Principles for Healthy Eating
I believe your diet is the key to wellness, food is natures perfect medicine. If you are not feeling great, look at your diet, but knowing what is really healthy eating is confusing, so here is my guide to help you eat a healthy and nutritional diet.
Eat an assortment of fruits and veggies: adequate consumption has been shown to prevent and sometimes resolve chronic disease.
- Eat a variety of colors of fruits and veggies daily
- Fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients & phytochemicals (anti-carcinogenic plant chemicals)
Reduce exposure to pesticides: there are in excess of 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides sprayed on or added to food crops annually. Pesticide exposure can damage the detoxification mechanisms of the body which can lead to cancer and other diseases. The halogenated hydrocarbon family of pesticides are the most problematic since they persist in the environment (they do not go away) and cause estrogen related health problems. Keep in mind that it is not just the skin that the pesticide can permeate but it can also get in through the root system. Research found that in a group of 2-4 year old, those that consumed organic fruits and veggies had 1/6 of the concentrations of pesticides in their systems in comparison to kids who ate non-organic fruits and veggies (including fruit juice).
Foods High in Pesticide Residue:
- Imported Nectarines
- Imported Grapes
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Winter Squash
- Fatty meat
How to reduce the pesticides in your diet:
- Buy organic & free-range over conventional products when available.
- Choose a plant based diet (conventional fruits and veggies still contain less pesticides than meat and dairy)
- Buy Local (get to know the produce manager of your local supermarket so you can ask for what you want, join a CSA, shop at the farmers market and ask how the farmers grow the food)
- Buy in season: organic fruits and veggies that are in season are often on sale reducing their cost.
- Use a natural biodegradable cleanser to clean food, I recommend mixing equal parts cold water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle, add 10 drops lemon essential oil. Spray mixture on fruit/ veggie to be cleaned (while in colander), let sit for 5 minutes and rinse well. I have found this helps keep my produce fresher longer since the vinegar also kills any mold spores on it.
Eliminate Processed Foods which usually contain high amounts of refined sugars and white flour products. Refined sugar and white flour are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream without the original nutrients like vitamins and fiber which causes unstable blood sugar which can produce an over-reaction and cause to much insulin to be released, leading to hypoglycemia. To function properly our brain and nervous system needs constant adequate insulin levels. Often processed food also contains GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) which are plants or animals that have had their genes altered by scientists in order to manipulate certain desired traits such as color, long shelf-life, and size. Proponents of GMOs say that they are needed in order to adequately support the growing population we need a supply of food that doesn’t spoil as quickly. Opponents say that GMO crops usually require more chemicals to control pests and weeds because the weeds adapt turning into super bugs and super weeds that are resistant to pesticide and herbicide. There is also no data on the long-term use of GMOs and the health risks associated. To get a non-GMO shopping guide click here. In a later post I will discuss all the different food additives and what they mean for your health but for now just avoid as many processed foods as possible. If you are going to buy processed food, get the one that has the shortest ingredient list.
Reduce meat intake, the higher the intake of meats, even with high levels of plant foods, the higher the incidence of disease. Meat lacks antioxidants and good for you photo-chemicals while being high in saturated fat and pesticide residue. Meat also leaves an acidic ash in the body once metabolized which has also been linked to an increased risk of disease.
Suggestions for meat intake:
- Limit intake to no more than 3-4 oz. per day (size of a deck of cards)
- Choose organic and/ or free range meat
- Eat leaner cuts of meat like fish and poultry
- DO NOT over cook; very cooked (i.e. charred) meats contain high levels of cancer causing amines and hydrocarbons
- Avoid cured meats (Hot dogs, smoked meats, bacon) which contain sodium nitrate or nitrates that can cause cancer. If you do eat any cured meats, eat something high in vitamin C as well to help counteract the nitrates
Eat good fat. Typical Americans eat to many “bad” fats (i.e. trans-fat, saturated fat and omega 6) and not enough “good” fats. Bad fats are found in butter, meat, shortening, margarine and vegetable oil. Eat more organic, cold or expeller pressed oils as well as nuts and seeds to get good fats. In cooking make sure you use the proper oil depending on the temperature of the dish you are cooking and the smoke point of the oil you are using (we will get more in-depth on this later).
Monitor salt intake, eat real food which has lower sodium and higher potassium (i.e. fruits and veggies). Avoid packaged and canned foods which are very high in sodium. Also look at the nutritional labels of any condiments and salad dressings you use which can also have high sodium content.
Drink adequate water. Adequate intake depends on body size, activity, & food intake, but aim for 48-64 oz. per day. Water helps flush toxins from our system and is necessary for our basic physiology. Water also helps with temperature and blood pressure regulation and nutrient absorption.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea what is needed to get optimal nutrition, but if you have any questions, please leave a comment, I am here to help!
- Pesticides & Kids: What you Need to Know… (enlightenedlotuswellness.com)
- Labeling GMOs Proposal in California Set to Change American Food Supply (blacklistednews.com)
- Blood Pressure: Salt and other considerations (budgetcouponcooking.wordpress.com)
- Guest Article: How to Determine If Foods At The Grocery Store Are Genetically Modified (frugalrecipes.wordpress.com)
- Now that we are all toxic – what’s next? (theaveragejoenewsblogg.com)
- Yes! Organic is worth the price. (momgonepaleo.com)
- Low-Acid Food Diet (eatknowhow.com)
- Eight Ways to Make Healthy Eating Affordable. (elephantjournal.com)
- High Cholesterol Diet Plans (answers.com)
- Are you washing your organic produce with pesticides? (distillata.wordpress.com)