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Creative Ways to Eat More Vegetables

Including loads of vegetables in your diet is so important for your health. Vegetables are incredibly rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which boost your health and help fight off disease. Additionally, they are good for weight control as they have a low calorie content. Getting the required several serves of vegetables can be hard for some people.Some simply don’t like them while others are unsure how to prepare them so they taste good.Here are some unique ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet, so that you never get sick of eating them.

Veggie-Based Soups

Soups are a great way to eat multiple servings of vegetables at once. You can make veggies the “base” by pureeing them and adding spices. You can also simple cook veggies in broth or cream-based soups. Adding even a small amount of extra veggies, such as broccoli, to soups is a great way to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Try this easy Carrot and Ginger soup.

Zucchini Lasagna

Another creative way to eat more veggies is by making zucchini lasagna. Traditional lasagna is a pasta-based dish made by layering lasagna sheets with sauce, cheese and meat. It’s tasty, but it’s also typically very high in processed carbs. A great way to prepare this delicious dish so that it has a lower carb content and more nutrients is to replace the lasagna noodles with strips of zucchini.

Zucchini is a rich source of B vitamins and vitamin C, in addition to trace minerals and fiber.

Experiment With Veggie Noodles

Veggie noodles are easy to make, and a great way to get more veggies in your diet. They’re also an excellent low-carb substitute for high-carb foods, such as pasta. They are made by inserting vegetables into a spiralizer, which processes them into noodle-like shapes. You can use a spiralizer for almost any type of vegetable. They are commonly used for zucchini, carrots and sweet potatoes. Once the “noodles” are made, they can be eaten just like pasta and combined with sauces, other vegetables or meat.  Try this Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Prawns.

Add Veggies to Sauces

Adding extra vegetables to your sauces is a sneaky way to increase your veggie intake. While you are cooking sauce, such as a bolognese sauce, simply add some veggies of your choice to the mix, such as chopped onions, carrots, spinach or capsicum (peppers). You can also puree certain veggies with seasonings and make them into a sauce on their own.

Make a Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower is extremely versatile, and there are many unique ways to include it in your diet. One strategy is to replace regular, flour-based pizza crust with a cauliflower crust, which is made by combining cauliflower with eggs and almond flour and some seasonings. You can then add your own toppings, such as fresh veggies, tomato sauce and cheese.

Substituting cauliflower crust for flour-based crusts is an excellent way to enjoy the delicious taste of pizza, while increasing your nutrient intake. A cup (100 grams) of cauliflower contains only 5 grams of carbs and 25 calories, in addition to lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which flour-based crusts lack.

Blend With Smoothies

Smoothies are great for breakfast or a snack. Typically, they are made by combining fruit with ice, milk or water in a blender. However, you can also add veggies to smoothies without compromising the flavour.

Fresh, leafy greens such as kale and spinach are common smoothie additions and a great way to get a serving of vegetables. Try this Breakfast Berry Smoothie. Just 1 cup (30 grams) of spinach contains 181% of your daily needs for vitamin K and 56% for vitamin A. The same serving of kale provides 206% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 134% for vitamin C and 684% for vitamin K.

Add Veggies to Casseroles

Including extra veggies in casseroles is a another great way to increase your veggie intake. Casseroles are a dish that combines pieces of meat with chopped vegetables and often potatoes.

Left-over Veggies with Scrambled Eggs

In the western world we tend not to think of eating vegetables for breakfast.  However, there are opportunities. Heating left-over veggies and pouring in some beaten eggs is a tasty, nutrient dense breakfast.  Find the recipe here.

Lettuce Wrap or Veggie Bun

Using lettuce as a wrap or certain veggies as buns in place of bread is an easy way to eat more veggies. Lettuce wraps can be a part of several types of dishes, and are often used to make low-carb sandwiches and bunless burgers. Additionally, many types of veggies, such as portobello mushroom caps, sliced sweet potatoes and sliced eggplant make excellent buns. Lettuce wraps and veggie buns are an easy way to reduce your calorie intake while providing you with extra nutrients.

 Grilled Veggie Kebabs

Veggie kebabs are a great dish to try if you want to increase your veggie intake. To make them, place chopped vegetables of your choice on a skewer and cook on a grill or barbecue. Capsicum, onions and tomatoes work well for kebabs. You can also use mushrooms and zucchini.

Add Veggies to Tuna Salad

Adding veggies to tuna salad is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Try this Tune and Rice Salad.

Make Stuffed Capsicum

Stuffed capsicum is an easy and excellent dish to include in your diet if you want to increase your veggie intake. They are made by stuffing halved capsicum with cooked meat, beans, rice and seasonings and then baking them in the oven. Capsicums are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A and C. You can increase the nutrition content of capsicum by including lots of extra veggies. Onions, spinach or cauliflower all work well.

Add Veggies to Guacamole

It is fairly easy to add veggies to guacamole, and makes for a unique way to increase your veggie intake. Guacamole is an avocado-based dip made by mashing ripe avocado and sea salt together with lemon or lime juice, garlic and additional seasonings.  Try this Easy Guacamole recipe. A variety of vegetables taste great when incorporated into guacamole. Capsicum, tomatoes and onions are good options.

You can also make guacamole with roasted vegetables.

Make Cauliflower Rice

A unique way to increase your veggie intake is by eating cauliflower rice. It is made by pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor into small granules. You can then use it raw or cooked as a substitute for rice.  This Cauliflower Fried Rice is delicious. Even the kids will love it!

Cauliflower is significantly higher in nutrients than rice. It is particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium.

To Summarise

There are many unique ways you can include more vegetables in your diet. Make “rice” and “buns” with vegetables, or incorporate them into common dishes, such as casseroles and soups. By making veggies a regular part of your food intake, you’ll significantly increase your intake of fibre, nutrients and antioxidants. Eating enough vegetables is also linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and may be beneficial for keeping your weight under control.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong eating more veggies.

Benefits Good Fats in your Diet
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Choosing the right olive oil for better health

Benefits Good Fats in your DietThe benefits of olive oil

We know the amazing benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), such as a huge array of beneficial polyphenols and fats that are good for your heart and brain. EVOO also has a high smoke point, so you can fry and bake with it, unless you’re cooking at very high temperatures (such as deep frying).

Not all oils are created equal

However – you may be surprised to know that know not all are created equal. When it comes to EVOO, you don’t always get what the label says.

There are beautiful EVOOs available in Southern Europe, but most of them don’t make it to Australia, and many export oils have been mixed with normal olive oil or even canola oil.

In addition, many small growers from the Mediterranean, who may have processed and bottled the olive oil themselves in the past, are now sending their olives off-site to a pressing plant.  This means olives may be left for several days waiting to be pressed, allowing the fruit to start fermenting, affecting the flavour and producing chemicals.

The oil from fermented olives needs to go through a process using chemicals, heat, pressure and filtering to be fit for human consumption. This removes many of the beneficial phytochemicals found in EVOO, which also reduces the health benefits.

Fortunately, there are now Australian Standards and testing procedures to ensure quality, and over 95% of the olive oil produced here is extra virgin. In addition, many Australian producers have a short processing time from harvesting the olives to turning them into olive oil, which is crucial to producing high quality oil.

Those EVOOs that pass the test will have a small certification triangle on the label, so an easy way to ensure that you get the best quality EVOO is to choose an Australian band with the symbol.

What is the best solution?

The best choice is a cold pressed, Australian brand in a dark bottle that has the certification triangle on the label. They do cost more, but in the case of EVOO, you are more likely to get what you pay for.  This will give you peace of mind that you are consuming a quality product with amazing health benefits for you and your family.

You may also be interested in reading our article on Good fats.

Why set Goals
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Find your WHY and you’ll find your way

Establishing Goals

I recently facilitated a group coaching session and got the participants to write down their goals.  Most of them wanted to lose weight.  I then asked them WHY they wanted to lose weight and one answered ‘doesn’t everyone?’.

I loved the honesty of the answer and it was a chance for me to delve deeper into the WHY around the goal.  If you don’t know the deeper reason why you want the weight off, you are detached from your most powerful motivation source – YOU!

Your WHY is the fire in your belly, your mojo, your core motivation that connects you to the goal on an emotional level.

Given there is a multi-million dollar weight-loss industry out there and a worldwide obesity epidemic, it would appear clear that just setting goals isn’t enough. Researchers like Deci and Ryan, founders of Self-determination theory, have shown that if you find your own reasons why a goal is important to you, and are emotionally connected to this goal, you are more likely to achieve it.  

Your WHY needs to come from within you (the geeky science term is ‘self-determined extrinsic motivation’ and an even better, but similar form of motivation is ‘Intrinsic motivation’).  I’m not saying weight loss shouldn’t be on your radar, but to stick to a weight-loss plan you need a deeper reason that’s not just the numbers on the scales.  

Here are some examples of WHY’s around weight loss:

  • I want to have more energy to play with the kids, or I want to be a role model for them
  • I want to be pain free
  • I want to be be here for my grandchildren
  • I want to feel happy again
  • I want to buy the clothes that make me feel comfortable
  • I want to respect myself
  • I want to bounce out of bed in the morning and look forward to the day

Your core reason for WHY you want to reach your goal is unique to you, but it must connect with you on an emotional level.

What’s your WHY for achieving your goal?

Micronutrients in Fruit
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Cooking Matters and the Benefits of Micronutrients

Micronutrients in FruitThe Benefits of Micronutrients

We know fruit and vegetables contain healthy micronutrients – vitamins and minerals, but did you know that different methods of food preparation can affect the levels of vitamin content and bioavailability (how well they’re absorbed).

It appears some micronutrients are most available and better absorbed:

  • eaten raw
  • if food is cooked
  • when foods are eaten with other foods
  • when their structures are broken down first (such as chopping or crushing)

For example:

  • The compounds in blue-red foods (called anthocyanins) such as plums or eggplant are digested relatively quickly.  Many types of anthocyanins, such as those in berries, are readily available and best eaten raw.
  • Water-soluble vitamins found in vegetables such as dark leafy vegetables and capsicum can be lost when cooked in water.  To preserve vitamins the best method is steaming, blanching, sauteing or roasting.
  • Micronutrients in tomatoes or many carotenoids in yellow, orange or red plants, are often better absorbed when cooked.

Micronutrients, such as those in dark leafy vegetables, become more (or less) available when combined with other foods.  Examples of this are:

  • Fat-soluble vitamins need fat to absorb them. So put olive oil, real butter, avocado or nuts with your salad or vegetables.
  • We need vitamin C to maximise iron absorption, so squeeze lemon juice over your leafy greens
  • Combining vegetables with extra virgin olive oil is the magic combination of the healthy mediterranean diet
  • Chopping or crushing garlic, then letting it sit for a few minutes before cooking, will release allicin, a powerful disease-fighting chemical.
Effects of antioxidant supplements
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Are Antioxidant supplements making you weaker?

Effects of antioxidant supplementsThe marketing of antioxidant supplements

We have been marketed to by antioxidant supplements for years, with their health and longevity benefits being touted no end. The theory goes something like this:

1. Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, create oxidative stress and other cellular damage and accelerate the raging process.

2. Anto-oxidants neutralise free radicals and therefore protect against damage.

3. Therefore, if we consume anti-oxidant supplements it will enhance our disease protection and longevity.

Does the science reflect this theory?

Whilst there is good evidence for points 1 and 2 above, most of the studies in support of number 2 are performed in vitro, i.e., in test tube or petri dishes, and not in free-living humans. As for point 3, it may surprise you to discover that numerous clinical trials and metabolic studies show no benefit, or even harm, from using antioxidant supplements. Here are some examples:

  • A 2004 American Heart Association meta-analysis of 20 clinical trials showed no benefits for the use of Vitamins C, E and beta carotene in the prevention of heart attacks or strokes, and no reduction in mortality.  Importantly, the authors acknowledged that the scientific evidence from observational studies supports the conclusion that “a diet high in food sources of antioxidants and other cardioprotective nutrients” reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, they found no support for any benefits from the routine use of antioxidant vitamin supplements. 
  • A 2008 Cochrane Institute meta-analysis of 67 randomised clinical trials on antioxidant supplements (beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium) found no evidence that antioxidant supplements prevent mortality in healthy people or patients with various diseases. The authors said that “treatment with betacarotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality” and that “potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study”. 
  • A 2001 University of Washington randomized trial showed evidence of positive harm from taking a cocktail of antioxidants in patients on statin niacin therapy. The supplements reduced levels of HDL and increased levels of coronary blockage . 
  • A study at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute showed that cardiac stem cells cells that were loaded with high doses of antioxidants developed genetic abnormalities that predispose to the development of cancer. 
  • A 2009 study by German and American researchers found that daily supplementation with 1000 mg Vitamin C and 400 IU Vitamin E  during a 4-week exercise program by healthy young men suppressed improvements in insulin sensitivity and suppressed production of other protective genes observed in the non-supplementing control group. 

How is it that administering the same antioxidant chemicals that we are commonly told that make fruits, vegetables and herbs “protective”, actually appears to be ineffective or even harmful when taken as dietary supplements?

A clue comes from the last study quoted above – the 2009 paper that was titled “Anti-oxidants prevent health-promoting effects of physical exercise in humans”. Exercise creates free radicals, which cause metabolic stress, and the body responds by up regulating powerful protective genes – this is a hormetic response (as covered in my last blog post). Researchers such as Edward Calabrese and Mark Mattson call these genes “vitagenes”, because they ramp up our own internal defences against free radicals, which are much more powerful that any pill that we can take.

By taking antioxidant supplements, we suppress the increase in our own internal defences that would otherwise occur in response to the exercise stress.

So, getting back to the antioxidant theory at the start of this post – what is missing in this theory is the role of our body’s own innate defences system for handling toxic chemicals like free radicals. While our immune system handles invading organisms and large proteins, another system is needed to deal with chemical toxins. It’s called the xenobiotic metabolism; and it’s broken into 3 ‘waves’ of protective enzymes – Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III, which act synergistically to protect against damage and disease.  

We must understand that the body is an adaptive system and it will adjusts to maintain a relatively constant state, known as homeostasis. The science of hormesis states that if you provide it with external “help”, it will reduce the effort in building its own internal defences.  Just as being sedentary results in muscle wastage and a decrease in fitness, it turns out that chronic consumption of exogenous antioxidants reduces the “pressure” on your adaptive stress response to ramp up its own endogenous antioxidant defence system.  In biological terms, taking antioxidants leads to homeostatic down regulation of the antioxidant response element.  This actually makes biological sense:  Why should the organism expend precious energy and resources building a defence system if the defence is provided for “free” through diet or supplements?

So it appears that, by consuming more antioxidants, we become dependent upon them and, perversely, we reduce our innate ability to detoxify.  So, now that we know that our endogenous antioxidant defence system is so potent, what steps can we take to build it up? We get the answers from the science of hormesis, and I will explore how to up regulate these powerful natural defences to disease in the next few blogs.

Sub-lethal poisons in food
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Get Your Daily Dose of Poison – Seriously!

Sub-lethal poisons in foodIn my last post I wrote about the fact that the marketing and hype around taking antioxidant supplements is not supported by the research – and that numerous research studies show that taking anti-oxidant supplements (especially individual supplements) may actually cause us harm – partly by down-regulating our own natural antioxidant defence system.

However, it’s important to differentiate between supplements and real food – fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of anti-oxidants, and they have them in a complex cocktail that is necessary to sustain life.

There are quite a few researchers who question whether the quantity of antioxidants in fruit and vegetables is enough to have a significant physiological effect in humans, and that the antioxidant defence model has been massively oversimplified. I (and many others) feel that we should be talking much less about anti-oxidants and much more about plant botanicals, or phytochemicals, in general.

Polyphenols are a sub-class of phytochemicals and some of them act as antioxidants (improving cell survival through complex mechanisms), whereas some act as pro-oxidants.

As we have over-egged (and over-simplified) the antioxidant story, I want to focus on the pro-oxidant story, which is really a story of hormesis in action. Remember from earlier posts that hormesis is the stress resistance that comes from sub-lethal exposures to toxins that would be lethal at higher doses.

It turns out that sub-lethal exposure to pro-oxidants in fruit & veg up-regulates protectives genes (increases gene expression), which not only increases our powerful anti-oxidant defence systems, but can also prevent tumor growth.

Let’s take the cells of our brain, known as neurons, and investigate how hormetic plant chemicals can protect against Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

WARNING – geeky science bit inbound!! – It is known that Galantamine (from the snowdrop plant) increases levels of an important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (which is reduced by AD). Cathechinsfrom Tea, Caffeine from tea & coffee, and Capsaicin from capsicums/peppers help this acetylcholine to release calcium ions in the other neurons (which is how the brain works). Inside the neurons, the plant TOXINS Sulphoraphane (from brocolli), Curcumin(from the spice tumeric), Resveratrol (from grapes – and wine!) and Allumin(from onions and garlic) all help to increase the expression of protective genes, which produce growth factors as well as our endogenous anti-oxidants that combat the cellular stresses that create the damaged proteins that are teh hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease.

This is not a process that is exclusive to the brain – it happens in all of our cells and it turns out that the vast array of plant phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables play critical roles in cellular metabolism.

There are a long list of phytochemicals that have been broken down into numerous sub-classes (such as Flavenoids, isoflavones, Lignans and Cartenoids) and studies have shown that these plant phytochemicals protect us against Aging, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes, Cancer and Brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.

The bottom line – eat real foods that we have co-existed with for millions of years, rather than eating a diet with significant processed foods and trying to off-set it with chemically manufactured supplements.

Lastly, remember that hormesis is about a sub-lethal exposure and that although many plant phytochemicals are great for our health, overconsumption of some of these can have both beneficial and harmful effects – soy isoflavines being one example. Eating a varied diet rich in fruit and veg will help keep you healthy –partly by exposing you to small doses of poison!

Resilience of People
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That which does not kill us …

In the late 1800’s, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

It is a phrase often used to explain the resilience of people who have endured hardships. It turns out that it certainly contains more than a grain of truth.

My interest in this subject arose from undergoing a course called Air 427 in 1998, whilst serving as an officer in the British Armed Forces. The course was 10 days of rigorous combat survival and resistance to interrogation training, which involved walking 100’s of km over 10 days, with very little sleep due to sleeping rough in freezing conditions, and the only food over the entire 10 days was a chicken between 4 people – and it was alive when we got it. To ramp up the pressure, the final 5 days was an ‘escape and evasion’ phase, where we were to evade a Hunter Force that was equipped with helicopters, vehicles and dog teams.

At the end of the 10 days we underwent interrogation training, which consisted of alternating bouts of highly uncomfortable stress positions (blindfolded while exposed to very loud ‘white noise’), with interrogations of increasing intensity.

Once the course was over, the first thing that struck me was that I had a new-found appreciation for things that I took for granted – as well as the obvious such as food, shelter and warmth, there were lots of little things that I appreciated much more, such as a toothbrush, clean underwear and toilet paper!

It wasn’t until a few weeks and months later that I noticed something more long lasting – my view of what was stressful had completely changed and my resilience was greatly enhanced. I realised that this phenomenon was very well explained by knowledge from my first Masters Degree in Sports Science – that of training adaptation. Exposing the body to training stresses, such as sprinting or lifting heavy weights, induces changes in gene expression which result in a an adaptive response – and the body ultimately becoming bigger, faster, stronger.

This knowledge led to me reframing potential stress in my life as something that would make me stronger. When I left the Armed Forces and became more of an academic I looked deeper into the research in this area, and that is when I uncovered a topic that has real relevance to many areas of our life – that of hormesis.

Hormesis is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect results from low doses of a stressor or toxin that a higher doses is harmful or even lethal. As you will see over the next few blogs, we can harness this biological phenomenon in a systematic and deliberate way to improve many aspects of our health and move us beyond resilience to being what I call ‘stress adapted’.

If you choose to adapt the hermetic lifestyle, you will likely be changing how you eat, what supplements you take, how you exercise and your view of stress to enhance production of protective genes and enzymes that will protect you against disease and increase your lifespan.

I’ll explore how anti-oxidant supplements can be bad for you, the truth about why vegetables are good for you, and the best type of exercise for health.

This is not the lifestyle equivalent of a fad diet, but the application of years of research into areas as adverse as gene expression, exercise adaptation, dietary polyphenols, ageing, resilience, toxicology, radiation, immunotherapy and special forces training – all under the same fascinating umbrella called hormesis.

Grains in your diet
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For or Against the Grain?

There is so much in the media and the blogosphere about cutting out grains and living a life similar to that of the caveman through a Paleo diet. Although some of the claims of the Paleo community don’t stand up to good scientific scrutiny, there are many people who have seen incredible results including weight loss, reversal of Type 2 diabetes and autoimmune conditions, energy increases and more by adapting a Paleo diet.

However, we are not here to advocate giving up grains. If you can tolerate them (and lots of people can) then there is little reason to give them up. Our approach at Ritualize has long been to eat grains sparingly, putting more emphasis instead on other nutrient dense foods via the 80/20 Food Pyramid (see below). It’s interesting to note that nutrition Australia has very recently released a new food pyramid which is moving towards the 80/20 food pyramid by putting vegetables at the bottom rather than grains (we still think they have some work to do J).

Let’s talk about what we at Ritualize believe when it comes to eating grains:

In traditional cultures, grains are soaked and some sprouted before baking with them – as are beans and lentils. Even our grandmothers soaked oats before they made porridge. However, modern lifestyles have demanded that everything be instant, so we now skip that process. The thinking behind the soaking of grains (as well as beans and lentils) is that it makes them easier to digest, and removes some substances that the Paleo community refer to as ‘anti-nutrients’. If you think about it, grains are seeds, so in nature they don’t want to be digested, they want to be planted! The plants probably created these ‘anti-nutrients’ within them to make them difficult to digest, which would persuade creatures not to eat them. There are also certain compounds that stop the active enzyme activity of germination. So, if grains are soaked for a certain period of time, the sprouting process is started, which helps you digest them more readily – and makes them more nutrient dense.

In ‘western diets’, we consume far too much of 3 crops – wheat (in breads, cereals, pasta, etc., etc.), corn and soy (mostly through vegetable oils in processed foods). There are many ways to make better choices when it comes to grains and carbs in general. Eat a variety of natural, unprocessed grains, such as quinoa (strictly a seed), barley, cous-cous and oats. Wild rice, for instance, has almost twice the amount of fibre as brown rice. If you cook potatoes, cool them before eating. This increases levels of resistant starch, which bypasses the small intestines and goes straight through to the large intestines, where it feeds your good bacteria. There is now evidence that if you cook rice with a tablespoon of coconut oil, then cool it right down, the resistant starch is increased and the calories are decreased by 50-60% – that’s a win on 2 fronts!

And what about bread? I think even the most loyal of Paleo followers must crave a piece of toast at some stage (ok, maybe not, but many of us do). There are many grain-free bread recipes out there, but if you are eating wheat bread, we highly recommend buying authentic sourdough bread made the artisan way. The gluten, which is very high is mainstream breads, is consumed away in the 12+ hour fermentation process, so much so that up to 90% of the gluten is gone by the time and bread is baked. Not only that, it’s delicious! Next time you’re buying a loaf, consider spending a little more and get a true artesian sourdough bread, which you will find them at most good deli’s and farmers markets.

The bottom line is that Government guidelines have traditionally promoted unprocessed whole grains for their fibre intake, but most of the grains that we eat are the highly processed, nutrient depleted type. Instead of this, follow the Low HI (Human Interference) principles of our 80/20 food pyramid and get your fibre and resistant starch from vegetables and fruit, soaked beans and lentils and a moderate amount of unprocessed whole grains in different varieties – and prepare and cook in a way that optimises their health value.

Benefits of eggs in your diet
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What a good egg!

Eggs have had gone from good to bad and now back to good.  They are a great source of protein and good fats (if you buy free range eggs). Eating eggs for breakfast keeps you fuller for longer, so you eat less throughout the day, which can lead to weight loss. They are also good for your brain!

Don’t worry about the cholesterol as it has a minimal effect on your blood cholesterol and the link between blood cholesterol and heart disease has been completely over blown. Free range eggs have more Omega 3’s and higher in nutrition than cage eggs (plus they are happier chooks!).

Eggs are easy and versatile, so start eating them for breakfast and see what a difference it makes to your day!

Caveman theory
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We are all Cavemen in a Modern World

In the words of Charles Darwin: ‘It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’

Our species has become the most dominant species on earth, partly because it has adapted to change better than any other species. Genetic mutations are an important part of adapting to change, but it’s important to understand that genetic mutations take thousand, if not tens of thousands of years to spread through a species through natural selection.

This has important ramifications for us. There is a quote by a researcher called Frank Booth that appeared in The Journal of Applied Physiology in 2002 – “Our genome has not changed in over 45,000 years. The current human genome requires, and expects, us to be highly physically active for normal functioning.’

So we pretty much still have the same genome as we did in our hunter-gatherer days, but our environment has changed significantly. Rather than moving lots and having periods of feast and famine, the average person now moves a lot less and has food available on every street corner – much of which didn’t even exist 50 years ago!

We’re pretty much betraying our genome by living a life it’s not cut out for! By way of comparison, the average Australian office worker takes between 3,000 and 5,000 steps per day, whereas the Amish community (who shun cars and lead traditional lifestyles) take 18,000 to 22,00 steps per day – very similar to hunter gatherers!

What we now understand is the biological consequences of being sedentary – it has a very negative effect on our gene expression and can increase our risk of chronic diseases dramatically, as well as negatively affecting mental health. Exercise increases expression of protective genes, whereas being sedentary and chronically stressed shuts down expression of protective genes and increases expression of damaging ones.

Life as a Caveman vs Life Now

Imagine yourself as a caveman or hunter-gatherer and think about what sort of life you would be leading from the point of view of our genome. There’s no reaching for coffee, sugar or chocolate when the 4pm slump kicks in and certainly no sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day.

You’d be moving constantly, being part of a functioning tribe, hunting, gathering, looking after the tribe’s children and educating the young ones. The stress you would feel comes in spurts and is not constant. For example, there maybe a lion approaching and this will put stress on the tribe, but after it’s gone you are now safe, so the stress goes with it.   No desks, computers or TV, no traffic, deadlines, money worries or other sources of continuous stress.

Now compare your life now. How long do you sit each day? Do you use your car a lot? Do you feel stressed a lot of the time? If you’re hungry, you have food at hand and even when you’re not hungry, you may still eat because it’s there. How often do you eat fresh vegetables, fish and meat? How many packets of processed food are you opening each day? Sure, we have lots more enjoyable things now, but the impact of modern life on our gene expression is undeniably negative.

Our bodies are not designed to be this sedentary, to have an abundance of food (especially the processed variety), have continuous stress or even to cope with life without a tribe.

As a result, we are fatter, unhealthier and more depressed and anxious than ever and lifestyle diseases are now the biggest killer in human history.

 What do you do?

Awareness is the first step! Move more, eat fresh, natural food, join groups or spend time with family. Ritualize can help this process through small, daily rituals that add up to big results overtime. If you’re not part of the Ritualize tribe, check us out at www.ritualize.com. It’s a free, fun and effective tool for making long-lasting lifestyle changes.