Health Q&A

Superfoods: Eat Your Way To Good Health

November 7, 2018

Nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle

A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle will provide you with sustained energy, improved overall health and can also help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases or health conditions.

A balanced diet provides essential vitamins and minerals

According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, you should be eating a variety of food like low-fat dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables, high fibre whole grains, lean protein, legumes and healthy fats to make sure you obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals your body requires for good health.

What are superfoods?

Superfood is a relatively new term that is used to describe certain foods that are high in nutritional benefits and are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, fibre or antioxidants. These superfoods are useful for health and well-being and, while they don’t offer a magical cure for every illness or ailment, they can help lower the risk of developing certain conditions or diseases like arthritis or cardiovascular disease. In addition to which, they can also provide you with increased energy by stabilising your blood sugar levels.

Popular superfoods revealed

There is no set criteria for superfoods but most are plant-based and include some of the following:

  • Berries, like blueberries or goji berries, have high flavonoid levels, which can assist in lowering high blood pressure. These powerful antioxidants can also assist in neutralising free radicals, so are able to combat inflammatory diseases.
  • Tea, particularly green tea, is also a strong antioxidant with effective anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to which, the catechins in the tea have a calming effect on the body, thereby reducing stress levels.
  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale and beetroot, are packed with vitamins A, C, E, K and B; as well as carotenoids like iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. These vegetables help with healthy brain functioning through improved blood flow and oxygenation.
  • Cocoa bean, found in dark chocolate, is an antioxidant that has high levels of flavonoids, so can boost the immune system and decrease the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Almonds, provided they are unsalted, are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats, fibre and protein. Almonds can assist in preventing harmful oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and can thus help lower high blood pressure.
  • Spirulina is packed with protein, vitamin B and iron. This superfood has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can assist with blood sugar regulation and is effective in combatting anaemia.
  • Garlic is both nutritious and low in calories. It contains manganese, vitamin B, C and plenty of fibre. It’s effective in combatting illnesses like the common cold or flu and can assist in preventing the risk of heart disease by lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Other superfoods gaining popularity include wheatgrass, coconut milk and oil and sweet potatoes.

Tips to incorporating superfood into your diet

Obviously, superfoods are not eaten in isolation. They should be incorporated into your daily diet for the best health results. While superfoods are thought to have added nutritional value, there are many other healthy foods that you can use or substitute, so there’s no need to break the bank or search the globe for that very special ingredient.

Some easy tips to healthy eating include:

  • Buy local, organic produce that is in season
  • Fresh is best as the more processed the food, the less nutritional value it contains
  • Use colourful and cruciferous fruit and vegetables daily
  • Add fresh shredded greens to salads, stir-fries or pastas
  • Use nuts and seeds in salads, cereals or yoghurt

Foods that can drain your energy

There is a variety of factors responsible for low energy levels, like a lack of sleep, illness or high stress levels. However, there are also certain foods that can contribute to a lack of energy, leaving you feeling constantly fatigued and exhausted. Some of these may include:

  • Refined carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are a good source of energy, but grains that have been processed, like rice, wheat or pasta, have a low level of fibre and are therefore less nutritious. They’re also absorbed and digested a lot quicker, resulting in a short spike of energy. Choose healthy whole grains that will regulate your blood sugar, keeping your energy levels constant and stable.

  • Added sugars

Food with a high refined sugar content will also cause the rollercoaster effect of a sudden spike followed by a dip in energy levels. Be particularly wary of breakfast meals with added sugar like certain cereals, sweetened yoghurt, fruit juices, muffins, jams and breakfast bars.

  • Alcohol

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can result in poor sleep quality, leaving one feeling less rested and more fatigued.

  • Coffee and energy drinks

Coffee and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, renowned for that energy boosting potential. This effect is short-term. In addition to which, your body builds up a caffeine tolerance, so you will require stronger amounts of the beverage to get the desired ‘fix.’

  • Fast / fried food

Deep-fried food, salty snacks and baked goods are highly processed foods with a very high trans fat content and little nutritional value.

High energy snack food

If you need a quick pick-me-up, we suggest trying these healthy, energy-boosting snacks:

  • Fresh fruit, like bananas or apples
  • Unsweetened yoghurt
  • Hummus with vegetables, like carrots
  • Nuts or seeds, like unsalted almonds

At Topmed we encourage a healthy lifestyle, so follow a balanced, healthy diet that consists of a variety of food that is fresh and organic. Reduce your intake of processed foods and limit food with a high salt or sugar content.  Get in touch today to sign up for cover for yourself and your family.

 

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