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Support – We all need a little help from time to time. Join the Plantalicious Community.

As some of you may know, I have always wanted to run.  Well, I say always, maybe that’s an overstatement.  When I was at school we had to do cross-country running in the wet and mud and that I hated.  My exercise then was my bike.  I rode miles on that thing.

In later years, having been so overweight, I did do exercise, but it was mainly on machines like cross-trainers etc.,  Running always seemed to elude me.  For some reason I was unable to “get” running and found it so hard to do for more than a few seconds.  Managing my breathing and my weight on my joints were all challenges.  About a year ago, I did start working on running with my trainer, and built up to doing about 12 minutes of staggering around the local park.

Recently, I found Couch to 5k, or Couch25K   It is a great resource from the NHS and teaches you to run, starting at the most basic level, (good for me).  How does it do it?  Well it is all thanks to Laura.  Laura is a lady who runs with you – sounds stupid – but she does – She is on a each downloadable podcast.  She acts as a coach and instructs and encourages you.  You can also download the app, the only difference is that the podcast has it’s own music – which I like and the app allows you to use your own.

 

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It is a 9 week plan and for the first few weeks you run 3 times a week doing intervals of walking and running with an initial warm up walk and a final cool down walk.

I really did not think that I would be able to do it, but with Laura’s support and help. the hardest thing was getting out of bed and pulling on my “running gear”.  The first 3 weeks went fine, then I had a very busy and tiring business trip to Scandinavia.  I did my week 4, run 1 run on the Monday morning, but that was it.  So a week later, I was panicked, would I be able to do it?  Should I start-over?  Should I give up?  (That little nagging voice at the back of my head said – “see, I told you, you would never do it”). I felt lost and very confused.

I found that there is a community on the site where you can share your concerns and your victories.  For me, it was my fears. Almost immediately on putting my note online, I got some messages of support and encouragement back.  These were from people who I did not know, but who were willing to support me.  Why did that matter?  Because they had been exactly where I was.  They had faced the same issues and fears.  I had a similar panic when moving to week 5, where I have to run for 3 x 5 mins for run1; then 2 x 8 minutes for run 2 and for 20 minutes (yes – non stop – not even for a soy latte at the Park Cafe) for run 3.  YIKES!!!  I posted my fears online and again, they came up trumps – “go do it Baz”.  “Take it easy Barry – you will do it” etc.,  I was so lucky and also got support from friends on Facebook too.

This got me thinking about support in general.  What do people need?  How do we provide support to one another?  A number of people who use this site have asked for advice, support, recipes etc.,  My site is specifically designed to provide support, through the shop with suggested books, ingredients, resources  etc.,  the articles, the twitter feed and last but by no means least, the community.  The Community was something that I was really keen to establish where people can sign up and share experiences and be honest about where they are and what they need.  I recently saw some posts on Facebook where someone had shared some very personal pain – being a relatively public forum and un-moderated some folks had been supportive but others had been so nasty that this person had decided to close their page.  A big shame as many others had benefited from her experience, knowledge and expertise.

So – Please sign up for the community.  Please share recipes, your experience and your challenges.  Please comment and share and help one-another as I know only too well how difficult it can be to change your health and diet.

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You can join other Plantalicious People – here

Please let me know what I and other members of the community can do for you to help you take control of your health and well-being.

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Have you visited the Plantalicious Shop? It is open all hours! Come on in and take a look…

Do you love shopping?

I do!  I’m always up for a bit of retail therapy.

One of the things when I first started eating Plantalicious was that I did not have a lot of resources.  Recipes, books that explained the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle etc., Over the weeks, and months I have discovered lots of great resources: DVD’s, books, cookery books as well as ingredients and equipment.  Very often friends and followers would ask me for advice on this and that or what book to buy as a gift, or what blender I use.

So…I created the Plantalicious Shop – It contains many of the books and resources that I have used as well as links to more unusual ingredients that you may not be able to get on your high street.  My shop only stocks and sells things that I have either used and want to share with you or things that I recommend.  In fact, I think I own all of the items listed.  I also provide some information too to help you in your choices and to explain why I use the item.  The shop sells the items via an “Amazon Affiliate” relationship so your items are sent from Amazon and I get a small percentage which goes towards running Plantalicious and you pay the same as if you had bought the items on Amazon directly. The transaction is safe and secure just as any Amazon purchase.

A few items that I would like to highlight are:

  • ReThink Food – I recently did a review of this wonderful book that empowers you to take control of your health destiny- see here
  • The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook – The Esselstyn’s are an amazing family.  Following on from the work of Dr Esselstyn his wife Ann Crile Esselstyn and daughter Jane have recently published this book.  The book answers the question of “how do i…Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease?” – the answer is simple, you cook and eat these Plantalicious recipes.
  • The Happy Pear Cookbook – The Flynn brothers cookbook from their wonderful shop and restaurant in Greystones in Ireland.  Not all the recipes are Plantalicious but their food is so good and they just make vegetables and fruit sing.  They also run a brilliant course – The Happy Heart to reduce cholesterol.  Buy the book and take the first step towards managing your health, reducing your cholesterol and enjoy delicious food at the same time.
  • If I had a £ for every time I am asked about blenders, I would be a wealthy man – This is the mother of all blenders – it is not cheap, but it is the best investment you will every make for your kitchen and your health – Its a Vitamix
  • Finally, the book that started me on this amazing journey to health – The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell – If you have not read it – now is the time.  It will change your life, as it did mine.

So next time you need some Plantalicious support or inspiration or are in the market for a blender, head over to the Plantalicious shop and bag yourself a bargain that is not only good for your wallet but also for your health.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – L Is for Lemon

The sour taste of lemons causes this fruit to get the reputation of being acidic. The truth is that, in the body at least, lemons are alkaline and can do a lot to help balance out an acidic body. So while the juice can work well as a cleaner in its acidic state outside of the body, inside it counter acts sugars (which actually create an acidic body state) and can even help to ward off certain types of cancer.

Whether your goal is to lose weight or to detox your system, lemons can be of assistance. They are great for everything from your brain to your bowel. Plus, lemons are versatile and work as a garnish, a dressing, a drink, a dessert, and more! What other health benefits make lemons an indispensable part of a plant based diet?

Some of the many health benefits derived from lemons include:

  • Lemons are great as part of a cleanse. They help the liver to get rid of solvents. Just a little bit of lemon water each morning can help break down uric acid and other toxins in the body.

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  • Do you have a problem with kidney stones, gall stones, or other calcium buildup issues? Lemons break down calcium and can help to keep calcium deposits from forming within the body.
  • Lemons also can destroy many bacterial diseases such as typhoid and malaria. It’s one of the reasons that lemon is used in cleaning products (not just the lovely scent). It performs the same job in the body, helping the immune system to ward off deadly intruders.
  • We all know that carrots are good for vision, but lemons have positive eye effects too. Rutin is the lemon component that can improve eye disorders like diabetic retinopathy.
  • Lemons are full of antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body. In fact, there are 22 different cancer fighting agents found within lemons.
  • The digestive system gets help from lemons as well. Lemons can help to ward off constipation, thus keeping the colon cleaned out. Also, lemons are known for being able to kill certain intestinal parasites.
  • The vitamin C in lemons is not only an antioxidant and a liver cleanser, but it also helps to speed up metabolism. High vitamin C content is what makes lemons useful for weight loss diets.
  • Another little known fact is that lemons are high in potassium. This is a vital mineral for heart health. It helps keep the blood pressure lower by reducing stress. Potassium is also important in counteracting dehydration.

Are you a lemon fan?  What is your favourite way of consuming these wonderful little yellow nutritional powerhouses?

Note of caution – unless lemons are marked as “unwaxed” always wash them in warm water to remove the wax, as you would with any citrus fruit.

Tips:

  • To get the most juice out of them, pop in a microwave for 30-60 secs and then gently roll them on a chopping board or counter top.  Then pierce in the centre and gently squeeze to get some of the juice out, before cutting in half and juicing.
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to soups etc it helps you cut down on salt
  • Fresh Lemon and Mint with ice is a wonderful refreshing and hydrating drink when its hot
  • Start your day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice to kick-start your body

 

 

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – K Is for Kale

If you’ve spent any amount of time on a plant based diet or juicing, then you know that kale is a staple for providing the nutritional benefits to have energy on a day to day basis. Kale has all sorts of nicknames that hail it as everything from a vegetarian or vegan’s meat to the nutritional powerhouse of greens.
Whether you are trying to detox or lose weight, kale has what you need. It’s a great immune system booster. Making kale a regular part of your diet can even improve the condition of your skin, nails, and hair. What are the secrets that kale holds which make it the perfect plant for everything from fighting off disease to improving your vision?
Just some of the many benefits of kale include:
• An aid to digestion, kale contains 5 g of dietary fiber per serving. With no fat and only 36 calories per cup, kale is gentle on the digestive tract and will help keep a person regular.
• The letter K stands for kale on our A-Z list, and kale also stands for K, vitamin K that is. Whether you are concerned about clotting properly, fighting off the effects of Alzheimer’s, or want to protect yourself from certain forms of cancer, vitamin K has to be in your nutritional alphabet. Kale is a great source.
• Vitamin A also abounds in kale, giving a huge boost to your eyes, and helping to prevent optical disorders.
• Kale also contains both vitamin D and calcium. It’s a 1-2 punch for healthy teeth and bones, since the vitamin D improves calcium absorption. Plus, vitamin C provides additional benefits for the cartilage and joints.
• Kale gets the nickname beef, but that’s really not fair to the kale. Kale actually has more iron than red meat. Iron helps to fend off anemia, and it also plays a vital role in helping oxygen to get to all parts of the body.
• Omega-3 fatty acids make kale a great food for fighting inflammation. Omega-3 and omega-6 are also vital for the skin, making it appear vibrant by healing from the inside out. Hair and nails also need these fatty acids to thrive.
• Any sort of detox should include kale in some form. It contains both fiber and sulfur. It’s great for the liver and for the colon, detoxing the whole body instead of just one system.

Quick recipe tips, if you have some Kale in the fridge and happen to have made some hummus in your blender, scrape it out, but leave some residue. add some water, lemon juice or vinegar, (apple cider is my preference) and some garlic, salt and pepper, and whizz and you have a delicious creamy dressing for your kale salad).
Pop a few Kale leaves in your smoothie to “beef” it up a bit.

Love it or hate it? Share your thoughts and favourite Kale recipes in the community pages.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – J Is for Jerusalem Artichoke

Have you seen them?  These nobbly little bundles of delicious nutyness?  Jerusalem Artichokes are only around for a short season in the UK, but if you can get them, buy them.  They are so delicious and worth the effort needed to prepare them.

You may know Jerusalem artichokes by their alternate or US name, Sunchokes. Don’t confuse these with the artichokes that are prevalent in Italian cuisine. Jerusalem artichokes are a root vegetable and look like a cross between a potato and ginger root.

Also, don’t let the misnomer fool you. Jerusalem artichokes aren’t imported from Israel. In fact, they aren’t imported at all. This starchy vegetable is native to the UK as well as North America. Sunchokes have a delicious earthy and nutty flavor similar to jicama (a European root veggie).

So why should Jerusalem artichokes be in your a-z plant vocabulary? It’s a great way to get the carbs that you need without the fat and cholesterol. And the starch isn’t the only carb in Jerusalem artichokes. There is plenty of dietary fiber too.

Here are some more nutritional benefits of Jerusalem artichokes:

  • This root veggie fights constipation by helping the gut to hang onto moisture. Staying regular cleans toxins from the gut area and may help to prevent certain types of cancer.
  • Anti-oxidant vitamins abound in Jerusalem artichokes. Vitamins A, C, and E are all antioxidants making this a cancer fighting vegetable. Antioxidants also help reduce inflammation and can reduce the length of time that the common cold lasts.
  • Potassium is a vital mineral for helping the body not to dehydrate as well as for maintaining good heart health. Jerusalem artichokes get you 9% of the potassium that you need in a day with every 100 gram serving.
  • Iron is a mineral that is vital to the circulatory system. It helps in the production of red blood cells and guards against anemia which can cause fatigue and muscle weakness. A serving of sunchokes gets more than 2/5 of what you need in a day. No other tuber or root can match up to that.
  • Other vitamins and minerals in this vegetable include vitamin B, electrolytes, and copper.
  • They can also help you to boost the protein in your diet with 3 grams of protein per serving.
  • Prebiotics help to feed your body’s natural probiotics and keep them healthy. Sunchokes are filled with inulin, a prebiotic which may help your body’s probiotics to thrive, thus benefiting digestion. Don’t confuse inulin for insulin. Jerusalem artichokes do not reduce blood sugar. They may not raise it as much as other carbs, however, because inulin doesn’t metabolize like other carbohydrates. It’s actually an effective sweetener (saccharin) for diabetics.

So now you know how good they are for you, what do you want to do with them?

The first thing is to wash them, just ensure that you get rid of all the dirt.  There is no need to peel them – Life is too short!

Always cook them in acidulated water (just add a few drops of lemon juice) as otherwise they will discolour.

You can use them to make a really silky and delicious nutty soup – it’s the sort of thing that is so good, you could serve it to guests.

You can also just steam them, mash/purée them or roast them.

Let me know if you find them and how you cook them.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – I Is for Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce is sort of the black sheep of the lettuce family. It’s one of those most ignored foods, so often taken for granted and stuffed in a bun with a burger to make it “look healthy”.  As a child, it was a staple in our house, along with tomatoes and cucumber for a “British Salad”.  So why does it get honorable mention in our A-Z list? Do we just not have anything else that starts with the letter I?

Actually, iceberg lettuce has plenty of nutrients. It just doesn’t have quite as many as some other forms of lettuce. The fact is though that iceberg lettuce is tasty, and it has a delightful crunch that can be just what you need when you are craving an unhealthy snack.

Take this as an example of the benefits of eating iceberg lettuce. Just 2 cups of iceberg lettuce on a daily basis can help you to get about a third of the vitamin K that you need each day. This vitamin is important for clotting and for bone health, and that’s just one of the benefits of this type of lettuce that gets a bad rap.

Check out these facts about the nutritional benefits of iceberg lettuce:

  • It’s a low calorie food. An entire cup of iceberg lettuce only has 11 calories.
  • It may be able to help keep you regular thanks to a high dietary fiber content.
  • Iceberg lettuce contains minerals such as magnesium (also good for the digestive tract), potassium (excellent for hydration and for your heart), manganese, calcium (important for teeth and bones), and phosphorus.
  • High iron levels help your body to produce red blood cells. That makes iceberg lettuce a nice pick me up in the morning.
  • It’s also good in the evening. Iceberg lettuce helps to relax the body, especially the eyes. Some have used iceberg lettuce as a natural cure to insomnia.
  • A serving of iceberg lettuce will get you 9% of the vitamin A that you need for the day, 4% of your vitamin C needs, and provides as much as 2% of other vital vitamins like B6 and thiamine.
  • Pregnant women can benefit particularly from iceberg lettuce because it contains folate. This along with vitamin A are important in preventing eye problems which can accompany pregnancy.

So given this, don’t leave it on the shelf.  Pick one up, chop it up, add some other veggies, a few nuts or seeds, some avocado and a splosh of balsamic vinegar for a delicious and healthy, filling and fibre full Plantalicious salad!

Another idea is to use the natural shape of the leaves as serving cups – just load them with some finely chopped veggies, maybe some chinese vegetables with water chestnuts and a drop of tamari or soy sauce – YUM – Plantalicious canapes!

 

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Get the Plantalicious 3 Day Challenge e-Book for free (save £6.99)

If you have not heard already, I have produced an e-book that is a handy guide as a starter for those new to, or curious about a plant-based diet.  Maybe you just want to reduce your meat intake by one or two meals a week, or you just do not know what to buy to get started.  Well now you do.  Download a copy of my e-book!

 

You can also refer friends to the download site if they are interested to know more about a plant-based diet.  The book contains recipes for 3 days including breakfasts, lunches and dinners as well as snacks and some basics.  It also has a shopping list so you know what to stock up with to make the recipes.

 

To download the e-book just visit this page of my site – http://www.plantalicious.com/buy-the-plantalicious-ebook/   to save yourself the cost of £6.99, simply sign up for the Plantalicious Newsletter and “hey presto” you will then be able to download the e-book for free.  How about that for plant-based magic?

 

If you are already a news letter subscriber, please just email me – Barry@Plantalicious.com and I will send you the e-book by email.

 

Please let me have any comments and feedback on the book.  What you liked, what could be improved and what you’d like to see more of.  You can comment here on www.plantalicious.com of ping me an email.  I’d also love to hear how people get on with the 3 day Plantalicious Challenge – how did you feel?  How did you find the recipes?  Did you miss anything?

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – H is for Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg Root Parsley is somewhat of a unique ‘off-beat vegetable’. Although this wonderful white and green vegetable is not as common as other root veggies, parsley root is extremely delicious and deserves much more recognition than it gets

Very easy to grow, both the leaves and root are edible. Parsley Root Hamburg has edible large flat, parsley-like leaves but should not be confused with common curly parsley or Italian flat leaf parsley, as neither produce edible roots.

Parsley root is most commonly eaten cooked, as a delectable addition to stews or soups, or simply as chopped or cubed as a steamed side veggie, as you would other roots such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots. In fact, it’s an extremely versatile and exciting vegetable which can be sautéed, roasted, fried, or boiled for a distinctive and savoury accompaniment for any meal.

This charming vegetable is not only a delicious ingredient, it also come with a wonderful array or health benefits.

Parsley is a very rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, iron and folate. Apart from these, it contains a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals and is also very low in calories.

Parsley tea is a tasty tea with an acquired taste that is used as a remedy for various health problems. The herb was used in ancient Greek medicine and in Ayurveda, to treat flatulence, and dyspepsia.

 

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“International NO Diet Day” – My thoughts on diets and self-esteem. Why diets do not work for me. Do they work for you?

Today is International No Diet Day, which got me thinking about all the diets  I have done over the years.  There have been a lot!  You can read all about my dieting history in the “About Me” section.

One of the things that I remembered today, was a turning point in my life and my relationship with food. It was discovering the complicated relationship between dieting, eating and my self-esteem.  I had never realised just how much my relationship with food was governed by my feelings about myself and drove my feelings about myself.

I also don’t remember how I came upon the book  “The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem” by Nathanial Branden. I read the book. I did the exercises. Some of the sentence completions, where you have to look at yourself in detail were quite difficult, however they give you an amazing insight into how you view yourself. That insight really helped me understand my relationship with food. It was probably the turning point in my life where I realised that diets really do not work for me, and probably don’t really work for anyone.

I believe that the issue of self-esteem is one aspect of diet and weight loss that has been overlooked and requires a lot more work and scientific study.  Diets are a temporary state, where you are either “good” or “bad”, you are either compliant or non-compliant with the rules and boundaries of the chosen food regime.  All of that “feedback” as well as the physical weight loss or unexpected weight gains play havoc with how we see ourselves and how we believe that others see and judge us.

I had dieted on and off for most of my adult life and it was only once I recognised the link between diets, food and self-esteem, did I realise that it was time to make a change.  For me, that meant more searching for a better way.  An approach where I add continually to my self-esteem rather than the previous roller coaster of: “I’ve lost weight”=”I feel good about myself” and “I’ve not lost weight”=”I must be a failure, I cannot do this, why bother etc.,” The euphoria would probably be celebrated with some indulgent “reward” food and the failure would be comforted with indulgent “never mind, there, there” food, all of which further served to make me feel worse about myself.

Discovering a plant-based diet, was not a magic pill for me.  It wasn’t an instant solution.  I can recall thinking when I heard people say that they were “plant-based” that they must be bonkers.  I had no idea that I could and would change my diet to a 95-98% no added fats, whole food, plant-based diet, eating no fish, meat or dairy.  That came about in part because not only did the idea that this way of eating would change my health destiny, I found that virtually every meal adds to my well-being and my self-esteem.  I may still be overweight, but I am a lot lighter than I was.  I may not be able to run a marathon, but I can run.  I may not be an olympic weight-lifter but I do lift weights on a regular basis and at 52, I am fitter than I have been in my entire life.

What I choose to eat now nourishes my body and my mind.  It is consistent with my having a positive view of myself.  I’m not saying that I look in the mirror and immediately love what I see, but I like me a whole lot more than I did.

Do you think that self-esteem and dieting are related?  If you don’t, let me share an extremely personal and humiliating example:

One of the diets that I tried was a pill that inhibited the absorption of fat in the gut and made the fat literally “pass” right through the body and out when you went to the toilet.  The tablets were called XENICAL.  At that time you got them on prescription, although (sadly), I think they are available over the counter now.  I was attending a company event in San Diego at a beautiful resort hotel in La Jolla.  I had been at several functions and had eaten some food containing fats earlier in the day.  On my way back to my room, I could not stop myself and soiled my trousers.  The fat leaves your body with little or no warning!  Even typing this now, makes me shiver.  Luckily, I was fairly close to my room when it happened. on returning to my room, I took off my trousers and found that they were stained right through and had to wash them out in the sink in my room, before I could send them to the hotel laundry.  Can you imagine how that made me feel?  How I felt when I went to breakfast the next day?  I felt dirty, ashamed, as well as a failure on the diet!  Can you see how this would affect anyone’s self-esteem?

What amazes me to this day, is the way in which people are zealous about a particular diet that they are following at a given point in time.  It would appear that belonging to a group of like-minded people, or a club diet like weight-watchers etc., makes us feel like we belong.  It adds to our self-esteem as long as we are “winning” the battle of the bulge.  When we fall away, it damages us, but in order to protect ourselves we claim that the diet didn’t work and move on to the next one, or we say that it failed to fit in with our lifestyle.  More likely, we failed and that failure damaged us and rather than admit that diets do not work and damage our self-esteem, we look for another diet to make us love our “soon-to-be-slim” bodies and ourselves.

My approach, is now to love myself by nourishing myself with food that I know does my body good and trust that my body will reward me with better performance.  How do I know it works for me?  The answer is simple:  I just feel better, lighter, with more energy than I have ever done in my entire adult life.

Happy International NO diet day!

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F is for FIBRE – Are you getting enough? Are you “going” enough???

150808-20140203Do you remember the F Plan Diet? I do. The book by British author Audrey Eyton became a huge best seller. Basically the diet suggested restricting calories whilst eating large amounts of fibre. It was also known by another “F” due to the Flatulence it caused! 

It’s almost 35 years since the F Plan hit the shelves and fibre is no longer the hot topic, it once was. Until a recent study that found that heart attack survivors were more likely to be alive. 9 years later if they had a high fibre intake. 
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The Harvard School of Public Health team analysed data from two large US studies involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived a first heart attack and had provided information about their usual diet via questionnaires.

Interesting, huh? 

That got me thinking about how much dietary fibre most people eat. With my wholefood, plant-based diet I routinely consume more than the experts from US recommendation of 38g. In the UK the average consumption is 14g against a suggested intake of 18g. 

Fibre really does keep everything “moving” through your system. Fibre comes in two types – soluble and insoluble. Soluble slows the digestion and cause gasses. Insoluble fibre is what promotes “stool regularity”. Ok – sorry to talk about poo, but come on, be honest, do you go with ease and as regularly as you’d like? 

Fibre also makes you feel full. 

Should you worry about your fibre intake? Judging by what I see in some shopping baskets, possibly. If you eat a predominately plant based diet, you should have no need to be concerned about your fibre intake. 
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If you are eating whole grains, peas, beans, legumes plus plenty of vegetables and fruit, you should have no worries about your fibre intake. 

How can you tell if you are getting enough? For me, it’s the regularity with which I go. 

What’s your fibre intake like? 
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