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Foods and prevention

Watch Janeane discuss how food can contribute to disease prevention, as well as health and wellbeing.
JANEANE DART: Across the world dietary recommendations are consistent in that our diets should be based around plants, and vegetables, and grains. In Australia, the recommendation is five serves of vegetables a day and two serves of fruit. This modifies slightly across some of the international guidelines, but this is a representation of here of what two typical days’ intakes may look like. The highest levels of evidence we have access to is around fruit and vegetable intake. And we know around the world that fruit and vegetable intake– eating adequate amounts– has a major role to play in preventing some bowel diseases, preventing some types of cancers, reducing inflammation, and generally in promoting health and well-being.
In fact, we know in Australia are only about 1 in 10 adults actually eats these amount of vegetables and fruits. What’s important I guess is the range of colors, range of textures, and also the different cooking methods that these vegetables and fruits lend themselves to. And across different cultures, these plates would also look very different– for example for a Vietnamese family, a Greek family, a Sudanese family. So I think that’s important to keep in mind. And also we eat very differently across the different seasons. Scientists have tried to extract multiple nutrients out about foods from a health and well-being perspective, trying to find out what it is in the food that really holds the magic.
And what we do know, this has worked in some instances. But in many instances, it hasn’t been able to be replicated. And so eating foods in their whole state cooked– prepared in different ways– really holds the key to being able to use food as medicine. It’s not new. It’s not particularly revolutionary, but what happens is we’re still not eating adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit. So I think it’s a really important starting point in terms of preventing illness and really promoting good health. Dairy products are our diets richest source of dietary calcium. And calcium is an essential nutrient in terms of building and maintaining good strong bone health and in preventing brittle bone disease, or osteoporosis.
As a clinical dietitian, I’ve actually seen where children and adolescents have removed for different reasons the dairy products from their diet and without adequate replacement they’ve actually developed stunted growth. And that’s a really compromising situation of course, for those people to be in. There are people, for example, who might need to be on low lactose diets. But you can still have cheese. You can still have lactose-free milk, which has got adequate calcium. And you can still have small amounts of yogurt.
So for those people who don’t wish to consume dairy– whether they’re vegans, perhaps following some other dietary restriction– there are dietary sources of calcium– for example certain nuts, things like tofu, and tempeh, different fruits and vegetables, sardines with bones. So we encourage that you really think about your calcium intake. Most start out needing to consume somewhere between 800 to 1000 milligrams a day. And in some cases, people my need to have a calcium supplement if they’re unable to get what they need through their diet. And we would recommend seeking professional advice from a dietitian or registered nutritionist. Every year lists come out, trends develop around food. What’s trendy? What’s in?
Two fairly recent super foods that have been promoted and marketed are kale and quinoa. And while they both have unique blends of nutrients in them and they both have a role to play if you like them, there’s nothing magic or particularly special about them over something like silver beet or brown rice. Kale has been around for centuries. It just lost its popularity. It’s re-emerged. It’s juiced. It’s smoothied. It’s in salads. It’s deep fried. It’s a crisp. It’s everywhere. But there’s actually nothing particularly special. It’s a really healthy food choice. There’s nothing more special than kale over silver beet. Quinoa is a grain that’s been around for centuries in south America. Without proper cooking, it can have quite a bitter aftertaste.
It does have a slightly higher iron intake in it compared to some other grains. But as for all grains, it’s rich in fiber, a good source of B vitamins. It’s low in sodium. And so a good diverse range of grains will offer your diet different flavours and different opportunities to cook with and prepare foods with. A key message to leave you with is really that vegetables and fruits have a major role to play in preventing ill health potentially and safeguarding you, and the people you cook for, the people you live with.
The aim is if you can meet the national recommendations for vegetables and fruits, you’re taking a really important step forward in promoting good health within yourself and those around you.

Watch Janeane discuss how food can contribute to disease prevention, as well as health and wellbeing.

Talking point

Within the Comments, consider sharing with other learners some of the foods that you eat that Janeane may have also mentioned in the video.

  • Does your intake reflect the dietary guidelines or recommendations of your country?

  • If not, in what ways could you change your diet to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables?

Don’t forget to contribute to the discussion by reviewing the comments made by other learners, making sure you provide constructive feedback and commentary. Remember you can also ‘Like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Managing comments

Comments on a step can be ‘filtered’ which helps you access them in a way that’s best for you. You can do this by selecting comments by ‘All comments’, ‘Bookmarked’, ‘Your comments’ or ‘Following’ from the drop-down menu in the comments section of the step. You can can also sort by ‘Newest’, ‘Oldest’ or ‘Most liked’.

You can also bookmark comments to remind yourself of certain contributions that you might wish to refer back to at a later stage.

Mentioning other learners

When replying to a comment, you can also mention other learners that are taking part in the comment thread. You can do this by entering the learner’s profile name as part of your reply. For example, @User3320607 That’s an excellent description! @User4499578 What do you think?

Please note, you can only mention others who are in the thread and cannot use the mention functionality in stand alone comments.

Find out more

To find out more about calcium rich foods and bone health, consider reading Calcium: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health? or Calcium, if that’s of interest to you. Doing so is optional.

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Food as Medicine

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