Current state of health and nutrient intake in the UK (Download as PDF Current state of health in the UK)
Two thirds of the UK population are now classed as being overweight or obese. It’s well established from research that eating the right foods that lower your BMI can help reduce your risk of developing a whole raft of diseases from heart disease to cancer. UK Food surveys also show that a significant number of people have low intakes of certain nutrients, which may impact on areas of your health including tiredness and fatigue, poor skin and digestion.
Fibre intake in the UK is low as is intake of omega 3-rich foods such as oily fish, both of which help protect against heart disease and certain cancers. Women in particular are shown to have low intakes of certain minerals in their diets including magnesium and iron (nearly quarter of women have inadequate intakes of iron) both of which can impact on energy levels and fatigue. One in five Brits are also at risk of profound vitamin D deficiency according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey that can impact on bone health which is especially important for the young and older people (research has also linked this vitamin to helping with symptoms of depression).
Research shows that in some cases, including or removing certain foods from your diet may help to reduce the symptoms and management of certain conditions including high cholesterol, depression, PMS or menopause.
Can you heal yourself with food?
So, it is possible to heal yourself with food? Yes, absolutely. Food has the ability to heal and nurture your health and getting your diet at a place of balance is the way to start, from there you can begin to add or remove certain foods according to your health concerns. Don’t get me wrong, there is no magic food to suddenly cure you of disease and many conditions require medical intervention but diet may certainly help to compliment a treatment or provide a more holistic approach, it’s also just food so why not give it a go.
There is a growing trend to follow alternative ways of eating that restrict certain foods groups such as paleo and Pegan but do these ways of eating really improve our health and is the approach of cutting out wheat, dairy and sugar make a difference? I don’t believe that cutting out large swathes of foods is the best approach to take unless you are aware of what foods you have to replace them with to still get a balance of nutrients in the diet.
Too many people embark on highly restrictive, complicated diets and end up suffering nutritionally, whilst diagnosed food intolerances and allergies are relatively rare for some people replacing dairy with calcium-rich alternatives and cutting down on the amount of refined carbs they eat simply makes them feel better and often helps improve digestion which is why we took this approach with the Detox Kitchen Bible cookbook. Be realistic and be sensible about removing foods from your diet as they have to be replaced with similar foods to maintain a balanced diet. There’s little benefit removing it if it doesn’t cause a problem!”
Top tips for taking a food approach to some of the UK’s top health concerns.
- Include a mix of healthy fats, protein and a little wholegrain carb for a balance of nutrients guaranteed to keep you feeling full between meals
- Mindfulness and intuitive eating can play a key part in maintaining weight so think before you eat!
- If you are reducing calories then choose high nutrient dense foods
- Setting realistic goals and avoiding extreme diets are the best approach for lasting results
- Fill up on veggies at each meal (fresh or frozen)
- Choose foods with a high water content such as soups, stews and casseroles to increase fullness
Healing foods: aubergine, quinoa, eggs, brown rice, seeds, broccoli, kale
- High fibre diets (especially oats) are effective for reducing cholesterol, weight loss and risk of T2 diabetes
- Soy foods are shown to be effective at reducing cholesterol
- Omega 3 fatty acids help to thin the blood, reduce inflammation and increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
- Food high in potassium can help to maintain health blood pressure
- Plant compounds such as beta-sitosterol found in avocados and olive oil effective at reducing cholesterol
- High sugar and refined carbs just as damaging if not more so than saturated fat in the diet
- Antioxidants such as flavanoids and polyphenols affective at reducing free radical damage and reducing inflammation
Healing foods: Avocados, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, berries, beetroot, edamame, brown rice, salmon
Women’s health – PMS, Menopause
- High intake of non-meat iron (pulses, dried fruit) may be effective at reducing symptoms of PMS
- Limit spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol to help with flushes and night sweats
- Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is an effective strategy for PMS, PCOS and menopause
- Ganestien, a compound found in soy foods (especially fermented varieties such as miso) may help reduce hot flushes during the menopause as may other phytoestrogen rich foods such as lentils sprouts.
- Women suffering with PMS are often seen to have low levels of calcium and affective to treat with calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Boost intake of the amino acid, tryptophan to increase serotonin production (along with eating Low GI carbs) – low levels are a result of sensitivity to progesterone during ovulation – affect mood and responsible for PMS cravings
Healing foods: Edamame beans, miso, pumpkin seeds, lentil sprouts, dried fruit, eggs, turkey, quinoa
- Sufficient intake of zinc may help to regulate the production of sebum
- Omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation and may help with conditions such as psoriasis
- In the case of eczema and psoriasis, try avoiding foods such as eggs and dairy that are rich in arachidonic acid (a type of omega 6), which promotes inflammation.
- Eat plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to help fight free radical damage from environmental factors.
- Eat plenty of foods rich in beta-carotene (orange and green vegetables) as this is converted to vitamin A in the body which is essential for the repair and maintenance of healthy skin.
Healing foods: Kale, butternut squash, mango, salmon, dried figs, berries, prawns, seeds
Tiredness and fatigue
- Low intake of iron responsible for fatigue (23% of women have low intakes in the UK)
- Low levels of magnesium and B vitamins may also result in tiredness and fatigue
- Migraine sufferers faced with fatigue – reducing intake of tyramine foods (red wine, pickled foods, chocolate) and increasing vitamin B2 (mackerel, eggs, mushrooms) can help
- Low levels of magnesium may lead to insomnia, which can impact on tiredness.
- Combine foods high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods to boost absorption.
Healing foods: Brown rice, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashew nuts, mushrooms, almonds, mackerel, egg
Recipe: Beetroot falafel
You can find more information on health and recipes to help health the body in the new edition of the Detox Kitchen Bible.
Download as PDF (Current state of health in the UK)