Take charge of your food life

Our daily diet holds the answer to our overall well-being
Last Updated 07 August 2018, 07:15 IST

Nutrition simply means a way of life. With pure food, you reap myriad benefits — increased energy, better mood, an absence of disease, better performance, a slimmer body and a balanced life. What is pure food, you ask? It’s nothing but food that is fresh, seasonal, organic and as regional as possible.

Keep it pure

Eat foods that are made from the plant kingdom. Ideally, 40% of your food needs to be vegetables; 20% fats derived from nuts seeds, coconuts, ghee, etc; 20% from fruits and whole grains; and the rest from pulses, legumes, dairy, egg and fish. Adding healing herbs, spices and condiments to your food is a healthy idea. The cardinal rule of nutrition is to eat when you are hungry and not because you are tired, angry, stressed, or simply socialising. Basically, healthy eating is about making a conscious choice of feeding your body only with the best produce.

Always plan

The key to wholesome and nutritious diets is planning. Plan all your meals in advance. Choose regional, seasonal and organic options wherever possible. Do not stay hungry for long periods of time; eat at regular intervals. And drink plenty of water.

While a lot of people aspire for a fit and healthy body, not many realise that nutrition is as important — if not more — as exercising to achieve that goal. If you eat pure food, you will have the energy to put in those dedicated hours for exercise. Without the incorporation of a healthy diet, no fitness regime can bear fruit. What you eat before and after the workout will ensure whether your efforts yield the desired results or not.

Mind over matter

There’s absolute truth in the age-old saying “We are what we eat.” It is often observed that a smooth functioning of the gastrointestinal tract is linked to better mental health. Serotonin is a hormone produced chiefly in the digestive tract, which controls appetite, sleep patterns and moods. And serotonin production is influenced by ‘good bacteria’, which is found in probiotic food. It’s for this reason that patients suffering from anxiety and depression are given ample probiotics.

Sugar or carbohydrates are energy boosters and invariably lighten up your mood. Sugar works in the same fashion as a narcotic — large amounts can give you a ‘high’, which is followed by a ‘low’. Complete elimination of this food group will subsequently leave you feeling gloomy. Similarly, a multitude of herbs and spices are attributed to either calming down your nerves or stimulating your senses. In other words, nutrition plays a vital role in mental well-being.

Food can change the blueprint of your life. So, take charge of your food life and eat smart.

(The author is a lifestyle obesity disease consultant and nutritionist)

5 foods that can beat depression

Severe depression is linked to inflammation in the brain. To safeguard mental health by preventing and curing inflammation, nutrition is key. Exercise, relationships and sleep can be managed better if the limbic system (emotion centre) is nourished well with health-promoting foods.

Here are foods that can not only prevent depression but also keep anti-depressant pills at bay. The relationship between the gut and the brain is the most important factor to heal a broken brain.

1) Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, fenugreek and salad leaves prevent normal cells to reach the toxicity level preventing brain damage and safeguard the rest of the body from cancer or other chronic illnesses. Full of vitamins, iodine, magnesium and rich in phytonutrients, these help in the functioning of the brain. Pro and prebiotics in these leafy greens nourish the gut and heal the brain simultaneously.

2) Fruits, especially apples with all the fibre, iron and antioxidants, heal the body on a cellular level. Diabetic patients can consume an apple daily as it is a low GI fruit. All other fruits also help with vitamins and minerals and natural sugars which keep other supporting organs functioning well.

3) Seeds are rich sources of vegan and vegetarian omega-3 fatty acids. The good fat from seeds helps absorb the protective nutrients when eaten along with fruits and vegetables. A dose of seeds can prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

4) Walnut is the best brain food. Our brain is made up of 80% fat, no wonder this mood enhancer should be high on priority while picking nuts as a snack. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts support brain function and reduce symptoms of depression.

5) Onions contain antioxidant properties that can heal cellular damage. Traditionally eaten with every meal, onions reduce the risk of cancer and are mood boosters.

Payal Kothari

(The author is an integrative nutritionist & life coach)

(Published 07 August 2018, 07:15 IST)

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