By Kimberly Kushner BHSc (Naturopathy), BHSc (Nutritional Medicine) for Mandurah Health Supply
Below are some of my top health and wellness tips for everyday living. We often get bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information surrounding nutrition and wellness. I have simplified this for you below. Please note that not everybody is the same, and the tips included on here are for general health and wellbeing. This list is not exhaustive, nor does it take into account individual cases, or those which may involve multi-systemic diseases, chronic illness, or other complex health conditions. Some of you may require an individual assessment of your current state of health in order to determine what is best for you.
Eating a standard western diet is not ideal if you want to achieve optimal health, as it is high in processed food, sugar, and poor quality fats, it’s excessive in red meat, with minimal whole foods such as vegetables and fruit.
Look After Your Gut
First and foremost is gut health. This is crucial because by looking after your digestive system, more aspects of your overall health is able to fall into place. Your intestinal tract houses billions of bacteria which are very important for your overall health and not just local (digestive health). Our digestive tract is essentially exposed to all food and drinks that we put in our mouths, and does a lot more than just digest and assimilate nutrients.
More and more research is emerging regarding the role of digestive microflora and overall health, including their role in immunity, and even mental health. The brain-gut-microbiota axis is something that should not be ignored and addressing this is implicated in various disease states, including those that contribute towards mood regulation.
Gut bacteria also aids in:
- Digesting food and assimilating nutrients
- Synthesizing specific vitamins
- Enhancing the absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Balancing reproductive microflora in women
We should aim to eat a diet which supports the bacterial colony in our gut. Incorporating small amounts of fermented foods regularly can have a beneficial effect on your overall gut health. Start with as little as one teaspoon of fermented vegetables, building up gradually to a quarter or half a cup with meals. Do not attempt to begin with a large amount.
Consuming fermented non-alcoholic beverages are also good options for digestive health, with kefir and kombucha increasing in popularity. Kefir is a fermented milk drink, and kombucha is a fermented black-tea based beverage.
In addition to fermented foods, taking a good probiotic is advisable. Probiotics are good bacteria which work to ensure there is a balance between good and ‘bad’ bacteria in the intestinal tract.
- Foley’s Sauerkraut (Paleo, vegan and gluten free)
- Nature’s Goodness Kefir Turkish Yoghurt
- Healthy Essentials Dairy Free Probiotic 10-35 Billion
Consume Good Quality Fats
Healthy fats are essential for mental functioning and cognition, hormone synthesis, cell membrane integrity, cardiovascular health and more.
This means eating more of the following:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Organic butter and ghee
- Raw cacao butter
- Organic eggs
- Raw nuts and seeds (excluding peanuts)
Eat less of, or ideally, avoid:
- Refined vegetable oils, these are high in omega 6 fats and are highly inflammatory
- Seed based oils: sunflower, cottonseed, and canola
- Palm oil
- All trans-fats, which will be listed as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil.
Inflammatory oils and fats may predispose you to many diseases due to the induced oxidative damage. This is especially relevant in cardiovascular disease, where the inflammatory cascade is a major precursor to many cardiovascular events.
The standard western diet has a much higher ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats than what we should be consuming at approximately 10:1. If you find it challenging
to include more healthy fats into your diet, a supplement containing good quality essential fatty acids may be beneficial for you.
- Herbs of Gold Ultra Omega 3-6-9 which combines 3 different essential fatty acids to create a balanced blend.
- Herb of Gold Fish Oil 700
- Fusion OceanPure Fish oil, a high dose fish oil plus an antioxidant.
Avoid Sugar and Highly Refined Foods
Sugar is an addictive substance, with evidence showing that sugar and sweetness has the capability to induce thoughts of rewards and cravings similar to those brought on by addictive illicit drugs. When consuming excess much sugar, you could potentially disrupt multiple body systems. As examples, your digestive system, including your intestinal microflora could be negatively impacted by excess refined sugar. Sugar, which can create a highly inflammatory environment and trigger the inflammatory cascade can damage your cardiovascular system. Additionally, it is known that sugar is an endocrine disruptor and will wreak havoc on your hormones.
In addition to sugar, ensure you are reading labels to avoid anything containing high fructose corn syrup. It is also advisable to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which is a common ingredient in many sugar free beverages.
If you are finding it difficult to reduce your sugar intake, consider swapping sweeteners, as you begin to wean. Two to consider include:
- Monk fruit extract
Cinnamon is a wonderful aromatic herb with digestive properties. However, it also has the ability to balance blood sugar levels. Try including cinnamon into your food or beverages regularly in an aim to prevent blood sugar peaks and drops.
- Nirvana liquid stevia in honey flavour
- Nirvana stevia liquid concentrate
- Nature’s Goodness Cinnamomum Verum
- Planet Organic Cinnamomum Zeylanicum
Replacing Wheat With Less Inflammatory Grains
Wheat contains a protein compound called gluten, which can be highly inflammatory in many people. You do not have to be a Coeliac (an autoimmune disease involving extreme sensitivity to gluten), in order to be sensitive to wheat. In fact, clinically speaking, removing wheat from one’s diet almost always positively impacts a multitude of health conditions ranging from digestive, hormonal, mental and emotional. This may also be due to the fact that almost all foods which are wheat-based, are usually refined and/or processed, and are eaten in larger quantities. By omitting a bulk of your processed and/or refined food intake, it makes room for whole foods to be incorporated into your diet.
Incorporate the following grains into your diet instead of wheat:
If you enjoy making baked goods, substitute wheat flour with buckwheat flour, a far less refined, less inflammatory, and gluten free option.
- Kialla Pure Foods Organic Buckwheat Flour
- Kialla Pure Foods Organic Buckwheat Kernels