It turns out it’s grandma, not mum, who knows best – at least when it comes to nutrition. Take a look at some of the classic pearls of wisdom many of us learned from our elders that are more than just baseless sayings – they’re backed by science.
Don’t eat late
Eating earlier isn’t just something our grandparents encouraged to make sure they caught their favourite serial, there’s a good scientific reason to not go to bed with a full stomach. Our blood sugar levels are at their highest at night, meaning it’s far easier to shoot them up to spiked levels, which can lead to the following:
- Mood swings
- Excess thirst
- Frequent need to urinate
Sounding familiar? Your late-night snack attack could be to blame. That’s why a light meal for dinner – and at a reasonable hour – is the optimal dietary choice to keep those blood sugars stable and ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Breakfast is the time when our blood sugars are at their lowest, so have your heavier meal around this time to keep you energised throughout the day, after all, it’s science backed – a study found that people who ate the bulk of their food earlier in the day enjoyed better gut health, hormone regulation and an improved balance of bacteria in their gut microbiome.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
We’ve all heard this saying, and while it may not be 100% accurate, there’s a reason apples were held in such high regard – so much so that they made a saying after this humble fruit! Research shows that it actually can improve your immunity, along with providing antioxidants which reduce your risk for inflammation and disease. This research found that the antioxidants in apples, known as catechin and chlorogenic acid, were the kind that inhibit cancer cells, reduce oxidation and lower our cholesterol levels. All of these things will see us seeking out the doc less frequently – so there’s a little truth to grandma’s musings after all.
Ginger for a cold
You may recall you grandma boiling up some ginger tea to soothe your cold as a child – and while you may have struggled to get the potent drink down, there’s a good reason it’s been hailed as a virus-fighter for generations. It’s not just anecdotal, there’s research backing its antiviral properties; A study shows it may help reduce the risk of infection and decrease the severity of symptoms. But that’s not all ginger’s good for – it can also help with menstrual cramps due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties.
Cod liver oil for health
This may be one piece of wisdom you wish weren’t true – but this unfavourable-tasting oil is teeming with brain-healthy nutrients to support mental clarity, memory and mood. But it’s the omega 3s that are to thank for these effects
Cod liver oil has also been used for generations to treat fragile bones caused by rickets – a disease far more common in the early 20th century. This is because it has anti-inflammatory benefits and is an all-round nutritious food. Just a teaspoon packs 90% of our daily vitamin A needs, and exceeds our vitamin D needs. The sunshine vitamin is essential for healthy bones, stable moods and for absorbing calcium – so it’s no wonder that generations have hailed this oil as a health powerhouse – if you can get past the taste!
A lot of us are nibbling on food throughout the day, but in the past meals were less frequent and less heavily processed. This meant we were consuming less sugar and more fibre – which is essential for healthy bowel movements and satiety. It’s no wonder we’re constantly hungry and craving sugar these days with all the preservatives loaded into household staples like bread, cereal and even some yoghurt brands! If this is hitting home for you, it may be worth cutting down on the snacks – or keeping them light and nutritious.
In years past, the occasional piece of fruit was a popular snack – and this is not a bad way to get a burst of energy, with a dose of fibre too. It wasn’t until snacking blew up around the 70s that we started to see the beginnings of the snack-obsession we know today, with aisles in supermarkets dedicated solely to snack foods like crackers, muesli bars and biscuits – often brimming with added sugars. It’s no surprise that we’re inhaling nearly double the daily sugar limit, considering how readily available these products are. But if you take a leaf out of granny’s book and go for whole foods like fruits, crunchy veggies and maybe a little yoghurt or cheese for a dose of healthy fats and calcium, you’ll be able to reduce your sugar intake to negligible amounts.
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