“You are what you eat.” Who hasn’t heard this phrase a time or two? But what does it really mean? In just the last few decades, mankind has learned a lot about how foods affect our health and everyday quality of life. We have learned that alterations that we typically make to our foods affect the quality of that food in various ways. No longer can we avoid the truth that what we consistently put in our bodies ultimately determines not only our long-term health, but the very matter of our being on a cellular level. We are – in fact – what we eat, nutritionally speaking, but what does that mean as far as what to actually do? How can we take these simple understandings and bring them down to everyday life, and even down to our everyday meals?
Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes – Highly nutritious foods are those that contain high levels of macro and micro nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, trace minerals, and many more substances that have been identified to promote good health. One less mentioned, but vital substance in our food is enzymes. When food is processed (usually when heated to high temperatures) the nutrient content of the food is decreased, and the enzymes are removed completely. That’s why maintaining a sufficiently large portion of fresh (uncooked) fruits and vegetables as part of our daily diet is so important. Enzymes are intact only in foods that have not been heated to high temperatures.
Good Fats (EFAs) – Foods with a high fat content are not, in and of themselves, bad. What is detrimental to good health are those fats called “trans fats” or fats that have been hydrogenated. Put simply, when oil is heated to extremely high temperatures(again, to prevent spoilage and extend shelf life) the extremely high heat changes the structure of the fat on a molecular level. Quite literally, heat changes good, healthy oil to unhealthy oil. That is why we keep hearing that we should eat a certain number of servings of fish, etc. That’s because fish contain these good oils. Fish, however, is only one source. There are many better options available where you can get good healthy oils. This includes almonds, avocados, fish oil (in a bottle, not the fish itself), flax seed oil, peanuts, and many more. But remember that healthy oils are those that have NOT been heated. The oils that are found in junk foods such as chips, have usually been processed – or hydrogenated – so you’ll want to minimize eating these foods.
Beer, Wine and Spirits – Unfortunately, the reality is that all beers, wines and spirits are the result of fermentation. Too much of these substances in our bodies, on a regular basis, and in excessive amounts, leads to terrible health consequences. While we often hear that “everything in moderation” is the correct approach, many in our culture drink too much but still define it as “moderate”. Of course, all foods and drinks can (and should) be enjoyed, but in a manner that doesn’t put our health at risk. It’s popular and well-known that alcohol damages the liver. In fact, the truth is that harmful substances to our body do damage to more than just one part or organ. Although there may be one organ that suffers more, directly, the entire body is often compromised. Beer, wine and spirits should be a very small part of your overall diet.
Eating for good health is really not that complicated. Now that healthy eating and nutritional practices are pretty much household staples, everyone’s familiar with what good food is, and what is healthy and what is not. The challenge for us today is simply finding ways to change bad habits into good habits. The challenge for our times is making sure we find ways to change our lifestyle, not just make changes for a week or two. While this may seem a daunting task, the real secret to good health is that it can easily be accomplished by making small changes daily. That’s it really. Keep learning for sure, but make sure you’re making incremental progress, and pretty soon you’ll see that you’ve adopted a healthy way of eating that’s part of your everyday life. And you did it in a sensible way.…