Non-Weight Focussed Diet Tips

Before we get started it's best to mention that this is simply advice, and it is best to get in touch with your doctor or a medical professional regarding diet change.

There are a plethora of resources on losing weight through diet hacks online nowadays; we thought might be time to have some respite from it. There are numerous problems with weight loss tips and articles, yet above all, the problem is that there is usually little to no detail as to the benefits of such.

“Want to lose weight?” “Here’s How!”. Sure, losing weight is ok in some circumstances, like if the reduction of weight will help aid in the healing of an illness, but many articles won't address this. It’s just widely accepted at this point that people want to lose weight on a visual basis.

If you are struggling with self-love and self-confidence, we encourage you to read this article (Insert link to being mindful of what you consume)

There are many changes you can make to your diet that will aid in helping you to function optimally such as:

  • enhancing libido
  • having consistent energy throughout the day
  • boosting memory recall
  • enhancing attention skills
  • reducing bloating and mental clarity

and much more. 

Plus, most of these suggestions can be included in addition to your current diet by supplementing tablets or adding powders to the smoothies or oats or teas you have with and for your breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner.

Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogen has become a buzzword in the health world in recent times. They are not new at all, and have been studied throughout history. They have been a part of many non-western cultures for generations - more so in the form of herbs. You have most likely heard of ginseng, but there are a whole host of herbs that can improve your diet and wellbeing.

For something to be considered an adaptogen, it is stated by Pukka Herbs that they must have the four N’s:1

  • Nourishing – be nutritionally strengthening
  • Normalising – raise what is low and lower what is high
  • Non-Specific – act on multiple parts of the body at the same time
  • Non-Toxic – be completely safe when used for a long period

What Do Adaptogenic Herbs Do?

The best way to describe what adaptogens do - they do what they need to do. If you are tired, they can provide energy. If you are struggling to calm down, they can help you to calm down.

In more scientific terms they work at a molecular level of regulating the balance within your hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands, which all play a crucial role in the human stress response.2

Our stress stages are as follows:

  • The Alarm Phase (Initial reaction)
  • Phase of Resistance
  • Phase of Exhaustion

As our bodies encounter stressors like physical exertion, our bodies respond by producing hormones such as adrenaline that aid in muscle performance. It increases concentration on exactly what’s happening at that moment, which puts our bodies into a state of resistance to the stressor. This allows us to be more engaged, present and able to cope with what’s happening.

Soon after we go into the phase of exhaustion. What adaptogens help with is lengthening the amount of time we can stay in the phase of resistance, making us much more powerful and productive.

Adaptogenic Herbs and Their Unique Benefits

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is one of the most well researched Adaptogenic herbs in the 21st century - and for good reason. It helps to energise the consumer, as well as helping to calm them.

Research has shown that ashwagandha helps to improve both sleep length and sleep quality, as well as calming tension and nervousness. It has even been linked to the strengthening of bones so it is good for just about any age group.3

More recently, ashwagandha has been picked up by the bodybuilding world for its potential in increasing testosterone and, in turn, denser muscle mass. There was even a placebo study which showed that those supplementing ashwagandha had a significant increase in strength and muscle performance in comparison to the control group.4

Ashwagandha is quite bitter by nature, which isn't to everybody's taste. So, if you want to incorporate it into your diet, we recommend blending 5 grams of it into an oat latte with carob sweetener or honey to help counteract the bitterness. Alternatively, it's available in capsule form to be taken with a glass of water.

Tulsi - Holy Basil

Tulsi is known in Hindu Mythology as an incarnation of the goddess Tulsi, who is known as a symbol of divine protection. Also known as Holy Basil, it is in the same family as the mint plant and has a plethora of benefits for those who consume it.

Tulsi has been shown to help with blood circulation and help in aiding digestion, however, many more benefits have been discovered as more research has been carried out. 

In human clinical trials, Tulsi has been shown to help in anti-diabetic activity and showed a reduction in blood glucose levels, blood pressure and all-around diabetic symptoms.5

Research has also been carried out regarding Tulsi for its efficiency in aiding mental stress. In this modern age, we are in a constant state of overwhelm. It can be argued that we are seeking to normalise the feeling of overwhelm so that we can be in a consistent state of productivity. 

Although this journey could be considered unhealthy, adaptogens could be the key to remaining well despite what’s expected of us as individuals. More so, it has been shown to have anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties similar to that of diazepam and antidepressant drugs. It can be bought from most health and wellness shops, so is easily accessible.6

Turmeric

Turmeric doesn’t meet all the criteria to be considered as an adaptogen, however it bridges the gap between an adaptogen and “Superfoods” which will move us along to the next section of this piece.

Turmeric has been a staple in many cultures' foods, yet the knowledge of the benefits of the turmeric root is only well known within these communities and cultures. It is most commonly found in Indian cuisines and has a long history in Ayurveda stating that it cleanses the blood and increases longevity and vitality of the human lifespan.

It’s also worth noting that India has one of the lowest rates of chronic degenerative disease in the world. Although this hasn’t been confirmed as being due to the turmeric root, it is worth considering it as a factor.7

Turmeric has so many benefits including:8

  • Post-exercise muscle and joint support
  • Being high in Polyphenols (Antioxidants) that help with liver detoxification
  • Helps to balance bacteria in the digestive system to actively support digestion
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Linked to reduced anxiety

Unsung Superfoods

Although the term 'superfoods' is fairly loose with no official consolidated meaning, it is a term often used when describing foods that have benefits outside of their macronutrient value (Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats).

Black Seed (Nigella Seeds)

If you’re interested in health, you’ve most likely heard of black seed oil being used as a supplement. What most people don’t realise is that black seeds are a staple in many cuisines, and you’ve most likely eaten them while enjoying naan bread.

However black seeds have only in the past few years been celebrated for their benefits on health. These range from having anti-inflammatory effects to being used in the treatment for auto-immune disorders. They have been shown to help with metabolic syndrome as well as being antimicrobial and having anti-epileptic properties.9

They are also delicious and very easy to add to your diet; the seeds can be taken as an oil which can be purchased from most health and wellness shops and also in seed form from most supermarkets and world food stores.

They have a beautiful, fragrant and onion-like flavour making them perfect to add to anything you’d usually add sesame seeds to or even as a garnish, although I think they're best on top of an egg with some chilli flakes on a chewy bagel.

Goji Berries

Goji berries are a tart yet sweet berry. They are well researched and a brilliant addition to any diet for their health benefits. They can be added to baked goods, morning porridge, smoothies and are delicious on peanut butter toast.

These berries have been sworn by in health articles and magazines for many years for their anti-radiation effects, anti-aging, and anti-cancer properties as well as boosting immunity in those that consume them.10

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake are a great food to work into your diet, as they add a real umami flavour when compared to other types of mushrooms. They can be added to curries, stews, on toast or in an omelette. Not only are they delicious, but they have a whole host of nutritional benefits.

Recent research on young adults consuming shiitake daily found that they had improved immunity and anti-inflammatory benefits on the gut when compared to the control group.11

Healing Your Gut

Although talk of healing your gut has become more widespread over the years there are still gaps in awareness of how important gut health is for every individual.

Some lucky people may have a healthy gut by default and not have to heal it, but a large chunk of people may be experiencing symptoms of an unhealthy gut and have accepted them as “normal”. In fact, 86% of us will suffer from digestive issues at some point in our lives. 

The most important thing to note is consistent bloating. Bloating is not as normal as it’s made out to be; it shouldn’t happen all the time, although small bloats after a meal are an indication of gases being produced to break down the food you’ve eaten.12

This shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. Although eating too large an amount of food could be the reason, intolerance to certain foods could be too. The good news is that healing your gut can put an end to this in the short term and the long term.

I thought when I would bloat after meals it was just because I had eaten too much at a given time. However, I found that even when I reduced my food intake, not only did I feel lethargic, I was still bloating. Sound familiar?

The good news is once I started integrating probiotic and prebiotic foods into my diet and supplementing probiotics, the bloating went away. As it turned out, there was nothing wrong with the amount of food I was eating at all.

Supplementing Probiotics

Not everyone has the time or energy to change or optimise their diet. Probiotics seem to be popping up and advertised everywhere, which is great for the movement of gut health awareness, but definitely has its pros and cons. 

It means because there is now a market,  brands begin to compete. This in turn means that there are budget probiotics that can end up doing harm or little to nothing for your gut health.

We can only speak for our brand, but we can confidently say that every ingredient in our range of products is researched, scientifically backed and referenced on the website with studies that prove their efficiency. If you want a safe bet, go with The Gut Co.

References

  1. Rolfe D. What Are Adaptogen Herbs?. Pukka Herbs. https://www.pukkaherbs.com/uk/en/wellbeing-articles/what-are-adaptogen-herbs. Published 2022. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  2. Brusie C, Rose-Wilson Ph.D D. Adaptogenic Herbs: Benefits and Effectiveness. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adaptogenic-herbs#effectiveness. Published 2017. Accessed April 14, 2022.
  3. Singh N, Bhalla M, De Jager P, Gilca M. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. 2011;8(5S). doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5s.9
  4. Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha S, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of <i>Withania somnifera</i> supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(1). doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9
  5. Cohen M. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014;5(4):251. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.146554
  6. Chatterjee M, Verma P, Maurya R, Palit G. Evaluation of ethanol leaf extract of <i>Ocimum sanctum</i> in experimental models of anxiety and depression. Pharm Biol. 2011;49(5):477-483. doi:10.3109/13880209.2010.523832
  7. Mackonochie M. The Amazing Benefits of Turmeric. Pukka Herbs. https://www.pukkaherbs.com/uk/en/wellbeing-articles/benefits-of-turmeric. Published 2022. Accessed April 22, 2022.
  8. Hewlings S, Kalman D. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
  9. Hosseinzadeh H, Tavakkoli A, Mahdian V, Razavi B. Review on Clinical Trials of Black Seed (Nigella sativa ) and Its Active Constituent, Thymoquinone. J Pharmacopuncture. 2017;20(3):179-193. doi:10.3831/kpi.2017.20.021
  10. Ma Z, Zhang H, Teh S et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019;2019:1-9. doi:10.1155/2019/2437397
  11. Dai X, Stanilka J, Rowe C et al. Consuming<i>Lentinula edodes</i>(Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-487. doi:10.1080/07315724.2014.950391
  12. Sahakian A, Jee S, Pimentel M. Methane and the Gastrointestinal Tract. Dig Dis Sci. 2009;55(8):2135-2143. doi:10.1007/s10620-009-1012-0

 

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