1. Food Choices and Proportions are More Important Than You Think:
We must find out what foods, proportions, and practices will bring the health, vitality, and leanness desired. It makes sense to look at the examples of those who have success, vitality, leanness, and longevity. What are healthy societies doing to get the results they are getting? What do their dietary habits and results look like?
Nutritional wisdom helps you be thin, lean, and healthy. Here is some background to help give perspective:
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. insists our under-consumption of unrefined plant foods is largely responsible for our particular profile of mortality statistics. The convenience of fast foods, refined foods, and under-consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods has a price tag many pay knowingly or unknowingly.
The bar graph above (see Fuhrman, pp.49-52) shows the advantages of those who eat mostly plants compared to those who eat predominately animal products and refined foods. They may not have the wealth to afford processed foods or animal products, and may die from diseases resulting from a lack of sanitation and lack of other advantages we have in America. But as their dietary habits are markedly different, so are their mortality rates from chronic disease. Imagine what the health potential is for then individual in a developed country, such as America, who already has the advantages of sanitation, refrigerators, year-round fresh produce, etc., and who manages his or her nutrition with correct information and wisdom!
2. The Truth About Carbs:
Dr. Joseph Mercola states grains and sugars are the villains in the obesity epidemic, and yet the base of the USDA food pyramid are starchy grain carbohydrates with no specifications on whole vs. processed! Our bodies were not designed to eat processed foods, and the amount of these we are eating in America is deadly. Food processing on a large scale was only developed over the last 100 years. America’s chronic diseases have also developed in similar proportion. In addition, some people cannot maintain health when grains are at the base of their diet.
Your body is designed to potentially pull you through famine, a common problem in days of old. But Today your situation is vastly different. You are surrounded by an overabundance of food. Ninety percent of the money Americans spend on food is for processed food! These "foods" are cleverly and heavily marketed. Added chemicals created by food scientists add addictive qualities in addition to the blood sugar roller coaster effects of refined carbs. Who is making the profits? Eating several servings of these processed, insulin-spiking carbs each day can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer problems (see Mercola, p. 66).
Refined carbohydrates wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, leach calcium and minerals from the body, are highly addictive, and can lead to disease if eaten in excess. The Standard American Diet of the average American is comprised of 51% processed and refined foods! That is unheard of in the history of our planet! In addition, over 95% of grains American's consume are processed. Adding fortified vitamins and minerals to
processed foods does not give you the same nutrition and protection as getting those vitamins and minerals from whole foods.
Unrefined carbohydrates, on the other hand, encourage weight loss, can help you stay thin, and are very satiating. They are more slowly digested and have a more stable effect on insulin and blood glucose than processed grains. This is powerful! Sometimes small and simple things create huge cumulative results! Unrefined, whole grains are an excellent way to add staying power, additional energy for activity, and supplementation of nutritional needs that fruits and vegetables alone cannot meet. Whole grains should still be used with good judgment and moderation. Over-consumption of even whole grains can still lead to allergies, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other problems. Those with insulin imbalances may find additional advantages in limiting grains until insulin levels are under control again (see Simmons pg. 56). Do whatever it takes to manage your blood sugar levels to avoid disease, or further complications from disease. Be careful if you have celiac disease or leaky gut syndrome, which can compound certain health challenges with the consumption of gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc.
3. A Word About White Potatoes:
Potatoes may be classified as a starchy vegetable, but are not comparable with low glycemic vegetables. Potatoes act on the blood stream more like a refined carbohydrate. If a person is healthy, lean, and very active, they may be able to handle a potato a day, especially if combined with other vegetables. For those who are not healthy, lean, and active, it is wise to eat them only occasionally, not every day (and remember to leave out the trans fats many potato dishes contain).
4. The Truth About Fats:
There’s no doubt, bad fats such as trans fats and hydrogenated oils contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases! These bad fats can clog your arteries, unbalance your cholesterol levels, produce free radical damage, and create conditions of rapid aging and development of disease.
There are also good fats your body may actually be crying out for to maintain good health. If we lump good and bad fats into one category, we would be ignoring major dangers and protective factors you need to know to maintain your health and proper weight. Essential fats include Omega 3 fatty acids with DHA and EPA from clean fish sources. Other good fats include avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and those found in raw nuts and seeds.
Fats to limit: Many vegetable oils are unstable polyunsaturated fats susceptible to oxidation and are high in omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are fine, but ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 should be 1:1. In America, we consume drastically higher amounts of omega 6 fatty acids. “Excess omega 6 oils can lead to heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Raynaud’s disease, and a host of other illnesses“ (see Mercola p. 85). Limit vegetable oils such as corn, canola, safflower, soy, sunflower, etc. They are permissible in small amounts, but should be only used sparingly. They should be avoided in cooking to prevent them from becoming a trans fat.
Bad fats to avoid altogether: trans fats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, fried foods, margarine, etc. Be aware that many packaged foods may contain hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils and may still claim zero trans fats if the total per serving is small enough to be rounded down to zero. But these fats can add up, even though the label assures you they aren’t there!
5. Not All Proteins are Created Equal:
Protein is a big buzzword in America. Remember to pay attention to who makes profits off your protein choices. Red meat, white meat, nuts, seeds, and legumes all contain protein, but they are not the same! There is a big difference between animal protein and plant protein. We are not suggesting you have to cut out all animal products, just watch your sources and proportions. A study at Cornell University showed cancer growth in animals was “turned on” when animal-food protein consumption rose above 10%, and cancer risk was “turned off” when animal-food protein consumption stayed under 10%.
The China Study shows when populations consumed 10% or less of their daily caloric intake from animal products, they suffered only 1/17 the U.S. cancer rate and less than 1/10 the incidence of all other degenerative diseases than the United States. The China Study and the Cornell research indicate that in terms of avoiding degenerate disease, it is safe to consume up to 10% of the daily caloric intake from animal-based sources. (About 230 calories per day for the average American.)
If you eat meat, eat clean meat. Be aware of the source and their practices concerning feed, treatment, chemicals, pesticides, steroids, antibiotics, hormones, immunizations, food rendering, etc. Also use plant based foods as a base of your protein needs (see Simmons p.79, Campbell pp. 43-67).
6. Calcium is Required for Good Health, Dairy Products are Optional:
There are many calcium sources, and dairy products are one of them. But dairy products are not required in your diet for good health. They are an optional source of calcium.
Special interest groups with influence are the reason dairy products appear on the food pyramid. Many people have found they cannot tolerate dairy products, or the symptoms they experience from using dairy products are not desirable.
As mentioned in the protein section, it is not wise to exceed 10% animal-based foods in your diet, although certain industries would disagree because their profits are at stake. Too much animal protein creates an acidic condition where calcium absorption is compromised and where calcium retention is difficult, even with high levels of supplementation! Excess animal proteins found in meat and dairy products can create acidity, causing the body to leach calcium from the bones as a buffer to neutralize the
pH in your system. This is one of the reasons why Americans may consume more dairy products and animal protein than most of the world, yet still have high levels of osteoporosis (see Fuhrman pp.84-90).
In a predominantly plant based diet, plant based sources of calcium are more easily absorbed, and create an alkaline environment in which calcium can be retained. Limit animal foods and dairy products to 10% of the total diet, and reduce or eliminate refined
foods, soft water, and other factors that create an acidic condition resulting in a negative calcium balance (see Simmons pp.79-82).
7. The Right Sweets Sparingly:
Sweets are okay, but not all of the time if you want good health. Did you know the average American now consumes over 175 lbs. of sugar a year? Too many sweets is an equation leading to disaster on blood sugar and insulin levels! They can lead to consequent weight gain, diabetic issues, and other prominent disease states. Sweets can also leach your body's reserves on vitamins and minerals from the bones and tissues due to its acidic effect on the body, further contributing to disease and osteoporosis. Artificial sweeteners are not much better, and can be downright dangerous. High fructose corn syrup and soda pop are also unhealthy and risky. Refined sugar and other chemical/refined sweeteners can create many problems in your body. You would be wise to use sweets sparingly, chosen from good sources. Sweeteners such as unprocessed raw sugars, stevia, pure maple syrup, and raw honey are much better choices than refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
8. Pure Water is Vital:
Pure water is your body's number one solvent for toxins. Adequate water intake also helps accelerate fat loss and keeps you more satiated! People may mistake the signal for thirst as hunger. You may think you are hungry, but you may actually be thirsty. Drink a glass of water first. If you are still hungry ten minutes later, then get a snack. For your minimum pure water intake, drink half your body weight in ounces throughout the day. (weight ÷ 2= ___ oz.)
9. Fill in the Gaps with a Plant Based Multi-Vitamin Your Body Recognizes and Can Understand:
Food grown today has less nutrition than 100 years ago due to soil depletion and other modern farming practices. Filling in nutritional gaps after nourishing the body with whole foods is a good idea, but only from a source your body can understand ...food. Vitamins and minerals derived from food can be assimilated in the body. Those from a chemical or isolated source cannot be assimilated or can only be partially assimilated.
Nutritional wisdom helps to keep you thin, healthy, and disease-free. You can adapt these details and ratios to your individual needs. Find those nutritional habits where you feel and look your best long term. If what you are doing isn’t working for you, consider examples of those who enjoy longevity and success.
"Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy" by Walter C. Willett, M.D.
"Eat To Live" by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
"Original Fast Foods" by James & Colleen Simmons
"Take Control of Your Health" by Joseph Mercola, M.D.
"The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell
"Dr. Mom's Healthy Living" by Sandra K. Livingston Ellis, M.H.
(Article Originally Written By Tracy Gibbs)