Most of the questions we receive here at Doctor For Total Health relate to dietary issues. Everyday there are multiple stories in the media about the obesity epidemic in America, heart disease, degenerative diseases and diabetes. Heart disease is still the number 1 killer for males and females. Our population is 67% overweight. Cases of diabetes continue to increase every year. These statistics can be changed and prevented in the future with proper exercise and diet.
We all know we should to eat healthy, but what does that mean? The following will outline some simple ways to help improve your nutrition.
The first place we should start is changing how we look at food. We need to start thinking about food differently. We should look at food as medicine. Everything you put into your body has a chemical reaction and affects your body in many different ways. The majority of the foods we eat have many side effects, such as lethargy, depression and premature aging.
So why do we pay for things that age us and make us feel tired? We think that if the food taste good, that it is good for us, while in fact we are killing ourselves. People are being poisoned by the average American Diet.
Learning To Read Labels:
As mentioned, food is like a medicine. And just like you should read the back of the prescription label, we need to read the back of the food prescription label. We need to know what the benefits are, as well as side effects.
When looking at a label, realize that the first ingredient is the most prevalent in the food. For example, if sugar is the first ingredient, the majority of the product is sugar. If is fruit is listed as the first ingredient, the majority of the product is fruit. A good rule is to consider the first 5 ingredients as the majority of what you are eating.
There are many things you should be avoiding in your diet. I have listed the worst of the worst below. For those of you who are familiar with Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, these will not be new to you. First 5 ingredients should not be:
2. High Fructose Corn syrup
3. Enriched white flour
4. Saturated fat, Trans fat, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil
Sugar: There are many studies that discuss the deadly effects of refined sugar. Click to see "Counting the Many Ways Sugar Harms Your Health" article. Most people realize that they should avoid sugar. This is the reason for all the sugar substitutes: splenda, saccharine, aspartame, sorbitol, maltodextrin, dextrose, etc. It is important to realize that these are all chemicals and bad for our bodies.
Some good sugar substitutes are honey and Stevia. Evaporated cane juice is another alternative, but you still need to limit use.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: Don't let people fool you. High Fructose Corn syrup is sugar and may be even worse for you. It causes aging arteries and weakening of the immune system.
Enriched white flour: They make this by taking all the good stuff out of the wheat and putting a little back, to improve the appearance and texture. This is the main ingredient in "white foods," (most store bought breads, pastas, flour tortillas and other baked goodies). White foods are empty calories and should be avoided.
Saturated fat, Trans fat, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil: These are some of the worst things you can put into your body. See "The Tell all On Trans Fats" article in the Forum section.
Other things to avoid are additives, coloring, flavoring and preservatives. Most of these additives are excitotoxins and will cross the blood brain barrier and kill nerve cells. MSG is a classic example of this. Unfortunately, the food companies are getting smarter and trying to hide such products as natural flavoring. Most natural flavoring is actually an excitotoxin. Excitotoxins are chemicals that are able to cross the blood brain barrier and kill nerve cells. The reason for their use is to trick the brain into thinking the food taste better than it really does.
Understanding the basics is extremely important. While the types of foods you eat are important, when you eat them is just as important. In fact, by simply changing when people eat certain types of foods, we have seen significant weight loss, increased energy and improved immune system function.
Carbohydrates: Used for energy
Carbohydrates are primarily used for energy in the body. If we do not utilize that energy, we also convert it into fat for later use. Media has scared us into thinking that "Carbs Are Evil!" Carbohydrates are not evil, but necessary for the proper fueling of our body.
Good Carbohydrates are:
1. Fruits and vegetables
2. Starchy Vegetables
3. Whole grains (breads, pasta and cereals)
The bad carbohydrates that are often spoken of are the refined "white" foods. We should be staying away from all the white breads, pasta and rice.
When we eat carbohydrates, our body then turns it into sugar. So if we eat too many carbohydrates, we then get too much sugar into our bloodstream causing problems with pancreas, glands, arteries, high B/P and high cholesterol. This is a main cause for the increase in diabetes.
While we should limit the amount of breads, pasta rice and even some of the starchy vegetables, you can eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. As a general rule, you can eat all the vegetables you want and you will not gain weight. An average person can also eat a lot of fruit everyday, but realize there is fruit sugar that will affect diabetics.
Daily recommendation for fruits and vegetables are:
2 ½ cups (5 servings) for 1,200 cal/day diet.
4 ½ cups (9 servings) for 2,000 cal/day diet.
6 ½ cups (13 servings) for 3,000 cal/day diet.
(When you read labels about the RDA, Recommended Daily Allowance, it is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.)
Protein: Used for growth and repair
Proteins are used for growth and repair of the body. Proteins are made up of amino acids and are used for all types of function in your body. It's in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. In fact, if you take away the water from your body, about 75 percent of your weight is protein.
While there is only 20 or so types of amino acids, they fit together and make up at least 10,000 different proteins that make function properly. Because the body doesn't store amino acids, as it does fats or carbohydrates, it needs a daily supply of amino acids to make new protein. When we eat meats (beef, chicken, pork, fish) we are eating complete proteins. Complete proteins means they have all the amino acids needed to help our body do what it needs to get done. However, there is protein found in nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and vegetables as well. These are great and healthy sources of good protein, but they are considered incomplete proteins and they only contain certain amino acids.
While we should be getting a lot of our proteins from incomplete proteins, we need to eat a wide variety of nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and vegetables. By eating a variety of these types of foods, we end up getting all types of amino acids and creating complete protein in our body.
Too much protein can cause harm as well. While most of the excess protein in our diet is just excreted, too much protein can become stressful on kidneys and weaken bones.
The Bottom Line: Recommendations for Protein Intake:
1. Get a good mix of proteins. Almost any reasonable diet will give you enough protein each day. Eating a variety of foods will ensure that you get all of the amino acids you need.
2. Pay attention to the protein package. You rarely eat straight protein. A lot of protein comes packaged with lots of unhealthy fat, like when you eat marbled beef or drink whole milk. If you eat meat, steer yourself toward the leanest cuts. If you like dairy products, skim or low-fat versions are healthier choices. Beans, soy, nuts, and whole grains offer protein without much saturated fat and with plenty of healthful fiber and micronutrients.
3. Balance carbohydrates and protein. Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates (white foods) and increasing protein has shown to improve levels of blood triglycerides and HDL, and in turn reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other form of cardiovascular disease. It may also make you feel full longer, and stave off hunger pangs.
4. Eat soy in moderation. While soybeans are excellent source of nutrition and protein, there is controversy over the health benefits of too much processed soy, such as tofu, and other soy-based foods.
Fats from animals, nuts, seeds, and vegetables are needed by body. Good fats are used for proper structuring of the brain, cell function and balanced hormone production. Fats insulate and protect organs, help store and transport fat-soluble vitamins (ADEK), assist in mineral absorption and cause fat mobilization. Good fats will also reduce hunger signals, and slow food absorption which allows for better blood sugar control, glandular activity and weight loss. Fats are an essential part of our diet, unfortunately, people eat too much of the wrong types of fat.
A good rule is any fat or oil that is solid at room temp (4 legged animal fat, trans fat, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats) is bad for you and should be avoided. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are some of the worst thing you can put into your body. They contain trans-fatty acids and are created by artificially processing vegetable oil to avoid spoilage and foods from melting or falling apart at room temperature. The body can not process these types of fats normally. Butter is better than hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats; at least body knows what to do with butter. See "The Tell all On Trans Fats" article in the Forum section of DoctorForTotalHealth.com.
Examples of good fats include: Omega-3 fatty acids, almonds, Evening Primrose oil, olive oil, coconut and avocados. Examples of good oils include: Olive, coconut, flax, grape seed and sesame. Unfortunately, these types of oils spoil faster. Remember to keep them in a dark bottle or in the refrigerator. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils, but unfortunately it gets destroyed at high temperatures. For this reason it is better to cook with coconut oil.
Low to Zero Carbohydrates / Moderate to High Proteins / Moderate Fats
Carbohydrates: During sleep, there is not a need for "energy foods," so the body was not built with the intention of consuming high carbohydrate foods during this time.
Proteins: There has now been an entire day of body use, so now the body requires proteins for growth and repair. Additionally, your body will be moving into sleep mode. Sleep is the time when you were created to accomplish most of your rebuilding and repair.
Fats: A high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal can be accompanied by moderate to larger amounts of fats.
#1 Nutrition Rule:
The farther away any product is from its natural state, the more potentially harmful it is to the body. Therefore, these foods are highly likely to poison and damage your body and should definitely be considered "harmful if swallowed."
The most important thing to drink is water. Most of us do not drink enough water. Coffee, tea, soda, juice and alcohol do not count as fluids. Our body is 70% water. Our cells functions because of the fluidity of its structure. Joints have fluid between them to help with overall function of the body. When we do not properly hydrate ourselves, joint's start to become arthritic. There are so many sources to show the importance of water. Just Drink More!
When to eat:
Understanding the basics of carbohydrates, protein and fats, it makes common sense when to eat them.
High to Moderate Carbohydrates / Low Proteins / Low Fats
Carbohydrates: It has typically been six to twelve hours since your body was fueled, and you still have an entire day ahead of you. Therefore, you need a significant amount of energy- and nutrient-rich foods.
Protein: Because the body has been at rest, there is not a significant need for proteins and vegetables, which are used for growth and repair.
Fats: High carbohydrates are always accompanied by a low amount of good fats.
Moderate to Low Carbohydrates / Low to Moderate Proteins / Low to Moderate Fats
Carbohydrates: There is now less day ahead of your body, and some carbohydrates are still in the system from the morning meal. As a result, there is less need for energy so less need for carbohydrates.
Protein: Because the body has been used to a moderate degree, it is time to add a moderate amount of protein and vegetables at this time.
Fats: Moderate proteins and carbohydrates together are accompanied by low to moderate good fats.