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Add yogurt, kimchi & kombucha to your diet. Fermented foods secret to a healthy body

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Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha have long been a staple in many parts of the world. In fact, for thousands of years, various cultures have relied on fermentation to make bread and cheese, preserve meat and vegetables, and improve the taste and texture of many foods.

Now scientists are discovering that fermented foods can have fascinating effects on our intestines. Eating these foods can alter the makeup of the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that inhabit our intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome. They can also lead to lower levels of inflammation throughout the body, which scientists are increasingly linking to a range of age-related diseases.

The latest findings come from a study published in the journal Cell, carried out by researchers at Stanford University. They wanted to see what effects fermented foods can have on the gut and immune system, and how they compare to a relatively healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods.

For the study, the researchers recruited 36 healthy adults and randomly divided them into groups. One group was instructed to increase their consumption of high-fiber plant-based foods, while a second group was instructed to eat plenty of fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. These foods are made by combining milk, vegetables and other raw materials with microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. As a result, fermented foods are often teeming with live microorganisms, as well as by-products of the fermentation process, which contain various vitamins, as well as lactic and citric acids.

Participants followed the diets for 10 weeks while the researchers tracked markers of inflammation in their blood and looked for changes in their gut microbiome. By the end of the study, the first group had doubled their fiber intake from about 22 grams per day to 45 grams per day, which is roughly three times the average American intake. The second group consumed almost no fermented foods and ate about six servings a day. While six servings may sound like a lot, it isn’t

plenty to get: a cup of yogurt for breakfast, a 16-ounce bottle of kombucha tea for lunch, and a cup of kimchi for dinner are the equivalent of six daily servings.

After the 10 week period, neither group had significant changes in general immune health measurements. But the fermented foods group showed a significant reduction in 19 inflammatory compounds. Among the compounds that showed a decrease was interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that is prone to high levels in diseases such as type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In contrast, the high fiber group showed no overall decrease in the same inflammatory compounds.

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One reason fermented foods can be beneficial is because the microorganisms they contain are constantly producing a lot of nutrients during the fermentation process.

In people in the fermented food group, the decrease in markers of inflammation coincided with changes in their gut. They began to harbor a wider and more diverse range of microbes, in line with other recent studies of people consuming a variety of fermented foods. The new research found that the more fermented foods people ate, the more microbial species bloomed in their bowels. Surprisingly, however, only 5% of the new microbes discovered in their guts appeared to have come directly from the fermented foods they ate.

“The vast majority came from elsewhere, and we don’t know where,” says Justin Sonnenburg, author of the new study and professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford. “I think there were either low-level, below-limit-of-detection microbes that bloomed, or the fermented foods did something that allowed other microbes to be quickly recruited into the gut environment.”

Greater diversity in the gut microbiome is generally considered a good thing. Studies have linked it to lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders, and other diseases. People who live in developed nations tend to have less microbial diversity in their gut than people who live in more traditional, non-industrialized societies. Some scientists speculate that modern lifestyle factors such as a diet high in processed foods, chronic stress, and physical inactivity can suppress the growth of potentially beneficial gut microbes. Others argue that the correlation between diverse microbiomes and good health is exaggerated and that the low level of microbiome diversity typically observed in people in developed countries could be appropriately adapted to a modern world.

One topic of which there is little disagreement among nutritionists is the benefits of a high-fiber diet. In large studies, people who eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other high-fiber foods tend to have lower death rates and fewer chronic illnesses. Fiber is considered good for gut health: microbes in the gut feed on fiber and use it to produce useful by-products like short chain fatty acids that can reduce inflammation. Some studies also suggest that consuming lots of fiber promotes a diverse microbiome.

The Stanford researchers expected that a high-fiber diet would have a huge impact on the composition of the microbiome. Instead, the high-fiber group tended to show few changes in their microbial diversity. But when the scientists took a closer look, they discovered something conspicuous. People who started with higher microbial diversity showed a decrease in inflammation with the high fiber diet, while those with the lowest microbial diversity had a slight increase in inflammation when they consumed more fiber.

The researchers said they suspect that people with low microbiome diversity may lack the right microbes to digest all of the fiber they consume. One finding that supports this: the high-fiber group had unexpectedly large amounts of carbohydrates in their stool that were not broken down by their gut microbes. One possibility is that her bowels took more time to adjust to the high-fiber diet. But ultimately, this finding could explain why some people experience gas and other uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems when they eat a lot of fiber, said Christopher Gardner, another author on the study.

“Perhaps the challenge some people face with fiber is their microbiome not being prepared for it,” said Gardner, the director of nutritional studies at Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Fermented Food Pickle_iStockiStock

Greater diversity in the gut microbiome is generally considered a good thing.

One question the researchers want to answer in the future is what would happen if people consumed more fermented foods and more fiber at the same time. Would that increase the variety of microbes in your gut and improve your ability to digest more fiber? Would the two have a synergistic effect on inflammation?

Suzanne Devkota, director of microbiome research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said fermented foods had long been believed to have health benefits, but the new research was some of the first provides “hard evidence” that it can affect the gut and inflammation. “We have always been a little reluctant to comment on whether fermented foods are beneficial, especially from an inflammatory point of view, because there really was no data behind it,” she said.

Devkota cautioned that the results shouldn’t discourage anyone from eating high-fiber foods because fiber has so many health benefits beyond its effects on the gut. She consumes a lot of fiber and fermented foods herself, and often recommends that patients in Cedars-Sinai with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease do the same. “That doesn’t change my recommendation,” she said. “But I would probably go a little more encouraging people to eat fermented foods because I now have data to suggest that there are some anti-inflammatory properties.”

Devkota said more research is needed to better understand the links between fermented foods and general health. However, she suggested that one reason fermented foods can be beneficial is because the microorganisms in them are constantly producing a lot of nutrients during the fermentation process. “A glass of sauerkraut is a living food with substances that are actively produced, such as vitamins,” she said. “When you eat a fermented food, you are consuming all of these microbially made chemicals that are good for you.”

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Whole Grains Health

Protein Variety and Heart Health Are Linked, Study Finds

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We’ve all found ourselves in the habit of eating the same three things over and over (…and over) again. When life gets busy, falling back on simple dishes that satisfy your tastebuds is the natural thing to do. But if you’re cooking up the same couple proteins on the regular, a new study published in the the journal Hypertension suggests that it may be time to introduce a few new varieties into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The study pulled existing data from over 12,000 participants who took part in a minimum of two rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between hypertension—or high blood pressure—and the variety and quantity of proteins from eight major dietary sources consumed by participants. (Study participants were an average age of 41 years old.)

Researchers measured protein intake by looking at three consecutive days of eating, scoring each round based on the number of protein varieties consumed (including legumes, fish, eggs, whole grains, refined grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, and poultry).

The results? “Among ‘just the right amount’ consumers of protein, those eating the greatest variety of protein had a the lowest blood pressure,” explains John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. Notably, those who ate the least and the most amount of protein were at the greatest risk for developing high blood pressure, while those who ate the greatest variety of protein were 66 percent less likely to end up developing hypertension between the rounds of the survey .

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure.” — Xianhui Qin, MD, study author

Although the survey results sound complicated—and, hey, they were—the takeaway is simple: “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Xianhui Qin, MD, the study author, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Spin the protein wheel of fortune and try something new.

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If you’re not quite sure where to start with upping your protein game, Dr. Higgins recommends looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than about 5.5 ounces of protein daily, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he says. “The best proteins are lean proteins including beans, soy or tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on label or contain high levels of trans fats or saturated fats. “

Of course, there’s always room in your eating plan for less nutritional proteins, too—just try to incorporate these lean sources when you can, and ask your doctor if you have questions about what dietary habits are right for your particular health status and family history .

A delicious way to eat more varied proteins? This delicious quiche recipe:

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The 10 Best Diet Books in 2022

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Staff, Courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

The word “diet” has earned itself an undeniably negative reputation, often leading people to think of unsustainable restriction and unhealthy fads. However, if you’re looking to adjust your way of eating, whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or hit a new personal record, there are tons of great diet books out there that can help educate you on ways to improve your nutrition and get you feeling better than ever.

While the diets of the past have focused on restriction, newer ways of eating encouragement consuming more good-for-you foods to crowd out less healthy choices, leaving you feeling satisfied, not deprived. These diet books are also super educational, teaching you why you should eat certain foods, what they can do for your health, and the best ways to make them delicious. To help you on your nutrition journey, we’ve gathered the best diet books and healthy cookbooks available today.

Best Diet Books

    How to Choose a Diet Book

    If you’re looking to switch up your diet, the first thing you should ask yourself is why. What exactly do you want out of a diet?

    Second, consider your lifestyle. Do you need meals that are quick and easy? Do you like to take an hour or two to cook for yourself every night? How often can you grocery shop for fresh ingredients?

    Finally, consider whether you’re looking specifically for a cookbook or one that will provide you education on a particular way of eating without necessarily giving you recipes. While many cookbooks will have some content that discusses the origins of food and their nutritional benefits, these books are unlikely to go as in-depth regarding nutrition as less recipe-focused ones.

    How We Selected

    To find the best diet books among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular books available and considered their content, credibility, design, digestibility, and organization. We then looked at both expert reviews and more than 105,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these books on Amazon, to settle on the diet books you’ll find below.

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    1

    Best vegetarian

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    This is a great all-around cookbook, but it’s an especially great buy if you’re trying to lay off meat. This book contains everything from specific meal recipes to instructions for steaming veggies, truly teaching you how to cook from start to finish. There are recipes for every meal, as well as snacks and desserts, and it includes instructions for so many different dishes you could easily cook from only this book for an entire year and not get bored.

    2

    Best for Longevity

    The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

    This cookbook highlights recipes from specific areas across the globe—called blue zones—where people live the longest. While some of their longevity surely comes from other lifestyle factors, there’s no discounting the role diet plays in their long-lasting health and wellbeing. These recipes not only focus on ingredients, but the ways in which foods are prepared and how that relates to their overall nutritional value.

    The goal of the book is to increase longevity and quality of life while creating delicious recipes that you’ll want to eat time and time again.

    3

    Best Mediterranean

    The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

    The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables, providing a well-rounded, nutritious way of eating.

    This cookbook not only has 500 great Mediterranean recipes, but it also helps you learn which ingredients you should make staples in your grocery list. It also uses only ingredients that you can easily find at standard grocery stores, which makes the Mediterranean diet more accessible.

    4

    Best for Runners

    run fast eat slow

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”—and to some degree, the same holds true for personal records. While nutritious food won’t necessarily knock 30 seconds off your mile time, it can help you fuel your workouts so you get the most out of your training.

    This book was designed by Olympian Shalane Flanagan and is packed with recipes designed to help runners fuel their toughest workouts and recover after. As a bonus, the recipes included in this book just so happen to be delicious, too.

    5

    Best Vegan

    The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

    When first going vegan, it can be difficult to figure out how to make food that is both delicious and nutritious. This book has 500 recipes ranging from meals to snacks to desserts that use entirely plant-based ingredients. These recipes also offer alternate ingredient options, like eggs and dairy, which is great if you want to add more plant-based recipes into your diet, but aren’t ready to dive headfirst into veganism.

    6

    Best for a full reset

    The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    If you’ve been diet-hopping in hopes of finding a meal plan that can help you commit to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some weight loss, Whole 30 is a great choice. It has you cut out sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and some other specific foods for 30 days. The idea behind the diet is that it helps jumpstart weight loss while simultaneously getting you to reassess how you think about what you are eating to reach a place of freedom with your food.

    7

    Best for weight loss

    The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

    If weight loss is your goal, and you have struggled to find lasting success, this book could be a game-changer. It dives into the science of weight loss, helping you understand hormones, insulin resistance, and other reasons for weight gain. The book recommends intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, and guides you on how to do them correctly, efficiently, and in the long term.

    8th

    Best for Learning about Food

    How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

    A lot of eating plans focus on what you should eliminate from your diet, but this book places more importance on what you should be adding to your diet and why.

    It discusses foods that are scientifically proven to help you live a longer, healthier life, and the many ways in which food can help prevent disease. It focuses on whole body health—including both mental and physical health—and teaches you to focus on more than just weight and physical appearance when it comes to your food.

    9

    Best for Anti-Dieters

    Not a Diet Book: Take Control. Gain Confidence. ChangeYourLife.

    The rise of anti-diet culture gave inspiration to this book, which helps you improve your relationship with food, tackle weight loss, and debunk fad diets to find a simple and easy way to lose weight and create habits that will keep the pounds from coming back. This book will help you build skills that enable you to live a happier, healthier life without focusing too closely on calories or numbers on a scale.

    10

    Best for fasting

    Complete Guide to Fasting

    Fasting has gained popularity over the last decade and can be a great way to boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and promote weight loss. There are, however, rules you should follow while fasting so that you improve your health rather than endangering it. This book will guide you through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting to ensure you choose the style that will work best for you and do it correctly.


    Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

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Eating different kinds of protein protects against hypertension: New study

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Despite all this talk that more Australians are toying with vegetarianism, and despite the endless drum-beating about red meat giving you cancer and a dodgy heart, we continue to have one of the world’s highest levels of meat consumption.

Analysis published in December found Australians eat about 95 kilograms of meat per capita every year. The global average is 35 kilograms.

The article, ‘The Evolution of Urban Australian Meat-Eating Practices’, argues our meat-eating habits are driven by a blocky culture, an association with social status, a perception that plant-based diets are inadequate and lame, and ignorance about cooking legumes and tofu.

On the other hand, the authors point to a survey that found almost 20 per cent of those sampled “identified as meat-reducers”.

Furthermore, the authors say, 87 percent “of the meat reducer segment reported consuming a meat-free dish as their main meal at least once a week”.

They point to another survey that found almost 20 per cent described themselves as “flexitarian”, which is cool.

But it may not translate to more lentils, nuts, whole grains, fish and dairy hitting the dinner table as new favorite sources of protein.

A new study found why we need variety

Chinese researchers found that “eating protein from a greater variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure”.

Good to know because blood pressure is literally out of control in Australia.

One in three adults – more than six million Australians – has high blood pressure.

Of those afflicted, only 32 per cent have their hypertension under control. That leaves about four million Australians as ticking time bombs.

In December, in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney, called for a national taskforce to tackle the issue.

By improving the control of hypertension, the risks of coronary heart disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease will be substantially reduced.

The Chinese study suggests changing your diet will go some way to solving the problem.

the study

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” said study author Dr Xianhui Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

The study authors analyzed health information for nearly 12,200 adults (average age 41), who had taken part in multiple rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over three days in the same week, participants shared what they had eaten.

They were given a protein “variety score” based on the different sources of protein they’d eaten: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.

One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of 8. The researchers then evaluated the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score.

New-onset hypertension was defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, the use of blood pressure-lowering medicine, or self-reporting that a physician had diagnosed high blood pressure.

The average follow-up time was six years.

The results

More than 35 per cent of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up.

Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake (1), those with the highest variety score (4 or higher) had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

The amount of protein eaten was also a factor. Consumption was divided into five categories, from least to most intake.

The researchers found that “people who ate the least amount of total protein and those who ate most protein had the highest risk for new onset of hypertension”.

The researchers didn’t ask why a variety of proteins was more healthy. But nutritionists, doctors and health writers have banged on about it for years.

Lean red meat is high in quality protein but provides no fiber or healthy fats. Processed meats are high in saturated fats and salt and are the worst.

Fish is high in long-chain fatty acids, which are good for the brain. Lentils and whole grains are high in fibre.

Hand on heart, a bit of each during the week might stop you from carking it in the street. Which is just undignified and unmanly.

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