As a nutritionist, I believe good health is our most significant asset. There is no point working for a new Mercedes if you’re too sick to enjoy the drive.
If I told you your life depended on healthy eating, would anything change? Here’s where everything gets interesting. There are no hard and fast rules that apply to everyone. We live different lifestyles, and possess different genotypes and phenotypes that will ultimately influence whether an illness develops.
Today’s food and beverage choices have a compounding effect on our future self. We may have a genetic predisposition to fluctuating blood sugars and an increased risk of developing diabetes. However, appropriate eating and living well may override this genetic tendency. Food and beverages exhibit enormous power on our hormones and brain signalling messages. They will either enhance health and the immune system or adversely affect it.
Long-term and regular consumption of inappropriate foods and beverages ultimately expedites the ageing process and encourages illness and disease. Respiratory disorders, bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart failure are just a few. Age spots, enhanced formation of wrinkles and dermatitis are others.
It’s not too late to prioritise your health.
Here are the necessities:
Consume far more vegetables than you think you need
Plant foods are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. The beautiful colour unique to each fruit and vegetable is a reminder of the goodness within. Antioxidants and phytochemicals are essential for our body’s coping mechanisms for everyday life and boosting the immune response.
Antioxidants act as filters that cleanse and purify our body. In the long term, plant food keeps our bowels healthy and reduces the risk of bowel and stomach cancers.
Plant food also moderates our blood sugar levels; good news for preventing type-2 diabetes. Diabetes may lead to neuropathy (damaged nerves), infection and eventually amputation of fingers and toes in serious cases.
Take caution with your snacks
The jury is undecided whether three meals a day, three meals and two snacks, or five small meals is the ideal. It really depends on your metabolism, physical fitness, lifestyle habits, age, genetic predispositions and current health status. However, irrespective of whether you consume one snack or three snacks a day, be careful with your choices.
A one-hour workout does not eliminate the damage of certain snacks. Nuts and seeds are great; yoghurt or kefir are too.
Vegetables make for nourishing snacks and, if you add a little hummus, tahini or avocado, it is a snack of champions. The vitamins and minerals will reduce your risk of those illnesses.
Monitor stress levels
If you are a frequent exerciser and consume wholesome foods most often, congratulations! You are doing brilliantly. However, the next piece of the puzzle is stress. High stress levels will override all the goodness achieved from food and physical activity. Seek help and learn strategies to control anxiety and stress.
» Sharon Brooks is a registered nutritionist and food scientist. www.facebook.com/sharonsnutritionaustralia
» 2014 National Diabetes Week is from July 13-19. For further information phone Diabetes Australia – Victoria on 1300 136 588 Monday to Friday from 8.30am-4.30pm or visit visit www.diabetesvic.org.au