We’ve all fallen for nutrition myths and nutritionists are definitely not immune to them. The truth is, fruit isn’t bad for you. Added sugar isn’t the reason your neighbour got an autoimmune disease. Calorie counting is an incredibly ineffective way of measuring health. You don’t need protein powders to enhance your gym experience. You don’t need expensive supplements from Peru to be healthy. You don’t need an app to tell you how much protein you’ve eaten. Red meat in moderation doesn’t directly cause cancer. The purpose of eating food is to enjoy it, first and foremost. Not all food containing gluten is bad for you. Gluten free options are generally not better options. There is no magic pill, shake or juice that will help you drop kilos. There is nothing wrong with eating cake. It’s not bad for your health when you don’t do it every day. Thinking that cake is bad for you can be bad for your health though.
You don’t have to maintain being strict with your diet when you’re overseas if you don’t want to. You don’t have to maintain being strict with your diet ever, if you don’t want to. Eat carbohydrates. Eat carbohydrates because foods with carbs are delicious, healthy and nutritive. When we cut out carbs we cut out fibre and that’s never ok. An apple juice diet is not going to rid toxins from your liver. Not all processed foods are bad. All food has been processed to some extent, including cacao powder, hemp protein, smoothies and yoghurt. These are all processed yet perfectly healthy nutritive foods.
Now falling for these myths doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you just like the rest of us. Victims to diet culture! The industry that tells us that “this” diet is better for your health and better for your weight. But don’t you think that if after all these years we knew what “diet” actually worked we’d all be doing it? And that would be it? We’d all be losing weight and feeling content? But that’s so not the case for a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, diets are completely unsustainable for weight loss. Secondly, prioritising weight loss as a way to improve your health is ineffective. Thirdly, happiness isn’t achieved with weight loss and anyone who tries to sell weight loss as a means to happiness is acting neglectfully. Fourthly, there is virtually no point in us all trying to squeeze into one number on the scale because your healthiest weight is the one YOU are at when you are not engaging in any kind of restrictive or disordered way of eating (ie a diet) and not excessively exercising. And that ‘number’ is RELATIVE and completely different for everyone.
Remember we’ve all fallen victim but with proper research and listening to qualified people who are attempting to quieten the nutrition noise, we may just get out of this alive❤️
Vitamin D has got to be the most underrated vitamin. It’s become increasingly known in the medical industry nowadays, with physicians having a basic understanding of its impact on the human body and physiology. However the large amount of attention it deserves is not being received in the slightest. Not even close.
Vitamin D is historically known for its role in bone health and to prevent osteoporosis but it’s actually a standout vitamin for other areas of health too. Its shown to have a very important role in our immune system, after tonnes of research made the connection between a vitamin D deficiency and immune related conditions such as autoimmunity and chronic infections. Research has also made links to vitamin D’s role in depression, brain development, cognitive decline and prevention of some cancers. A couple of years ago in my final year of uni I did a literature review on vitamin D's role in breast cancer prevention and I was impressed with just how important this vitamin really is.
During sunnier months Vitamin D3 is produced in the body through the conversion of a cholesterol based molecule produced in the skin after sun exposure - but there are a few factors affecting this such as how much we cover up with clothes and sunscreen, whether our skin is darker, time of the day, pollution etc. Sunscreen is an important element to protecting your skin from cancer, but you don't need to use it excessively and probably not at all if you are only exposing yourself to the sun for 20-30 minutes per day in the less hot hours of the day. This is a great way to get vitamin D. If you're worried about the chemicals in sunscreen, there are many natural versions available which are just as effective.
Also, society today calls for very different daily activities, not requiring walks to the supermarket, relaxing in the park or prioritising spending time outside in nature. Overall, we’re not all that exposed to the sun. Certain medications can also increase the risk of a Vitamin D deficiency such as glucocorticoid drugs which are steroid medications often prescribed for conditions such as eczema, asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, some cancers and other skin conditions.
What a deficiency can look like
Common signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can include:
-Chronic lower back pain
-Cardiovascular threats such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and arterial dysfunction
-Fibromyalgia (it’s estimated that a large percentage of patients diagnosed with this condition are actually suffering from a vitamin D deficiency)
-Increased risk of fractures
Dietary sources of vitamin D, named vitamin D3, are found in animal products. These animal products are herring, tuna, sardines, salmon, beef, liver, eggs and butter. Cod liver oil is also a good source. Animal foods contain Vitamin D3 which has a 50-80% bioavailability rate and helps us promote calcium absorption for strong and healthy bones.
Wild mushrooms contain vitamin D but not the generic ones you find in supermarkets. Those guys are grown in the dark - and like us, plants need UVB to make vitamin D. However, the type of vitamin D that would be present in wild mushrooms (D2) are not a form as bioavailable as from animal products (D3).
In saying that, the amount of vitamin D3 found in animal foods is not huge and it’s quite difficult to get all the vitamin D you need from food. Currently, the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) reports that it is almost impossible to get adequate vitamin D through diet alone, highlighting the importance of sun exposure. It’s also important to know the symptoms of deficiency and/or get tested.
We hear the word fibre all the time, but what actually is it and is it really as important as what people say? Yep, it really is. I dare say it’s actually far more important than we even currently know.
Despite constantly being told by manufacturers and the front label of cereals and breads that we need to consume a high fibre diet, the extent of its impact on human health is not extremely well understood. The current basic knowledge on fibre is that it helps us bulk our stools and keep us regular but it’s involved in so many other important functions that get overlooked. I feel that if it had been given the attention it deserved from the very beginning and our health advisors were educated on its role in the body, we wouldn’t see so much chronic disease. That’s how important fibre really is. Anyone who follows me on social media knows I’m constantly talking about fibre but I promise it’s for good reason. Please let me tell you why.
Fibre is a structural component of plants and it's found in plant foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Fibre is not digested after we consume it. It remains unabsorbed as it passes through our digestive system and mops up toxins, waste products and any unwanted excesses. Let me say that again. It makes its way through our body and takes with it chemicals, toxins and any unwanted substances. It is the real detox deal. It even takes unwanted cholesterol particles which is why it has such large links to preventing heart disease. With heart disease being one of the largest killers of all time, you can see why I feel its use has been overlooked.
Due to this action of fibre passing through our digestive system, it helps us bulk up our stools and is vital for healthy elimination and detoxification.
Fibre’s also incredibly important for our gut bacteria. Whilst probiotics seem to be the go to treatment for most gut related conditions, they do not play the only part in changing the state of our microbiome.
Certain fibres are the food our bacteria need to ferment and create a healthy environment. Whilst I fully support the prescription of probiotics and prescribe them often myself, I always explain to my clients that changing the state of our microbiome doesn't just involve popping capsules and supplementing bacteria. We also need to feed the bacteria. We can do this by reducing inflammation-causing foods, increasing fermented foods and most importantly, consuming adequate amounts of fibre. Its role is irreplaceable and probiotics are only achieving one part of the job. Having a healthy microbiome is 100% important so let’s not forget what fuels it. Some fibres contain prebiotics, which are compounds that ferment in the colon and positively change our gut microflora. Our colon and its counterparts is one of the most diversely colonised and active organs in the human body (containing trillions of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and yeasts) and prioritising its health and activity has positive repercussions for the whole body. Namely, the health of our colon impacts our immune system (as the majority of our immune cells actually live in our gut), our hormonal health (certain bacteria help metabolise hormones when they are in excess), our skin health, neurotransmitter production and more.
Since fibre is indigestible, it virtually contains no calories that can be utilised by the human body.
Food manufacturers jumped on the high fibre bandwagon and started fortifying their food with unnatural sources of fibre. Just keep in mind that a fibre supplement, drug or a fibre fortified bread doesn’t necessarily mean the fibre is doing the same thing as a natural, plant-based fibre source. Artificial fibres aren’t always well tolerated by the body and the food its being added to might lack the nutrients that fibre foods contain.
It’s so easy to get fibre from real sources just the way nature intended - so endeavour to do that instead. When you read this list of foods that contain great sources of fibre, you’ll see how easy it is to achieve once you’re aware of it. The problem is that daily intake of fruits, vegetables and plant foods is just not being prioritised.
Medical literature suggests that eating a low intake of fibre is associated with an increased risk of colon, breast, ovary, endometrial and gastrointestinal cancer. To cut a long biochemical story short, there needs to be sufficient fibre mopping up toxins and unwanted particles in our digestive system, otherwise, they can cause damage to cells and start the inflammatory cascade. That's where we may say hi to chronic disease. Fibre-rich foods are also extremely nutrient dense, which is cancer preventative alone.
There’s another way fibre is cancer protective and it’s via the production of compounds called short-chain fatty acids. These are produced when fibre ferments in our colon. They not only help us metabolise important nutrients but they’re extremely anti-inflammatory for our gut. So many conditions are characterised by chronic inflammation in the bowels, so ensuring short-chain fatty acids are being produced via fibre intake always needs to be a priority. Low levels of short-chain fatty acid production have been linked to all kinds of worsened symptoms in inflammatory bowel disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. When intestinal tissue is being so dramatically damaged from poor food choices, medications, stress, alcohol, smoking etc, short-chain fatty acids really are Superman turning up in a cape.
Research also shows that patients with Crohn’s disease were able to go into remission with increased short-chain fatty acid production. That is incredible and could potentially be a management technique for the debilitating condition that is Crohn's disease.
But let’s get back to cancer prevention. One particular short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate, has been found to help keep colon cells healthy, is associated with the prevention of tumor cell growth and can encourage cancer cell destruction in the colon. If that’s not amazing enough, animal studies have shown us that cancer development may be significantly reduced with sufficient short-chain fatty acid production and a healthy bacterial environment.
Fibre and short-chain fatty acid production has also found to be useful in diabetes and insulin resistance. Consuming the recommended amount of fibre has the potential to slow down the rate at which we absorb glucose, has a role in the prevention of weight gain and fibre rich foods increase the amount of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants in the diet, all of which contribute to the prevention of diabetes.
It is well noted in literature that fibre is important for bowel regularity. This is primarily due to fibre's ability to increase the weight of your stool. Larger stools increase the ease and comfort around passing a stool and reduce the time between making trips to the bathroom. Having a high fibre diet is in most cases an effective treatment for constipation.
Now do you understand why I feel all our health advisors need to be well versed in fibre?
So where do we get it?
Processed breakfast cereals right? Ideally not.
Firstly, there are many different kinds of fibre and they don’t all have the same function. One type of fibre-rich food won't possess all the benefits I’ve just mentioned, so it’s so unbelievably important that we get a diverse range of plant foods in our diet. There’s cellulose, hemicellulose, lignins, pectins, gums, beta-glucans, resistant starches, fructans and chitin. Some are fermentable, some do the mopping up and excretion of toxins, some bind to excessive cholesterol, some produce short-chain fatty acids, some slow the rate of our glucose absorption and others feed our beneficial bacteria what they need to thrive on. As we can see, fibre is extremely medicinal and we need all of it.
The good news is that most plant foods contain fibre but there are some definite standouts:
-Whole grains: brown rice, rye, barley and oats.
-Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans
-Vegetables: asparagus, onion, garlic, leek, artichokes, tomato, root vegetables, cabbage family vegetables, potatoes that have been cooked and then cooled, celery, carrots and broccoli (especially the stalk)
-Fruits: apples, pears, figs, strawberries, raspberries, banana, avocado, apricots and citrus fruits
-Nuts and seeds including flaxseeds
-Other: psyllium husks
Take home message 1: Fibre is anti-inflammatory, helps create a healthy environment for our bacteria, is associated with the prevention of cancer, is effective for protecting our heart and helps manage blood sugar levels.
Take home message 2: Fibre is the real deal when it comes to detoxification. Skip the skinny teas, juice fasts and expensive detox supplements. Just eat a good amount of fibre - and make sure you're drinking enough water with it too.
Written by: Dr Tim Leeming - BChiro, BAppSc (Hons) - Sport and Exercise Nutritionist.
Weight loss is an ongoing and convoluted issue in the world of food and nutrition. Ironically, it has become a much larger problem since humans started “playing with food”. By this I mean heavily processing and refining foods, mass producing them, creating artificial replacements, combining them with synthetic additives and preservatives, genetically modifying, and spraying for higher yield and longevity.
Over the past century or so, a sudden spike in the requirement for food production to meet the demands of an exponential growth in the planet’s population has lead us to a rather interesting mix of politics, public health and food. When you really think about it, the fact that our governments are having to teach us something so natural as how to eat is actually quite a concerning notion. Perhaps one of the best examples of “playing with food” has been the government guidelines (a.k.a food pyramids) dished out to us in the past few decades.
I’d argue that a great deal of our current chronic health issues are a direct, or very closely linked, result of governmental dietary guidelines in the Western world. A few of these chronic health issues are things like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and auto-immunity. In technical terms, we refer to these as chronic, non-communicable diseases. I think there’s an ignorant irony in calling them non-communicable, because it is the ongoing and unrelenting pervasive communication of faulty information on government websites and handouts, in newspapers and on billboards and along our supermarket aisles that has ultimately landed us here.
Sure, there are plenty of other factors in this complex issue that have contributed to an alarming prevalence of chronic disease, such as stress, lifestyle choices, hours of daily movement and sleep duration and quality. But we simply cannot deny the role that food – something we engage with many times per day – has to play in the big picture.
I digress – the point of this article is not to have a socio-political rant. The point is to share applicable advice about how to lose weight in the most natural way possible; in ways that agree with your natural physiology.
The science is becoming very clear now that nutritional guidelines telling populations to build their diets around a foundation of extensively processed and refined carbohydrates have literally lead to a heavier Western world. Over the past 30-40 years, we have been taught to eat using food pyramids that are built upon a foundation of bland and nutrient-void grains. Think wheat, flour, bread, muesli bars, white rice, cereals, etc, etc. We’ve been scared into avoiding dietary fat, and we’ve all but forgotten many of the nutrients beyond the big three: carbohydrate, fat and protein. There are actually hundreds of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and elements – that are profoundly important in promoting not only weight loss but great health in general. To put it bluntly, the bottom line is that this advice – this dogma – has contributed to making us the fattest and unhealthiest society yet.
So then, how do you go about losing weight? Given the impressions I’ve pointed out above, the simple answer is: stop doing what the majority are doing! Stop basing your diet around this fallacy of colourless “foods” like breads, pastries, pasta and muesli bars. The next logical question then, “well if I shouldn't have so much bread or pasta, what can I eat?”
In the very wise and concise words of Michael Pollan, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Pretty straightforward, right? Sadly, many of us have lost the concept of what food really is, and what isn’t really food. Through abundant marketing and accessibility, we’ve found ourselves in a society where man-made food-like substances are what most of us eat most of the time. If something won’t eventually rot or go off, it’s not food, it’s a food-like substance. There is a place for all foods in a balanced diet, however, a balanced diet means that the majority of your food is nutrient dense, natural, and has come from a whole food.
It’s not a diet, it’s not a strict regime, it’s just eating real, natural foods in the amounts your body requires and asks for.
To reiterate, the point of calling out food items such as flour, bread, pasta and muesli bars is not to demonise any single food as the cause of all ills, nor to completely ban these from the diet. Rather, the issue is that we have become heavily reliant upon these products, to a point that they form the foundation, the basis, the majority of what we eat! We need to reverse engineer the entire system – build a dietary foundation of real, unprocessed foods, upon which we can still enjoy those foods from time to time.
Consider these guidelines:
1. Eat real food – things you’d find in nature
2. Eat foods that have had minimal human interference. Ask yourself “how
close is this to how I would find it in nature?”
3. If it’s in packaging, opt for the shortest ingredient list possible. The
longer the ingredient list and the more unpronounceable and unnatural
chemicals added, the less likely it is to be a real food.
In practically applying these points, filling your plate with varied portions of fat such as nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut-based foods, eggs, grass-fed meat and butter is a great place to start. Supplement the fats with protein (ironically you’ll find that many good fat sources also contain good protein, i.e. nuts, seeds, meat, eggs) and carbohydrates from unprocessed sources like root vegetables, fruit or whole grains. Be sure to include plenty of leafy greens to ensure high micronutrient quantity. Every physiological process in your body relies upon a micronutrient precursor, so if you want your metabolism to work well (so that you can burn unwanted fat, detoxify, eliminate waste and feel great) you need to focus on micronutrients, too! That is how the journey to good health begins.
By now the idea that dietary fat is bad for you and will make you fat has been challenged and conquered many times over. If you want to lose weight, much of the scientific evidence will now tell you that eating healthy fats (and that includes some sources of saturated fat), plenty of properly sourced protein (think pasture-raised eggs and meat, organic nuts and seeds, not protein bars or powders with all the additives) and moderate servings of whole food carbohydrates is a very effective way to go. Funnily enough, the only macronutrient the human body doesn’t actually NEED to survive is carbohydrate! While that is an interesting point, we’ll talk soon about how completely dropping all carbs isn’t necessarily the way to go.
Vitally important for weight loss, by means of improving nutrient absorption and waste excretion, is to look after your gut health. In my experience, easily the most direct method for dropping the first two to five kilograms for any individual has been to work hard on supporting the microbiota or bacteria living in your gut. Very briefly, there’s two things to consider when doing so; the first is to increase fermented and probiotic foods in your diet, and the second is to reduce gut-altering foods such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, in some cases dairy and in many cases gluten. To truly discover more about how to improve gut health, there is plenty of awesome gut-specific advice throughout The Nutrient Project
Finally, a recent study (1) published in the renowned Journal of the American Medical Association, investigated whether a low-fat versus low-carb diet was better for weight loss. After 12 months, the authors concluded that neither diet was better than the other. Both groups lost similarly significant amounts of weight. The explanation? This particular study spent in excess of 20 hours educating the study participants about the importance of eating real, natural foods. Armed with that education and knowledge, it didn’t really matter whether these individuals massively decreased fat or carbohydrate, they still lost weight because they were eating real food!
Personally, in working with individuals trying to lose weight and improve their health and performance in sport, at work or in day to day life, I’ve found that focusing first on increasing quality fats is most effective. Alongside working hard on gut health, this is the most direct method for helping an individual to better listen to and understand their body and what fuels it runs best on. While the above JAMA study does show that low-fat and low-carb diets were equally as effective, the reality is that we are a high-carb society. So, before you opt for low-fat or low-carb, you must first balance out a likely high-carb Western diet by increasing quality fats and minimising carbohydrates to only real food sources. Once you have set a foundation of stable gut health, steady blood sugar levels (through eating satiating quality fats and getting rid of processed carbs) and a diet based on real foods, it will become so much clearer to you how you’re truly supposed to eat. That’s when you’ll find the body weight and energy levels that you’ve been wishing and working for.
For some, the concepts covered in this article are enough to get you started on an effective and healthy weight loss journey. For others, you might still feel the need for some guidance, personalised advice and help in general. If that is the case, reach out to The Nutrient Project Team and take a big step towards a healthier you.
(1) Christopher D. Gardner, PhD1; John F. Trepanowski, PhD1; Liana C. Del Gobbo, PhD1; et al: Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2673150
Commonly referred to as the ‘building blocks of life’, amino acids are far more crucial than what you think. They are absolutely critical for healthy functioning bodies. 20% of the human body is made from protein and amino acids are the building blocks that support this process.
Amino acids are required in virtually all biological processes. They are key structural components of all the tissues in our body, they provide structure to our cells and they perform functions that no other compounds can take credit for. They are involved in the transport and storage of nutrients and they are one of the most important elements to healing and repairing tissue. Amino acids critically support our body as a whole. A diet void of amino acids is a diet void of life. Just joking. But seriously.
Amino acids are abundantly found in both animal AND plant based foods. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about the vegan diet is that it's extremely difficult to consume enough protein.
There are 9 amino acids in particular which are called essential amino acids, because our body cannot synthesise them. This means, it is ESSENTIAL that we obtain them in the diet every. single. day.
Animal products contain all the essential amino acids in one, but the vegan diet may be a little more difficult to ensure all 9 are being consumed each day. Without them, the body’s cells use their own proteins to get the missing aminos. Eventually, this leads to muscle and organ degradation which could cause a whole host of systemic problems down the line.
Here’s a run through of the essential amino acids, what they do and where to get them in plant foods.
L-phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is converted into another amino acid called tyrosine. This amino acid is needed to form important brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and hormones) and thyroid hormones, which are responsible for the regulation of our metabolism.
Vegan sources of phenylalanine include pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, almonds and pistachios.
Valine promotes the repair of tissues. It helps with energy production, regulates blood sugar levels and assists with normal growth and development.
Vegan sources of valine include soy products such as tofu or soy protein isolate, spirulina, mushrooms, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and whole grains such as brown rice or whole oats.
Leucine is the fourth most concentrated amino acid found within muscle tissue. Leucine helps to maintain nitrogen balance and energy supply.
Vegan foods rich in this amino acid include soybeans, hemp seeds, peanuts, almonds, lentils, whole oats, chickpeas, corn and rice.
Isoleucine is also involved in muscle development and repair. It is broken down by the body to provide energy within the muscle tissue and assist the body when recovering from strenuous physical exercise.
Vegan sources of isoleucine include all seeds, nuts, lentils, soy protein isolate, spirulina, spinach, cabbage and kidney beans.
This is a key essential amino acid that helps to build a healthy immune system. It is involved in the development of antibodies and has important antiviral properties. Studies show that this particular amino acid is especially beneficial for safeguarding against herpes virus. Lysine also assists with the formation of collagen and muscle tissue.
Vegan sources of lysine include hemp seeds, lima beans, potatoes, savoury yeast flakes, soy products, raw watercress and spirulina.
This essential amino acid helps to maintain the balance of protein within the body and therefore supports normal growth and development. It is also involved in supporting the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune function, and liver function. Threonine is required to produce the amino acids serine and glycine that produce elastin, collagen and muscle tissue.
Vegan sources of this essential amino acid include grains (brown rice, whole oats, buckwheat, rye or wheat), lentils, flaxseed, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, walnuts, almonds, spinach, asparagus and mushrooms.
This is an important one. Tryptophan is required to produce the elusive neurotransmitter serotonin. The level of serotonin in the body has a direct influence on emotions and mood and deficiency has been linked in numerous studies to a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
The best vegan sources of tryptophan can be found in brown rice, hemp seeds, peanuts, spirulina, mushrooms, asparagus, kidney beans, mung beans and soy protein.
Methionine is a sulphur-containing essential amino acid and one of the most researched amino acids. It has been found to support the growth of new blood vessels, be involved in wound healing, reduces risk of mental health disorders, supports neurotransmitters and hormones and is involved in our liver detoxification pathways. The body also needs high levels of methionine to produce other amino acids as well as the powerful glutathione. Read here http://www.thenutrientproject.com.au/articles/gluta-what for information on what glutathione is.
Good natural and vegan sources of methionine include lentils, garlic, onions, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, spirulina, mushrooms and beans.
Histidine is the amino acid that is most abundant in haemoglobin, the iron-rich protein that carries oxygen to every cell in the human body. Therefore, ensuring adequate intake of histidine through food is incredibly vital. Histidine deficiency has been linked to cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic allergies.
Vegan sources of histidine include firm tofu, hemp seeds, spirulina, kidney beans and sunflower seeds.
If you feel you are not acquiring enough of these compounds in your diet, that doesn’t mean you should go to a health food store and buy a single amino acid and just focus on that. Amino acids works synergistically with other amino acids, other nutrients and other compounds. As you can see, most nutrients are precursors to other nutrients, meaning supplementing or targeting one specific vitamin won’t necessarily change what you are trying to achieve. This is why food is the most ideal form of changing nutrient intake - because vitamins and minerals don’t exist alone in food. They exist together, like nature just knew what we needed to continue living strong, healthy and happy lives!