If people could make one simple change to the food they consume it should be to eat a savoury rather than a sweet breakfast. Ditch sugary cereals and instead finish up last night’s left-overs from supper. That was a ‘hack’ shared with delegates at the Goodwood Health Summit.
Jessie Inchauspé is a French biochemist and author and a passionate advocate of balancing one’s blood sugar levels for optimal health.
Speaking at Goodwood House she said: “The issue today is most of us are consuming way too much glucose and fructose and this is causing a huge range of health issues – so one billion of us have Type 2 or Pre Diabetes.
"Everybody wants to make good food choices but often you don't know where to start. You will be told to eat better and exercise more but that is extremely vague and not very helpful.”
She said people had to break the vicious cycle and take the first simple step so they started to feel good about it and their body felt better.
"So we have to transform well established principles into easy bite sized fun changes,” she said, which she called ‘hacks’.
"In the morning have a savoury breakfast instead of a sweet one.” Left overs from the previous night’s dinner could be the perfect solution.
After the summit, the Duchess of Richmond who hosted the event said she had her mother to thank for savoury breakfasts when she was growing up. “For her it was very important that we had eggs or sausages or kippers of a morning before going to school.”
That avoidance of a sugary breakfast is a habit that has endured, she confided. “I sometimes have a piece of what's called life-changing loaf which is a nuts and seeds loaf - a kind of bread equivalent - with either an egg or sometimes sardines. Quite often I will have a boiled egg, sometimes yogurt, or chia seed pudding which is high protein but again not sweet ...
“Although occasionally I cheat and have a croissant on a Saturday!”
Clinical nutritionist Stephanie Moore who is working with the Goodwood Estate to promote good gut health and helped organise the summit had this advice to people looking to make simple changes.
"Stop snacking,” she said. “Eat all your food in two or three meals rather than spread over the day. This idea of eating every two or three hours is madness.
“When you look at your plate check you have the three core ingredients that your body needs to function - which is, have I got some protein, have I got some good fats, have I got lots of fibre?
“Whatever else is on the plate is OK as long as you've got those three main constituents.”
"By fibre I mean a range of plant foods on your plate - fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils; those are your food categories coming from plants that contain good fibre that feeds your microbes that keep you healthy.”
Fermented foods are also considered important for a healthy gut and the summit contained a display of some of items that no larder should be without.
But at the heart of the summit was concern over ultra processed food and the actions needed to turn the tide.
“Civilized man is the only animal clever enough to manufacture its own food, and the only animal stupid enough to eat it.” With that quote from health crusader Barry Groves, the Duchess opened the day’s discussion.
She said that she and Stephanie Moore had been working together for some years to set up the Goodwood gut health programme. “We know that what we are doing at Goodwood has a ripple effect and I really want to supercharge that mission – so here we are today to listen, learn and work together to make a change in the world.”
The day’s summit was overseen by distinguished broadcaster Justin Webb with a high profile set of speakers – Dr James Kinross, Professor Edward Bullmore, Jessie Inchauspé, Dr Chris van Tulleken and Professor Pekka Puska – who discussed a range of related subjects, everything from inflammation, mental health and the microbiome, to insulin, obesity and ultra processed foods.
Prof Bullmore raised concerns that what we eat may also be linked to some of mental health issues.
Dr van Tulleken said we should tackle the issue of ultra processed foods with the same determination with which the tobacco industry had been challenged – and charities and research groups charged with driving change forward must not be compromised by receiving funding from the food industry.
Warnings on food labels, advertising bans, and other policy changes were highlighted as critical steps to take – along with changes in the food served in hospitals, prisons and schools.
The first five years of life were seen as particularly important with considerable debate on how children’s diet in particular could be transformed – but fundamentally the gut microbes are essential to overall wellbeing and an holistic approach to human health began with ensuring a healthy gut.
Speaking after the event, the Duchess said the health summit would be held annually focusing on different aspects each year.
The challenge now was to take forward the key outcomes from the summit both locally through projects in schools and farmers’ markets and on a global scale.