How to eat yourself healthy
From the doctor’s surgery, by Dr Alexandra Phelan
The five-a-day fruit and vegetable rule should be upped to 10 if people want to drastically reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as stroke and heart disease, according to researchers from Imperial College London.
However, there are other ways to eat yourself healthy. Here are my top ten tips.
- Eat your greens: the NHS recommends that one third of the food you eat should be fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are an important source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
- Five a day: in spite of what the Imperial College researchers say, ten portions a day is a LOT of fruit and vegetables. Try for a minimum of five portions. Roughly speaking, a portion is around 80g of fruit or vegetables. A single banana would count as one portion, as would three spoonful’s of peas, or two tangerines. Fruit contains a lot of natural sugar, so consider eating more vegetables than fruit.
- Protein portions: high protein diets are all the rage. However, unless you’re an elite athlete you don’t to eat a large amount of protein, which includes fish, meat, eggs. As a rough guide, a portion of protein should be the size of your palm. Or for a more technical guide; adults need 0.75g of protein for every kilo they weigh per day. Most people eat about 50% more than this a day.
- Sort out your salt: consuming too much salt raises our blood pressure, which increases our risks of stroke and heart disease. We should aim to only eat 6g a day (2-5g for children, depending on age). Use herbs and spices to give food flavour instead of salt.
- Trim the fat: having too much saturated fat in your diet (found in dairy, red meat and processed foods) clogs up our arteries and increases the risk of heart disease.
- Skip the sugar: sugar causes our insulin levels to rise, increasing the risk of diabetes and obesity. Read labels carefully as sugar hides under many names, including glucose, fructose, corn syrup, lactose, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, agave, honey and date syrup amongst others.
- Fish is the dish: eat a minimum of two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily fish to provide you with essential Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Get the essentials: people eating a restricted diet – for example, vegan – may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals. If you are following a restricted diet, talk to your GP about which supplements you should take and which foods you should include in your diet.
- Avoid processed foods: pre-packaged, processed and takeaway food can be very high in hidden salts, fats and sugars. Try and cook from scratch where you can and always check the labels.
- Include carbs: starchy carbohydrates such as rice are a great source of energy. Try to choose wholegrain (brown) versions as they keep you fuller for longer and contain more vitamins and minerals.
Your GP or pharmacist can provide you with dietary information and refer you onto a dietician if you are worried about or unsure of what to include in your diet.
Dr Alexandra Phelan is a working NHS GP and Online Doctor with Pharmacy2U. For more information go to www.Pharmacy2U.co.uk.