Colourful fruit and vegetables

We ask pioneering GP, Dr Rupy Aujla to share his advice on how to boost your health with a few diet and lifestyle tweaks.

Dr Rupy Aujla firmly believes that the secret to a happy, healthy life starts in the kitchen. “The opportunity to have the biggest impact on your health, is actually in your hands,” he explains in his new book, Eat to Beat Illness (Thorsons, £16.99). “As a doctor I’m passionate about communicating that our diet is one of the the best methods of boosting health. Simple, natural whole foods are key to our health. What we eat literally has an impact on every bodily system.”

With this food for thought, we catch up with the GP and author to ask him about his approach to health…

Why do you think our diet is so important?

“Eating well is a key starting point for lifestyle changes that can protect us against disease. I’m all about highlighting people’s understanding of the power of what we choose to eat and our lifestyles, rather than solely relying on pharmaceutical measures to undo our poor lifestyle choices.”

How can our diet choices help protect us from later health issues?

“There’s a wealth of evidence looking at vegetarian and semi-vegetarian diets and how that leads to much better outcomes at a population level. So you may want to consider trying a plant-based diet – or simply eating more plant-based foods. New research from Harvard Medical School shows that if everyone ate a vegetarian diet, one-third of early deaths could be prevented.”

“Add more fibre to your plate, too. It’s the one macronutrient that I think is lacking in a lot of people’s diets. Now that we know more about our gut microbiota and the importance of nurturing our gut bacteria population, different types of fibre in your diet can certainly boost your health.

“Also try to eat a range of colourful fruit and vegetables. Fruits have had a lot of bashing recently due to their sugar content, but they also have particular types of fibres that have brilliant health benefits.

“Remember to pair this healthy way of eating with key lifestyle factors to get the most benefits. Think about good sleep hygiene, taking up meditation and introducing lots of movement and activity to your week.”

What are the top nutrient-rich ingredients we should be adding to our baskets?

  1. Nuts and seeds – these are a fantastic source of quality fats and fibre, plus they contain immune-boosting zinc and selenium.”
  1. Beans, legumes, chickpeas – they offer different types of fibres, which encourage healthy gut bacteria. They also provide fantastic plant-based protein.”
  1. Colourful vegetables – try to get a rainbow of colours across every different season. For example, the micro nutrients in beetroot means it’s great for our heart health.”
  1. Brassica vegetables and leaves – dark leafy greens are fibre-rich but greens such as cavolo nero, spinach, watercress and rocket also contain high amounts of phytonutrients that drastically reduce inflammation in the body.”
  1. Good quality fats – oily fish, avocado and extra virgin olive oil are all healthy fats – a key macronutrient that we need for overall health and can help reduce our risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Feeling inspired? Check out these two health-boosting recipes:

1. Baked rainbow chard with apricot and walnuts

Rainbow chard

“Whenever I see beautiful rainbow chard on the shelves I pick up a bunch. It’s packed with vitamin K and magnesium, which are both essential for bone health, as well as antioxidant-rich phytochemicals like betalain. This dish combines the sweet flavour of stone fruit and chard’s bitter compounds perfectly. The walnuts add texture as well as providing a source of fats
that enable better absorption of the vitamins in chard.”

2. Carrot and courgette laksa

Courgette laksa

“Curries are a fantastic vehicle for nutrient-rich vegetables. Carrots are a rich and widely available source of beta-carotene, but you could easily use grated sweet potato or butternut squash for similar nutrient and health properties. The grated apple brings a touch of sweetness to the final dish that mellows the heat of the curry paste.”

So, there you have it. While good nutrition is by no means a solve-all or a replacement for medicine, Dr Rupy is a firm believer that the small but smart lifestyle choices we make now can greatly boost your health in the long-term.

 

Did you know that our Serious Illness Cover ensures you and your loved ones are protected if you fall ill? It pays out a lump sum which can be used to cover expenses and monthly outgoings while you take the time you need to recover.

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