Healthy Eating, Demystified
With so much dietary advice available these days, it’s extremely difficult and confusing to know how to eat properly for optimal health. Do you stock up on all the superfoods? Do you eat less fat or more fat? Do you eat less carbs or more carbs? Less protein or more protein? The different expert opinions available are mind-boggling. Although there is some good information available, a lot of the information seems to be largely motivated by profits, and a lot of the research and so-called ‘experts’ are often questionable.
So, is there a way to simplify healthy eating?
First of all, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is where most people get into trouble. Too much sugar, processed foods, and animal products lead down the road to illness – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia – the list goes on. So, how can we eat for optimal health and prevention of disease?
The energy that we derive from food all ultimately comes from one source: the sun. And the raw materials come from the earth. The sun gives plants the ability to produce energy, and if you also consume animal products, these animals derive energy from eating plants, and then pass along this energy to you. The closer you can come to the source of the energy, the better. And this means eating more plants! Plants contain chemical substances called phytonutrients, which simply means nutrients coming from plants. There are literally over 100,000 of these substances in the foods that we eat. These are the substances that protect us from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other illnesses. Regarding the consumption of animal products, this is a personal choice. If you do decide to eat meat and dairy products, these should be more of a condiment, and not the main part of a meal. There is actually plenty of protein in plants.
One thing that has been in the media for many years lately is superfoods. Depending on the year or mood of the media, these may be pomegranates, kale, broccoli, salmon, beets, chia seeds, goji berries, etc… These foods are great, but in order to eat for optimal health, don’t focus on just a few superfoods. Instead, focus on eating a wide variety of foods. It’s actually the combination of all of the food nutrients in your body and how they interact with each other that gives the most benefit.
This discussion leads me to genetically modified foods (GMO’s). We have evolved over many thousands of years in harmony with nature. The earth has wisely provided us with all that we need to survive, and our genetic makeup has evolved along with all of these foods, in harmony with them. Since this process has taken so many millennia, then it makes sense that our bodies would not be able to process and adapt to a new food that has recently been developed. Nature takes time.
So, my best advice is to eat a diet consisting of many varied plant foods, emphasizing those with the most nutritional value, such as dark green vegetables, brightly-colored fruits, and whole grains. If you eat animal products, keep this to a minimum, and try to avoid GMO foods as much as possible, as well as avoid pesticide chemicals by eating organic foods whenever possible.