Eat to Heal
Whether we like it or not everything we put in our mouth has an impact on our health and well-being because of the nutrients the foods do or do not have.
Modern nutritional science has made us aware that Whole Foods which are clean and unprocessed foods promote health. Conversely processed food has been stripped of most of its nutrients and promotes disease. Simply put, we are what we eat!
Traditional healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet, the Palio or hunter gatherer diet, and the Japanese diet are mostly plant-based. Meat and sugars would have been a special treat. These diets including the Inuit diet includes plenty of oily fish, generally rich in the omega-3fatty acid DHA which is high in antioxidants.
Another typifying factor is they rely on organic seasonal food. They don’t promote the idea of snacking a habit in the Western diet which is characterised by overloading the system with red meat, sugars, salt and hydrogenated and trans fats.
This Western diet is associated with diseases ranging from heart disease, cancers especially of the colon, high blood pressure and strokes.
The high consumption of grains in the form of bread, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals and refined pasta mean that grain in the form of wheat is a significant form of carbohydrate energy.
For many people this diet takes a high toll on their health. Modern strains of cereals am now much higher in gluten content than they were a hundred years ago.
Reliance on Cereals Has a Negative Impact on Our Health
The number of people now intolerant to gluten or having a gluten sensitivity is now growing. Continuing to eat gluten places a strain on their digestive systems and ultimately on the balance of nutrients they can adjust.
Even if you are just bloated from too much cereal you may be denying your body essential minerals. Phytate’s are found in the outer hull of most grains. They are essential to the grain because they prevent the grain from sprouting until the conditions are right. They are the perfect example of evolution in action, they ensure the survival of the fittest in the grain.
However, in humans the story is quite different. Phytic acid sometimes blocks the absorption of essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium copper iron and zinc. Ultimately a diet high in grains results in mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
This doesn’t mean that cereals can’t be a useful part of our modern healthy diet. It does mean they need soaking, sprouting or souring to make them fit for human consumption. These methods of preparation neutralise the anti-nutrients found in grain.
Different cultures have established different ways of preparing grains. In Eastern Europe it was common to use the sour dough method of bread production to make rye flour more digestible.
Soya Is It Healthy?
Modern researchers also found that diets high in soya reduce the side effects of the menopause in women. Also as we consume less meat consumption of beans and legumes are increasing. These beans are essential proteins in a vegetarian diet, but these foods also contain phytates.
Soybeans are actually low in calcium. This is one reason why the traditional Japanese diet which includes a lot of soya, ferments that soya in the form of miso or tempeh. Ancient Japanese preparation techniques have largely eliminated most of the antinutrients in other grains and legumes. This makes the diet healthier than it might appear on the surface.
The current Western diet or the typical American diet includes fats and carbohydrates and proteins. Unfortunately, the fats are not good fats in general and the proteins are often massively processed stripping them of essential nutrients. This diet is also high in refined grains saturated fats and sugar. Sugar is the single most ageing product on the planet.
The good news is that very small changes can have a very beneficial effect on your health. The greatest benefit is achieved by eating a varied diet including the nutrient rich vegetables and fruits. You can’t go far wrong if you eat all of the colours of the rainbow in terms of fruit and vegetables every day.
The nutrients your body will ingest reduces the likelihood of you developing dementia, inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, it is a protection against some types of cancer and heart and circulatory diseases.
Essential Dietary DiversityEat to Heal
No one single food group can supply all the nutrients we need. A diverse diet protects against the onset of type II diabetes. Type II diabetes in itself will not kill you but the complications from diabetes can kill. By balancing your blood sugar levels you protect against blood vessel damage amongst other things.
Small changes such as including side dishes of vegetables, fresh home-made salsas pickles and chutneys in every meal will make your diet healthier. Adding vegetable soup as a starter helps both fill you up and increase the nutrient diversity of your diet.
Increase the diversity of diet by buying fruit and vegetables you have never tried before. Adding fresh herbs and spices not only makes increases your nutritional diversity but it also reduces the need to add salt and sugar because you already have natural flavourings in the food. Most people are familiar with adding herbs to hot food but adding fresh herbs to fresh salad leaves also boosts the natural antioxidants in your food.
Certainly nutritional studies consider organic food to be nutritionally superior. Not everyone has access to locally grown organic food. Sometimes it is just not available and sometimes it is too expensive to consider using it as part of the family diet. If this is the case then buy local fresh produce from your area. Seasonal food increases the amount of nutrients available to you and are beneficial to your overall health.
Choosing local and seasonal fruits and vegetables will encourage you to make healthier choices. Don’t be obsessive about this though it’s a nice idea to eat food that travels less than 30 miles to your doorstep. However bananas and avocados and pineapples would be inaccessible to most people.
The Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule works well here. This is a universal rule of life in everything and it means in this case that you would need 80% of locally sourced food and 20% of food which has been imported from other countries or areas.
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