Is the food we eat truly healthy? The notion of 'healthy' food that held true three decades back, has today been proven to be more harmful than good. Take the case of white sugar- our parents never thought twice before adding a heaped spoonful to our milk; but studies conducted over time have shown how harmful the long term effects of sugar are. Armed with this knowledge, we hesitate to let our children indulge too much in it today.
But sugar isn’t the only ingredient used in our everyday lives that needs to be replaced with a healthier alternative. We can replace several ingredients in our staple diets to ensure a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Replace Wheat Flour With Jowar Atta: The wheat flour that we consume daily, may not be as pure as we give it credit for. To enhance its taste, it is often mixed with all purpose flour- which further dilutes its nutritive value. The harmful effects of wheat include: increased cholesterol levels, clogged arteries and disrupted blood sugar levels.
Jowar atta on the other hand offers an easy replacement for wheat. Studies have shown that Jowar is imbued with good fibre that helps improve our metabolism and digestion, to prevent common ailments such as gas and bloating. Jowar improves our heart’s health whilst reducing our bad cholesterol levels. A rich source of protein, jowar is also gluten free and helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. In fact, a daily consumption of jowar is known to reduce free radicals that cause premature aging.
You can easily replace your wheat rotis with jowar rotis to make your meal a more balanced one.
Replace White Rice With Quinoa: White rice is a staple food in almost every corner of India, but studies conducted over time have shown how harmful its daily consumption can be. Today, if you were to consult a dietician, the first thing he/she would ask you to eliminate from your diet would be this starch. Rice is known to cause high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. In a study conducted in 2019, rice was assigned a high glycemic index score which indicates its high propensity to cause type two diabetes. This starch that is known to make you put on weight, is also responsible for lowering the levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) in our blood.
Quinoa on the other hand, though a costly replacement, is highly nutritious and equally filling. It is gluten free and full of fiber, that aids digestion. Its high protein index adds all the necessary amino acids to your diet whilst its low Glycemic index score controls your blood sugar levels.
Introduce Quinoa into your diet with stir fried vegetables and your favourite spices- and we guarantee love at first bite!
Replace Cow’s Milk With Almond Milk: Humans don't need cow's milk. Vegans have been chanting this for years. And today this statement is backed by science. The harmful hormones injected into cows to produce extra milk, infiltrates into the milk, rendering it far from natural. It is today a known cause for constipation and type one diabetes. The truth is that we are conditioned into believing that cow’s milk is good for us, when doctors in fact no longer recommend it for children at all. A home-made alternative is almond milk, it's low on calories and so friendly to the waistline too. High in Vitamin E, and an excellent source of calcium, it is also a superb option for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Almond milk is naturally low in sugar and phosphorus, which makes it a fantastic dairy substitute for those afflicted with diabetes or kidney problems.
You can easily make almond milk at home by first soaking almonds overnight and then blending the drained almonds with water and sieving the resultant liquid through a muslin cloth. You can add vanilla essence for flavouring as well.
Replace White Sugar With Honey: An average Indian is known to consume 19.5 grams of sugar each day!
If you are thinking that isn’t you as you don’t add any sugar to your daily tea/ coffee... think again.
While the amount of sugar you add to your milk does account for only 2 to 3 grams of this 19.5 grams of sugar- the rest comes from hidden sources like soft drinks, pulses and even breads!
Coming to the harsh effects of it; sugar doesn’t only cause weight gain, it also leads to type two diabetes and heart ailments, and also increases the risk of cancer and depression. Consuming too much sugar can lead to skin problems and faster aging too. Owing to its high fructose levels, it is also the primary cause for fatty liver.
Substituting sugar with raw honey is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make. Honey is high in antioxidants that help lower blood pressure. Honey also helps improve cholesterol levels, lowers triglyceride levels and consequently helps maintain a healthy heart. Honey can easily be found in the local markets, however, before purchasing one it is advisable to make sure that it is pure.
Replace Your Morning Coffee/ Tea With Warm Lemon Water With Honey: This is perhaps the most difficult of all changes to implement, considering that most of us can’t seem to function in the mornings without our daily dose of caffeine. However, you might change your mind after you hear about the adverse effects that caffeine has on your health. Every 100 gms of tea has about 11mg of caffeine in it, whereas coffee has 40mg per 100gms. Though caffeine does have a few benefits, the pros are heavily outweighed by the cons which include: anxiety, insomnia, poor metabolism, addiction, high blood pressure, increased heart rate and muscle break down.
Lemon water with honey makes for an excellent drink to start your day with! It is an excellent source of vitamin C that reduces the risk of heart ailments. It aids digestive prowess and facilitates weight loss as well. Lemon water is also known to strengthen immunity and is also great as a detox agent. Since caffeine has a few noteworthy benefits to it- eliminating it completely may not be necessary, but limiting its intake is the prudent thing to do.
These alternatives provide not only nutritious but delicious substitutes to the harmful ingredients we use in our daily diets. Small and easy changes can go a long way in improving our overall health and quality of life. Are you willing to try making these dietary changes? Share your experience with us when you do.