Why you should add nutritional yeast to your diet even if you aren't vegan

Why you should add nutritional yeast to your diet even if you aren’t vegan

  • April 9, 2021
nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast makes a great addition to sauces and dressings. Capuski/Getty Images

  • Nutritional yeast consist of dead yeast cells and has a cheesy, nutty flavor.

  • Nutritional yeast is high in protein, B vitamins, and other nutrients that boost your immune system.

  • You can add nutritional yeast to eggs, nachos, pasta sauces, or sprinkle it on popcorn.

  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

If you’re looking for something savory and plant-based to top your pasta, eggs, or soup, consider adding nutritional yeast. It makes a great addition to a vegan diet thanks to its high protein and vitamin B12 content.

“Nutritional yeast tastes very cheesy and nutty, making it a great cheese replacement for plant-based eaters,” Debra Shapiro, MD, a plant-based physician with a private practice.

We spoke to experts about what this ingredient is, what the health benefits are, and how it can be prepared in your favorite dishes.

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast consists of dead yeast cells. That’s what differentiates it from the yeast used to bake bread, which is still active with live cells.

Note: Since nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, it is unable to grow and thus, cannot be used to bake bread. However, you can use it as a seasoning on top of your bread dough to give it a cheesy, nutty flavor.

There are two varieties of nutritional yeast – both you can purchase as a flaky powder:

  • Fortified nutritional yeast, which contains added vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, potassium, and folic acid to increase the nutrient content.

  • Unfortified nutritional yeast, which only contains the vitamins and minerals naturally produced when the yeast grew in the production process, like iron, zinc, and vitamin B6.

Note: You can find nutritional yeast in the health food or spice aisle of your local supermarket or grocery store. It should be stored in a cool place and does not need to be refrigerated.

“Nutritional yeast is very popular among the vegan community even though yeast is a single-celled organism because it has no nervous system and is unable to experience pain, thus making it different from animal products.,” Rhyan Geiger, a registered dietitian and owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian says.

In addition to being vegan, nutritional yeast is also gluten-free, Geiger says.

Here, is the nutritional content of one serving of fortified nutritional yeast, which is about ¼ a cup:

Nutritional yeast is a nutritious food that boasts many health benefits. Here are three of them you should know of:

1. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein

Related Article Module: 8 of the best plant-based sources of protein, according to dietitians

“Nutritional yeast is a complete protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies don’t make and must get from food sources,” Geiger says.

Amino acids are the building blocks for your body, and help your hair, skin, nails, and muscles grow.

Note: Choosing plant-based protein in place of red and processed meat can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It may also help you maintain a healthy body weight.

There are few plant-based complete protein options making nutritional yeast a crucial addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

2. Nutritional yeast contains B vitamins

Nutritional yeast is rich in B vitamins. A ¼ cup serving contains:

  • Thiamin (vitamin B1): 11.8 mg / DV: 980%

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 9.7 mg / DV: 750%

  • Niacin (vitamin B3): 46 mg / DV: 290%

  • Vitamin B6: 5.9 mg / DV: 350%

  • Vitamin B12: 17.6 mcg / DV: 730%

“B vitamins help with metabolism by converting food into energy, creating new blood cells, and maintaining healthy brain cells and other body tissues,” Geiger says.

While most vegans and vegetarians won’t have a problem consuming their B vitamins as they are prevalent in foods like legumes, leafy greens, and seeds they may struggle to get enough B12.

That’s because vitamin B12 is most commonly found in animal products like meat and dairy. It is important for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen from our lungs to tissues throughout our body, and deficiencies are generally more common among the plant-based community

Most fortified nutritional yeasts contain up to 10 times the daily value of vitamin B12, making it an ideal source for vegans. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause long-lasting neurological problems and diseases like dementia and difficulty walking.

3. Nutritional yeast may boost the immune system

Thanks to it’s impressive nutrient profile, nutritional yeast may also boost the immune system.

One key nutrient that it contains is beta-glucan, a soluble dietary fiber, Shapiro says. A 2018 study found that participants who consumed beta-glucan from yeast had lower and less severe upper respiratory tract infections, suggesting that this nutrient supports immune function.

“It also contains vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron, that feed our trillions of gut microbiota,” Shapiro says. The bacteria in our gut help regulate our immune system, thereby helping combat disease.

How to use nutritional yeast

  • Add it to soups, salad dressings, and sauces

  • Sprinkle it on popcorn or nuts

  • Mix it with pasta or rice

  • Use it as a replacement for cheese on pizzas, mac and cheese, eggs, and nachos

  • Season tofu or plant-based meat with it

Insider’s takeaway

Nutritional yeast is a healthy, nutrient-dense protein that has all nine essential amino acids. It’s a great option for plant-based eaters looking to bump their vitamin B12 intake along with other B vitamins, such as folic acid and riboflavin. Consider adding nutritional yeast in your diet to support immune function and prevent disease, Dr. Shapiro says.

8 of the best plant-based sources of protein, according to dietitiansThe best sources of B12 for vegans – and when to take a supplement5 science-backed benefits of vitamin B12 and how to get enough of it in your dietA beginner’s guide to a plant-based diet and how it can benefit your health

Read the original article on Insider

Diet and the immune system: What is the link?

Diet and the immune system: What is the link?

  • April 9, 2021

We may take it for granted that our diet can influence the way our immune systems work. But how and why does what we eat impact the immune response? In this Honest Nutrition feature, we investigate.

The immune system is a complex network that constantly works to protect the body from antigens, which have associations with pathogens, including bacteria, toxins, parasites, and viruses.

The immune system offers two lines of defense: innate immunity and adaptive immunity.

Innate immunity is the first line of defense and consists of physical barriers, such as the skin and mucous membranes and chemical and cellular defenses. The innate immune system is nonspecific because it reacts the same way to all foreign invaders.

If the innate immune system is ineffective against a potential threat, the adaptive immune system takes over.

The adaptive immune system consists of specialized blood cells and proteins that target the specific cause of infection. The adaptive immune system has a “memory,” which is why a person’s body becomes immune to specific illnesses after initial exposure.

A person’s immune system needs to function well for them to remain healthy. Certain illnesses, medications, and lifestyle choices, such as smoking and excessive drinking, can adversely affect immune function.

Research shows that a person’s diet can impact immune health as well.

Studies suggest that a person’s diet influences their immune system, like all other aspects of health.

For example, nutrition can affect the microbiome, gut barrier function, inflammatory processes, and white blood cell function, all of which impact immune function.

Dietary patterns and individual foods have associations with increased disease risk, greater risk of allergy, and impaired immune response.

Western-type diets tend to contain high levels of saturated fat, ultra-processed foods, added sugar and salt, and overall calories. This diet is often low in foods associated with better health, such as vegetables, fruits, and fatty fish, and has strong links to an increased risk of chronic disease.

Research suggests that Western-type diets induce inflammation and alter immune system function, promoting disease development.

In contrast, diets rich in whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and seafood, and low in ultra-processed foods can reduce disease risk and promote healthy immune function.

Additionally, a deficiency or insufficiency of nutrients essential to immune function, including vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C, can also affect immune response.

Nutrient deficiencies may be more common in those consuming ultra-processed diets low in whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Although it is clear that dietary choices impact overall health, including immune function, the interaction between diet and immune health is highly complex. Scientists are still learning how the foods a person consumes may help or harm immune function.

Western-type diets tend to be high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, saturated fat, and calories. This pattern of eating affects immune function in several ways.

Most of the foods in Western diets are ultra-processed and contain high levels of added sugar, which can promote inflammatory responses of the immune system.

For example, foods and beverages that significantly impact blood sugar levels, such as soda, candy, sugary cereals, and sugary baked goods, increase levels of inflammatory proteins, including tumor necrosis-alpha (TNF-alpha), C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). They also interfere with the function of protective immune cells, including neutrophils and phagocytes.

A 2012 study that included 562 adults aged 85 years and older without diabetes found that the participants who had higher blood sugar levels had lower innate immune responses. They also had higher levels of CRP, which is a marker of inflammation.

Higher blood sugar levels have links to an impaired immune response in people with diabetes as well.

Also, diets high in added sugar and refined carbs may adversely alter gut bacteria, leading to dysbiosis, which involves digestive disturbances, such as bloating.

A healthy microbiome is essential to immune function because gut bacteria play a critical role in the development and function of the immune system.

Experts have also linked Western-type diets to an altered immune response due to high levels of saturated fat and added salt.

Studies indicate that diets high in saturated fat may promote inflammation, modify gut bacteria, and inhibit the functioning of white blood cells.

Diets high in added salt have links to excessive immune response, impaired inflammation regulation in the body, and an increased risk of certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Western-type diets have links to an increased risk of developing several chronic diseases, including certain cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers attribute this to the chronic low-grade inflammation and altered immune response that Western-type diets, sedentary lifestyles, and toxin exposure cause.

However, research investigating the relationship between diet and immune function is ongoing, and scientists do not entirely understand this complex relationship.

While a diet high in ultra-processed foods, added sugar, and excessive calories may lead to immune dysfunction, dietary patterns rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods are beneficial for immune function.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, and other healthy foods. Research has shown that it can reduce disease risk, lower markers of inflammation, and beneficially modulate gut bacteria.

Diets high in fiber, such as the Mediterranean diet, promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including acetate, propionate, and butyrate. SCFAs are end products of bacterial fermentation in the gut and have health benefits.

SCFAs act locally and systemically to modulate the immune response. They maintain the health of and improve the immune defensive function of the intestinal epithelium. This is an important part of the immune system that serves as a barrier against microorganisms. It also reduces the production of inflammatory proteins from immune cells.

Diets high in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish contain high levels of nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, B6, B12, copper, folate, iron, and selenium. The immune system needs these nutrients to function optimally.

Experts know that vegetarian-based diets reduce markers of chronic inflammation, such as CRP, fibrinogen, and IL-6. This might be partly due to the array of nutrients and nonnutritive components found in fruits and vegetables strengthening the immune system response.

Foods rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, protein, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds help reduce systemic inflammation, promote healthy gut bacteria balance, reduce oxidative stress and cellular damage, and improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. All of these activities are essential for healthy immune function.

Additionally, studies show that supplementing the diet with nutrients including vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C may help optimize immune function and reduce infection risk.

To support immune function, a person should concentrate on following a balanced dietary pattern rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods, especially plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. People should avoid or limit ultra-processed foods high in refined grains and added sugar.

It is essential to follow a healthy diet to ensure good immune function.

Studies show that while certain dietary patterns may lead to impaired immune function, other dietary patterns promote optimal immune function.

A dietary pattern low in ultra-processed foods and rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and legumes, protects against chronic disease risk and supports a healthy immune response.

Following a healthy dietary pattern and leading a lifestyle that includes stress reduction techniques, restful sleep, daily physical activity, and other healthy habits is the best way to support the immune system and reduce disease risk.

You Need This in Your Diet After COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns

You Need This in Your Diet After COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns

  • April 8, 2021

After months of anticipation, millions of Americans have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and millions more continue to schedule their appointments each day. If you are among the latter group, it is important to know that when the day comes for your own shot, you want to make sure it has the maximum effect on your immune system, but also keep some of those potential unpleasant side effects to a bare minimum. And one way you can do that, experts say, is monitor your daily diet and food intake. Read on to discover what you should be eating once you’ve been vaccinated, and for some things to avoid during that time, Don’t Do This for 2 Days After Your COVID Vaccine, Doctors Say.

Steak and eggs high-protein breakfast meal

Experts say that incorporating a sufficient amount of protein in your post-vaccine diet can help strengthen your body’s immune response and put you on the road to a smooth recovery. Integrative physician Ronald Hoffman, MD, told HuffPost that “the development of immunity depends on the body ‘reading’ instructions from the vaccine and synthesizing antibodies and white blood cells, which requires adequate protein in the diet.”

In addition, preventative global health expert Sandra El Hajj, PhD, said eating protein after your vaccine can help you avoid feeling physically weak. “Your body will need to burn a lot of energy. If you do not offer enough proteins through your diet, your muscle mass will start decreasing. As a result, you will feel weaker,” she said.

Nutrition consultant Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, also noted that foods high in protein are also rich in amino acids that can help improve immune system function. And for the info you should remember to get before heading home from your appointment, check out The One Question You Should Ask Before You Leave Your Vaccine Center.

Mid adult woman making cold-pressed juice in the kitchen. Focus on cold-pressed juicer

The days following your vaccination may seem like a good time to hit your system with some fruits and vegetables in the form of a juice cleanse or detox regimen, but experts say you should hold off on that for a while. “A juice cleanse is devoid of protein and fiber. These are two nutrients that can protect and strengthen the immune system,” Kimszal said. And for something that you should do after getting your COVID shot, check out The First Thing You Need to Do After You’re Fully Vaccinated, Experts Say.

Healthy vegetarian dinner. Woman in grey jeans and sweater eating fresh salad, avocado half, grains, beans, roasted vegetables from Buddha bowl

There’s no big secret when it comes to your post-vaccine diet other than making sure it is healthy and well-balanced.

“Eat a normal healthy meal, mostly plant-based with whole foods and healthy oils,” suggested physician, scientist, and author William Li, MD. “Avoid ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners.” It also can’t hurt to throw in some foods that are known help strengthen the immune system. “Mushrooms, broccoli sprouts, and blueberries all have evidence for supporting immunity in human studies,” Li said. “These are delicious and have many health defense-boosting properties.” And for more information on the COVID vaccine delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Older man drinking water

The food you’re consuming isn’t the only thing you need to be thoughtful about following your vaccine. Li also stressed the importance of staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol because it can depress the immune system.

Tania Elliott, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, told Health that drinking alcohol after your vaccine could even make your side effects more severe. “Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather,” she said. “Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse.” And for the things that remain off limits even after being vaccinated, check out The CDC Says Don’t Do This Until 4 Weeks After Getting Vaccinated.

World Health Day special: Immunity boosters that you can easily add to your diet plan | Most Searched Products

World Health Day special: Immunity boosters that you can easily add to your diet plan | Most Searched Products

  • April 7, 2021
You must have heard the phrase- Health is Wealth. This is not just another saying but holds true in all aspects. To keep your overall health stable at all times, you need to focus on your immunity. This World Health Day, you can take a pledge to start taking immunity boosters regularly to keep a check on your health easily. With a variety of immunity boosters available these days, you can easily pick a convenient option to add to your diet.

To help you focus on your immunity from this World Health Day, we have a list of some of the most popular immunity boosters that you can buy online. Check out this list and go for the immunity boosters that you feel you can easily consume.

You must have heard about the various health benefits of tulsi leaves. To gain those benefits easily, you can go for a pack of tulsi drops and dilute a few drops in water to consume every day. These drops by Dabur are made from a combination of Vishnu tulsi, Rama tulsi, Shyama tulsi, Bisya tulsi and Amrit tulsi.

Besides being good in immunity-boosting properties, these drops can even help in curing minor respiratory troubles like cold, cough and more.

If you want to gain multiple health benefits in a single drink, this pack of giloy juice with the extracts of neem and tulsi can be a good option to consider. Collectively, this juice can keep a check on your digestive health, help in detoxifying your body and improve your respiratory health. Being free from synthetic colours and flavours, you need not think too much before going for this juice this World Health Day.

Prefer storing this juice away from direct sunlight.

If you prefer taking chyawanprash to give a boost to your immune system, you can go for this pack of chyawanprash. Being free from sugar and sweetened with jaggery, you need not think too much before consuming this healthy immunity booster.

Take this chyawanprash as per the instructions of your physician or the dosage that is given on the packaging. Regular consumption of this immunity booster can even protect you from infections caused due to seasonal changes.

Want to prepare healthy kadha at home in no time? You can take the help of this mix to save your time and gain the health benefits of kadha easily. This mix contains the extracts of tulsi, cinnamon, sunthi, giloy, gooseberry, manuka and other essential herbs that help in easing cold and cough and even improve your overall health to an extent.

Empty the contents of this pack and add hot water. Stir well and your kadha is ready for consumption.

If you do not mind taking tablets or capsules to give a boost to your immune system, you can go for this pack of tablets. These immunity-boosting tablets contain the extracts of amla, giloy, tulsi, ashwagandha and many other essential extracts that will easily give a boost to your immune system by meeting your essential nutritional needs.

This is a pack of 60 unflavoured tablets that you can consume easily. The shelf life of these tablets is 18 months from the date of manufacturing.

For those who can conveniently take healthy juices, this pack of immunity-boosting juice by Kapiva can be a good option to buy online. This juice contains a mix of amla, giloy, tulsi, turmeric, ashwagandha, mulethi, neem, black pepper, cinnamon and more to give you multiple health benefits in one go.

You need to dilute this juice in water and consume it as per the instructions of your physician.

Look for more immunity boosters on this World Health Day here.

DISCLAIMER: The Times of India’s journalists were not involved in the production of this article.


Ten Healthy Reasons To Add Feta To Your Diet

  • April 4, 2021


Feta is Greece’s most famous cheese and according to dieticians and doctors around the globe, it’s also the healthiest cheese option in the world.

Mainly made from sheep or goat milk (often combined), feta cheese is a nutrient-rich option and a deliciously flavoured dairy. Feta is easier to digest and much less allergenic and inflammatory than cheeses made from cow’s milk, which makes it a better option for those who may be sensitive to dairy products.

Originating thousands of years ago, this salty cheese goes through a pickling process that develops its distinct flavour. Authentic Greek Feta only comes from certain regions in Greece and here are 10 massive health benefits by adding this delicious dairy product to your diet (in moderation of course)!


Protects against cancer: As a rich source of calcium, feta cheese allows you to take advantage of research suggesting that calcium (combined with vitamin D) helps protect the body against various types of cancer.

Easier to digest: Nutritionists say that Feta is much easier to digest and is much less allergenic and anti-inflammatory, hence good for people who are slightly allergic to dairy.

Lower fat content: Feta cheese is lower in fat and calories compared to many other types of cheeses.

Good source of Protein: In addition to good fats and calcium, Feta can also prove to be a good source of protein, which is immensely beneficial for muscles.”

Good source of Vitamins: Feta could also be a valuable addition to your diet if you are looking to load up on vitamins from other sources than fruits, as Feta is rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and Phosphorous.”

Excellent Probiotic: Feta could do wonders for your gut health. Feta contains numerous probiotics such asa Lactobacillus casei, L. paracasei, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. coryneformis, Lactobacillus curvatus, L. brevis, and the likes which are good for overall health too.

Good for bone health: Feta is one of the most healthy sources of calcium, calcium and potassium, Feta like every dairy product can improve the bone health significantly.

Boosts immune system: A protein found in feta cheese nutrition is called histidine that boosts your overall immune system.

Prevents headaches and migraines: A good source of B2, it serves as a natural remedy for headaches, migraines included

Treats anaemia: Associated with low levels of iron and folic acid, anaemia can be helped with certain foods like Feta


Experts urge Filipinos to embrace plant-based diet to boost health amid pandemic

Experts urge Filipinos to embrace plant-based diet to boost health amid pandemic

  • April 3, 2021
Customers purchase goods at the Kalentong Market in Mandaluyong City on February 9, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— In a society where meat consumption is heavy, are consumers ready to go plant-based? 

Experts have urged Filipinos to embrace a plant-based diet as meat products have become expensive, stressing several health benefits one could get by going meat-free to boost the body’s defenses amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Heavily plant-based diets can lower a person’s chances of suffering from non-communicable diseases, according to Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians public relations officer Jake Andal.

Andal, who advocates for the dietary shift, told ABS-CBN News that cancer, heart, and renal diseases could be prevented by eradicating or limiting a person’s meat consumption. 

“All of them can be managed by diet. All of them can be prevented by good nutrition. Studies have long been elucidating na there is a huge relationship between plant-based diets and non-communicable disease prevention,” Andal said in an interview. 

Plant-based diets could help increase antioxidants and fiber intake, which protects the heart and kidneys. This could also help in keeping a person mentally healthy, he said. 


Too much protein, he pointed out, could “take a toll” on our kidneys. 

“We also see relationships with cancer prevention because of antioxidants, and fiber as well. We also see the management or prevention of mental diseases or mental health disorders because we see that there is a link between diet and mental health,” he said. 

“One of the facets of good nutrition – which is a common denominator in these researches, is the plant-heavy diet,” he added. 

Jewel Maribie Luis, a former project officer at the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), echoed Andal, and said shifting to plant-based meals could also boost a person’s immune system. 

Luis explained that a plant-rich diet is a good source of fiber. This, she said, helps the gut’s integrity, aids digestion, and nutrient absorption. 

“Plant-based food items are good sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that is deficient in meat products like beef and pork,” said Luis. 

“These nutrients are vital to maintain the function of our immune system, circulatory system and other organ system to fight diseases,” she added. 

She also emphasized that going plant-based is different from being vegan, each of which has a different discipline.

“When we say vegan diets, it means eliminating all animal products, including non-food items that are created by animal source, while plant-based diets do not necessarily eliminate animal products, but focus on eating mostly plants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes,” she noted.

Andal, meanwhile, said it is high time to start going plant-based to strengthen one’s immune system, coupled by standard health protocols against COVID-19. 

“I think the missing piece in disease prevention… is also eating healthy or eating properly. And one of the facets again of eating healthy is consuming a plant-heavy diet,” he said. 

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in early March called on the government to invest in “plant-based meat” amid high prices of pork, chicken and other meats. 

PETA said a plant-based diet will give people more options, citing health and convenience benefits. 


The Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians recommended increasing portions of fruits and vegetables in meals, as also recommended by the FNRI. 

This is also cheaper, the group said, compared to meals with meats. 

If a person, meanwhile, is looking to increase his protein intake, there are vegetables rich in protein such as garbanzos, nuts, monggo, and red kidney beans, among others. 

“It is a misconception that for example, beans, nuts, and seeds and other proteins from vegetables are inferior to your animal proteins… these plant-based proteins contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that animal proteins do not [have]” said Andal. 


Luis, on the other hand, emphasized that food preparation also plays a role on nutrients in a dish. She said it would show how a dish could be considered healthy or unhealthy. 

She also pointed out that the public should refrain from frying and overcooking vegetables in order to retain their nutrition. 

“Kapag nagluto tayo ng pinakbet ‘di ba marami siyang laman na gulay, and we all know that gulay is healthy, but kapag inalam natin kung paano siya niluto, minsan nasosobrahan ng asin o bagoong which is high in sodium, minsan naman [overcooked] ‘yung gulay which means that karamihan sa nutrients nung gulay sa pinakbet ay nasira o nawala na,” she explained. 

(When we cook pinakbet, it has a lot of vegetables. We think this is healthy, but it depends on how we cook it. Sometimes we put salt or bagoong in the dish too much, which is high in sodium. Sometimes, we also overcook the vegetables, that’s why a lot of the nutrients we are supposed to get from pinakbet have already been destroyed.)

The following are her recommendations for the correct way of cooking and eating fruits and vegetables: 

  • In cooking vegetable dishes, rinse ingredients well and do not overcook to retain nutrients. 
  • To make a healthier meatless dish, avoid frying as it destroys essential nutrients not only in vegetables but also in meat products. 
  • Steamed, boiled, broiled and grilled are recommended
  • Avoid using too much oil, sugar, and salt in cooking.
  • Consume fruits that are fresh, especially citrus ones

Both Andal and Luis also agreed that fish is a good meat alternative because of its protein content. Tilapia, bangus, salmon, tuna, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in lowering one’s blood pressure. 


Here are some of the meat-free recipes promoted by the FNRI’s menu guide calendars in recent years: 

1. Gisadong munggo at talinum

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

2. Veggie fish sinigang

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

3. Nutty rice medley

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

4. Forever Yang Chow

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

5. Fiesta taco mix

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

6. Cheesy potato

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

7. Pinoy sinangag with kadyos

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

8. Pesang bangus

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

9. Ginataang monggo with kalabasa and dilis

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

10. Sardines-kalabasa patties

Photos courtesy of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

meatless dish, vegetables, plant-based dish, plant-rich food, plant-based food, health, diet, Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians, Jake Andal, Jewel Maribie Luis, plant-based diet, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, FNRI, Life, Lifestyle

Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19 -- ScienceDaily

Fasting can be an effective way to start a diet — ScienceDaily

  • March 30, 2021

One in four Germans suffers from metabolic syndrome. Several of four diseases of affluence occur at the same time in this ‘deadly quartet’: obesity, high blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorder and diabetes mellitus. Each of these is a risk factor for severe cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack and stroke. Treatment aims to help patients lose weight and normalise their lipid and carbohydrate metabolism and blood pressure. In addition to exercise, doctors prescribe a low-calorie and healthy diet. Medication is often also required. However, it is not fully clear what effects nutrition has on the microbiome, immune system and health.

A research group led by Dr Sofia Forslund and Professor Dominik N. Müller from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) has now examined the effect a change of diet has on people with metabolic syndrome. The ECRC is jointly run by the MDC and Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin. “Switching to a healthy diet has a positive effect on blood pressure,” says Andras Maifeld, summarising the results. “If the diet is preceded by a fast, this effect is intensified.” Maifeld is the first author of the paper, which was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Broccoli over roast beef

Dr Andreas Michalsen, Senior Consultant of the Naturopathy Department at Immanuel Hospital Berlin and Endowed Chair of Clinical Naturopathy at the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and Professor Gustav J. Dobos, Chair of Naturopathy and Integrative Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen, recruited 71 volunteers with metabolic syndrome and raised systolic blood pressure. The researchers divided them into two groups at random.

Both groups followed the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet for three months, which is designed to combat high blood pressure. This Mediterranean-style diet includes lots of fruit and vegetables, wholemeal products, nuts and pulses, fish and lean white meat. One of the two groups did not consume any solid food at all for five days before starting the DASH diet.

On the basis of immunophenotyping, the scientists observed how the immune cells of the volunteers changed when they altered their diet. “The innate immune system remains stable during the fast, whereas the adaptive immune system shuts down,” explains Maifeld. During this process, the number of proinflammatory T cells drops, while regulatory T cells multiply.

A Mediterranean diet is good, but to also fast is better

The researchers used stool samples to examine the effects of the fast on the gut microbiome. Gut bacteria work in close contact with the immune system. Some strains of bacteria metabolise dietary fibre into anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids that benefit the immune system. The composition of the gut bacteria ecosystem changes drastically during fasting. Health-promoting bacteria that help to reduce blood pressure multiply. Some of these changes remain even after resumption of food intake. The following is particularly noteworthy: “Body mass index, blood pressure and the need for antihypertensive medication remained lower in the long term among volunteers who started the healthy diet with a five-day fast,” explains Dominik Müller. Blood pressure normally shoots back up again when even one antihypertensive tablet is forgotten.

Blood pressure remains lower in the long term — even three months after fasting

Together with scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and McGill University, Montreal, Canada, Forslund’s working group conducted a statistical evaluation of these results using artificial intelligence to ensure that this positive effect was actually attributable to the fast and not to the medication that the volunteers were taking. They used methods from a previous study in which they had examined the influence of antihypertensive medication on the microbiome. “We were able to isolate the influence of the medication and observe that whether someone responds well to a change of diet or not depends on the individual immune response and the gut microbiome,” says Forslund.

If a high-fibre, low-fat diet fails to deliver results, it is possible that there are insufficient gut bacteria in the gut microbiome that metabolise fibre into protective fatty acids. “Those who have this problem often feel that it is not worth the effort and go back to their old habits,” explains the scientist. It is therefore a good idea to combine a diet with a fast. “Fasting acts as a catalyst for protective microorganisms in the gut. Health clearly improves very quickly and patients can cut back on their medication or even often stop taking tablets altogether.” This could motivate them to stick to a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

Can Diet and Lifestyle Choices Affect COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy?

Can Diet and Lifestyle Choices Affect COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy?

  • March 19, 2021

You’re ready for normal life to resume and are signed up to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back — health experts would applaud you for this choice.

But how can you make sure you get the most out of your dose or two? Does your diet matter? How about lifestyle choices?

If you have these questions, you’re not alone. There are even supplements on the market that claim they can boost your immune system, increasing the effectiveness of your vaccine.

Whether that’s true — and whether you can really optimize your body’s vaccine response — is up for debate. Here’s what you need to know, so you can rest easy after signing up to get inoculated.

Healthy food

DO NOT PUBLISH Are you tired and overweight? Clean up your diet to change your life

  • March 15, 2021
Healthy food
The new approach to healthy eating is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Because at a cellular level, you are not the same as anyone else out there
Image Credit: Pixabay

By far the biggest contributors to chronic illnesses is bad nutrition.

Bad nutrition means a lot of sugar, white flour, unnatural ingredients and processed foods just to name a few of the top culprits.

Now, more than ever before, we need to prioritise building up an immunity against illnesses.

Yet, we still find ourselves confused. Eggs are good. Eggs are bad. Meat is good. Meat is bad. Eat butter. Don’t eat butter. Coconut oil is good for you, then suddenly it’s not good for you.

What should we believe?

“We simply have to go back to the basics of nutrition,” Farah Hillou, a licenced nutritionist, registered dietician and a certified practitioner of functional nutrition at the Chiron Clinic told Gulf News. “This means also understanding the physiology and biochemistry of our bodies, in order to understand what and where the imbalances are.”

The truth is, what you should or should not eat all depends on your body. Because at a cellular level, you are not the same as anyone else out there. The new approach to healthy eating is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has a unique genetic make-up, health history, lifestyle and mental well-being, therefore you need to really dig into who you are with a professional and customize a life that will serve your body as a whole. That is what functional nutrition is all about

What is the absolute worst?

It’s sugar. Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists, specialising in women’s health, gave Gulf News the low down about sugar.

“Sugar is so devoid of any nutrients that your body has to use the essential nutrients stored in your system to digest the sugar. So, not only are you getting absolutely no vital vitamins and minerals from the sugar, but your body is also losing valuable nutrients just by eating it,” Dr Marilyn stressed.

“When eating sugar, there is a rapid rise in your blood sugar level (blood glucose). Inevitably, your body responds by producing more insulin from the pancreas to deal with the high level of blood sugar.”

Sugar is so devoid of any nutrients that your body has to use the essential nutrients stored in your system to digest the sugar
Image Credit: Pixabay

Hillou further delves into what else unhealthy foods can do to the body. “Foods that are deemed ‘unhealthy’ can increase oxidative stress in the body and therefore inflammation. Inflammation is believed to be at the root of so many chronic health conditions. They can ‘switch on’ certain genes, which affect different processes in the body and can trigger disease,” she said to Gulf News.

“Unhealthy foods” can also negatively affect our gut lining and our gut microbes. A compromised gut has been linked to diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Moreover, “unhealthy” foods can negatively impact our hormones (insulin, leptin) and neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin).

Probiotic foods
Probiotics (fermented vegetables, kefir), are foods that support our gut health and microbiome, and hence help boost immunity since nearly 70 per cent of our immune system lies in our gut tissue
Image Credit: Shutterstock

When asked what she deals with the most when seeing patients here in the UAE, it was mostly hormonal imbalances, diabetes and burn out, just to name a few. “What I see here in the UAE, is similar to trends seen everywhere else around the world. Hormonal imbalances (including insulin, estrogen), diabetes, obesity, digestive issues, burn-out and mental health issues. All issues that fall back to inadequate lifestyle behaviours.”

That’s where functional nutrition comes into play

Functional Nutrition, part of Functional Medicine, is a biologically based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of illness. The idea of functional nutrition has been around since the early 1990s. In 2008, the journal of Science Based Medicine, called functional nutrition the “new kid on the block”.

Today Cleveland Clinic has a centre for functional medicine, pioneered by Dr. Mark Hyman MD, who has dedicated his career to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform modern health care.

The goal of functional nutrition isn’t to make you thin. The goal is to find out why you are tired, why your gut isn’t healthy, or why you can’t sleep at night.

A functional nutritionist will ask you whether your insides are inflamed. Are you eating enough colour (not skittles, but vegetables) and generally how you feel overall?

Functional nutritionists check that your liver is doing what it should be doing. Are your kidneys functioning properly? Do you need to eat less meat, drink more water? Do you need more sleep? Do you need more movement? Functional nutrition focuses on the body as a whole, considers the root causes of conditions, and utilizes the “food as medicine” approach (among other lifestyle measures).

Hillou explained that many people will come to her with weight loss as their main goal.

“I look at that as secondary,” she said. Instead of giving them a diet plan, she probes further. What has caused the weight gain? Is it the food you eat? Is it the lack of sleep? Are you stressed?

“Most people who come to me and who want to lose weight will have at least three other symptoms as well. Inability to sleep, feeling tired or they can’t breathe properly. I tend to focus more on those issues. The moment we start to tackle that, the weight tends to just come off. It’s a great by-product of living a healthy life,” she told Gulf News.

Eat plenty of good fats: Salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil
Eat plenty of good fats: Salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Can food heal?

“Plant-based, colour-rich foods contain phytonutrients which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These nutrients actually protect cells from damage and may also reverse damage made by the environment. Other foods we should eat are healthy fats, for example, avocado, nuts and fish. These can help keep cell membranes strong and therefore resistant to outside damage.”

It is important to note that while many foods promote healing, there are other types of food that prevent healing and therefore have to be avoided (refined sugar, for example). Moreover, we need to address other lifestyle habits such as sleep, movement and mental wellbeing in order to achieve true healing, Hillou explained.

Which types of food boost immunity?

“Colour-rich fruits and vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, berries, and citrus fruits can help boost immunity. Mushrooms in all their culinary varieties are a great add into stews and soups. Spices such as turmeric and ginger, as well as herbs like thyme, oregano and sage, have great anti-inflammatory properties and can support immunity. Finally, foods that support our gut health and microbiome, such as fibre-rich foods (whole grains, legumes, vegetables) and probiotics (fermented vegetables, kefir), help boost immunity since nearly 70 per cent of our immune system lies in our gut tissue,” Hillou told Gulf News.

Supplements vs. food

Supplements vs food
The combination of important and beneficial nutrients found in natural foods can never be compensated for in a pill, say nutritionists
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Hillou believes that food should always remain our primary source of nutrition. “The combination of important and beneficial nutrients found in natural foods can never be compensated for in a pill. It’s important to remember that we can never supplement our way out of a poor diet.”

While doctors will do their best to prescribe medicines that can heal you, it is rare when they turn to food as the solution. “Unfortunately, medical programs worldwide lack education in nutrition, however, there is definitely more awareness and appreciation regarding the importance of nutrition in preventing, managing and treating health conditions. As someone who has been teaching nutrition to undergraduate students in the UAE for almost ten years, I would love to see more nutrition courses built into medical curriculums in the UAE.”

Can I eat out and still eat well?

Going out to eat doesn’t have to necessarily mean unhealthy choices – most menus offer nutritional options
Image Credit: Pixabay

Let’s say you’re like me. Going out to eat at each chance I get. It is so easy to pile on the pounds and end up eating bad-for-you ingredients because we simply don’t know the extent of food engineering that goes into making fast food or restaurant food so delicious. But you definitely have options.

“In the UAE there is certainly no shortage of restaurants and cafés that offer nutritious menus,” said Hillou. “Even restaurants that do not necessarily fall under the ‘healthy’ category will often have options that are considered healthier than others. Some of my go-to’s are Soulfull, Colour My Plate, and Rawkure. The Soil Store is also a great one-stop-shop for all things wellness.”

You need to start becoming aware of your nutritional deficiencies and start eating a nutrient-dense diet. You need to eat the kind of foods that really nourish your cells. This gives you control to a certain extent over how long you’re going to live. You can avoid viruses, autoimmune conditions, heart conditions, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and so much more if you just pay attention to your eating.

So all in all:

• We should all be eating foods that are low in starch and sugar.

• We should be eating a plant-rich diet. 70 per cent of the plate should be plant food. Good quality veggies that aren’t that starchy. Two servings of fruits and four to seven servings of vegetables. Do not overdo it on the fruit, there is a lot of sugar in fruit.

• Eat good fats: Salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil.

• If you need animal products, ideally, you should be eating humanely raised animal products and fish that’s sustainably harvested.

• Non-gluten grains are the best: Black rice, quinoa, buckwheat.

• Dairy, you should ideally eat less of. Dairy tends to cause inflammation in our bodies, so the best-case scenario would be opting for oat milk, almond milk or coconut milk.

Green Smoothie Recipe 

Green smoothie
Make this gorgeous green smoothie, packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatories, for a great start to the morning
Image Credit: Pixabay

Here is a simple green smoothie packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatories that Farah Hillou likes to make often

· 1/4 cup organic blueberry

· 1/3 cup organic baby spinach

· 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk

· 1 teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil

· 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds

· 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds

· Pinch of turmeric and cinnamon

· A dose of collagen peptides

Whip up these four delicious recipes from Casette restaurant to get you on the path of better eating

Pan-fried seabass with cauliflower puree and fennel salad

Pan-fried seabass with cauliflower puree and fennel salad
Pan-fried seabass with cauliflower puree and fennel salad
Image Credit: Supplied


1 cauliflower, cut into florets

100g fennel, finely shredded

1 dried red chilli, crumbled

2 tbsp apple cider grape vinegar

1 bunch each flat-leaf parsley and mint leaves chopped finely

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

100ml extra virgin olive oil

1 x 140g seabass fillets (skin on), pin boned


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. To make the cauliflower puree, cook the cauliflower in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes until very tender. Drain, then transfer to a food processor and whizz until smooth.

2. Add creme fraiche and butter, and whizz to combine. Season, then set aside and keep warm.

3. To make the salad, place the fennel, chilli, vinegar, parsley, mint, lemon zest and 1/3 cup (80ml) oil in a large bowl. Season, then toss to combine. Set aside.

4. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick ovenproof frypan over medium-high heat.

5. Season the seabass skin with salt, cook the sea bass, skin-side down, for 4-5 minutes until crisp and golden.

6. Transfer the frypan to the oven and continue to cook, without turning, for a further 2-3 minutes until the whiting is cooked through.

7. Divide the cauliflour puree among four serving plates. Arrange 1 fillet on plate and serve with shaved fennel salad.

Tip: For more flavour roast the cauliflower in the oven and then puree

Roasted butternut and kale salad with orange dressing

Roasted butternut & kale salad with orange dressing
Roasted butternut & kale salad with orange dressing
Image Credit: Supplied


2 red onions, each cut into 4 thick rings

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

8 small wedges of butternut squash (prepared weight 250g)

50g pomegranate seeds (about ¼ of a large fruit)

1 tsp olive oil (rapeseed oil can also be used)


1. Heat oven to 200C/180C. Toss the onions, garlic, and squash in the oil, then arrange in a single layer on a baking tray and roast for 25 mins.

2. Remove the garlic and set aside, turn the vegetables over with a fish slice, sprinkle the caraway and return to the oven for 10 mins more.

3. To make the dressing, pare the zest from half the orange and put in a bowl. Cut the peel and pith from the orange with a sharp knife. Working over the bowl to catch the juices, cut out the segments from between the membrane. Stir in the vinegar, oil and pumpkin seeds. Discard the skin of the roasted garlic, mash the soft cloves, and add to the bowl. Stir well.

4. Pile the roasted veg onto a platter or plates, top with butternut shaving, orange and kale, then spoon over the dressing and toss. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds, feta, red radish and serve.

Vitamin booster smoothie

Vitamin Booster Smoothie
Vitamin Booster Smoothie
Image Credit: Supplied


1 orange, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

50g mango, roughly chopped


Put all the orange, carrot, celery and mango in the blender, top up with water, then blitz until smooth.

Blueberry Bircher pots

Blueberry Bircher pots
Blueberry Bircher pots
Image Credit: Supplied


2 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt

Some blueberries and strawberries


Grate the apple and mix with whole oats and low-fat natural yogurt. Layer in a pot with some blueberries. 

Tell us about your favourite dishes or recipes at food@gulfnews.com

Amid coronavirus, anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce risk of severe illness, experts say

Amid coronavirus, anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce risk of severe illness, experts say

  • March 11, 2021

Biohacker Dave Asprey, creator of Bulletproof Coffee, and Dr. Mark Hyman, creator of The Pegan Diet —  as in, paleo and vegan —  recently went viral online with their conversation about evidence that obesity can increase the likelihood of serious complications from a coronavirus infection.

Obesity is characterized as low-grade chronic inflammation, which means an overweight body is in a constant state of stress-immune response. There are small proteins called cytokines that are released by fat cells that trigger inflammation. More body fat means more inflammation, meaning an increased risk of sickness and death from COVID-19.

Around 78% of people who were hospitalized, needed a ventilator, or died as a result of COVID-19 were overweight or obese, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The report tracked more than 148,000 U.S. adults who received a COVID-19 diagnosis during an emergency department or inpatient visit at 238 U.S. hospitals between March and December 2020. Of those adults, more than 28% were overweight while 50% were obese.

Both experts spoke to Fox News about COVID-19 preventative care and recommended starting with an anti-inflammatory diet.

“First and foremost, I recommend everyone start working on getting metabolically healthy,” Hyman said. “This is a critical first step, and it doesn’t take years. You can see changes in your metabolic health within weeks by focusing on a low-glycemic diet filled with real whole foods.”

Hyman said that deaths from infection are often not due to the infection itself, but the body’s inability to fight it. Cutting sugar and starch from the diet is an easy way to jumpstart this effort. He instead recommended building a diet comprised of natural foods.

“Many of the (more than) 25,000 phytochemicals in are potent anti-inflammatories,” Hyman said. “Where is the best place to find these compounds? Fruits and vegetables. Foods like spices and certain oils also contain powerful anti-inflammatories.”

His diet, which combines paleo and vegan, is reminiscent of meals found in Asia or along the Mediterranean.

“Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, for example, which activates the same anti-inflammatory receptors as ibuprofen without all the side effects. Using turmeric, ginger, and rosemary with your meat can neutralize potential inflammation,” he said. “Omega-3 fatty acids found in wild foods like fish, seafood, and some nuts and seeds are essential for proper immune function. Mushrooms, including shitake, maitake, reishi, chaga, turkey tail, and cordyceps, contain immune-regulating and anti-cancer compounds called polysaccharides. And foods rich in vitamins and minerals boost immunity and reduce inflammation, including vitamin C, zinc, selenium, and vitamin D. Vitamin D alone regulates hundreds of genes that affect inflammation and immunity.”

He said food creativity will lead to a balanced diet.

Asprey also suggested adding one minute of a cold shower in the morning at the end of a hot shower to your daily routine to help lower inflammation and provide an unexpected feel-good.

“Stop eating vegetable oils and fried stuff,” Asprey said. “Radically reduce sugary drinks and extra sugar —  it immediately lowers immunity. … An anti-inflammatory diet means you avoid the most common sources of inflammation from food and eat more of the things that contain more nutrients and [fewer] toxins. Move every day, even if you don’t exercise. A 20-minute walk does wonders.”

Hyman said creating an anti-inflammatory diet is more than adding exercise and cutting calories. 

“We need to ask ourselves why so many Americans are struggling with chronic disease and obesity.” Hyman said. “The message pushed on us by our own government, health agencies, professional organizations, and especially the food industry is this: ‘It’s your fault you are overweight. Just eat less and exercise more.’ This fuels fatphobia and shaming. But here’s the truth: The food America is served is biologically addictive. So, willpower is a fiction. You can’t just eat less and exercise more. Ultra-processed foods high in starch and sugar, currently 60% of our calories, are biologically addictive products. Those who consume the most are the sickest and have the highest mortality.”

He called for federal officials to back policies that encourage growth, production and consumption of whole foods to reverse the obesity trends. 

Asprey noted there are foods that boost the immune system. He listed stable fats like grass-fed butter and grass-fed meat can help boost the immune system, but noted that an anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t have to be costly if done correctly.


“It’s easier than you might think, but you have to cook your own food,” Asprey said. “Grass-fed butter is about $3 per pound and is cheaper per calorie than fast food, but much healthier. White rice is affordable and low in toxins. Bulk frozen veggies. Order grass-fed beef online, and it still costs more, but you can eat less than you think. Eat more eggs, which are healthy and high in protein but low in cost. Packaged food is expensive and makes you hungry.”

Hyman said buying food on a budget should be basic, and researching and using guides can help you stay on plan.

“Stick to real, whole foods. Processed and packaged foods will cost you more in the long run,” he said. “If you stick to vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and some high-quality meat, you’ll save money.”