This spring everyone is getting their bodies beach ready so I thought it was a good opportunity to discuss with all of you the diet questions many people ask me. ‘What is the best diet?’ is like asking how long is a piece of string. Everybody is different and will respond differently, however, there are some great general rules you can live by which will make you a much healthier person and hopefully, for those who need to, help you shed a few kgs.

There is a lot to be said about sugar. Half of Australian kids are overweight! This is a horrible thought but SUGAR has a lot to do with this. There was a big “low fat” phase that packaging in the supermarkets went through. Fat doesn’t make you fat if you eat the right fats. Research found no link between eating saturated fat and increased risk of heart disease. The study suggests sugar and carbs contribute the most. For example, low fat yoghurt is not the key to losing weight. However, if you buy the low fat flavoured yoghurt you may be misled. The flavouring contains the sugar. The best thing you can do is buy the plain Greek or natural yoghurt and add your own flavour. The less sugar you eat, the less you feel you need to eat. I used to love chocolate. Now that I hardly eat sugar, I can take it or leave it very easily. In fact, I often leave it. Whilst this may be a horrible thought for those who love chocolate, being able to say no is quite invigorating. When you quit sugar you enjoy real food. Sugar ages the body and causes wrinkles; isn’t aging enough without adding fuel to the fire? Sugar increases your risk of diabetes, cancer and obesity.

Gut health is extremely important too. So many people overlook this. If you have inflammation in your gut, you will have inflammation in your whole body, including your joints. Your gut is your first line of defence, so if you eliminate aggravators here, you are already winning. Research over the past 20 years reveals that gut health is critical to overall health. An unhealthy gut may lead to diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue to name a few. There are two things which determine your overall gut health, the gut flora and the gut barrier.

Gut flora promotes normal function of the gut, is more than 75% of our immune system and regulates metabolism. Our modern western lifestyle contributes to compromised gut flora.

– Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and other medications

– Eating too many carbs, sugar and processed foods

– Too much wheat

– Stress

– Chronic infections

Our gut’s main purpose is to prevent anything bad from entering our body. So, anything we eat that isn’t broken down and taken up is excreted. Leaky gut is a syndrome where molecules escape the gut into the blood stream where they are not meant to be. This creates an immune response in the body attacking the “foreign body.” Studies show that these attacks play a role in the development of autoimmune disease, celiac disease and type 1 diabetes among others. You don’t have to have any symptoms to have a leaky gut. A leaky gut can create eczema or psoriasis, heart failure, thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, mental illness and more. When your gut barrier and gut flora are impaired, you will be inflamed. As I suggested earlier, gut inflammation can cause inflammation in your whole body. So if you eliminate the inflammation in your gut, you will also eliminate the inflammation in your body, including your joints.

So how do we fix this? We eliminate foods that create inflammation in our gut. We eliminate gluten, wheat, and sugar. Eat fermented foods (kefir, yoghurt, probiotics, kombucha), and manage your stress. The next thing we need to address is the mentality, “it’s too hard.” While it may seem harder to make food than buy pre-packaged rubbish, if you set aside some time on the weekend to prepare for the week, most foods will last your family the week if refrigerated. The other excuse people use is, “the kids wont like it.” As stated before, the less sugar you (or your children eat), the less you will need it. While you may be up against it at the beginning, your family will be better off and not need it in the end.