Top Tips - 5 Superfoods for Maximum Health
The Importance of Healthy Superfoods
As a nutritionist I’ve got my staple list of healthy superfoods that I try and include in my diet every day, just because I know they keep my overall health in tip top condition!
These five healthy superfoods are generally what I try and include in my consultation recommendations as well, so here goes. If you’re already having these great foods then well done! If not give them a try and see if they make a difference to your health.
Vitamin D is not something that immediately springs to mind when we talk about superfoods, and yes, technically I’m talking about a vitamin here so I’m getting quite specific.
But vitamin D is essential to the maintenance of our health. We get this from exposing or skin to the sun of course, but from October through to April the right wavelengths aren’t available for us to make it, so its estimated that around 40% of UK adults are deficient during those months.
It's difficult to get enough from food, and if you're overweight or dark skinned its even worse as you’re skin wont make as much or it wont get absorbed into the bloodstream. Vitamin D is actually a pro-hormone rather than a vitamin, and helps us fight infections, improves our immunity, repairs our DNA, and even helps with depression or low moods.
Many people supplement if they cant get enough Vitamin D from food, with an oral spray which should keep you topped up. NICE recommend 10 micrograms a day and its very cheap to buy in tablet or spray form.
Fermented foods might not be at the top of your shopping list at the moment, but they should be!
Having fermented foods in your diet is an incredible boost not only to your immunity, but also to your ability to lose weight. Fermented foods contain thousands of beneficial bacterial, which are essential for the body to metabolize food and keep your immune system working properly and they also provide significant amount of vitamins essential to health.
It’s like taking a more natural form of probiotic and the health benefits are numerous. Try some sauerkraut, kefir, natto, miso or kimchi, there are so many good fermented foods out there. Ensure you find a good brand that hasn’t had the bacteria pasteurised out of it, RAW do a good sauerkraut.
Is there anyone that has not heard about the miracle benefits of coconut oil? It's certainly deserving of a blog post all of its own. But why is it so good?
Coconut oil is mostly made up of MCT, a type of fat that is sent straight to the liver for processing and gives us instant accessible energy. It's medium chains are much easier for the body process, as opposed to vegetable oils that are long chain and hard for the body to use.It's actually very good at killing pathogens and bacteria, as well as being a great aid to tacking overgrowth of candida, due to its caprylic acid content. Pulsin's delicious Keto Bars and Vanilla Keto Protein Powder contain MCT oil for an added boost!
Use coconut oil for cooking as its higher smoke point means that it won’t break down and turn rancid or oxidise. Use in baking or just add to a hot chocolate or coffee for instant energy. My morning smoothies generally carry teaspoon of coconut oil, just to keep me going in the morning!
Organic Leafy Greens
This may seem obvious, but when did you actually eat a huge pile of just organic leafy greens or green veg, in its raw state? Probably a salad here and there, but eating good quantities of green food of the organic kind will do more for your gut that you can ever imagine.
These leafy green feeds your microbiome, and allow good bacteria to proliferate. 80% of our immunity resides in our gut, and if we’re going to maintain a good weight and a healthy body then having a happy gut is essential.
I love Michael Pollens quote:
'Eat some food, not much, mainly vegetables'
Seems so simple! A good place to start is to make sure you ramp up your green intake!
Omega 3 & 6
I get asked a lot about fats, the good kind and the bad kind. The 'essential' fats in our diet are called this because we can’t make them from other foods; we need to get these externally.
Omega 3 comes from oily fish and grass fed beef, nuts and seeds and eggs. Omega 6 comes from some veggies as well nuts and seeds as well. The idea ratio is 1:2, that’s one part 3 to two parts 6. This is the healthiest ratio.
However in our western diet we have one part omega 3 to 20 parts omega 6. That’s because processed foods are packed with vegetable oils, for texture, preservation and taste. But this incredible out of whack ratio elicits an inflammatory response and leads to all sorts of health problems. The body has a hard time metabolizing omega 6 oils, they are long chain fatty acids and are difficult for the body to use as fuel.
On the other hand, omega 3 actually helps with energy and metabolism, fueling our energy cells (mitochondria) as well as feeding the brain, hormonal and nervous system. Too much omega 6 means it’s incredibly hard to keep to a good weight balance, not to mention feel healthy. So cut out the processed food and try to aim to consume more oily fish, (salmon, mackerel etc), or add flax seed oil, (cold) to your diet and enjoy the benefits of a greater omega 3 ratio.