Nutrition Essentials for Feeling Good
In This Article:
Which Diet Is Best?
In the past ten years, Americans have reduced their fat intake and increased their carbohydrate intake. Dr. Barry Sears, author of Mastering the Zone, believes that this dietary shift to carbohydrates has contributed to the rise in health problems, including weight gain, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. He recommends that people reduce their carbohydrate intake while increasing their fat and protein intake, in a 40 percent to 30 percent to 30 percent ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, respectively. While good in many respects, there are concerns about protein intakes as high as 30 percent of calories. This is because high-protein diets are strongly linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
We recommend a more tempered balance 50 percent complex carbohydrates, 30 percent "good" fat, and 20 percent good-quality protein. This means reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar, and instead choosing whole, complex carbohydrates from fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and cereals. We also recommend increasing omega-3 fats from fish and seeds, while reducing saturated fats from butter, fatty meat, margarine, processed foods containing hydrogenated fats, and deep-fried foods. While eggs are a good source of protein, they tend to be very high in saturated fats. Range-fed organic eggs, especially from chickens that are fed a high omega-3 fat diet, eaten boiled or poached, are an excellent source of protein and 'good' fats. Unpasteurized dairy products from a certified dairy that uses no antibiotics or hormones are also a good source of protein, provided you are not allergic to dairy. These whole, unadulterated foods are much healthier for you than intensively reared animal products, and less likely to cause allergic reactions.
If you'd like more information about how to put the 'Natural High Basics' into practice, please read the Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford (see Resources). This book explains in detail how to revamp your diet to achieve the optimal amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate, plus all essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Two-thirds of your body, and almost half of your brain, is made up of water, making it vital for optimal brain and body function. With age, your water content decreases, so drinking enough water can slow the aging process. The ideal intake is around eight 8-ounce glasses a day, and more if you live in a hot climate or exercise heavily.
Fruits and vegetables contain around 90 percent water, in a form that is easy for the body to use. (They are also, of course, a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.) In sufficient quantities, they can provide nearly a quart of water, leaving just an extra quart or so to be taken as water or diluted juices, and herbal or fruit teas. We don't recommend alcohol, caffeinated tea, or coffee as sources of fluid intake, since they are diuretics, and flush out water, together with other valuable nutrients.
One way to increase your water intake is to keep a bottle of filtered or spring water on your desk at work. Fill it up in the morning and drink it all by the time you go home.
Mopping Up with Antioxidants
Oxygen is the ultimate "essential" a few minutes without it and you're dead. We need to breathe it, of course, and "burning" food with oxygen gives our bodies energy.
The trouble is, whenever we make energy, we also make toxic by-products called free radicals a whole bucketful of them a year. And many of us produce far more than this. One puff of a cigarette, for example, lets loose a trillion free radical molecules in the smoker. Exhaust fumes, pollution, fried and browned food, and exposure to the sun can be equally disastrous. Free radicals are the major cause of the aging process. They attack brain cells and are largely responsible for the decline in their number as we age.
How can you keep free radicals at bay? Increase your intake of antioxidants, a family of nutrients with the power to mop them up, and so reverse the aging process. Top antioxidants include prunes, raisins, blueberries, and blackberries. Kale, spinach, strawberries, raspberries, plums, broccoli, and alfalfa sprouts are close seconds.
Make sure your daily supplement program contains significant quantities of antioxidants, especially if you are older, live in a polluted city, or have any other unavoidable exposure. A comprehensive antioxidant supplement, together with a good multivitamin and mineral tablet, is the best way to go. Each works in its own way, and they work together synergistically. Most high-quality supplement companies produce combination formulas with the following nutrients: vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, glutathione, and cysteine, plus plant-based antioxidants such as anthocyanidins from a source such as bilberry or Pycnogenol.
From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.