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With the introduction of the internet, information about health, food and eating is easily accessible, but with all the differing information what should you believe? There are multiple theories and choices of how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and the list can go on and on. Do you need to eat for your blood type? Do you need to eat meat every day? Should you be a vegetarian? What are good foods to eat? What foods should you avoid? Should you concentrate on combining foods correctly? Should you be drinking milk every day to get your calcium? Can you get all the nutrition you need from your food? Does the food you buy have pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, or antibiotics? The most important thing is to eat fresh, whole, chemical free foods.
In 400 BC Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Thomas Edison, inventor and visionary, said, "The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame and diet, and the causes of disease."
Until 1900 food therapy was widely practiced as a way of healing the sick and keeping the healthy well. Doctors of that time period prescribed whole natural foods to their patients to heal the body. Many things have changed since then. The advent of the Henry Ford tractor in 1905 changed the face of American farming – the prairies erupted with mountains of corn, soybeans and oats – which were fed to cows, chickens and pigs – then their meat became a plentiful staple of the diet – instead of special-occasion dishes. Americans went from a low-fat, high-fiber, plant-based diet to one centered on high-fat, low-fiber, animal-based foods. Supermarkets came into being creating the need for longer shelf life and container packaging of foods. Preservatives were developed to keep food ‘fresh’ for long periods of time. These are just a few of the changes which can negatively affect health.
Determining the best foods and way to eat is an individual issue. Everyone is different and no two people will be able to eat or need the same foods for good health. No matter what the health problem, it is best to keep meals simple. The stomach has a hard time dealing with a large variety of foods at the same time.
A healthy lifestyle should contain a minimum of 2 servings of FRESH fruit daily. Fruit is necessary to cleanse your body. Whole fruit is better than the juice as your body needs the fiber in whole fruits. If using juice, it is better to juice your own if you can and if not, purchase organic juices from a reliable company. Beware of juices with ‘added’ nutrients. Get your calcium out of your vegetables, not your orange juice. Fruit is always best eaten alone.
Attempt to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables per day. These should be at least ½ cup servings and be a rainbow of colors, because each color group contains different nutrients. Daily consumption of a large salad with a variety of greens and an oil and lemon or vinegar dressing should be a priority for everyone. Interestingly enough, even as long ago as 2005 the USDA dietary guidelines encourage people to increase their intake of plant-based foods.
A good rule of thumb for protein is to divide your body weight by 3. This is the minimum number of grams of protein needed daily. (i.e. weight = 150, protein needed = 50 grams). The average 3 oz. serving of meat or fish is 25 grams. 1 ounce of raw nuts is 20 grams. Nuts digest easiest if they are raw and soaked in plain water for 8 hours and then drained before eating. If you prefer your nuts ‘crunchy’, dehydrate them for several hours. Soaking deactivates the enzyme inhibitor in the skins which make them hard to digest. Dark green vegetables, beans, legumes, whey, fermented milk products like kefir and yogurt should be the primary sources of protein, rather than meat or unfermented dairy products. If you are going to eat meat, eat kosher varieties and try to find range fed or organic to avoid harmful hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.
Grains are important--but not refined grains. Grains should be complex whole foods which mean they should NOT be white. Rice and wheat are brown; the colored part on the outer layer is what cleans and moves the bowel. Stripping away the outer layer removes all the B-vitamins and most of the nutrients from rice and grains. Average carbohydrate intake should be around 100 grams daily.
Avoid processed or manufactured foods filled with chemicals, additives, or preservatives If you can’t pronounce something in the ingredient list, or it has numbers or hyphens in it, the item is a toxic additive or preservative.
If you burn a lot of calories while working or exercising heavily, the caloric intake will need to be adjusted. If you are gaining weight, lower your carbohydrate intake, increase your daily salad and start exercising. Keep Mealtimes Positive, if you usually eat on the run, choose to sit down and turn off the television or radio. Don’t allow your thoughts to be occupied with worry, irritation, or uncertainty. Focus on your meal and on pleasant thoughts.
If you spend all your time at a fast food drive through, it’s time to make some changes. Start thinking about eating healthier and adding more fruits and vegetables (not ketchup) into your lifestyle. If making changes overwhelms you, begin by eating one piece of raw fruit every morning. After a week, add some raw vegetables or salad for lunch. The next week add more fruit, or more vegetables. Eventually your lifestyle will have changed, it is now a habit to eat better, and your body will thank you for it.
Have a happier, healthier day.
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