Choose dairy – Not only is dairy a great source of protein and low GI carbohydrates (making for a great snack on the go, effective for weight management and even a post-exercise recovery meal), it also contains tryptophan, which as it is metabolized is converted to mood-boosting serotonin. Plus, its calcium, magnesium and potassium content may help keep blood pressure down. Yoghurt is also a great option as its’ added probiotics aid in gut health and therefore immune support.
Sip a cup of tea – Great for de-stressing: Studies show that drinking black tea four times a day for six weeks lowered the stress hormone cortisol. Green tea, packed with theanine, can also help by increasing the brain’s output of relaxation-inducing alpha waves and reducing the output of tension-making beta waves. Many of these teas also provide antioxidants and can contribute to your daily fluid quota.
An egg a day is OKAY- with cholesterol scares in the past it was recommended to only consume up to 3 eggs a week, however new research shows otherwise. One 50g egg provides the nutritional benefits of only 70 calories (less than a whole glass of fat free milk or a slice of bread); only 4.5g fat; 215mg cholesterol (which we now know is not likely to contribute to plasma cholesterol levels); 65mg sodium; 1g carbohydrate; and 6 grams of high quality and readily bioavailable protein, it also boasts health benefits through its content of choline, lutein, xanthophyll carotenoids and zeaxanthin.
Sit in the sun – seems simple enough in South Africa, but truthfully many people especially those in office jobs, pregnant/lactating women, young children, prisoners, individuals suffering from fat malabsorption (as Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin) and the elderly, don’t always get enough Vitamin D. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine three times weekly is enough to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D. The sun needs to shine on the skin of your face, arms, back, or legs (without sunscreen). To reduce risk of skin cancer, use sunblock after a few minutes and all other times when exposed to sunlight.
Read your labels – South African labelling legislation forces food companies to divulge all their contents on their labels and yet many of us don’t know what we’re looking for. When comparing products always compare 100g to 100g and check how many servings are in a pack so you don’t overindulge. Remember that the ingredient list goes in descending order, so the first ingredient is the one that is the most prominent in the product. Limit foods that have a form of salt, sugar or fat listed in the first few ingredients.
Choose seasonal fruit and veg – it is always a better decision to choose local and seasonal produce as it is fresher, tastes better, preserves more nutritional value and is of course cheaper
Eat more fatty fish – these contain the ‘good’ Omega-3 fats you so often hear about, and they’re a great source of protein, recommended 1-3 times a week. Look for tuna and salmon mainly.
Eat more dried beans, soya and lentils– not only are these great sources of lean protein, they are also high in fibre, much lighter on your pocket and some have many other benefits such as Omega-3 fatty acids and Lecithin.
Choose pre- and probiotics– Around 90% of you immune system is located in your gut, so surely we need to look after it! Foods boasting pre- and probiotics are great here, not only do they keep you regular but they look after your sniffles too.
Keep the Perfect Refrigerator – don’t store what you know you shouldn’t be eating. Keep all your healthy options at the front of the fridge for easy access and all your ‘treats’ out of sight, if you see it you’re more likely to eat.
Get a combination of fibres – in actual fact you get both Soluble and Insoluble fibres. Soluble fibre dissolves in water while Insoluble fibre does not. Soluble fibres attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion, making you feel full, may have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity and can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol. Examples include: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils and apples. Insoluble fibres have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. They pass through the GIT relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. They are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables.
Eat foods high in antioxidants – There is a growing body of research surrounding anti-oxidants and there are several different types of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients being one of them. Food and drinks such as red wine, chocolate, tomatoes, tea and green leafy vegetables are only a few of the numerous sources of antioxidants. The benefits of anti-oxidants are extensive and range from anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, gastro-intestinal, cognitive (brain), reproductive, hormonal, prostate, liver and skin health. It is therefore clear why these anti-oxidants are common ingredients in functional foods.
Include Sterols and Sterolins in your diet– these essential micronutrients exist in very small amounts in nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables and natural oils. They are fat molecules that have been shown through 20 years of clinical trials to have a significant effect on restoring the balance of the immune system when it is suppressed or disrupted. They have also been found to have a cholesterol lowering effect.
Colin was a medical practitioner (GP) from 1988 to 2000. Since then he has worked in the wellness field, designing, developing and delivering various products and services. Out of clinical practice for many years now he no longer practices medicine formally but retains a keen interest in helping people become more-well versions of themselves. He acts as a wellness coach and not as a medical practitioner today.
Colin's approach and philosophy is based on empowerment: the notion that people only need a little help to make choices they usually already want to anyway - it's about respect and support rather than instruction or correction.
Colin lives at the Vaal Dam with his wife Cathy. He spends time walking mountains, cycling, motorbike riding, kayaking, sailing and always looking for better & better balance.