Nutrition and health are hot topics. Newspapers and magazines need to fill their pages and so the latest health and nutrition studies are ripe for the picking. However, headlines that garner the most interest may be written based upon studies that are less than “gold standard”. The subject size may be so small that it renders the results interesting, perhaps, but not overly significant. Was the study a double blind randomized control trial study or merely observational? Who funded the study? These questions often go unanswered in the search for a catchy headline.
Don’t get too hung up on the latest nutrition fad or magazine article. There are three key evidence-based nutrition principles that can guide you to a healthier daily diet without the confusion.
# 1: Anti-inflammatory foods: How do you know if your food contains anti-inflammatory ingredients? Look for colour! The pigment in plants contain powerful anti-inflammatory agents. You want your plate to look like a rainbow. Eat from the entire colour spectrum. Enjoy plants with hues of red (tomatoes, peppers), blue (blueberries), green (bok choy, kale), orange (squashes and apricots), and purple (beets, radishes) is a great way to start. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines along with olive oil and walnuts round out the list of top anti-inflammatory foods.
#2: Blood sugar regulation: This is important. Sending your body on a daily roller coaster ride of rising and tumbling blood sugar and insulin can eventually lead to weight gain, obesity and even diabetes. What to do? Reduce processed grains and sugar products from your diet. That means white bread, potato chips, fluffy scones and muffins. Instead have a whole, intact grain or legume for your mealtime carbohydrate. Always fill half your plate with vegetables and ensure you are getting some healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds. Fats, fibre-rich grains and vegetables are all blood-sugar moderators and make a tasty meal to boot.
#3: Reducing oxidative stress: Oxidation is a normal part of our metabolism. However, if it gets out of control or if our bodies do not have sufficient anti-oxidants to quell the generation of free radicals, it can lead to cellular damage. Oxidative stress has been implicated in a host of health problems from wrinkles, to impaired immune system, heart disease and cancer. Oxidative stress can lead to chronic low energy levels as the body is in a constant state of repair. What to do? We want to make sure we are providing our bodies with a steady supply of natural anti-oxidants. Where do we find them? You guessed it, the plant world again. Fruit, vegetables and especially herbs and spices are loaded with antioxidants. Wild blueberries, prunes, cloves, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon are to name but a few. Grow a herb garden and be liberal with spices in your cooking. Your trillions of cells will thank you.
For an easy anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant punch try this nourishing turmeric and cinnamon tea.
Turmeric & Cinnamon Tea
- 4 cups of water
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp of cinnamon (or 2-3 cinnamon sticks)
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: squeeze of lemon
Bring four cups of water to a boil. Add the turmeric and cinnamon. Reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of black pepper to increase absorption of turmeric. Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup. Add lemon to taste.