3 Nutrition Tips for Healthy Insides [and why they are so important]
It can be nearly impossible these days to avoid the barrage of nutritional advice and fad diets out there, promising to be the answer to your prayers. While the focus is usually on weight loss, let’s step back from that for a second. Instead, let’s focus on a few OVERARCHING concepts to get you thinking about what goes into your body and how deeply interconnected it is to your health, longevity, and disease risk. Seriously though, think for second about the things we put into our body. Fast foods that can last months/years in an office desk drawer without going bad. Brown fizzy sodas that can pull rust off a car. [Mind blown!!]. Here are THREE of - what I consider to be - the most important nutritional considerations for overall health.
So you’re sitting at the dinner table and your cute little Nona/Bubie/Yaya/Grandma aggressively tells you to eat more, more, MORE! Coming from a generation where food and resources were scarce, you can understand the method to their madness. But, we live in a time now where resources are not only available, they are unavoidable and incredibly calorie dense. Take a step back and consider this, food is our fuel. It is what powers our muscles, our heart, our brain! Standing on the shoulders of great scientists, we know that our body takes this fuel and converts it into resources such as energy or building blocks. But, did you know that this conversion comes at a cost??
When our body converts all this fuel and uses it, one of the byproducts are Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which over time, are responsible for the process of aging, and cellular disease such as cancer. The body has lots of ways to clear these ROS’ but a HUGE way you can actively minimize the process is through CALORIC REDUCTION, in plain terms, eating less!!
Numerous studies have looked at feeding animals 60% of a typical diet (while maintaining the same nutritional content) and the results are staggering. Reduced aging rates, reduced cancer rates and overall INCREASED STRESS RESISTANCE, meaning, the body is better able to handle the trash that comes with converting our fuel and running our bodily processes.
TAKE HOME: Simply cutting down on the amount of food you take in can have remarkable implications on aging, disease prevalence, immunity, etc.
The body breaks our food down into three main parts or macro-nutrients: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made of chains and chains of sugars (mostly glucose). Foods like bread, potatoes, rice, crackers, cereal are all carbohydrate-rich and made up of sugar. Our bodies require a proportion of our diet to include carbohydrates to convert to simple sugars to fuel certain parts of our body, but not even close to the amounts we typically consume them in these days. When we consume more carbs than we need, we store a bit away for a time where food is scarce. After the storage compartments are full, the rest gets converted to fat. Yep, you heard it here, folks, carbs/sugars get converted to FAT, because fat is much easier to store in the body, than sugar.
Historically, our bodies are pretty good at managing the carb load with hormones like Insulin, but when we consume carb-heavy/sugar-heavy foods (pretty much anything in the aisles of the grocery stores) in high quantities, several times a day, for many years, this system starts to say ‘to hell with ya.’ Sugar starts to float around in your bloodstream and create havoc. End result: All the things that come along with having high levels of sugar in your blood like diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, etc.
TAKE HOME: Easy on the carbs, especially the ones with high-glycemic indexes (blood sugar spikers) like sweets, sodas, white breads, potatoes, etc. Stick to the more fibrous choices (fruits, veggies, whole grain rice, sweet potatoes), so the carbs absorb slowly and lessen the stress on your system. Food for thought!
This one is an ENORMOUS mindset shift for most of the world. Meat/Non-Human Dairy has been a staple in the typical human diet for so long and has been perceived as one of the only ways to consume one of the three macro-nutrients, PROTEIN. Resources like The China Study (not without its flaws) give us some insight into the potential disease consequences eating a largely animal-based diet can be attributed to. After reviewing data from 6,500 adults (a very large sample size), it was clear that several forms of cancer, heart disease and diabetes were significantly more prevalent in groups where animal-based protein was the major protein source (Yes, you can get protein of other sources 😉).
NOT an easy task! Trust me, I definitely enjoy a nice piece of red meat every once in a while. None of this information is all or none. The point here is to inform yourself. Inform yourself on the health repercussions and align that back up with your values. If you want to live well into the back half of a century without having to potentially face any major disease risks, you may want to consider cutting down on the meat/dairy. Moderation is key here!
TAKE HOME: The more animal-based protein (meat/dairy) we consume, the greater risk we may create for developing cancer, among other life-threatening diseases.