Just the Basics: A Little About Healthy Eating

July 24, 2023 0 Comments

I am often asked what I consider to be the Basic Guidelines for healthy eating.

Let’s keep this simple. Start by eating LOTS of vegetables. Cover at least half of the plate with them. And eat them, don’t just put them on the plate.

Eat a variety of vegetables, not the same ones all the time. If you eat the vegetables when they are in season, it will be quite easy.

Should vegetables be organic?

Eating organic is about avoiding pesticides, not just improving taste. There are no advantages to eating pesticides. Organic foods have also been shown to have higher levels of antioxidants. Those are good for health.

To find produce grown with the lowest levels of pesticides, just search for Clean 15 Produce 2020. You’ll find mostly vegetables listed, with some fruit. So you don’t need organic versions of those foods.

On the other hand, the foods grown with the most pesticides can be found by searching for Dirty Dozen Produce 2020. This year, that list is mostly fruits with a few vegetables. You don’t have to avoid those foods, but buy organic whenever you can.

The most important thing though is to eat plenty of vegetables, organic or not. Do it.

What about the fruits? How important are they?

Fruits and vegetables are usually grouped together, but they are not the same.

I push for vegetables. Eat at least 5 to 9 half-cup servings of vegetables every day.

Eat no more than 2 servings of fruit per day. A serving is 1/2 cup or 1 medium fruit. That’s because fruits contain fructose, a harmful sugar.

Fructose raises triglycerides, and that’s an independent risk factor for heart disease.

Fructose can induce insulin resistance. Metabolic conditions have insulin resistance in common: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. More than 70% of deaths in the US are due to one or more of these conditions.

Fructose can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in susceptible people.

Fructose is addictive for some people.

Fructose can cause cavities.

Not least, fructose is absolutely the wrong fuel after a workout. Instead, we need a combination of starch and protein in a 3 to 1 ratio (based on grams or calories).

What else should we eat for good health?

Protein is very important and should cover about 1/4 of the plate or so.

It can help boost the immune system. We cannot function without an immune system, and the immune system cannot function without protein.

Provides L-glutamine. That’s the fuel the immune system runs on. It is found in fish, chicken, beef, eggs, shrimp, crab, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt. VEGAN: Plant sources of glutamine include chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, asparagus, walnuts, red cabbage, parsley, spinach, kale, kale, cilantro, and radish leaves.

It can help increase muscle mass if you do strength training. Because muscle is a highly metabolic tissue, it offers help with weight management.

It can help with appetite control due to the hormones it influences. One is CCK, which promotes satiety and reduces carbohydrate cravings. Protein decreases ghrelin, which tends to increase appetite and slow metabolism.

It is key in brain chemistry. Proteins are made of amino acids. Those are the precursors to many “feel-good” brain chemicals, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Don’t eat “fake protein”

Nuts are mostly fat, with only a little protein. Quinoa is mostly carbohydrates, with little protein. Beans and rice contain a lot of carbohydrates, with a little protein.

Instead, vegans would do better to use plant-based protein powders: pea, hemp, brown rice, vegetable.

one final point

Limit sugar and white flour. Both are addictive and trigger a high insulin response. High insulin can lead to inflammation, the root cause of most disease and virtually all chronic diseases. Food is key to controlling inflammation.

Lots of other things can be said about food, but let’s keep this simple.

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