There's no doubt that diet plays a big role in our overall health and wellbeing. While there is no one food or supplement heralded as a cure all, there are certainly ways to be healthier.
Amidst the ever evolving conversation around health and what we should be doing to make sure we are eating the right foods and giving our bodies the nutrients that they need, we spoke with Amazonia’s ambassador and registered nutritionist, Zoe Dent. Zoe answered our questions on health, supplements and wellbeing myths. Plus, she shared her top tips on eating for health.
How can we be eating for health? What foods should we look to?
It’s as simple as eating whole, unprocessed foods and more plant-based meals. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to get more plants into your diet. If we base our meals around a variety of vegetables and fruits, then we can ensure we are consuming vitamins and minerals. Focus on filling your plate up with vegetables, and then treat protein and healthy fats as the ‘seasoning.’
Fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil help us absorb the fat-soluble nutrients from our meal, and increase satiety, as does high quality protein sources. Cooking and preparing our own food is more than half the battle when it comes to eating well, and the upside is that we are now at home so no excuses. It is actually the perfect time to commit to a new eating paradigm- no temptation of nights out or takeaway foods. Just back to basics of simple home cooked wholefood-based meals.
How should our diets change while working from home?
The one upside of being in isolation and being at home, we are not tempted by convenient, take-away foods which are usually less nutrient-dense. Cooking and preparing our own food is more than half the battle when it comes to eating well, and the upside is that now we are at home. It's the perfect time to commit to a new eating. This doesn’t need to be anything time consuming to cook- simple is best. One pot slow cooked meals- such as this recipe formula or this Jack Fruit recipe are great and allow for leftovers, or bulk cooking and freezing. Now is the perfect time to learn how to batch cook, eat wholefoods and avoid nutrient depleted takeaways.
Do you have any top tips for keeping your immune system in check?
Again, it is going back to the simple things. Consuming fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants - such as Vitamin C- is paramount as antioxidants play a key role in repairing damaged DNA and boosting the body’s ability to repair itself. These foods are also high in fibre, which is good for gut health, also important as over 70 per cent of the body’s immune cells are located in our gut wall. Next, making sure we don’t drink too much and stay up too late watching Netflix (as tempting as this is right now!) as these can hinder sleep quality, and proper sleep can improve the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (substances secreted by the immune system) and killer cells, improving the body’s ability to fight off infections. Finally, make sure we are balancing our stress levels with simple tools such as music, movement and meditation, as when we're stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced.
What are your thoughts on taking supplements?
Amazonia and I advocate eating a whole-food diet as our primary focus. If we are eating well then we do not need supplements, however the reality is that due to our modern processed diets, and poor gut function resulting from an overuse of pharmaceuticals and too much stress, many of us are not able to extract enough nutrients from our diets. After all we are what we digest and not what we eat.
We also tend to simplistically attribute nutrient status to foods, like saying that an orange is high in vitamin C. However, if that conventionally grown orange is grown in depleted, pesticide sprayed soil, then transported halfway across the globe to languish on the supermarket shelf, the likelihood is that it will have very little vitamin C by the time it reaches your plate. Conversely, if you consumed an organic locally grown orange from nutrient rich soil which is then picked a few days before purchase from a farmer’s market and consumed, the vitamin C content would be markedly different.
The combination of this broken food production system, together with decreased gut function means that many of us do not get the nutrients we need from our diets, and supplementation is required to support optimal functioning.
Though like the orange scenario, not all supplements are created equal and it is important to choose a high-quality supplement with therapeutic dosages of required nutrients. I love Amazonia’s Raw products as they are certified organic, synthetic-free, whole-food based, so easier for our bodies to assimilate and use the nutrients.
There are a lot of claims that certain products will fight coronavirus. What is your professional opinion on this?
As the COVID-19 is a novel virus, there is not enough scientific literature to claim that anything will prevent or treat it, and certainly one miracle product or tea will not prevent the disease.
That being said scientific studies are highlighting the problem with ultra-processed foods, and centuries of research back up the health-giving effects of real food, and the importance of a healthy, strong body and immune system to fight disease. We know that patients with co-morbidities and the elderly are more likely to die or have severe symptoms from COVID-19 than people who have no metabolic disease. And we know that a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce the incidence of these diseases. There are also strong scientific studies and strong epidemiological evidence backing up the efficacy of certain herbal medicines and nutrients to support positive health outcomes, though its best to visit a healthcare practitioner for tailored advice on what is best to support your body and circumstances.
In my Find Your Glow clinic, I’m mixing a lot of resilience tonics that can help support my clients unique health concerns to further complement lifestyle and dietary changes. For other clients needing gut function support, a pre- and pro-biotic, such as Amazonia’s Raw prebiotic, can help promote digestive balance for optimal immune health.