Travel News South Africa

A healthy diet will fight winter blues

Dreaded winter is on its way. As the days get shorter and darker, most people find themselves craving carbohydrate-rich foods. Come summer, they have to deal with the extra kilos they have put on during winter.

According to Dr Zintle Mbuqe, a general practitioner, people crave carbohydrates in winter because at this time of the year the brain chemical serotonin that regulate mood and appetite falls to its lowest levels.

"Another way to boost brain serotonin is by eating sugary or starchy foods, which causes insulin to be secreted. This, in turn, pushes tryptophan from the bloodstream into the brain.

"Unfortunately, the secretion of insulin drives down our blood sugar, making us hungry for more sugary and starchy foods."

Luigi Gratton, Herbalife's vice president of nutrition education, says this is the time to have a healthy balanced diet because an unhealthy diet does not only result in obesity but also in sickness.

"So if you are sitting back without the extra pounds and under the impression that you are healthier than your chubby checker neighbour, some rethinking needs to be done. Bad eating habits, little to no exercise and stressful lifestyles leave you susceptible to many silent killers.

"You would still be considered a high-risk candidate for heart conditions, diabetes and other diseases, as these are not exclusive to overweight people."

Gratton says it is not just about being overweight, but also about the lack of proper nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles that lead to endangering your own life.

"The escalating cost of food has done little to alleviate the lack of nutritional meals being consumed by the general population. Other factors such as time-demanding jobs also contribute to our unhealthy nation."

Gratton says given South Africa's political and economic history, finding similarities and issues that plague both high-income and low-income margins is difficult. However, proper nutrition is one of the few similarities that both margins struggle with on a daily basis.

"Whether it is consuming the correct amount of nutrition or being aware of how much the average human body needs to function, alternatives to address the state of nutrition need to be explored and used to create healthier and sustainable lifestyles in South Africa."

In achieving a healthier lifestyle, a balanced breakfast is important.

She advises against white, sugary cereal or pastries that offer short bursts of energy, but don't contain protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals in adequate quantities.

She says these foods leave you feeling tired and lethargic after a short while.

"You need a good source of complex carbohydrates and sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals to get your day off to the best start.

"Look at breakfast as part of a busy schedule. The busier you are, the more you should consider a balanced breakfast as part of your routine. Before you skip the sunrise munchies, here's some food for thought about what you're missing."

She adds that one of the most dangerous things people do is to skip breakfast to lose weight.

"If you think skipping breakfast helps to lose weight, think again. It's known that breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, not only giving you energy, but it also means you start burning more calories and keep burning them throughout the day.

"Studies have proven that people who start the day with a healthy breakfast are more likely to reach their ideal weight, and stay there.

"So choose a healthy breakfast to give you the perfect start to the day," she says.

Source: Sowetan

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