Spring has sprung and it’s a great time to swap any bad dietary habits for some healthier ones.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer gives us her five top tips for cleaning up your diet.
DITCH THE SUGAR
There’s no doubt that eating too many sugary snacks, including cakes, sweets, biscuits and chocolate, is going to affect energy levels and make you feel sluggish. The reason? Sugar is an anti-nutrient and can deplete the body of essential minerals, plus too many refined foods cause an imbalance in blood sugar levels as well as depleting energy.
Replace any sugar in the diet with xylitol or stevia, which are naturally-derived, non-chemical sweeteners. If you’re a ‘chocaholic’ then why not look for snacks that contain raw cacao; it tastes like chocolate but contains lots of beneficial minerals and B vitamins for energy. Raw cacao can be used in exactly the same way as cocoa powder and you can find plenty of cacao bars in the shops. Plus, you can make some amazing raw chocolate brownies using cacao – why not give it a try?
REDUCE CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL
Unfortunately, caffeinated drinks have the same effect on the body as sugar; they upset blood sugar levels and deplete the body of essential nutrients. However, life is not about total denial, but about achieving a good balance, so start by cutting down the number of caffeinated drinks you have per day. Try swapping some of your coffee and tea for green tea which will provide you with some amazing antioxidants, also helping to push back the ageing process.
When it comes to alcohol, the liver is probably the hardest working organ in the body; if it’s overloaded, this too will affect energy levels as well as other body systems. Try to have at least three or four alcohol-free days a week and always avoid binging when the weekend arrives.
It can be hard to achieve the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. One of the best ways of getting some more amazing nutrients into the body is by investing in a juicer. Beetroots, apples, carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, lemons, lime, ginger, pears, avocadoes, celery, cucumber, pineapple …….. the list is endless as are the delicious combinations that you can make into a daily juice. The sooner you get juicing the sooner your energy levels will soar and your skin will glow.
EAT BROWN NOT WHITE
White foods such as white bread, pasta, cakes and pastries are usually produced using refined flours. This means the outer part of the grain has been stripped and it’s the outer part that contains many of the beneficial nutrients that can be obtained from whole grains. Essentially, many of the B vitamins, needed for energy, are lost during processing. Most of the nutritious fibre is also lost, so your digestive system won’t benefits or run as efficiently as it should.
Always choose wholemeal bread, wholegrain brown rice and wholemeal pasta to ensure you’re getting the most nutrients from your food. Oats, beans, lentils and quinoa are also great to include in the diet.
TAKE ALOE VERA
Cleopatra, reputedly one of the world’s most beautiful women, described aloe vera as the ‘elixir of youth’ and she may well have bene onto something. Aloe vera (barbadensis Miller) provides a gel containing essential minerals, vitamins, proteins, amino acids and enzymes; it’s a true superfood. It’s generally more effective taken in a palatable juice form and it provides the body with some wonderful health benefits, which are perfect for your spring clean.
Aloe is great for the skin, supports the digestive system, helps to keep the bowels moving, is a powerful antioxidant and also aids whole body detoxification. Just make sure that you choose a juice that contains preservatives, which helps retain the activity of the important nutrients it contains.