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    News — #immunehealth

    Tips for Restoring & Strengthening Your Gut Microbiome

     

     

     

    When we talk about “gut microbiome”, we’re referring to the millions of microorganisms that inhabit our gut, or our gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, each microbiome is unique and contributes to different health benefits and that’s why a rich and diverse gut microbiome is incredibly important for overall health. However, there are different factors that can influence the diversity and density of our gut bacteria, including stress, lifestyle and environmental factors, excessive alcohol consumption, food allergies, antibiotic usage and artificial sweeteners.

    The health of our gut is deeply connected to our hormone levels, brain health, skin health, metabolism, body weight, immune system and mood. In fact, researchers continue to find remarkable links between a diverse gut microbiome and certain illnesses and diseases, including cancer, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and depression.

    Although we know that diet is not the only factor that contributes to good gut health, research has shown that it is incredibly important. The more diverse your diet, the more diverse the nutrient supply is to your gut microbiomes.

    Happy and well-fed gut microbiomes = a happier and healthier gut!

    Here are a few key things you can do every day to optimize your gut microbiome:

    👉 Incorporate prebiotics (apples, almonds, chicory root, asparagus, legumes, onions, raw garlic, cabbage).

    Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and discourage dysbiotic growth (pathogenic bacteria). 

    👉 Incorporate probiotics (yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, tempeh)

    👉 Eat the rainbow

    Have as many different varieties and colours of fruits and veggies that you love over the course of the day.

    👉 Eat foods rich in polyphenols (blueberries, green tea, broccoli, grapes, olive oil)

    👉 Drink teas that are good for your gut (e.g. liquorice root tea, fennel tea, green tea)

    👉 Avoid GMOs

    👉 Plan your meals ahead of time, or stock your freezer with healthy prepared meals. Click here to order.  

    👉 Avoid endocrine disruptors

    Some endocrine disrupters include air pollutants, BPA’s, pesticides, parabens, mercury and phthalates. Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals has been shown to disrupt the gut microbiome, which may result in dysbiosis.

    👉 Minimise unnecessary antibiotics

    👉 Decrease stress and have good sleep hygiene

     

    Responsible health advice: There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition or the healing properties of food.  If you are unwell please seek professional advice.
    References:
    Gálvez-Ontiveros, Y., Páez, S., Monteagudo, C., & Rivas, A. (2020). Endocrine Disruptors in Food: Impact on Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Diseases. Nutrients12(4), 1158. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041158

     

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness

    New 2021 Meta-Analysis: Fried-Food Consumption is Linked with an Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke

     

     

    A new meta-analysis of 17 observational studies, involving a total of 562,455 participants and 36,727 major cardiovascular “events” has found a significant connection between fried-food consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

    The analysis, which was recently published in the Journal Heart, discovered that with every 114 weekly serving (that’s a medium McDonald’s fries), the risk of cardiovascular disease rose by 3%, 2% and 12%, respectively.

    Compared with the participants who were consuming the lowest amount of weekly fried foods, the participants with the highest intake had a 28% heightened risk of major cardiovascular events, a 22% increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 37% increased risk of heart failure.

    The problem with fried-foods

    Frying means cooking food in hot fat, usually some kind of oil. This significantly increases the energy and fat content of the food, and generates harmful trans-fatty acids from the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which are often used in restaurant deep fryers. A diet high in trans-fat has been known to increase your risk of heart disease and contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.

    The process of frying also requires considerable high temperatures, which causes changes in the vitamin and antioxidant content of the food, and generates carcinogenic compounds, which have proven to be harmful to our health.

    Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is currently the leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths. The strength of current research and evidence highlights the importance of healthy dietary patterns and lifestyles for the prevention of CHD and stroke. A healthy balanced diet that contains no to minimal fried-foods will play an important role in the management of crucial risk factors of CHD such as diabetes, hypertension and excess weight. 

    We promote a healthy balanced diet with our nutritious and wholesome ready-made meals. Our meals are rich in whole foods, nutrients, bioactive compounds and antioxidants. They contain low sodium, and no processed sugars, preservatives or additives. Our meals contain no processed or fried foods, and we use minimal oil in our cooking (typically extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil for our Asian dishes).

    Find out more about us here.

     

    References:
    Pei Qin et al. Fried-food consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Heart, 2021; heartjnl-2020-317883 DOI: 10.1136/heartjnl-2020-317883

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness

    Onion and Garlic-Free Flavours (for a low FODMAP diet)

     

    If you’ve just started your low FODMAP journey and you think it sounds bland and uninteresting, think again! The truth is that you can still have delicious, varied and flavourful food while managing your digestive symptoms. There are so many amazing tummy-friendly flavours that you can use to give your dish an extra boost of deliciousness.

    Let’s take a look at how to increase flavour on a low FODMAP diet:

    1. Herbs (e.g. parsley, coriander, thyme, basil and rosemary) – most herbs are low FODMAP and you can use them fresh or dried. Chives are also great for adding a mild onion flavour to dishes.

    2. Spices – single spices like cumin, coriander or turmeric are great. If you’re keen on spice mixes, watch out for onion and garlic powder in the ingredients list. Cinnamon is a great spice favourite to have on hand to add to smoothies or breakfast oatmeal. Asafoetida powder is an Indian spice that adds depth and an onion-garlic flavour to curries and stews (it’s especially great in vegetarian dishes and you only need a tiny pinch). Ginger (fresh or dried) is amazing to add to soups, sauces, stir fries or even oatmeal for a warming flavour hit.

    3. Fennel bulb – adds flavour and replaces the texture of onion in soups or stews. Fennel bulb is FODMAP-friendly at ½ cup serves, and also contains lots of prebiotics for gut health. Win-Win!

    4. Nutritional yeast flakes are an incredible pantry stable. Add to sauces, mix with popcorn or sprinkle on top of pasta for an added cheesy flavour. We love to use it in our homemade vegan pesto sauce, which we then mix through gluten free pasta with chicken, zucchini and sundried tomatoes for the ultimate low FODMAP dish full of flavour.

    5. Spring onions (green part only). Top tip: place the white bulbs in a glass of water near a sunny window and the green leaves will grow back.

    6. Fresh lemon or lime juice – a little squeeze of sourness can contribute to an incredible balance of flavours in a dish. We love to add a squeeze of lemon to our herb quinoa and serve it with our low FODMAP Roast Lamb with Aubergine and Tomatoes with a drizzle of Tahini Dressing.

    7. Garlic-infused olive oil – because the fructans in onion and garlic are water-soluble and not oil-soluble, garlic-infused olive oil is a safe low FODMAP option for extra flavour and aroma. If you don’t have infused oil on hand, another option is to cook large chunks of onion/garlic in olive oil and then remove them. This gives you extra flavour without the FODMAP’s.

    8. Miso paste (<2tbsp)

    9. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce (max 2tbsp per dish)

    10. Homemade salad dressing (e.g. with balsamic or olive oil)

    11. Salt and pepper – only a small amount of salt is needed to bring out the flavour of food (if you have high blood pressure or need to limit sodium seek help from your health professional).

    12. Maple syrup (real, not flavoured)

    We hope this list has reassured you that you can still eat tasty foods even if you have food intolerances. In the Wholesomeness kitchen we pack our low FODMAP meals full of flavour, and bursting with super food ingredients. That’s why our low FODMAP meals are super popular among our customers. Check out our low FODMAP plan here.

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness

    10 Practical Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

     

    Holidays are usually a busy time of the year, with lots of family gatherings, Christmas get-togethers and holiday traditions. Just because your schedule might seem a little more “full” than usual and your routine may be out of whack, it doesn’t mean that you have to kiss your healthy lifestyle goodbye! Sure, being surrounded by yummy holiday sweets and treats for a whole month can make it easy for your healthy habits to slip, but keeping your goals on track during the holidays is doable (with a little flexibility, which is absolute key. Click here to read our latest article on 3 healthy mindset changes to make during the holidays).

    We’ve put together 10 practical tips that will help to keep your healthy habits on track this Christmas season. 

    1. Be prepared. Prep ahead of the holiday season so that your house is filled with yummy wonderful healthy options. If you’re strapped for time, order a box of freezer-friendly Wholesomeness meals to set you up for success before the busy holiday season starts.

    2. Eat before you go. This is a great tip to avoid turning up to a celebration ravenously starving, ready to devour anything in sight. Make a quick smoothie at home beforehand or grab a Wholesomeness snack from your freezer for a nutritious pick-me-up.

    3. Be a great guest. Be a great party guest and bring a plate of something yummy and healthy that you made at home (like a huge salad or a delicious grazing plate with homemade dip and veggie sticks). That way, you’ll know for sure that there will something healthy to eat while you’re there.

    4. Load up on greens. If you see a salad or veggies at your holiday party, go for it. There will be probably be lots of other yummy things that you want to conquer first but eating a salad or veggies first will be best for your digestion and you’ll fill yourself up a little bit before going for everything else!

    5. Avoid fried foods. Skip the high-fat fried foods and go for the lighter options.

    6. Avoid heavy and creamy sauces. Avoid the heavy sauces and opt for the lighter options on offer – it will be better for your digestion and you’ll feel better after the meal too.

    7. Hydrate properly. Opt for a drink of water first, to support your digestion and prevent the dreaded “post-Christmas dinner” headache.

    8. Chew your food slowly and carefully. Use your senses to enjoy your food (taste, smell, touch, sight). Break your food down slowly with your teeth. When we eat fast there’s no time for our stomach to signal our brain that we are full, so try to pace yourself, chew your food and give enough time for your body to send you those hunger/fullness signals.

    9. Add a side of berries to your plate. Adding a cup of antioxidant-rich berries (e.g. strawberries or blueberries) to your meal helps to maintain a healthy oxidative balance, which helps counteract the negative effects of an unhealthy meal (check out our article on this here).

    10. Create your own gym wherever you are. This is especially relevant during the current Covid times, so many of you may already be pros at this! Even just walking up and down your stairs a few more times every day, picking up things/squatting, or dancing to some holiday music can be beneficial!

    How do you stay healthy during the holidays?

    Supercharge Your Brain Function with these 4 Powerful Plant Foods

     

    We know that our diets play a significant role in our overall health and wellbeing, but did you know that there is also a powerful link that exists between the food we eat and our brain health? 

    Recent research in the last decade has shed light on the incredible benefits of certain foods that are rich in plant phytochemicals on aspects of brain function, for example sharpness, mood, memory and critical thinking.

    Because oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation are major risk factors for cognitive decline, nutrient-dense, brain-supporting plant compounds play an important role in helping to supercharge our brain function and rewire it into high performance mode. Eating a diet rich in nourishing brain foods also helps to eliminate brain fog, protect against brain diseases and balance out neurotransmitters (which influences other parts of our health as well).

    So if you’re looking for a mood-boost, better focus, or a little extra sharpness, try reaching for these snacks instead…

    Blueberries

    Blueberries and other berries like strawberries, raspberries and goji berries are jam-packed with protective antioxidants and flavonoids. A 2010 randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled trial found that when older adults consumed 1 cup of blueberries per day they experienced significant improvements in certain aspects of cognition, for example long-term memory. A few years later, a study found cognitive performance improvements across all measures in children, even just a few hours after consuming a blueberry meal.

    Walnuts

    Walnuts are bursting with ALA, the omega 3 fatty acid and super-antioxidant that works to scavenge free-radicals and repair and protect cell membranes in the brain. A study among college students in 2011 revealed that regular consumption of walnuts had a significant improvement on inference capacity, or critical thinking.

    Grapes

    Grapes are an amazing source of vitamins K and C (important nutrients for tissue health), resveratrol (a powerful anti-inflammatory plant compound) and antioxidants. In fact, the majority of antioxidants in grapes are actually found in the skin and seeds of the grape. Research has found that the consumption of grapes can influence performance across a wide range of tasks, in particular quicker response times.

    Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)

    A small bowl of green veggies may not be the most sought-after snack, but benefits to brain performance could definitely be worth it…According to one recent study, consumers of cruciferous vegetables were found to perform better in several cognitive tests than non-consumers. Cruciferous veggies as well as other dark green leafy vegetables are natural superstars in the nutrition department because they’re literally bursting with healthy nutrients and vitamins. In fact, ½ a cup of kale has 50 times more lutein than an egg (lutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid that has been found to have an incredibly powerful role in neutralizing free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and lowering inflammation). Whenever we get the chance, we pack our meals with some brain-boosting green veggies, making them the perfect work lunch to support your brain for a productive and supercharged work afternoon J

    References:

    Lamport DJ, Lawton CL, Merat N, Jamson H, Myrissa K, Hofman D, Chadwick HK, Quadt F, Wightman JD, Dye L. Concord grape juice, cognitive function, and driving performance: a 12-wk, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial in mothers of preteen children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):775-83. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.114553. Epub 2016 Feb 10. PMID: 26864371.
    Miller MG, Hamilton DA, Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B. Dietary blueberry improves cognition among older adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Apr;57(3):1169-1180. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1400-8. Epub 2017 Mar 10. PMID: 28283823.
    Pribis P, Bailey RN, Russell AA, Kilsby MA, Hernandez M, Craig WJ, Grajales T, Shavlik DJ, Sabatè J. Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults. Br J Nutr. 2012 May;107(9):1393-401. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511004302. Epub 2011 Sep 19. PMID: 21923981.
    Whyte AR, Schafer G, Williams CM. Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Sep;55(6):2151-62. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-1029-4. Epub 2015 Oct 5. PMID: 26437830.