Functional food brand, Futurelife together with well being site, HealthInSite have been hard at work putting together the South African Health Review. Over 6000 participants from different walks of life formed part of the sample, in which the researchers aimed to to find the correlation between healthy behaviour and multiple healthy habits. I’d love to get a copy of the review to read the full report and findings, but for now I’d like to share some tips and tricks that Futurelife Dietician Lara De Santana has put together. The purpose of these tips is to ensure that healthier nutrition can improve one’s lifestyle significantly.
· Choose dairy – Not only is dairy a great source of protein and low GI carbohydrates (making for a great snack on the go, effective for weight management and even a post-exercise recovery meal), it also contains tryptophan, which as it is metabolized is converted to mood-boosting serotonin. Plus, its calcium, magnesium and potassium content may help keep blood pressure down. Yoghurt is also a great option as its’ added probiotics aid in gut health and therefore immune support. Futurelife High Protein and Futurelife Zero already contain a milk powder, ensuring that you get the benefits of dairy but keep in mind that the entire range can be enjoyed with milk or yoghurt too.
· Sip a cup of tea – Great for de-stressing: Studies show that drinking black tea four times a day for six weeks lowered the stress hormone cortisol. Green tea, packed with theanine, can also help by increasing the brain’s output of relaxation-inducing alpha waves and reducing the output of tension-making beta waves. Many of these teas also provide antioxidants and can contribute to your daily fluid quota.
· Sit in the sun – seems simple enough in South Africa, but truthfully many people especially those in office jobs and the elderly, don’t always get enough Vitamin D. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine three times weekly is enough to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D. The sun needs to shine on the skin of your face, arms, back, or legs (without sunscreen). To reduce risk of skin cancer, use sunblock after a few minutes and all other times when exposed to sunlight.
· Read your labels – South African labelling legislation forces food companies to divulge all their contents on their labels and yet many of us don’t know what we’re looking for. When comparing products always compare 100g of one product to 100g of another and check how many servings are in a pack so you don’t overindulge. Remember that the ingredient list goes in descending order, so the first ingredient is the one that is the most prominent in the product.
· Choose seasonal fruit and veg – it is always a better decision to choose local and seasonal produce as it is fresher, tastes better, preserves more nutritional value and is of course cheaper.
· Keep the Perfect Refrigerator – don’t store what you know you shouldn’t be eating. Keep all your healthy options at the front of the fridge for easy access and all your ‘treats’ out of sight. If you see it you’re more likely to eat.
· Get a combination of fibres – in actual fact you get both Soluble and Insoluble fibres. Soluble fibre dissolves in water while Insoluble fibre does not. Soluble fibres attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion, making you feel full, may have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity and can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol. Examples include: lentils and apples. Insoluble fibres have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. They pass through the digestive system relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food through your gut. They are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables.
· Eat foods high in antioxidants – There is a growing body of research surrounding anti-oxidants and there are several different types of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients being one of them. Food and drinks such as red wine, chocolate, tomatoes, tea and green leafy vegetables are only a few of the numerous sources of antioxidants. The benefits of anti-oxidants are extensive and range from anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, gastro-intestinal, cognitive (brain), reproductive, hormonal, prostate, liver and skin health. It is therefore clear why these anti-oxidants are common ingredients in functional foods.
· Include Sterols and Sterolins in your diet– these essential micronutrients exist in very small amounts in nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables and natural oils. They are fat molecules that have been shown through 20 years of clinical trials to have a significant effect on restoring the balance of the immune system when it is suppressed or disrupted. They have also been found to have a cholesterol lowering effect.