7 new ways to upgrade your diet

Article Louise Pyne Feb 8, 2016

Update your plate with the latest healthy must-dos rocking the food world

It’s official - food is the new fashion. We update our wardrobes with new threads when the seasons change, so why not re-think your eating habits too? In 2015, we guzzled green juices, nibbled on avo toast and chowed down on more than our fair share of courgetti. And now, as we enter the New Year, a whole host of healthy new ingredients and food trends are waiting on the horizon, and we’re ready to take them on!

 Whether you want a better body, dewy skin or sustained energy levels, a diet overhaul plays a big part in the wellbeing jigsaw puzzle. ‘After a month of festivities, it’s no surprise that people look to start the year off on the right foot. Our bodies struggle to digest the excessive intake of toxins, saturated fats and sugars at this time of year and, come January, we need to reset and replenish our vitamins, nutrients and enzymes to aid with digestion,’ says Adria Wu, head chef and owner of London-based healthy eatery and juice bar maple&FITZ (mapleandfitz.com).  So get ready to take your palette to a whole new level, prepare to get your cookery skills in gear, and re-think everything you thought you knew about dieting. 

 

1 Manage your macros

After years of fad eating regimes, we’re finally getting to grips with the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to weight loss. In the past, counting calories and deprivation diets were all the rage, but this year, meticulous calculations are out and managing your macros is in. We’re talking about the combination of those all-important macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat – which our bodies require in the correct amounts for energy and proper cell functioning. Scientists now know that your metabolism and overall health status affect the way that different macronutrients are processed by your body so the old adage of calories in vs calories out doesn’t quite work in the long run. ‘Not all calories are made the same: an apple, a boiled egg and a piece of white toast are all around 100 calories each, but the effect of each of these foods is dramatically different on our bodies and the way we function due to the different nutritional values contained within each ingredient. It is all about limiting your amounts of certain food groups as opposed to eliminating them,’ explains nutritionist Kamilla Schaffner (mylondonnutritionist.com). Portion size is key when sustained weight loss and steady energy levels are your goal, so the 40-30-30 formula is generally recommended by many nutritionists. This means that 40 per cent of your plate should be made up of complex carbs such as brown rice and vegetables, and the remaining 60 per cent should be divided between protein, (eggs, legumes, poultry, meat) and good fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Eating in this way helps to boost a sluggish metabolism and keeps blood sugar levels on an even keel, which helps to minimise cravings and hunger pangs in between meals.

2 Revamp your smoothies

Thanks to their undeniable health-giving goodness, green smoothies and juices will never really go out of fashion, but this year they are set to get a brand new makeover. Along with staple healthy ingredients such as spinach and kale, smoothie advocates are adding more unusual ingredients into the mix. Think turmeric for an anti-inflammatory hit, cayenne pepper for a metabolism boost, Peruvian sacha inchi seeds for a dose of omega-3 and maca to increase sex drive. ‘Just add a teaspoon to your morning juice to enhance your body’s vitamin and mineral levels,’ adds Roukin.

3 Heal your gut

Virtually anyone in the health know realises the role of good gut health in the pursuit of wellness, and 2016 is set to be the year we take some serious steps to boost our digestive systems. Important research that emerged last year provided a clearer picture on the role of microbes in gut health. Millions of these bacteria live in our digestive systems and it’s now thought that the strains of these microbiome (which are unique to the individual), could influence our desire for certain food groups like sugar or trans fats, making us less able to shed the excess pounds. The good news is that scientists also discovered that we can bring friendly bacteria back into balance, simply by piling our plate with the right foods to change the strains of bacteria living in our gut.

Currently hot in health circles is the Microbiome Diet, (£10.99, amazon.co.uk) developed in the US by renewed holistic medic, Dr. Raphael Kellman (raphaelkellmanmd.com). His way of eating keeps intestinal flora balanced, resulting in fewer cravings, better brain health, improved skin and supercharged weight loss.

So what’s hot on the gut-loving menu this year? ’We’ll be baking with new ingredients such as banana flour and using plantains more in cooking. These are both rich in resistance starch to help blood sugar balance and feed beneficial bacteria in our gut,’ reveals nutritionist and TV chef Christine Bailey (christinebailey.com).. Exotic gut restorative fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickled veg, kimchi are also hugely on the radar for their powerful tummy-taming properties.

4 Experiment with miracle mushrooms

Serious health gurus have long known about the power of medicinal mushrooms but these fabulous fungi are finally set to go mainstream. We’re taking inspiration from the east, where, for centuries, people have harnessed the health benefits of this magic plant-based superfood group. Mushrooms contain unique bioactive compounds, beta-glucans which get to work deep in our cells. ‘In powder form, medicinal mushrooms are known for their ability to support endurance, longevity and immune function,’ says Bailey. Health experts predict a skyrocket in sales of immunity-boosting Siberian chaga, stress-relieving reishi and energy-boosting cordyceps.

Regular mushroom varieties such as button and portabella also offer these health-promoting perks in a less potent form, however, health experts predict a dramatic increase in sales of certain species such as immunity-boosting Siberian chaga, stress-relieving reishi and energy-boosting cordyceps, as these species all stand out for their concentrated nutrient levels. You can also try mushroom supplements for an extra-powerful dose of goodness (hifasdaterra.co.uk).

5 Eat the new greens

Greens – the ultimate wellbeing status symbol are more exciting than ever, and this year we’re looking to recharge our health with the latest offerings that are packed with detoxifying and energising properties. As much as we love kale, there are so many other great dark leafy greens that are equally packed with nutrition and flavor,’ says Adria.

‘Try kai lan (Chinese broccoli), Asian napa cabbage and the turnip-esque kohlrabi - a sweet and crunchy member of the cruciferous family which is jam-packed with Vitamin C,’ says Adria.

6 Rethink breakfast

2016 is officially the year that the morning meal takes centre stage. In a bid to amp up the nation’s healthy habits, trendy pop up breakfast cafes, all day breakfast restaurants and healthy grab & go products will be more popular than ever. To kick things off, Breakfast Week, an initiative developed to get the public fuelling up well first thing takes place from January 24-30. ‘It’s time to reinvent breakfast. Mix up porridge toppings like almond slices and pomegranate seeds or coconut flakes and sliced banana – they are tasty and nutrient-packed,’ says Nichola Whitehead, registered dietitian for Breakfast Week 2016 (shakeupyourwakeup.com). Better yet, why not take inspiration from across the globe to really jazz up your breakfast time? The Japanese, who have one of the lowest incidence of chronic disease start the day with rice, fish miso soup and seaweed while in India, the first meal of the day often consists of roti, (flatbread) with spicy vegetable stew. Who knew getting one step closer to your five-a-day could be so easy and tasty too?

7 Eat for your DNA

Having trouble beating excess body fat? DNA testing – a relatively new area of research, which identifies the relationship between genes, nutrition and health via a simple saliva test can provide important clues about wellbeing. Increasingly popular in health circles, the test is either performed by a qualified nutritionist or via a kit you can buy online, do at home, then send back to the testing company for analysis (£149, mydnahealth.co.uk, or from £99, dnafit.com).

The test can reveal in-depth info on the link between genes and a range of weight-gain factors, such as the impact of stress and body-fat levels, your body’s unique ability to absorb sugar and dietary fat and the effect of your individual food cravings on your body shape. Following test results, your nutritionist will give you a plan that’s bespoke to your individual health goals, or if you decide to go directly with the DNA testing company, you’ll get a report with detailed personalised advice.

‘Personalised diets like those which encompass DNA testing will definitely grow in popularity this year,’ says Bailey. ‘Something I already advocate for weight loss is the SIRT diet, which uses foods such as green vegetables and olive oil to switch on our skinny genes to promote longevity and a leaner body.

And to complement your personalised eating plan there’s a whole array of new supplements on the market, such as myDNAhealth Nutrigenomics (mydnahealth.co.uk/). These research-based health boosters been specially developed to target a number of genetic predispositions such as cravings, low energy, stress and stubborn body fat.

8 Take your pulse

In a bid to encourage sustainable global food production, the United Nations has officially declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (pulses.org). Along with their planet-saving benefits, pulses are cheap, filling, and the perfect option for savvy health enthusiasts looking to cut their meat consumption without cutting their protein intake. Eating a plant based diet is also better for your health, cheaper for your wallet and more environmentally protective,’ says Kamilla. Did we mention the fact that dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils are great for weight loss? Low GI, a great source of plant protein, and packed with digestion-boosting fibre which keeps you feeling fuller for longer, there’s so many ways to liven up this food group when you’re following a balanced diet. Try homemade dhals, curries, stews and falafel - the options are endless!

9 Make super shakes

We’re all for making healthy meals from scratch over a liquid diet, but when time is not on your side and you’re on the go or craving a quick and healthy pick-me-up, the occasional healthy meal replacement shake can be a convenient option.This year, the trend is less diet shake and more super shake -  health-giving elixirs which are nutritionally balanced to ensure you don’t miss out on vitamins and minerals. These healthy beverages are becoming more and more popular with the health-conscious looking to maintain a healthy diet on the go. Fresh from the US, nutrition brand Soylent is leading the way with their meal replacement ready-to-drink super shake (from £19.15 for a 12 bottle subscription, soylent.com). ‘We’re seeing a shift in meal supplements. The focus is less on weight loss and more on supercharged nutrition, which offers optimal levels of a range of nutrients,’ says  Lucie Green, director of research company JWT Innovation (jwtintelligence).

Soylent’s soy protein based super shake is crammed with goodies such as essential fatty acid-rich algal oil, slow release isomaltulose, (a compound found in beetroot) and a fifth of all essential micronutrients, so that you can fuel up the right way when you’re in a hurry.