Health Diary Week 31: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

The 50 Challenge

Image: mohamed Hassan, Pixabay

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Hey everyone. Thanks so much for joining me. So, let me tell you about my week…

What’s New

…The first half of this week we were cooped-up inside whilst workmen were replacing fascia around the whole house – recent strong winds were detaching the fascia and it was at risk of being thrown onto us or our neighbours. Being stuck inside provided more insight into living with no outside space during lockdown. Pre-lockdown, I was planning to rent a flat in a seaside town – outside space wasn’t a concern as I reasoned I could visit the beach – but now my plans have changed – wherever I end up (if I re-locate even), there needs to be some decent outside space. Anyway, I digress…

Image: Hatice EROL, Pixabay

Food and Nutrition

So, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate, the healthy and not so healthy choices and identify any tweaks I could make to improve my nutrition…

Diversity and Health:

I’m succeeding in consuming a diverse range of plant-based foods. Back when I was researching my Health Sciences dissertation (‘The effect of diet on age-related alterations in gut microbiota, its effect on gastrointestinal function and resulting impact on human health and disease’), I read somewhere we should aim for 50 different food items per week (sorry, no reference). The idea was this would increase wholefood diversity despite any ‘junk’ food eaten. Thus, increasing our health-promoting gut microbiota numbers and diversity to reduce whole-body inflammation (inflamm-ageing[1]) linked to age-related health conditions (e.g. heart disease, type 2 diabetes)[2, 3].

Cycle of accelerated ageing with progressive nutritional decline & reduced microbiome (microbiota & their genes) diversity. Key: ↑: Increase. ↓: Decrease. LPS: Lipopolysaccharides (increase inflammation). SCFAs: short-chain fatty acids (reduce inflammation). Inflamm-ageing: Systemic (whole body) inflammation with biological ageing. Immunosenescence: Gradual deterioration of the immune system through biological ageing. [Adapted from 2, 4, 5].

After reading about the ‘50 foods challenge’, I was interested how my diet matched up, so I devised a log sheet of my weekly food items – I discovered I was easily reaching 50. I got curious again after completing this week (over 2 years later) – I reached target without separating out the mixed seeds, nuts and salad leaves.

My ‘50 different food items challenge’ for Week 31 – not bad at all.

Snacks and Alcohol:

Clearly, I don’t only consume health-supporting foods – I gave into my chocolate cravings, eating a small amount every day this week. And my other issue is large main meal portion sizes – I’ve always had a big appetite! I had a couple of snacks that could have easily passed as main meals, especially the pasta bowl I made to ward off crisp munchies when drinking rums on Sunday night.

Left: My booze snack (meal): A simple pasta salad with sundried tomato & pepper in mayo to stop me eating crisps after a few drinks. Right: My icy-cold booze bucket.

So, here’s what I ate for my main meals…

Breakfast:

Breakfasts included satsumas, mango, scrambled tofu on toast (twice), Bacon-ish butty/sandwich with ketchup (twice) – once with Quorn smoky ham free slices, the other with ‘This Isn’t Bacon’ (game changer!). I skipped breakfast on Wednesday:

Breakfasts: Top: ‘This Isn’t Bacon’ butty. Bottom: Scrambled tofu on toast.

Lunch:

For lunch I had My Typical Salad (five times), homemade broccoli, leek and potato soup with toast and nothing on Saturday:

Lunches: Top: Homemade broccoli, leek & potato soup. Bottom: Typical salad with Strong Roots courgette hash browns, asparagus, radishes & coleslaw.

Dinner:

My Dinners included Meatless Farm Company mince Mexican-style in tacos, also with a fajita on another day; Waitrose jackfruit burger with Sainsbury’s low-fat oven chips and salad one day and on another, with potatoes, asparagus and peas; a very large portion of Daiya macaroni ‘cheese’ and spaghetti with tomato, peppers and olives (twice).

Dinners: Top: Spaghetti. Mac ‘cheese’. Middle: Tacos. Bottom: Jackfruit burger.

Exercise

Another example of positive action towards health was my physical activity – a respectable 290 minutes (nearly 5 hours): 195 minutes exercise biking, 15 minutes on the trampette (minimal due to sore ankles) and 80 minutes walking. About the walking – I’m really uncomfortable with it. I used to enjoy going for a stroll pre-pandemic. As well as the usual concentrating on not tripping-over or walking into anything (story of my dyspraxic life!), I’m also, ‘staying alert’ for any passing walkers, joggers and cyclists. By the time I get home I’m mentally exhausted and stressed out! I’ll still aim to walk at least once a week, just to stay on top of these new agoraphobic feelings.

Image: iXimus; Fathromi Ramdlon, Pixabay

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

I feel like I should be disappointed about not losing any weight or body fat this week. I gained back 0.6 lb of the 1 lb I’d lost last week. But I didn’t mind; I feel I should mind, but I just didn’t. Additionally, it was a Bank Holiday weekend and indulgence usually occurs – on Sunday we had our online ‘pub-ish’ meet-up and I snacked late into the evening, which would have affected the next morning’s weigh-in. We’ll see what next week brings before I get concerned.

Slipping again

As I’ve said before, I’m in this for the long haul – my whole lifetime! – and these are weird times, so I don’t want to be down on myself when there’s more important concerns. I’m trying to support my overall wellbeing – a key component of this health journey – I can be patient for the weight loss – I’m confident it will happen.

Image: Arek Socha, Pixabay

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

Anyways, enough about that; let’s move swiftly on to ‘What Made Watson Smile’it doesn’t actually take much – sometimes learning something new, the beauty of nature or just something a bit silly…

Odd Shoelaces:
No-one noticing (or caring) I went out for our walk wearing odd shoelaces. I’d changed to a pink shoelace back in February for my odd shoes and socks party, but I’ve not re-located the black lace I removed. (I usually undo my laces before taking off my shoes, but I’ve stopped doing that since lockdown to avoid touching my shoes immediately after being outside):

Right: My odd shoelaces. Left: My odd shoes from my Birthday celebrations back in February.

Blooming Roses:
The beautiful roses have bloomed:

The Coleslaw Incident!
Mum and I are clumsy (I have Dyspraxia, Mum probably too). We were preparing food separately in the kitchen – Mum dropped the coleslaw – it landed upside-down, thankfully with little spillage. We started giggling and then I spilt macaroni over the floor trying to open the bag. About half an hour later Mum realised she’d been walking around with a foot smothered in coleslaw – we got the giggles again – it beats getting frustrated with yourself:

Continuing Development:
I attended some nutrition continuing professional development: MyNutriWeb lecture: Immunity Series Part 2 – Gut health & immunity through the lifecourse. A great refresher – health and the gut microbiome were my Dissertation topics for both undergraduate and post graduate degrees:

Noticing the Daily Flora Changes:
Beautiful foxglove-like white flowers appearing around the garden. The bees and ants seem to be particularly attracted to these flowers:

Seeing Bevy’s Face:
Finally seeing Bevy’s face, one of my ‘besties’, online on ‘Zoom’. It was great to chat and I’m looking forward to our next meet-up:

Left: Us during a weekend in Wales, 2012. Right: Us on a day-out in Bournemouth, 2013.

Beautiful Flowers:
These beautiful big pinky-purpley big flowers (clearly I’m no botanist!) started appearing in the garden:

Houseparty Meet-Ups:
The usual online ‘Houseparty’ gang turning up to the Bank Holiday online pub-ish event I’d created. The idea was for our local pub-goers to mingle between online rooms to chat to different groups, much like in the pub. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much interest. We had a fun night regardless and it was good to welcome a new familiar face. Also, I was amused by Chud’s ghostly appearance when he popped outside (top pic, bottom left):

Well that’s all for this week. I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next Wednesday for another catch up.

Week 32>>>
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References

1. Franceschi, C., Bonafe, M., Valensin, S., Olivieri, F., De Luca, M., Ottaviani, E. and De Benedictis, G., (2000). Inflamm-aging – An evolutionary perspective on immunosenescence. Molecular and Cellular Gerontology: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 908, 244-254 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2000.tb06651.x.
2. Vaiserman, A. M., Koliada, A. K. and Marotta, F. (2017). Gut microbiota: A player in aging and a target for anti-aging. Ageing Research Reviews, 35, 36-45 [Online]. Available from:  DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2017.0.001.
3. Claesson, M. J., Jeffery, I. B., Conde, S., Power, S. E., O’Connor, E. M., Cusack, K. S., Harris, H. M. B., Coakley, M., Lakshminaryanan, B., O’Sullivan, O., Fitgerald, G. F., Deane, J., O’Connor, M., Harnedy, N., O’Connor, K., O’Mahony, D., Sinderen, D., Wallace, M., Brennan, L., Stanton, C., Machesi, J. R., Fitgerald, A. P. and Shanahan, F. (2012). Gut microbiota composition relates with diet and health in the elderly. Nature, 488, 178-184 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.1038/nature11319.
4. Jeffery, I. B., Lynch, D., B. and O’Toole, P. W. (2016). Composition and temporal stability of the gut microbiota in older persons. THE ISME Journal, 10 (1), 170-182 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2015.88.
5. Rampelli, S., Candela, M. T., Turroni, S., Biagi, E., Collino, S., Franceshi, C., O’ Toole, P. and Brigidi, P. (2013). Functional metagenomic profiling of intestinal microbiome in extreme ageing. Aging, 5 (12), 902-912 [Online]. Available from: DOI: 10.18632/aging.100623.

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9 thoughts on “Health Diary Week 31: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

  1. As always,love your food pics and garden pics but especially like odd shoelace pic! You re right about wanting outside space.We,re very lucky to live in Hampshire.Now a serious question,ready ,well you,re obviously well read on how the body works,but we need to be healthy , gut bacteria etc, but ,without sounding too much like a party pooper, how does alcohol fit in ? Not judging just interested 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Jo, thanks 😊 I haven’t undertaken research on how alcohol affects the gut microbiome, although I suspect it’s generally not a good effect. I tend to only have alcohol 1-2 times per week, but I’m working on reducing how much I consume at those times, because I want a healthy gut microbiome. There’s some evidence that red wine has antioxidant nutritional qualities, but I’m sceptical the benefits outweigh the costs. Some alcohol (e.g. cider) is high sugar, so that could feed your harmful gut microbes. There’s some evidence alcohol can be pro-inflammatory, so avoiding it if possible is probably the healthiest option. Thanks for keeping me on my toes and please continue to do so 😅

    Like

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