Nutrition Basics: Feed Your Body More Good Stuff
Nutrition is a HUGE topic and I just want to give a bit of an introduction today by going through some nutrition basics.
What we eat, what we drink and what we think is the fuel for who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing in this lifetime so it is soooooo important.
As a culture we are challenged because we are definitely not eating and drinking the right stuff to be healthy and successful.
In fact we are not even really eating food any more. We are eating food like products. Most of what we eat as a culture is the result of crafty science that makes something look good and taste good but it has no nutritional value at best and it is full of chemicals that are ravaging our bodies with disease at worst.
To say that this is a problem is an understatement.
Here are some grim statistics:
Nutrition Basics related to Obesity
68% of Americans are overweight or obese
20% of American 4 year olds are obese
Canadian childhood obesity has tripled in the last 20 years
Adolescent obesity has also tripled
Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2008 were in men.
In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Each minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
In 2010, heart disease will cost the United States $316.4 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease.
In the US, one in two men come down with cancer in their lifetime, one in three for women, and 1of 4 deaths is from cancer. (in 1900, the incidence of cancer was 1 in 8000!!)
In 2007, cancer surpassed cardiovascular disease (heart and cerebrovascular) as the leading cause of death in Canada.
An estimated 177,800 new cases of cancer and 75,000 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2011
Many of us think that if our relatives have had heart disease or cancer, then we are destined to get it too.
This is absolutely not true!
5% of all heart disease and cancer are as a result of genetic/hereditary factors.
95% is what you eat, what you drink, what you think and what you do!!!
So 95% of the diseases that kill most of us North Americans are related to Lifestyle factors….not the bad luck that we think we are getting from our relatives.
This means that you have control over the choices that will take you toward healthier and happier….or toward sick and dead. It really is that simple.
What you eat and drink are a huge factor in the lifestyle related causes of obesity, heart disease and cancer so making changes in what you put into your body is key to getting on track to being and staying healthy.
We are eating more sugar, salt, bad fats, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and processed chemical ingredients than ever before…and something has to change!
So to get started let’s focus on a few key things to improve your approach to nutrition basics:
Drink More Water
Your body is made of of 60-70% water so it makes sense that you should be adding more water on a regular basis to keep it healthy.
Most of us are walking around in a state of chronic mild dehydration and our cells are starving for water. This is one reason for chronic illness.
You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example: If you weigh 160lbs, you should be drinking 80oz of water each day.
That sounds like a lot but it is only 10 cups of water. (Think of a measuring cup used in baking instead of a big glass of water…a big glass of water may have 2 or 3 cups in it)
Drink more water and drink less sugary crap (the number one source of calories in the US)
Decrease soda, juice and coffee and increase water intake.
Also, water is a powerful appetite suppressant and if you drink an 8-ounce glass of water when you first start feeling hungry, you will find that it suppresses your appetite in nearly every case. If you just drink a full glass of water and have the discipline to wait 10 minutes, you will find that your appetite is either completely gone or dramatically reduced.
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat
In fact, fat is an extremely important missing ingredient from many of our diets.
There is a difference between good fats and bad fats and good fats help with the health of your cell membranes, your brain, your hormones and….they help your body burn stored fat and lose weight.
In the 80s, FAT became the enemy and the low-fat frenzy began. People were duped into believing that if your ice cream or your cookies were labeled ‘fat-free’, they couldn’t make you fat.
So everything became ‘Fat-Free’ or ‘Low-Fat’ and the calories that were being occupied by fat were replaced with carbohydrates.
As a result, and with much irony, the low fat frenzy of the late 80s and 90s made people fatter.
Despite this, many many people are still of the belief that ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat’ is a good thing.
In North America, we have more low fat foods and low fat diets than anywhere in the world and we have the highest rate of obesity.
So the rule for current day nutrition is: Eat Healthy Fats and Avoid Bad Fats.
Healthy fats include: Olive oil, Fish oil, Hempseed oil, Flax and Flax oil, Avacados, Nuts, Seeds, Chia Seeds, Coconut and Coconut Oil, Real Butter, Grass Fed Meats, Free Range chicken and eggs, Fatty Fish (pacific or wild salmon or small fish)
Many of these fats are healthy saturated fats which were previously given an especially bad reputation but are actually good for you!
All the studies that link fat to disease never differentiated between healthy fats and bad fats.
Bad Fats are Trans Fats: These fats are damaged and cause inflammation in your arteries when ingested.
Cheap, low grade vegetable oils turn into trans fats when heated and shouldn’t be consumed. The worst fats are partially hydrogenated oils.
Examples are: Soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil.
These oils are found in almost every processed food that we eat…so start reading labels. You will find them in Margarine, Breads, Crackers, Cookies, Salad Dressings, Dips and Spreads.
Decrease the amount of Toxins and Chemicals You Put into your Body
We have talked in previous posts about the amount of toxicity that our bodies are exposed to on a regular basis. A huge contributor to this toxicity is our food.
Choose organic whenever you can and start reading the labels on everything you buy. If there is something on the label that you can’t pronounce, it is likely not good for you and you shouldn’t put it in your body.
Decrease the Amount of Sugar you Eat and Drink
This is big one. The big problem of why we are fat and sick as a culture.
The average North American consumes 53 teaspoons of sugar every day!
In the US, the average person consumes approximately 150 pounds of sugars and sweeteners per year!
The number one source of all this sugar is soda pop. One third of dietary sugar comes from soft drinks.
The Average American consumes 55 Gallons of soda pop per year!
Most of us think of sugar as soda, candies, sweets and desserts….BUT…there is sugar in everything that is processed:
Pasta sauces, Pizza, Lunch meats, Salad dressings, Yogurt, Soups, Crackers, Cereals, Fruit drinks, Ketchup, Mayonaise, Canned foods and more.
There is even sugar in table salt!
Sugar is the primary cause of obesity, heart disease and cancer. It causes inflammation in the body and can lead to hormonal and metabolic imbalances. Sugar is the fast track to diabetes.
Sugar is an anti-nutrient and in fact, it is a poison that we ingest far too much of.
If you do any one thing to improve your health, reduce the amount of sugar that you put into your body!
The most obvious and the least followed in our instant gratification, fast food, sweet-tooth society:
Eat more whole raw fruits and vegetables!
So let’s wrap up our rules for nutrition basics:
- Drink more water
- Eat more healthy fats and avoid bad fats
- Decrease the toxins and chemicals you are eating
- Decrease the sugar that you are eating.
- Eat more whole raw fruits and vegetables (more good stuff)
We have just touched on these topics and we have so much more to discuss, but I just wanted to give you the nutrition basics to get you started.
Eat Well and Live Well,
Dr. Peggy Malone is a health care provider who encourages her patients every day to create better habits associated with their health and wellness. She is wife to the hilarious and heavily bearded John, with whom she takes many adventures as well as Cat Mom to the floofy ragdoll Amigo.
Dr. Peggy is also a human being on a mission to create better habits for herself and by doing so, she hopes to inspire others to take up the challenge with her!
You can join her on these adventures every week by tuning into The Improvement Project podcast