Everyone agrees that good nutrition is essential for good health, but it seems that every expert has different ideas on what is best. The following is what I recommend and follow. While I can’t provide any guarantees, when my patients follow the suggestions, many of them feel better, have better energy, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar. As a rule of thumb, eat at least 3 meals a day with fresh, natural, unprocessed foods. My most important recommendations are:
- Avoid sugar. Eating sugar puts stress on multiple systems in the body. The body responds to sugar by secreting insulin which tells the body to store fat, interferes with the balance of adrenal, thryoid, male, and female hormones, interferes with brain neurotransmitters, promotes inflammation, and slows down detoxification in the liver. Sugar includes desserts, sodas, sweet tea, sports drinks, and juices.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup - This is another commonly used sweetener often used in products such as sodas and sports drinks. Studies indicate that this is even worse than sugar.
- Avoid white flour. The body converts white flour into sugar and is therefore as harmful as sugar. White flour includes pasta, breads, biscuits, etc.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners including saccharin, Nutrasweet, Splenda, and diet sodas. Some studies suggest that they can be toxic and are associated with weight gain, heart disease, and destruction of good gut bacteria. Xylitol is a safer sweetener and can be found in health food stores or at Global Sweet.
- Avoid trans fatty acids. This is a fat created by food manufacturers to help keep food from spoiling. They are linked to cancer, heart disease, strokes, and poor cholesterol levels. It is found in many packaged foods including margarine, chips, cookies, and other snacks. Always look at the ingredients and if you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils, put it back. Beware of “no trans fats” labels. Because of a loophole in the law, a food can be labeled as having no trans fats even though it does.
- Use only cold-pressed, unrefined oils for cooking. Over 90% of vegetable oils such as corn, canola, and sunflower oils are not cold pressed. That means most of them are exposed to heat which damage the essential fatty acids in the oil. Essential fatty acids are required by every cell to absorb oxygen. Heat damaged and trans-fatty acids keep your cells from getting enough oxygen and other nutrients. Also be aware that most foods cooked in vegetable oils, which include almost any food at a restaurant or packaged in a box, contain heat damaged fatty acids. Most people are surprised to learn that arterial plaques around the heart are mostly made of heat damaged vegetable oils and trans fats, not saturated fat. For cooking purposes, I like to use unrefined coconut oil. I order mine from Wildnerness Family Naturals. Cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil is good, too.
- Eat a variety of colorful vegetables. As a rule of thumb, 50% or more of the food you eat should be vegetables. They contain the vital nutrients and antioxidants. They are the primary food group that helps the body to get rid of toxins. The rest of your food can be beans, unprocessed grains, such as basmati rice and oats, and nuts that don’t go rancid easily such as almonds and walnuts.
- Eat regularly - Skipping meals puts a lot of strain on many systems of the body. Missing meals causes the body to store fat and can affect neurotransmitters and hormones.
The following are also very helpful.
- Use sea salt instead of table salt. Table salt is chemically processed and bleached. Sea salt contains many minerals which are needed for the body. I believe that much of the “dangers” of salt are because trace minerals have been removed from table salt.
- Avoid cow’s milk and cheese – Hormones, chemicals, and the processing of dairy products can cause health problems in many people. Products from goats and sheep appear to be safer.
- When eating red meat, choose grass fed – The fat in red meat is much healthier when cows are fed grass instead of corn. Grass fed cows are also healthier so generally need much less antibiotics than corn fed cows.
- Avoid soy products - There is growing evidence that soy contains ingredients that block the absorption of nutrients and can disrupt normal hormone balance in the body such as causing hypothyroidism.
- Avoid gluten - Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.This includes most flour, breads, pastas and breakfast cereals. It promotes inflammation of the intestines, brain, and other parts of the body in many people so most people feel better avoiding gluten containing foods. I've had countless patients tell me their fatigue, headaches, GI complaints, and immune conditions improve.
- Drink plenty of clean water - The standard recommendation is about 8 glasses or half a gallon per day. I personally use Multi-Pure water filters (www.multipureco.com; distributor ID 418481), rated by Consumer’s Digest as one of the best filters on the market. I also use M-water, a water additive that increases your drinking water’s ability to hydrate.
Bridges to Health, LLC
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Atlanta, GA 30345