Article by Dr Sally Norton
With every New Year comes new health trends, so we wanted to take a look back at the health trends of 2016 – the good and the bad!
We are often told that super-foods have a powerful effect on our health, but this word is often thrown around a little freely sometimes. So we’ve rounded up the best, most trending super-foods from 2016 that you should definitely take into 2017 for a healthy diet.
Avocado – Avocados are the super food of 2016 and this trend is sure to stay in 2017. Avocado toast on wholegrain bread is the perfect way to sneak in healthy monosaturated fats. This type of fat can lower cholesterol levels in the blood and a reduced the risk of heart disease.
Sweet potato – Another trendy super food from 2016 – These can be used for toast, puddings, pancakes and more! As well as being tasty, they contain 438% of your daily value of vitamin A and a lot of vitamin C.
Matcha powder – This powder contains lots of anti-oxidants that can protect against cancer, heart disease and aging, as well as providing an energy boost! Try this powder in a shot, latte or a smoothie!
Cauliflower rice – This low-carb alternative to rice has more dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals than both white and brown rice and takes little to no time to prepare!
One of the best things that came out of the 2016 was the debate about sugar tax on soft drinks to encourage companies to cut sugar content in soft drinks. While small amounts of sugar is perfectly fine – too much sends your insulin levels in chaos, and contributes to weight gain, diabetes and potentially liver and heart disease too. So, it’s a wise idea to continue to cut down your sugar intake in 2017.
Skipping a meal and replacing it with a shake sounds like a quick, portable and convenient way to eat on the go. You can get good results if you drink protein shakes as meal replacements, since protein is said to be more satisfying than carbs and fats according to a 2010 study in diabetes/metabolism research and reviews We should be conscious of the ingredients that are going into the shake and check the labels for sugar and salt content. VavistaLife recommends one with a high protein content, with no added sugars and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Detox tea made a big growth this year on social media, with brands like ‘BooTea’ having lots of celebrity endorsements. Detox tea makes claims to aid health and make us feel energised from the inside out – much easier than sweating out at the gym! However, research suggests that rapid weight loss from crash cleanses actually slows the metabolism whilst depriving the body of essential nutrients and can lead to future weight gain. Crash diets can weaken the immune system, cause dehydration, heart palpitations and cardiac stress. The only way to cleanse your body from toxins is to stop eating them so always check food labels for additives.
Sorry to say but ‘vaping’ isn’t the ‘healthy alternative’, either. Many people have taken up ‘vaping’ in the belief that it is a healthier option to inhaling the noxious blend of nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and up to 4,000 other chemicals found in tobacco smoke. In fact, it is often marketed as a healthier alternative but without any good evidence to back up this claim. Furthermore, by making the vapour tastier (candyfloss, butter pecan or key lime pie flavour anyone?!) and giving the e-cigarettes cooler names, there is a danger non-smokers and kids may actually be encouraged to give it a go.
We have no evidence about the long-term effects of these products, but we know that they are not without risk as potentially harmful chemicals have been found in the vapour. Whilst they may be safer than cigarettes and they may help some people to give up smoking (though we don’t have any good evidence for that), it is highly likely that they will encourage children and non-smokers to take up the habit, which may even lead them into actual smoking.
Comment by Dr Sally Norton, health expert & NHS weight loss consultant surgeon. Founder of www.vavistalife.com