We all know that we should be eating a bit more healthily, especially if we are watching our weight, but as a weight loss surgeon and consultant I bristle when people glibly say - 'well of course it's just a matter of eating a little more healthily and moving a little bit more'. They forget the huge contributing factors of willpower, time demands of everyday life and leading brands pushing out confusing health messages. Which is why I've put together a quick guide to some foods and tools which might just offer a helping hand when it comes to tackling health and weight in a simple and manageable way.
Nature's Prescription for Health & Weight loss
Avocado: Use it for: High Cholesterol
According to a recent study, consuming an avocado a day (as part of a moderate fat diet with 34% of calories from fat) could actually help to reduce your cholesterol. Whilst we know that avocados are high in fat, most of their fat content is 'monounsaturated, or 'good' fat, which has been found to help lower cholesterol, reduce risk of stroke and heart attack, and improve heart health in general.
Oily Fish: Use it for: Reduced Risk of Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes swelling, inflammation and stiffness in our joints, and is most common among the over 50s. But the good news is that we can reduce our risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis by eating just one serving of oily fish every week, according to a study from the Annals of Rheumatoid Diseases.
Beetroot Juice: Use it for: High Blood Pressure
Suffering with high blood pressure? According to a recent trial, just one glass of beetroot juice a day could help reduce blood pressure. The trial from the University of London, and funded by the British Heart Foundation, found that the high levels of nitrates in a glass of beetroot juice helped to relax and dilate blood vessels, and as a result, lowered the blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Almonds: Use it for: High Blood Pressure and heart disease
Once you have had your beetroot juice, consider a handful of almonds too! We all know that nuts can be a great source of protein and "good" fats, but many people steer clear of them because of their high calorie content. Well, not only do almonds actually have one of the lowest calorie contents of most nuts, but according to one study from Aston University, Birmingham, eating just 50g of almonds a day could help to reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow, and as a result could reduce your risk of heart disease too.
A Bowl of Porridge Use it for: Reduced risk of diabetes
As a rich source of fibre, those lovely porridge oats have been found to help in stabilising our blood sugar levels, and as a result, help prevent that mid-morning slump that leaves us reaching for the biscuit tin. They are also a great source of magnesium - a mineral that helps to regulate our insulin and glucose levels. And according to one study, if you combine your porridge oats with low-fat milk, you could help to lower your risk of diabetes! (Just don't add the sugar or syrup!).
Equipping Yourself to be Healthier
Like food, we are bombarded with quick-fix health promises from equipment brands too - so when I come across something that makes it just that bit easier to keep on track, I'm always keen to try it.
I swear by My Fitness Pal app for ensuring that my portions keep to a sensible size and that I am getting all the good stuff I need (though I don't always fill it in if I have tucked into a few bars of chocolate, I admit!). You don't have to use it every day - but it provides a reality check on how much you are actually eating (yes those nibbles of cheese when passing the fridge or the kids' leftovers really do count!). It also helps show your balance of nutrients - too little protein, too much sugar, not enough fibre? There's no hiding from it!
I love Dale Pinnock's cookery books as they provide great healthy recipes that are so simple to make. And cooking from scratch, as long as it's quick and easy to do, is the best way to ensure that our food doesn't contain those hidden nasties like excess salt and sugar found in so many ready meals.
Kinetik Health Sense Kit:
I have to be 100% convinced that a product will offer a real benefit before endorsing it - but this kit seems to fit well with my campaign to keep health simple. It provides weighing scales (and trying to help people keep a healthy weight is my job, of course!), an activity tracker (keeping active helps weight control but much more besides) and a blood pressure monitor.
1 in 4 of us adults have high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of stroke and heart disease. And that can mean premature death and disability. Problem is, 1 in 3 of those affected may not know, as it causes few symptoms. Those of us hitting 40 or above are entitled to a free health check at the GP's but a check at the local pharmacy or investing in a home monitor like that in the Kinetik Health Sense Kit may be worthwhile and can benefit others in the family too. If you want a bit more info first, check out my free health guide on their website KinetikWellbeing.com
And, of course, there are lots more free health & weight loss tips, as well as online programmes, at www.VavistaLife.com