Thursday, December 26, 2013

Food for Thought: Eating Healthier in the New Year

Posted by on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 9:59 AM

The green stuff should be more than just garnish.
  • The green stuff should be more than just garnish.
'Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight. If you need a push toward healthy eating, a study recently released by Harvard University in the journal, Nature might do the trick. The study looked at two “extreme” diets: one that was strictly animal-based (meat and cheese) and the other strictly plant-based. Scientists looked at the results of the diets on the trillions of microbes present in the human digestive system. NPR’s food blog, The Salt reported on the findings from the study last week:

The change happens quickly. Within two days, the types of microbes thriving in the gut shuffle around. And there are signs that some of these shifts might not be so good for your gut: One type of bacterium that flourishes under the meat-rich diet has been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases in mice.

That is, the increase in animal proteins consumed led to blooms of bile-loving microbes as more bile was produced to process the increase in animal fats consumed. It’s believed these are the microbes that cause inflammation.

The key takeaway from this report is that dietary changes resulted in rapid changes within the gut, so it’s never too late to start getting healthier. And you can see and feel changes within days of altering your diet. So, if you experience issues related to inflammation in the gut, it might be a good idea to add some dietary changes (away from meat, cheese, and other animal proteins and fats) to your list of resolutions. Among other things, poor moods, bad skin, and arthritis are all thought to be linked to how your body processes your food.

Though, if you don’t wish to remove animal protein altogether, introducting probiotics could be—at least — a step in the right direction. Probiotics come naturally in fermented foods (yogurt and kimchi, for example) or you can get them in supplements such as Goodbelly drinks.

Other resolutions that should be on your list for a healthier lifestyle include drinking plenty of water (how much?), which helps prevent overeating and aids in digestion as well as getting more exercise and eating fewer calories. It’s important to remember that if your goal is to lose weight, the only way to do so is to burn more calories than you consume. It’s really that simple. But it is important to eat the right calories (food) to be healthier overall.

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