HEALTH, MENTAL WELL-BEING AND IMMUNITY

Foods to avoid and those to favor!

"We are what we eat"!

The evidence is accumulating and confirming it. A healthy diet, mostly made up of unprocessed foods that are rich in antioxidants, nutrients and fiber, can prevent the development of chronic diseases, such as gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, joint problems, cardiovascular problems, chronic respiratory disease or Alzheimer's disease.

According to Dr. Barry Sears, considered the founding father of anti-inflammatory nutrition, one of the causes of the onset of almost all chronic and degenerative diseases is the presence of "silent" inflammation.

Certain foods can maintain and even worsen inflammation. Chronic stress and lack of sleep can also be a contributing factor to inflammation. In this article and those of the next few weeks, we will look at what we eat!

There are numerous “roles” of eating:

  • Provide the body with ALL the nutrients it needs for energy, regenerate at all stages of life and fight disease ... for over 90 years;
  • Bring inner well-being;
  • For pleasure, sharing and conviviality: cooking and eating is a pleasure that you can renew every day.
     

To successfully change your habits, there is nothing better than taking it step by step! Let's start with the first step:

1. Among the foods to avoid are, you surely guessed it: sugar and over-processed products. Understanding why is the starting point for change.

  • Addicted to sugar? We all are, to a certain extent. Sugar is not nourishing, but the feeling of pleasure it brings is addictive! It’s almost a drug for some people… but at what cost for their health?
     
  • Regular consumption of sugar maintains inflammation and it plays a key role in the development of chronic diseases and obesity. Even worse, and without us noticing it, the presence of inflammatory markers is now recognized as one of the causes that disrupt the functioning of the brain to the point of triggering mood disorders and depression.
     
  • Hypoglycemia, one of the consequences of consuming too much sugary food, affects memory and our ability to learn. Children and adults with ADHD are particularly sensitive to blood sugar fluctuations. Among the symptoms associated with hypoglycemia, we find: difficulty concentrating, irritability, mood swings, confusion, fatigue, greater difficulty in managing stress, anxious behaviors…an overall negative state which we can act on by changing our eating habits.
     
  • Sugar, enemy of the gut and immunity! The consumption of sugary foods changes the composition of the gut microbiota and destroys some of its bacterial diversity. We must not forget that it is in the intestine that we find more than 80% of immune cells. By affecting the bacterial flora, it weakens our immune defenses.
     
  • Sugar is the most hidden ingredient in ultra-processed foods: these products, which often have aggressive marketing to promote them, often contain too much sugar, additives, preservatives, sweeteners, coloring and salt: cereals, cookies, pastries, granola bars, sugary drinks, soft drinks, instant soups, ice creams, frozen meals, crackers, margarine, store-bought sauces, snack foods of all kinds, etc.
     
HEALTH, MENTAL WELL-BEING AND IMMUNITY Foods to avoid and those to favor!


2. Cook some homemade treats using quality, nutritious ingredients: just because it is better to cut down on carbohydrates doesn't mean you can't indulge a little and satisfy that sweet craving you have. To help you adopt better habits while having fun, here are some delicious and comforting sugar-free recipes with little added sugar:

Click to see our recipes...

APPLE PIE OATMEAL

RASPBERRY TOFU MOUSSE

THREE PURÉE BREAD CAKE

BANANA COOKIES

3. Snacks: During the day or in the evening, if you like having a small snack, plan ahead what you are going to eat rather than choosing a sweet treat impulsively. Prepare a small plate of raw vegetables with a dip or cheese, a few crackers with hummus, a dozen nuts with a fruit or compote, a smoothie with added protein powder, etc.

4. The best sugar alternatives: to replace sugar in your favorite recipes or to satisfy a craving for something sweet, you can have unpasteurized honey, coconut sugar and maple syrup. Those are better quality sweeteners than sugar (white or brown), but should still be consumed in moderation.

Equivalences to substitute sugar in a recipe:

Honey: reduce the amount of sugar by about 25%. For example, instead of a cup (250 ml) of sugar, you will put ¾ cup (180 ml) of honey and since the honey is liquid, reduce the liquids in the recipe by two to three tablespoons (30 at 45 ml).

To prevent the honey from sticking to the measuring cup, oil the inside of the cup ... the honey will slide very easily.

Coconut sugar: use the same amount as the sugar.

Maple syrup: use the same amount as sugar, however, reduce the amount of liquid by about 25%. For example, a cup (250 ml) of sugar will be replaced by a cup (250 ml) of maple syrup and remove ¼ cup (60 ml) of liquid from the recipe.

5. The best “sugar-free” alternatives to sugar:

Stevia, a plant extract that has a sweet taste, with 0g of sugar and 0 calories.

Xylitol and erythritol have a sweetening power similar to sugar. Consumed in too large quantities, they can cause mild gastrointestinal problems.

Monk Fruit, a small fruit with a sweet pulp with which we make a natural non-caloric sweetener, with a sweetening power superior to sugar.

Equivalences to substitute sugar in a recipe:

Stevia (powder form): the amount of sugar needed must be halved. ½ cup (125 ml) of stevia replaces one cup (250 ml) of sugar. Please note: stevia has an aftertaste that does not appeal to everyone! It is possible to mix stevia with other sugar substitutes, such as xylitol, erythritol or monk fruit.

Xylitol: In a recipe that doesn’t require baking or heating (raw), use the same amount: a cup of sugar (250 ml) = a cup of xylitol (250 ml).

If heating is required in the recipe, like stevia, divide the quantity in half. Xylitol has a higher sweetening power when cooked.

Erythritol: With or without heating, use the same amount: one cup of sugar (250 ml) = one cup of erythritol (250 ml).

Monk fruit: it is the sugar substitute whose taste is closest to that of sugar. As its cost is higher than other substitutes, you can mix it with erythritol. For all recipes, use the same amount: one cup of sugar (250 ml) = one cup of monk fruit or a monk fruit / erythritol mixture (250 ml).

6. Stay away from sugar substitutes like aspartame (or E951 or Nutrasweet), often used in ultra-processed products. It is attributed to several side effects on health and it is also said to be addictive. Fructose and agave syrup (which contains 90% fructose) are not recommended because by not requiring the intervention of insulin, they turn into fat, damaging the liver and promoting obesity.

Reflection

Sugar is everywhere. In these difficult times, we shall not fall into the trap of using it to calm our anxieties and frustrations. It's time to be creative and pro-active! Today and tomorrow, your immune, physical and mental health depends on your actions!

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