Navigating your way through the food fads and seemingly conflicting advice filling the airwaves, and your favourite magazines, is no easy task these days. The TV schedules are packed with every possible variation on the cooking programme theme, whilst the newspapers are full of scare stories about things that until recently we all thought were healthy!
Nevertheless, there is little doubt that diet is fundamental to your quality of life. We are not talking about going vegetarian, nor are we jumping on Jamie or Hugh’s latest bandwagon. However, simple changes to your diet can have some very positive impacts on your health and as a bonus you may be able to save some cash and the planet along the way.
In association with Bartons Group here is our recipe for some healthy eating this summer.
First of all, the science. According to sixtyandme.com, as we age, one of the most important contributors to our overall health is our diet. We are literally what we eat, and the foods and combinations we choose are totally in our control. Making simple food choices is especially true for women over 60, who have unique nutritional needs. We need to be sure that we nourish our aging bones, keep our hearts healthy and watch our blood pressure and weight.
Healthy living starts of course with the right attitude, and so a healthy, alert brain needs to be nourished as well. Add to that the basic principles of sourcing locally and eating fresh, smart and economically, and we will create strong bodies and minds that will allow us to be able to do all the things we have waited all our lives to do.
And according to everydayhealth.com men have a slightly different set of needs they say “If you want to know the secret to keeping your doctor’s visits at a minimum, look to your kitchen”. Unfortunately, as men get older, their chances of developing health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, high blood sugar, diabetes, and cancer increase. None of those conditions are inevitable, of course, but lifestyle habits — particularly how you eat — can make a huge difference in how healthy you remain.
Meanwhile familydoctor.org has excellent news about moderate wine consumption and the overall benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The change we know the most about is the Mediterranean diet. This way of eating emphasizes eating healthy fats (like those in olive oil, nuts, and avocados), ocean fish, whole grains, and vegetables. Wine in moderation is OK and healthy activity is part of the lifestyle. Less red meat, sugary treats, and other refined carbohydrates are on the menu. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and deaths from other causes by more than 50% in people 70 to 90 years old.
TV chefs can frequently be heard imploring us to eat seasonally. This is great advice but it can be hard to follow because supermarkets have trained us to expect every fruit and vegetable to be available all year round. If you get into the habit of checking where fruit and especially vegetables and salads are sourced from, it soon becomes clear what is in season in the UK and what has travelled thousands of air miles. Once you are in touch with the UK growing cycle you will automatically eat a variety of fresh food, grown in the UK which will add variety to your diet, save on polluting transport, support home growers and save money – those green beans flown in from Kenya have travelled thousands of expensive temperature controlled miles to get to you!
Foods like brown rice, wholemeal bread, lentils and pulses may have a worthy, whole food reputation but they are cheap, filling and incredibly good for you. High in fibre and low in additives and fats they are well worth trying out and adding to your repertoire. After all, pearl barley and split peas could not be more British if they tried. The first step to healthier eating is definitely to eat the healthiest versions of things you buy regularly. And even chocolate has a healthy option – according to Weight Watchers, good-quality dark chocolate provides a portion of the same health benefits of most leafy green vegetables. When enjoyed in small quantities, dark chocolate can help lower your blood pressure, increase circulation and prevent arteriosclerosis, all very important aspects if you are obese. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help reduce insulin resistance and prevent spikes in blood-sugar levels, discouraging you from overeating.
Here is a top tip. Try to support local butchers, bakers and greengrocers. Check if their wares are from local suppliers, and where possible support them by choosing the local produce. This is another step towards eating seasonally and reducing the environmental impact of food production. Shopping at one stop supermarkets is tempting but local shops are often very sociable and any additional costs will be more than compensated for because you will only come home with what you went for!
Cut out red meat
Just about every study on nutrition and its links to health – for all ages – recommends reducing the amount of red meat in your diet. This does not mean nut roast for Sunday lunch, or the end of gravy as we know it. Far from it, but what it does mean is not regarding red meat as a vital source of protein with every meal. Replacing red meat with fish, eggs, cheese or even chicken several times a week is an adjustment most people find very easy – it is just a state of mind!
Add some fibre
OK we are all a little tired of being told to eat more fibre. But here again we are only suggesting small changes – not a lifetime of all bran and brazil nuts. Changing from white bread to wholemeal and seeded loaves is a start. Replacing crisps with nuts and adding pulses and lentils to your meal planning are all a step in the right direction. Finally eating whole fruits rather than juice and increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables will help fix your fibre deficit.
Drink more water
Doctors advise adults to drink is 2 litres of water per day. Ideally this is still pure water and there is nothing wrong with tap water. It’s a daunting target at first, and it will mean a few extra trips to the loo but drinking plenty of water is one thing the experts agree on – and it’s as cheap as chips and better for you.
Most people that drink hot water as a holistic health remedy do so first thing in the morning or right before bed for optimal benefit to health. “Hot” water shouldn’t be scalding your taste buds. More specifically, water should be warmed to between 120°F and 140°F. Avoid exceeding temperatures of 160 degrees. Add a twist of lemon for a vitamin C boost and you’re already on your way to better health. And it doesn’t stop there, according to healthline.com “In addition to providing your body with the water it needs to replenish fluids, drinking hot water can improve your digestion, relieve congestion, and even make you feel more relaxed.” – what are you waiting for?
Change the habits of a lifetime
It’s never too late to do things differently. Why not choose this summer to make some adjustments to your diet – follow some of the advice above and enjoy the great combination of saving money, helping the environment and protecting your health.