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Are su­per­foods that su­per?

Miss FQ - - Contents -

Su­per­foods have been cop­ping a bit of a bad rap of late. The calo­ries they con­tain com­pared to every­day al­ter­na­tives don’t ex­actly make them a log­i­cal propo­si­tion, nor does their equally hefty price. So should they re­ally be part of a healthy diet, or are they merely a mar­ket­ing tac­tic to drive profits? Let’s re­mem­ber that the Por­to­bello was just an un­wanted over­grown white but­ton mush­room un­til a clever mar­keter gave it a fancy name and up­graded the cost...

NOT SO SU­PER? Su­per­foods make nu­tri­tion sound sim­ple, and that’s hugely ap­peal­ing in this time-poor world, in which many of us are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing less than op­ti­mal well­ness. What’s con­cern­ing, though, is how many peo­ple are will­ing to spend co­pi­ous amounts of money on them, with lit­tle re­sult other than a ris­ing num­ber on the scales.

So, what gives? When we in­tro­duce foods such as co­conut oil, ca­cao pow­der, smoothie blends and dairy-al­ter­na­tive milks into our diet, we’re in­gest­ing a whole lot of nu­tri­ents that we wouldn’t oth­er­wise have gained from tra­di­tional meals, which is great! But what we of­ten don’t re­alise is that although they’re full of nu­tri­ents, they’re also packed with calo­ries.

FOOD AS MEDICINE Be­fore you throw up your hands and chow down on that Mars bar, be­cause, let’s face it, it prob­a­bly con­tains fewer calo­ries than a cou­ple of bliss balls, un­der­stand that not all calo­ries are cre­ated equal. Un­pro­cessed whole­foods (su­per­foods in­cluded) are full of the health-pro­mot­ing nu­tri­ents our bod­ies need to func­tion Well. Pro­cessed foods, on the other hand, fill us with loads of syn­thetic sub­stances that can cause fun­da­men­tal pro­cesses, such as hor­mone pro­duc­tion, to get out of sync. Hello weight gain, acne and mood swings.

“Given that whole­foods are close to their nat­u­ral state, they’re of­ten brim­ming with nu­tri­ents that sup­port our health,” ex­plains nu­tri­tion­ist Dani­jela Unkovich. Plus, “they’re much more af­ford­able than su­per­foods”.

If we per­sis­tently ham­mer our bod­ies with pro­cessed foods, re­fined sugar, caf­feine and al­co­hol, we also run the risk of over­load­ing our liver. “Adding more liver-lov­ing nu­tri­ents to our diet, such as broc­coli and rose­mary, can help our liver to rid the body of tox­ins and sup­port weight loss,” says clin­i­cal nu­tri­tion­ist Ben War­ren.

Your take­away? Su­per­foods def­i­nitely have their place, but good old-fash­ioned whole­foods can be su­per too.

YOU DO YOU Due to fac­tors in­clud­ing ge­net­ics and life­style, ev­ery­one has a unique macronu­tri­ent pro­file, says Ben. He be­lieves this dic­tates whether we can di­gest com­plex carbs with ease, chomp on meat and fat with­out a prob­lem or, like many of us, be our health­i­est some­where in be­tween (take the free macronu­tri­ent pro­file test at bepure.co.nz to dis­cover yours). It’s also why it’s im­por­tant not to just fol­low fads or what our friends are do­ing.

Ben says eat­ing ac­cord­ing to your macronu­tri­ent pro­file can help you to work out which foods your body thrives on — these be­ing the ones that “give you the most en­ergy, sta­bilise your blood sugar and keep you full the long­est”.

“Be it diet or ex­er­cise, it’s in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to lis­ten to your body’s unique needs,” says Dani­jela. “Your body is the best barom­e­ter as to whether some­thing is work­ing for you, so lis­ten to the feed­back it gives.”

Whether it’s stress, or fad and faux foods, many of us have too much on our plate. The fix makes a whole lot of sense, dis­cov­ers Terri Dunn

CHANGE YOUR GUT, CHANGE YOUR LIFE Be it bal­anc­ing our moods, los­ing weight, reg­u­lat­ing our blood sugar lev­els, im­prov­ing our im­mu­nity, achiev­ing a glow­ing com­plex­ion or all of the above, ev­ery­one’s look­ing to get a big­ger slice of the well­ness pie. But why does it come eas­ier to some than oth­ers? New re­search sug­gests that it might boil down to the state of your gut.

Our di­ges­tive sys­tem is re­spon­si­ble for way more than pre­vi­ously thought, in­clud­ing around 70% of our im­mune sys­tem. When your gut is in a bad way, su­per­foods and mir­a­cle creams won’t even be­gin to mask your prob­lems — #ac­cess­de­nied. To achieve a healthy di­ges­tive sys­tem, you need to sup­port the ‘good’ bac­te­ria within it. When the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bac­te­ria that make up our di­ges­tive sys­tem’s mi­cro­biome be­come un­bal­anced, we in­crease our risk of obe­sity, de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, skin prob­lems, a host of dis­eases and more. En­ter gut-friendly foods that en­cour­age a wide range of the good guys to flour­ish.

“Fo­cus­ing on con­sum­ing plenty of pre­bi­otics [the food our good gut bac­te­ria eat], in fruit, veg­eta­bles and nuts, is a great way to sup­port di­verse gut bac­te­ria, as is con­sum­ing pro­bi­otics [the good bac­te­ria it­self] in pro­bi­otic yo­ghurt, kom­bucha and

sauer­kraut,” says Dani­jela.

THE BOT­TOM LINE? Con­sider the big­ger pic­ture and your over­all health. There’s a mis­con­cep­tion that cer­tain su­per­foods will rem­edy your well­ness and weight-loss woes overnight, when in re­al­ity, your needs are unique and, as Dani­jela says, “no sup­ple­ment is go­ing to com­pen­sate for a poor diet”. For­get look­ing to su­per­foods to mag­i­cally erase the fact that you’ve been hit­ting up the bak­ery on the reg, and in­stead aim to make sus­tain­able gains by pri­ori­tis­ing whole­foods, giv­ing your gut what it needs to di­gest them, and tak­ing the time to find out what re­ally works for you.

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