Unlike meals that just fill you up, or sweet or salty snacks that satisfy your emotional hunger, achieving nutritional health may at first require a little thought and planning. However, once you become familiar with foods that help you heal, reach your ideal weight or foods that have disease-fighting properties, you'll wonder how you ever survived without these delicious and nutritious foods. Learning about nutritional health and choosing nutritional health, however, are different.
What Is Nutritional Health?
According to the Center for Disease Control, "Compared to people who eat only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts—as part of a healthy diet—are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases. These diseases include stroke, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and perhaps heart disease." Nutritional health encompasses choosing foods that support a healthy body, repair cell damage, provide energy and help prevent disease.
In the United States, one of the most affluent countries in the world, people are surprisingly undernourished and overfed. Why?
Food and NutritionAdding an assortment of brightly colored foods to your diet helps ensure a more complete profile of vitamins, essential minerals, enzymes, amino acids and other replenishing foods for total nutrition. Food does not equal nutrition. Eating the right foods can actually save you money in the cost of food as well as in medical care later on. People who eat nutritious foods tend to be healthier, so let's get started with this short list of nutrition information for better health.
What Are Proteins?
Used for building muscles, making blood cells, providing dense sources of energy and an essential supply of amino acids used in nearly every process in the body, proteins are a vital component to healthy nutrition. Vegetable sources of proteins are beans, lentils, whole grains and nuts. Meats, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs are all animal sources of protein. Though you may prefer one source over another it's important to consider the other aspects of the protein food you choose. Some meats, for example, are high in fat too whereas fish and poultry are lower in fat. Nuts and beans have a different profile of amino acids than meats. Make it easy on yourself when trying decide what to eat.
What Are Fats?
Providing nearly twice the energy per gram as proteins or carbohydrates, fats are a dense source of energy. A little goes a long way, but it's even more important to choose the right fats for nutritional health. Yes, there are good fats, good for your health. Know the difference between nutritious fats and fats that are bad for your health.
You may have heard of saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature whereas unsaturated fats tend to be liquid fats, like oils. Though some diet experts advise against eating saturated fats, some of these saturated fats are good for you and some unsaturated fats are bad for you. Eating the right fats help increase your metabolic processes (fat burning abilities), provide extra nutrients and help your body rebuild healthy cells, including brain cells.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Sugars, starches, and fiber all have something in common. They are all carbohydrates. Which ones are nutritious and beneficial to your health? The more complex and close to real, whole food, the better. Here's a simple guideline:
Though nearly all foods provide calories which we burn for energy, not all calories are created equal. Some foods, especially when eaten often, cause imbalances in the body, spikes in blood sugar followed by energy lows, clogged liver, plaque build-up in arteries and even hormone imbalances.
A healthy body maintains pH balance (acid/base concentration) through
homeostasis. Eating foods as close to fresh and natural, unprocessed and
minimally cooked helps support a healthy body. Foods high in sugar, saturated
fats, preservatives or unidentifiable chemicals on the list of ingredients do
little to regenerate new, healthy cells which help rebuild a healthy body.
Eating foods that are highly acidic, such as lemons, do not make the body more
acidic. In fact, lemons (the whole lemon, peel included) are great at helping
to balance your body's pH. However, stress, exercise, poor diet (especially one
high in sugars) and toxins increase acidity which can cause cell damage.
Balancing foods include fruits and vegetables, vital minerals, small amounts of proteins and oils, some nuts and some whole grains. Foods that stress the body, such as processed sugar, simple carbohydrates (found in breads and pastas) or saturated fats (such as shortening and animal fat from meats and dairy) create imbalances which can lead to more serious health challenges.
How to Choose Foods For Healing
Choose Fresh- Fruits and vegetables that are fresh are
minimally processed. They retain more of the life-supporting nutrients
necessary to heal; antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber.
Buy Locally- If you can buy fruits and vegetables in season you have the added benefit of harvesting closer to the natural ripening time, rather than buying foods that are picked, shipped and ripened along the way. Foods that are harvested ripe and eaten soon after have the greatest nutrient content. Foods shipped from other countries may also have been irradiated to kill harmful germs. Despite government claims that food is not effected, scientists show that not only is food nutrition altered, but harmful chemicals form in the foods which may also cause cancer.
What Are Essential Nutrients For Healing?
Antioxidants may among your best friends when fighting or preventing serious disease or preventing damage from drug therapies and treatments. Found mostly in fresh, brightly-colored fruits and vegetables such as dark berries and dark greens, antioxidants bind with free radicals in your body to render them harmless. Why is getting rid of free radicals important? Free radicals cause cell damage, aging, inflammation and disease. Free radicals come from stress as well as environmental toxins and foods you eat. Eat more antioxidants or supplement with a good source of antioxidants for better health.
Follow the rainbow of natural foods to help you add antioxidants and other vital nutrients for better health. If your plate is filled with color, (not pastas, breads, or artificially colored processed foods) you're probably making good choices.
RED Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits
and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage.
Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit may help reduce risk of
several types of cancer.
ORANGE- Beta-carotene (carotenoids) in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes, helps reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and can improve immune system function. Citrus fruits like oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.
YELLOW- Certain spices such as turmeric and ginger have profound health benefits. Turmeric has strong antioxidant properties that promote beautiful skin, as well as providing good nutrition for your skin. It helps clean and support the liver and has anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.
GREEN- Lutein is one of the carotenoids found in spinach and other dark leafy greens. It helps keep eyes healthy and may help reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Dark greens are also great for cancer fighting properties. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.
BLUE AND PURPLE- Anthocyanins in blueberries, grapes and raisins act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. They may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Eating more blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging.
WHITE- anthoxanthins in bananas and potatoes, garlic, ginger, turnips and
medicinal mushrooms contain health-promoting chemicals which may help lower
cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and
heart disease. Some members of the white group are good sources of the mineral
Beta-glucanBeta-glucan is a unique compound derived from the cell walls of yeast and medicinal mushrooms. It causes the creation of Natural Killer cells (NK cells) which defend the body against viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic or neoplastic invaders. Beta-glucan also has potent antioxidant and free radical scavenging capabilities as well as detoxifying properties. Nutrient-rich medicinal mushrooms help feed the immune system.
Replenish Your BodyEvery day our cells
require energy and basic building blocks such as proteins, complex
carbohydrates and essential fats in order to function as well as to create new
cells. Ingredients in many processed foods are not recognized by cells;
plastics, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, synthetic sweeteners,
etc. and do little to nourish your body. We become depleted by making poor
In order to replenish your body with good foods, eat smaller portions of proteins and fats and complement your diet with larger portions of complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
Restore Your CellsYou may have the calories you need for energy, but do you choose foods that also protect you? Environmental stress such as toxins, physical and emotional stress, as well as chemotherapy and drug therapies contribute to premature aging and disease. Unless you're building healthy cells, you could be going in the wrong direction.
If your comfort foods happen to be highly processed, high in sugar or fat, "fast food", packaged or high in calories, you may want to create new habits. Find foods that offer a satisfied feeling and take away the fear of feeding cancer cells. When you restore healthy cells with good nutrition you fight cancer and build a healthy body naturally.
Support Your Immune SystemA well functioning immune system naturally takes care of the germs we encounter every day. More than that, a strong immune system can recognize what belongs in your body and what doesn't belong. Diseases such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis and more can be the result of the immune system attacking it's own body tissues. Supporting the immune system helps it recognize and defend rather than attack healthy tissue.
Some foods that naturally fight infection and support the immune system are medicinal mushrooms. My favorite is the ABM, Agaricus blazei murill with enzyme extraction. Currently this mushroom is the subject of many immune studies related not only to prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and bladder cancer, but also to diabetes, HIV and chronic hepatitis.
Food As MedicineThe idea of treating disease with food is not a new one. Is healthy food your medicine? It could be. Ask me how. Contact Rosemary for a FREE 30 minute consultation.
*Disclaimer- The information on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals. You may wish to consult your physician before beginning or making changes in your diet, nutritional supplementation or exercise program. The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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