Have you ever made dramatic changes to your lifestyle? Maybe you did a cleanse? The roller coaster dieting ringing a bell? Well, join the club! We all would like an easy way out to our desired results, right? The truth is, we don’t have to do any of that, we can simply start small.
1. Limit Sugar
Eating too much sugar increases our risk for obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and skin disorders.
Read nutrition labels and look for “added sugars.” Sugar that occurs naturally in fruit for example is not the problem.
Read the ingredient list and look for the “hidden sugars.” For example, anything ending in “ose” is a sugar such as fructose, sucrose, galactose, dextrose. High fructose corn syrup is a chemically produced inflammatory sugar that should be omitted from our diets
2. Drink Filtered Clean Water
Our body is about 60% water and drinking enough of it is vital for optimal health. We need to be adequately hydrated for our body to function properly and to allow blood to flow freely to deliver oxygen and nutrients to every cell of our body.
- Recommendations are to drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water per day for each pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you should aim for 75 to 150 ounces of water per day. If you live in a hot climate and exercise a lot, you will need to drink about 150 ounces of water per day.
- Always keep a water bottle with you and sip throughout the day, setting a reminder to finish and refill your water bottle every hour or two.
- Drink a large glass of water upon arising, as we start the day in a dehydrated state.
3. Increase Fiber Intake for Healthy Eating
Fiber is one of the main reasons that whole plant foods are so healthy for us. Evidence continues to show that adequate fiber intake benefits our digestion and reduces our risk for chronic disease. Many of these benefits are mediated by our gut microbiota-the trillions of beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive system. Total dietary fiber intake should be 25-35 grams per day for adults. Most Americans average about 15 grams per day. That is half of the recommended amount.
- When increasing fiber, be sure to do it gradually and with plenty of water.
- Include vegetables in meals and snacks as they are particularly low in calories and high in nutrients including fiber.
- Include high fiber fruits such as berries and apples daily
- Choose whole, intact gluten free grains and starches such as quinoa, gluten free oats, brown rice, beans, potatoes, teff, buckwheat, millet and gluten free flours (almond, coconut, cassava).
- Add in chia seeds, ground flax seed and psyllium husk.
4. Use Organic Herbs and Spices Liberally for Healthy Eating
Our Standard American Diet (SAD) promotes the fallacy that the only good tasting food is laden with sugar, salt and fat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Traditional ethnic cuisines, based on ancient wisdom and practices, use a rich array of spices that add layers of stimulating flavors and enjoyment to our food as well as adding an abundance of health promoting properties.
- Many herbs and spices contain abundant phytonutrients in small serving sizes. For example-1 tsp to 1 T added to vegetables can double the antioxidant power of the vegetables.
- Many herbs and spices calm and heal the digestive system- ginger and peppermint are the most notable for this effect.
- Organic is best, as conventionally grown herbs and spices and the manner in which they are processed, degrade the medicinal health promoting power of herbs and spices.
5. Eat more Vegetables and Fruits for Healthy Eating
Eating a variety of healthy, colorful plant-based foods supplies a range of nutrients and fiber that can lower your risk for several chronic diseases.
- Deeply colored vegetables and fruits, contain an impressive amount antioxidants and nutrients. Try to include as many colors in a day as possible such as dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potatoes and carrots, purple/blue/red berries, beets, and cabbage. Variety is vital!
- Aim for a minimum of 6-9 servings per day and maintain your vegetable to fruit ratio at least 2/1-meaning eat twice as many vegetables as fruit.
Buying organic produce is one of the most significant steps we can take to minimize our exposure to toxins, pesticides, and chemicals. Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce that lists fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residues. This list is known as the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” respectively. To clarify, we should all try to eat organic as much as possible, but at the very least we should always eat the Dirty Dozen produce foods organic, as they typically contain the highest concentration of pesticides.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2021
- Kale, collard and mustard greens
- 10.Bell and hot peppers
EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2021
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas
- Honeydew melon
Please contact us to make an appointment with our Functional Medicine Dietitian Tammy Gallow RN, RD for more personalized health tips and delicious recipes to maximize the power of food to bring more enjoyment to your life and healing to your body.
Your AustinMD Family