Yogurt contains millions of friendly bacteria that help to balance out the microorganisms that live in our gut. An imbalance in gut organisms (meaning too many bad and not enough good), can result in illnesses and a poor intake of nutrients from your food. New research has highlighted the importance of our gut flora to our overall health and shows that by eating the right foods you can help it flourish.
Walnuts contain monounsaturated fat, protein (that helps to satisfy hunger), as well as vitamin E, which boosts the immune system. Research has shown that eating a handful of nuts (30g), five or more times a week, may lower your risk of heart disease by 30 to 50 per cent, and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25 per cent. Nuts may be added to breakfast or tossed through salads. Alternatively, add some walnuts and dried fruit into a snap-lock bag for a healthy on-the-go snack.
Chilies come in many sizes and colours and contain a load of antioxidants. The active ingredient, capsaicin (a hot spice), is mainly found in the seeds. A Chinese study of more than half a million participants found that people who ate food with chili once or twice a week had a mortality rate 10 per cent lower than those who avoided the heat. Chilies have anti-microbial and pathogen-killing properties that help to protect against infection and disease. Add chilies to soups, stir-fries, curries, roasts, and even hot chocolate.
4. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are packed immune-boosting compounds that can help protect your body from colds and flu. They also contain isothiocyanates, which help eliminate potential carcinogens and the high fibre content also helps maintain gut health. Belonging to the cruciferous family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts are low in fat and carbohydrates. Try steaming them or slicing them in half before stir-frying them with onion and garlic, or slivers of prosciutto.
5. Baked fruit
One way to enjoy a warming dessert is to bring out the natural sugar in fruit by baking it with cinnamon and vanilla, letting the heat do the work. Bake a banana, a cored apple or pear in the oven, top with spices and serve with some low-fat Greek yogurt. The melted, caramelized flavours give you a dessert that’s just as delicious and healthier than traditional desserts.