Healthy Eating Week
With a myriad of resources and a variety of authorities defining what comprises a healthy diet, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the information.
The healthy eating week is an initiative by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) to promote healthy eating habits to support mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
The BNF is a registered charity that provides impartial, evidence-based information to the public, in regard to food and nutrition. For Healthy Eating Week 2020, they aim to focus on key areas of health each day from Monday 28th September to Sunday 4th October.
Healthy Eating Week: Monday 28th – Eat more wholegrains
The aim today is to increase the range not volume (although some might need this) of wholegrains we eat on a regular basis, introducing new grains such as rye or spelt.
The dietary fibre contained in wholegrains is beneficial for your gut health. This fibre is not digested in our intestines and relies upon friendly bacteria to ferment it, breaking it down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs maintain our gut mucus barrier that keeps pathogens out of our system, provide energy to the digestion system itself and encourage friendly bacteria to colonise the intestines.
Healthy Eating Week: Tuesday 29th – Vary your veg
Additional vegetables increase fibre and add valuable vitamins and minerals to your diet. Including additional vegetables in traditional dishes can help to ensure you hit five or more servings per day. The BNF stress that canned and frozen variants are practical ways to increase your daily intake.
Fruits and vegetables contain prebiotic fibres, known as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. Prebiotics support the environment in which friendly bacteria (probiotics) flourish, feeding the bacteria and adding bulk to stools.
Healthy Eating Week: Wednesday 30th – Drink plenty
Keeping hydrated is essential for digestion, concentration and energy levels. Drinking plenty of water allows your digestive system, particularly your intestinal lining, to function well. A hydrated system will help to prevent constipation and support the growth of intestinal flora.
Healthy Eating Week: Thursday 1st – Move moreAchieving activity goals will improve overall health as well as lift mood and encourage sounder sleep.
Exercise is also linked to an increase in the number of beneficial microbial species in our gut and to an enriched microbial diversity as well as enhanced short-chain fatty acid production, all of which support gut health.
Healthy Eating Week: Friday 2nd – Be mind kind
With anxiety, depression and addiction on the rise in the UK, it’s important to bring mental health into focus. What we eat and drink, our activity levels and sleeping well, may all have positive benefits on mental health.
Research now points to the link between gut health and mood. For example, irritable bowel syndrome has been linked to stress and when we are nervous (brain activity) we are likely to feel it in our gut.
Healthy Eating Week: Saturday 3rd – Get active together
Exercising in a group or with a partner appears to be more beneficial than exercising alone. Introducing a social element to exercise through playing in team sports can improve mental health as well as encourage us to achieve activity targets over the longer term.
Group exercise may have further benefits for gut health through the added impact of the emotional support and camaraderie of achieving a team goal.
Healthy Eating Week: Sunday 4th – Eat together
Preparing, cooking and eating together is a custom for people of many countries. In the UK we sometimes forget the joys of doing these things together and eating becomes a solitary function. Children and adults of all ages benefit from the fun and improved social skills eating together can bring.
Social support can impact health by reinforcing healthy habits, reducing the impact of stress and motivating us to abstain from certain unhealthy behaviours. And reduced stress leads to more effective digestion.
Simplicity is key… Healthy eating needn’t be a minefield. A diet of plentiful fresh fruit and vegetables coupled with whole grains, legumes, pulses and lean meats is easily achievable. Most of us know which foods are good for us and we just need to put our knowledge into practice and challenge our habitual patterns. We don’t need to buy or make ‘fancy food’, in fact, simple is often best for health.
You can find more information on Healthy Eating Week at the following links:
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