WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FOOD
You are what you eat, so food does impact your general health. To make matters more complicated, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding food.
What To Eat?
Some say vegan is the only way to eat, while others need to follow the Akins diet. Both extremes are viable ways to eat. What is healthy to eat for one person may be unhealthy (if not deadly) to another.
Most people eat so poorly that anything they do on purpose to improve their eating habits will work for a while, but will it be healthy and sustainable in the long term?
Personally, I do everything in moderation. But this is not a viable option for someone who has severe allergies, where even the tiniest amount of exposure can kill them.
It is imperative to have a good nutritionist on your healthcare team who is able to tailor their advice to your specific needs. With their expertise, you can select healthy foods and create a healthy eating plan while avoiding foods containing allergens or foods you don’t care for.
With that said, I want to share facts about food that are good for everyone to know. In this chapter, I hope to give you some food for thought (pun intended).
First, my advice on fats.
Why We Need Healthy Fat
We need fat to help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Some diets tell us to avoid fat. I don’t avoid eating fatty foods as long as they contain healthy fats. Avocado, wild salmon, and walnuts are a few examples of tasty foods that are full of good fats. I use organic real butter because it does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease like we once thought it did. Rather, simple carbs increase our risk. Margarines and other fake butters are unnatural, unhealthy, and even related to weight gain!
Fat-free diets are not healthy because you need fat to digest fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K). I can’t stress enough the importance of including good fats in your diet. Fat protects every cell in your body, including the cells in your brain that help you think clearly and make good decisions. Cell membranes (the wall around every cell) are mostly made of fats (two layers of phospholipids) with proteins and sugars embedded throughout the two layers of fat. If you are deficient in nutrients like essential fats and proteins, your body will crave them, and you will eat more foods containing these nutrients.
Fat has a bad reputation because, like anything, it is not healthy to ingest it in excess. Plus, eating fat helps you feel fuller for longer. “Real” Food Vs. “Fake” Food I avoid “fake” foods with artificial flavoring or anything else artificial in them. I am saddened when I hear that people are trying to do the right thing and be healthy but are misled into eating fat-free foods (which tend to be ultra-high in sugar content and flavor-enhancing chemicals). Worse, some people use artificial sweeteners “for their health” because they believe it will help them lose weight.
Unfortunately, consuming artificial sweeteners and artificial fats often leads to weight gain. Artificial sweeteners confuse your taste buds, making foods that are good for you taste bad in comparison. Such artificial sweeteners have been scientifically designed to fool our taste buds, and they scream to our brain, “This tastes awesome! I want more!” In nature, if a food tastes good, the enticing flavor indicates that the food is a good energy source with vital nutrients. Unfortunately, artificial foods are not a good source of nutrients, unbeknownst to our taste buds.
Natural foods — “real” foods — are not as effective at activating our taste buds as artificial flavors are, so they stop tasting as good in comparison. Plus, when your taste buds are overstimulated by artificial flavors, the overstimulation cues thoughts of wanting more, so you tend to eat more. Over time, diets high in artificial sweeteners create deficiencies of essential nutrients, making you crave more food in search of these nutrients. Basically, artificial foods and flavorings interfere with your full button.
Sugar And Salt
Sugar and salt are not evil either. They have a bad reputation because manufacturers of processed foods add way too much salt or sugar or both to their foods. We tend to eat more processed, prepackaged foods than we do natural foods, which compounds the problem of weight gain in this country. We have become accustomed to a sweet and salty diet.
Flavors are a matter of perception. If you eat a lot of processed foods or feel you may be eating too much salt and sugar, try reducing the amount of salt and sugar you eat. After a few weeks, you should be able to taste the salt and sugar in items you never could before. Foods you used to think tasted plain, or even bad, should start tasting better to you.
If you are very good at avoiding salt, you may need to add a pinch of sea salt to your diet. Salt is only bad if eaten too much. Low salt levels can also negatively impact your health. Every cell in your body needs salt, just not too much.
Stop The Soda Pop
If you drink soda pop, try to stop drinking it for a month. Doing so will greatly improve your overall health. Why?
Soda pop has gross amounts of chemicals (artificial flavors, artificial coloring), sugar, and salt. These beverages need copious amount of sugar to make them taste good because they are super-acidic. Without such massive amounts of sugar and artificial flavoring, soda pop would taste as bad is it is for you. Once you drink it, it ruins the taste of all other food. It also messes with your insulin levels, making you hungrier. Diet sodas are even worse because of the ill effects of artificial sweeteners.
After a month without drinking soda pop, you’ll probably drink more water (which is generally a good habit), and natural foods should taste better.
When you eliminate soda pop, you may find yourself eating healthier, and your body should show positive signs of this. I have had many overweight patients experience dramatic weight loss simply by no longer drinking soda and making water their beverage of choice.
I can’t tell you how many patients have expressed genuine surprise at how much better they feel by simply eliminating foods containing chemicals from their diet. I have heard countless times from patients of all sizes that avoiding processed foods and soda has given them so much more energy and stamina that they feel years younger.
Once you feel the benefits, hopefully this enables you to avoid pop forever. It takes at least three months for something to become a habit. Pop is addicting, so it may take even longer.
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Drink Water Often And Regularly
All tissues in our body need water. The amount of water in your body affects blood pressure, muscle tension, and joint and fascia lubrication. When you haven’t drunk enough water, you become dehydrated and may experience a headache, which is your body’s way of demanding that you drink more water.
To calculate how much water to drink daily, multiply your body weight by 1/2. That number indicates how many ounces of water you should drink in a day. For example, I weigh 130 pounds, so I should drink 65 ounces a day (130 x 0.5 = 65; close to eight 8-ounce glasses a day). Additionally, for every half an hour you exercise, you should add at least another 10 ounces.
If you drink black tea, coffee, and/or alcohol, you need to drink even more water. Tea, coffee, and alcohol actually dehydrate you because they interfere with your antidiuretic hormone (ADH).
The hypothalamus (a part of your brain) detects how much water is contained in your blood. If the water content is low, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland (the master gland of your body, also in the brain) to release ADH into your bloodstream. When the ADH reaches the kidneys, the hormone opens the kidneys tubules, so more water is reabsorbed into your blood (instead of urinating it out). After the water pressure is restored, the hypothalamus detects this and tells the pituitary gland to stop producing ADH. The ADH levels in the blood drop, and the tubules close down so more of the fluid flows out as urine. This negative feedback loop ensures that our blood holds the perfect amount of water.
Simply put, if you drink too much water, the body will urinate out the excess but keep a healthy amount in, as long as you eat and urinate as needed. As with anything you ingest, it is possible to overdose on water, but it would be difficult to do so. If you’re curious about this, you can google hyponatremia, a condition in which the blood contains too little salt because you have either not eaten enough salt or you have drunk too much water. I find most people are in a dehydrated state.
When you drink fluids like tea, coffee, and alcohol instead of water, ADH production goes down. This interferes with the regulation of water in the body, causing you to urinate out too much water, leading to dehydration. Dehydration has a nasty effect on one’s health, especially over the long term.
So, in any given day, for every ounce of alcohol and for every cup of tea or coffee you drink, you should drink at least 8 additional ounces of water.
Because I lead an active lifestyle and drink beverages that mess with my ADH, I try to drink at least three 32-ounce containers (96 ounces) of water a day.
Half the time, when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. So, if you eat three healthy meals a day and you are still hungry, try drinking more water. If you have weight to lose, drinking more water is an easy way to get those extra pounds off. If you are still hungry after a meal, drinking water should make you feel full. Try drinking a cup of hot water with lemon in it to see if that satisfies you. It may save you from unnecessary caloric intake.
Remember, toxins are stored in our fat, so if you are losing fat, you are releasing these toxins into the blood. You can get sick if you are not able to flush them out. This is why drinking water not only aids weight loss but is so important when losing weight.
Warning: Excess water can be a problem too, especially if you are drinking more than 1.5 gallons a day. Too much water can cause you to flush out your electrolytes (much needed salts), negatively impact your blood sugar levels (diabetes insipidus), resulting in imbalances in your body. This is why it is important to have a healthcare professional help you determine your specific nutritional needs.
Then there is the question of whether to eat organic. I trust that my body is an amazing organism with the ability to detox, within reason. Research lacks evidence to show eating organic is healthier.
When it comes to vegetables, I am not too picky about them being organic. Even if product labels reliably indicated how well the farmer complied with the legal requirements to label foods “organic” and “environmentally sound,” I feel there is no such thing unless you grow them in your own garden.
Most of us do not have enough time, space, energy, or inclination to keep our own gardens, but if you do, eating fresh from the garden is clearly the best way to get your vegetables. Second to that is buying fresh local veggies at the farmers market or a store that sells local food; the less time there is between a food being harvested and you eating it, the more nutrients it provides. Plus, the closer your food source is, the less pollution created to transport it to you.
Because organic plants are not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, they have to make enzymes, chemicals, and proteins to survive, so organic foods have more nutrients per calorie.
Meat: To Eat Or Not To Eat, That Is The Question
When it comes to eating meat or other animal products, I am definitely stricter than I am when it comes to eating vegetables. Conventional meat found in grocery stores comes from animals that have eaten who-knows-what nasty foods, been injected with who-knows-how-many drugs and hormones and been subjected to who-knows-how-terrible conditions (filling their tissues with stress hormones). So, I choose not to eat it.
I also know many people who are vegan (they don’t eat any animal products, including milk or eggs) because it improves their health. I have heard how symptoms of psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, general joint pain, and other symptoms have resolved with a vegan diet.
I tried the vegan diet, but only lasted a few months. I just didn’t have the time to properly plan my meals to get the nutrients I needed. I reintroduced eggs and dairy and remained an ovo-lacto vegetarian for nine years. I still found it difficult with my active lifestyle to get the protein I needed. I ended up eating more carbohydrates than my body needed, and I had to take supplements for protein and iron (because I was becoming borderline anemic). I was heavier then and not as healthy. I am not saying it was not achievable; it was just not easy for me.
I was taught that eating red meat increases cholesterol levels, and all of my family members suffer with high cholesterol. Despite being vegetarian, my cholesterol was borderline high. I was very worried about how eating meat would affect my cholesterol level, but I was craving meat, so I honored my body’s signals.
I found safe, clean sources of meat and even started raising my own chickens and cattle. Now that I am eating lean, clean meat, my body is the leanest and healthiest it has ever been. Interestingly, my bad cholesterol level is lower than ever, and my good cholesterol is even higher, greatly lowering my risk of heart disease. I now believe that red meat is not a cause of high cholesterol, but the over-fed, hormone-injected, antibiotic-filled meat from stressed-out animals is bad for your cholesterol levels.
When I buy meat, I make sure it is organic and cage free. My favorite is from a local farmer who raises buffalo. It makes for very healthy and lean meat. I am sure you can find a butcher shop that knows its meat sources and can assure you of the animals’ living conditions, the quality of their food source, and that the farmers or ranchers don’t inject the animals with hormones or medications.
This includes fish. Farm-raised fish are fed corn (likely GMO corn), which leads them to make omega-6 fatty acids instead of the healthier omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, they have higher levels of toxins in their tissues. Researchers advise to not eat more than two servings of farm-raised salmon (versus eight servings of wild caught) a month.
for a national listing of fish consumption bans and advisories issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Remember, the more toxins you eat, the more leaky your gut becomes, allowing toxins to enter your blood. If the body cannot neutralize the toxins, it will store them in our fat cells until we are less toxic. If we are always toxic, we never empty these fat cells, making it very difficult to lose fat weight.
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There has been much debate on whether people should take vitamins. If you are eating a healthy, varied, and whole-foods diet, you should be able to get all of your needed vitamins through your food. Unfortunately, most of our food is grown on over-farmed land (so the food produced on it is deficient in micronutrients), and it is genetically designed to look good and have a longer shelf life (not necessarily for its nutritional content or taste). Multiple studies are showing a decline in the nutrition found in vegetables and fruits.
If you are deficient in vitamins and minerals, this directly affects your health as well as the health of your gut. For example, magnesium deficiency can lead to constipation.
Inversely, overdosing on vitamins and minerals (like calcium) can lead to constipation.
My general advice is to take a half dose of a multivitamin every day or two. That way, you are less likely to be deficient in anything without getting overdosed in anything.
GETTING VITAMINS FROM THE RIGHT SOURCE
If you are taking a multivitamin, make sure the vitamins are coming from a plant source. Plants build vitamins through complex biochemical processes that produce one specific biomolecule. When vitamins are produced in a lab, an unnatural form can be produced and included in the multivitamin.
For example, vitamin E has two forms of isomers: An L-alpha tocopherol and a D-alpha tocopherol. Isomers are chemicals that are the same but mirror images of each other. Sometimes this does not matter. For example, a cube is the same as its mirror image. But some shapes are such that the mirror image is different from the original. An example of this would be your hands. There is a left (L) and a right (D).
Vitamin E has a left and a right version. In the picture below, notice how the carbon cyclohexane (the circle of dots on the far right side of the molecule) points forward on the D version and points back on the L version.
Do you see that the mirror image is not the same as the original?
Only the right-hand version of vitamin E, D-alpha tocopherol, works in your body. To help you understand why one works and one doesn’t, even though they look similar, think of a lock and key. If the key is just a little bit different, it won’t work.
Consider the example of a high-tech lock that is opened by your unique right hand. Let’s say you can only open it by inserting your right hand, palm down, so it can read your fingerprints. Your left hand wouldn’t be able to open it. Even if your left hand had the exact same fingerprints as your right hand, it still wouldn’t be able to open the lock because the fingerprints would be in the wrong order.
That is what happens with the left and right vitamin E. The right one works, but the left one does not. An easy way to remember this is “L is for liar.”
Look at your vitamin label. If it says the vitamin E is dl-alpha tocopherol, it has the unnatural form of vitamin E as well as the natural version (hence the d and the l). In my opinion, you should throw this away. Look for a multivitamin that has the d-alpha tocopherol (not the dl-alpha tocopherol) instead.
Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods
Most foods on grocery store shelves today are high in calories and low in nutrients. This means we have to ingest more calories to get the nutrients we need. Our bodies need certain compounds, like amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, and so on. We can’t make these compounds from other compounds; that is why you must make sure they are in the foods you eat. If you do not eat them, you will become deficient and negatively affect your health. This is why we develop cravings. An extreme example of this is geophagy, the craving to eat dirt, as your body goes on the hunt for much-needed nutrients.
If you eat processed foods like potato chips, granola bars, or sugary cereals, you are eating items that are loaded with salt and/or sugar, satisfying your taste buds but not your body’s nutritional needs. So your satisfaction is short lived.
If you eat nutrient-rich foods, you will be more satisfied for longer and not require as much food. This leads to reducing your caloric intake and results in a healthier size for you.
Again, try reducing your salt and sugar levels, and after a few weeks, you should be able to taste the salt and sugar in items you never could before. Nutrient-rich foods you used to think tasted plain or even bad should start tasting better.
Want to be healthier?
We can help! Why Wait?
to schedule with us.
Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
565 N Walnut St,
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 336 - 2423