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It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

Mahatma Gandhi.

3 Simple Things That Will Change Your Health NOW

It can’t be November already? Not only has Winter come and gone, we are now in the last month of Spring.

This means hibernation is over and we are about to be thrust into that the blissful heat of Summer days, balmy nights spent having BBQs in the backyard or watching the sunset over the ocean while it’s still hot enough to bathe in the cool water. 

It’s the time of year where Christmas is fast approaching and we all need as much energy as possible to get us through the pre-celebration prep of battling for a parking space at the shopping centre, making sure there’s enough cutlery to serve the masses for Christmas lunch.

With all these thoughts beginning to surface in our minds, the last thing we need is for our health be thrown on the back burner, so here’s 3 simple things that you can start doing today that will help you to successfully take on the silly season.  

1. Eliminate soft drinks

We have all felt it, the craving that hits when you’re outside on a Summers day in Perth, the cooling sensation of an ice-cold bubbling beverage trickling down our throat but beware, this may be what your body wants but it is definitely NOT what your body needs. The list of baddies that are present within soft drinks is astronomical but let’s discuss the high levels of sugar first.

Not only can sugar affect teeth and gum health it promotes fatty acid and the lipids found in your blood to multiply and accumulate as fat throughout the body (5). There are a number of alarming additives that are present in soft drinks that should not be consumed by the human body such as Bisphenol A which is a hormone disruptor, Phosphoric Acid which impacts on how our body’s use calcium (which we need for healthy bones and teeth) and harmful sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup that contains no essential nutrients and is easily converted to fat (5).

The bubbles present in soft drinks are a combination of phosphoric acid and carbon dioxide which results in a very acidic environment. This level of acidity affects the sensitive lining of the digestive system organs as it passes through however its most negative impact is upon arrival into the stomach. This is where the soft drink competes with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach which is not good news for digestion.

If the levels of Hydrochloric acid in our stomach are compromised this is where we begin to see indigestion, gassiness and bloating (5).  Simple ways you can eliminate soft drinks is increasing the amount of water you have which will quench your thirst and leave your cravings at bay. If you want to spruce up your water, add ice and a slice of lemon.

Or you can get a bit more creative and whizz up a fresh smoothie. Smoothies make for a fantastic meal – they are so quick and easy to make and they are packed full of essential nutrients. 

And did I mention how delicious they are too?

2. Go green, baby!

An acidic body is not a happy or healthy one. The human body optimally operates at a slightly alkaline state which is maintain through our kidneys. Some of the signs of having too much acid in your body are feeling sluggish, heavy, feeling tired after a good night’s sleep or having cravings that get in the way of eating healthily (1).

When we eat too many acidic foods, the Kidneys have a hard time keeping up and they start to accumulate acid in our body. Our bodies can also become too acidic through lifestyle factors such as stress, toxins, pollution, tobacco, lack of sleep and medications (1). Eating diets high in animal products, refined foods and processed foods contribute to our pH levels becoming acidic.

So, easy ways that you can help to Alkalize your body is by following the 80/20 rule of eating Alkalising foods 80% of the time and acidic foods 20% of the time.

Alkalising foods to eat:

  • All Vegetables, especially when Green and Raw!
  • All Fruits e.g.  Melon, Apple, Berries, Grapes, Lemon (just be aware of the sugar content of some fruits – the higher the sugar content, the lower the Ph).
  • Leafy Greens e.g.  Spinach or Lettuce, Cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, Kale
  • Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Beets
  • Sprouts
  • Some Nuts & Seeds e.g. Coconut, Almonds, Chia, Sesame
  • Herbs/Spices e.g. Parsley, Ginger
  • Wheat and Barley Grass, Algae e.g.  Spirulina and Chlorella
  • Ancient Grains e.g.  Amaranth, Millet & Quinoa
  • Fresh Beans, Green Peas & Lima Beans

3. If you must have dessert, eat FRUIT

There is no denying now that consumption of sugar increases the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Science has proven that reducing the amount of sugar in one’s diet decreases weight and has a positive effect on body composition (2).

Gut health is important for all functions of the human body, now widely believed that the gut is a second brain. Sugar is a massive gut microbiome disrupter which means that sugar has a negative impact on our immune system, blood sugar levels, absorption of nutrition and calming our emotions. The world of sugar can be a confusing one so let me break it down for you:

  • Simple Sugars =  Sucrose -table sugars, Fructose -naturally occurring in fruits and veggies, Glucose – carbohydrates found naturally in whole foods or as sweeteners in processed foods
  • High- fructose corn syrup = artificial and is no good for us! 
  • Artificial sweeteners- often no calories and added to processed foods, extremely toxic and can delete our gut microbiome.
  • Natural sweeteners = these are the ones we should go for when wanting to add a little sweetness to our life.  Fruits are not only naturally sweet, but packed full of antioxidants, enzymes and minerals. You could also opt for small amounts of raw honey, maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar or organic stevia, in moderation.

Now that the weather is heating up, it’s the perfect time to indulge in fruit instead of the desserts you might typically grab for a quick burst sugar. Fruits are naturally low in fat and sodium and are jam packed with many essential nutrients such as potassium, fibre, vitamin C and folate. Apples (particularly Fuji- yum!), peaches, pears, plums and grapes are all in season and taste delicious all cut up together in a fruit salad. 

Even ice-cream can be made out of fresh fruits – like this Raw Banana Split. So easy and so delicious!

Don’t let the fact that Summer and Christmas are around the corner stress you to the core. If you start implementing these simple tips today you will have begun to prepare yourself for the silly season ahead in good spirits.


Written by Jemma Mackean, 2nd year Nutrition Student.

 

References

  1. Alena. (2016). The Why & How to Alkalize Your Body. Nutritiously. Retrieved from https://nutriciously.com/why-how-to-alkalize-your-body 
  2. Conlon, M. A., & Bird, A. R. (2014). The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health. Nutrients7(1), 17-44. doi:10.3390/nu7010017
  3. Lynch, R. (2017). MIND & BODY; gentle changes for the new year. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/docview/1856084638?accountid=10675
  4. Rippe, J. M., & Angelopoulos, T. J. (2016). Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients8(11), 697. doi:10.3390/nu8110697
  5. c Toxic Level of Soft Drinks and Sports Drink on Health Status. Retrieved from http://www.ijapbc.com/files/02-243.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0dxkj_7UtkoWbTtmsYivmlqwML4LqJiZgcTTvLjvLvncIw1LFpYoQ1mvM