Tuesday 18 July 2023



Great book - must finish it!

I bought 'More fuel you' after reading an interview with the author; I really like her approach to diet and nutrition - she works with you and your needs, values and requirements rather than dictating what you should do, and is an advocate of eating as a pleasurable and social activity. Things she considers in this book after an introduction on nutrition include the effects of ageing and the menopause, and the pros and cons of various eating choices including low carb, plant based and intermittent fasting. Whilst this book is geared towards those wanting to improve sporting performance the information in it is relevant to everybody who wants to find out more about nutrition and eating healthily and optimally. It is very accessible and well written, with plenty of case studies.

There have been some interesting radio programmes on food recently too. When I was training to be a medical herbalist I was fortunate to have Christopher Hedley as one of my teachers, a wonderful herbalist and teacher with a knack of summarising key points in a memorable way; 'get them eating right, get them sleeping right and see what you're left with'. Now we are finding out more about the gut microbiome we understand that what we eat really does affect both our mood and our immune system - so much more than just fuel, as herbalists have known all along. Pretty much every nutritionist will tell you to eat lots of plants and to eat fresh food and this thirty minute, very engaging radio programme https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001ngjx agreed, advocating eating at least thirty different types of plant each week. This is easier than it sounds as it includes herbs and spices and doesn't have to be large quantities. I counted up how many plants I had in one day last week and it was twenty - my muesli alone included eight types plus the fresh fruit I add to it. One of the traditional ways of preparing foods in many cultures is to ferment them and again this is really beneficial for the gut microbiome. In contrast so much of the modern industrial way of eating although convenient is damaging to our health; it's scary how much of the food we buy is actually ultra-processed (over 60% of the average person's diet in the UK, apparently!) The programme is a Michael Mosely one and he has a 'Stay Young' series on BBC Sounds in which the first episode covers the benefits of fermented foods. Ultra processed foods are discussed amongst other food matters in this episode of 'The Infinite Monkey Cage', https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001n8b6, and if you find the subject interesting then you may like to follow up Dr Chris van Tulleken's podcast.

Another thing that came up in one of the programmes I was listening to was, don't write a food off because you didn't like it the first time. Our tastes change over time and we have to learn to like foods that aren't sweet (this is a survival mechanism as many poisonous foods are bitter. Of course, many beneficial foods also have a bitter taste so we have to be taught which are safe and then to develop a taste for them). When I was growing up my mum (a great cook with a wide repertoire) would always put a teaspoon of something we weren't sure of on our plate just to try, with no pressure or judgement. This taught me useful strategies on how to eat foods I didn't particularly like, but also over time I would often develop a taste for them (exceptions include kidney and liver - just no!) Another thing to consider is that as your gut health improves you may be able to tolerate more foods that you previously found upset your digestive system. Keep curious, keep trying different foods!

Most importantly of all, enjoy your food!

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