Posted by Joe Wicks in Recipes, Wellbeing
I had an awesome conversation with Dr Rupy Aujla of The Doctor's Kitchen to talk about all things food and why he believes it's the most important health intervention anyone can make.
Dr Rupy Aujla is a NHS doctor with a speciality in General Practice, and he firmly believes in food being the most important health intervention anyone can make.
Rupy is on a mission to inspire everyone to look at their diet, use more nutritional ingredients to lead happier, healthier lives and he's grown a following on social media with The Doctor's Kitchen. Sharing his own delicious recipes and talking about the health benefits behind them, he has a new book 'The Doctor's Kitchen' coming out early next year.
In this blog post, I've pulled out some of the highlights from our Facebook Live Q&A.
So Dr... what are your ultimate healthy foods?
I’m a big fan of colourful foods, getting as much colour in as possible. So, eating the rainbow, is actually a thing. The reason why is because it has a different collection of phytochemicals - the chemicals that we find in food that have lots of benefits in sugar regulation and reducing inflammation and getting these different sorts of health properties. Things like brassica vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower. Peppers, courgettes, as many types of vegetables as possible.
How about herbs and spices?
Absolutely, yes. Fresh herbs and dried herbs and spices are all fantastic for you. They have different sorts of anti-inflammatory effects. Using things like cumin, garlic, onion I’m a big fan of. The stalks of the coriander and things like garlic, they contain certain types of fibre that are really good for your gut health.
What about when you indulge?
My food philosophy is, yes, eat whole foods, eat loads of colours, eat largely plants but also allow yourself to indulge. Have a chocolate brownie every now and then, have something that’s going to give you some pleasure of eating because it’s about that balance. It’s about mirroring the healthy side of things with things that give us pleasure and allow us to enjoy life.
What's your take on fats?
Fats are fantastic for you, we need them. They’re very essential for you but it’s the quality of your fats. Saturated fats and unsaturated fats; there’s a huge argument about it. Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K require certain types of fats to absorb them. There’s also certain sorts of phytochemicals that we find in things like tumeric and other spices and herbs and stuff like that where we need fats to absorb them. Having a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil on a salad is perfect. If you take the extra-virgin away from the salad, you’re pretty much just eating water and fibre and you need those extra fats to help you process those.
And saturated fats?
Saturated fat isn’t just good for you it’s necessary. We need saturated fat, but it’s all about where you get the saturated fat from. So nuts, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil - fantastic - they’re great for you. If you’re getting your saturated fat from processed meats and deep-fried foods and the poor quality low-fat materials that we’ve been putting in our products, that’s not going to be good for you. That’s why I always say, I always tell people, don’t go to the low-fat aisle. If you’re going to have butter, for example, have a little bit.
If you’re eating at odd hours, if you’re not sleeping right, if your inflammation levels are high, if you’ve got loads of other ingredients like refined carbohydrates and lots of deep-tried foods in your diet, let’s focus on that first before we start talking about low fat because low fat isn’t an effective strategy in isolation.
What I’m really a big fan of and I want to spend a lot more time on next year, is actually introducing healthy principles of living to a lot more people; and that is about your mindset, your community, your friendship group, how you sleep, how you exercise and the variety of different exercises and what you eat as well.
What would your advice be for someone who's demotivated or maybe suffering from some form of depression?
It’s really topical right now, with the clocks changing and everything. We’re getting into winter season in the UK and I think this really depends on meeting people where they’re at and how far along they are on their health journey. For some people it might be getting extra sleep. It might be making sure that you’re improving your diet. It might be practicing mindfulness as well, like a meditation; just taking 10/20 minutes out of your day to listen to music or be on your own. Whereas, other people it might be something completely different. There might be something that’s triggering these sorts of feelings. It’s quite hard to say but when you get the basics right, when you eat well, when you’re sleeping well and you’re spending time with your family and your loved ones and surrounding yourself with positive things, that’s how you’re going to get yourself out of this rut.
What's your view HIIT workouts?
When I was in my last year of general practice training I was facing burnout myself. What I found out was that home workouts really worked and there’s a lot of science behind that as well; because when you do particularly high-intensity workouts, you increase your BDNF (Brain-derived neurotropic factor). It has an effect on your mood. It’s serotonin and all the other hormones that actually improve neural connections in your brain. So there’s a lot of evidence behind these sorts of workouts. It’s also about variability as well because some people find that going for a run for 30/40 minutes, being on their own, chilling out, has just the same effect.
I exercise daily. I do a lot of high-intensity workouts and calisthenics and stuff like that, so I probably have like 60-70% carbs. But I have a lot of beans and lentils and veggie proteins and stuff like that, whereas some other people might need a diet strategy that might be the complete reverse of that but that’s good for them.
How about calorie counting?
I’m not a fan of calorie counting. I think when we talk about calories, we obsessively look at the packaging rather than the actual food itself. What I’d rather people concentrate on is the quality of your food; where you’re getting your food from and just cooking from scratch. Because when you cook from scratch and you use healthy principles like eating the rainbow, eating colourful food, eating mostly plants and getting lots of different sorts of proteins into your diet, that’s where you get the benefits from.
And the low-calorie stuff, the low-fat movement, unfortunately it’s been pretty detrimental because you lose that relationship you have with food.
Can you tell us about good anti-inflammatory foods?
A lot of people think that I just need to get rid of every single element of inflammation in my diet, 100%. I’m just going to have anti-inflammatory foods. I think on balance, we need inflammation. We need it to clot our blood, for example. Exercise is a pro-inflammatory effect but it has a conditioning effect on our body and our muscles, so that’s the first thing to understand. We live in a continuum and we need balance of inflammation.
But to your question, anti-inflammatory foods, things like brassica vegetables are fantastic, like broccoli and cauliflower and romanesco. Peas. Anything green is fantastic. Different sorts of herbs and spices, turmeric, there’s a lot of information about that at the moment. I’m actually a big fan of turmeric. There’s lots of clinical evidence about it but there are so many other different herbs and spices, like basil, there’s rosemary, there’s cumin. There’s all these different things that have different sorts of plant chemicals that reduce inflammation. Having a general stress-free life is probably the best thing you can do to reduce inflammation. Cortisol and hormonal effects all impact our body, so, sleep and having mindful practice.
What inflammatory foods should we steer clear of?
Deep-fried fatty foods, unfortunately. Trans fats. Processed foods - processed meats are terrible for you, they’re really bad and having lots of refined carbohydrates in your diet as well unfortunately.
Fizzy drinks are probably one of the worst things and we should definitely get them out of our hospitals because in every A&E department you go to, you have a vending machine and there’ll be processed foods like chocolates and jolly ranchers and stuff like that.
For more from The Doctor's Kitchen:
About Joe Wicks
Joe Wicks is the online nutrition coach inspiring people all over the world to cook with his #Leanin15 video meals on Instagram. He is also transforming the lives of thousands of people with his tailored online nutrition plan, The 90 Day Shift, Shape & Sustain plan.
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