Diet & Lifestyle Overhaul: What the research says

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The word ‘diet’ is often associated with losing weight. While it’s true that changing your diet can help you drop the extra pounds you may be carrying, there are several other benefits to modifying your weekly menu. In this guide, we’ll explore the impact of overhauling your diet. 

There’s more to it than that, there is new research everyday on the lifelong effects we endure when choosing what to put in our mouths.

The weight equation

If you mention the word ‘diet’ in conversation, people will usually assume that you’re talking about weight loss. We have become obsessed with discussing ways to lose weight, and most of us have tried at least one fad diet in our lifetimes. If you do want to lose a few pounds, or you have a lot of weight to lose to reach a stable, healthy BMI, altering your diet is the first step to take. You’ll need to analyse what you eat as well as taking control of portion sizes and calorie intake. A diet high in sugar and fat causes damage to Paneth cells, immune cells in the gut that help keep inflammation in check. When Paneth cells aren’t functioning properly, the gut immune system is excessively prone to inflammation, putting people at risk of inflammatory bowel disease and undermining effective control of disease-causing microbes. Researchers identified genetic predispositions to obesity. The mice in their experiment chronically over ate because they carried mutations preventing them from feeling full even when fed a regular diet. To the researchers’ surprise, the obese mice had Paneth cells that looked normal. Eating too much fat and sugar as a child can alter your microbiome for life, even if you later learn to eat healthier, a new study in mice suggests. At the 14-week mark, the team examined the diversity and abundance of bacteria in the animals. They found that the quantity of bacteria such as Muribaculum intestinale was significantly reduced in the Western diet group. This type of bacteria is involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Analysis also showed that the gut bacteria are sensitive to the amount of exercise the mice got. Muribaculum bacteria increased in mice fed a standard diet who had access to a running wheel and decreased in mice on a high-fat diet whether they had exercise or not. Researchers believe this species of bacteria, and the family of bacteria that it belongs to, might influence the amount of energy available to its host. Research continues into other functions that this type of bacteria may have.

Increasing energy levels

Have you ever noticed that you feel sluggish after a big meal or a heavy weekend of gorging on takeaways or drinking too many sugary beverages? While fast food and sweet treats can provide a quick hit of energy, they usually contribute to prolonged slumps and troughs too.

Yale University researchers discovered a key cellular mechanism that may help the brain control how much we eat, what we weigh, and how much energy we have identifying two systems that appear to act in direct opposition, to help the organism keep these crucial functions in balance.

Sedentary people who regularly complain of fatigue can increase their energy levels by 20% and decrease their fatigue by 65% by engaging in regular, low intensity exercise, according to a University of Georgia study.

Adjusting your diet can help to boost energy levels and fuel your body for the entire day without needing to graze or drink endless cups of coffee. Aim to include whole grains in your diet and swap refined carbohydrates for complex alternatives. Foods such as porridge, whole grain cereals and brown bread and rice release energy slowly. 

Improving dental health

There’s more to dental health and the influence it has on our health than people realise.

Queen’s University Belfast, analysed a large cohort of over 469,000 people in the UK, investigated the association between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers, including liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic cancer. Models were applied to estimate the relationship between cancer risk and self-reported oral health conditions, such as painful or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and loose teeth.

Infective endocarditis (IE), also called bacterial endocarditis, is a heart infection caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and settle in the heart lining, a heart valve or a blood vessel. It is uncommon, but people with heart valve disease or previous valve surgery, congenital heart disease or recurrent infective endocarditis have a greater risk of complications if they develop IE. Intravenous drug use also increases risk for IE. Viridans group streptococcal infective endocarditis (VGS IE) is caused by bacteria that collect in plaque on the tooth surface and cause inflammation and swelling of the gums. 

We tend to neglect oral health, and we don’t think about the impact of our diets on our teeth until it’s too late and we find ourselves battling toothache or sitting in a waiting room at the dental surgery. Dentists like the experts at Bowral Street Dental Practice will tell you that your diet has a significant role to play when it comes to your dental health. It’s beneficial to moderate your intake of sugary and acidic foods and drinks and to avoid eating between meals. When you eat, the bacteria in the mouth feed, which causes them to produce acids. These acids weaken the enamel temporarily. If you graze all day, your enamel won’t have a chance to recover and you will be more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. 

Boosting general health and wellbeing

Some people may roll their eyes when the subject of healthy eating crops up in conversation but there’s a lot to be said for focusing on nutrition when you plan your menu. Contrary to what you may see on social media, you don’t need to fill your shopping trolley with superfoods or spend a fortune on exotic ingredients to be healthier. There are some very simple steps you can take to boost general health and wellbeing and reduce your risk of health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Increase your fibre intake, switch to whole grains, aim to consume at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day and grill, bake and boil foods rather than frying. 

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