Six simple food swaps to prevent long term health issues

Did you know heart and circulatory disease causes  a quarter of all deaths in the UK ,  1 in every 16 people in the UK have diabetes  and the thing they have in common? Inflammation! This week I look at six really easy food swaps which can help guard against the danger of this silent health risk.

Welcome to the Dark Side! How the Colour of Your Food Helps Midlife Health.

We had to change our diet if Mark (my husband) was going to see any improvement.

He had been diagnosed with an auto-immune condition that was affecting his quality of life. Our choice was potentially a life time of pills or make some changes to his/our diet. And so started our journey of an anti-inflammatory diet with the result that Mark has seen a massive improvement in his condition and is no longer on pills…yay!

Now, did you know heart and circulatory disease causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK and 1 in every 16 people in the UK have diabetes - the thing they have in common? Inflammation!

In fact, inflammation is actually thought to be the route cause of so many chronic conditions which makes it quite tricky to deal with.

The way our midlife bodies work can be a mind boggling mystery. Sometimes, how we respond to food and drink just doesn’t make sense at all. As we’ve discussed over the past few weeks, food intolerances and adrenal fatigue can creep up on you and cause health harm. Today, I’m going to talk about another condition which could be screwing up your midlife health without you even realising  …. inflammation.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Inflammation

Let’s be clear - inflammation per se is a positive. Acute inflammation is the good guy  - it’s what happens when your body responds to injury. It’s vital for survival and is that process which is a lifesaver when you cut your finger. Thanks to acute inflammation your body leaps into action, rushing blood to the affected area and activating your immune system to ensure that the tissue recovers and heals quickly.

But if inflammation gets out of control it can become chronic. This uncontrolled kind of inflammation can do some real long term damage to your health. You might not even be aware it’s an issue.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, all those conditions which we are especially conscious of in midlife. There’s even thinking that chronic inflammation over a long period of time can eventually lead to certain kinds of cancer.

How on earth do you deal with a silent threat when you might not have any idea whether it is causing problems?

It’s similar to a chronic health condition like type 2 diabetes.  You might not be at threat of losing a limb right now. But if you continue with poor eating habits that affects your blood sugar control, the danger is you might end up in that situation somewhere down the line.

Go to the Dark Side to Fight Inflammation

While following a completely anti-inflammatory diet is quite involved (but as I eluded to in the intro, totally worth it!) the good news is there’s an easy way to fight the threats of chronic inflammation right now. 

Quite simply, become more aware of the colour of your food … the darker the better!

Basically, the darker your food, the more antioxidants will be present. These guys are your anti-inflammatory ninjas.

Antioxidants are substances which are thought to prevent or delay cell damage and are found in many foods, especially fruit and vegetables. Packing more of these into your daily eating will boost your long term health.

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

Think of these as simple good food hacks which can prevent long term health problems.

Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries

Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite of yours:

Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fibre, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese). Remember the darker, the better - black grapes over green, dark blueberries.

Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant "sulforaphane."

This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin. Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours.  Peppers of  any other colour are not fully ripe and won't have the same anti-inflammatory effect.

Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)

Know your fats. Choosing the right fats is so important for your health because fat can be terribly inflammatory ("trans" fats), neutral (saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (omega-3s).

The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don't forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.

Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea

I know it can be an acquired taste but green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.

EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer's.

Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It's thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea. I’ve got a great matcha green tea recipe which I’ll be posting on Facebook so head over to the Midlife Menu Facebook group to get access to this.

Anti-inflammatory Food #5 - Turmeric

Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin. This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.

Top Midlife Menu Tip: Try and combine using turmeric with black pepper - as this dramatically increases absorbency. A turmeric latte (homemade so there’s no sugar in it) is a great way to consume this fabulous spice.

My turmeric latte recipe will also be posted on Facebook so come and join the Midlife Menu Facebook group so you don’t miss this.

Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate

Hurray! The really good news for those of you who love it, is that dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa, is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely "flavonols"). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They've even been shown to prevent "neuro-inflammation" (inflammation of the brain and nerves).

Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

Welcome to the dark side!

So next time you go to the supermarket, stay on the dark side!

Go for red cabbage, red grapes , dark cherries, red peppers (and even some dark chocolate). All are easy food swaps that will help you to enjoy long term health.

And remember to join the Midlife Menu Facebook group to get access to the yummy turmeric latte and matcha green tea recipes - I look forward to ‘e-meeting’ you there!

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.