Respected Canadian nutritionist Julie Daniluk, whose books include Meals that Heal Inflammation, has devoted years of study and research into healthy eating after a lifetime of dealing with her own food allergies and sensitivities. Daniluk has learned firsthand the link between nutrition (or rather, poor nutrition) and pain and inflammation.
“Chronic inflammation and poor digestion can lead to stress, anxiety and mood imbalance on top of lowered immunity and weight issues – the very things that can shorten your lifespan,” she says. “However, there are anti-inflammatory superfoods and supplements that show the potential for true longevity.”
Here, she shares 10 easy nutrition hacks to boost wellness and successful aging:
1) Adjust your ratio of omega-6 versus omega-3
The four root causes (or four I’s) of inflammation are: Injury, infection, irritation and imbalance. “It’s not simply a matter of ensuring your diet includes adequate omega – but the proper ratio between omega-3 (seaweed, hemp and flaxseed) Omega-6 (vegetable oils). The World Health Organization recommends a 4:1 ratio, meaning four omega-6 for every one omega-3. Many in North America, because of our agri business and our increased reliance on vegetable oils, are reaching a 20:1 ratio.” Too much omega-6 can lead to obesity, cardiovascular and fatty liver diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and cancer. Bump up your consumption of omega-3 to ease your pain.
2) Curb your cravings with cholecystokinin (CCK)
Cholecystokinin is a gut hormone that stimulates the digestion of fat and protein and thus suppresses your appetite. Cholecystokinin also increases the release of fluid and enzymes from the pancreas to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. “The easiest way to trigger cholecystokinin,” says Daniluk, “is to eat proteins at every meal, healthy fats (such as avocado) and high-fiber foods which increase CCK. I’ll often keep pine nuts and other seeds on hand to satisfy me — and squash any sudden cravings for chocolate or salty snacks. Lemon juice and red cider vinegar stimulate proper digestion – so don’t shy away from sour foods.”
3) Decrease stress with the wonder herb ashwagandha
Daniluk cites a study in the Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior Journalthat found the herb ashwagandha decreased the effects of stress, as well as decreased hyperglycemia, lowered the incidence of gastric ulcers, alleviated symptoms of depression and prevented loss of libido, among other health benefits. “It’s the only herb I know of that can help an ulcer as it soothes the digestive system.” She recommends it be taken in a standard extract for for guaranteed potency.
4) Boost your energy with Siberian ginseng root
She reports that Siberian ginseng increases nitric oxide which has been known to help marathon runners and weight-lifters. “Siberian Ginseng decreases your perceived exhaustion while increasing oxygen uptake. Siberian Ginseng helps me perform much better at the gym and keeps me energetic on a daily basis, which really matters as we age. Maintaining energy levels, being active, feeling energetic boosts your life span – and health span.”
Other reported benefits of Siberian Ginseng: improved cell metabolism, lower blood glucose and increased heart rate during exercise.
5) Time-restricted eating – and there’s an app for that
“Some people will be more familiar with the term intermittent fasting,” says Daniluk. “Time-restricted eating is a type of diet that focuses on the timing of eating, not the the type of eating. Most people on a time-restricted diet will only eat during specific hours of the day, often during the daylight hours. Daniluk points out that many Canadians, especially women, don’t eat their first proper meal of the day until 11 a.m., which can wreak havoc in the digestive system, moods and energy levels. “Eating late at night also poses health risks and can seriously shorten one’s life span. Calories consumed at night often lead to weight gain – and result in poor sleep. I stop eating after the sun goes down. This has left me calmer and happier.” Click here to download the Zero app.
6) Get the poop on fenugreek.
“People squirm when you ask about their poo,” says Daniluk. “But it’s essential. The consistency of your stool reflects so much about what’s going on in your body. This becomes even more crucial as you get older. Constipation is really bad for you – so is having the runs. An easy solution – fenugreek, an herb which is available in supplement and gum form.”
According to studies reported in the Translational Biomedicine Journal, fenugreek – in addition to reducing constipation and mucus – reduces inflammation inside the body, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol and helps maintain normal testosterone levels.
7) Eat more fish to lessen anxiety.
Studies show that even mild anxiety can shorten a person’s life. “EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are two major components of the Omega-3 fats found in fish oils,” explains Daniluk. “Including adequate amounts of these fats in a diet has been shown to decrease episodes of anxiety and even anger in adults.” But not all fish are created equal. To get a daily dose of 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA, one would have to eat 35 3-ounce servings of haddock – but only five servings of salmon.
8) Man up on your zinc!
Zinc is critical for testosterone – but men lose their zinc whenever they drink alcohol or experience sexual gratification. In other words, men lose crucial zinc whenever they have fun!” Low testosterone leads to estrogen dominance in men, which results in low libido, decreased morning erections, erectile function dysfunction and enlarged breasts. The Canadian Inspection Food Agency recommends a maximum of 10 mg of zinc per day. It’s found in foods such as meat (beef, lamb and pork), legumes and shellfish.
9) Give it up for hemp!
“One of the lesser-known benefits of hemp, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids (helpful for muscle and joint repair), is that it’s a hypoallergenic protein. It has low allergy potential,” says Daniluk. “Hemp is a great replacement for soy and peanuts. It can reduce inflammation, reduce muscle cramps, combat menopausal symptoms and improve heart health.”
10) Chasteberry reduces PMS symptoms such as breast pain
Chasteberry, a shrub that grows in southern Europe and Central Asia, has gained considerable traction with scientists for easing PMS-related breast pain and decreasing hot flushes. It’s available in various forms, including as an extract and supplements.