What you need to know about Nutrition!
Back in the late 60’s and 70’s, nutritional information was scant in mainstream America. Each passing decade slowly brought us a little closer to seeing nutrition as very important to health in daily living. We now have information overload, along with much fragmentation and confusion.
Hear the word nutrition and folks often think of the word diet. Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage Soup, Biggest Loser, Body for Life, Cheater’s, Cookie, Macrobiotic, Mediterranean, and Beverly Hills diets are just a few that come quickly to mind.
Diet in these instances strikes a chord with everyone because everyone adjusts their diets at some time or another to lose weight, control candida (yeast), heal from acute illness, recover from a serious chronic health problem, etc. Different life circumstances call for specific therapeutic approaches.
Another common view of nutrition is the necessity to count calories, especially when dieting. Calorie restriction is helpful, but the quality of nutrients is often overlooked. Having spent 12 years in the medical field and 25 years in holistic nutrition, I’d like to share some nutritional perspectives from the broader view.
What we eat:
- must support life - Equating food to the supporting of life, it should make sense to see the necessity of eating healthy food.
- should not contribute to disease - The two major causes of disease are toxins and deficiencies. Most everything you can think of from arthritis to zits, comes under these two categories.
- should support healing - The human body has the ability to heal itself, requiring premium grade fuel for maximum health and energy. Each living cell needs to be fed, to clean, and have the protection to stay healthy. The food ingested becomes the fuel, cleansing and protection is supported by our nutritional intake and lifestyle.
- will either nourish the cells, organs and tissues to maintain/restore health or contribute to imbalances - If food is laden with bad fats, toxic additives, chemically sprayed, molecularly altered, overcooked, and highly-refined, it will not provide the nourishment that cells require.
- determines to a large degree how we look and feel - The human body requires premium grade fuel for maximum health and energy. It is telling on our appearance (whether radiant or pallid) and our energy level (having staying power or fatigue).
- impacts how we think, the ease with which we think, and how we conduct ourselves - The brain needs fuel for all its functions and being about 80% fat, needs healthy fats (fatty acids) and other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
- impacts how quickly we age - Free radicals from toxins will age us faster unless we have strong detoxification pathways and sufficient nutrients such as antioxidants.
- determines whether we perform at our peak or carry on at a low ebb of energy - Sugar-laden foods, for example, can deplete important vitamins and minerals and negatively impact the adrenals. When the adrenals are fatigued, our energy is very low.
- is probably the single greatest impact on our health on a day to day basis - Proper nourishment supports that innate healing.
What does optimal nutrition look like?
- taking in the healthiest forms of essential nutrients - Maintain a proper balance of water, protein, carbohydrates and fats.
- a rich supply - of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, phytochemicals and other micronutrients.
- whole foods - not foods that are highly processed nor refined. If the food has an expiration date good for a year you can be sure it’s not nutrient dense. Whole foods contain phytochemicals that are a front-line defense against cancer and free-radicals.
- freshness - the older the food, the more nutrient loss will occur.
- organic and biodynamic - growing systems mean no pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, additives and other chemicals, gmo’s, or irradiation. Organic meats mean the animal was raised on organic feed and was not fed hormones, antibiotics, herbicides, and pesticides. Meat, fish and fowl still may contain parasites; however, that can transmit to humans. Healthy food shouldn’t be combined with toxins.
- variety - have a rainbow of colors on every plate: including reds, greens, yellows, oranges, purples, whites; eat a variety of different foods supplying protein, fats, complex carbohydrates, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
- preparation to maximize the nutritional content - raw, lightly steamed, and lower heat would be better than broiling, frying or baking; High-temperature cooking which browns or blackens meat can cause carcinogens called heterocyclic amines; dripping fats into open flames forms polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHA’s-dangerous carcinogens).
- preparing in stainless steel, glass or ceramic - rather than aluminum or non-stick coated pots and pans (metals and other toxic substances can leach into food from these).
- healthy ingredients - scrutinize the actual ingredients on the label rather than the percentages.
- making sure digestion, absorption and assimilation is optimal - digestion may be poor for many reasons; plant-based digestive enzymes are helpful or Betaine hydrochloridel; ask your healthcare practitioner if this is appropriate for you.
- may not supply us with all the nutrients we need - high quality supplements can enhance our healthy food choices.
Nutrition must be healthy in order to accomplish its purpose. It is the nutrient-dense, clean fuel for our cellular engines to help us accomplish our maximum physical, mental and emotional strength and potential.
Even though this information may seem basic, we all need to get back to basics, especially given the hectic pace of life we all live. Eating on the run? Going through fast food drive thru's routinely? Not reading food label ingredients? It's time to loosen up your schedule and tighten up your nutrition. Health is worth it!
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