Look After Your Heart
We are all individuals, and there is no ‘single diet’ that all humans should eat. But if there were, this would be it because it takes your eating back to the basics of a wholefood diet packed full of nutrients that our body needs.
What should be be limiting in our intake?
Two major foods to limit are refined grains and sugar. During processing, refined grains are stripped of the bran and germ, two parts of the grain kernel that contain a wealth of nutrients. The final product is starch with no nutritional value, providing little more than carbohydrates and calories. Refined carbohydrates can be found in many types of food including white bread, pasta and rice, muffins, cakes, cookies, crackers, and bagels. Unfortunately, these foods make up a pretty good chunk of the modern Western diet and may be linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Sugar is one of the main culprits of heart disease. Added sugars from foods like sweets, desserts, juice and soft drinks can spike blood sugar levels, damaging the blood vessels, overloading the liver and increasing the risk of heart disease.
WHAT THIS MEANS IS …
A lower carbohydrate diet is recommended to balance blood sugar levels. Elevated insulin is a major risk factor for heart disease and promotes inflammation in the body. You’re also likely will lose weight on a blood sugar balancing diet, and that in itself will reduce the risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
1. PROTEIN Eat a source of protein at every meal and snack. This can be any fish/ seafood, poultry, meat, nuts, seeds, tofu, eggs. Ideally, eat two to three vegetable-based protein meals weekly. Replace animal-based protein meals with lentils, legumes, tofu, quinoa or nuts and seeds, for example. If you’re a fish eater, get in wild-caught fish, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, twice a week.
2. FRUIT & VEG Get plenty of fruit and veg. At each meal, have this cover at least half of your plate. The aim is 7 a day and ideally 5 from veg. Over the course of a week, aim to eat all different colours - span the rainbow to enjoy a diverse intake of nutrients. Enjoy berries, citrus fruit, peppers and leafy greens.
3. FIBRE is a great addition, the soluble kind you’ll find in oats, lentils, split peas, flaxseed, citrus fruits and apples. All of those are heart-healthy choices. From the insoluble category, eat nuts and whole grains.
4. FAT Some fats are healthy, and let’s not forget that fat is actually essential for life. Get your fat from avocados, oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, nuts and seeds.
5. CARBS Think carefully about what kind of carbohydrates you are eating. Focus on wholemeal over white, sweet potato over regular white potato, basmati or brown rice over long grain. You can also try throwing in a few ‘faux carbs’ like cauliflower or broccoli rice, courgetti (courgette spiralised into noodle shapes), butternut squash waffles, and so on.
6. SUGAR Remove as much sugar as you can from your diet. That means saving sugary treats for special occasions and holidays and, most of the time, ditching breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies, pastries, and so on, and checking the label of jarred sauces, where sugar often lurks. Ensure these are not your daily staple food.
Do you notice a trend in my diet tips? What’s to focus on is real food. What you would benefit from decreasing is the processed stuff most people kid themselves is OK for them to eat. Eating this way - sometimes referred to as a low GL (glycaemic load) diet - will also help, providing your body with a steady supply of energy through the day, rather than a high-octane rollercoaster of energy spikes and troughs.
Putting the food work into your life alongside the commitment to regularly de-stress, move your body and prioritise sleep is not always easy to do on your own. It is always helpful to have someone – like me – in the wings helping you fit what you already know about eating well into your life and keeping you motivated to follow your plan for long enough that you really see a shift in your health.
To book your free health call with Aine and see how she can help you, click FREE mini consultation today.