There is a problem with food. How do we know what we are really eating and what is on our food as well as what is in our food. Without being technical or fanatical about our food all we can do is eat fresh organic whole foods as much as possible and try and be more aware of where our food comes from. Taking note of news stories on food problems etc is also worth following where problems with a food is highlighted.
Avoiding all processed and junk food is a start. Buying organic is also preferable if not for the nutrition content, where there is some arguments about whether organic vegetables have more nutrients than non organic, then for the fact that organic food should be free from pesticides and herbicides etc. As just mentioned some studies claim that organic vegetables are no more nutritious than non organic. Is that comparison on a like for like basis. If you grow ‘organic’ carrots on poor soil and grow carrots non organically on the same soil they will both be lacking nutrients. The non organic grown carrots though will still contain traces of any pesticides/fertilisers used.
Meat is also a problem. Try to buy meat that is grass reared and organically produced free from hormones and drugs. Supermarket meat is becoming more contaminated and not just from horse meat! Most chickens (other than free range) are now fed genetically modified (GM) feed and most supermarkets are no longer guaranteeing chicken to be GM free - and there is no mention of GM on the labelling which makes life more difficult.
Better to buy meat from a good butcher where you can ask the source and how it is produced. Often you will be surprised to find it is competitively priced as well. If it is a little more expensive but better quality buy slightly less or a cheaper cut. Eating a little less meat is generally good advice anyway. Then make up the meal by adding more vegetables which will improve your health as well. You can read more about healthy eating and making good nutrition the basis of your diet in my free (yes free) book to be found at http://www.obooko.com under the heading ‘Health and Self Development).
The supplement industry is big business and like the drug industry has many vested interests. So do we need supplements and who is telling the truth about the benefits of taking nutrition in a pill.
We do need nutrients. Our body needs vitamins and minerals to function and maintain health. Ideally we should be getting our nutrition from the food we eat. Increasingly this is becoming more and more difficult. So if we cannot get our vitamins and minerals from our food we must need supplements.
That is one aspect. Then science gets involved and will find that a particular vitamin or mineral is good for our health, helping to protect us from some disease or other. Vitamin C is an anti oxident and protects us from heart disease and cancer. Calcium is needed for bones to help prevent osteoporosis. So do we than start taking these and more every time we are told how good they are for us. Again our food is often unable to provide the nutrients we need at the levels we need. Is there an answer to this problem?
I think we may need some supplements at least some of the time, such as recovering from illness or old age. We may also need supplements at other times due to depleted soils where the produce is grown or processing etc. The argument tends to come down on the side of needing supplements in some form for general health. A good example is Omega 3 oil which most of us don’t get enough of in our diet and is necessary for health. Also some sort of multi vitamin and/or mineral may be advisable. It is all very well saying that a healthy varied diet (as recommended by me) is able to provide all the vitamins and minerals we require, but it is not always the case. A fruit or vegetable is only as good as the soil it is grown in and if that lacks minerals so will the produce.
Taking a multi vitamin and mineral supplement may be too much of a scatter gun approach and create other problems with imbalance of nutrients. It may be better to try and look at your diet and see where there may be a shortfall in nutrients in your diet. This could well be minerals due to poor soil quality where the vegetables are grown. Then a good mineral supplement may be all you need. You can even check your own diet with online diet software and see exactly what nutrients you need. A free one is Cron-o-meter found at http://www.cronometer.com.
Then there is the picking, processing, storage, cooking, etc that also depletes nutrients, so better safe than sorry and take a supplement. But avoid taking large doses of single vitamins or minerals without advice.
Whatever supplement decision you take, a healthy diet is the first priority. Healthy nutritious foods, with plenty of benficial herbs and and spices is ideal. If you have a chronic deficiency or disease that can be corrected by specific nutrient supplementation there is a case for that as long as you have consulted your health practitioner or doctor for advice/diagnosis. Try then to be aware that you might not need lots of mega vitamin supplements and with a little effort you can have a more healthy and targeted approach to you nutritional needs.
A lot of newspapers often carry reports about superfoods that we should all eat to ensure a long and active life. The the experts recommend that we should all eat them as part of our diets.
So do I and in this site my nutrition diet recommends the foods – mostly fruit and vegetables. They include apples, berries, broccoli, tomatoes, oranges, plums, spinach and grapes. These foods are among foods that contain polyphenols. In fact it is often stated that ‘a low intake of fruit and vegetables increases the risk of chronic disease’. My main diet recommendations are based on eating more fruit and vegetables.
Polyphenols are powerful anti-oxidents and also have anti inflammatory properties. Another powerful one is an extract from olives called hydroxtyrsosol.
Anti-oxidents help prevent damage to cells caused by oxidation. Oxidation can lead to cell damage that triggers cancer, inflammation, ageing and heart problems. This process is caused by free oxidising radical (commonly known as free radicals). Free radicals are also found in exhaust fumes, smoke, fried foods and BBQ foods.
Anti-oxidents that fight free radicals include Vitamins A, C and E and Selenium and others include the polyphenols they are all talking about. It is not a new discovery but more confirmation that anti-oxidents help slow down the ageing process. Anti-oxidents also help boost the immune system, increasing the resistance to infection.
More and more anti-oxidents are being discovered including the polyphenols, bioflavanoids, lycopene (from tomatoes) etc and they are found in berries, grapes, tomatoes, broccoli etc which includes the foods often mentioned in the studies.
The other factor about the foods is that they should all be eaten or as many as possible included in your diet. Once again it brings me back to The Nutrition Diet. There I to stress the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables and at the same time a wide variety of foods to get the widest range of nutrients, including anti-oxidents.
Now a bit of a conundrum. Here I am advocating a healthy lifestyle and a diet of nutrient rich food. I follow (more or less) my own recommendations on healthy eating which can be found on my website at www.thenutritiondietclub.com. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, least of all me. I eat healthily most of the time, exercise and walk up to 1 1/2 hours daily and consider myself reasonably healthy at 66 years.
As I said I practice what I preach though not perfect – who is. I may have a couple of glasses of wine 2 or 3 times a week and the odd bowl of crisps. I don’t eat sugar (except fruit) and avoid all processed and junk foods. I only eat small portions of meat once twice a week, fish the same and the other days none at all just vegetarian. So why did I wake up one day at the end of November with GOUT!! Yes gout in my left foot.
That’s the conundrum. Gout is supposed to be caused by too much purine high foods. Red meat, offal (liver etc), alcohol (beer more than wine) all of which I ate in moderation. So if diet is to be the cure how to improve the diet and keep it practical and realistic. Trying to get any information is confusing as it is in anything to do with diet and health. One study will say one thing, another the opposite. We are told to eat more oily fish, yet sardines, mackerel, herrings are in the list of foods to avoid if you have gout.
We are all different and variety of foods should be taken, eating more fruit and vegetables, avoiding processed and junk foods most of the time. Everything in moderation. I can’t pinpoint a particular cause for the gout attack. However the initial flare up and pain has subsided after a few days of self treatment. So far no repeat of the problem. I was not as bad as the picture thankfully.
After a search on the web for answers and getting lots of good ideas I think I solved the problem by drinking a large glass of water with the juice of fresh lemons then a little later a glass of water with bi-carbonate of soda. I did this every 1/2 hour for a couple of hours to make my body more alkaline. This was meant to help flush out the uric acid crystals from the joint. Then resorting to modern medicine (anti- inflammatory tablets) for two days. Together the problem seems to have been solved quickly.
I am now looking again at my own diet and drink alkaline water. In fact finding it difficult to change my diet, drinking alkaline water seems to be the main difference and presumably enough to solve the problem. I drink mainly bottled water and what I did not know until I looked into things, bottled water is in fact generally acid. Now I add PH drops to my water to make it alkaline. You can also buy alkaline water filters. Hopefully this will stay a one off attack and I will keep you informed.
Christmas is coming and you don’t have to be afraid of enjoying it. We associate Christmas with ‘eat, drink and be merry’ and there is no reason why you can’t have a guilt free festive season. I am all for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. I have to stress the need for a nutritious diet and the importance of nutrition as the basis of any diet. At the same time we are all human and need a treat. Me included. I have the occasional lapse but as long as that is all it is then enjoy the chips, chocolate or even a Big Mac as a special treat and not a regular occurrence. You can always make sure you make up for it and get back on to the straight and narrow of your nutrition diet the very next day.
Better to be relaxed about the Christmas excesses if they happen. Getting stressed out about all that food and drink and what to eat or not to eat is just as bad for you as the over indulging or maybe worse. Stress is one of the big causes of ill health including high blood pressure and also poor digestion which can interfer with the absorption of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients.
Anyway a traditional Christmas dinner is not all bad. Turkey (good for protein, B vitamins, low sodium, zinc, selenium), plus healthy vegetables (brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, broccoli) and potatoes. Cut down on the Christmas pudding (though it has plenty of dried fruits), the chocolate gateaux and but enjoy what you have.
So not much harm done there. Then like other traditional nibbles – nuts (good), dates, figs, etc again not much harm done as it is only once a year. Of course if you are happier being strict with yourself even at Christmas don’t worry either as you don’t want to get stressed about having to eat something you don’t want to either.
Drink is the possibly most harmful part of Christmas and may need more willpower. Though if you are generally health minded you probably don’t drink much even at Christmas and can still enjoy things. You can always pretend as well – tonic water with ice and lemon looks like a gin and tonic!
So all is not lost. Go out and enjoy Christmas and have a good time. Afterwards make sure you are extra strict with the nutrition diet for a few days and you will be back to normal.
There is always talk about supplements and sometimes adverse articles decrying the effect of supplements and that money is wasted on them. This has been happens quite often with studies being quoted as to the benefit or not of certain vitamin supplements. The reports, like all statistics, can be made to suit the author and if the studies are looked at closely there are actually benefits from supplements. If food was produced naturally and not tampered with and we improved our diets to a more nutrition based diet the need for supplements may not be seen to be necessary.
Ideally we should be able to get all our nutrients, vitamins and minerals from our diet. This blog’s aim is to promote nutrition as the norm for a healthy diet. Whether we can actually achieve that with diet alone is sometimes open to question when modern industrial farming is considered. If we can grow our own vegetables and /or buy all organic meat, fruit and vegetables etc, this may be possible, but a lot of hard work. For most people though that is not easy, especially in our modern frantic lifestyle today.
Buying mass produced, industrially grown fruit and vegetables is not the same. They may look good – perfect in shape and colour but do they do you good. Take tomatoes for instance. Many are now grown hydroponically without soil. The roots are in water and fed nutrients to promote growth. The tomato however never sees the sun which is important in ripening the fruit and vegetables and to develop nutrients naturally. In the case of tomatoes the sun promotes lycopene development which is an important nutrient for our health.
Fruit and vegetables are also picked half ripe and that means nutrients have not had time to develop plus the produce is often stored for months and artificially ripened again affecting nutrient quality. So without realising it we can be missing or short of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health. Though we buy lots of fruit and vegetables it may not be enough.
This is just another reason to consider supplements. I recommend using a good multi vitamin tablet plus omega 3 and maybe vitamin C supplements as a matter of course. The more ways industrial farming finds to provide food further away from what nature intended the more we may have to look at supplements to maintain good health. I should also repeat that nutrition supplements are just that – supplement to as good a diet as you can manage. There are actually supplements for a whole range of health matters and in many cases they do help in the long term. Here though we are talking general diet and healthy living and if you have a specific problem and need for nutrition help then you should consult a qualified practioner.
If you want to know about supplements have a look at my site www.thenutritiondietclub.com A variety of suppliers providing a wide range of supplements to suit all pockets can be found on the products page of this site. Also one of the books in my recommended reading provides an A-Z of vitamins and minerals.
Everyone agrees on the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables, but not enough people are following this important advice to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables – or more. Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest changes you can make to increase your level of health, lose weight and gain fitness.
No matter what your reason for pursuing a healthier diet, eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to enjoy a delicious varied diet while enjoying greater levels of health. Adding more fruit and vegetables also gives you more variety which gives you a more varied source of nutrients.
Everyone knows the importance of a healthy diet to a healthy body, and fruits and vegetables are rich in the vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other micronutrients that make a diet healthy. In addition to all these advantages, fruits and vegetables are colourful, easy to use, abundant and inexpensive. Fruits and vegetables are great in soups, salads, as side dishes and as main courses. Plus they can be juiced or made into smoothies. There are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables, and so many different ways to use them, that it is almost impossible to get bored with them.
One reason for the recommendation that everyone increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables is that many of these foods have been shown to have strong antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are important to good health due to their ability to bind with and neutralize harmful elements called free radicals. These free radicals are thought to play a role in cancer, aging related illnesses and other conditions.
Normally, free radicals are neutralized automatically as part of the body’s natural processes. However, when the immune system has been weakened, or if you are just feeling run down, these antioxidant fighters may not be working at peak efficiency. Many fruits and vegetables have high amounts of many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C.
Since there are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from, it is important to choose the best ones for your diet. Of course the perfect fruits and vegetables for you are the ones you like the best. After all, you will have a hard time taking advantage of all that nutrition unless you actually eat the fruits and vegetables you buy. But don’t stick to the same old fruits and vegetables, try something new for more variety.
Getting the most fruits and vegetables for your limited food budget is an important consideration for most people. Fruits and vegetables are usually plentiful and inexpensive, but in some cases they can be somewhat pricey, especially in the winter months when most fruits and vegetables must be shipped long distances. In addition to the supermarket and local grocery store, farmers markets can be places to find the freshest fruits and vegetables at the lowest possible prices. Farmers markets and roadside produce stands are often excellent sources of fresh, high quality fruits and vegetables.
Even when there is no farmers market nearby, it is still possible to get great, high quality fruits and vegetables at some excellent prices, simply by buying those fruits and vegetables as they come into season. Buying in season fruits and vegetables is usually cheaper than buying produce that comes from far away, and locally grown produce is often fresher and more nutritious as well.
Many people recommend buying a variety of colours when shopping for fruits and vegetables, and not just because they look good on the plate together. Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutritional qualities, so eating a wide variety of colours will give you the best selection of flavors, textures, tastes and nutrients.
Cooking vegetables properly is important as well, since overcooking can destroy some of the nutritional value of many vegetables. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are particularly vulnerable to nutrient loss due to overcooking. It is best to lightly steam vegetables in the microwave or on the top of the stove. When steaming vegetables for maximum nutrition, it is important to use as little water as possible. Use only enough water to keep the vegetable from burning, and remove them from the heat source as soon as possible. Alternatively eat more raw vegetables as well as fruit.
No matter what your reason for following a healthy diet, you will find that eating more fruits and vegetables is a delicious, as well as a nutritious, way to get the vitamins and minerals you need every day.
We are always being told by the news, magazines, or on television how we should be eating healthier. Regularly this includes the latest superfood that is a must and can solve all our nutrition problems. It may be as common as broccoli or more often some unusual tropical fruit that costs a fortune. In reality any food that is wholesome, fresh and full of nutrients is a superfood. Fruits and vegetables – broccoli, apples, prunes, berries, carrots, cabbage, etc. Nuts and seeds, peas and beans and even an egg is a superfood as far as nutrient content goes. Though you should not eat more than maybe 4 or 5 eggs a week.
You don’t need to spend a fortune or chase after some overpriced berry to have a healthy nutritious diet. The Nutrition Diet is one way of following a healthy diet and making nutrient content the basis of your diet. Even the experts are getting on the nutrition food bandwagon. Michelin starred chefs are producing nutritionally balanced dishes in their top restaurants – gourmet health food as they put it. (At a price). This is good news and good to see that I am not the only one promoting nutrition as the basis of diet. But if you can’t afford to eat at a michelin starred restaurant you can still do simple things that enhance the nutrient content of your diet with your own superfoods.
When you have soup add a handful of chopped coriander or parsley for added nutrients. Do the same with pizza or pasta, sprinkling the herbs on the top. The herbal and medicinal benefits of garlic can be gained by adding finely chopped raw garlic to vegetables, especially tasty when sprinkled on broccoli or brussel sprouts – also superfoods.
More sprinkles – this time seeds – sunflower, pumkin, sesame, etc added to salads and breakfast cereals. Also add seeds and raisins to coleslaw.
Save your vitamins from cooking vegetables by using the water used to cook the vegetables. Make soup or gravy with it or even cook your pasta in the vegetable water. The pasta will absorb some of the vitamins in the water.
Another way to add nutrients to a dish is to use spinach or even rocket as an extra to pasta dishes. While cooking your pasta, chop the spinach or rocket roughly and add to the boiling pasta. Some of the nutrients from the greenery will be absorbed and when you drain the pasta you have tasty pieces of greenery mixed with the pasta.
What else – add a squeeze of lemon juice to your glass of water, grate a little fresh ginger into your tea. Use your imagination and your own ideas to add nutrient quality to your food and make your own superfoods at little extra cost.
As you know I go on about eating more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Eating more raw foods is one way of getting more nutrition from your diet. Most fruit is eaten raw and then there are salads – the limit of most peoples raw vegetable experience. But other vegetables are also tasty raw and can be added to any meal or salad. Cauliflower is crisp and sweet raw and nothing like its boiled version. Then of course there is carrot either grated or cut into sticks. The white of leeks is also tasty and succulent chopped on salad. Beetroot and turnip can also be grated raw onto you salad leaves and then of course there are the herbs - parsley, basil, coriander etc.
So as you can see taking more raw foods is not difficult and you also add variety to a meal which is also important for getting a wider variety of nutrients. More fruit and vegetables are also good for your health. Just this week a report from a Canadian study showed that more fruit and vegetables in your diet can weaken the effects of faulty genes that cause illness. Healthy foods apparently modify genetic code variants that would otherwise increase the risk of heart disease. The scientists analysed DNA of 27000 people from a variety of backgrounds looked at their dietary habits in relation to heart disease.
It is not just the faulty genes that may cause heart disease that may be corrected by a healthier diet. There is a new field of epigenetics – the study of how our genes react to our behaviour, including diet and lifestyle. Epigenetics plays an important role in mediating between nutrition and the ensuing phenotypic changes throughout our life and seem to be partly responsible for biological changes that occur during aging. Recent studies indicate that because nutrition modulates epigenetic events associated with disease (e.g. cancer, diabetes) there is in theory a link between nutrition and a longer life. Nutrition has a strong impact on these epigentic processes and therefore has a role in health. Just type in google – epigenetics and nutrition for more infomation, though some of it is a bit scientific.
It now seems that what we eat affects our genes and we also inherit the affects of what our parents ate. But this need not be permanent and if a parent had heart disease or cancer and you inherit the faulty gene that causes the problem you don’t have to think that you will also inherit the illness. The problem need not be permanent. As the new study by the Canadian scientists shows, your faulty genes can be corrected by diet. It appears that we can control the health of our genes and diet can correct and control genes that are not working properly. Nutrients and bio active food components can influence epigenetic phenomena. No doubt there will be more on this in the future as more studies follow.
Once again it shows the importance of healthy nutritious food in a wide and varied diet together with a healthier lifestyle including more exercise. As I said at the beginning eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and as wide a variety as possible which you can do without much planning or changes to your existing diet. There is plenty of information on a nutrition diet and tips on how to vary your diet in my book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book which is available totally free as a download from www.obooko.com (under heading Health and Self Improvement.)
When it comes to eating healthy and enjoying a healthier lifestyle, it is hard to overstate the importance of fibre in the diet. Even though fibre is most associated with grains, rice and breads, it is important to remember that fruits and vegetables also contain significant amounts of dietary fibre. In fact, the need for fibre is just one more reason to eat your fruits and vegetables every day.
In order to understand why dietary fiber is so important, it is a good idea to know what fibre is and what role it plays in digestion. Simply put, dietary fibre is the portion of food that the human body cannot digest. Fibre is found in foods of plant origin only; there is no fibre in meat and dairy products. Fibre plays an important role in the digestion of food, and in the elimination of waste products as they travel through the body.
Good sources of dietary fibre include grains, cereals, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. As we said before, meats and dairy products do not contain any dietary fibre, so it is important to eat some plant based foods ever day to get the fibre you need.
Not all fibre is the same, and fibre comes in two forms – soluble and insoluble. All plant materials contain both types of fibre, but some sources contain more of one than the other. Eating a variety of foods rich in fibre every day will ensure you get adequate levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre is important in keeping people regular, and it has shown promise as well in the prevention of some types of colon and rectal cancers. Insoluble fibre is mainly found in wheat brain, some types of vegetables and in whole grain products. Some vegetables rich in insoluble fibre include carrots, peas and broccoli. The skins of fruits are also rich in insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre, on the other hand, has shown promise in reducing levels of cholesterol in the blood, and at reducing the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream. Soluble fibre is abundant in dried peas, lentils, beans, barley, oat bran, and in many fruits and vegetables.
Many people are unsure just how much dietary fibre they need every day, but most dietitians recommend that women consume between 21 and 25 grams of dietary fibre per day. For men, the recommendation is 30 to 38 grams of fibre each day. Though this is still on the low side according to many experts.
Of course, that is easier said that done, and it is important to know which foods are high in fibre in order to boost your daily fibre consumption. In the case of packaged foods like breads and crackers, the fibre content will be listed as part of the nutritional label. In the case of fruits and vegetables, there are charts which show the fibre content of an average size piece. Some supermarkets and shops may post this information, and it is also widely available on the internet.
When increasing dietary fibre, it is best to make the increase gradual. A sudden jump in dietary fibre can lead to bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort. In addition, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, in order for fibre to have the best effect. When choosing breads and cereals, it is best to go with healthier whole grains. In general, the less processing, the healthier the foods.
Eating the skins of fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase dietary fibre. Many people like to make fruit shakes and smoothies that use the skins of their favorite fruits. This makes a delicious and nutritious way to increase fiber consumption. In addition, keeping a variety of fiber rich foods, such as apples, nuts, seeds and bran muffins, around for snacks is a great idea. You can find an easy to follow site with recipes at www.incrediblesmoothies.com
And finally, eating a wide variety of foods will ensure that you get plenty of fibre, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that make a balanced diet so important. My book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe book also advocates more fruit and vegetables in your diet and the book is available for free download at www.obooko.com (under heading Health and Self Improvement).