Eat Well, Live Well
As implausible as it may sound, it has only been within the last several decades that medical researchers have acknowledged the cause and effect relationship between diet and the development of disease. Historically (and still) research has focused on the question of whether or not our poor nutritional habits over time—along with a nutrient-depleted food supply—play a major role in the breakdown of the body’s delicate metabolic machinery.
Based on decades of research, it appears that the answer is yes. Our poor nutritional habits and nutrient-depleted food supply make it harder for the body to detoxify and neutralize the array of chemicals and additives in our foods today. Devoid of vital nutrients and enzymes, these foods slow down the processes that make raw materials to rebuild and maintain healthy tissues. Many of the chemicals found in our food and water supply alter biological messages transmitted by inborn hormonal systems. They cause changes in the genetic material of the cells, which can accelerate aging and depress the immune response.
New research suggests that poor nutrition sets up negative alterations in the metabolic machinery within fetuses that can cause permanent genetic changes—essentially transferring these genetic alterations across generations. (This emerging field of research is called epigenetics.)
Translating this knowledge and putting it into public practice has been difficult. Robyn Landis, author of Herbal Defense, reminds us that nature really intended health maintenance to be a simple task. In essence, we are to give the body a lot of what it needs and little of what it doesn’t. Here in the U.S., we tend forget this simple biological principle. From a nutritional perspective, we operate in reverse: processing our food supply, jeopardizing its integrity, excessively consuming both good and bad food choices. In fact, the modern U.S. diet is known globally as SAD (Standard American Diet). The none-too-subtle connotation is a direct reflection of the millions of Americans who suffer from cancer, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. All of these maladies today are considered to have a link to poor nutrition habits.
Food: a non-drug with druglike effects
Putting nutritional knowledge and good nutritional habits into public practice will help people understand the non-drug focus of nutrient intake. One community that understands and lives by this concept is bodybuilders. They ask the questions of how much, what kinds of foods, and when to eat. These questions are not just designed to satisfy the palate, but to trigger a positive physiological response.
Barry Sears, PhD, author of Enter the Zone, writes “Food is far more important than just something you eat for pleasure or to appease your hunger. Rather it is a potent drug that you’ll take at least three times a day for the rest of your life. When food is broken down into its basic components (glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids) and sent into the bloodstream, it has a more powerful impact on your body and your health than any drug your doctor could ever prescribe.”
Choose to eat well every day
It’s difficult to keep up with nutritional research that seems to change constantly in our information-saturated society. Let’s make it simple: a few easy food-choice guidelines can work wonders to improve your metabolic machinery.
The best part? You can do this without becoming frustrated with a short list of bland foods. Instead you’ll have exciting and delicious foods to choose from. To get started on your new eating plan, forget all the little idiosyncrasies concerning nutrition and start using the following nutritional guide developed by Ted Morter, BS, DC, author of Your Health, Your Choice. He says an ideal daily diet should consist of 45 percent cooked fruits and vegetables, 30 percent raw fruits and vegetables, and 25 percent grains, nuts, seeds, meat, fish or poultry, while limiting saturated fat intake.
Some health experts recommend that you limit your intake of saturated fats (beef, butter, chicken fat, lard, and pork) and other high-cholesterol foods. Experts unanimously agree that you should cut out trans fats (fried foods, shortening, and spreads).
Eat well via food ratios
Monitoring the percentages of foods in your meals can increase your energy levels, improve digestion, help maintain healthy weight, and promote general health. Over the last several decades, nutritional physiologists have discovered that certain ratios of various food groups can greatly minimize the risk of developing a host of diseases. While there are many different percentages that have been researched, they all center on prompting a certain metabolic and/or hormonal response.
You can interchange ratios as your activity level and lifestyle changes. Numbers like 60-20-20, 70-20-10, or 40-30-30 represent first the percentages of carbohydrate, then protein, and then fat. The 40-30-30 ratio as cited by Ann Louise Gittleman—one of the country’s most noted nutritional experts—is considered healthier and more balanced as it tends to stabilize appetite, helps maintain even energy, and keeps blood sugar levels steady to improve metabolic activity.
As a point of reference here, the 70-15-15 ratio supplies fast fuel to the brain and cells. It can, however, cause spikes in blood sugar and increase insulin output, causing fat storage and binge eating. The 60-20-20 ratio endorsed by the American Diabetes Association helps prevent low blood sugar or hyperglycemia, but may not supply adequate amounts of protein for growth and repair. Protein is the chief material the body uses to construct hair, skin, nails, and hormones. In practical terms, protein is the body’s construction crew.
Nature’s golden rule
Nature really meant health maintenance to be fun, delicious, and fulfilling. While you cannot control many of the things outside of your realm, you do have control over your nutritional and lifestyle choices and habits. Do not be duped into believing that this is a task that should be left to the experts. Keep it simple and follow nature’s golden rule: give the body a lot of what it needs and very little of what it does not.
Incorporate the nutritional suggestions cited below to give your body the firepower it needs to help you live your best life.
Don’t punish yourself by cutting calories: eating well is okay!
Using an ultra-low calorie plan to lose weight is not only dangerous, it can actually cause weight gain. If you get off the percentage plan outlined above, don’t stress about it, just get right back on track tomorrow or the next day. It is the cumulative effect of improper nutritional and lifestyle habits that will eventually run down your metabolic pathways—it’s not a day here and there of nutritional indiscretions.
You are powered, built, and kept healthy by the food you consume, not from drugs you use to sustain defective systems, so make nutrition a top priority in your life. Your body certainly does, as fitness begins with it.
George L Redmond, PhD, ND, is a graduate of the Clayton College of Natural Health (ND), the American Holistic College of Nutrition (PhD) and received a PhD in Administration and Management from Walden University. He is a popular guest on many syndicated radio health programs and his articles have appeared in numerous magazines.
Keep it simple and follow nature’s golden rule:
Give the body a lot of what it needs and very little of what it does not.
1. Become a food detective
Instead of worrying about what not to eat, revel in learning about all of the excellent nutritional options you do have.
2. Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables
Researchers suggest consuming a variety of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily, along with a multiple enzyme and a probiotic formula. The multivitamin will help cover possible nutritional gaps, while the enzyme will assist in proper breakdown of nutrients and digestion. The probiotic will assist with digestive health. Even more importantly, it will help protect the gut where over 70 percent of the immune system resides.
4. Embrace complexity
Start consuming more complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates like candy, cookies, pastries, pies, and sugary fruit drinks.
5. Nix the fast/processed food
Reduce—or better yet, eliminate—your consumption of fast and processed foods, and reduce your salt and sugar intake.
6. Small meals
Eat five to six small meals daily versus two to three large meals.
Drink plenty of fresh clean water daily.
Increase your intake of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Try cold-water fish (cod, salmon, shrimp, and tuna) as well as soybean products, walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed and canola oils.
9. Benefits of fiber
Current research says 25 grams of fiber daily is most beneficial to health—the average
American gets less than 10. Increase fiber intake slowly as your system adjusts to prevent excessive gas and bloating.
10. Cut consumption
Cut caffeine, alcohol, and saturated fat consumption in half.
11. Wine is good
Drink one glass of red wine daily. Red wine may boost your antioxidants, molecules that protect cells from toxic particles known as free radicals. Free-radical proliferation has been linked to over 60 age-related diseases, as well as accelerating the aging pro