To stay healthy as we age, eat what a doctor eats, Dr Kate Gregorevic explains why.
Eating really is one of the best things about being alive. As a doctor and healthy ageing expert, I am also very conscious that my food choices can have a big impact on my health, both now and in the future.
Diets high in ultra-processed foods have been linked to poor health and earlier mortality in large studies in Spain and France. Eating mostly wholefoods is also linked to better mood, better memory and importantly helps you to feel full.
Mostly plants. While I do enjoy a little meat or fish, vegetables and wholegrains like oats, brown rice, barley and freekeh make up the bulk of my diet. Eating this way, and including lots of variety of vegetables means that I am getting lots of fibre. Fibre is the part of the plant that we are not able to digest ourselves, so it goes all the way to our colon, where it is a feast for our gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria break down the fibre and produce short chain fatty acids, which help protect the lining of our gut as well as sending signals to the brain to tell us we have had enough to eat.
Healthy fats. Every one of our cell membranes is partly made up of fats. Fats are also the basis for many hormones and play other critical roles in our body’s function. This means that the type of fats we eat have a role in how our bodies work. Healthy fats including extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and oily fish ensure our bodies have the right materials for health readily available. They are also linked to better brain function and heart health.
Avoid ultra-processed foods. According to Public Health Nutrition, ‘ultra-processed’ foods are energy-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined starches, sugars and salt, and poor sources of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients. Unfortunately these are the foods that are also most accessible to us, since this includes many breakfast cereals, granola bars, supermarket bread, hot dogs, instant noodles and more. These foods are designed to overcome our own satiety signals, so no matter how much we eat, we don’t feel full.
Meat is not essential, although I do eat it. After reading widely, while there are ethical reasons not to eat meat due to environmental and animal welfare concerns, there is insufficient evidence that excluding it completely is essential for health. Meat is a good source of some micronutrients, like B12 and iron. If you choose to include meat in your diet, it should only take up a small part of a plate that is mostly filled with plant-based foods. I also try and buy meat that has been ethically raised.
Read the full article here on why you should eat what a doctor eats: The Sydney Morning Herald