Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Fundamentals of Nutrition

                                      Healing From the Inside Out -  Nutrition

When physical problems surface in the body, it usually doesn't happen overnight. The groundwork for disease and tissue breakdown is laid out by our decisions on what we feed ourselves and our ability to deal with stress, whether that is physical, mental or emotional stress.

Your body is made up of millions of cells. Each one depends on the nutrients you put into your body to function correctly. If you eat an unbalanced, over processed, chemically treated diet your body will reflect this with poor health and a weakened immune system. Many of the physical problems that we medicate ourselves for could be relieved by paying better attention to our diet.

This is the food pyramid showing approximately how much of each category should make up our diet.

This is what it should look like on your plate. Half of the plate veggies, one quarter protein and one quarter carbohydrate. Small amounts of healthy oils and lots of water to drink will give you a healthy balanced diet.

Your body needs carbohydrates for energy, protein to rebuild the physical structures and fats to create the lipid membranes that hold our cells together. Vitamins and trace minerals are needed to regulate the metabolism and to act as co-enzymes. Any diet that excludes one or more of these components is not a healthy, balanced diet. However that being said, there are good and bad versions of each of these components. If your carbs come from donuts , your protein from hamburgers , your fats from saturated fats and your food is processed to death, your health will suffer.

Carbohydrates are measured by something called the glycemic scale. This measures the ability of carbohydrates to raise the blood glucose level. Most vegetables, fruits and raw grains are on the low/healthy end of the scale while processed white flour, sugar laden items etc. are at the high/unhealthy end .For more information on the glycemic scale take a look at this site

Try to choose items from the low end of the scale and eat them in their raw state as much as possible to receive the most nutritional value. Cooking and processing food destroys the vitamins and minerals, lowering its ability to supply the body with the building tools it needs. Organic food has been shown in studies to contain much higher levels of vitamins and minerals and haven't been treated with a lot of dangerous chemicals and hormones.

The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood.
Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides. Research has found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the dirty dozen list consume an average of ten pesticides a day.
Those who eat from the fifteen least contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than two pesticides daily.

The data used to create these lists is based on produce tested as it is normally eaten ( meaning washed, peeled, rinsed, depending on the type of produce) Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides.

Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach: eat a varied diet, rinse all produce and buy organic when possible.

The Dirty Dozen ( the most pesticides, buy these organic)
7.bell peppers

The Clean Fifteen ( lowest in pesticides)
most of these have a tough outer skin that is removed before eating

3.sweet corn
6.sweet peas
14.sweet potatoe
15.honeydew melon

Protein is available from a number of different sources such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, soy and by combining beans and rice. Red meat should be eaten sparingly as it contains high levels of saturated fats which clog the arteries. Wild fish is a good choice as the fats in cold water fish like salmon are beneficial to the body. Free range poultry should be used and cooked using low fat methods such as grilling or roasting . Dairy products should be low-fat versions and non-GMO soy products are preferable to animal. Goat products are better than cow because cow milk contains a growth hormone that the human body recognizes and uptakes. This growth hormone in adults results in growth of cancer cells.
For a fascinating read on the dangers of dairy products check out this site

Beans and rice eaten together at a meal produce a complete protein that can be used to replace meat for vegetarians.  Quinoa (pronounced 'keen wah'), is a frequently neglected and relatively unknown superfood - containing a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and a great source of protein.

Fats should be comprised of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids found in fish, cold -pressed oils such as olive oil, nuts and seeds. Saturated fats found in butter, red meats and cheeses and whole milk should be avoided as much as possible.

Water is another important component of your diet. Your body is made up of 70 percent water and it needs to be replaced on a regular basis to maintain the body's systems. Many symptoms of pain can be linked to dehydration. Drinks such as coffee, tea, sodas and alcohol are not good substitutes as caffeine and alcohol have a dehydrating effect on the body and usually contain many sugars which depress the immune system. Drink these in moderation, no more than one or two small cups a day.

Fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices contain lots of vitamins and minerals, but concentrate the fruit sugars. Better to eat the whole fruit and get the fiber benefits, but juicing is a good way to get your 5 servings a day in.

 Some people use juice fasts to detoxify and remineralize the body ( please do some research on fasting if you are considering it. There is a right way and wrong way to do it. It is a process that needs to be eased into and out of to minimize adverse affects) Here is a link about fasting that should answer most of your questions. Elson M. Haas M.D. has written a marvelous book called The Detox Diet. Its a how-to and when-to guide for fasting and cleansing, with specific programs outlined to help you cleanse the body of addictions to sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, chemicals and more

Ideally you should be eating food that is grown locally, organically, picked at the peak of ripeness and in season. Berries and young shoots in the spring, fresh market fruits and vegetables in the summer, roots , tuber vegetables and nuts in the fall and winter. These all had a place in the diets of our ancestors and their different nutrients lent support to the activities of each season. Cooking methods should be low fat for meats, steamed or raw for veggies and as lightly processed as possible. Avoid heavy gravies, deep frying, excess sugar and empty calories.

If you are considering dieting, I have found that Weight Watchers has the most sensible, realistic approach. Based on your current weight and goal weight, using a formula, you are given a points number. This reflects how many food points you are allowed each day. Foods such as most raw veggies are worth zero points(this means you can eat as much as you want!!) other foods are given a point value depending on the amount of calories to fiber and fat ratio found in each. By choosing carefully you can eat as much as you want without going hungry. It teaches you to read labels, measure portions and to be aware of what you are eating. Nothing is off limits but its your choice. If half a pizza represents your total points for the day, you may reconsider and have one slice with a large salad and a piece of fruit and still have points left over for your other meals of the day. By adding some regular exercise to your day , it won't take long before you see results. Weight Watchers also incorporates support groups and regular weigh-ins as part of their plan for healthy living.

I have found that starting each day with an oatmeal breakfast to be one of the best tools for weight management. Oatmeal is low on the glycemic index . It releases its sugars slowly and prevents mid morning energy slumps and cravings. I found that I was satisfied with a large salad for lunch which contained some protein( I favored tuna and boiled eggs, but there are many choices you could make.) Dinner is usually fish or chicken served with rice and roasted vegetables, another salad, and fruit and nuts for desert and snacks. Its a bit of a simple menu but I know what I'm eating, shopping is easy and preparation time is quick. My favorite appliance is my George Forman Grill. I can quickly and easily cook meats and roasted veggies, for a healthy low fat dinner. Personally, I only drink water, no coffee, tea, pop, or milk. I do have my treats , but I know that the majority of my diet is balanced and healthy.

How do you know if you are overweight? The body -mass index is a tool used by the medical profession to gauge your height to weight ratio. Go here to see how it works and to get your BMI ratio. If you fall into a range of 25 or above , you are overweight and may be at risk for many health problems.

People that carry their weight mostly in the midsection have been found to be at greater risk for heart disease and other problems. Although genetics can have a say in your weight, most of it can be controlled through proper diet and exercise.

Here is an article on what to eat to increase energy levels

and another called power eating- 5 sure fire ways to boost body and spirit

Hormones can also play a large part in weight control, here is a link that outlines some of these and their effects

I saw first hand the ravages of cortisol on my body. For a few years my life was extremely stressful, causing a build up of cortisol that caused my weight to skyrocket. At the end I weighed 200 lbs on a five foot , two inch frame. I was constantly out of breathe, my muscles and joints were always sore and I looked terrible. I left my job and took an extended holiday away from all my stress. I started sleeping better hours, getting some exercise(mostly walking ) and followed the Weight Watchers plan for eating. I lost 60 pounds in 12 months and kept it off for over two years. My portable massage table weighs about 60 pounds and I can hardly lift it. I don't know how I managed to drag that much extra weight around on me for all those years, its no wonder I was always sore!!

As I mentioned earlier, many symptoms of disease that we medicate ourselves for are actually nutritional deficiencies. Here is a site that lists some of the common ones. You might be surprised at what is really causing your discomfort
This site contains a wealth of information on vitamins, recommended dosages, vitamin deficiencies and toxic amounts. It should answer most if not all of your nutrition questions.

So now you know what nutrients might be lacking in your diet, do you want to take supplements? This article explains the pros and cons of supplements.

There are many diets and new ideas constantly flooding the market these days. Its hard to weed out the good from the bad. In general the closer you stick to natural foods and a balanced diet, the better your chances of experiencing good health.Give your body the fuel and building blocks that it needs to function properly and you will be well on your way . Bon Appetite!!... namaste..Rhianna

Stay tuned for part two of healing from the inside where we will look at ways to deal with stress.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, Rhianna

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