The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” comes to mind when people pose questions about health; everyone lately seems to be doling out advice: doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, health advocates, bloggers, magazines, your next door neighbor…Who should you listen to?
Heed advice from people who look like they are living it. If they look well, feel well, and are aging well, they obviously have to be doing something right.
Take any advice with a grain of salt and do your own research. Here’s a list of basic nutrition rules that generally work for everyone.
1. Leave High Fructose Corn Syrup Behind
The leading causes of obesity are high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sugar. Sugars stimulate the same part of the reward/pleasure center in the brain as caffeine and street drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) and release dopamine–this is where addiction begins.
Companies discovered in the 1970’s that HFCS is sweeter and cheaper than sugar and decided to replace the refined sugar used in products with HFCS. In 2010, researchers at Princeton University conducted experiments using rats: different groups were fed various diets. The ones given HFCS gained 300% more weight over the ones fed regular table sugar or diets high in fat.
“When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese–every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”
2. Eat Your Daily Fiber
Most Americans are not eating diets that are rich in fiber. There are two types of fiber that are crucial to a healthy body: soluble and insoluble. Fiber cleans your intestines, keeps you regular, promotes a healthy digestive system, keeps your blood glucose levels stable, and helps to keep your cholesterol balanced. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Here are a few great sources for daily fiber:
- Lentils, peas, beans
- Greens (turnip, beet, collard, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce)
- Broccoli, asparagus
- Carrot, sweet potato
- Avocado, raspberries, pear, apple
- Sesame and flax seeds, almonds
- Quinoa, buckwheat
3. Eat Your Daily Rainbow
Eating a variety of different-colored fresh vegetables and fruit ensures a diet rich in fiber that provides essential vitamins and minerals for the body to function properly, fight disease, regrow cells, lower cholesterol, and keep heart and brain healthy.
Different phytonutrients can be found in each color of vegetation. Antioxidants and enzymes found in plants repair damage caused from the sun’s harmful rays, filter toxins in the air and environment; prevent and kill cancerous cells, convert nutrients into vitamin A, enhance immune response, reduce inflammation, lower risk of chronic disease, and repair and prevent damaged tissue by balancing oxidating free radicals.
Instead of eating the same ol’ thing every week, try adding new and colorful fruits and veggies to meals, ensuring your body is rainbow-healthy.
4. Get Enough Healthy Fats
What would happen if you took the oil out of your car and tried to drive it? The engine would seize up and you wouldn’t get very far. This is the same line of thinking for why the body AND brain need healthy fats.
Eating healthy fats doesn’t make you fat; the bad processed and sugary foods you are eating make you fat. Usually when people remove fat from their diets they replace them with processed carbohydrate foods. What carbohydrates the body doesn’t use for energy is stored as fat.
Your brain is comprised of 60% fat; if it does not have enough of the proper nourishing lubricant, it cannot function optimally and over time will start to harden, creating plaque. This hardening process is seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, and brain-related diseases. Without proper nutrition provided to the brain in the form of healthy fats, simple tasks like speech, vision, movement, and thought process are affected.
Healthy fats curb your hunger for longer periods of time because your body uses them immediately as energy and pulls from them essential nutrients the body cannot make on its own. The archaic thinking that all fat is bad has since been proven wrong.
Healthy fat foods:
- Nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, chia, flax, pumpkin (seeds)
- Eggs (whole)
- Wild fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout
- High-quality, cold-pressed, unrefined plant-based oils: olive, coconut, sesame