Day: December 26, 2011

Top 10 Strategies for Healthy Eating in 2012

1. Focus on a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet
Studies consistently show that the healthiest diets are based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and small amounts of lean meat if desired.

Research tells us that eating 9-11 servings of fruits or vegetables a day plus 2 lowfat dairy foods can lower your blood pressure; eating the fruits or vegetables reduces your risk of stroke by 50%; and if you eat a lot of antioxidants (found in whole foods) you have an 80% lower risk of cataracts. Note: a serving of fruits and vegetables is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.

2. Eat Adequate Fiber
Fiber fills you up to help you lose weight and it also decreases the chance of many chronic diseases. Women need 25 grams per day and men need 30 grams. Children need 10 grams plus their age. Increase your fiber by adding high fiber cereals, eating the whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice, using whole grains and eating more beans and lentils.

3. Eat Organic Foods: Especially Certain Fruits and Vegetables
Organic fruit and vegetables are especially needed for children because for their weight they eat more than adults. The main concern with pesticides is long-term exposure. The highest amount of pesticides is found in apples, celery and strawberries. The website www.ewg.org has more information on the produce with the greatest risk.

4. Eat Foods High in Vitamins, Minerals and Accessory Nutrients
Vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and other nutrients are important for their impact on chronic disease and health. A review of 206 studies found vegetables decrease cancer risk. If Americans ate 5 fruits and vegetables a day it would reduce cancer incidence by as much as 20%.

5. Eat Healthy Fats
Eat more healthy omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans and cold water fish. Extra virgin olive oil is great but not for sautéing. Heating will destroy the phytonutrients in the oil. Use high-oleic safflower oil or sunflower oil or refined coconut oil for high heat cooking.

6. Figure out your Food Allergies/Sensitivities
Food sensitivities and intolerances may be contributing to physical and or emotional problems. Common symptoms related to food sensitivities are acne, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, arthritis, bloating, brain fog, constipation, depression, dark circles under the eyes, dry skin, eczema, headaches, IBS, migraines, sinus problems, psoriasis, ringing in the ears and weight gain.

7. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers. The leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes is excess weight. Maintaining a healthy weight also gives you more energy to enjoy life!

8. Consider Age, Stage and Gender
Factors such as a person’s age, current weight, current health status, and activity level affect the nutrients they need and how many calories they need.

9. Assess Need for Supplements
Eating a healthy diet is the foundation for any wellness program but a well chosen multiple vitamin and mineral can enhance a healthy diet. Other supplements may be needed for specific reasons. For example, 20-60% of people older than 60 have low levels of HCL, which leads to poor B-12 absorption so they may need extra B-12. Many Seattleites may need extra Vitamin D. Recently researchers at the University of Kansas found that 70 % of 10,000 patients were low in vitamin D and they were at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases. Vitamin D-deficiency nearly doubled their likelihood of dying. Correcting the deficiency with supplements lowered their risk of death by 60 %.

10. Incorporate the “Pleasure Principle” into Eating
Our bodies are wired to move towards pleasure and avoid pain. We naturally gravitate towards things that taste, smell and feel yummy. We naturally avoid the opposite. To try to fight the pleasure principle is to fight one of our most basic instincts. But you can use the “Pleasure Principle” as a barometer for when you are starting to feel satisfied and have had enough. Try to eat when you are truly hungry; the food tastes that much better because you have an appetite for it. Once you start to fill up, the pleasure begins to diminish. This is your sign that you have probably had enough food.

Also remember to relax before you eat- ingestion is just one step; good digestion and assimilation require relaxation.

References and Resources
Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org
Center for Science in the Public Interest: www.cspinet.org
Institute of Medicine: www.nas.edu
Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet: www.igc.org
National Academy Press: www.nap.edu
Vitamin D Council: www.vitamindcouncil.org
The World’s Healthiest Foods: www.whfoods.com