Hands up if you’ve had it up to [---HERE---] with the mass dietary confusion that exists these days! Many people have become so confused with what’s good, what’s bad, superfood this and cancer-causing that, that they’ve virtually given up on pursuing a healthy diet at all.
Here’s a few facts:
- Nutritional science, as it stands today, in the Western world is comparatively young (i.e. they don’t know it all) when compared to the traditional knowledge (nutritional wisdom passed down through generations in indigenous cultures around the world) of what is health-supporting or not.
- Also, keep in mind that the press loves a good health controversy (ex. the latest superfoods and super drugs) because it SELLS.
The combination of these facts is a recipe for the confusion that so many people experience in regards to the “appropriate diet.”
My target, as a natural healthcare provider, is to stay on top of the latest, science-based dietary information available and combine that information with what has been proven through generations of pristine health in the traditional cultures to be the optimum human diet. By combining science with practical wisdom, I am able to help steer you towards the natural, un-processed diet of nutrient-dense whole foods that your body needs.
Let’s just think about this for a second, folks. Doesn’t it make good logical sense that your body would thrive on foods that it is designed by nature to consume and utilize, and deteriorate on un-natural, toxin-laden foods that were no where in sight during the human body’s evolution?
The following top 10 guidelines are based on a general nutritional truths that include a return to the natural diet that our bodies were biologically designed to thrive on.
#10: Use only purified/filtered water for cooking and drinking, never tap water.
Drinking pure uncontaminated water as your primary fluid is one of the most important and foundational health principles. And tap water, despite the regulations that purportedly keep it pure, is filled with contaminants — some of them pollution such as rocket fuels and heavy metals. Some are chemicals deliberately put in your water despite not having yet been proven safe. And perhaps the greatest contamination is the unintended consequence of the drug-focused health care paradigm plaguing the United States- the increasing number of drugs finding their way into drinking water supplies, many of which are known to have dangerous side effects.
Live in the Phoenix area? According to Mens Health Magazine, the City of Phoenix has a drinking problem. It isn’t too much tequila or beer that’s the issue. It’s the drinking water. In a survey regarding the cleanliness of the tap water in 100 cities, Phoenix came in dead last. Yup. Number 100. The ranking was based on “levels of arsenic, lead, halo-acetic acids and total trihalomethanes (linked to cancer), and total coliform bacteria, plus the number of EPA water-system violations from 1995 to 2005.” Yikes.
And don’t drink those “enhanced” or flavored waters and sports drinks! They may be advertised as healthy, but if you take a closer look at the labels, you’ll discover they’re spiking your water with a lot of unsavory ingredients, many capable of wreaking havoc on your metabolism, hormones, and other physiological processes—and some of which are outright carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Purchasing a counter-top water filter that effectively removes fluoride, chlorine and inorganic and organic contaminants is the best, most practical and cost-effective choice for ensuring your family drinks clean water. A high-quality countertop model will give you healthy, filtered water for an affordable price and with the least amount of hassle — plus you can take it with you if you move.
#9: DON’T use refined, white, iodized salt but DO use un-refined natural sea salts.
Salt doesn’t deserve the bad rap it’s gotten these days! The problem isn’t salt in general, it’s what they do to the salt…
Refined white table salt has been bleached and chemically stripped of the 84 valuable and essential trace minerals which are present in unrefined sea salt such as the Pink Himalayan and Celtic Grey salts.
In fact, during the chemical processing of salt, they actually strip out the natural iodine, then add synthetic iodine back in after all the processing and sell it to you as “new and improved iodized salt!” Unbelievable…
A good rule of thumb is the “dirtier” the salt looks, the higher the mineral content is and the healthier it is for you. If it’s stark white, even if it’s labeled as “sea salt,” it’s refined and bleached and should be avoided.
Check out “The Truth About Salt” to fully-unravel the salt myth.
#8: Keep your caffeine consumption to a minimum and eliminate energy drinks and soft drinks from your diet.
A relatively small amount of caffeine-containing beverages is fine, such as a cup of coffee in the morning and a cup of green tea later in the day. Once you start getting to 3+ caffeinated drinks throughout in the day, though, it’s becoming excessive. Think about it this way- you’re drinking that much caffeine because you’re tired, right? That’s like driving a car that’s having engine trouble and jamming your food down on the accelerator. You keep pushing it like that and sooner or later, your engine is gonna burn out completely! Start cutting back on the morning caffeine slowly and try switching to non-caffeinated herbal teas for daytime use. One cup of organic black coffee per day is fine. Research has shown that there are even possible health benefits associated with one daily cup of organic black coffee. The problem is when it’s a) loaded with sugar and dairy and b) too much of it.
On another note, absolutely avoid all energy drinks and soft drinks! I have 2 words for you: LIQUID POISON. For the full skinny on that, check out “Why Soft Drinks Are Hazardous To Your Health”.
Free Range Chickens = Happy Chickens!
#7: Regarding meats: Eat only naturally-raised (hormone and antibiotic-free, organic, free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught) meats.
Natural meats should, indeed, be part of your regular diet. This includes fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, wild game, whole eggs, and organ meats.
The key here is NATURALLY RAISED. The source of your animal protein is VERY important! There is a huge difference between, for example, 100% grass-fed beef and factory-farmed, feed-lot beef, or what I like to call, “concentration camp cows.” Meat from conventionally-raised, feed-lot animals of any species should be completely avoided in your diet. These animals are given high doses of artificial hormones, antibiotics, tranquilizers, stimulants and up to 100 other drugs- many of which are directly transferable to you! They are malnourished and chronically ill since they are being fed a completely unnatural diet. Cows, for example, are designed to eat GRASS- not grain. Feeding cows mostly grain is like feeding humans mostly iceberg lettuce-wrapped cardboard. This meat may contain toxic contaminants, parasites, and will generally not constitute a good source of nutrition for you. Grass-fed cows, on the other hand, are eating the diet their bodies are designed for. They have strong immune systems, normal growth patterns and will usually be raised chemical-free. This meat will be safe to eat, nutritious and have a positive impact on your health.
The same concepts applies to farmed fish (including most Atlantic Salmon) which are likewise given antibiotics and fed unnatural diets lacking in the nutrients found in the wild food chain of the ocean. Scavenger fish such as carp and catfish should be especially limited since they tend to accumulate pesticides and other toxins.
So you want to look for sources such as organic, grass-fed beef, lamb, etc. “Pasture-raised” or “Pastured” pork, poultry and eggs. Fish should be wild-caught, not farm-raised. Don’t be fooled by claims of “cage-gree” or “Free-range” with poultry and eggs- it’s not as great as it sounds and I’ll leave it at that.
Regarding fat content: Remember back in the early 90s when lean proteins like boneless, skinless chicken breast and low-fat/nonfat milk became all the rage? This was based on the old and incorrect idea that fat is bad for us (see “Still Think Low-Fat Is Healthy? Think Again). As it turns out, not only is eating lean protein unnecessary, it’s potentially harmful because the critical vitamins A, D, E and K are what’s called “Fat-Soluble” and our body NEEDS fat from the animal protein we’re eating in order to absorb them. And guess what else? Fat-soluble vitamins are found almost exclusively in animal fats. Lean protein has very little fat, and thus, no fat soluble vitamins. So what happens when you eat exclusively lean protein? Your body will “withdraw” from stores of fat soluble vitamins stored in your liver and over time, this will lead to a deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins, and all of the significant health problems that go along with such a deficiency. It’s like ringing up a huge credit card bill when you don’t have a job. Eventually the creditors come calling and you go bankrupt. The solution, of course, is to eat fat with your protein. This means enjoying fattier cuts of meat (i.e. 15% fat ground beef instead of 3%), always eating eggs with the yolks, consuming full-fat butter, milk and other dairy products (that are also preferably RAW) instead of low-fat or non-fat. Not only do they taste far better (like real food instead of cardboard), they’re actually better for you. Aren’t you happy to know that?
Often the freshest, healthiest, most cost effective source for naturally raised meats is your local farmers market.
#6: Eat plenty of fresh, organic produce, preferably local and in-season.
Vegetables should comprise roughly 2/3 of your daily diet. Balance your vegetable intake between raw (provides valuable enzymes and nutrients lost during cooking, but requires large amounts of energy to digest) and cooked (enzymes are lost, but veggies are more easily digested and certain other nutrients may be unlocked).
Spinach, chard and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflour, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts, although highly nutritious, should be at least lightly-cooked to neutralize certain anti-nutrients.
Vegetables should always be consumed with a healthy fat (put butter on it!!!) Many of the nutrients provided by vegetables are “fat-soluble nutrients” like Vitamins A, D, E and K to name a few. Fat soluble nutrients require fat in order to be absorbed and used by the human body. Failure to include a fat with veggie meals will restrict your absorption of these vital nutrients.
Fruit should be eaten only in moderation! Yeah, I know you’ve been told eating LOTS and LOTS of fruit is healthy for you, but don’t forget- that’s a lot of sugar!! Our ancestors didn’t eat fruit year-round, they only ate fruit during the few months out of the year that certain plants were fruiting! And the fruit they got was MUCH LESS SWEET than what we eat now. Our fruit has be selectively farmed and genetically modified to be much sweeter than it originally was and our bodies are not meant to handle as much sugar as we consume these days. Fruit, then, should be eaten in small quantities, always organic and in-season, and always by themselves or as part of a light meal. Avoid eating fruit (or any other sweets, or deserts for that matter) after a large meal.
Check out your local farmer’s market for the best pickin’s.
#5: Avoid all hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.
It is critical to avoid all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats) found in industrial seed oils, shortening, margarine, and many processed and fast foods!
Dangerous oils such as soy, corn, safflower, canola, vegetable or cottonseed oils, a big part of the group we’ll call “the bad fats,” should be absolutely avoided at all cost. If they’re in your pantry, throw them away right now. I’m not kidding!
These oils have been heat-treated, exposed to pesticides, bleached, filtered and deodorized so that you can’t tell that they’re rancid by the time you pick them up off the supermarket shelves.
Instead of these dangerous oils, use traditional oils and nutritional oils that are fresh and nutrient rich such as extra-virgin olive oil (no-low heat), coconut oil (medium heat), avocado oil (medium-high heat) and sesame oil. You can also use supplemental oils such as flax oil, fish oil, krill oil, etc.
Coconut Oil, a great source of healthy fats, is solid at room temperature.
#4: Increase your healthy-fat intake!
It’s not that fat is bad, it’s just that there’s good fats and bad fats. We just talked about how important it is to avoid bad fats, but it’s equally important to make sure you’re getting enough of the good fats! Fats from nutritional oils and other traditional sources are critical for the optimum functioning and maintenance of the human body. Your brain, for example, is around 75% fat. Fat is a critical component for maintaining structural integrity of the cell wall of every cell of your body and it acts as a major building block for the hormones that control your immune function, reproductive system, blood clotting, and cell growth. Fat is also the best and most efficient source of sustainable energy.
You should have more Omega 3′s in your diet than Omega 6′s. The ratio is supposed to be 5:1, but in most people’s cases, their current intake ratio is a very unhealthy 1:25 because they’re eating so many over-processed, unhealthy oils that have only Omega 6′s, such as vegetable and canola oils.
Good sources of healthy, Omega 3 fatty acids include:
- Meats and fish, pastured organic butter; whole, organic, and preferably raw dairy and cheeses; whole pastured eggs; olives; nuts and nut butters; seeds; tallow; lard; duck fat; gelatins; coconut oil (use for low-med heat cooking or add to smoothies), avocados and avocado oil (use for med-high heat cooking), olive oil (no heat or very low heat), and red palm oil. Also, supplemental oils such as fish/krill/flax oils, flax seeds.
For more info, check out “Still think “low-fat” is healthy? Part 1″ and “Still think “low-fat” is healthy? Part 2″
#3: Avoid processed foods as much as possible!
A good rule of thumb is that if it comes in a box, a bag, a can or cannot be found out in nature, it’s probably highly processed.
Think of it this way: it’s relatively easy to look at a Twinkie and know that it’s not real food, but have you considered low-fat or skim milk in the same way? Did it come out of the cow that way? No, it didn’t. I’m not saying you should be churning your own butter. But you might want to take a good look at exactly how far away your food is from its original source, what has been done to it and how many ingredients have been added to it.
Most processed foods contain chemical additives, preservatives and various neurotoxic ingredients. Of course, if you’re shopping at a health food store, you may be able to find certain items made by reliable brands that use minimal processing and no chemical preservatives, etc. Just read the labels thoroughly.
#2: Reduce or eliminate refined sugar and carbohydrates in your diet!
While mainstream health authorities continue to insist that sugar is fine “in moderation,” and that grains, which are converted by your body into sugar, are an essential part of a healthy diet, they fail to take into consideration that sugar is the #1 source of calories in the US, meaning that it’s far from “moderate” -not that surprising when you consider that sugar, primarily in the form of cheap high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and refined carbohydrates, are added to just about everything.
To put it in perspective, the current average intake of sugar is close to 200 lbs per year. Compare that to about 300 years ago, when the average intake of sugar was about 4 lbs per year. Our bodies are just flat-out NOT designed to handle the sugar load we’re imposing on them.
Here’s an abbreviated version of what all that sugar is doing to your body:
- Triggers weight gain by turning off your body’s appetite-control system, which screws up your metabolism, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels and leads to obesity and virtually every other chronic, inflammatory, degenerative disease. Additionally, all that sugar triggers massive insulin spikes and you CANNOT burn fat in the presence of insulin. Period. (This applies especially to those of you who feel like you are “eating right and exercising regularly, but still can’t lose weight.”)
- Contributes to chronic inflammation and significantly lowers your immune function
- Directly interferes with vitamin and mineral absorption as well as weakens your digestive function which leads to even greater malabsorption of nutrients and eventually a massive nutrient deficiency and the resulting degeneration of the body!
- Triggers a massive spikes in your insulin levels, which over time and with chronic use WILL lead to Reactive Hypoglycemia, then Insulin Resistance, then Metabolic Disease, then Type 2 Diabetes. This chain of events is THE top factor for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, chronic inflammation, reduced immune function, hormonal disorders, liver disease, weight gain, premature aging and nearly every chronic disease we know about.
So, avoid all refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. This includes white, brown and powdered sugar, Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Neotame, Sucralose (Splenda), and Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low), Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) and ESPECIALLY high fructose corn syrup.
NOTE: Stevia and Xylitol are natural sweeteners that do not trigger insulin- they are safe to use.
There’s a lot more to the blood sugar/Insulin story than I can include in this article and this topic, above almost all others, is one I consider CRITICAL INFORMATION THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. For the full, eye-opening article, check out
What You Need To Know About Blood Sugar And Insulin.
And the #1 dietary recommendation: Eliminate grain-based carbohydrates from your diet! I can’t stress this one enough!!!
This is very closely related to the previous recommendation.
You want to avoid all foods made with grain-based carbohydrates for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that grains, once broken down by your body, are just converted into sugar, and you just read about the dangers of too much dietary sugar.
Ultimately, in regards to their effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, there’s not much difference between a piece of whole-grain toast and a cup of ice-cream! The long-term consumption of grain-based carb products leads to a laundry list of physical disorders and diseases- especially including the ones listed in the previous section but also a number of others…
Why? Basically, grains themselves are naturally toxic to human digestion! “Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!?” Yup, scientific evidence showing the human need for dietary grains is virtually non-existent. On the other hand, there is a wealth of new research pointing to the dark side of grains and their negative effect on human bodies. Think about it this way: grains, such as wheat, are the seed of the plant. Over the millennia ancient grasses, the ancestors of what we know as the cereal grains, evolved alongside the big, grazing herbivores. These grasses evolved in such a way as to use mammals to distribute their seeds. Well, obviously, it was not in the plant’s best interest to have their seeds fully-digested by the mammals- the plants want their seeds eaten, yes, but pooped out somewhere else, intact, in order to make a new plant! How does a plant accomplish this? Well first, these grasses cleverly laced their seeds with with compounds now known as exorphins which are morphine-like and highly addictive to mammals. This way they ensure that their seeds will be desirable to their target audience. But the plant doesn’t want it’s see digested, just consumed, so next, they lace the same seeds with potent phytotoxins designed to deliberately sabotage mammalian digestion! Grazing animals like cows have somewhat countered this move by evolving looooooong digestive tracts and multiple-chambered stomachs, capable of semi-breaking down and neutralizing the toxins. Humans, however, who were hunter-gatherers, not grazers, did not develop the complex gut that the herbivores did and therefore are highly susceptible to systemic damage from long-term ingestion of grains. Wonder why we’re seeing such a skyrocketing rate of food-sensitivities, digestive disorders, auto-immune disease, cancer, poor immune function, etc? It’s the grain.
Be aware that seeds, legumes and nuts also contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors, phytates (which block mineral absorption), intestinal irritants and other indigestible substances, and ideally should be eaten in small quantities and soaked in water, fermented or sprouted in order to neutralize toxins and make them safe for ingestion.
Other highly toxic plant and food groups to avoid:
- Corn. Corn is naturally toxic and the #1 most genetically modified thing on the planet. Corn is NOT a vegetable- it’s a grain.
- Anything made with Soy. Soy is NOT a health food! It is naturally toxic and the #2 most genetically modified thing on the planet. Soy is loaded with toxins and systemic irritants; it can block your body’s ability to absorb nutrients; and it is a massive endocrine disruptor. The only exception to this is when soy products are fermented (Miso and Tempeh), which neutralizes the toxins, but let’s be real here- who in this country eats fermented soy? No, tofu is NOT fermented, it’s toxic. So is soy milk. Check out “Unravelling The Soy Myth” for even more information.
So what does a good diet look like?
Basically think, “If a caveman couldn’t find it, you shouldn’t be eating it.” On average, the typical American diet is about…
- 33% fat (19% saturated/monounsaturated, 14% polyunsaturated)
- 52% carbs (mostly from grain)
- 15% protein.
From the evidence showing what our bodies were biologically designed to thrive on, the optimal diet, by CALORIES, should be more like…
- 50-70% fat (95% saturated/monounsaturated, 5% polyunsaturated from healthy oils, coconut, eggs, butter, meats, fish, whole dairy, etc.)
- 20-30% carbs (mostly from veggies)
- 10-20% protein
Keep in mind that meats and fats are more calorie dense than veggie carbs, so BY WEIGHT on your plate, it looks like 2/3 plant foods and 1/3 animal foods and fats.
PS- Many organizations and publications are now available to inform the public about contents of various products. See the links below.
This information brought to you by your friendly,neighborhood Scottsdale Acupuncturist, Melanie Miller, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness. For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being, contact Melanie directly at 480-219-1237. My office is located at 8591 E. Bell Rd., Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85260
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of traditional, nonindustrialized peoples around the world established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets
The Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” Database of Cosmetic Ingredients
Phoenix Residents: Slowly Back Away From the Faucet. By Judy Hedding, About.com Guide. http://phoenix.about.com/b/2007/02/12/phoenix-residents-slowly-back-away-from-the-faucet.htm
Kresser L.Ac., Chris, “Why Eating Only Lean Protein Is A Bad Idea.” http://healthybabycode.com/why-eating-only-lean-protein-is-a-bad-idea?inf_contact_key=6d052bfff7dde5f45a0047899dc5b9ce95ebde7d531c8bd6abdf7f42f018110c