Focus – How To Hone It In Four Easy Steps

We are fast approaching that time of the year where energy supplies might be taking a hit.  Focus and concentration are fairly important at any time of the year but when the finish line of December beckons, sometimes it take a bit more effort to push through right?

This brings me to Craig Lowndes, the Australian V8 Supercar champion.  Prior to his retirement, he spent a vast majority of his time at work skillfully driving powerful cars around a track at warp speed. The specialised skills that Craig developed led to him achieving global excellence and enabled him to become a V8 Supercar champion.

V8 Supercar driving requires 100% focus. Legendary British racing driver Stirling Moss describes competitive high speed driving perfectly, “It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can. Relaxing your brain is fatal.” Losing focus and concentration in whatever we do at work or at home can indeed have major consequences.

 

How can YOU increase your focus?

In our time poor world, it is so easy to get caught up in trying to do twenty things at the same time, aka multi-tasking.  Hordes of us believe that this is a prized skill and do the proverbial octopus dance every day.  Clinical research shows that the reality of multi-tasking is quite different.  We are not wired to juggle several tasks at a time because we just can’t concentrate and focus on any of them, resulting in lacklustre performance and complete lack of effectiveness while at work. Focus on one thing at a time and you will be amazed at how quickly and effectively you can complete a task or job.

 

 1. Be as fresh as a daisy

After breathing, sleep is our most fundamental need.  Its also the first thing we are willing to give up in an effort to get more done. The fact is, that even small amount’s of sleep deprivation makes us vastly less effective.

If you are not currently sleeping at least 7 hours each night, look at what you need to do to make that a reality, and then start pushing your bedtime earlier by 15 minutes until it becomes natural. Make getting 7-8 hours sleep your highest priority and your desire to make the most of each day skyrockets.

 

2. Focus on Taking a Break 

Research has shown that working in 90-minute cycles of intense effort followed by a brief recovery period is crucial to maintaining focus and concentration.  This means focusing intently on one task at a time.   The break doesn’t need to be mammoth and can be as simple as a deep-breathing exercise, getting up from your computer for 5 minutes, having a stretch or taking a fuel stop. The fuel stop will replenish both your brain and your body – setting you up for the next 90-minute bout. We all know how easy it is to work for hours on end without a break, so set a timer if you need to. I am personally truly unreliable in this department, so I do set a timer.

Taking regular breaks is crucial to your energy maintenance and recovery. Some healthy snacks for your break could include:

  • ½ cup of grainy cereal like oats or Weet-bix with milk
  • A handful of nuts (not the whole bag!)
  • 1 piece of fresh fruit or punnet of strawberries or blueberries
  • 1 small tub yoghurt + banana
  • Small tin of baked beans or tuna

 

3. Coffee Culture

Our coffee culture around the world is a thriving phenomenon and many people will swear by their first cup of the day to get them prepared for work.  It’s true that caffeine is a stimulant that speeds up parts of the body and brain and may enhance your performance and focus if used properly.

Most authorities agree that the safe daily upper limit for caffeine is around 300mg – equivalent to 3-4 cups of brewed coffee (cafe latte, cappuccino, flat white etc.) and consuming more than this can lead to issues with sleep, excessive alertness (more than you actually need), nausea and anxiety.

The important thing here is to be aware of the amount of caffeine that is right for you and treading that line between enhanced focus and over stimulation, when its hard to get any work done at all.

4. Drink up

It is so easy to get dehydrated in an air-conditioned work environment, hot or cold. You know that feeling of your brain winding down, down, down? You have just said hello and how are you to dehydration, which can very quickly lead to a headache, nausea and inability to focus clearly or work effectively.

Drinking coffee and tea often becomes the go to choice at work and although these beverages do provide some fluid, alternating with water is a simple way of staying hydrated. 

Our bodies are not great at sending a reliable thirst message as sometimes we mistake it for hunger and other times by the time we get the memo, our bodies and brain are already gasping for a drink. Positioning a bottle or glass on your desk or bench is a constant reminder – just aim to drink around a glass each hour.

The image that you can see above is my daughter who has just retired from from her gymnastics career at the ripe old age of 16 years.  She has been in the sport since she was four years old, so its been a while.

There is nothing quite like being suspended in mid air to truly make you focus on what you are doing. However, no matter what you do everyday, remember to……

“Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing” – Beverley Sills

Health Star Rating – What Do You Think?

Whilst trawling the supermarket aisles, you may have noticed the The Health Star Rating system on some products that you buy, or consider buying.

The Health Star Rating is a system that uses stars to show the nutritional profile of packaged foods and is on over 10,300 packaged foods in our supermarkets. It assigns a rating from 1/2 to 5 stars and the more stars the healthier it is. That’s the word on the street anyway.

The Health Star Rating is designed to help you make healthier choices on packaged foods by choosing the highest star rating when comparing similar packaged products. It is voluntary, so some products will  not have them displayed.

The Health Star Rating system was developed by the Australian, state and territory governments (and funded by them too) in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. 

The HSR calculation has been performed by the food manufacturers and retailers. This included ensuring consistency of information between the HSR and the Nutrition Information Panel and complying with all relevant legislation and regulations.

The system was implemented in 2014 on a voluntary basis by the food industry and a five year review has just been completed.

Interestingly, the review found that the HSR has been performing well.  A few key findings from the report include:

  • The Health Star Rating system will continue as a voluntary system, with the funding to continue from the Australian and New Zealand state and territory governments.  It is not a paid system nor it is funded by food industry.
  • Changes will be made to the way the Health Star Rating is calculated to better align with the Australian Dietary Guidelines and will now include fruit and vegetables.
  • Minor changes will be made to the governance of the system, including the transfer of the HSR calculator to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand rather than the manufacturers (good idea).

From my viewpoint, I have mixed feelings on this system.  I don’t use it.  I know that the most accurate information is found in the Nutrition Information Panel and this gives you cold hard facts. But that’s me.

On the flip side, I know that everyone is busy and wants the quickest, easiest way of choosing healthy food.  This means that for some people, this method of rating food does the job.

My colleague and respected Dietitian, Catherine Saxelby recently wrote a review of the HSR and this is what she had to say here.

I would love to know what you think about the Health Star Rating by answering three quick questions in the comments below:

  1. Do you use it?
  2. Do you find it helpful when trying to make a healthy food choice?
  3. Do you know how to read a food label (no shame if you don’t!)

Performance Podcast 30 October 2019

Julie Meek’s Performance Podcast from  30 October on The Morning Show on 6PR 882 AM Talkback Radio with Gareth Parker. Catch up on information, news and tips on all things performance and nutrition.

Gym Junkies of a Different Kind

The gym I test my strength in a couple of times each week is a little different to most others. It’s a local council run facility full of gym junkies (of the nicest possible variety)  and I feel extremely confident I’m never going to see anyone prancing around posing and flexing their muscles. Unless that flexing is to get rid of a muscle spasm.

Some days I’m the youngest by a good 20-30 years but the time I spend there each week provides a priceless package of inspiration and entertainment on top of the fitness benefit.

Five years ago, these gym junkies were featured in a segment on Today Tonight as a result of their fitness and health ethic and you can meet some of them by watching here.

Who Are The Main Players At The Gym?

Take Anton for example: in the vicinity of 70+ years young, who collects his friend Judy on the way to the gym and walks in each morning primed for a chat to solve the issues of the world. Judy can lift so much more weight than me and annoyingly can hold a plank whilst smiling for a couple of years.  I can’t.

Then there is Tom Senior; an almost 86-year-old diabetic who comes even when he doesn’t feel like it. He keeps turning up because he knows from experience that the moment exercise feels great is when you are finished. Plus the company is scintillating.

Tom Junior, also a ex professional cricketer and a mere chick in comparison, is currently doing the rounds of the gym on the bike while he deals with knees that are not happy with years of bowling. And lets not forget Ali, Trudy, Jo and myself who just try and keep up with these guys. 

These gym buddies of mine love a good chat and the odd critique of gym performance, and there is often a great deal of collective tsking when someone demonstrates a new exercise or skill. 

In reality, you can get some good ideas from what others are doing around you. It is too easy to just keep doing what you are doing, which can get you in a rut pretty quickly.

It got me thinking about what the current fitness trends are, so naturally I went straight to Google to find out.

What Are The Fitness Trends Of 2019?

  1. Wearable Technology – this includes everything from fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and GPS trackers.  These days we can track pretty much everything. Sigh.
  2. Group Training – this is classified as a class with more than five participants and could include cardio based classes, dancing, spin classes, boot camps and the like.  I do like group training, especially when you can hide behind someone else for those moments when you are quite simply dying.
  3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – this is where you engage in a series of high intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest and recovery.  Let’s just say this is not my favourite and I would prefer to call it RUUUUUUNNNN AWAAAYYYY.
  4. Fitness Programs for Older Adults – my gym buddies are a case in point but lets face it, keeping and staying fit as we get older is probably the Number 1 health tip.
  5. Body Weight Training– Maintaining our muscle mass is crucial, vital, integral and central to the very core of our health. Our physical strength, balance and sending fuel to our brains (muscle mass controls this one) is what keeps us upright and being able to hold conversations when we are 100. Do it, do it, do it.
  6. Employing Certified Fitness Professionals – I am fairly confident that you wouldn’t get your hair cut by a lawn mower. Quite frankly, you could lose ears and perhaps even your scalp.  Choosing a qualified, certified fitness professional is good sense unless you are ok with injuring yourself.
  7. Functional Fitness Training – this involves strength training and other activities to improve balance, coordination, strength and endurance to improve daily living activities.
  8. Personal Training – for some people working with a personal trainer is what keeps them focused and on track. A qualified personal trainer can design workouts specific to you rather than say, your neighbour down the street.
  9. Yoga – oh yoga. Some of you will know that I am a converted lover of yoga and for many reasons it is quite simply a necessary part of my life. So necessary that I will travel a long way to run my Italian Yoga and Wellness Retreat every year. If you haven’t tried it yet – mix up a few different varieties of yoga and or add some extreme heat or attempt the downward dog suspended from the ceiling. I’m not sure whether that last one actually happens but I am sure someone has tried it. Perhaps stick to just the one kind of yoga in one sitting and you don’t have to do it in the blistering heat amid communal sweat to get a benefit.
  10. Exercise is Medicine – imagine doctors including exercise as the prescription rather than drugs. Some already do but healthy professionals do this all the time.  Prevention is always preferable to finding a cure.

The best type of exercise is the one that you actually do. Choose something that you enjoy doing, grab a friend and let the endorphins (and no, this is not a species of dolphins) do their work.

Egg Goodness – It’s World Egg Day

Happy World Egg Day! It’s time to bring out the balloons and streamers because today is the day to celebrate  and be reminded that the humble egg is an amazing source of energy and vitality.  These little goodies contain just 300 kilojoules each and quality protein plus 11 different vitamins and minerals including iron, selenium, iodine, Vitamins A, D, E, folate and Vitamin B12. 

This nutrition all rounder has suffered from an undeserved bad boy reputation over the years, mostly in the area of cholesterol. Egg yolks do contain a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat. However, research conducted over the past 50 years shows that egg consumption has only a negligible effect on raising total blood cholesterol levels in healthy people.

For most people, eating an egg every day is a healthy addition to a diet that includes wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Of course, it is a different story if you are frying eggs every day and eating them with lots of bacon! 

An egg can be a great snack or meal full of protein and is the richest source of choline, which is essential for the manufacture of neurotransmitters in your brain. They are recommended daily as part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

I grew up with chooks around my feet and I loved finding an egg hidden in my cubby house amongst my dolls and blankets.  Our chooks were very much free to range wherever they felt like it. Cubby, chook pen, prams – you name it. To be honest, these feathered birds (and all others for that matter but that is another story for another day) completely freak me out BUT I do so appreciate their produce!

You can check out some interesting and fun facts about the little egg plus some fabulous recipes at World Egg Day.

Eggs would have to be one of the easiest foods to prepare but for some weekend eggpsiration, you might like to try my Noodle Omelette.  This recipe is in my recipe e-book, ‘eat, energise, repeat’ which can be downloaded for free right here.

Noodle Omelette (Serves 2)

Ingredients

2 cups (already) cooked noodles or spaghetti (any small shaped/sized pasta that is leftover)

4 free range eggs, lightly beaten

80g grated reduced fat cheese

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 large zucchini, thinly sliced

1 whole tomato, thinly sliced

Method

Spray a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and arrange onion, zucchini and tomato in layers in the pan. Top with noodles, distributed evenly over the vegetables and pour over egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook over low heat until egg starts to set at the side of the pan and then place fry pan under grill to finish the top of the omelette and brown the cheese.  Cut into quarters and serve with your favourite salad.

Serves 2 adults or 4 kids under 12              Cost = $1.90

 

 

 

Meat Free Week – Are You Coming On Board?

What Is This Meat Free Week You Speak Of?

Meat Free Week is right here, right now, right here, right now…..

This global movement in its 7th year, runs between the 23 – 29 September but before you start panicking about not having meat on your plate for an entire week, lets take a look at why this week exists. Meat Free Week is an international event that encourages us to start thinking about how much meat we eat and the impact eating too much has on our health, animal welfare and the environment.

It’s also about raising awareness of some worthwhile charities – including Meat Free Week health partner Bowel Cancer Australia.

I have to say straight up that I have a close affinity with bowel cancer and I am a passionate ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia.

The Moment My World Went Wonky

Those of you who have been reading along with me for a while will know that my world was turned upside down when my Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Within two weeks he had 30cm removed from his large bowel and had started a gruelling regime of chemotherapy, reducing him to a shell of his former self.

That moment of diagnosis means that I and the rest of my family have an increased risk of bowel cancer. It most certainly made me have a good think about what I could do to reduce my risk in the future.

So What Can We Do To Reduce Our Risk Of Bowel Cancer?

There is convincing evidence that eating too much red meat, particularly processed meat are linked to bowel cancer. Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, salami and other luncheon meats pose the greater risk. However, eating more than 350g fresh red meat every week can also be a problem.

Meat Free Week is not about pushing people into vegetarianism or veganism. The fact is, red meat provides valuable key nutrients such as iron, zinc and protein. I personally enjoy eating meat as you may remember from my thoughts on Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed beef and as someone that battles with persistent iron deficiency, I need it in my diet.

We just need to be careful about the amount, how often we eat it and the way we cook it.

Some Meaty Tips

  • Consume less than 350g of unprocessed red meat per week and avoid the processed varieties (unless you happen to find yourself in Italy for itsy bitsy amounts of time)
  • Cook meat carefully. Charred or blackened meats can damage the cells lining the bowel
  • Partly cook meat to reduce cooking times on open flames, grills or BBQ’s
  • Keep cooking temperatures low and use marinades to protect meat from burning

What About The Meat Free Alternatives?

Australians rank among the top in the world when it comes to meat consumption and 95% of us don’t eat enough vegetables or wholegrains. Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer too, with 103 people dying each week from the disease. It gets you thinking doesn’t it?

As a poverty stricken uni student, I enjoyed vegetarianism for many years due to financial constraints and it very easily became a way of life (although it had to really). Over the following years, I reintroduced meat a few times each week to counteract low iron levels. Now with three kids, we do eat red meat but certainly less than 350g per week each and I am very militant about the amount of processed meat that is eaten in our household. Much to our children’s despair.

This can be especially challenging as we love all things Italian and their penchant for prosciutto, salami, ham and every processed meat other imaginable. Preparing meals without meat certainly requires a bit more thought and design simply because it not a simple matter of removing the meat and leaving the salad or vegetables to fend for themselves. It is important to include quality protein in your meal and this can be challenging if you have become accustomed to having red meat as a staple item.

The great news is that the wealth of recipes available to us all is unlimited. Some sites that you might like to take a peek at include Meat Free Mondays or  Sanitarium.

Do you have any fave recipes or ideas on how you incorporate some meat free days in your week that you would like to share?

 

Fake Chicken – The Real Deal or Fake News?

This week, fake chicken has made an appearance in my life and to be completely honest, everything about this product was quite a surprise.

Trying the fake chicken became a thing after a listener called into 6PR 882AM Morning Show a few weeks ago, asking about the nutritional value of some of the vegan/vegetarian ready to eat products.

To Be Or Not To Be Fake Chicken?

I trawled the chilled section of the supermarket on the hunt for some fake chicken and I was rewarded by finding the Chick’n Schnitzel made by the Unreal brand.

If I were to judge a book by its cover (as I keep telling my children that is not what we should be doing), it didn’t grab me. However, I was on a mission. Luckily, there was a 20% discount on the product, which lessened the pain I felt might be coming.

I was finding it hard to imagine enjoying this product, so based on this I decided to make it into a chicken parmigiana. I imagined this ‘chicken’ topped with a couple of tablespoons of pasta sauce and for a lovely finishing touch, some grated vegan cheese which I also purchased.

The ingredients were all set to get this fake chicken on the road. Mind you, wrestling the cheese out of the packet was an extreme sport and once freed from the packaging the aroma nearly overcame me. I soldiered on.

Once assembled, the fake chicken now newly reinvented as Chicken Parmigiana, baked in a moderate oven for 30 minutes.  Unfortunately one can’t use baked until ‘golden brown’ as an alternate guide to time as the cheese didn’t melt and there didn’t seem to be any colour change to my fake chicken at all. Just set your timer ok?

Taste Test 1,2 3

Once done, I rushed that Chicken Parmi straight to radio where Gareth Parker and I taste tested live on air.

Well.  We looked at each in total surprise.  This Chick’n Schnitzel made into Chicken Parmigiana was actually tasty and it had a very similar texture to chicken.

As you can see below, the nutritional breakdown of the product ticked boxes across the fat, sugar and salt categories and it has some fibre too.  This makes sense as it is a plant based product and the real Chicken Parmigiana is mostly protein with a minuscule amount of fibre in the crumb only.

For those still not convinced just yet, you can check out my meaty version of a Chicken Parmigiana  here.

So, I will admit that I was wrong (ouuuccchhh) in assuming the Chick’n Schnitzel was going to be gross.  I was correct in my assumptions about the fake cheese though.  Just no.

Meat Free Week Coming Right Up

The timing of the Chick’n Schnitzel tasting and revealing fits very nicely into Meat Free Week which runs from next the 23-29 September.

Meat Free Week encourages you to challenge yourself, your friends, your family and your colleagues to try a plant based menu and raise funds for a great cause – the prevention of bowel cancer.

I will write more about Meat Free Week next week but let’s be clear that this is not about abolishing meat from our diets – it’s about eating more plant food.

 

 

What To Eat For the Best Exam Results

What to eat for the best exam results is vital information if you have a Year 11, Year 12 or even a uni student in your household or family about to start prepping for exams.

All exams are important but the Year 12 journey is certainly at another level with all the expectations (real and perceived) that travel alongside the actual assessment.

This time of year auspiciously marks the beginning of mock exams for Year 12 students. The mocks are then followed by the real deal and they can be a true test of grit and determination in so many ways.

The thing is, studying and preparing for exams is SO similar to athletes preparing and training for an event or game.  If you are an adult with ever ‘useful’ hindsight, you know from experience that it takes discipline, tests of endurance, endless concentration and skill. 

That’s why the fuel going in needs to be full of the good stuff at the right time.

You may have done the prep and the studying to get you to the exam but have you considered what to eat for the best exam results?

Consider your day as a football game or any game you love. 

This means breaking your day into four quarters and the first quarter bounce down starts when you wake up.

First Quarter

Breakfast is key to exam success and your brain working at its best.

In fact there is good evidence to suggest that eating breakfast improves memory.   It is true that some people do not feel like eating in the morning but once again, it is can be a matter of training your stomach to take food.  When considering what to eat for the best exam results, good choices for breakfast include:

  • High fibre cereal (Weet-bix, porridge, natural muesli, Sultana Bran, Mini-Wheats) with milk and fresh fruit
  • Wholegrain toast with baked beans, spaghetti, tomato, egg or avocado
  • Pancakes with fresh fruit
  • Fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and yoghurt

Anxiety and stress may mean your stomach is doing gymnastics on exam mornings so if you can’t deal with any other breakfast options try a banana with an Up and Go or Sustagen drink. Avoid arriving at an exam with an empty petrol tank.

Second Quarter

The second quarter of your game starts at around the mid-morning break and this is an ideal time to take a physical and mental break. Your lifestyle will determine whether you are a three meal per day person or a ‘grazer.’ The term ‘grazing’ is so called because cows like to do the same thing.  You may not like to think of yourself out in the field chomping down on grass but ‘grazing’ here means snacking or having 5-6 ‘meals’ spread out over the day. There could be some perfect recipes for you right here.

Five tasty snacks to keep you alert and awake

Snacks can be a nutrition trap to students as it is so tempting to grab something quick and easy like chocolate, lollies, muesli bars, biscuits and cake, none of which will give you the long-lasting energy that you need to study for the rest of the day. 

Instead you could try:

  1. 200g tub of yoghurt (ideally no added sugar)
  2. Fruit bread with jam, honey or a little butter
  3. Toast or crumpet with a light spread of peanut butter or vegemite
  4. Fruit Smoothie with milk, fruit and yoghurt and a handful of oats
  5. Crackers with cheese.

Third Quarter

As every decent coach will tell you, what happens in the third quarter of a game will determine whether the final quarter is grand final material. Wondering what to eat for the best exam results in the afternoon?

Does caffeine give you a buzz?

Late afternoons can be tough in the energy department but try and avoid relying on caffeine to keep you alert and awake. 

Caffeine stimulates every organ in your body and in small doses can be a useful study tool but too much can mean over-stimulation of your nervous system, increased heart rate and erratic sleep patterns. 

Sources of caffeine include coffee, tea (to a lesser extent), cola drinks and energy drinks eg.  Red Bull, V, Lift Plus etc.  Energy drinks contain a mix of caffeine and sugar, which gives you an extra hit but they are equivalent to drinking a cappuccino, flat white or latte. 

Boost brainpower

Omega-3 fats are known to boost brainpower and should be an essential part of every students diet. Fish, shellfish and fish oils are good dietary sources of these fats and are found in particularly ‘oily’ fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon.  Canned, fresh or frozen fish are all good sources of omega-3 fats.  Try and include them 2-3 times per week.

Bugs

Probiotic’s are foods or supplements that contain live beneficial bacteria (bugs) that keep your gut healthy. Exam stress is one thing that can upset intestinal balance and probiotic’s may be especially useful during this time.  There are a number of sources of probiotic’s including liquids, yoghurts, capsules and powders.

Pump the Iron

Iron is essential for getting enough oxygen around your body and this is obviously important during study and exam time! 

The best sources are liver (there are very few lovers of this one but you could try reduced fat pate if you are not keen on the actual liver), lean red meat, breakfast cereals and legumes (baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans etc) and to a much lesser extent chicken, fish and leafy green vegetables.  Include some fruit or vegetables, which contain Vitamin C with your iron-rich food and this will assist with absorption.

Liquid refreshment

Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids while studying to avoid brain drain.  There are no rules that say you have to drink eight glasses of water every day but regular intake is the key.  Water will always be the best choice but you could mix this up with some coffee, tea or Milo (but not mostly Milo with milk) for a change in pace.  Avoid getting stuck into sugary drinks like soft drinks, cordials and energy drinks. Yes, they increase blood sugar levels but oh so briefly and are a sure fire way of getting tired quickly. 

The Final Quarter

If you know what to eat for the best exam results,  you will arrive at the 3pm time spot in the day feeling energised and ready to tackle the final quarter or evening segment of your study game. 

If not, your brain and body might want to have a rest or start looking for the lolly jar.

A successful nutrition game plan will mean your body and brain will perform at their best not just for studying but also for the grand final, your exams.

Good luck and go get ’em!

 

Grain Fed vs. Grass Fed Animals – Does It Make a Difference?

You are currently looking at a fluffy coo (as the Scottish say so well) or cow as the rest of us know them.  You can see that he or she is standing in pasture and it is highly likely that the moment after this image was taken, fluffy coo bent down to have a nibble on the grass.

So What?

Over recent years, you may have noted that some of the meat and dairy products we buy are labelled as grass fed. There has certainly been media coverage about grass fed and grain fed animals and the positive benefits of one and the negative impact of the other.

Despite this, for the wider population the differences between grass fed and grain fed animals are most likely not at the top of the list of priorities when it comes to purchasing and choosing food.

To be honest, delving into the world of grass fed and grain fed animals has been relatively recent for me too. Let’s not forget that what we don’t know, we don’t know.

The Green, Green Grass of Home

In the world today, the vast majority of animals bred for food are not feeding on the land at all but are kept segregated and fed on subsidised grain, manure and industrial food waste. Of course, this has a significant impact on the nutritional quality of the animal.

Both herbivores such as cattle and sheep and omnivores including pigs, turkeys, ducks and chicken are natural grazers too and thrive when grass fed.

Grass Fed Nutrition

Just like humans, how animals are raised and whether they are grass fed or grain fed directly impacts the nutritional quality of that food.

In comparison to foods from grain fed animals, those from grass fed animals are known to provide the following benefits:

  • Lower levels of total fat (including saturated fat) and as a result fewer calories
  • Healthier levels of omega 3 fatty acids (the ones your heart loves)
  • Healthier ratios of omega 6 (the balance of these with omega 3 is important to your heart health)
  • Rich in caretenoid’s including lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene (those antioxidants that mop up those damaging free radicals in your body)
  • Higher levels of Vitamin E (handy helper for our immunity and heart health)
  • Higher levels of the fatty acid Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Regenerative Farming

Aside from the nutritional superiority of grass fed foods, grazing animals and grasses have an important place in regenerative farming too. The environmental impact of growing crops to feed grain to animals is huge and directly affects our land, our resources and our ability to feed the human population too. 

Regenerative farming systems, which utilise animals to graze on grasses can actually remove carbon from the atmosphere. This means a return to the soil where it belongs, potentially reversing the impacts of climate change. This is just the beginning.

Once you start looking – there is just SO much to learn about grass fed vs. grain fed animals.  If like me, you are keen to learn more just click here for an enlightening read.

Buying Grass Fed

I am always on the look out for producers that are growing food that is sustainable, nutritious and environmentally friendly.  

In Western Australia, Wide Open Agriculture is one of them. They are doing marvellous things including selling regeneratively raised grass fed beef and lamb through their food brand Dirty Clean Food

These guys are all about nurturing soil and regenerating our land and I like that.  A lot.

Animal welfare and minimising stress is at the forefront of how they rear their beef and lamb too. Tick.

Dirty Clean Food is currently producing grass fed beef and lamb for the West Australian market and are available online (a big sorry to those who are not residing in the Sandgroper state). Watch this space.

It Is Your Choice

I know that some of you reading this are either vegetarian or vegan and I respect your choice.  I love eating plant based food too.

There are many things we can all do to improve our world, including what we choose to eat and how it is produced.  

Choosing a way of eating that includes both animal and plant based food or solely plant based food is your choice. Let’s respect each others choices and acknowledge that there is more than one way of nourishing our bodies.

Being mindful and curious about where our food comes from and choosing wisely as a result is one thing we can all do regardless of what that food is.

 

Performance Podcast 22 August 2019

Julie Meek’s Performance Podcast from  22 August on The Morning Show on 6PR 882 AM Talkback Radio with Gareth Parker. Catch up on information, news and tips on all things performance and nutrition.

If you enjoyed listening to Julie’s Performance Podcast, please subscribe to the series here