Wellness Wednesday: Count your daily plant intake instead of your calories

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I recently attended the Food Revolution Summit, which brings together leading scientists and physicians to share current research on diet, nutrition, disease prevention, and immune health. I invite you to check out the Food Revolution Network, guided by John Robbins, author of Diet for a new America and his son Ocean. The network is committed to healthy, ethical and sustainable food for all, promoting a whole plant-based lifestyle for the benefit of people and the planet.

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During this week-long summit, the general consensus among experts was simple: rather than counting calories, we should be counting the number of plants we consume per day. More diversity, more colors.

Most North Americans eat a diet low in fiber, which depletes our gut microbiota. Fiber fuels the growth of good bacteria in our gut, which is crucial for immune support and metabolic function. However, its diversity is decreasing, due to the overconsumption of sugar and fat from processed foods and fast food. And that makes us sick.

A recent study published in the journal Gut found that the composition of the gut microbiome may be “strongly” linked to long-term COVID risk. Long COVID is a condition that involves persistent symptoms for weeks or even months after initial infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. So what you eat impacts how well you can recover from COVID-19 and, in general, any illness.

We could all benefit from increasing our fiber intake. More vegetables, fruits and whole grains means less reliance on fiber supplements and laxatives. Increasing fiber intake should be done gradually, as you will adapt to any new lifestyle. But with the cost of food rising, healthy eating may seem out of reach for many people.

I always recommend selecting most of your groceries from the produce aisle. But there are tiny superfoods found outside of the produce section that are cheap and loaded with nutrition. Legumes.

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Legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils) have been eaten around the world for thousands of years and have remained a staple food in many cultures. From falafel and minestrone soup and dhal to sweets like red bean mochi, many of these legume-based dishes have made their way into the Western world. You can buy these dishes on the spot (or easily prepare them in your own kitchen).

Legumes are a source of protein and fiber and an important source of vitamins and minerals like zinc, folate and magnesium. Eating even half a cup of legumes a day offers immense nutritional benefits. The phytochemicals, saponins and tannins found in legumes have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects and help protect against cardiovascular risk factors, including inflammation, the underlying cause of so many chronic diseases today. today. Legumes also have a low glycemic index, making them a good choice if you have diabetes or are looking to manage your blood sugar.

Dried versions are the cheapest and most versatile options. If you are afraid of stomach pain or excessive gas when eating legumes, soak dried legumes overnight, changing the water twice. Be sure to discard the water before cooking. Soaking not only cleans the grains, but breaks down the sugars (raffinose and stachyose) that cause flatulence. If you use canned beans, be sure to rinse them well before consuming them. However, if you have the time, I would recommend the dried version over the canned – they cost less per serving and are tastier.

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You can also have fun experimenting with dried versions – there’s plenty of variety. Canada is a major producer of pulses – and the largest exporter in the world. Our country is also very proud of its sustainable agricultural practices when it comes to pulses. Legumes are an excellent source of protein but require very little water to grow. (Go to www.pulsecanada.ca to learn more).

When it comes to your cooking, use them in soup, curry, chili, stew, buddha bowl. You can even include them in your baking, using them instead of white flour. I’m slipping chickpeas into chocolate chip cookies and wanted to try a red bean brownie recipe. The possibilities are limitless.

Laura Stradiotto is a holistic nutritionist, mother of three, and writer in Sudbury. She works as a nutrition coach and content developer at Med-I-Well Services, a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who work with companies to build a healthier, more productive workforce. Wellness Wednesday is a monthly column published in the Sudbury Star. To get in touch with Laura, email lsradiootto@mediwell.ca.

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