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5 Simple Food Swaps for a Healthier You in 2024

Build your meals with plants first

Make sure you’re eating at least one plant with every meal. Plants include whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices.


Aim to eat 30 different plants a week

We need variety for our gut microbiome but also for that to eat the rainbow effect that we have spoken about so often. In order to get polyphenols, flavonoids, and the micronutrients we need for metabolism, for hormones, enzymes and antibody production.  We now know that your gut bacteria need a variety of fibre to thrive so you can’t just rely on the same foods day in and day out.


Try to eat more fermented foods

With recent studies looking at how fermented foods can affect everything from our gut health and immune system to our cholesterol levels and risk of type 2 diabetes, fermented foods are back in vogue. Eating 3-5 portions of fermented foods regularly is linked to improved health outcomes.

Different fermented foods contain different types and strains of beneficial bacteria, which contribute to a more diverse and healthy microbiome. Some examples include live yoghurt (unsweetened), kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.’


Add seeds to everything

Incorporating seeds into your diet can significantly boost its nutritional value.


Snack on nuts once per day

Nuts contain micronutrients such as selenium, zinc and magnesium which are harder to find elsewhere in the diet. They are also full of fibre and protein so are great for keeping you full between meals. I recommend to my patients to set an alarm for a 3-4 pm snack, so they have something before they get too hungry and can’t resist the biscuits in the office.


Eat Slowly 

Digestion begins with our senses and in our mouth, and when we miss this crucial stage of digestion – whether it is because we are shovelling in our food quickly between meetings, distracted by our phones, or eating whilst we work – we might be left with bloating and indigestion.’


Hydration 

Water is fundamental for bodily functions such as digestion, absorption of nutrients, circulation, temperature regulation, and toxin removal. Adequate hydration supports these processes, keeping the body functioning efficiently.



Hack your Hormones 

In December, just a few weeks ago we spoke at length about hormone hacking for wellness. DOSE for mood-boosting effects from food. I believe this is going to be one of the biggest food and wellness trends in 2024 . 

We are learning so much more about perimenopause, nourishment during the phases of menstrual cycles, and menopause. Choosing foods to support us during these phases is so important for wellness. 

Then on any given day for males or females certain hormones in imbalance can create strong physical cravings for satiety from high sugar, fat and salt foods. 

Cortisol is linked to stress levels, it is suggested in research that higher levels of cortisol are linked to storing fat in the body. So you can do all the right things about diet and food intake however if your adrenal glands are producing too much cortisol because you are stressed it is all in vain. So before we even begin to talk about food it is vital we look at food and diet and nutrition in a very holistic way for wellness. What can we do to reduce our stress levels  – we are never going to eliminate stress, nor should we –  but we can look at coping tools  –  sleep, MBSR ( mindful based stress reduction techniques like meditation, breath work, yoga) to help us cope and stay calm. 

 It is those persistent high cortisol levels that can be linked to ghrelin and leptin, the hormones linked to turning on and off appetite cues, letting us know when we are full or hungry, satiated or not. Leptin is often known as the satiety hormone . It is produced by fat cells and it is what signals the brain that it is time to stop eating. Sleep is really important in regulating leptin which regulates appetite. There is a natural supplement called veld grape which is marketed as a product to curb cravings, burn calories and reduce belly fat. High cortisol levels may rev up your appetite and lead to overeating and weight gain.

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