What we eat – does it really matter?

 

We tend to assume average life expectancy will continue to increase in developed countries, but this trend is being broken. Many people born today may live, on average, shorter lives than their parents. Unhealthy diets and too little exercise are likely culprits.

Processed food is worse than you think – real food is better than you know

Few nutritionists or dieticians would recommend just counting calories for healthier eating. Consuming low calorific, nutritionally poor food defeats the primary purpose of why we need to eat; nutrition should also come into focus. There are so many worthwhile reasons:

  • healthier eating can increase our general sense of wellbeing
  • researchers have now discovered that a fibre rich diet can have a positive influence on chronic inflammatory joint diseases, leading to stronger bones
  • Fruit. It’s so good for us! When you eat berries (some nuts too) the ellagitannins they contain converts into ellagic acid. Ellagic acid prevents the binding of carcinogens to DNA and strengthens connective tissue, which could aid in keeping cancer cells from spreading. Also reducing oxidative stress, ellagic acid appears to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Good food sources of ellagic acid: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, grapes, pomegranate and peaches. And if you like nuts – you can add walnuts and pecan nuts.
  • Benefits from plant-based foods generally, but let’s give a special mention to legumes. Beans, peas and lentils are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, quality plant protein and dietary fibre. Nearly all legumes are a good source of zinc, B-vitamins, potassium, folic acid, magnesium and beneficial fats – all beneficial for our wellbeing. Adding legumes to a nutrient-dense meal plan can aid in controlling blood sugar, particularly important for diabetics, while helping keep your bowels healthy to help prevent colon cancer.

Genetic predisposition can increase the challenges, but it is no barrier to successful weight management once you realise food choices actually become more important; research has shown that diets high in sugar sweetened drinks and fried foods could amplify the genetic associations with higher body weight.

To encourage better eating habits, settle on new routines built around healthier food choices instead of focusing on the number on the scales. These tips might help:

  • Don’t wait until you are starving before eating – as this can make it harder to be mindful of real food choices
  • Plan your meals ahead of time to help to ensure real food choices are available
  • Watch out for takeaways and ready meals – they tend to be higher in sugar, unhealthy fat and salt.

 

Make eating real food Just Routine

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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