The Gut Health Guru MEGAN ROSSI’s guide to good eating

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How much snacker are you? I think you may be snacking more than you think.

It varies from person to person, of course, but estimates suggest that on average about 20 pc. of our total calories come from snacks.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, I believe snacking often gets an unjustified bad press.

People think it encourages weight gain or bad habits, and while mindless grazing on the wrong things can definitely do this, “smart snacking” can be beneficial, especially when it comes to weight and blood sugar control.

Not letting children snack even seems to have a negative effect. New research from Imperial College London has found that refusing children’s snacks is linked to an increased risk of obesity.

How much snacker are you?  I think you may be snacking more than you think.  It varies from person to person, of course, but estimates suggest that on average about 20 pc.  of our total calories come from snacks

How much snacker are you? I think you may be snacking more than you think. It varies from person to person, of course, but estimates suggest that on average about 20 pc. of our total calories come from snacks

It comes back to the idea that if you want young people to really want something, tell them they can’t have it. I know many adults – myself included – who feel the same!

The urge to snack stems from many things: sometimes it’s boredom, sometimes just old hunger. For me, snacking on popcorn at the movies is linked to nostalgia for my childhood.

When it comes to hunger, there’s the idea that being hungry is kind of a virtue, but it can encourage you to have a blowout at the next meal.

I know that if I have back-to-back work meetings and don’t get a chance to grab something to keep me going, I eat more than usual at my next meal.

I am not unique in this. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that a 30 g serving of walnuts as a snack significantly reduced the total intake of calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt at the next meal.

But the choice of snack is key. When the researchers gave the study volunteers sugary, gummy snacks, they didn’t have the same calorie reduction at the next meal.

The Gut Health Guru MEGAN ROSSIs guide to good eating

The Gut Health Guru MEGAN ROSSIs guide to good eating

People think it encourages weight gain or bad habits, and while mindless grazing on the wrong things can definitely do this, “smart snacking” can be beneficial, especially when it comes to weight and blood sugar management.

Smaller meals interspersed with healthy snacks can be especially beneficial for people with type 2 or pre-diabetes, as this approach can prevent the larger spikes in blood sugar that can occur with a large meal.

Researchers from the University of Athens found that for people with type 2 or pre-diabetes, six snack-sized meals instead of three larger meals (but the same amount of food in total) led to lower blood sugar levels around the world. day and lower HbA1C levels (this is a measure of your average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. This approach also reduced their hunger pangs between meals, according to the study results, published in 2018 in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism.

In my opinion, another benefit of snacking is that it offers the chance to broaden the range of nutrients you ingest so that your gut microbes can feast.

Did you know?

Red apples with uneven color or blemishes contain more polyphenols – antioxidants that lower the risk of disease.

The uneven markings mean the fruit has been exposed to more difficult growing conditions. The plant responds to this stress by producing protective polyphenols.

Research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2006 found that snackers had higher intakes of several important nutrients — including the fiber of our gut microbes of choice — compared to non-snackers.

Unfortunately, most people make the mistake of choosing snacks. A YouGov survey of 2,000 people earlier this year found that 58 percent self-identify as snacker — and their first choice is chocolate. Now I’m all for enjoying a few pieces of chocolate every now and then – it’s a well-known mood booster.

But the truth is that while chocolate can provide a slight energy boost, it will most likely be followed by a sudden crash. In addition, your gut microbes will not get a return on this, unless the chocolate contains 70 percent or more cocoa solids.

The best approach is to view snacking as an opportunity to fill in the gaps in your diet. A smart snack contains fiber, protein and some healthy fats. This winning combination will help you feel full for longer and reduce blood sugar spikes that result from higher carbohydrate foods like fruit when eaten alone.

My favorites are salty popcorn (a source of fiber and healthy fat); whole wheat crackers with hummus (see recipe) and tomato (provides fiber, fat and protein); a piece of fruit with natural yoghurt or a small handful of nuts (fibre, fat and protein).

And if you’re a snacker like me, then it’s worth remembering to rinse your mouth with water afterward, especially if you’re having fruit or a sweet snack, because you don’t want to give those cavity-causing bacteria into your mouth, too. snack.

There are, it must be said, some who do not benefit from snacking. If you’re someone who thinks snacking makes you hungrier, or if you only have access to less healthy foods during the day (yes, office cookies, that means you), skip snacking.

People who suffer from constipation may also want to follow that advice. They are best sticking to three meals a day because of what we call the migrating engine complex.

These are the movements that help propel undigested food through the gut. This process doesn’t start until you’ve had 90 minutes without eating anything.

So if you’re snacking, you’re more likely to delay these contractions, which, if you’re struggling with frequency, can actually help get your bowel movement going.

If this applies to you, try a month without snacks to see if that makes a difference. If not, bring those fiber-rich snacks with you again.

So yes, snacking can be good — but if you’re one of those who think the small and frequent approach to eating will boost their metabolism, I’ve got some bad news.

It’s true that when you eat, your metabolism goes up a bit — this is called the thermic effect of food (TEF) — because you have to burn calories to digest and absorb nutrients from your food.

TEF makes up about ten percent of your total calorie expenditure. Some people think this means that snacking can help you lose weight by keeping your metabolism up. But the TEF refers to the total amount of food you eat, not the frequency.

So if you eat 1,600 calories a day in three meals or the same number of calories in three meals and three snacks, it will have the same thermic effect and make little difference to your metabolism.

So be a smart snacker in the knowledge that you are increasing your food quota, not your metabolism.

Try this: My humble hummus

Butter’s prebiotic sibling, hummus, provides nutrition for you and your gut microbes. I use dips as spreads, dressings and fillings. They can transform a boring bowl of veggies, and they make a great snack with veggie sticks or pitted crackers.

Serves 10

  • 400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tahini (or unsalted peanut butter)
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt
  • A good twist of black pepper
  • Pine nuts, toasted (optional topper)

Blitz the ingredients with 60 ml of water until completely smooth (about 2 minutes). Taste as you go – you may want to add more lemon or salt.

AskMegan

After having a kidney stone two years ago, I am now very wary of what I eat, and of oxalates (I never knew they existed!), which seem to limit all the good bacteria I would need to eat to keep my protect intestines. Do you have any advice on gut-friendly or kidney stone-friendly foods? My stones were calcium oxalate stones.

Karen Hopper.

The good news is that a gut-fed diet can also lower the risk of kidney stones!

One of the most important preventive measures is drinking plenty of fluids (2.5 to 3 liters per day). The increased urination can also help pass small stones before they grow. The other recommendations are to reduce your daily salt intake (70 percent comes from processed foods) to no more than 5 g (less than a teaspoon), and animal meats to no more than 90 g twice a day. Both advices are part of a gut-feeding diet.

Oxalate is a compound found in many plant foods. But even if you’ve had calcium oxalate stones, there’s generally no need to completely avoid oxalate-rich foods, such as spinach and strawberries (unless your healthcare team has advised otherwise).

The last piece of advice is to eat these foods with a source of calcium, as this will help lower the amount of oxalate your body absorbs. This means foods like yogurt, cheese, tofu (check the label for calcium sulfate), and canned fish with bones. It’s also best to get your vitamin C from whole fruits, as more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C supplements can increase your risk of kidney stones.

Contact Dr. Megan Rossic

Email drmegan@dailymail.co.uk or write to Good Health, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT — please provide contact details. dr. Megan Rossi cannot enter into personal correspondence. Answers should be taken in a general context; always consult your doctor in case of health problems