One of the reasons I like Facebook is that it exposes me to random publications I would never normally read, for example I would not be an avid reader of the UK based Business Insider. That magazine and I would quite simply never cross paths. But this month up it popped on Facebook with a really interesting, well-balanced and well-researched article, which was titled ‘27 Health Tips that are actually backed up by Science’. The article was written by a medical student called Kris Gunnars, who has started a site called Authority Nutrition which promotes evidence based nutrition; the site has a team of contributors from medical backgrounds and contains a large number of interesting articles.
Here’s a synopsis of my top picks of these tips to get your summer started in a healthy and happy way!
‘Don’t drink sugary drinks’ – Drinking sugary drinks is going to drive up your blood sugar and pile on the pounds, because our brains don’t register liquid the way it does solid food so you end up with way more calories than you need. But here is the most important bit – ‘Keep in mind that fruit juices are almost as bad as soda in this regard. They contain just as much sugar, and the small amounts of antioxidants do NOT negate the harmful effects of the sugar’. Water is the best drink on a daily basis.
‘Eat Nuts’ – we have always said it – nuts are incredibly healthy despite (or perhaps because of!) being high in fats. They contain loads of minerals, vitamin E, fibre and have been shown to boost metabolism. They make a great snack food too.
‘Avoid Processed Foods’ – eat only real food that looks like real food. Ditch the frozen pizzas and don’t go to the ‘fast-food’ diner. ‘All the processed junk foods in the diet are the biggest reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before’. Come to Organico Cafe for Real Food instead!
‘Don’t fear coffee’ – I was pleased to read this one as I like my one cup a day. You do have to be aware of how caffeine affects you personally, but from a long-term health perspective, small amounts of caffeine is apparently OK. ‘Coffee is high in antioxidants, and studies show that coffee drinkers live longer, and have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and numerous other diseases’.
‘Take care of your gut with probiotics and fibre’ – I have written about this before and it’s likely I will again — fermented foods and probiotic-rich foods are a huge contributor to our gut health and therefore our health. We need to cultivate a taste for fermented foods; and we need to eat more fibre, which acts as food for our gut microflora. We need to pay attention to our digestion more and learn how to keep it in balance.
‘Drink some water, especially before meals’ – most of us know we feel better when we remember to drink water regularly; and apparently drinking half a litre of water drunk half an hour before a meal increased weight loss by 44 per cent. Sounds good!
‘Take vitamin D if you don’t get enough sun’ – in Ireland this is vitally important, and I would add ‘make sure you get sun on your bare skin (without sun cream) every day. Benefits of supplementing vitamin D include ‘improved bone health, increased strength, reduced symptoms of depression and a lower risk of cancer, to name a few. Vitamin D may also help you live longer!’ Hello, sunshine!
‘Eat fruits and vegetables’ – you basically can’t eat too much fruit and veg (potatoes don’t count as veg though!). It’s the fibre again – especially when you eat raw veg. good for your heart, good for your digestion and your gut flora, good for your weight, and again you will live longer!
‘Make sure to eat enough protein’ – (I would add – good quality protein, preferably organic or grass fed; preferably free ranging, preferably from healthy happy animals) but – don’t burn your meat. ‘The problems occur when meat is overcooked and burnt. This can lead to the formation of harmful compounds that raise the risk of cancer’. So eat some good quality meat but don’t overcook it.
‘Do some cardio, or just walk more’ – for both your physical and mental health. ‘It is particularly effective at reducing belly fat, the harmful type of fat that builds up around your organs’. Again, just what most of us need.
‘Use extra virgin Olive Oil’ – olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet according to Kris Gunnar. ‘Extra virgin olive oil leads to many beneficial effects on heart health, and people who consume olive oil have a much lower risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes’, as well as being loaded with powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation. And it’s delicious too.
‘Don’t fear saturated fat’ – the war on butter was a mistake! ‘New studies that included hundreds of thousands of people have shown that there is no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease’. Hello butter, goodbye margarine. Mmmm!
‘Avoid artificial Trans fats’ – theses are the real baddies, the fats we should have been wary of all along. ‘It is best to avoid them like the plague’. Strong words, but worth taking to heart.
‘Eat eggs, and don’t throw away the yolk’ – eggs are a superfood (although again I would add they have to be from happy hens, preferably fed on organic food but certainly not kept inside). ‘It is a myth that eggs are bad for you because of the cholesterol. Studies show that they have no effect on blood cholesterol in the majority of people’ says Gunnar, and furthermore he states that the yolk is where almost all the nutrients are found: ‘Telling people to throw away the yolk is among the worst pieces of advice in the history of nutrition’. So enjoy your eggs folks!
But – cut out the toast fingers (well, certainly the white toast). ‘Don’t eat a lot of refined carbohydrates’ is the advice from Gunnars, meaning don’t eat white bread, white pasta, or anything made with white flour. “Refined carbs have been highly processed, and have had all the fiber removed from them. They are low in nutrients (empty calories), and can be extremely harmful’. We say – try using whole spelt flour when you want a flour – not only is it whole and therefore has all the nutrients still in it but spelt is much more nutritious than more common wheats.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful. For more information or for the references used please see authoritynutrition.com. Oh, and join us @ organicobantry on Facebook!
Last note: We have an amazing evening coming up with April Danann, who is West Cork’s fermented foods expert. April makes her own vinegars, sourdough breads, fermented drinks, sauerkrauts, kefir and much more. To learn her secrets come along to our Fermented Foods workshop on June 9 in Organico Cafe (it will be upstairs in our new demo kitchen). Booking essential, give us a call on 027 55905 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a lovely June folks.