Inflammation can affect us in many different ways, from swollen joints to bruising and even immobility. These are some foods which are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and could help to make you healthier.
Turmeric is the main ingredient used in curry powder and is often used as a natural colourant due to its vibrant yellow hue. Studies have found that turmeric is more effective than a placebo at reducing inflammation and swelling in arthritis patients, so it's useful for more than just brightening up your food! It is the yellow pigment curcumin that gives turmeric its meany health benefits and while more research still needs to be done, it's fair to say that turmeric is worth adding to your diet for its anti-inflammatory properties.
There are lots of easy ways you can add turmeric to your daily diet, even if you're not a big fan of curry! Health food brand LoveRaw have a delicious Turmeric Chai Latte as one of their many vegan, plant-based offerings which is a delicious way to subtly add this spice to your day and reap its many health benefits.
Garlic is often referred to as a 'superfood' due to its numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and guarding against common illnesses like the flu. However, garlic is also another food which can reduce inflammation and help you to recover better after exercise. In the same way that taking a cold shower after a workout can reduce swelling and improve recovery, anti-inflammatory foods like garlic can work with your body to reduce pain and immobility. Research shows that synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs can have negative side effects, but garlic actually has many positive benefits such as being anti-bacterial, anti-rheumatic, and indeed anti-inflammatory.
Garlic is highly potent when raw, but unfortunately cooking it in order to make it more palatable does destroy many of the compounds which give it the best health benefits. There are ways to get raw garlic into your diet, such as taking garlic pills, which can be easier on the gut and prevent dreaded garlic breath!
Ginger is another highly potent and flavoursome food which has many health benefits when consumed raw. Not only does it have proven anti-inflammatory properties, it can also be used as a guard against nausea, with people historically drinking ginger ale to calm an upset stomach. According to research, ginger is superior to a placebo in treating vomiting, nausea, and inflammation. It has even been found to reduce the effects of morning sickness in pregnant women.
While it may be tempting to start eating more than your fair share of sticky ginger cake or tasty gingerbread, it is best to get this superfood into your diet in its raw form. An easy way to do this is by drinking ginger-infused tea as this means you are not consuming too many extra calories and still reaping all its wonderful health benefits.
Studies have found that the acetic acid found in various types of vinegar not only reduces inflammation, it can even help with weight loss and prevent over-eating. Inflammation can be chronic if you are overweight or obese so the fact that consuming vinegar could potentially reduce both inflammation and over-eating makes it a win-win!
Vinegar is something that is fairly easy to introduce into your diet, such as sprinkling apple cider vinegar over salads or even just putting more vinegar on your chips, although this is of course not an ideal way to be more healthy!
Sundried ambassador Anne Iarchy is a personal trainer and nutritionist. She shares with us her deliciously healthy sugar-free banana loaf recipe.
Truly sugar-free banana cake
A few weeks ago, I was working at the Woburn Tri for Life, and at the end of a very successful day, we had masses of bananas left. After eating a banana a day for a few days, the rest of the bananas I took home were a little too ripe to my taste (I do like them just yellow from green), so I decided to bake a banana loaf.
I have two recipes, one with sugar and butter, one with coconut oil and dates, but I really wanted one with no sugar at all. After all, ripe bananas are very sweet. I did some research on the internet, and I was really surprised to see how many recipes came up “pretending” they were sugar-free, but just swapping the sugar to honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup and other sweeteners.
Although honey is healthier than sugar (and that depends on the amount of processing of the honey), it has the same effect on blood sugar levels and insulin release than sugar.
Here is my truly sugar-free banana loaf recipe which still tastes amazing and is much healthier than any other you will find.
6-7 overripe bananas, previously frozen and defrosted
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups of gluten-free self raising flour (this is what I used but self-raising flour will work fine too)
2/3 cup of walnut pieces
Preheat oven at 190C (Gas Mark 5)
Lightly grease an 8x4" cake tin
In a bowl, mush the bananas, mix the eggs, vanilla and coconut oil, till properly mixed.
Slowly add the flour bit by bit and stir well.
Stir in the walnuts
Pour into the tin, decorate with some walnuts if you want to.
Put in the oven to bake for approx 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
Cool before slicing.
The cake came out moist and it was definitely sweet enough.
A slice of the cake makes a lovely healthy snack.
It keeps well for 4-5 days covered in foil.
If you suffer from a sensitive gut or often get painful stomach symptoms, forget a life on medication, you could benefit from a low FODMAP diet. But what is it? What does it mean? And which foods can you eat? We take a look.
What does FODMAP stand for?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oglio-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. These are the scientific terms used to refer to a class of carbohydrates which are highly likely to trigger digestive symptoms such as trapped wind, bloating, and stomach pain. Foods containing these FODMAPs are more likely to aggravate the gut, especially in sensitive people who suffer from conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and endometriosis.
What foods contain FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are mostly found in various carbohydrates. The below foods are high in the various FODMAPs:
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- Certain fruits, mainly mangoes, figs, and blackberries
Foods to avoid on a FODMAP diet
If you suffer from a sensitive gut and have chronic symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach pains, and an irritable bowel, you could benefit from following a low FODMAP diet. Additionally, if you suffer from a food intolerance such as Coeliac disease or a lactose intolerance, you could also benefit from following a low FODMAP diet.
When on a low FODMAP diet, you want to avoid high FODMAP foods. These include the above-mentioned foods like wheat, rye, dairy, and fruit. There are plenty of tasty and enjoyable low FODMAP foods that you can still eat, such as chives, chilli, mustard, ginger, and pepper.
Fruits that you should avoid on a FODMAP diet include mangoes, figs, and blackberries, however you can still enjoy bananas, blueberries, kiwis, and limes, all of which are low FODMAP fruits.
You should also avoid most legumes on a low FODMAP diet, however you can still enjoy brown rice, maize, oats, and quinoa.
We look at how stress and nutrition are related, how stress can lead to over (or under) eating, the serious health issues you could develop due to prolonged stress, and how in turn your diet can potentially reduce your stress levels. Which foods help stress? How does stress affect our eating behaviour? These questions and more will be answered in this informative article on stress and nutrition.
How can stress affect eating behaviour?
Stress is widely thought to lead to overeating. While in the short term you may experience a reduction in appetite, over the long term many people are led to overeat as a direct result of stress. One of the reasons for this is that the stress hormone cortisol can lead you to crave sugar, fat, and salt. These foods trigger certain hormones which lift your mood and make you feel better, but only temporarily. This behaviour is then learned, and your body realises that by eating foods high in sugar, fat, and salt, you will start to feel better so you crave them more. However, this is clearly a vicious cycle and one that is best avoided as early as possible.
According to research, women are more likely than men to reach for food during times of stress. In fact, men are found to crave alcohol and cigarettes during times of stress more than food. However, this means that as a woman, you may end up binge eating to deal with stressful times and situations.
What does stress do to your digestive system?
When we are stressed, blood is directed away from the centre of the body and redirected to the brain and limbs to support the natural ‘fight or flight’ response. What this means is that you will have less blood in your gut to help with food absorption and you may be left with indigestion and heart burn. This decreased blood flow to the gut also decreases the metabolism as the body essentially ‘shuts down’ to preserve itself.
Prolonged stress can lead to several serious health risks such as peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and acid reflux. If you are suffering from any of these issues, it is possible that stress is a leading cause.
Which foods help stress?
Thankfully, there are some foods which can help to reduce your stress levels and improve your wellbeing. Vitamin B-rich foods like salmon and broccoli are proven to reduce stress while dark chocolate is proven to lower levels of stress hormones in the body meaning you will be not only less stressed but overall more healthy too.
There are also lots of ways you can manage stress with exercise, as working out releases feel-good hormones called endorphins which are proven to reduce stress, not to mention the fact that a tough gym workout can be a great way to relieve stress physically by doing boxing or something similar.
How to stop stress-eating
Follow these tips in order to stop stress-eating and get your diet back on track.
Coffee raises your heart rate and can lead to anxiety and insomnia. You may think that drinking a cup of coffee at a stressful time is helping you to be more alert and focused, but it is actually doing the opposite. Cut back on the caffeine as much as possible, and don’t drink coffee after lunch to prevent your sleep being affected.
Get a stress ball
Instead of reaching for the sugary snacks to get you through a stressful situation, redirect your energy elsewhere, such as a stress ball. By squeezing a soft ball or clicking a fidget gadget, you can release your nervous energy without damaging your waistline.
Get to the root of the stress
This is probably the best way to combat stress-eating: get rid of the source of the stress. If it is your work that is stressing you out, try compartmentalising your workload by writing lists and prioritising important tasks that need attention right away. If it is a certain person who is stressing you out, try talking to them or discussing the issue to get to the root of the problem. If it is someone you don’t know very well, it may be worth cutting ties if their impact on your life is damaging your health.
Do you struggle to get enough protein into your diet? Did you buy an expensive protein powder and have no idea how to introduce it into your diet? Or just looking for a new and healthy breakfast to replace that boring cereal? Protein pancakes are a quick and easy way to have a highly nutritious and tasty breakfast! Here is one of our favourite recipes!
- 1 sachet of Wheybox chocolate orange whey protein
- 50g egg whites
- 1 medium-sized overripe banana
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Use a hand mixer to blend up all the ingredients until well mixed.
- Heat some coconut oil in a pan and tip in your pancake mix, 1 heaped tbsp at a time.
- Leave to cook for a couple of minutes. These pancakes don't use flour so they are slightly more fragile than usual, therefore you should cook the other side by folding them in half into a half moon shape!
- Leave for another couple of minutes then pile on your plate and top with yogurt, nut butter and popcorn!
Thanks to the banana, these pancakes have a soft texture and are naturally quite sweet.