Today there is much confusion around nutrition and what type of diet you should follow. If you look around you'll see many touting specific diets such as keto or paleo or some other diet promising weight loss. If you're one who is sick of all the diet rhetoric out there, you will appreciate this blog. I've seen many diets come and go and all the fanfare that comes with them. It seems everyone likes to grab onto the latest craze because it's new and interesting. What about good solid eating advice that's not full of hype. If you want to improve your health, lose weight or deal with a chronic concern, what you're about to read will help you.
What Healthy Eating Really Looks Like
1. A rainbow assortment of fruits and vegetables-there is no secret here. Non starchy vegetables and fruits are your greatest source of vitamins, minerals and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Most Americans do not eat enough and the statistics show it. Aim for a wide variety of these foods such as broccoli, kale, red peppers, blueberries, spinach, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green beans etc. Instead of always using lettuce include arugula or chard to add variety and nutrient density. Click here to see a rainbow assortment.
2. Consume healthy fats-this one is finally becoming accepted after years of being looked at as the bad guy. Healthy fat won't make you fat, it will actually help your metabolism and support weight loss. Again use a variety of these foods including: avocados, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, especially flax, chia and hempseed which contain omega-3 fats. Take in quality oils like olive, sesame and coconut oil. Don't be afraid to use butter or ghee which is clarified butter.
3. Reduce your exposure to pesticides-in the United States more than 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on or added to food crops each year. There is concern that in addition to these pesticides directly causing a significant number of cancers, exposure to these chemicals through food consumption damages your body's detoxification mechanisms, which increases the risk of cancer and other diseases. Click here to see the Dirty Dozen.
4.Eat to regulate your blood sugar level-refined sugars, white flour products and other simple sugars put a great deal of stress on the body and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. This in turn causes the secretion of insulin which is a fat storage hormone. Over time this leads to insulin resistance and eventually pre-diabetes and diabetes. The average American consumes approximately 160 pounds of sugar per year. Minimizing sugar and all white flour products which are enriched will go a long way towards supporting healthy blood sugar levels. Eating protein with each meal will also support healthy glucose levels.
5. Take in fermented food-a great deal of research has shown the importance of the gut microbiome and the benefit of eating fermented foods. These foods provide beneficial bacteria which support the microbiome. We all have 3-5 pounds of bacteria in our gut and science is now showing this makeup of bacteria impacts chronic disease. Eating a variety of plant based foods and fermented foods helps what's called bacterial diversity. Include foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso or other fermented vegetables. A little goes a long way. Aim for just a tablespoon of fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and 1/2-1 cup of yogurt or kefir. Ideally rotate one serving each day.
6. Don't overconsume meat and other animal products-meat has a place at the table if you choose to eat it but quality counts. Range fed animals contain ten times as much conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) as grain fed animals. If you're going to eat beef, choose grass fed. Choose hormone/anti-biotic free chicken and turkey and limit all cured or smoked meats such as ham, hot dogs and bacon. These foods contain sodium nitrate or nitrites which are compounds that keep food from spoiling but also increase the risk for cancer.
Children who eat hot dogs once a week double their chances of developing brain tumors; eating them twice a week triples the risk. Pregnant women who eat two servings per day of any cured meat have more than double the risk of bearing children who have brain cancer.
Other Important Factors
- Eat mindfully, it's not just what you eat, it's how you eat. Avoid standing up and eating, eating while driving or multi-tasking.
- Eat seasonally and buy from local farms whenever possible.
- Adopt the mindset of eating 90/10 or 80/20 eating for health vs eating for pleasure.
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