What diet change should you make today to improve your health?
Dr Michael Mosley, Dr Alex George, Deliciously Ella, The Doctor's Kitchen host Dr Rupy Aujla and more reveal their advice on the one diet change you can easily make today to boost your health.
Making big adjustments to your diet can seem overwhelming and unrealistic, particularly if you try to tackle everything at once. Making one simple change can feel more manageable, and can be a first step on the road to a healthier you.
For A&E and TV doctor Alex George, it's all about reaching your 5-a-day goal.
"Eat more fruit and vegetables. This holds as true today as when I was six years old, being told by my nan that I needed to eat my greens to grow up healthy and strong. We simply don’t eat enough of the stuff. Fruit and vegetables provide us with essential vitamins and minerals needed by the body to maintain function and health. People who eat more fruit and vegetables are less likely to suffer with heart disease, strokes and even some kinds of cancer. Feel free therefore, to enjoy lots of fruit and veg, in the knowledge that it will be doing you plenty of good!"
"Do more of your own cooking", Dr Michael Mosley
BBC journalist, presenter and author Dr Michael Mosley says it all starts with cooking from scratch.
"Do more of your own cooking, from scratch. More than half the food we now eat is highly processed, and this is particularly true of the young. We know that eating lots of processed and junk food is bad for your waistline, but it is also bad for your microbiome: the trillions of microbes that live in your gut and are so important for physical and mental health. A diet of 'ready to eat' meals can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression and anxiety."
"Take more time when eating your meals", Priya Tew
Eat Well for Less?' award-winning Dietician Priya Tew is a specialist in eating disorders. For her, the road to a healthy lifestyle is pathed with mindful choices. She says, "As a starting point, rushing less and taking more time when eating your meals in order to understand and listen to your body’s signals is something that can make a huge difference in our busy lifestyles."
"Increase your consumption of plant fibre", Dr Rupy Aujla
Medical doctor Dr Rupy Aujla, author and founder of The Doctor’s Kitchen, is a firm believer in food as medicine. For him, increasing your intake of foods high in plant fibre is the best way to kick-start healthy habits.
“Increase your consumption of plant fibre, such as by eating chickpeas, beans and legumes. Plant fibres tend to be higher in plant-proteins, so are a great way of rethinking our reliance on meat. Not only is that good for our internal health but also for our environmental health. Two birds with one stone! A diet rich in plant fibre is also crucial for maintaining healthy gut bacteria.”
Deliciously Ella's founder, Ella Mills, recommends thinking about the foods you can add to your diet to help you get healthier, rather than the things you can take out - those decisions can come later.
“Focus on the positives and what you can add – can you add an extra portion of veggies to a meal and some fruit to your breakfast? We all think eating well is complicated, but it doesn’t need to be that way. You can take simple ingredients such as lentils and cook them into something delicious.
"Add lentils to onions, garlic and carrots sautéed with paprika, mustard seeds and curry powder. Simmer with coconut milk, dried apricots and roasted cauliflower to make a thick, creamy dal."
"Learn to cook", Lynne Garton
Lynne Garton, Dietetic Advisor at HEART UK and regular Dietician on BBC's The Truth About Food, knows that first step to eating healthily is picking up a pan learning to cook.
"Learning to cook is crucial to help you achieve a heart-healthy diet, by expanding your intake of nutritious foods. Focus on finding tasty ways to add variety to your diet and to boost your intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds. Experiment with herbs, spices and new cooking techniques to cut down on unhealthy fats, sugar and salt, as well as excess calories, often found in many ready-prepared convenience and ‘fast’ foods. You’re never too young – or to old – to look after your heart. While heart disease is often considered a problem for older adults, some of the causes can start much earlier in life."
"Focus on fibre", Kevin Whelan
For Professor Kevin Whelan, Professor of Dietetics at King’s College London, fibre is the most important thing we can add to our diet today. He says it could be as easy as eating half a tin of baked beans!
"If I could do one thing to improve health, it would be to focus on fibre. Would you like 9% lower risk of a heart attack, 8% lower risk of colon cancer, 7% lower risk of stroke, and 6% lower risk of type 2 diabetes? Research has shown that people who eat just an extra 7g of dietary fibre per day have all these health benefits.
"Fibre is the part of fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals that we humans can't digest, but are used to both bulk our stool and feed the bacteria in our gut. In fact, our research at King’s College London shows that fibre increases the amount of the beneficial bacteria in the gut, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
"Adding just 7g of fibre to your diet can be achieved quite easily, for example by eating a high-bran breakfast cereal, half a can of baked beans, or a portion of green peas."