Wellness Wednesday: Count your daily plant consumption instead of your calories – The Sudbury Star

Share Article

I recently attended The Food Revolution Summit, which brings together leading scientists and doctors to share current research on food, nutrition, disease prevention and immune health. I invite you to check out the Food Revolution Network, guided by John Robbins, author of Diet for a new America and his son Ocean. The network is committed to healthy, ethical and sustainable food for all, promoting a whole food plant-based lifestyle for the benefit of humans and the planet.

During the week-long summit, the general consensus among the experts was simple: rather than counting calories, we should be counting the number of plants we consume in a day. More diversity, more colours.

Most North Americans eat a low-fibre diet, which is depleting our gut microbiome. Fibre fuels the growth of good bacteria in our intestine, which is crucial for immune support and metabolic function. However, it’s diversity is decreasing, caused by the overconsumption of sugar and fat from processed and fast food. And that is making us sick.

A recent study published in the journal Gut found the make-up of the gut microbiome may be “strongly” linked to long COVID risk. Long COVID is a condition that involves persistent symptoms for weeks or even months after initial infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. So, what you eat has an impact on how well you can recover from COVID-19, and generally, any illness.

We could all benefit from increasing our fibre intake. More vegetables, fruit and whole grains means less reliance on fibre supplements and laxatives. Increasing fibre intake should be done gradually, as you would adapt to any new lifestyle. But with the increasing cost of food, healthy eating may seem out of reach to many people.

I always recommend selecting most of your groceries from the produce aisle. But there are some tiny superfoods found outside the produce section that are cheap and loaded with nutrition. Pulses.

Pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils) have been consumed around the world for thousands of years and have remained a food staple in many cultures. From falafels to minestrone soup and dhal to sweets like red bean mochi, many of these dishes featuring pulses have made it into the Western world. You can purchase these dishes locally (or easily make them in your own kitchen).

Pulses are a source of protein and fibre and a significant source of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, folate and magnesium. Eating even just half a cup of pulses a day provides immense nutritional benefits. The phytochemicals, saponins and tannins found in pulses have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects and help protect against cardiovascular risk factors including inflammation, the underlining cause of so many chronic conditions today. Pulses are also low on the glycemic index, making them a good choice if you have diabetes or are looking to manage your blood glucose levels.

The dried versions are the cheapest and most versatile options. If you are afraid of stomach upset, or excessive gas from eating pulses, soak the dried pulses overnight, changing the water twice. Make sure to discard the water before cooking. Soaking not only cleans the beans but breaks down the sugars (raffinose and stachyose) which cause flatulence. If using canned beans, be sure to rinse them thoroughly before consuming. However, if you have the time, I would recommend the dried version over canned – they cost less per serving and are tastier.

You can also have fun experimenting with dried versions – there is plenty of variety. Canada is a major producer of pulses – and the largest exporter in the world. Our country takes great pride in its sustainable farming practices when it comes to pulses, too. Pulses are a great protein source but require very little water to grow. (Go to www.pulsecanada.ca to learn more).

When it comes to your kitchen, use them in a soup, curry, chilli, stew, buddha bowl. You can even include them in your baking, using them instead of white flour. I sneak chickpeas into chocolate chips cookies and have been meaning to try a kidney bean brownie recipe. The possibilities are endless.

Laura Stradiotto is a holistic nutritionist, mother of three and writer in Sudbury. She works as a nutrition coach and content developer at Med-I-Well Services, a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who collaborate with companies to develop a healthier more productive workforce. Wellness Wednesday is a monthly column that appears in the Sudbury Star. To get in touch with Laura, email lstradiotto@mediwell.ca.

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.
365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4
© 2022 Sudbury Star, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.
This website uses cookies to personalize your content (including ads), and allows us to analyze our traffic. Read more about cookies here. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


You might also like

Surviving 2nd wave of corona

Surviving The 2nd Wave of Corona

‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort