CKNW is celebrating wellness with a health series and they've turned to Dr. Allana Polo for help and advice.
You can listen to each interview on CKNW. Here is an overview of Dr. Allana's appearances.
The Power of Turmeric
“Turmeric is the new buzzword food,” explains Dr. Polo, who says you can get it both in powder form for cooking or as a capsule as a supplement.
The substance is derived from a plant in the ginger family.
“The active ingredient that we’re also concerned about – or really interested in – is actually curcumin. It’s the main active ingredient which holds the most inflammatory and anti-oxidant potential. The beautiful thing about turmeric is that in all the recent studies and journalism [and] medical information that we have, it’s really effective against inflammatory conditions, like arthritis.”
Polo says research shows it can actually match the effects of some specifically anti-inflammatory medications people are taking.
Nutrients for Brain Health
Another, she says, are Omega 3s.
“Which are fatty acids like salmon or fish oil capsules. The beautiful thing is your brain is 60 per cent fat. By incorporating good fat into your body, you’re just helping the neuronal connection and communication within the brain.”
Another good option are antioxidants, says Dr. Polo.
“You can take antioxidants through a capsule, or you can do it through food: dark, rich, colourful fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are really important because your brain requires oxygen to function, and if you have a lot of free-radical damage, or if there’s a lot of oxidative stress in the brain, then these antioxidants are really helpful for brain function.”
Fruits like blueberries and strawberries and vegetables like spinach and broccoli are all rich in antioxidants.
Beyond simply boosting your brain function, Dr. Polo says nutrients like Omega 3s and antioxidants can have both preventative and restorative effects on your grey matter.
Reduce Your Meat Intake
People say one of the best ways to improve your overall health is to reduce the amount of meat that you eat. For a lot of people, that is difficult. But is that even true? Do we eat too much meat?
Dr. Polo says the short answer is… not necessarily.
“It’s not that we’re necessarily eating too much meat; it’s the quality of meat that we’re eating. So it’s too much red meat that we’re eating. It’s saturated fat, and it’s also now pumped full of hormones and chemicals, and growth factors that we weren’t eating years ago. So I think the quality of the meat has changed, and I do think the studies that are coming out are showing the importance of a plant-based diet for longevity and health and heart disease and obesity…high cholesterol and diabetes,” she says.
What are superfoods?
“Society is becoming so much more mindful about what the nutrition of food is, what we’re putting into our body, and how helpful that is. I think last year it was kale; kale was on the map for a while. And then it was chard, then cauliflower, goji berries, acai berries… basically these are all fresh, colourful vibrant fruits and vegetables. They’re rich in antioxidants..."
Incorporating Healthy Oils into Your Diet
“There are some oils that are saturated, so we don’t want to use that,” says Dr. Polo.
But while you stay away from those, she says there are a group of healthy, unsaturated oils that are both delicious and good for you.
“The really great ones to incorporate into your diet, because they’re a lot higher in Omega 3s and Omega 9s – which are anti-inflammatory – are avocado oil, flax seed, macadamia nut, olive and coconut oil,” Dr. Polo says.