Healthy Eating Essentials
People are so confused about what they should and should not eat. There is so much conflicting information about diet. Registered dieticians talk about the food pyramid, which would give you a diet heavy in grains. Dr. Atkins talks about carbohydrates as being the source of all our health woes. Dr. Dean Ornish and Covert Bailey decry the evils of fat. John Robbins makes a strong case for a totally vegan diet. The Zone diet seeks to give a balance between protein, carbohydrate and fat. Sugar Busters seeks to reduce insulin production. A lot of the information seems to be conflicting and the various dietary gurus have harsh things to say about each other’s diets. None of the dietary experts can dispute the nutritional rules below. They may offer refinements like, “Watch your fat consumption,” “Watch your carbohydrate consumption” or “Stay away from animal products,” but none of the experts would say there is anything wrong with the following list of dietary advice. There may also be a little controversy about the implications of not following the advice. (Some may dispute that sugar consumption will cause yeast to grow in the intestines, for example, but they would not dispute that consumption of refined sugar has health consequences.)
1. Drink plenty of water each day: You need water to keep your cells hydrated and protected, to eliminate waste and ensure the health of your mucus membranes. Adequate hydration will improve a number of health problems including sinusitis, constipation, inflammation, allergies, fatigue, joint pain, headaches and many other afflictions. Your body cannot adequately eliminate waste products without enough water. If toxic chemicals or heavy metal poisoning is at the root of your health problems you will have a much easier time getting better when you are properly hydrated. Drink more water and less soda, coffee, tea or juice.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables: Plenty means that at least ½ to ¾ of the food you eat (by volume). Vegetables are very high in fiber, vitamin C, folic acid and minerals. They provide you with many health benefits, including the following:
- Fiber in vegetables slows the absorption of fat and toxins. One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat plenty of fiber. Eating adequate fiber can help normalize cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Vegetables nourish normal flora, which in turn nourish the lining of the GI tract, produce vitamins and inhibit yeast and other undesirable organisms.
- Vegetables speed up bowel transit time, which reduces bowel toxicity and prevents irritation of the GI lining.
- Vegetables contain folic acid, which is necessary to produce serotonin (preventing depression and overeating), increases energy and helps reduce the chances for a heart attack.
- The minerals in vegetables help prevent osteoporosis. (Other nutrients besides calcium are important for healthy bone.) Minerals are also important enzyme co-factors, so most major functions of the body are dependent on minerals.
- Eating vegetables can reduce the instance of cancer and heart disease, increase your energy and mental clarity, reduce the problems caused by bowel and liver toxicity, help reduce the symptoms of allergies, asthma, arthritis, skin problems, digestive problems, sinusitis, chronic pain and many other health problems.
- Eating vegetables helps to alkalize the diet. Ideally ½ to ¾ of the volume of the food eaten should be vegetables. Corn and potatoes don’t count as vegetables. As a good source of antioxidants and fiber, fruits are also a healthy food choice. Restrict fruit to no more than 10 % of one’s diet in order to keep blood sugar stable.
3. Avoid deep fried food, trans fats, partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil: As time passes, we keep finding more bad things about hydrogenated oil and fried foods. Hydrogenation is the food industry’s way of turning liquid oils into solid fats. This gives packaged foods a longer shelf life than if they were made with natural oils. Hydrogenation produces trans fats, which have been linked to a number of health problems such as the following:
- Cancer: Women with higher levels of trans fats in their cells are much more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low levels of trans fats.
- Pain and inflammation increase for people who consume hydrogenated oils. They chemically prevent the formation of natural anti-inflammatory substances that are normally produced by the body. If you suffer from chronic pain or have recently been injured, strictly avoid hydrogenated oil. Many people are amazed at how much better their pain becomes after giving up trans fats.
- Heart disease: High levels of trans fats create platelet aggregation, which is the beginning of the plaque associated with coronary heart disease. Lately a lot has been written linking inflammation with heart disease.
- Trans fats are incorporated into the cells and make them less resistant to chemicals, bacteria and viruses. This could be a source of immune system problems.
- There may be a link between trans fats and ADD, depression and fatigue. Brain and nerve tissue have a high content of fat. Some researches believe that when trans fats are incorporated into the nerve cells they affect function, creating problems like ADD and depression.
- Muscle fatigue and skin problems are also linked to hydrogenated oils. Most chips and fried snacks contain hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils are found in a lot of packaged foods like crackers, cereals and even bread. They are often found in margarine (margarine is much worse for you than butter); mayonnaise; and a lot of bottled salad dressings. Read labels. Not all fats are bad for you. Good fats include raw nuts (not roasted), seeds, virgin or extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil and avocados.
4. Avoid refined sugar: The average American eats 150 pounds of refined sugar per year. Compare that to seven pounds per year consumed in England in 1750. Refined sugar increases insulin and adrenal hormone production and can cause the following health problems.
- Increased production of adrenal hormones causes the body to excrete essential minerals.
- Sugar consumption increases the body’s need for vitamins B and C.
- Eating a lot of sugar aggravates many of the problems we associate with emotional stress. Sugar stresses the adrenal glands.
- Sugar feeds yeast and other one-celled organisms found in the bowel, causing them to multiply. These organisms produce toxins, irritate the lining of the GI tract and take the place of normal, more beneficial flora, thus removing the benefits of helpful bacteria.
- Eating sugar causes blood sugar swings. Blood sugar increases immediately after consuming sugar, prompting the body to produce insulin. Excess insulin creates more sugar cravings.
- Eating sugar increases fatigue. People who give up refined sugar are often amazed at how much more energy they have.
- Eating sugar creates insulin insensitivity. More sugar is eaten, more insulin produced, etc. This stresses the pancreas and sets the stage for adult-onset diabetes.
- A connection between sugar consumption and high cholesterol exists. Patients with Syndrome X (high cholesterol, high LDL, low HDL and high triglycerides) often have the problem because of consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Sugar consumption can increase pain and inflammation.
- Sugar can cause or aggravate allergies, sinusitis, asthma, irritable bowel, Candidiasis, migraine headaches, fatigue, depression and even heart disease.
5. Avoid refined carbohydrates: The average American gets 50% of his or her calories from refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are grains that have had the fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, bran and germ removed. In other words, the nutrients have been removed and you are left with the starch. They create all of the same health problems created by refined sugar. Go back and read the problems caused by refined sugar and realize that the list is exactly the same for refined starches Refined carbohydrates fill you up—but not with vitamins and minerals. This stresses your digestive system and your endocrine system. Eating refined carbohydrates uses up precious vitamins and minerals. Often people eat refined carbohydrates because they are low in fat and mistakenly think that because they are “complex carbohydrates” that they are actually good for you. Refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, and pasta that are not labeled whole grain. Read the labels on bread. Brown-colored bread labeled wheat bread isn’t usually whole wheat. If the label says enriched, white flour on it, you’re not getting a whole grain. Use brown rice instead of white rice.
6. Avoid chemical additives: Avoid processed foods and chemicals. The average American consumes 10 pounds of chemical additives every year. This has had a devastating effect on our health. The FDA tests single additives, but no one has any idea what combinations of additives do to us. Stay away from packaged foods with chemical additives and you will be much healthier.
7. Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly: Ideally, chew your food until it is liquid. You will be satisfied with less food and you will have better digestion. Your saliva has enzymes that facilitate digestion. Also, it is easier to digest small particles than large ones. Most people eat too fast. Not chewing well stresses your digestive system and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems like gas and bloating and promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.
8. Never skip meals: Skipping meals stresses your adrenal glands. If you are trying to lose weight, not eating is a poor strategy because your metabolism will slow down to accommodate the reduction in calories. As a result you become fatigued and will ultimately gain weight.
HEALING DIET ESSENTIALS
1. Drink at least 8, eight-ounce glasses of water each day.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables.
3. Avoid deep fried food, partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil.
4. Avoid refined sugar.
5. Avoid refined carbohydrates.
6. Avoid chemical additives.
7. Eat slowly, and chew your food thoroughly.
8. Never skip meals.
9. Follow the rules for more alkaline eating (For more information, see article Optimize Your Health with the Alkaline Ash Diet)
When you follow the basic diet you are still able to follow familiar eating patterns. You can have meat and potatoes if you choose, or a sandwich made with protein and a whole grain bread or fruit in your oatmeal., but eating healthfully provides your body with fuel needed to function well. You will probably have to plan your meals in advance and not just grab food on the run. Try it for 30 days; see if your health and energy improve.