The Choice Is Yours!
“Many people spend the first half of their life making money and ignoring their health.
In the second half of their life, they spend this money trying to regain their health.”
- Emmett Miller MD
Food is not something that simply stops us feeling hungry. It is exactly the same as love – an elemental human need. Together, they sustain and nourish us, providing fuel for our bodies and hearts to grow, and our lives to fulfill their potential. But for food to do these things, it must be real and as little processed as possible.
It seems that we have forgotten what good food really is, where it comes from (not plastic-wrapped and ready-made from the supermarket) or what it should taste like.
Today, it is as if people are more interested in nourishing their brain with information than being concerned with what they put into their bodies. And yet, when we look at the incidence of cancers and chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, it becomes urgent to go back to making the right food choices.
While good nutrition may not guarantee 100% the absence of diseases, it is essential to create good health. What you eat impacts on how you feel and whether you have energy. Even if to a certain extent, you can get away for a while, with eating foods with very little nutritional content, over time health problems will develop and take more time fixing-up, especially if for years you have not looked after yourself.
It Is Actually Easy To Eat Well
First you need to know what to eat and then you need to get organized and plan a little. We are all very busy with our lives and without some planning, especially at the beginning until the right eating habits are in place, we will tend to eat more poorly and grab whatever is on hand when we are hungry.
One of the key steps to better nutrition is to start looking at food as fuel to your body and to become aware how different foods make you feel. Once you do, it becomes easier to choose the right foods. After a while, you then realize that you actually want to eat well.
Does This Mean That You Can Never Eat Ice Creams, Chips or Sweets?
Of course not! If you really like certain foods, have them, just once in a while. Follow the 90/10 rule.
It means that 90% of time you eat foods that support your body and the remaining 10% you eat something that gives you great pleasure but may not be the healthiest food.
It is important to enjoy oneself in life. Good health is about balance and not about diet. You will probably have noticed anyway, how when you tell yourself you can’t have a certain food, you start craving for it.
Because We Hear So Much Conflicting Information, It Can At Times Be Difficult To Know What To Choose
- The best strategy when it comes to nutrition is to eat a variety of foods to avoid nutrient deficiencies and in some cases, avoid the build-up of elements that do not support good health.
- You also want to eat simple, fresh, seasonal foods and avoid fast or processed foods because of the additives they contain, such as preservatives, colourings, artificial flavors, which load your system with toxins and over time will affect your health.
- Also preferably choose organic or free-range foods. When buying organic food, you avoid chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and fungicides, antibiotics and growth regulators.
Organic Farming Also Has A Lower Impact On The Environment
And in my opinion, fresh organic vegetables taste better. As for their nutritional value, although the debate has been open between experts, some saying it is more nutritious, while others saying it is not, the biggest and most recent study on the topic, which was conducted by the European Union for 4 years, has just concluded that, yes, organic food is more nutritious. The good news is that organic and free-range foods are more readily available from supermarkets and so I would encourage you to start with a few items such as free-range eggs or chicken, organic milk, organic broccoli…
If you can’t always buy organic fruit and vegetables because of their cost or because you cannot find them next to you, make sure that you wash them thoroughly by soaking and brushing them to clean off any spray or residues on the skin.
Also Remember To Adapt Your Food Intake To Your Age and Activity Level
Experts agree that to live a long healthy life, you want to eat high quality food and reduce the quantity of food you eat, as you get older.
In our last article, we looked at the importance of good nutrition, in particular the importance of eating fresh, simple and preferably organic or free-range foods with as little additives as possible.
So What Concretely Should We Eat To Ensure Good Nutrition?
The basis of a good nutrition should be some fruit and and lots of vegetables. They are a great source of:
- and enzymes
The recommended number of servings for both fruit and vegetables is 5 to 9 per day. As a general rule, the more colorful the fruit and vegetables are, the more nutrients they contain.
Make sure that you eat at least 1/3 of them raw as this ensures that they do not loose some of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes in the cooking process. One way to do this is to have freshly squeezed fruit or even better vegetable juices or smoothies.
Following fruit and vegetables, you will want to eat some proteins, either from animal or plant sources for building tissues.
Animal sources include:
- white or red meat
Plant sources consist of:
- dried beans
- chickpeas and so on
Alternate your protein sources and avoid eating too much red meat, as it is quite high in saturated fats.
Always prefer quality to quantity and if eating red meat, make sure that it is served with plenty of green vegetables, either cooked or in salad.
Choose preferably pasture fed organic meats. Avoid cured, smoked meats and fish, as they contain high levels of nitrites which are cancer-causing substances.
With fish, choose preferably deep-sea fish or wild fish rather than farmed fish and avoid too much of the bigger fish like tuna, swordfish or shark. They are at the end of the food chain and usually contain higher concentrations of heavy metals.
Complex carbohydrates or whole grains will supply the body with energy. Adjust your intake to your age, activity levels and whether you need to loose weight or not.
Together with legumes, they can provide nutrients as well as fibers to facilitate good elimination.
Use A Variety Of Grains and Reduce The Amount Of Wheat You Eat
Possible choices of grains include:
- millet or corn
Also consider sprouted grains as the sprouting process changes the composition of the grain in numerous ways to make it more beneficial as a food. Breads made from sprouted grains can be found in health food stores.
Then Ensure That Your Diet Is Rich In Essential Fatty Acids Particularly The Omega 3 Type
Omega 3’s contribute to the good functioning of the brain and nervous system. They are vital for the building, functioning and repair of cells. They inhibit inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and contribute to healthier cardiovascular and immune systems.
The best sources of Omega 3 EFA’s are:
- oily fish like salmon
- fish or krill oils
Omega3’s are also found in nuts like walnuts as well as seeds such as linseeds, chia seeds and flaxseed oil.
Avoid Trans Fats Made From Vegetable Oils Which Are Highly Processed
These fats are found in margarine, baked commercial cakes, cookies, breakfast cereals, crackers, chips, frozen foods, stock cubes, fried foods…
To cook, choose extra virgin cold pressed olive oil or some coconut oil (a good source of medium-chain saturated fats which has been found to have some health benefits).
Olive oil is a great source of antioxidants among which Vitamins E and A; it also contains chlorophyll, magnesium and numerous other nutritious components. But avoid letting it reach its smoking point when cooking.
A great way to use olive oil is to drizzle a bit of it on soups, pasta, salads or steamed veggies when they are about to be served, or dip a piece of fresh bread in it as an appetizer.
The other oil I recommend that you use is flaxseed oil. If you choose to add flaxseed oil to your diet, make sure it is organic and stored in a metal container in the fridge – never store any oil in plastic containers, as the plastic will leach into the oil –.
Flaxseed oil should only be consumed cold, either on yogurt or as salad dressing and never heated as heat will destroy the Omega 3 and the oil will become toxic.
Finally include other foods such as aromatic herbs, spices, seaweeds, and some Celtic sea salt. They can be a great source of vitamins, trace minerals and antioxidants and make your food taste wonderful without having to add fats to it. Some of those herbs and spices also have wonderful healing properties.
If required, you can also add to your diet some green foods such as barley grass or wheat grass, some extra antioxidants, and some acidophilus and bifidus bacteria to support the intestinal flora.
A good source of these bacteria is plain yogurt. Because of the fermentation process, yogurt is usually more easily digested than other types of dairy products. Consider as well goat or sheep milk products, as they are usually better tolerated than cow’s milk products.