Thursday, October 29, 2020
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Eat to beat disease: The tasty ways to boost your heart and brain – Daily Mail


Inflammation is the biggest health risk we all face and it lies at the root of many of the most common and serious conditions. 

Here, in the second part of our life-changing new series, top dietitian Jane Clarke reveals the steps — and the recipes — to help tackle it. 

Wouldn’t it be awful to have to live with a fire alarm constantly ringing in your home? 

Well, that’s just what’s happening to your body if you suffer from chronic inflammation, as many of us do.

Inflammation is our body’s own warning system, a sign that there’s a problem, such as an infection or an injury, and that our natural defences are needed to help fix it.

Usually, the inflammatory response will last a few hours or days, just enough time for your body to release the chemicals that can deal with the problem and help it to recover.

Inflammation is the biggest health risk we all face and it lies at the root of many of the most common and serious conditions [File photo]

But sometimes the fire alarm keeps on ringing and the body’s inflammatory response won’t turn off. 

And chronic inflammation, as I explained on Saturday, is a major health issue, linked to a wide range of serious conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, dementia, depression, stroke and cancer.

Pollution, stress, lingering infection, injury and obesity are known to trigger inflammation. And what we eat can also directly fire up inflammation in our body.

Embrace the three omegas

Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat and a nutrition superpower essential to any anti-inflammation plan (see above). But we need some omega 6 and 9 in our diet, too.

We can only get these three omegas from the food we eat. However, Western diets tend to have too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3.

Aim to eat at least one portion (about 140 g cooked) of oily fish every week — ideally two. That will provide all the omega 3 you need. 

There isn’t a recommended intake for omega 6 and 9, but I’d suggest sticking to small amounts, perhaps a handful of nuts a day and a splash of oil for cooking.

OMEGA 3

  • Oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, (fresh) tuna, sardines and pilchards
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds: linseed, pumpkin and chian Soya beans
  • Supplements: look for EPA, ALA or DHA on the label

OMEGA 6

  • Sunflower and safflower oils
  • Mayonnaisen Nuts
  • Seeds: linseed, pumpkin and chia

OMEGA 9

  • Olive, almond and avocado oils
  • Seeds: linseed, pumpkin and chia

Several scientific studies suggest that ultra-processed foods — which are often high in fat and sugar, and packed with chemical additives — are the major culprits. 

These foods now make up to 60 per cent of the average Briton’s diet (they include everything from biscuits and savoury snacks, to breakfast cereals, processed meats and packet sauces). They create a cascade effect of inflammation throughout our bodies, from our skin to our guts, and deep inside the cells in every organ.

The good news is that there are foods that can turn off the fire alarm, calming down the inflammation by releasing compounds that help repair damage to our cells — and so reduce the risks and symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.

These foods form the core of my anti-inflammatory plan, which is based on my 30 years’ experience working as a dietitian and nutritionist. I’ve devised it to help you feel better now — and protect your health well into your later years.

The superpower nutrient we need

All this week I’ll be sharing my insights and knowledge — as well as exclusive recipes — in an unmissable series of pullouts. And every day I’ll focus on the foods and supplements that are anti-inflammatory (and show you the inflammatory foods to avoid).

Today, I want to let you know about a nutrient I regard as a real superpower in tackling inflammation. It’s a cornerstone of any anti-inflammation plan and is called omega 3.

This is why it appears in many of my anti-inflammatory recipes, including some of the breakfasts featured today. Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat and oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna, sardines and pilchards, are a brilliant source of it. Canned fish (apart from tuna — the omega 3s in it don’t survive canning) is a good — and cheap — option.

Why do I love omega 3 so much? First, it’s proven to protect the heart and reduce inflammation in the body: higher levels of omega 3 are associated with reduced risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, dementia, and age-related vision loss. It is crucial to our potential to live a longer, healthier life.

Breakfast on the go

Don’t have time to eat at home? Avoid shovelling in carb-loaded refined cereals and breakfast bars as these will fire up inflammation by releasing sugar into the bloodstream — leading to a spike in levels of insulin and, long term, weight gain and raised fat stores in the liver, triggering inflammation.

Instead, grab these on-the- go breakfasts:

An apple and a handful of walnuts: this provides fibre, energy, protein and omegas (see above).

Boiled eggs: these are protein-rich and filling, so you won’t need extra inflammation-firing refined carbs to satisfy your appetite. Have with spinach or similar green veg on the side (small pots are available at most supermarkets) for added antioxidants to protect your cells from inflammatory damage.

Porridge: oats are anti-inflammatory. Ask for a topping of nuts and seeds, or even peanut butter, for a great combination of slow-release carbs and protein.

Yoghurt and fruit: opt for full-fat natural Greek yoghurt, which will help reduce inflammation in the gut. A portion of fruit on the side will add antioxidants and fibre.

Omega 3 doesn’t just help prevent inflammation; it also eases existing symptoms by dampening the inflammatory response — that’s why many doctors recommend fish oil supplements for arthritis or joint pain. Omega 3 has also been shown to reduce childhood allergies.

I was brought up on sardines on toast and still eat them for a weekend breakfast. Tinned sardines and pilchards were also a go-to (on toast or stirred into a tomato sauce with pasta) when I was looking for foods to help ease my daughter Maya’s excruciatingly painful eczema when she was seven. 

The improvement in her skin seemed almost miraculous after boosting the omega 3 in her diet.

Inflammation isn’t just an issue for physical health; studies show that people with depression and other mood disorders have increased inflammation in their nervous systems.

And exciting studies have shown taking fish oil supplements improved symptoms in those with mild to moderate depression. It’s thought omega 3 is able to interact with mood-related molecules such as serotonin.

While we talk of omega 3, there are actually several types of these fatty acids. The main three are DHA and EPA — found in fish oils — and ALA, which comes from plant oils such as flaxseed and rapeseed oils.

Each type of omega 3 has a different effect on the body and its risk of chronic disease, so your anti-inflammatory diet should include all three — achieved simply by eating the different sources throughout the week.

Sweet potato hash, kale and poached eggs

Sweet potato is lower on the glycaemic index than white potato, so is much less likely to cause blood sugar spikes, which we want to avoid. 

For the perfect poached egg, you need at least 5cm water that’s just boiling. Take a coffee cup and crack an egg inside. Holding the cup close to the water’s surface, slowly let the egg roll in. Use one cup per egg.

Serves 2

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes
  • 2 small red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • Organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • White wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas 6. Place the chopped sweet potato and red onion in a bowl. Add the cumin, turmeric, chilli flakes, rapeseed oil, salt and pepper and combine.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper, spread the potato mix evenly across it and roast for ten minutes, or until lightly charred and soft.

Now drizzle a little rapeseed oil over the kale and add to the potatoes on the baking tray. Cook for about five minutes, then remove the tray from the oven. Place back into the bowl and use a fork to gently mash the mix together, then add most of the parsley and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Bring a high-rimmed pan of water to the boil, and add 25ml white wine vinegar per litre of water. Poach the eggs in the vinegar water for three minutes.

Divide the sweet potato hash between two bowls, add two poached eggs to each and garnish with the rest of the parsley.

Sweet potato hash, kale and poached eggs

Scrambled egg, turkey sausage and roast tomato

Roast tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which helps repair cell damage. 

Turkey sausages are better for an anti-inflammatory plan than the usual versions, because they are white meat.

Serves 2

  • 2 trusses cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Black pepper and sea salt
  • 4 turkey sausages
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 25ml double cream
  • Sprigs of parsley, to serve

Preheat the oven to 250c/230c fan/gas 9. Place the cherry tomatoes on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle over a little oil and season. Roast for seven minutes, or until slightly charred. 

Now, add a little more oil to a frying pan and cook the turkey sausages slowly on a medium heat until golden brown. Turn down the heat and keep them frying until cooked all the way through.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and season to taste. Melt the butter in a pan, add the egg mix and cook slowly over a medium heat. When the mixture transforms into a thick custard-like consistency, take it off the heat and stir in the double cream.

Serve the scrambled egg immediately, divided between two plates along with the sausages and tomatoes. Garnish with sprigs of parsley.

Scrambled egg, turkey sausage and roast tomato

Overnight oats, blueberries and almonds

Oats are very nourishing and when combined with antioxidant-rich blueberries make the perfect anti-inflammatory breakfast. 

This is a great option for a busy morning — tasty, quick and nutritious. Prepare it the evening before.

Serves 2

  • 100g rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 100g Greek yoghurt
  • 200ml nut, soy or rice milk
  • 3 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 150g blueberries

Place the oats, maple syrup, yoghurt and milk in a bowl and stir well, then cover and leave in the fridge overnight. 

In the morning, stir well and serve topped with the nuts and blueberries.

Overnight oats, blueberries and almonds

Turmeric hot chocolate

This is a good, quick breakfast if you don’t have much of an appetite first thing. It’s much better to have something nourishing, with the powerful anti-inflammatory turmeric, than a sugar-laden cereal. 

As the spice tastes very strong, experiment until you find out how much is best for you.

Serves 2

  • 300ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 80ml water
  • 1½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg

Place the ingredients into a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for three minutes, then strain through a sieve into two mugs.

Buckwheat and chia seed porridge with frozen berries

Frozen berries are often much higher in the antioxidant vitamin C than fresh ones — and can be cheaper, too. 

Many other wholegrains (important in an anti-inflammatory diet) can be used to make porridge, such as quinoa or millet. 

Experiment with the toppings, too. I love banana and peanut butter, or apricots and toasted almonds.

Serves 2

  • 150ml almond milk
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 150ml water
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 100g buckwheat groats or flakes
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 100g mixed frozen berries
  • Maple syrup, to serve

In a medium-sized pan, bring the milk, water, cinnamon and salt to the boil. 

Add the buckwheat and chia seeds and cook on low heat for ten to 15 minutes, or until all the milk is absorbed. 

When the porridge is fully cooked, it will be creamy and there should be no bite left in the grains. 

Add the frozen berries and stir carefully for two minutes, or until warmed through. Serve in bowls, topped with a drizzle of maple syrup. 

Buckwheat and chia seed porridge with frozen berries

Smoked haddock omelette with peas

This is a delicious protein-rich breakfast full of anti-inflammatory vegetables. You can also bake this dish in the oven like a Spanish omelette — just follow the steps until the fish and peas are cooked, add the egg and then bake at 200c/180c fan/gas 6 for seven to ten minutes.

Serves 2

  • 150ml rapeseed oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 200g smoked haddock fillet, diced into 1cm cubes
  • Black pepper and sea salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 100g peas
  • Olive oil, to serve

Place a non-stick pan over a medium heat and add the rapeseed oil, shallot and garlic, and sweat for five to seven minutes, until slightly caramelised. 

Add the haddock, season with salt and black pepper, then stir often for about five minutes. 

In the meantime, crack the eggs into a bowl, add half the chopped parsley, season and whisk. When the fish is cooked and firm to the touch, add the peas, stir well and heat for another two minutes. 

Now add the egg mix to the pan and stir for five minutes, until it thickens to a custard-like consistency. 

Even out the egg mix in the pan and turn the heat to medium for five minutes, or until the omelette is golden brown around the edges. 

Fold over and slide onto a plate. Garnish with the remaining chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

Smoked haddock omelette with peas

Spiced fruit smoothie in a bowl

Eating a fruit-packed smoothie from a bowl makes it seem more substantial than if you drank it out of a bottle.

In addition, antioxidant-rich toppings made from seasonal fruit can provide great variety throughout the year, while also adding anti-inflammatory fibre. 

If you don’t have fresh fruit, use frozen, which is often picked and packed within minutes, meaning it retains much of its nutrient content. 

It is an inexpensive option, as well as being healthy.

Serves 2

  • 150ml orange juice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 150g pineapple
  • 150g mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • Raspberries, to serve
  • Coconut flakes, to serve

Put the orange juice, ginger, pineapple, mango, banana, chia seeds and turmeric in a blender and whiz until super smooth. 

Pour the mixture into two bowls and top with the raspberries and coconut flakes.

Spiced fruit smoothie in a bowl

Ten rules to halt the hidden health enemy 

1) Ditch ‘ultra-processed’ foods. These are made with ingredients (and additives) you wouldn’t use if you were cooking at home.

Here in the UK the most commonly eaten ultra-processed foods are industrially made bread, ready meals, breakfast cereals, sausages and reconstituted meat products.

Too much of the sweet stuff is associated with inflammation and risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity

Biscuits, pastries, cakes, soft drinks and crisps are also ultra-processed.

2) Drastically reduce the amount of processed foods you eat, too — this is food that’s been smoked, or canned, or undergone some other change before you buy it.

These include products such as bacon, smoked meat, salted and sugared nuts, and tinned fruit in syrup — they should be a rare addition to a meal, rather than a staple food or snack. The advice often now given is to eat the foods older generations ate — wherever they were in the world.

3) Eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables every day and swap to wholegrains. Fresh produce is packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals — compounds that help to repair damaged cells — but different fruits and veg contain different ones and they give foods various colours.

The wider range of colourful fresh food you eat, the more of these you’ll absorb — I’ll explain this in more detail in Wednesday’s pullout.

In addition, swap white pasta, bread, biscuits and cakes for wholegrains, which have anti-inflammatory benefits.

4) Limit your red meat intake to no more than 500g a week — that’s around three portions. Choose unprocessed cuts and mince, rather than sausages and bacon, as these will cause less inflammation.

And cut back on saturated and animal fats. These are linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, as well as dementia.

5) Think of meat as the side dish or even the seasoning that adds extra flavour to a dish — the veg should be the star of your plate, so you benefit from their anti-inflammatory nutrients and fibre.

6) Swap a few of your usual daily brews with a cup of green or white tea (from health food shops) — these teas contain EGCG, a type of powerful antioxidant that studies show can reduce inflammation.

7) Eat one to two portions of oily fish a week and snack on unsalted nuts and seeds. This will boost your levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, protect the heart and also improve your mental health.

8) Shy away from sugar — and if you must have a sugary treat, combine it with protein or enjoy a delicious dessert after a main meal.

Too much of the sweet stuff is associated with inflammation and risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Eating sugar along with protein or after a main meal will slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream and will dampen the inflammatory response in the body.

9) Choose red wine over white — red contains polyphenols, compounds that reduce inflammatory activity in cells. But don’t have more than 14 units a week.

10) Add prebiotics and probiotics to your daily diet. These boost the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, improving symptoms of inflammatory bowel conditions.

They can also improve the symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

I’ll explain in more detail later this week, but good sources of prebiotics include onions, asparagus, chickpeas and oats — and probiotics are found in fermented food such as sauerkraut, pickles and live yoghurt, as well as cheeses.

For more information, visitnourishbyjaneclarke.com

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