Food For Life: The Best Way To Feed Your Body

What you choose to feed your body is one of the most important things that you do to it every day. Are you consistently choosing the right foods to keep your body running happily and healthily? The benefits of a healthy diet are far reaching throughout the body as the old adage says, you are what you eat. The food that you regularly feed your body can affect your organs, immune system, lifespan and your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Feed Your Microbes Right

You may have heard about the microbes (microorganisms) in your gut and how a balance of good bacteria can counteract the bad bacteria. Our gut microbes control the amounts of fat and nutrients that are processed from our food and eventually absorbed into the body. A recent study has revealed that ultra-processed foods such as lollies and chips feed the bad bacteria in our gut and encourage them to take over the population, pushing the good bacteria out of a home.

A healthy diet involves a range of fibre sources to feed your gut bacteria and provide you with the full range of nutrients that your body requires. So you will need to make sure you consume different foods with different types of fibre including vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts.

Ultra processed foods are defined as containing at least one ingredient that isn’t normally used in a regular kitchen. These extra ingredients are often emulsifiers and flavour enhancers that are added to increase palatability of the food. Ultra processed foods have low nutritional value, are less filling and have been designed to have a better mouth-feel and flavour than the competition on the shelves. This makes you eat more and buy more because your body won’t feel satisfied with just one square of chocolate or one Pringle. Once you pop…

Not only are ultra processed foods designed to make you eat more but they help to feed the bad bacteria in your gut. When you feed your body a range of different foods you introduce both soluble and insoluble fibre into your gut. Both forms of fibre are considered to be good but they affect the population of human gut bacteria differently. More research is required on how they each affect the gut, but what we do know is that a diet low in fibre produces an inflammatory response in the gut. This is because good bacteria break the fibre molecules into short-chain fatty acids which provide an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. When you aren’t eating enough fibre, your gut isn’t protected from inflammation which can kill off the good bacteria. That’s when the bad bacteria can take over. Now you’re in trouble, the bad bacteria don’t produce anti-inflammatory compounds and can make your gut even more inflamed. Over time the low level inflammation causes health issues throughout the body including reducing the strength of your immune system and increasing your risk of chronic inflammatory illness in the gut.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid as of July 2021 https://nutritionaustralia.org/fact-sheets/healthy-eating-pyramid/

Let’s Get Nutritional

As omnivores, humans require a certain percentage of protein to keep our body running. Therefore the body will feel hungry until you feed it the right portion of protein. Protein is relatively expensive so ultra processed foods are often low in protein and instead are filled with high levels of fats, carbohydrates sugars and salt. When we eat a diet consisting of a mainly processed foods we wind up eating more because the body will feel hungrier despite the large number of calories consumed.

A diet high in ultra processed foods is a diet that is low in nutritional value and eventually leads to low quality health. Be aware that these processed foods are “high GI” or have a High Glycemic Index. When you induce a high glycemic response in the body, over and over again, you overwork the organs and cells that are responsible for balancing the sugar levels in the blood. Eventually they stop working as well as they should and this leads to pre-diabetes, then if you let it go further out of control the disease can develop into diabetes. Diabetes is a serious chronic illness that, although common, does require specific care to ensure quality of life.

Due to the lack of nutritional value in packaged junk foods and ready meals, as well as the ultra processed ingredients, people who consume too much can become obese and malnourished. The best way to feed your body is to provide a large variety of food types, sticking to the ratios outlined in the Food Pyramid. Basically the idea is to have everything in moderation but eat mostly plants.

Everything in moderation but eat mostly plants

A diet that contains various sources of fibre is the ideal option for your organs and therefore your overall health.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Please follow this blog and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more health knowledge based in science.

The Science Behind Food Poisoning From Leftovers

Bacteria are an important part of life on Earth. They use enzymes to break down dead matter and convert it back into a form that can be used to create new life. For example, manure and composted food waste are used to feed farm crops or plants in the garden. You might recall the nitrogen cycle and the carbon cycle from chemistry class in high school. Bacteria are vital for these life cycles to continue to work.

Some of these bacteria are able to produce toxins as a personal defence mechanism or they have special ways to avoid our immune system and make a home among our cells, causing an infection. When we have an infection in our gut we call it gastroenteritis, or gastro for short. Several different types of bacteria and viruses can infect the human gut but the term gastro applies to any infection of the gut. The symptoms of gastro normally involve diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as the infection disrupts the normal function of our digestive system. Sometimes it takes a large amount of pathogen to overcome our immune system, and other bacteria only need to grow to a small population before they can cause harm. So it’s safest to reduce your risk of infection at every step of the food prep and storage process.

The bacteria that can infect our digestive system like to live at around the human core temperature of 37°C. They thrive at this temperature. So if you have a fever or localised inflammation warming up the infection, this is the body’s way of trying to overheat and kill the infecting object, also known as a pathogen. This part of the immune system is non-specific to the kind of pathogen that is infecting the body. The body also has other non-specific immune system mechanisms and some of these are exploited by specific bacteria so that the pathogens can avoid the immune system.

So if some of these bacteria can get past our immune system how do we protect ourselves from being infected with such bacteria that could cause us harm?

How To Prevent Food Poisoning From Leftovers

1. Reheat leftovers properly:

You must reheat your leftovers to above 70°C to ensure any present bacteria are killed. However, bacterial toxins are not destroyed by heat and can still make you sick if there is bacteria present that is generating a toxin.

Freezing does not kill bacteria it just slows the growth down to the point of hibernation. The bacteria will begin to grow normally again when they are brought back up to their optimal temperature for life.

2. Store food properly:

Leftovers are safe to stay at 4°C (your usual fridge temperature) for up to 3-4 days. When you are ready to eat some of the leftover food you should transfer it from the refrigerated storage container to another vessel to heat if you aren’t going to finish it all in this sitting. This will reduce the amount of contamination you introduce to the storage container. If you put your dirty spoon in the container then put it back in the fridge the bacteria from your mouth/the kitchen bench, that is now on your spoon, will slowly grow (because it’s cold in the fridge) over the next couple of days and you run the risk of growing enormous amounts potential pathogens inside the container. Like a petri dish of bacteria sitting in all that delicious food. Loving life. Compared to the small amount of bacteria that can survive temporarily on your teeth will have no trouble increasing their population in your container of food. Have you ever left a container too long in the fridge only to find it has turned into a science experiment?

3. Prepare food properly:

Washing your hands before preparing food will massively reduce the risk of introducing harmful bacteria to the dish. Every time you rub your nose on the back of your hand the bacteria from your nose can be introduced to the dish by accident. If you’re wearing gloves to protect yourself or the ingredients from bacteria, make sure the gloves don’t touch your phone or your hair or skin. That negates the reason for the gloves as they are meant to contain and control the contamination of your work or yourself.

Wash your fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat or cook with them to remove any harmful bacteria and fungi that may have been introduced to the crop during the fertilisation process. Fertiliser is great for plants but not so much for humans.

Ensure cooking times and temperatures allow the entire dish of food to be brought into the “safe zone” above 60°C, particularly for risky meats like chicken and pork. Pathogens can’t normally survive above this temperature but sometimes your microwave doesn’t heat the food evenly, so give it a stir about halfway through reheating leftovers. Or the sausages in the oven need to be turned over halfway through cooking to make sure each section of the sausage has reached above 60°C.

Regarding the dangers of raw chicken and eggs:

Salmonella poisoning can occur if poultry isn’t prepared properly or if poultry manure has touched the surface of the meat or eggs then it is ingested by humans. The bacteria lives normally in the gut of chickens and other poultry. So this means chicken manure contains Salmonella. Sometimes chicken poop gets on the outside of your eggs and not every country washes the eggs before sale in the supermarket. So please always wash your hands after handling eggshells, sincerely, this germophobe right here (me).

But knowledge is power so I feel powerful enough to avoid food poisoning and I hope now you do too. Honestly, all those years of studying microbiology and the immune system at university has helped me through my germophobia and empowered me to live more freely.

Thanks so much for reading! Stay safe and keep your cup full of positivi-tea.

Visit my YouTube channel for more Full Cup Wellness from me, Queeenvk with 3 e’s.

How do you do breakfast?

I choose not to skip breakfast! Keeping your blood sugar level stable is the easiest way to prevent type 2 diabetes (which runs in my family) and keep brain function at optimal levels. 

Did you know that your brain can’t function without glucose? That’s why when you’re hungry your body tells you to have high energy foods. It’s a defence mechanism, a quick band aid solution to your lack of energy. What your body is actually asking for is complex carbohydrates (Low GI foods) that can be broken down and digested into glucose molecules for the brain to use as energy.

Low GI foods such as brown rice, brown bread and grains are the best option for a hungry brain. They keep your blood sugar stable too!

I also reach for some protein in the morning to give my muscles the energy to tackle the day. Protein helps your body feel fuller for longer! The reason your body needs protein is because proteins are made up of amino acids, the building blocks of life. Your muscles, enzymes, cells, everything in your body needs that precious protein.

How do you do breakfast in the morning?

Source: https://www.finedininglovers.com/blog/food-drinks/international-breakfasts/

Eat the Rainbow

The simplest way to ensure your meal seems adequately healthy is to note the colours on your plate (I’m looking at you beige and brown, bangers and mash). Or in your bowl (I’m not talking about a bowl of M&Ms!).

 

burrito-bowl_1.jpg
Burrito Bowl recipe

 

The colour of your food (also, not Skittles) can give you useful insight into which vitamins and nutrients are present in your fruits and vegetables. This is because the pigments that give the food their colour happen to reflect different wavelengths of light back at your eyes, which is how our eyes detect colour!

Red

Red coloured foods contain lycopene (a carotenoid with a bright red pigment) and vitamin C which are both potent antioxidants that can provide protection against oxidants throughout our digestive system and in our lungs. Vitamin C and lycopene are able to enhance our immune system and protect us from cancer. Some lycopene-rich fruits to feast on are watermelon, tomato, dragonfruit (my favourite fruit!) and pomegranate.

Just a handful of strawberries per day could keep gut inflammation away

Yellow and orange

More carotenoids but this time they’re yellow and orange. The carotenoids in yellow and orange fruits (and green kiwi fruit) include beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in our body. There is also lutein which is great for eye health, zeaxanthin (also for eyes) and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants also work on boosting our immune system which is always a good thing. Especially since it’s our immune system which is our first line of defence against cellular mutations. Those mutations can end up as cancer if they aren’t caught in time! Orange foods to choose include fruits like oranges, mangoes, pawpaw, passionfruit and kiwi fruit.

Green

Some of the antioxidants present in green foods are glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which contain cancer–fighting compounds. Also present are lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye health. Green fruits and vegetables also contain plenty of other phytonutrients to help keep your brain healthy. Feast on asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, Chinese greens, rocket (AKA arugula which is just so fun to say) and watercress. I always try to make sure I have some green poking out on my plate. Throw some side salad on your plate of steak and mash!

Blue

Blue foods contain anthocyanins, along with the ever abundant lutein and zeaxanthin. Again, these antioxidants protect cells against cancer-forming compounds and prevent  brain disease through neuronal degeneration. Have a snack on blueberries and dark cherries — blueberries are more than just delicious! They contain more age-defying and disease-fighting antioxidants than any other vegetables or fruits.

Purple

Purple fruits are packed with flavonoids such as resveratrol. Flavonoids are the best for immune health, healthy blood vessels, stabilising blood pressure and can also have vision and cognitive benefits. Purple foods you ask? Try handfuls of red grapes, blackberries and mulberries. RED WINE is also full of resveratrol which is why a glass of red wine a day is so good for you! Just remember to limit it to just the one glass. Keep your liver happy.

Other than receiving nutrients from these foods there are other benefits to be had when enjoying fruit and vegetables.

Just a handful of strawberries per day could keep gut inflammation away.

Findings from a new study will be presented at the 256th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society through an article titled “Dietary intake of the whole strawberry inhibited colonic inflammation, restored immune homeostasis and alleviated gut microbiota dysbiosis in dextran sulfate sodium-treated mice.”

“The sedentary lifestyle and dietary habits of many people in [the USA]—high-sugar, high-animal-fat, but low-fiber diets—may promote colonic inflammation and increase the risk of IBD,” state the authors of the study.

Decreased inflammation of the digestive system through the use of fruits like strawberries would have a huge positive impact on patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD is chronic inflammation of parts or all of the digestive tract.

Inflammation in the gut has huge impacts on us all, not just IBD patients, so look after your health because you’re worth it.

Discover some fresh seasonal fruits and veggies at your local greengrocer this week!