Food, fats and living a healthier life
Dr Rupy Aujla is a NHS doctor with a speciality in General Practice, and he firmly believes in food being the most important health intervention anyone can make.
Rupy is on a mission to inspire everyone to look at their diet, use more nutritional ingredients to lead happier, healthier lives and he's grown a following on social media with The Doctor's Kitchen. Sharing his own delicious recipes and talking about the health benefits behind them, he has a new book 'The Doctor's Kitchen' coming out early next year.
So Dr... what are your ultimate healthy foods?
I’m a big fan of colourful foods, getting as much colour in as possible. So, eating the rainbow, is actually a thing. The reason why is because it has a different collection of phytochemicals - the chemicals that we find in food that have lots of benefits in sugar regulation and reducing inflammation and getting these different sorts of health properties. Things like brassica vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower. Peppers, courgettes, as many types of vegetables as possible.
How about herbs and spices?
Absolutely, yes. Fresh herbs and dried herbs and spices are all fantastic for you. They have different sorts of anti-inflammatory effects. Using things like cumin, garlic, onion I’m a big fan of. The stalks of the coriander and things like garlic, they contain certain types of fibre that are really good for your gut health.
What about when you indulge?
My food philosophy is, yes, eat whole foods, eat loads of colours, eat largely plants but also allow yourself to indulge. Have a chocolate brownie every now and then, have something that’s going to give you some pleasure of eating because it’s about that balance. It’s about mirroring the healthy side of things with things that give us pleasure and allow us to enjoy life.
What's your take on fats?
Fats are fantastic for you, we need them. They’re very essential for you but it’s the quality of your fats. Saturated fats and unsaturated fats; there’s a huge argument about it. Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K require certain types of fats to absorb them. There’s also certain sorts of phytochemicals that we find in things like tumeric and other spices and herbs and stuff like that where we need fats to absorb them. Having a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil on a salad is perfect. If you take the extra-virgin away from the salad, you’re pretty much just eating water and fibre and you need those extra fats to help you process those.
And saturated fats?
Saturated fat isn’t just good for you it’s necessary. We need saturated fat, but it’s all about where you get the saturated fat from. So nuts, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil - fantastic - they’re great for you. If you’re getting your saturated fat from processed meats and deep-fried foods and the poor quality low-fat materials that we’ve been putting in our products, that’s not going to be good for you. That’s why I always say, I always tell people, don’t go to the low-fat aisle. If you’re going to have butter, for example, have a little bit.
If you’re eating at odd hours, if you’re not sleeping right, if your inflammation levels are high, if you’ve got loads of other ingredients like refined carbohydrates and lots of deep-tried foods in your diet, let’s focus on that first before we start talking about low fat because low fat isn’t an effective strategy in isolation.
What I’m really a big fan of and I want to spend a lot more time on next year, is actually introducing healthy principles of living to a lot more people; and that is about your mindset, your community, your friendship group, how you sleep, how you exercise and the variety of different exercises and what you eat as well.
What would your advice be for someone who's demotivated or maybe suffering from some form of depression?
It’s really topical right now, with the clocks changing and everything. We’re getting into winter season in the UK and I think this really depends on meeting people where they’re at and how far along they are on their health journey. For some people it might be getting extra sleep. It might be making sure that you’re improving your diet. It might be practicing mindfulness as well, like a meditation; just taking 10/20 minutes out of your day to listen to music or be on your own. Whereas, other people it might be something completely different. There might be something that’s triggering these sorts of feelings. It’s quite hard to say but when you get the basics right, when you eat well, when you’re sleeping well and you’re spending time with your family and your loved ones and surrounding yourself with positive things, that’s how you’re going to get yourself out of this rut.