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Eat to Beat Disease: The Tasty Ways to Boost Your Heart and Brain



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

Here, in the second part of our new life-changing series, top dietitian Jane Clarke reveals the steps and recipes to 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 happens to your body if you suffer from chronic inflammation, as many of us do.

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

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

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

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

But sometimes the fire alarm keeps sounding and the inflammatory response of the body does not go out.

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

Pollution, stress, persistent infections, injuries and obesity are known to trigger inflammation. And what we eat can also directly ignite the inflammation in our body.

Embrace the three omegas

Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat and an essential nutritional superpower for any anti-inflammatory plan (see above). But we also need omega 6 and 9 in our diet.

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

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

There is no recommended intake for omega 6 and 9, but I would suggest limiting the amounts, perhaps a handful of nuts a day and a splash of cooking oil.

OMEGA 3

  • Blue fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna (fresh), sardines and sardines
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds: flax seeds, pumpkin and chian soybeans
  • Supplements: Look for EPA, ALA, or DHA on the label

OMEGA 6

  • Sunflower and safflower oils
  • Nuts mayonnaise
  • Seeds: flax, pumpkin and chia seeds

OMEGA 9

  • Olive, almond and avocado oils
  • Seeds: flax, pumpkin and chia seeds

Several scientific studies suggest that ultra-processed foods – which are often high in fat and sugar and high in chemical additives – are the main culprits.

These foods now make up up to 60% of the average British diet (they include everything from savory biscuits and snacks, to breakfast cereals, processed meats and packaged sauces). They create a cascading effect of inflammation throughout our body, from our skin to our guts and deep inside the cells of every organ.

The good news is that there are foods that can disable the fire alarm, calming inflammation by releasing compounds that help repair damage to our cells, thereby reducing the risks and symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.

These foods form the core of my anti-inflammatory program, which is based on my thirty years of experience as a dietician and nutritionist. I designed it to help you feel better now and protect your health well for years to come.

The super potent nutrient we need

Throughout this week I will be sharing my insights and knowledge – as well as exclusive recipes – in a must-have series of retreats. And every day I’ll focus on anti-inflammatory foods and supplements (and show you inflammatory foods to avoid).

Today I want to introduce you to a nutrient that I consider to be a true superpower in dealing with inflammation. It is a cornerstone of any anti-inflammatory 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 sardines, are a brilliant source of it. Canned fish (aside from tuna – the omega 3s it contains do not survive canning) is a good and affordable option.

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

Breakfast on the go

Don’t have time to eat at home? Avoid shoveling carbohydrate-laden refined grains and breakfast bars as they will ignite inflammation by releasing sugar into the bloodstream, leading to a spike in insulin levels and, in the long run, weight gain and increased fat stores in the liver. , triggering inflammation.

Instead, take these breakfasts on the go:

An apple and a handful of nuts: Provides fiber, energy, protein and omegas (see above).

Hard-boiled eggs: These are high in protein and satiating, so you won’t need extra inflammatory refined carbs to satisfy your appetite. Have with spinach or similar green vegetables on the side (small pots are available in most supermarkets) to add antioxidants to protect cells from inflammatory damage.

Porridge: Oats are anti-inflammatory. Ask for a nut and seed topping, or even peanut butter, for a great combination of slow-release carbohydrates and protein.

Yogurt and Fruit: Opt for natural whole Greek yogurt, which helps reduce inflammation in the gut. A serving of fruit on the side will add antioxidants and fiber.

Omega 3 doesn’t just help prevent inflammation; it also relieves existing symptoms by easing the inflammatory response – which is why many doctors recommend fish oil supplements for arthritis or joint pain. Omega 3 has also been shown to reduce childhood allergies.

I grew up with sardines on toast and still eat them for a weekend breakfast. Canned sardines and sardines were also a go-to (on toast or mixed in a tomato sauce with pasta) when I was looking for foods to relieve my daughter Maya’s excruciatingly painful eczema when she was seven.

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

Inflammation isn’t just a physical health issue; Studies show that people with depression and other mood disorders have increased inflammation in their nervous system.

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

While we talk about omega 3s, there are actually several types of these fatty acids. The main three are DHA and EPA – which are found in fish oils – and ALA, which comes from vegetable oils such as flaxseed and canola 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, obtained by simply eating the different sources throughout the week.

Sweet potato hash, kale, and poached eggs

Sweet potato has a lower glycemic index than white potato, so it’s much less likely to cause blood sugar spikes, which we want to avoid.

For a perfect poached egg, you need at least 2 inches of water that is just boiling. Grab a cup of coffee and break an egg inside. Holding the cup near the surface of the water, slowly let the egg in. Use one cup per egg.

For 2 people

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 2 small red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 large bunch of cabbage
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped parsley
  • 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, chili flakes, rapeseed oil, salt and pepper and combine.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, distribute the potato mixture evenly and cook for ten minutes or until lightly charred and soft.

Now drizzle a drizzle of canola oil over the kale and add to the potatoes on the baking sheet. Bake for about five minutes, then remove the pan from the oven. Return it to the bowl and use a fork to gently mash the mixture, then add most of the parsley and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Bring a high-sided saucepan to a boil and add 25 ml of white wine vinegar per liter of water. Cook the eggs in the vinegar water for three minutes.

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

Sweet potato hash, kale, and poached eggs

Sweet potato hash, kale, and poached eggs

Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and roasted tomato

Roasted 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.

For 2 people

  • 2 cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Black pepper and sea salt
  • 4 turkey sausages
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 25 ml of liquid cream
  • Sprigs of parsley, for serving

Preheat the oven to 250 ° C / 230 ° C / gas 9. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with a drizzle of oil and season. Cook for seven minutes or until slightly charred.

Now add a little more oil to a pan and cook the turkey sausages slowly over medium heat until golden brown. Lower the heat and continue frying until cooked through.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and season to taste. Melt the butter in a pan, add the egg mixture and cook slowly over medium heat. When the mixture has turned into a thick consistency, similar to a custard, remove it from the heat and stir in the double cream.

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

Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and roasted tomato

Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and roasted tomato

Oats, blueberries and almonds overnight

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

This is a great option for a busy morning: tasty, fast and nutritious. Prepare it the night before.

For 2 people

  • 100 g of rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 100 g of Greek yogurt
  • 200 ml of nuts, soy or rice milk
  • 3 tablespoons of sliced ​​almonds
  • 150 g of blueberries

Put the oats, maple syrup, yogurt and milk in a bowl and mix well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning mix well and serve seasoned with walnuts and blueberries.

Oats, blueberries and almonds overnight

Oats, blueberries and almonds overnight

Turmeric hot chocolate

This is a good and quick breakfast if you don’t have much appetite at first. It is much better to have something nutritious, with powerful anti-inflammatory turmeric, than a sugar-laden cereal.

Since the spice has a very strong flavor, experiment until you find out how much is best for you.

For 2 people

  • 300 ml of whole coconut milk
  • 80 ml of water
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • A pinch of nutmeg

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

Turmeric hot chocolate

Turmeric hot chocolate

Buckwheat porridge and chia seeds with frozen berries

Frozen berries are often much higher in antioxidant vitamin C than fresh berries and can also be cheaper.

Many other whole grains (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.

For 2 people

  • 150 ml of almond milk
  • 100 ml of coconut milk
  • 150 ml of water
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 g of buckwheat groats or flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 100 g of mixed frozen berries
  • Maple syrup, for serving

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

Add the buckwheat and chia seeds and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all the milk is absorbed.

When the porridge is fully cooked, it will be creamy and there should be no bites in the kernels.

Add the frozen berries and mix thoroughly for two minutes or until heated. Serve in bowls, topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Buckwheat porridge and chia seeds with frozen berries

Buckwheat porridge and chia seeds with frozen berries

Smoked haddock omelette with peas

This is a delicious protein-rich breakfast packed with anti-inflammatory vegetables. You can also bake this dish in the oven like a Spanish omelette – 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.

For 2 people

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

Place a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the rapeseed oil, shallot and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until lightly caramelized.

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

Meanwhile break the eggs into a bowl, add half of the chopped parsley, season and blend. When the fish is cooked and firm to the touch, add the peas, mix well and heat for another two minutes.

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

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

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

Smoked haddock omelette with peas

Smoked haddock omelette with peas

Spiced fruit smoothie in a bowl

Eating a fruit smoothie from a bowl makes it seem more substantial than if you were drinking it from a bottle.

Plus, antioxidant-rich seasonings made from seasonal fruit can provide great variety throughout the year, while also adding anti-inflammatory fiber.

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

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

For 2 people

  • 150 ml of orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 150 g of pineapple
  • 150 g of mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • Raspberries, for serving
  • Coconut flakes, for serving

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

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

Spiced fruit smoothie in a bowl

Spiced fruit smoothie in a bowl

Ten rules to stop the enemy of hidden health

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

Here in the UK the most commonly consumed ultra-processed foods are industrially produced breads, ready meals, breakfast cereals, sausages and meat products.

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

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

Cookies, pastries, cakes, soft drinks and chips are also ultra-processed.

2) Also drastically reduce the amount of processed foods you eat – this is food that has been smoked, canned, or has undergone some other change before buying it.

These include products like bacon, smoked meat, salted and sugary nuts, and canned fruit in syrup – they should be a rare addition to a meal, rather than a staple or snack. The advice often given now is to eat the foods that the older generations ate, wherever they were in the world.

3) Eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables every day and switch to whole grains. Fresh produce is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals – compounds that help repair damaged cells – but different fruits and vegetables contain different ones and give food various colors.

The wider the range of colorful fresh foods you eat, the more you’ll absorb – I’ll explain this in more detail in Wednesday’s retreat.

Plus, swap white pasta, breads, cookies, and cakes for whole grains, which have anti-inflammatory benefits.

4) Limit your consumption of red meat to no more than 500g per week, which is about three servings. Choose unprocessed cuts and mince, rather than sausage and bacon, as they will cause less inflammation.

And cut down on saturated and animal fats. These are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and dementia.

5) Think of meat as a side dish or even condiment that adds extra flavor to a dish – vegetables should be the star of your dish, so you will benefit from their anti-inflammatory nutrients and fiber.

6) Swap some of your usual daily blends for a cup of green or white tea (from health food stores): These teas contain EGCG, a type of powerful antioxidant that studies show can reduce inflammation.

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

8) Step 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 sweet stuff is associated with inflammation and the 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 dull 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 per week.

10) Add prebiotics and probiotics to your daily diet. These increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, improving the 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 foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and live yogurt, as well as cheeses.

For more information, visit nourishbyjaneclarke.com


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