10 Easy Food Swaps to Keep You Healthy This Summer

Photo by Robert Michie

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact it’s actually as simple as making good choices every day. Here are 10 easy food swaps you can make that will go a long way on keeping you healthy this summer. Enjoy! Read more of this post

You Need to Eat More Phytochemicals

I’m sure you’ve all heard of vitamins and minerals, the nutrients found in food essential for good health. What you may not know is that food also contains other chemical components thought to promote health known as phytochemicals and zoochemicals.

So what are these chemical wonders and how can they help me?

Science is continuing to uncover more and more components of food that are physiologically active. This means that they interact with other chemicals or systems in the body and although they are not deemed essential in the diet, they can provide us with significant health benefits.

Studies have shown that diets rich in fruit and vegetables show a reduced risk of cancer, thus fruit and vegetables are thought to contain phytochemicals that block the development of cancer.

Research is still a long way off in terms of fully understanding how these chemicals work and interact with the body, however, because current multi-vitamin and mineral supplements contain little or none of these chemicals, nutritionists always recommend the importance of meeting your bodies needs through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, legumes and nuts, instead of swallowing a pill everyday.

Although supplements may be helpful for some individuals to meets certain nutrient requirements, don’t be tempted to take a supplement as a substitute for a healthy diet. Your body will benefit far more from whole fresh foods than a supplement based on limited nutritional knowledge. There is so much about food we have yet to discover.

Here are some great articles on how you can include more vegetables in your diet and reap the benefits of what phytochemicals have to offer.

8 ways to include more vegetables into your day

Cookbook review: Salads and Vegetables

Eat your vegies they’ll make your hair go curly

11 ways to eat more vegetables

10 ways to make vegetables taste good

Fibre… Bowels of Fun for Everyone!

As a nutritionist I find bowel movements rather interesting. Not because I’m weird but because it can tell me quite a lot about how healthy your diet is and if you are eating well.

Your diet has the power to prevent you from developing a number of chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are the main ones. In terms of your digestive system, a healthy diet has the ability to help you maintain good digestive function and decrease your risk of diverticular disease and colon cancer.

So what’s the secret to a happy bottom? Fibre! Fibre only comes from plant based foods and is the indigestible part. That means that it goes right through you. You might be thinking, what’s the point if all it does is go in one end and out the other?

Fibre creates a nice bulky stool (poo!) and this helps the body to easily move toxins and carcinogens (cancer causing agents) out of the body. The longer is takes the body to move out the waste products the more time these toxins have in contact with the bowel wall and the more time they have to do damage. A high fibre diet moves undigested food through nice and quickly and thus ensures a healthy gut wall. You should have a B.E.E.P everyday.

The benefits of fibre don’t end there. Fibre also helps reduce cholesterol re-absorption, making it great for reducing your risk of heart disease. High fibre foods help us feel fuller for longer and have low energy density making them perfect for maintaining a healthy weight.

Choose these foods regularly for good digestive health:

  • Vegetables – Check out this post on how to get more vegetables into your day.
  • Fruit
  • Cereal – choose breakfast cereals that have at least 3g of fibre per serve. You can check this information on the nutrition information panel.
  • Wholemeal Bread – this has twice as much fibre as white bread. Rye Bread and Soy and Linseed are even better.
  • Wholemeal Pasta
  • Brown Rice
  • Legumes – beans, chick peas and lentils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds – linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

How’s your fibre intake?

Have you had a B.E.E.P today?

As an indicator of good digestive health we should have a B.E.E.P everyday. What am I talking about?

A couple of years ago I worked for a great company called Health Futures. The previous owner, Rob Edwards used to give seminars and in those presentations he would talk about the importance of having a B.E.EP. Although meant to envoke humour in the audience, there was a really important message. Don’t underestimate the importance of fibre in your diet.

B.E.E.P stands for:
Big
Easy
Enjoyable
Poo!

Fibre creates bulk in our diet and helps move waste and undigested food easily through our digestive track. Large, easy to expel bowel movements are a great indicator that you are eating enough fibre everyday. It is recommended that we eat about 25-30g of fibre with the best sources coming from fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans, lentils), nuts, seeds and cereal grains (brown rice,  wholewheat, oats, barely, rye, corn).

Not only will fibre contribute to a healthy gut, but there is a lot of emerging scientific evidence that suggests fibre is important in weight maintenance and that increasing your dietary fibre intake may be protective against obesity through better appetite control (Sleeth et al).

If you are trying to lose weight or improve your health in the whole area of bowel movements you can’t go past some fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Choose high fibre and you wont need to read on the loo, you wont be there long enough!

Have a good B.E.E.P!

References:
Nutrition Research Reviews Vol 23, 2010, pp: 135-145.