You wouldn’t go to a gas station and fill your tank with the wrong type of fuel, would you? Of course not, because you know what the consequences would be. You’d break down a half mile along the road.
It’s pretty much the same with the human body, except for one thing: we are such amazing creatures that our bodies can travel for many years on the wrong fuel. Depending on the individual, the consequences of eating unhealthily may be a series of running repairs throughout the years to keep you on the road, or one catastrophic and terminal break down that sends you to that big scrap heap in the sky.
Changing your diet , even slightly, can bring improvements to your overall health. A radical overall can transform it for the rest of your (extended) life.
We all know which are the correct foods to eat, and which cause problems. You’d have to be a life-long hermit in a cave (without cable TV) not to have heard the horror stories that accompany the excess consumption of certain foods. It is not ignorance of the facts that’s the problem, i.e. not knowing; rather, it’s ignoring the facts that you certainly do know. Too often we make choices based on taste and convenience, it’s that simple. And if that’s the case, no amount of tips and advice is going to change your mind.
Let’s face it, a coffee and doughnut for breakfast is more appetizing than a piece of fruit or a bowl of muesli. Nutritionists who try and convince you otherwise are doing themselves no favors by starting off with an obvious lie. The deciding factor is whether you see the fuel you eat as a means of taking you the full distance without mishap, or whether you don’t care how far you go so long as you are allowed to stop in at every fast food joint along the way.
If you are one of those people who has decided to “drive green” the rest of the journey, but are too bombarded by well-meaning information to know how to start, these simple tips may be of help:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes three or four days a week to power up your metabolic rate and keep it revving even through periods of inactivity.
- Dine out less often. Restaurants are purveyors of taste over nutrition, and are prone to loading their recipes with salt and sugar.
- Prepare your own lunch in the morning so you control exactly what goes into it. Include more fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- Limit alcohol intake and give up smoking. Both habits impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from your food.
- Raw foods are bursting with nutrients so eat more of them. Cooking and canning kills off most of the goodness in food (although it should be noted that canned tomatoes can help prevent prostate cancer). Choose instead fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, containing more vitamins and minerals.
- Choose organic produce if you can to avoid the chemicals and toxins that are present in pesticides.
- Eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day in the form of whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and nuts. Some fruits and vegetables are also good sources of fiber. Remember, though, that processed white flour products are the chief cause of Type-2 diabetes, messing up as they do your blood-glucose levels and destroying your body’s ability to control insulin.
- Drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day to hydrate your organs and lubricate all your bodily functions. Remember that coffee, tea, soft drinks, and alcohol are diuretics, and steal water from the body.
Research proves that a good vegetarian diet has the power to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Just bear in mind that French fries are also vegetarian, as are potato chips and beer. In other words, make sure you do not ruin any vegetarian health plans by deluding yourself into thinking all vegetarian products are good for you. Be sensible and selective.
With a vegetarian diet, consider the following tips:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes to keep a varied mix of nutrients in your diet.
- Take the advice of a suitable healthcare professional before eliminating animal products from your diet, so it can be done sensibly and correctly. This is especially the case for children, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and people recovering from illness.
- Many old-school nutritionists and general practitioners still dispense advice we now know to be outmoded, and would advise against vegetarianism and in favor of meat and dairy. Seek out a professional who is up-to-date with the latest research, such as a doctor of chiropractic.
- Although B12 is not required in any great amounts by the body and it would take years to become deficient even after cutting out a suitable source, it is only available in animal-based produce so keep a check on your level of that and of iron. Tiredness, malaise, and anemia can be signs of a deficiency.
- Eat fortified foods or take supplements to make up for any essential nutrients a vegetarian diet cannot provide. The best B12 supplementation comes from a shot, or an under-the-tongue nanotechnology spray for better absorption. Beware B12 in standard vitamin pills or fortified cereal; this is known as a B12 analogue and actually ends up robbing you of your own natural B12, leaving a net deficit.
- Dietary supplements can never take the place of proper food, and should not be seen as suitable substitutes. In conjunction with proper food, though, a good quality supplement can help plug any gaps your diet may have.
Some general advice to conclude:
- Eat more dark green vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds, which are good sources of magnesium, fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals.
- If you don’t know about nutrition, don’t “self-prescribe”. Consult someone like a doctor of chiropractic who can help you formulate a supplements program that is geared to your own diet.
- Symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue, or cardiac problems should send you straight to a healthcare professional for further investigation. It may be that all you need is to improve your diet, but these things are best not assumed.
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam