A belated Happy Valentine’s Day to you. On order are wishes for a happy and healthy heart. Alas, you can’t just wish for the happy heart. You must work for it! Staying positive, laughter, surrounding yourself with with love, reducing stress and regular exercise – something the ‘Real Results, Real People’ program can help you with – are all tried and true methods. Your heart is just a piece of the puzzle. You need an entirely healthy body.
The major key to the healthy body equation is your dietary choices, a.k.a. ‘healthy diet’. Remembering my previous Real Results (1/13) blog post, a healthy diet is healthy food, is whole natural and unrefined food. We learned ‘Healthy’ is farm style unpeeled vegetables and fruits, whole grains, raw nuts & seeds, fresh eggs, fresh fish and fresh meat (not deli meat!). (If you do choose to consume ‘meat’ I’d stick with wild caught fish, grass feed and finished meat and free range poultry & eggs to limit hormone and toxin ingestion.) You want to eat these, as Nature intended, foods because they have been specifically provided for living things to eat since the beginning! Sounds almighty but it’s true. All living things evolved eating what the earth provided. Humans adapted and flourished eating this way. Yet, with our zest for better, refining and manufacturing processes started to change what food looked like and our relationship with it. Even “according to ancient tradition, a properly balanced Chinese meal needed a correctly balanced quantity of both fan (grains and starchy foods (tubers)) and tsai (a combination of vegetable and meat dishes). Confucius is supposed to have proclaimed, “A man can never be too serious about his eating.” He meant moderation is the key! Over-consumption of any food………later in life creates all manner of health problems. It can also lead to obesity. Such wisdom in the 6th century B.C!” (Ancient Chinese Wisdom, PureInsight.org) So true to say that ‘variety is the spice of life’!
Why are we choosing these natural, healthy unrefined ‘foods’? What are we acquiring when we eat this stuff? Answer: The six basic nutrients essential for life; Water, Carbohydrates (Carb’s), Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals. Water is the number one nutrient for all life. Period. Carbohydrates (carb’s), proteins and fats are classified as macro-nutrients which are essential to us in larger amounts. Vitamins and minerals are micro-nutrients which are essential in small amounts. Let’s first look at water and the macro nutrients.
Water- Water is the basic and essential nutrient for all life. Water makes up all of our body fluids and is involved in every bodily function. It carries electrolytes (minerals) that move electrical currents in our bodies that keep us alive. Our hearts beat as a result of electrical impulses ignited by sodium and potassium with the help of fluid. It is suggested that we drink about 3 quarts of clean water per day. Needs, of course, vary on lifestyle and climate. Filtration is probably a good idea with the current contaminated state of our water supply. You might want to consider a purification system to remove contaminates.
Tired of plain water? Skip those energy drinks, fruity powders, flavor additions and diet sodas. Try adding cucumber or lemon slices to add a zero calorie refreshing twist to your H2O!
Carbohydrates- Carbohydrates, or ‘carbs’, are the fuel for your body. In other words, carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source to provide for the ongoing functioning of internal organs, the nervous system and muscles. A carbohydrate is produced by the process of photosynthesis within a plant. Thus, carbohydrates are plant based foods. A plant strong nutrient dense diet is suggested as the base for a healthy life; fresh fruits & veggies, root vegetables, tubers (think yams and potatoes), squash, legumes and *whole grains.
Have you ever been advised to omit ‘carbs’? If you have been, were you being asked to give up apples, carrots, broccoli, squash, quinoa or black beans? I think not. It’s important to understand what carbohydrates are. This fuel your body uses is made up three main categories of carbs; sugars, starches and fiber. All are present in varying amount in whole unprocessed plant food. Nature intended for sugars, starches and fiber to be eaten together. This is Nature’s balance. Sugars move into the blood stream quickly needing little digestive efforts. Sugars are the fastest source of energy as they are converted to glucose immediately. Starches require some digestive action to convert to glucose and can be considered as ‘energy in waiting’ when needed. This aids in the equilibrium of glucose in the blood stream. Fiber is used to move things along in the digestive tract so waste stuff doesn’t sit and putrefy in the intestines and colon. It also aids in the proper absorption of nutrients, not too fast, as consistent and steady ‘wins the race’. Fiber is found in the skin and structure of fruits, veggies, tubers and legumes and as the covering of whole grains. So don’t peel the skin off of your apples or potatoes. Think of all the fiber you’ll add to your diet! Consider using the stalk of fresh herbs, like parsley and cilantro, and fresh greens, like kale or collard greens. That’s more fiber in you instead of the compost bin or trash. Also try eating the skins of organic produce you might not normally consider eating such as mango, oranges, butternut squash and carrots. What other produce can you think to not peel?
What you should be avoiding is fractionated carbohydrates: refined grains, fruit juices, isolated sugars such as cane sugar and beet sugar, and the starch flours (most abundantly found in the ‘gluten free’ products).
Protein- Protein’s role in our body is to repair and build tissue – muscles, organs, skin, nails, hair, etc. It is needed by our immune system for antibody and blood formation and hormone production. Each protein has a different job. Each protein is the specific combination of 22 amino acids. There are 14 amino acids that are considered non-essential because our body’s are able to produce them in the liver with enzymes, conversion catalysts, we’ve manufactured from the nutrients in the other foods eaten. (Hint: This is where it’s important to choose nutritionally intact food from the other macro-nutrient foods you’ve eaten!) The 8 amino acids that are classified as essential must be obtains from food sources as our body’s can not produce them. The current Recommended Daily Allowance for protein needs is 0.8 grams per 2.2 of ideal body weight for adults. As explained, a female whose best body weight calculated to be 110 lbs. would need 40 grams of protein daily while a man whose best weight of 170 lbs. would need 56 grams of protein daily.
Amino acids are available in different quantities in foods. ‘Meat foods’ and eggs are considered complete proteins as they contain all the amino acids. Plant food’s contain amino acids in varying amounts and are not considered complete proteins. When paired with complementary ‘plant partners’ they offer all the necessary amino acids to form complete proteins. You can get a good protein balance mixing vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. This would look something like pairing brown rice with nuts, seed or legumes, peanuts with whole grains or coconut, whole grains with legumes or leafy greens or beans with corn or rice. There are plenty of great books available that are helpful in creating plant based meal options.
You might be inclined to think eating meat choices for protein is the way to go because it just seems easier. Maybe, but there are concerns that over reliance on ‘meat food’ contributes to major illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Fats & Oils (Lipids)- Lipids represent fats and oils. Yep, Lipids are an important macro-nutrient. Although ‘fats’, as they are usually referred, have gotten a bad wrap for being the cause of cardiovascular disease and weight gain they serve many vital purposes in our good health. (Actually poor food choices and excess calories are the more probable culprit of weight gain.) Lipids are a major energy source at 9 calories per gram, which is double the calories of carbohydrates and proteins. Since lipids do provide more calories than carbohydrates (4 cal.) and protein (4 cal.) it’s easy to see you don’t need large quantities. Some say fat is the preferred energy source of our bodies. Easily stored and burned as fuel. Fats are available in many animal and plant based foods. Fats are necessary for the transportation of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It insulates and protects vital organs, helps regulate body temperature. It also protects cell membranes from damage and invasion of microorganisms and chemicals. Fats work within our nervous system, support brain health and help manufacture hormones. Yes, fats make hormones, even the sexy ones! While many do equate eating fat with getting fat, it’s suggested to never follow a fat free diet. The American Heart Association recommends 25-35% of dietary calories fats. Ten percent dietary calories from fat is considered the minimum.
Whole foods are always better choices so choose your fat calories from whole foods; nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, whole grains, coconut, cocoa beans, fresh meats, legumes, etc. Getting your nutrients from whole food sources is the best thing you can do for your health. Fats included. Isolated fats and oils are available and care should be used in what you choose to consume. Always steer clear of hydrogenated oils which have been chemically altered to extend shelf life. Instead of rotting on the shelf those hydrogenated oils rot in your body as trans fats. Yum!
Nature has laid everything out nicely for us in natural whole foods. Something for every personal need; high fiber, quick energy, sustained energy, tissue building, fats for cushioning and micro-nutrient transportation so think nature made………..
Be Healthy…….Be Natural……..Be Tempted by good stuff!
*FYI: Whole grains like wheat, oats, spelt, rye, quinoa, amaranth, rice and sugar cane are of the grass family species.
Image courtesy of/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net