for a Healthy Diet
becoming more and more aware of the connection between diet and health. Research has linked conditions such as
obesity and cardiovascular disease to diets high in fat; kidney stones and
osteoporosis to diets high in protein; diabetes mellitus to diets high in dairy
at a young age; and colon cancer to diets low in fiber. What may not be so obvious, however, is that
a poor diet can also be a contributing factor to such day to day problems as
fatigue, headaches, mood swings, indigestion, constipation, skin problems,
menstrual discomfort, allergies, etc. The information given below is designed to help you begin making more
healthful food choices. Changing
lifelong, deeply ingrained eating habits can be difficult. As you strive to follow these principles be patient
with yourself, keep a sense of humor, enjoy your successes.
- Include plenty of fresh
vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. These foods promote health by providing
an abundance of fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes (if eaten raw), and
many other life-giving substances that science is just beginning to
- Include a moderate amount of
protein from beans and bean products like tofu, lentils, seeds, nuts,
yogurt, fish, and a lesser amount from meat, poultry, and eggs.
- Try to minimize the fat in your diet,
but keep in mind that some fats are essential to health. (see section on
- Wherever possible, eat foods in
their natural rather then processed form. For example, fresh vegetables have more food value then frozen
vegetables, which in turn have more food value then canned vegetables.
- Wherever possible, choose organic
over non-organic foods. Foods grown
non-organically often contain pesticides and other chemical residues which
have been linked to certain cancers. Organic farming also helps preserve farmland and decreases
contamination of ground water.
- Keep yourself well hydrated. Drink at least the equivalent of
one-half of your body weight in ounces (about 6-8 glasses of water
daily). Add lemon or lime to the
water to help alkalize it. Being well hydrated helps with bowel
- Whole Grains: Brown rice, millet,
oats, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, amaranth, corn, whole wheat, spelt, teff.
- Legumes: All dried beans - navy, white, black, mung, garbanzo,
pinto, etc.; lentils, split peas, tempeh and tofu.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, beets, beet
greens, spinach, chard, red and green cabbage, squash, kale, carrots,
spouts, etc. Chose the darkest
- Fruits: Apples, berries, melons, grapefruit, oranges, kiwi, etc. Most
juices are high in simple sugars and devoid of fiber. One can decrease the concentration of
sugar by diluting juice 1:1 with water. Choose the whole fruit or vegetable instead of the juice whenever
- Nuts/Seeds: Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans,
brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. It is also important to be aware that
commercially "roasted" nuts have often been deep fried. Look for "raw" and seeds that are "not
- Fish: Salmon, cod, trout, tuna, mackerel, ahi, etc. Fresh salmon is an especially good
source of healthy oil called eiosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Avoid farm raised fish. It tends to be higher in mercury. Tests of sushi have found it to be high
in mercury. The smaller the fish
the lower the mercury concentration.
- Dairy products: People are often intolerant
or allergic to dairy products. However, if you tolerate them well, choose non-fat dairy products.
"Low-fat" dairy still contains a significant amount of fat, as with 2%
milk which still derives 25% of it's calories from fat. Unsweetened, non-fat yogurt is an
especially good choice and is protective against several diseases. Limit your milk intake. It is very hard to digest. Remember, the calcium in milk does not
- Meat and poultry: Due to the high
fat content in most meats, they are best used sparingly. Skinless turkey
breast is lowest in fat. Buy organically
fed or free roaming meat, poultry and eggs, whenever possible, because
they do not contain the hormones and antibiotics present in most animal
feed. Be sure to choose meats that
do not contain nitrates as these have been linked with stomach cancer.
- Fats and oils: See special section on fats and
- Salt and Spices: Increased salt
intake had been linked to high blood pressure and fluid retention. Humans
require between 2-5 grams of salt per day (5 grams equals 1 tsp.). Most
Americans consume in excess of this amount. Therefore, salty seasonings
like soy sauce, tamari, Bragg's Liquid Amino's, and miso should be used in
moderation. Garlic, lemon juice,
fresh herbs and other spices can be used liberally.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet.
Aspartame is dangerous and will hopefully be off the market soon.
- White flour products like bread,
pasta, pastries, and white sugar (use whole grain breads and pasta
- Stimulants like coffee, black tea
and soft drinks. Drink in moderation if at all. Do not drink diet soda.
- Processed foods which are low in
fiber, high in fat, sugar, and salt contain chemical colorings, flavorings
and preservatives. Remember on
apple instead of applesauce, apple pie or apple juice!
that you are getting sufficient good quality oils in your diet, follow the
- Avoid commercial oils found in
supermarkets. Most have been
heavily processed and have some oxidative damage and vitamin
depletion. Look for "organic" and
- Avoid margarine, Crisco, and
other hydrogenated fats. Trans
fatty acids formed in the process have been linked to cardiovascular
disease. Butter is best, but
- Purchase expeller-pressed (or
cold-pressed) vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, sesame, and canola,
preferably in their unrefined form. To help preserve the oil, add a few drops of liquid vitamin E and
store it in the refrigerator. Olive
oil can be stored on the shelf.
- Prepared foods and salad
dressings do not contain expeller-pressed oils unless stated on the
label. Therefore, use them in
- Cook only with olive oil. Olive
oil resists oxidative damage during cooking. If you like the flavor of butter, add a
drop to the pan after cooking (a hint from Wegmans).
- Try using a squirt bottle with
olive oil or sesame oil to cover your wok or frying pan. This decreases the amount of oil needed
Examples of Healthy
oriented cookbooks and magazines contain many ideas for healthy meals. Try some of these simple combinations for
lunch or dinner:
- Eat a wide variety of foods.
Rotate your foods. (Don't eat the same food over & over). Remember if
you crave a certain food you're often allergic or sensitive to it.
- A seasoned vegetable stir-fry
with a few cashews or walnuts over a bed of grains (rice, millet, quinoa,
and buckwheat are good choices).
- A corn tostada layered with
refried beans (low-fat varieties are available), sliced avocado, salsa,
and topped with a shredded carrot.
- Lightly baked or broiled salmon with
lemon and olive oil drizzled on top, and a steamed vegetable on the side.
- A whole wheat pita-bread sandwich
stuffed with hummus (a Middle-Eastern dish made from pureed chickpeas and
sesame butter; available at most natural foods stores), sliced black olives,
lettuce, and sprouts.
- A large raw salad with marinated
tofu (available in natural foods stores) and Dijon vinaigrette dressing.
aluminum cookware. Aluminum tends to accumulate in the brain and nervous tissue
and may be implicated in Alzheimer's disease. Safe cookware includes stainless steel, Pyrex glassware, and cast iron
skillets. A seasoned cast iron pan doesn't need oil to prevent sticking.
- Chose vitamins from a reputable
company (ask Barb, Dr. Chuck, or Dr. Andrew).
- Make sure they are free of gluten
or dairy (if you are sensitive).
- Give your body a day of rest.
Take them for 6 days and don't take on the 7th day (this prevents
- It's best to get your vitamins
form the food we eat, but since it's not always possible, a multiple vitamin
is a good idea.