Five surprising ways to optimise your health, according to a Medical Research Scientist and Nutritionist
Medical Research Scientist and Nutritionist Dr Federica Amati share five ways to optimise our health and well-being, some of which might surprise you!
1. Probiotics alone are not helpful
We all know that gut health is key to overall health, and many probiotics are on the market to improve this. To get the most benefit from these helpful bacteria, we need prebiotic fibre as food for them to survive and thrive in our gut and release beneficial postbiotic chemicals. Fibre is a crucial component of our diet, and the more research is conducted, the more critical this message becomes. It is essential for gut health, and getting enough of it during our lifetime is linked to lowering the risk of premature death, cancer, type 2 diabetes and anxiety disorders, to name but a few. Unfortunately, most of us struggle to get to even half of the recommended daily portion of 25g-38g daily. Enhancing our regular dietary fibre intake with whole plants and an excellent fibre-rich supplement powder, like Indi Body, can help us achieve this. Mix with your favourite kefir or plant milk for a delicious health drink, which delivers a variety of fibre sources along with adequate fluid intake for a smooth higher fibre intake transition.
2. Enjoy extra Virgin Olive Oil every day
The research on the positive health benefits of daily consumption of EVOO is overwhelming and exciting. We now understand more about the pathways through which EVOO acts as an antioxidant and reduces inflammation, strengthening the case for ensuring we consume high-quality EVOO daily. Drizzle on your salads, soups, pasta and fish dishes but make sure it’s the extra virgin kind and not the blended ‘olive oils’ that don’t retain the same nutritional benefits.
3. Use nature’s pharmacy through whole plants
We all know that food is made up of complex chemical structures. These interact with one another, our gut microbes, and our cells. What’s exciting to see in recent research is how plants can act to help improve our health and well-being in clinically measurable ways. Polyphenols in dark plants and fruits such as cavolo nero and berries counteract oxidative stress. Inulin from chicory root supports lipid metabolism and a healthy microbiome profile. Eating a combination of these foods daily helps keep our body’s immune and anti-inflammatory functions for long and healthy life.
4. Don’t stick to the same meals every day
Although it looks pretty, preparing the same meal for lunch every day is not likely to help us achieve the ideal number of diverse plants every week. The key to variety is meals that offer different combinations of nutrients, minerals, and flavours. Research suggests we should aim for 30 types per week, from spices to nuts, seeds, and seasonal vegetables. So ditch the repetitive meal plans and get creative with dried herbs, seeds, nuts, whole grains, EVOO, occasional high-quality animal products, and lots of seasonal vegetables for a broad range of benefits.
5. Know your reactions to food
The future of healthcare is personalisation. From personalised medicines in treating cancers to knowing which foods positively impact our health, we now know that the same food can elicit entirely different responses, even in identical twins. Thanks to groundbreaking research, companies such as ZOE are using years of research to launch products that will allow us to test our body’s responses to foods and create a bespoke diet based on our data.
Dr Federica Amati is a medical scientist, and AfN registered nutritionist with a PhD in clinical medicine research. Dr Amati specialises in achieving optimal nutrition throughout life with an evidence-based, personalised nutrition approach. Her research interests include the Mediterranean Diet, child nutrition, women’s health, the gut microbiome, and mental health.
She leads research projects in nutrition and public health at Imperial College London and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Education and Training. She is also a Senior Scientific Advisor for the NNedPro Global Centre for health and nutrition, a strategist for ZOE and a consultant for NESTA.
“Federica is a brilliant scientist and a joy to work with. She is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about nutrition research and communicating evidence-based science clearly and practically.” Professor Tim Spector OBE
Dr Amati is a frequent podcast and talks guest as well as a contributing expert for several media outlets, including The Times, Financial Times How to Spend It, Vogue, Marie Claire and Grazia about harnessing the power of our diet and microbiome for long-term health, reducing inflammation and improving metabolic health.
Dr Amati studied Biomedical Sciences with Honors in Pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, her master’s in public health at Imperial College London, her MSc in Global Health Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and her PhD from Imperial College London.