When it comes to health and wellbeing, go with your gut feeling!
A focus on gut health has exploded over the past decade. Cutting edge research has emerged connecting our gut, our food, and our physical activity to overall health and wellbeing. To help you maintain your health and wellbeing now and into retirement, here are three nutritional strategies.
Get enough fibre!
The recommended daily target of fibre is 30g for men, and 25g for women. Fibre is the indigestible part of plant foods that not only keeps our digestive system healthy, but also helps us to feel fuller for longer (meaning it helps curb those naughty 3pm cravings), and can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Fibre-rich foods include the fleshy part of fruit, vegetables and legumes, nuts and seeds, and grain foods such as rice, pasta and bread.
Tip: Sprinkle your favourite seeds onto a cold breakfast, have a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit for a snack, aim for a lunch or dinner plate that is full of colourful veggies, and fortify protein dishes with legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or beans.
Don’t be resistant to resistant starch
Resistant starches are types of fibre that resist digestion and reach the large intestine to feed good bacteria. They have been shown to lower blood sugar levels after meals, preserve the lining of our intestines, influence the production of immune cells, and boost the number of good bacteria. Foods rich in resistant starches are starchy plant foods, such as cooled and re-heated potatoes or rice, wholegrains, beans and legumes, and underripe bananas.
Tip: Cook some extra starchy vegetables at dinner and re-heat the next day for lunch, snack on an underripe banana, and choose unprocessed wholegrain breads and pastas.
Get out and about
Healthy body, healthy mind! Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand for overall health and wellbeing, therefore it’s key to make sure the changes you make are sustainable. Our busy lives often mean physical activity can get overlooked, while quick and easy food choices are in, resulting in an increased risk of lifestyle diseases. Aim for 30-60 minutes a day of light to moderate intensity exercise, or a more “bang for your buck” approach with 15-30 minutes of high intensity activity at least three days a week.
Tip: Find something you enjoy doing and can see yourself doing repeatedly at a time that works for you. Exercise before/after work, use lunch time to be social by walking with a friend or colleague, or establish some inter-department lunchtime sport games.
Remember, if we shift our focus onto what we should be eating, we won’t be too concerned with what we shouldn’t be eating. At every meal or snack, aim to regularly include colourful veggies, a protein component of either lean meat/poultry/fish and other seafood or legumes, and add some healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil.
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited L2 S&C