mothers. Although there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that millet can increase breast milk supply; there’s no harm in trying to find out for yourselves, provided you stay within dietary limits.
13. Millet is Good for Babies
Millet is a wonderful grain for your baby. It is gluten free, nutritious, versatile, easily digestible and a less allergenic grain suitable as a solid food for your baby. Also, the size and shape of millet resemble barley which makes it an excellent finger food. The smooth texture ensures its easy digestion. You can introduce it from around 7 months of age.
Wondering how to get your daily fix of millets?
Millet flour can replace wheat flour in your cakes and bakes. Millets can also just as easily step in for rice in your meals. Beyond that, since millets are a staple in several parts of the world, you have a variety of traditional and exotic recipes to choose from.
Don’t Overindulge: Millets May Cause Constipation and Impair Thyroid Function
There's a few simple steps to help you get started:
1. Decide on your motivation – anything you like.
2. Decide on your goal this can be a weight, measurement, clothes size or just to feel better.
3. Start eating sensibly immediately (not tomorrow).
4. Start exercising as soon as possible, just a small amount, as often as you can manage.
Motivation – this should be easy to decide on. There should be plenty of reasons to lose weight.
Here are a few suggestions:
● Improve relationship/sex life
● Gain confidence
● Enjoy more time with kids
● Live longer
● Reduce illness
● Increase energy
● Improve your mind
● Improve mood
Goal – you can use anything for your goal.
It can be easier to use a number such as waist size or weight, but anything can be used to set your goal.
I personally set myself a goal weight, which motivated me to do more to reach the goal quickly yet steadily.
Eating – When choosing an effective diet, you need to consider the following criteria. The diet
● Allow you to eat enough food without being hungry.
● Encourage eating of a healthy variety of foods.
● Be a sensible diet that you can continue for the rest of your life.
Exercising – Try going for a short walk. Perhaps half an hour, maybe more if you
can... or simply aim for 5,000 steps a day to start with and increase to 7,000 or even 10,000 !
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !