Christmas was a time to indulge, indulge in quality time with family and friends to fill our wellbeing cup, as well as perhaps indulging in foods we don't usually include in our daily diet.
Here are some diet tips we can all benefit from if we want to keep our bodies healthy and free of toxic substances.
We all know this – and it’s easier said than done – but the more we can limit our intake of highly processed foods, including junk food, the better. Often manufactured with a mixture of 1g fat to 2g carbs (a ratio we humans seem to crave), these foods are highly addictive, full of empty calories, and terrible for our health and wellbeing. Distressingly, feasting on ultra-processed foods (chips, fries, cookies, ice cream, ready meals, etc.) rather than minimally processed ones (vegetables, fruits, nuts) doesn’t merely lead to weight gain, it increases our risk of life-threatening diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and – as recent studies have shown – conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.*
This one’s going to sting a bit. For those of you who are into snacking between (or after) meals, it might be time to reconsider, even if you eat supposedly ‘healthy’ snacks like a protein bar. Sadly, research suggests that many of the things we’ve been told about snacking – that it can help prevent swings in blood sugar, increase calorie burning, and decrease calorie consumption – appear misplaced. Instead, the opposite seems to be true, particularly when it comes to foods that have been processed in some way and which no longer retain their original structure. Thus, whilst snacks like dried fruits might give us a short-term energy boost, that boost is inevitably followed by a crash which soon has us reaching for another snack, leading to more calories consumed, and – ultimately – to elevated blood sugar levels. Whilst this might not do too much damage in the short term, for those of us who have gotten into the habit of snacking over months or years, the consequences are potentially severe. As recent studies suggest, no matter whether your snack is healthy or otherwise, sustained, long-term snacking can result in weight gain and insulin resistance, with increased susceptibility to inflammation, Type 2 diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease. Add in the fact that many of the snack foods marketed to us as healthy (e.g., protein bars, cereal bars, and even raw bars) are calorie dense and full of sugar, and it might be time to either swap out the type of food you snack on (fresh fruit or nuts are a much better bet) or reconsider whether that mid-morning pick-me-up is even worth it at all.
Fermented foods for the win! Most of us are aware of the benefits fermented foods can have for our gut health, but did you know they can also have a positive impact on our mental health? That’s the finding of a recent study carried out by scientists at the University College Cork in Ireland, who have discovered that the connection between our gut and brain (the two are constantly in communication with each other) can have consequences for our state of mind, with a healthy gut helping us deal better with stress and reduce negative feelings. So, no matter whether you’re into natural yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, or kombucha, make it part of your daily meal plan and rest easy in the knowledge that you’re not only looking after your gut, but – potentially - your mental health too!
Know which oils are good for you. Try to use oils which have monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil. These oils not only have a healthy ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6, but can help the body detox by lubricating the intestinal walls and thereby absorbing toxins which are later eliminated. In contrast, polyunsaturated oils like soybean oil, corn oil and sunflower oil are to
be avoided. They are sensitive to oxidation and can lead to systemic inflammation, heart disease, and even cancer. **
Watch your calories... and don’t drink all of them! If we want to manage our weight (and our waist) then it’s a simple fact of life that we can only consume as many calories as we expend. This means not only keeping a careful eye on what we eat and portion sizes, but also what we drink. Doubtless, most of us are aware that there are a lot of calories in a can of soft drink. But did you know that there’s a similar amount in a glass of unsweetened orange juice and likely even more in a glass of whole milk? By way of comparison, a can of soft drink will contain up to 190 calories, a glass of orange juice 170 calories, a glass of whole milk 220 calories (and don’t make the mistake of thinking low fat milk is a whole lot better!), a glass of wine 125 calories, a glass of beer 155 calories, and a can of energy drink 110 calories. In the end, it makes sense to hydrate with filtered water, when you can. The number of calories in a glass of water? Exactly zero.
*Natalia Gomes Gonçalves, PhD; Naomi Vidal Ferreira, PhD; Neha Khandpur, ScD; Association Between Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods and Cognitive Decline; JAMA Neurol. Published online December 5, 2022; https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2799140
** 6 Reasons Why Vegetable Oils Are Toxic; Kris Gunnars BSc; Academia; http://www.academia.edu/8309414/6_Reasons_
Why_Vegetable_Oils_Are_Toxic_By_Kris_Gunnars_59_721_viewsDisclaimer: This blog post was written for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. For individual health concerns The Organic Skin Co. recommends that you consult with a relevant health professional.