The phrase ‘clean eating’ has become synonymous with healthy living and building immunity. But does it really make a difference to your well-being? Nutritionist Manjari Chandra’s new book Eat Up, Clean Up explains this and much more. According to the expert, a nutritious diet coupled with regular physical activity can help manage nutritional deficiencies.
“Immunity has emerged as the only most-effective shield against the pandemic. My book busts popular myths about nutrition, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle. It calls the bluff of diet fads and highlights the need for blending traditional food wisdom and modern nutritional science for a healthy body and mind,” she says.
In conversation with indianexpress.com, the author talks about healthy lifestyle practices, mindful eating, building immunity with simple diet tweaks, and why optimum nutrition is the need of the hour.
Tell us about your new book…
The book is about un-complicating the act of healthy eating and giving your body a chance to heal itself. It simplifies the concept of nutritious food and offers simple hacks that you can try as part of your daily routine. I would like to consider myself an experiential writer. So, it’s the experiences while I have been treating patients and taking care of my family that made me want to share the practical implications of the food we eat. It took me seven months to prepare the first draft and another couple of months to get it edited.
What do you mean by eating clean?
It simply means eating natural, wholesome, and home-cooked food. It also means staying away from chemical-laden foods, commonly called processed food. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and prepare nutritious meals and salads. We need to deconstruct and simplify “nutrition” for a layman. It is important to note that foods like ghee, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, pulses, millets, and eggs will provide you with good fat, protein, and carbohydrates. All you need to add are some herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger and garlic.
There are so many books on nutrition and eating right. What makes yours different?
It’s simplicity, I believe. I have tried to offer a comprehensive-yet-simple guide of healthy food choices that are easy to incorporate into our daily lives. I have endeavoured to present real-life snippets that would help readers to relate to the issue revolving around nutrition.
What, according to you, are some of the biggest misconceptions about food and nutrition?
First of all, one can easily take energy from fats. So, a natural high-fat diet with low carbohydrates will improve your metabolism and help you lose extra kilos. Then, there’s no such thing as good sugar or bad sugar. Sugar, potentially, is bad for our health. Further, people should not confuse complex carbs with sugars. Complex carbs promote gut health. And cholesterol doesn’t kill people. It’s the triglycerides and trans-fat coming from your ‘no cholesterol’ refined oil and packed foods, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
Top five foods for immunity…
White blood cells are your body’s defense against foreign microbes, and also help to build immunity. Healthy fats and a blend of micronutrients boost metabolism, regulating and contributing to the fighter cells production. And it all starts with how healthy fats, plant-based anti-inflammatory molecules, and complex carbs improve your gut health. Foods, which are the richest source of vitamin C and D, antioxidants, and micronutrients like zinc, magnesium, and manganese, top the chart for strengthening immunity. These are berries, cashews, peanuts, broccoli, spinach, ginger, yogurt, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.
Can you suggest some simple ways in which people can tide over common nutritional deficiencies?
Having two tablespoons of chia seeds, flaxseeds, or pumpkin seeds along with a fistful of a mix of pistachios, almonds, raisins, and walnuts will cover nearly all of your nutritional requirements. Apart from that, most of your fat, proteins, and carbs requirement can be met by incorporating colourful vegetables, cow ghee, boiled eggs, beans, and lentils into your diet.
The key to staying healthy and fit…
Eating fresh and natural, not taking official work to bed, sleeping on time, starting the day with a light yoga for 10-15 minutes, and keeping oneself hydrated throughout the day. A lot of people don’t give enough importance to drinking water. It is essential for metabolic health. Besides these, avoid packed foods as much as possible. Switch your refined oils to natural oils, such as ghee, coconut, and olive oil. And invest some 45-60 minutes in the kitchen to avoid spending 45-60 minutes in the clinic for treating metabolic disorders that could have been easily avoided in the first place. Getting adequate amounts of nutrition on your plate is much simpler than you think. So, start today!