It may be time for a food lifestyle change!!
Food is delicious and it provides a great sense of pleasure for us, but you must ask yourself this important question, Are you eating to LIVE or living to eat?
We should eat, not only to live, but to thrive! Most often this is not the case. Most of us live to eat, but as good as those potato chips, hamburgers, and ice cream sundaes may be, they are wreaking havoc on our bodies! Dietary related inflammation, in some cases, may be the primary reason for dis-ease. If you are having headaches, or bloating, or chronic pain, or brain fog, or auto-immune disease, simple changes in your diet may provide much relief. Foods too can be contributing to your total body burden, and causing toxicity and inflammation. By cleaning up your diet, you can become much healthier. In my opinion, food is the first and most important lifestyle change we should make!
I know, it is difficult to change your diet! Especially when everyone around you is eating a SAD (Standard American Diet). In fact, Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. has quoted, “It is ironic in this day in time we are so overweight, yet so malnourished.” We are now considered to be the “P” generation! P for processed, prepared, and packaged foods. These foods lack good nutrition, so when we eat them, our body becomes nutritionally deprived and that signals hunger! We are literally hungry for the proper nutrients. Furthermore, these processed foods are loaded with chemical preservatives, sugars, and rancid oils, which makes them extremely toxic and inflammatory. The purpose of food is to provide essential nutrients and fuel for our bodies. If you take all emotion out of it and just think in simple terms, Food as FUEL or food as POISON. Our foods can either provide nutrients and enzymes necessary for basic cellular function OR they can create inflammation and be a huge source of toxicity in our body. Packaged and processed foods are loaded with chemical preservatives, colorants, and possibly pesticides! Did you know that the acronym BHT, which is in MANY foods that you or your children love to eat, is TOLUENE? Toluene is a chemical preservative that is a know carcinogen, meaning that is has shown to cause cancer. Did you know that a popular, colorful Kellogg cereal was recently taken off the market because it was found to have extremely high levels of WEED KILLER? These ingredients do not provide any nutritional value, in fact, they are indeed poisons and not only do they contribute to total body burden, they are known to deplete vital nutrients!
So, what is clean food? What is a healthy diet?
First we should try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store or shop farmers markets. Stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, organic meats, legumes, and good fats.
Avoid sugar and processed foods. Packaged foods do not have much nutritional value and they often contain loads of sugar. Sugar is also highly inflammatory. It makes our body acidic and it weakens our immune system. In fact, 1 tsp of sugar reduces the immune system by 70% for about 4 hrs. The average American eats 22 tsp of sugar daily!
Eat ORGANIC when possible. Non-organic foods can be high in pesticides, fertilizers, genetically engineered, irradiated, grown in sewer sludge, or grown with growth hormones, or antibiotics. The chemicals/pesticides in non-organic food cause inflammation in our gut and therefore affect our immunity and our neurological system. Pesticides are highly estrogenic (meaning they mimic estrogen in the body) and contribute to hormonal imbalance. Visit the EWG.org (Environmental Working Group) for a downloadable copy of the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15”. This is a list of the most toxic fruits and vegetables (those that should only be eaten if organic) vs. those that are the least toxic and do not have to be organic. Organic farming also helps preserve farmland and decreases contamination of ground water. Organic foods have also been shown to have more nutritional value than those foods grown in a conventional manner.
Make it a goal to Eat a MINIMUM of 5 colors a day. When we eat the rainbow we are getting a good variety of essential nutrients! We need color! Reds, oranges, yellows, whites, purple, blues, greens! The greens and purples are the highest in antioxidants but every color provides many nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber. These foods promote health.
Eat plenty of protein. Sources of protein include: meats (organic or grass fed), fish (visit the ewg.org for a Safe fish list), nuts, quinoa, chia, and beans. Protein provides the amino acids our body needs to repair and regenerate. Protein also helps increase liver metabolism, which helps us filter toxins from our body. Protein will help us feel satisfied and it will help balance blood sugar.
Incorporate fermented foods. Fermented foods such as yogurt (low/no sugar variety), kefir, miso, kim chi, sauerkraut, or Kombucha, boost beneficial bacteria in the gut. These "probiotic-like foods help us to assimilate or absorb nutrition from our foods. They also improve our immune system and our neurological system!
Avoid any known food allergies or sensitivities. We will talk about this in future blogs, so be sure to keep an eye out for more helpful information. Food can create an enormous amount of inflammation if you have an allergy or intolerance. They lead to toxemia of the gut, which destroys the gut barrier. These foods also cause the release of cytokines, which are neuroexcitatory (this means they can cause anxiety, headaches, pain, mood/behavior issues, and fatigue).
You may be hesitating and feel sad about what you can’t eat, but stay positive and focus on what you CAN eat. After all, once the cravings pass you won’t miss the inflammatory reactions these unhealthy or processed foods cause. No more headaches, or eczema, or diarrhea, or bloating, or joint pain, or brain fog… and the list go on and on and on. We need to eat, not only to live, but to thrive. To maintain a healthy diet can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be, it can even be fun and rewarding. The better you feel, the easier it will become. THINK FUEL!