1. Boost your intake of fruits and vegetables - When you eat more fruits and vegetables, you can significantly reduce your risk for a number of chronic health diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and cancer. In addition, you get more fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. If the skin is edible, eat it. The skin is where the fiber is and fiber can help keep your gut micro-biome happy. This leads to better digestion and it keeps those bad bugs in check. Be sure to check out the links below to understand which foods are high in pesticides and should be bought organic. Every year a new list is put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) so be sure to see the updates yearly.
2. Whole grain is the way to go! These are grains that have not been processed. Think of it as eating the grain with all that its been born with and consuming all of it’s goodness! Eliminate the refined carbs and incorporate whole grains into your diet. You will get you more fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium. The fiber will help maintain blood sugar levels and keep you more full for a longer period of time.
The whole wheat have 3 nutritious layers. The most outer layer is called the bran. The innermost layer is called the germ. The layer in between the bran and germ is called the endosperm. The endosperm is the starchy component of grains.
A 10-year Harvard study that was completed in 1994 showed that men and women who consumed a high fiber diet had fewer heart attacks and strokes than those who consumed a low fiber diet.
Recommended fiber intake:
Men aged 50 or younger: 38 grams/day
Men over aged 50: 30 grams/day
Women aged 50 or younger: 25 grams/day
Women over aged 50: 21 grams/day
3. Eating meat or not? Research show that eating a plant based diet is healthier. When you eat more vegetables/fruits and less meat, your weight, blood pressure and risk of heart disease improves. The current recommendation is 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight (approx 56 g/day for men & 46 g/d for women). However, most Americans get much more than the recommended daily allowance of meat. Refer to the vegetarian sources of protein to understand that you can get other sources of protein other than meat.
When eating clean, be conscious about processed meats like cold cuts, bacon and sausage.
When you purchase meat, buy organic meat. Best if they lived and ate like they would in the wild. What does organic meat really mean?
4. Understanding processed foods - These are foods that are beyond the point of recognition. Watch out for anything with lots of sugar and refined grains. Ingredients that are super long, you don’t recognize it and if it’s made with partially hydrogenated oils. It’s all in reading the ingredient list, ingredient label and understanding what it means. For example: white bread vs whole wheat bread. In the white bread, the bran and germ have been stripped away. This white bread which contains only the starchy component (endosperm) affects our blood sugar metabolism and causes our blood sugar to spike.
Keep in mind that if you limit packaged foods you also reduce your exposure to BPA and other harmful chemicals found in plastics. These can lead to or worsen health diseases.
5. Added sugar - consumption above and beyond! The American Heart Association recommends no more than ~ 6 tsp per day for women and ~9 tsp per day for men. The average American gets about 4 times more than the recommended amount. That’s about 28 tsp of added sugar per day. Remember that 4 g = 1 tsp of sugar.
Start by eliminating sweets such as sodas, candy and baked goods. A can coca-cola is about 10 tsp of added sugar.
Read the nutrition facts of products you purchase. Remember that the nutrition facts apply to the serving size. Many skip over the serving size and don’t realize that they are having easily way more than they are supposed to.
Read the ingredient list - Keep in mind, the higher up the ingredient is on the list, the more added sugar there is! Ingredients are listed in order of quantity. Added sugar names can be tricky. Use this image to help you identify them easily.
6. How much sodium should you be consuming? The institute of Medicine recommends capping your sodium at 2,300 mg/day. That’s about 1 tsp of salt per day. Know that 80% of your sodium in a typical American diet comes from convenience foods. When you decrease processed foods, you will greatly be reducing your salt intake. Packaged foods have way more sodium than you can expect.
When cooking at home, learn to use herbs and spices to flavor your foods. When you do this, you not only have flavorful foods & improve your health, but you also dramatically decrease your salt intake. Use salt in a smart but sparingly way. Coarse and kosher salt contain less sodium compared to table salt.
8/14/2018 Written by Dr Amy Lor. This is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat disease. If you have any questions, contact your health professional to discuss about your health and nutrition.
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