Nutrition - Back to Basics summary

Tuesday 08 May 2018

I hope that the blogs on Back to Basics that I have written over the past few weeks have been useful to you. You now have information and tools to help you make positive changes to the way you eat and move forward.

So if we were to summarise and look at the fundamental messages from these blogs they would be:

1.To try or cut down on or avoid ‘simple sugars’, found in the sugar bowl, hidden sugar in processed foods and the sugar found in biscuits, puddings and confectionary. (note here that dark chocolate 70% or more cocoa solids appears to be good for us in moderation, so all is not lost!!!). In the blogs on sugar, I outlined the alternatives sweeteners that you can easily buy in the super markets that will sweeten food naturally but will have no or very little impact on blood sugar and insulin levels and consequently insulin growth factor (IGF1).

The Bottom line here. It is this fact that research has found that one of the main problems associated with diet, health and chronic disease, including cancer is the release of Insulin Growth like Factor that encourages cells to grow.

2. Sugar producing foods When considering sugar remember that not all foods that produce sugar during digestion are unhealthy. I also explained the very positive benefits of eating these foods as part of a healthy balanced diet, from being rich in B vitamins needed by the immune system, they are high in fibre to keep bowels functioning well and they also help to keep blood sugar stable. My favourite grain is quinoa, simply because it is so high in protein as well as important minerals like magnesium and calcium and it is very versatile. On that particular blog I posted a very comforting recipe using quinoa, Quinoa couscous. It is simple and can be used warm or cold for a light meal or breakfast.
The bottom line here is to include these wholegrain foods daily making ¼ to a 1/3rd of your plate from them.

3.  Fats Moving on I spent 2 weeks looking at fats which ones are beneficial and which to avoid. So many people think that fats are bad for us and should be avoided least of all because they think they are fattening. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some fats are very essential as they have vital roles to play in our health. The essential fats omega 3, 6 and 9 are called essential simply because we cannot make them ourselves and have to rely on food sources to get them. I always focus most of my attention on Omega 3 simply because it is found in such few foods and research on cancer and diet has shown how beneficial it can be from reducing pain and inflammation to helping to stop the spread of cancer.
The bottom line is to make an effort to include foods rich in omega 3 regularly in the diet either from oily types of fish or walnuts and pumpkin and flax seeds, their oils and butters.

Many people consider an omega 3 supplement. If you do decide that this is the way to go then when you buy the supplement first of all make sure that it carries the logo ‘Friends of the Sea’, This will show that it is from sustainably fish stocks. Also the strength of the capsule is important. On the side of the supplement box or jar you will see the initials EPA and DHA. It is important that the DHA is 200mg or more and that the EPA is 300mg or more per capsule. This will make it a useful product. If you cannot tolerate fish or the oil then a flax seed oil supplement would an alternative. The conversion in the body to the beneficial compounds we gain from eating omega 3 is not as readily available from flax seeds like it is from fish oils but still useful.

4. Then of course we must consider the fresh fruits and vegetables. These should make up at least 50% if not 60% of your total food intake per day or 8-10 portions a day. Every book that you read or every article ever produced on healthy eating says the same.

I like to challenge people to spend a few more minutes in the vegetable aisle of the supermarket to look laterally at the fresh fruits and vegetables and to buy one or two that they have never used or at least not for a long time and to buy them and have a go. I do know that we can easily get into a rut buying the same familiar ones, which is not necessarily a bad thing but variety and colour is important. I quite often make a ratatouille as this uses courgettes, aubergines, red onions, peppers and tomatoes. It can be spiced up or have added herbs and is very versatile, hot or cold with rice or over a baked potato or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken or simply with a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas added. It can be made in bulk as it freezes well. I have added a recipe at the end.

The bottom line here is to try and include colour and variety in your choice and consider the seasons when the produce will be fresher and at its peak nutritionally.

5.     Finally I looked at protein and how important it is in our diet. Apart from the traditional protein foods like meats, fish and eggs I made a point of looking at vegetable sources of protein like peas, beans and lentils as these types of protein are easier to digest and many books about diet and cancer feel that to lean towards a more vegetarian diet is a plus . It is important to realise the importance of protein and to try and include some at every meal time and snack time. The blog will give ideas of how this can be achieved. Following on from the blog on protein I did spend time emphasising the role of protein powders because I feel that they have an important role particularly in circumstances when

appetites are poor or for someone trying to build up or arrest weight loss.

The bottom line is that it is important to try and include some form of protein at every meal and snack. I have given ideas of how this can be achieved in the blog.

Every little helps
It is important to remember that any positive changes that you make to the way that you eat however small they seem, will have a very positive impact on your health. It could be as simple as increasing the amount of vegetables in your diet or deciding to have some days in the week that are meat free. Changes do not have to be done all at once or involve huge sweeping gestures. In fact the slow approach at a pace to suit you is always the best way as they tend to be more sustainable.

4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onion peeled and sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 green peppers cored deseeded and sliced.
1 aubergine diced
2 courgettes sliced
8 tomatoes skinned and chopped
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp of parsley
½ tsp of dried dill.
4 tbsps of white wine or vegetable stock

1.Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic till soft.
2.Add all the other ingredients, cover the pan and simmer for 45 mins or until the veg are tender. Stir occasionally.
3.Serve or cool and freeze in portions.

Note any herbs or spices can be used to flavour the dish or simply serve it plain because the vegetables have a lovely flavour.

Blog originally written by Caroline  April 2014

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