Balancing your hormones with diet
Your hormones are made by the nutrients in your system. This means that your gut needs to be in super condition to get the best out of your food.
Here are my top tips for gut health.
Eat the right foods
The Chinese believe that foods have five flavours – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and fragrant. All are thought to create different energies in the body, which affect the flow of qi (the body’s life force).
In order to be healthy, the Chinese believe we need a balance of all these flavours in our diet. Whether or not you hold with the Chinese view, the notion of balance is one that is crucially important for good gut health.
Try to implement the 80:20 approach to eating and make sure you get a range of nutrients.
Eat at the right times
Your digestion is raring to go at breakfast. This is why having a good breakfast that includes slow releasing carbohydrates is essential at the start of the day. Breakfast is the most important time to set yourself up to avoid snacking. I’m not a great one for snacks – I think that if you eat good carbs, you shouldn’t feel the need to snack between mealtimes.
Take your main meal at lunchtime twice or three times a week if you can. This avoids a heavy meal in the evening, which may interfere with your digestion. (Focus more on protein and vegetables – and less on carbs – in your evening meals, as these are less taxing for your gut. Carbs, raw foods and alcohol after 7pm can result in a combination of sugars that ferment in your gut, causing gas and acidity that weaken your gut lining.)
Also, a late supper means that you’re taking in a lot of fuel, but not doing anything with it, so it is stored as fat. Finally, but importantly, if your body is busy trying to digest food at night, you won’t be able to sleep properly.
Eat the right amount
Increasingly, the Western population in particular is overeating. As a guide, don’t eat until you can’t take any more – stop before you get full. Use a smaller plate so that what’s on it looks lavish rather than mean, and savour every mouthful to fully appreciate what you’re eating.
Chew, chew, chew
As a child weren’t you always told to chew properly? Chewing is the first stage of the digestion process, increasing the salivary enzymes that help to break down your food before it gets to your stomach, making it easier to digest. By chewing your food you also feel fuller for longer and so are less likely to snack or overeat.
Balance your blood sugar levels
In order to make sure your blood-sugar levels remain stable, follow these simple principles:
- Don’t skip meals.
- Combine protein and carbohydrate at every meal. This delays the digestive process and allows a more gradual release of glucose into your blood stream. You will feel fuller for longer and are less likely to have an energy dip that makes you want to snack on something sweet. Peas and beans are a ready-made mixture of protein and carbohydrate, so stock up on them.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and processed foods – including sugary cakes, biscuits and sweets, juice drinks or squashes, white bread and white rice and pasta. These are bad carbohydrates that release sugar too quickly into your blood stream and put you back on that rollercoaster of energy highs and lows
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