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10 simple ways to boost your skin, digestion & more

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    You’ve probably all heard that good gut health is important for pretty much everything from skin to digestion to energy to general well-being. But question: how do you know if you have good gut health, and what are the simplest gut health hacks you can incorporate into your daily routine to optimize yours?

    Both good questions, which is why we asked two pros to break them down for you. But first – why is gut health such a buzzword right now?

    “Interest in gut health has increased significantly over the last few decades,” shares nutritional therapist and gut health specialist for KALLA, Eve Kalinik. “I think that’s largely because, through increasing scientific research, we’re beginning to understand just how much of an impact it has on our overall well-being.”

    Indi Supplements’ lead nutritionist, MD Federica Amati, agrees, adding, “There is a growing body of knowledge about how the microbiome and gut health affect you. The link between fiber consumption and improved health is now well established, and since we know that fiber can only be digested by our microbiome, it’s clear that the benefits of fiber are down to these microbes,” she shares.

    More recently, there’s even been a link between probiotic supplementation and COVID outcomes, she adds, which is another strong indication that emphasizing your gut health is worth the hype. Already aroused your interest? Keep scrolling as they share their expert knowledge on how to optimize yours. Good gut health, please.

    Gut Health Hacks: Your Guide

    So what is gut health?

    According to Amati, gut health is defined as the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms — also known as abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea — and diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer. “It’s also the presence of microflora in your gut to support healthy function,” she shares.

    Think of it this way – the gut is essentially a long tube that starts at the mouth and runs to the exit point, or something like kalinik. “Often, however, ‘gut health’ refers to your gut microbiome, which is a collective of all the microbes that live in your gut, primarily the colon.”

    Did you know? The makeup of your gut microbiome is entirely unique — a bit like a fingerprint — and consists of around a trillion microbes.

    “In fact, current statistics suggest that these microbes outnumber our own human cells, so they’re actually more microbes than humans!” Shares Kalinik.

    Why is good gut health important?

    And in short, how does that affect you? Well, research shows that the more diverse the gut microbiome, the healthier and stronger it is, and this impacts all sorts of other things, including skin, digestion, and so on.

    “The gut microbiome is now considered an independent organ due to its far-reaching influence on a variety of different systems in the body,” says Kalinik. This contains:

    • digestion
    • The absorption of nutrients from our food
    • How our immune system works
    • regulation of our mood
    • Ability to manage inflammation
    • Ability to balance hormones.

    Gut Health Hacks: Woman hands and a salad

    11 gut health hacks to optimize your microbiome

    1. Improve your fiber

    Fun Fact: Fiber is the king of the gut microbiome because it essentially feeds the microbes in our gut, Kalinik explains. “Fiber is found in all plant-based foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, but diversity of these sources is key as it cultivates a healthier and stronger gut microbiome.”

    Try this: Consider some simple tricks like making soups and stews with lots of vegetables or adding nut and seed mixes to your plate. “It really lets you pack in a variety of sources,” she shares.

    2. Eat the rainbow

    While it’s a bit cliche, it means you’re consuming lots of polyphenols (aka special plant chemicals).

    “These (yes, you guessed it) feed the gut microbiome,” Kalinik shares. “So it can be a helpful analogy to remember.”

    Read our guides on what causes bloating and what to eat after a workout while you’re here.

    3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

    Sure, eating is important, but so is drinking lots – and lots – of water.

    “Stay hydrated because dehydration alone can cause constipation or slower movement through the gut — it’s a very thirsty organ!” shares Kalinik.

    4. Rest and digest

    Not sure what that means? Simply put, take your time with meals and chew your food thoroughly.

    “This can help relieve some of the most common gut symptoms like indigestion, excess gas and bloating,” the expert shares.

    5. Be mindful

    You’ve probably heard of meditation, mindful movement, and breathwork—but how do they figure on a list of gut health hacks?

    “Some forms of mindfulness, like meditation, some types of yoga, and breathwork, are critical to supporting the gut-brain connection — it’s incredibly powerful and bi-directional,” Kalinik shares. “Remember, it’s the things with cumulative effects that have the greatest impact.:

    6. Take a probiotic

    Consider taking a clinically-researched probiotic, both experts agree – our guide to the best probiotics for women might help.

    7. Or eat a probiotic

    Another simple way to improve gut microbiome diversity? Try consuming more probiotic foods, Amati recommends.

    “Probiotic foods are foods that contain helpful strains of bacteria,” she explains. “These include kefir, sauerkraut, and fermented miso.”

    Try this: Whether you’re buying kefir at the grocery store or experimenting with making your own kimchi, try introducing fermented foods into your diet every day — and don’t miss our guide to foods to boost your mood while you’re here.

    8. Be aware of the different types of fruits and vegetables you eat

    By increasing the number of plants you eat each day — Amati recommends eating 30 different types a week — we’re ticking a gut health hack off the list.

    Try this: She advises making a mental note, a list of all the different vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs you use, on your phone or on your fridge. “It’s a simple way to encourage you to reach your diversity goal,” she shares.

    The Nue Co Pre and Probiotic Supplement for Gut Health, £45

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    9. Mix things up

    We all know that variety is key, but by that experts mean meals that offer different combinations of nutrients.

    “Drop repetitive meal plans and get creative with dried spices, seeds, nuts and whole grains, and lots of seasonal vegetables,” says Amati. “Using a vegetable crate service can be a helpful way to try new recipes.”

    10. Get in

    Did you know? A 10-minute walk after lunch will both improve your transit time and help your body process starches and lipids from your meals, Amati explains.

    11. Take a break between dinner and breakfast

    Finally, allowing 14 hours between your dinner and breakfast — say, eating dinner at 7:00 p.m. and eating at 9:00 a.m. — can be a great way to rest, repair, and improve your overall gut health Have breakfast – Amati says.

    This won’t be for everyone – don’t try it if you need more frequent meals, are pregnant, or have a medical condition that requires more regular eating – but it may work for some.

    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.

    Related Stories

    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:

    hey You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cutting-edge wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.

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    Whole Grains Health

    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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    Whole Grains Health

    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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