Making Healthier Choices
By Robert D. Powell, ND, BCND
In America, we are becoming unhealthier than we have ever been. Obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are all on the rise. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 75% of Americans will be obese by 2020, and heart disease takes about 1 out of every 4 deaths. Is there a common denominator in the rise of all these diseases? Is there anything we can do to reduce our risk of developing these conditions? Maybe, one answer could be… our food? The standard American diet (SAD) is a highly processed, sugary foods, sugary drinks, and, mostly, just fake foods. If only we could return to what our great-grandparents did? They just ate food.
We are also constantly being bombarded with external toxins, including pollutants, pesticides, and chemicals. Although your body is designed to rid itself of these toxins naturally through the liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin, it can become overburdened. An overburdened system of natural and environmental toxins can contribute to a wide range of conditions that include allergies, fatigue or difficulty sleeping, digestive and other gastrointestinal problems, food cravings as well as weight gain, reduced mental clarity, low libido, skin issues, as well as a host of other symptoms.
Make it simple and go back to the basics. “Just eat real food” including meat, fish, foul, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and some whole grains. “Real food” refers to foods that are alive and they should decay and/or rot, as opposed to foods that are highly processed and have a chemically induced shelf life. Edible food stuff like, cereals, pastas, refined enriched flour, and Twinkies, etc., have extremely long shelf lives and very little to no nutritional value.
Try conscience eating, most of us eat and forget what we ate and move on with our lives until we must eat again, then we repeat. Every time you eat ask yourself, “Did this grow from the ground or have a mother?”
Three simple rules of food purchasing: 1. Foods should ideally have five ingredients or less. 2. Buy whole foods or as close to its original form as possible. 3. Avoid packaged foods, which are usually highly refined with multiple additives.
Start by making positive changes. There are five key changes you can make to start eating in a healthier way. You can start by just choosing one to get moving in the right direction. Then keep moving forward until you have done all five.
First, remove all bad fats and replace them with good fats. Some good fats are avocado and avocado oil, coconut oil, milk/cream/butter from grass-fed cows, olive oil and olives, as well as nut and seed oils. Some examples of bad fats are highly possessed fats, saturated fats, and trans-fats. These fats are typically found in foods like muffins, donuts, and processed foods.
Next, is to change the meat you eat. Grass-fed and free-range meats offer many fatty acids that are missing in the standard American diets, like: arachidonic acid, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and the proper ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 acids. Current agricultural practices use many compounds that are best to be avoided. Grain-fed animals accumulate commercial pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. Some ideal protein choices include: grass-fed, free-range, cage-free, antibiotic/hormone-free meats and eggs; non-roasted nuts; and minimally processed cheese. Avoid farm-raised fish and choose cold-water fish like salmon, mahi-mahi, mackerel, etc.
Then try to replace and reduce refined sugars in your diet. The overconsumption of sugars has been linked to many health issues, including diabetes, obesity, and numerous other diseases. Reducing these sugars should become a priority for everyone. High-fructose corn syrup is associated highly processed, devitalized foods. Please read labels, and if that food has high-fructose corn syrup, don’t purchase it! Some natural options are Stevia, dates, bananas, and minimally processed honey.
Next is to replace grains with pseudo-grains. Pseudo-grains are seeds and grasses we typically classify as grains but are not. These foods are high in protein and fiber and are lower on the glycemic scale than wheat or other grains. Refined grains have been highly processed, which greatly reduces their nutritional value. These grains have been associated with inflammation, digestive issues, elevated insulin levels and even insulin insensitivities. Some options of pseudo-grains are: quinoa, buckwheat, teff, millet, amaranth, and wild rice.
Finally, drink more water. Up to 75% of Americans are dehydrated. According to the CDC dehydration can be the cause of symptoms such as reduced physical performance, cognitive function, gastrointestinal function, kidney and heart function, skin ailment and even chronic diseases. Ideally you should drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
Those simple five changes can make a world of difference in the health and regeneration of your system. Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about choosing better than you did yesterday. Try using the 90-10 rule: 90% of the time, eat clean real food and 10% of the time, you can eat the other stuff. By making healthier choices, not only can your body function better, but you can feel better, too!
Making Healthier Choices