Pillar 2 for Optimum Health: Nutrition (from The Guidebook to Optimum Health)

nutritionMurky waterIt was that Hippocrates dude that said it right when he made the eternal comment ‘let thy food be thy medicine’. So of course nutrition had to be one of the key pillars to optimum health. The thing is we all know it, but with the proliferation of the diet industry, media, an industry worth well over a trillion dollars (the US industry alone is about 1 trillion dollars), it is pretty hard to work out what the ‘real’ message is. So I am going to share with you some of my basic philosophies and the biggest tips I have taken away from following nutrition and researching it for the last 15 years. My views have definitely changed over the years too.Crowding If you thought I might be about to talk about population density, you fell for my clever play of words (well I thought so). My main point here is that we all know – I know you know – that eating more fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and the likes are good for us. They are packed with micronutrients, fibre, macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and all the good stuff. So one of the things I recommend is stop worrying so much about what is ‘bad’ for you, what is nutrient poor, what is toxic for your body and focus on just crowding out the crap by focusing your attention on consuming more whole-foods that are plant based.If this is your base and 80%+ of your diet you are in a really good place.

The organic thing

I do recommend eating organic where possible. The amount of toxins that we can potentially ingest through food is quite staggering. And their play on the body is not good. Again, I am not teaching you anything new. One of the best resources I have found now is a website where they list the foods that have the most harmful chemicals (The Dirty Dozen) – so you definitely want to get organic where you can. Plus the foods that are less affected by pesticides and herbicides, so the organic thing is not such a big deal (called the Clean Fifteen). Check out the Environmental Working Groups lists by clicking on this link.

I also highly recommend buying organic meat from animals that are free range and grass fed – and locally raised. Again if possible, tick this box.

The most damaging thing to our health and most likely cause of the obesity epidemicI have been reading a great book by Dr Robert Lustig, called Fat Chance: The bitter truth about sugar, obesity and disease. He specialised for years, working with children with obesity and his book is packed with highly researched information. The bottom line…sugar is making the world fat. IT IS NOT FAT!!!! Just to make that clear. When the food industry went the ‘low fat’ direction, in order to make the food taste edible (because fat = flavour) they added bucket loads of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The result is havoc on the liver, excess storage of body fat, insulin resistance and toxicity within the body.The problem is that sugar or fructose is generally in highly processed foods with no fibre. It is the fibre that slows down the absorption and processing of sugar, so our insulin system is not highjacked and terrorized. So the biggest takeaway is reduce or remove highly processed foods with added sugar and fructose – by crowding them out with plant-based whole-foods.Did you know there is more ‘sugar’ (in the form of fructose) in a ‘100% pure’ container of juice, than there is in a coke. Now my friend Hollis is probably excited to hear that Coke is number 2, but Hollis, this number 2 is at the wrong end of the spectrum. The problem with the 100% Juice is it has no fibre – so for the body it is the same as processing a whole heap of sugar. The byproduct is insulin resistance, liver damage and storage of excess body fat. Not cool.A quick word on diets

“All successful diets share three precepts: low sugar, high fibre (which means high micronutrients), and fat and carbohydrate consumed together in the presence of an offsetting amount of fibre. Anything after that is window dressing”. Dr Robert Lustig, from Fat Chance: The bitter truth about sugar, obesity and disease.

What he is saying is that it is less about a low carb diet, or a high protein diet, or a low / high fat and more about the absence or reduction of sugar, and the ingestion of foods that are fibre rich – which means unprocessed whole-foods. Cut out, or cut down on processed foods – by crowding them out with the good stuff (whole foods) – and your health and well-being will step ahead in leaps and bounds. You will actually have mroe energy and vitality if you take this path.

In summary

I will make a list for easy digestion (ha ha ha I am so funny ;-)):

  1. Make the focus of your nutrition whole-foods and plant-based
  2. Plant-based foods is where the fibre is at and fibre is ESSENTIAL for good health
  3. Cut out sweetened drinks – which I believe are one of the worst foods on the market (note: if you are an elite athlete this is less relevant for you)
  4. Sugar, fructose and all it derivatives are bad for your health – our body is not designed to process them safely
  5. Eat organic wherever possible (and check out the Dirty Dozen to get clear on the main offenders)
  6. Lean into great nutrition, but don’t let it make you anxious or anal – the odd diversion here and there is ok. Just don’t make it your habitual way of eating

Make sense? Ready to eat real food? Want a hand getting your health back on track? Just hit the Reply button or get over to my Facebook page to connect up. 

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