Read the other parts in the series:
To continue the theme of springtime internal cleaning, the second part of our series focuses on nourishing from the inside out with high quality, nutrient-dense foods. Although the latest diets and fads are constantly hitting the weight-loss market and causing some confusion about what and how to eat, there are four basic nutritional principles that need to be kept in mind in order to eat well, feel well and look your best.
The nourish principles are:
1. You are what you eat!
2. Your body requires all three macronutrients -- carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
3. You need to eat live to feel live.
4. Water yourself down.
Principle 1: You are what you eat!
To quote nutritionist and author Adele Davis, "We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are."
This statement touches upon a deep truth. Although we are of course much more than the sandwich and soup we had at lunch, the quality and quantity of our food choices can have a major influence on our mind and body. We all have a very deep-rooted emotional and chemical relationship to food. Picking higher quality nutritional choices such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products etc., can improve overall wellness and help to prevent the onset of future disease and illness.
Principle 2: Your body requires all three macronutrients
The three macronutrients that are the mainstay of the diet, and that the body requires as its primary sources of energy, are: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. While micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are equally as important, the body only requires them in smaller amounts.
Unfortunately, due to a myriad of diets and health claims such as low fat, high protein and low calorie, people often try to eliminate or greatly minimize one of the macronutrients in an attempt to lose weight. In truth, when looking closer at the weight loss research, it is evident that all macronutrients are required for optimal weight and health. The key is to select the right kind of macronutrients from each category, such as:
1. Low glycemic index carbohydrates
These include most fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain breads or pastas (kamut, spelt). Eliminate all white sugar, refined flours, white potatoes, white bread and white pasta. Try to have a minimum of one dark green food per day (broccoli, spinach) and one orange food (carrots, squash, sweet potato).
2. Lean proteins
Low-fat dairy products, chicken, fish, soy, protein powder, eggs, turkey and lean beef are included here. Minimize full-fat red meat and cheese in the diet. Proteins are a critical factor in muscle repair, blood sugar control and weight loss.
3. The "good" fats
These include monounsaturated fats such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocados. Essential fats called omega 3 fats should be consumed because the body can't make them. This includes options such as flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts, cold water fish (salmon and tuna) and fish oil. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory and help to improve the look of skin, hair and nails. Eliminate trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated fats) from the diet completely.
Principle 3: You need to eat live to feel live
As an adult, you need a minimum of five to nine servings of colourful fruits and vegetables per day for optimal health and wellness. Not only do fruits and vegetables contain an abundant amount of minerals and vitamins, they also provide a rich blend of phytonutrients -- plant chemicals that can prevent and even reverse disease. Examples of phytonutrients are lycopene in tomatoes, sulfurophane in broccoli and flavonoids in dark chocolate, berries and grapes. What does a serving look like? One serving is equal to:
• One medium-size fruit
• 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
• 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
• 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
• 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
• 1/4 cup dried fruit
Principle 4: Water yourself down
After a thorough food analysis, I often hear myself saying to clients, "You're not sick, you're thirsty!&" The body relies on water for proper elimination, for optimal digestion and for basic cellular function. Without it, a myriad of symptoms can arise such as constipation, lack of energy, poor skin, and weight gain. Nutritional changes often take time and focus. That said, by simply increasing your consumption of water per day in the form of distilled water, herbal teas or watered down juice, you will jumpstart your internal spring cleaning process!
Other high quality, nutrient-dense foods that are considered “treats&" but can be included in the diet on a regular basis -- in moderation -- are red wine and dark chocolate squares (70% cocoa).
Still to come: Part 3 of our series will look at moisturizing your skin from the inside out!
Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of the best seller The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2006). For more information, visit www.drjoey.com