Oh Natural Blog
Fruit and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet, as we know. But these days, they're sadly often riddled with toxic pesticides. Many of these pesticides have been linked to a variety of serious health problems, including brain and central nervous system toxicity, cancer and hormone imbalances. So, the more fruit and veggies you take in to be healthier - the more at risk you are of pesticide toxicity.
So, what's our strategy, since we obviously don't want to restrict our intake of fresh produce? Well, first things first: The biggest risk to your health is not eating fruits and vegetables at all. Toxins or not, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables far outweighs the risk of pesticide residues on produce. And, as we'll outline below, there are ways to avoid your exposure to pesticides too.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has written a Guide to Pesticides, which is designed to help you reduce your pesticide exposure as much as possible. Every year, they publish their "Dirty Dozen," a list of the fruits and vegetables they claim have the highest amount of pesticides.
(According to EWG’s analysis of test data from the US Department of Agriculture, each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.)
These are the fruits and veggies that you should try to buy organically, to avoid the pesticide residues altogether.
EWG's Dirty Dozen for 2019
The EWG also publishes a list of the "Clean 15" – the produce that generally had less pesticide residue. Since it's difficult to eat a fully organic diet, the "Clean 15" are those fruit and veggies you're less at risk of pesticides from, and therefore may not feel you need to buy organic.
EWG's Clean Fifteen for 2019
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Honeydew melons
*USDA organic extracts of these fruit and veggies can be found in all Nature’s Nutrition products.
We sat down with our local legend Erin Gallagher, who rocked it while representing the recent Commonwealth Games. After competing in 7 finals, Erin placed 5th and 6th in the 50m and 100m freestyle respectively.
Your results are out of this world! How did you feel once you realised you'd broken two records?
Honestly, the feeling was out of this world. Going into the competition I didn’t think it would be possible, having recently overcome a whole bunch of health issues. I think breaking those records after everything I went through really magnified that feeling of gratitude. The feeling was and still is indescribable. The closest I can get is comparing it to one of your biggest dreams coming true on Christmas - it doesn’t get any better than that.
What is your training schedule like? Any cross-training?
Because I’m a sprinter, I only train 6 swimming sessions a week, as well as 2 gym sessions and 1 session either consisting of strength training, rehab or metabolic conditioning, depending on what I feel up for. All in all, I train 9 times a week.
What does a day on your plate look like? I.e. What is your average daily diet?
The first thing on my plate in the morning is Natures Nutrition. I mix it in with a bit of yoghurt before I head off to training. Afterwards, I have a huge bowl of oats or eggs on toast with crispy bacon. For lunch its pretty much chicken, veggies and either cous cous or basmati rice. Dinner is pretty much whatever mom cooks me, which is always tasty and always healthy! Whenever I get hungry during the day I snack on nuts, fruit, biltong and.... maybe one or two chocolates here and there ;). I try my best to be as healthy as possible; it doesn’t always work out though, because I definitely inherited my sweet tooth from both my parents.
What made you say "Yes" to being a NN ambassador? (We're thrilled that you did!)
It was one of the easiest things to decide. The fact that everything is 100% natural and organic was the number one seller for me. There are so many products out there that you have no idea what is in them or what you are putting in your body. But when it comes to Nature's Nutrition I know I’m getting the real good stuff! I’ve always had to force myself to eat veggies, but this way, veggies taste so much better. Plus it is SO convenient, all my veggies, fruit, antioxidants, amino acids, fibre and digestive enzymes in two scoops? YES PLEASE!
What is the toughest part about being a professional swimmer?
The fact that in order to be a professional you kind of have to go “all in”. I’ve put all my eggs into one basket. As of now, swimming is my soul focus. I’m 2 years out of school and I’m planning on having a “4 year gap year” as my friends call it. I don’t plan on studying until I’ve reached the Olympics. A lot of people don’t understand my commitment to swimming and I’m constantly being told that I am “ludicrous”. Ludicrous or not, it’s still completely and utterly terrifying knowing that I’ve put my eggs in one basket - the fear of failure is always going to be there but I still have to look past it everyday and work as hard as I possibly can to achieve what I’ve set out to do.
And the best part?
Achieving something you have worked so hard for. It can be very emotional at times, but knowing your blood, sweat and tears have paid off is probably one of the most incredible and rewarding feelings, EVER! Being a professional swimmer allows me to push myself to the absolute limit. Swimming has taught me so many life lessons as well as building character, and I will be forever indebted to this sport and everything it has done for me.
What are your goals for the near future?
Most recently, I just qualified for World Short Course Champs, which will be held in December 2018 and I’m really hoping to make finals for the events I will be swimming in (50 Free and Fly, 100 Free and Individual Medley). After that I’m just going to put my head down and train until the 2020 Olympics, as well as the 2024 Olympics. Once I’m there, I will do whatever it takes to become a champion; whether it will be an Olympic Champion or my own version of the word “champion” - only time will tell!
So many of us would love to pick the brains of a dietitian, but we don't always have the resources or the means to do so. Luckily for us (and therefore you), we got to ask resident dietitian, Alex Royal, three burning questions.
What is your NUMBER ONE priority when it comes to diet?
"Free range, organic, from the source."
Which leading health myth would you like to put to rest once and for all?
"This applies generally, but it is important to know that not one diet fits all. Everyone is different and we can see that on a genetic level. You need to forget the fads and listen to your body. This applies to low/high fat diets, low-carb diets, fasting etc. Some people do incredibly well on these but they are not for everyone."
What's your favourite way to enjoy Nature’s Nutrition?
"I love it in my daily Green Smoothie, made with: 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop Nature's Nutrition Raw Vanilla, 2 tablespoons protein powder, 2 teaspoons almond butter, spinach, chia seeds and cocoa nibs. Yum!"
What burning questions would you ask a dietitian? Who knows - maybe we can get them answered for you!
So, the experts are pretty great at telling us what we need to be our best, but do they take their own advice? We sat down with our resident dietitian, Alex Royal, to find out what a day on her plate looks like...
First thing in the morning:
"Rooibos tea in bed :) Then one or two glasses of water on the go while chasing my son, Nate, around."
"At about 10am I make a green smoothie with every nutrient I can find. It includes 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa nibs as my caffeine kick and about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil for concentration."
"I normally eat around 1-2pm, depending on clients. This includes either another smoothie if I am rushing around, or 2 eggs on 1 slice of gluten-free bread and a salad. Or a gluten-free falafel wrap with hummus and Israeli salad."
"These are typically almonds and a pear. Then, when I feed Nate at 5pm I always munch on carrots and hummus or rice cakes and avo."
"I try to have fish most nights (our favourite is sardines or salmon) with steamed vegetables and quinoa or rice. When I have time to cook, my ultimate is a beetroot and goat's cheese salad or, on colder days, my chickpea, carrot and courgette tagine served with flaked almonds and quinoa."
Is that what you'd expect from a dietitian? What does a day on your plate look like?
For many of us, fibre is one of those elusive health terms we can’t quite put our fingers on. What exactly is it, do its powers extend beyond fighting constipation (which we’re not denying is a worthy cause), and does it come in anything other than All Bran Flakes?
We’ve got the skinny for you.
In a nutshell, fibre (also known as roughage or bulk) has an important role to play in your body. It has a widespread range of benefits, fending off chronic diseases like heart attacks and diabetes, while supporting gut health and regulating your weight. It’s pretty easy to eat enough of it too, since it’s in a variety of everyday foods.
So, what is it?
Fibre is the part of certain foods – predominantly plants – that your body can’t digest or absorb. It passes through your body relatively intact. Generally, there are two classified kinds of fibre – soluble and insoluble.
Soluble vs. insoluble fibre
Soluble fibre dissolves – but doesn’t disappear – in water, forming a gel-like material. You’ll find it in foods like oats, peas, legumes, citrus fruits, barley and psyllium husk.
Insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve, and is probably the type that first comes to your mind. That is, it adds bulk to your diet and speeds up movement through the bowel. It’s found in plenty of veggies (cauliflower, green beans and potatoes are good sources), beans, nuts, whole-wheat flour and wheat bran.
Many plant-based foods, like oats and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
The benefits of fibre
- Insoluble fibre normalises bowel movements, adding bulk and softening stools, making them easier to pass.
- It therefore helps keep your bowel healthy, lowering your risk of haemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).
- Soluble fibre in particular can help lower unhealthy cholesterol, and possibly reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
- It can also slow the absorption of sugar to help regulate sugar levels, possibly reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Higher fibre foods in general tend to be more filling, so you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied for longer. They also tend to take longer to eat while being lower in calories I.e. they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Since our superfoods powders are made from whole plants, you get a ton of fibre from the variety of plants included. We’ve also added specific high-fibre elements, like apple pectin (the high-fibre carbohydrate part of a fruit). Since most plants have more insoluble fibre than soluble, you need to make a little extra effort to include more soluble fibre in your diet. That’s why we’ve added in acacia soluble fibre to our Superfoods Blend with Fibre. In addition to the regular benefits of soluble fibre, acacia fibre is said to be a prebiotic (a non-digestible food that can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines). We also chose it because it isn’t gritty when stirred into water and it’s mild in taste too.
Sometimes we dive so deeply into the details of wellness that the simple stuff flies over our heads. You might find yourself thinking your daily schedule is flawed if it doesn’t include aerial yoga and kale at every meal. What happened to the good old days, when being healthy meant eating your veggies and getting some fresh air?
Let’s just take a deep breath out for a sec.
Being healthy can be simple. It can be ordinary. It can be easy to maintain. Or not. It can be wild, inventive and full of endless experimentation too. The choice, though, is yours.
Getting the fundamental principles of healthy living down is all you really need to thrive. Having them all on one page makes life a little easier too. Once you’ve got your grip on the essentials, you can choose to keep it simple or expand as you please.
We thought we’d help bring some calm amidst the swarm of never-ending health knowledge thrown at you. Here are our top daily do’s – in no particular order – that we believe create healthier lives:
Police those portions
Although your total caloric needs depend on your activity level, gender, age, and weight etc., a general good measure to go by is your plate. Fill half of your plate with veggies and fruit, one-quarter with protein and the other quarter with grains. If you want seconds, try (we know it’s hard!) to stick to this same ratio.
Refined carbs and added sugar sneak their way into meals on the regular. A conscious effort to limit these and rather take in a healthy balance of complex, low GI whole carbs – think starchy veggies, brown rice and oats – will remove a lot of the dead weight in your diet that typically ends up being stored as fat.
Your body was made to move! There is simply no alternative to exercising, and you generally feel wonderful when you do. In our opinion, doing things you love adds hugely to the enjoyment factor. Do you adore being around people, moving outdoors or trying out novel stuff? Tailor your workouts accordingly.
Try HIIT for quick results
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most efficient way to blast fat and tone up – and who doesn’t want that? This means shorter workouts including challenging, explosive sets of resistance or cardiovascular training back-to-back, with short – sometimes active – rests. If you like your exercise quick and to the point, this is the way to do it.
Eat those veggies
If this is the one change you make to your diet, it may be the only one you need. That old veggie quota of roughly 4-5 helpings is almost never met. Focus less on what to take out your diet, and more on reaching this quota. You’ll be surprised how little space is left once you cram all those veggies in! Try adding a fruit and veggie (or two) to every meal.
Plant-based is better
You’ll find that this is the foundation of most research-backed, sustainable healthy diets advised by dietitians. Plants are rich sources of so many nutrients we need, like unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein; it makes sense to eat a lot of them. If you’re a meat-eater, think more veggies and small amounts of lean meats and reduced-fat dairy products.
Sleep is essential
Sleep regulates every process in the body – dieting and exercising simply can’t be maximised without it! Make sure you’re getting over 7 hours of sleep each night – experts say following a bedtime routine is a powerful way to increase your sleep quality.
Supplements are so named because that should be their purpose – to supplement, not replace. You can add real nutritional clout to a normal diet with a high quality multivitamin, an Omega 3, calcium for the ladies and a superfood powder (yes, we’re biased, but ours is made from whole fruits and veggies, which makes them a powder version of the real thing).
Identify your excess
Most times, the things we do repeatedly or in excess are to blame for dieting downfalls. Do you have several cups of tea daily with a few sugars in each cup? Are you getting dramatically less than the weekly recommended minutes of exercise? Do most weekends include a big night out with handfuls of drinks? Take some time to identify any routine offenders bringing you down.
Be persistent (and consistent)
Forget the all-or-nothing approach! Go 80/20 instead. Generally sticking to a sensible training and eating schedule will serve you far better than going flat out for a few weeks then throwing in the towel for long stretches in between. Healthy habits are built slowly and steadily – deprivation is always short-lived.
Keep it interesting
That body of yours adapts quickly. It’s essential to keep it guessing by varying your workouts and eating as much as possible. This breaks through fitness and weight-loss plateaus – and keeps you interested and motivated as well.
Think before you drink
We’re the only creatures that drink liquids other than water and milk at birth – so stick to water where possible. Low-fat, unsweetened dairy and preservative-free fruit and veggie juices can cover some of the recommended food categories, but it’s far easier to take in excess sugar and calories this way. Sugary juice, fizzy drinks, caffeinated drinks and alcohol all need to be drank in strict moderation.
Have we left anything out? What are your favourite daily habits to build a vibrantly healthy life?
What's the big deal about superfoods?
‘Superfoods’ are nutrient-dense powerhouses. They are excellent sources of fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. All of these have the ability to: reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cancers; aid heart health; and help with blood sugar stabilization.
Which popular foods earn the title of being "super"?
Kale is probably the most popular superfood around. It is packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol and quercetin. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are unstable chemicals produced in your body that can contribute to diseases like cancer and diabetes. Just remember not to have too much raw kale as it can attack the
thyroid - steam it lightly instead.
These beautiful pink seeds are not only gorgeous decorations in smoothie bowls and salads, they're also potent antioxidants. Per serving, they are richer and more powerful antioxidants than red wine or green tea, and they're a great source of both fibre and potassium too.
From the sea, spirulina is a cyanobacteria that provides life to the core of the ecosystem. It is high in B Vitamins, which boost energy and mood. It has also been linked to fighting cancer, weight-loss and lowering cholesterol.
We love this little flower. It is super high in saponin, which can reduce cholesterol. Secondly, (and very importantly) it contains eight digestive enzymes which can alleviate stomach pains, gastritis, nausea, indigestion, constipation, and appetite stimulation.
Wheatgrass is another green superfood that has been making a name for itself. It is used to detox the organs, blood, and lymph system. It can help neutralize acid in the body, stimulate the thyroid, and has anti-ageing properties.
*For the record, our superfood powders contain all of the above superfoods.
Something to chew on
While these foods may be packed to the brim with nutrients, staying vibrantly healthy and maintaining a healthy weight requires a balanced and healthy diet above all else. So, as much as superfoods supplement and add enormous value to a balanced diet, they can't replace it. Good old oats, sardines, spinach and broccoli offer you superfood benefits as well!
Most of us have a healthy concern for our weight and wellbeing. In all our endeavours to be better, though, we often overlook one pretty critical factor:
Our gut health
Digestion sits in the centre of our health. In reality, the power of every morsel we eat is determined by the state of our stomach. Unhealthy colons can mean we don’t absorb nutrients, we get damaging blockages, and we can become more predisposed to disease thanks to the reabsorption of toxins.
It’s not a pretty picture, is it? To understand gut health better, we need to understand a little more about bacteria.
Bacteria: good and bad
A healthy gut needs healthy bacteria. Yip, bacteria isn’t all bad! The good kinds are called probiotics, and 80% of the body’s total probiotics are found in the gut. A healthy gut has around 1 ½ kilos of good bacteria (wow), and this fluctuates daily. Lifestyle factors like processed foods, alcohol, cigarettes, pollution and antibiotics kill off our good bacteria, and probiotics are the superheroes that boost that quota back up. Without them, unhealthy bacteria can multiply in the bowels, lowering our immunity and putting us at more risk of infection. It can even increase our chances of chronic disease, like type-2 diabetes and IBS.
Giving your tummy some TLC
Here are a few simple ways above and beyond general dietary guidelines to really prioritise gut health and promote better wellbeing overall:
- Focus on eating more plant-based foods, and eat plenty of fruits and veggies. These are the best sources of nutrients for healthy gut bacteria.
- Take a probiotic. This will repopulate your bowel with good bacteria to tackle any overgrowth.
- Try an elimination diet. Eliminate regular allergy foods from your diet and reintroduce them over time to watch for aggravators. These include dairy, gluten, yeast, peanuts, eggs, corn and soy. This includes just generally looking at your diet and lifestyle to see if there are any obvious tummy aggravators, like sugar and alcohol.
- Eat more fibre. Fibre is essential for regular, healthy bowel movements, and is a key ingredient for tummy health. While fibre isn’t digested by the body, it can be digested by certain healthy bacteria in your gut – which stimulates its growth.
- Go natural. Our Superfoods Blend with Fibre is the perfect way to up to quash a few gut qualms in one go. Not only is it enriched with 50 organic fruit and veggies, it has an added dairy-free probiotic as well as 33% fibre per serving.
If there’s one thing many of us seem to have in common as kids, it’s being told to ‘eat your vegetables’.
And, like most kids, your taste buds were probably adverse to greens. As we get older and our palates develop, veggies aren’t the nemesis they once were. But many of us still battle to reach our daily quota.
A number of elements are to blame:
- Prepping healthy meals takes longer than buying convenience foods
- It’s so easy to fill up our daily calories with foods other than veggies – we’re often not hungry for them
- It requires to prep veggies in a way that’s exciting and tasty
- We often give in to junk food, and our taste buds become attuned to craving these foods rather than healthier ones
Let’s back up for a moment and quickly confirm why it’s so essential that you reach this daily quota of fruits and veggies in the first place.
Why we’re so pro plants
Plant-based eating is the foundation of most research-based, sustainable healthy diets advised by nutritionists and dietitians. They’re rich sources of so many nutrients we need, like vitamins, minerals, fibre, unsaturated fats and protein; it makes sense to eat a lot of them.
Stats say that a plant-based diet can lower your risk of inflammation, obesity and many chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes and cancer. In general, plant food groups are also more protective than animal food groups against chronic disease. Animal foods, like lean meat, poultry, eggs and fish, still provide important vitamins and minerals – we just need to eat them in the right amounts.
When you don’t eat enough greens, you tend to overeat the other stuff.
The issue of time
Chances are, you’re as busy as the next person, and procuring and preparing fresh greens daily is a job in itself. You don’t want to become rigid about eating either – you need to stay human. Opting for an 80/20 approach to eating is a realistic – and still very powerful – approach to your diet. However, even achieving that 80 can be a little difficult in a time-strapped schedule.
We need concentrated, quicker and more convenient forms of fruits and veggies to help us realistically reach that quota. Little ‘hacks’ like juicing and making smoothies can help you go the distance, and that’s where green powders come in.
The credible, high quality varieties of green powders out there are essentially supplements that include nearly every green you can think of in a convenient powder form. Think of it as an insurance policy. You should be opting for that broad profile of fresh fruit and veggies in their whole form, but if that’s not a possibility you should have other options to help you get there.
In a nutshell, green powders are:
And high in nutrients
Basically, when you’re armed with a greens powder, you’re off to a great start before you even get going.
What makes us so special?
We added this at the end so you didn’t feel obliged to read a product punt. First and foremost, we want you to understand how to be healthier on a daily basis. The strength of fruits and veggies lies in variety. The broad-scale supply of nutrients we offer sets us apart from other brands. Rather than relying on one or two pricey plant sources, we’ve squeezed 50 fruits and vegetables into every scoop.
Oh…. and it’s tasty too. Take our word for it that this is no small feat for a product that is 100% fruit- and veggie-based.
In the spirit of celebrating taste, here are two delicious smoothies that DON’T taste like veggies, even though they’re packed with them.
Almond and Vanilla Smoothie
Makes: 2 regular size smoothies | 1 large smoothie
1 scoop Nature’s Nutrition Vanilla Protein
1 tbs cocoa
½ medium banana, frozen
3 pitted dates
5-6 roasted almonds
1 tbs honey
1 cup ice
1 cup water
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Top with crushed roasted almonds and a drizzle of honey.
- Serve immediately.
Chocolate Superfood Date Balls
Makes: 24 medium size balls
1 scoop Nature’s Nutrition Vanilla Protein
1 cup pitted dates, heated to soften
1 tbs cocoa
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup mixed nuts (try mixed almonds and cashew nuts)
1 tbs organic coconut oil
- Add the nuts to a blender or food processor and process until relatively fine (before they become a flour).
- Put the dates in a microwave-friendly bowl and heat for 45 seconds to soften.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the chopped nuts and process until a sticky dough starts to form.
- Roll the dough to form balls.
- Top with some sugar-free or dark chocolate and a few goji berries. It’s optional but highly recommended.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
We sat down with the incredible Marco - a man who doesn't take 'no' for an answer.
Marco is an inspirational Occupation Life Coach and Personal Trainer. As a long-time advocator of health and fitness, he began training at 16, and won his first fitness competition in 2008. This was followed in quick succession by another two victories, and he soon became a FAME Pro Fitness Model, earning WBFF Pro Status. In 2013, Marco was involved in a devastating vehicle accident that left him with Quadriplegia. He was told he had a 2% chance of moving again, and decided he wasn’t settling with those odds. Marco has been in recovery ever since, and with his life goal being to one day walk again, he is improving his mobility more and more each day.
We decided this was a guy we'd like to get to know a little better:
NN: What is your health philosophy?
M: I believe a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, which can overcome anything.
NN: Give us three words to describe yourself.
M: Determined, driven and motivated.
NN: What would you say is your favourite meal?
M: That's easy - lamb shank with roast vegetables.
NN: And your favourite Nature’s Nutrition variant?
M: The Superfoods Blend + Protein in Citrus Berry.
NN: What's your favourite way to enjoy Nature’s Nutrition? (Ours is smoothies)
M: Mine's the same! I have it blended with mixed berries and ice - lean and clean.
NN: Describe a day in the life of Marco.
M: I wake up, dress up and dominate the day. Monday to Friday I train in the midday and get some admin done in the afternoon. At the moment I am in recovery from a motor vehicle accident so my days change continuously.
NN: Words to live by?
M: There is no such thing as "I can't".
Keep your eyes on our Facebook Page for more news about Marco and our other inspiring ambassadors!