Good nutrition, along with physical activity and relaxation, is a key factor in preventive health care. Basically, if you want your heart and body to be healthy and you want it to help keep the rest of your body in shape, you have to give it the right tools to work with.
Legendary fitness guru Jack Lalanne, who died in 2011 aged 96, famously said “exercise is king and nutrition is queen” and a happy marriage between the two is all important for good health. If you want to keep your optimism, energy, and razor sharp wit until the very end then you need to start living a different lifestyle today.
Raise A Glass
According to some studies, moderate consumption of alcohol can actually help raise your levels of HDL, or good cholesterol. It can also help prevent blood clot formation and artery damage. Red wine in particular may offer benefits for your heart.
Excessive alcohol intake, however, increases your risk of a fatal stroke or heart attack. As with all things, the key is moderation. Cheers!!!
Apply A Nutrition Balancing Act
There is overwhelming scientific evidence showing that increasing our intake of certain nutrients not only increases our chances of enjoying optimum health but also prevents certain diseases. For example, antioxidants are believed to play a vital role in protecting our bodies against coronary heart disease, as well as some forms of cancer and other degenerative diseases.
I think we all know by now that good eating is about balance, but what should be balanced with what? And why does the advice change so frequently?
I’m not going to go over every specific nutrient because you don’t need to know this in order to eat a well balanced diet.
The key thing to understand is that you need to enjoy a variety of healthy whole foods from the major food groups like cereals and potatoes, fruit and vegetables, proteins, dairy products, and minimal sugars and fats.
The emphasis on “enjoy” and “variety” are equally important here. Once you start to explore flavors and appreciate the wholesome tastes of the different food groups a whole world of culinary delights await you.
Plan Your Meals (Meal Prep)
To put all this into practice, you need to plan your meals carefully. Your meal plan forms the basis of your weekly shopping list so that you buy all the right ingredients and avoid having stuff rotting in the bottom of your fridge.
Lets face it, life is hectic, stressful, and unpredictable, and it’s very hard to go throughout the day eating healthy while at work or on the run. It is much easier to stick to your diet if your meals are already made for you and you don’t have to think about it.
I like to spend an hour on sunday morning making my lunch, dinner, and protein shake for the week. I then use a digital scale to weigh out my lunch and dinner and store it in pyrex containers and put it in the fridge. My protein shakes are made and put into blender bottles and also stored in the fridge.
I know it doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend an hour or two on your weekend, but if you’re truly serious about reaching your goals this is a must.
Make Sure To Eat Lean Proteins
Meat and poultry play an important role in your diets and can be excellent sources of proteins, iron, and zinc. But keep a careful eye on your fat intake as animal foods tend to be high in saturated fat. Choose lean cuts where possible and trim away excess fat as as required.
Game meats such as venison and rabbit are lower in fat. Free range chicken breast is a more wholesome option to enjoy in a salad or meal.
Your best bet is to reduce the amount of red meat and eat more fish. Eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off heart disease, amd many fish, including salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring, are great sources of omega-3.
Aim to eat responsibly sourced fish at least twice a week. Finally, nuts and seeds should be included in a varied diet, especially if you don’t eat meat. Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds for example, are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E. Including them in your diet can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, but be sure to keep serving sizes small because they’re also packed with calories.
If you find yourself having a hard time eating enough protein per day look into buying a 100% whey protein powder. Just make sure it is 3rd party tested to make sure that you’re receiving a high quality protein blend.
Avoid Sweet Temptation (America’s addiction to sugar)
One of my clients asked me how he would know if he should or shouldn’t eat something and I jokingly told him if it tastes good to spit it out.
I was obviously being sarcastic, and I was mostly referring to our nation’s unhealthy addiction to sugar and saturated fats, the evil twins of the nutrient world.
The popular press seems to change its mind constantly about which of the two is public health enemy number one when it comes to food products.
The fact is, in excess, both are seriously detrimental to your health. You don’t need to add any sugar to your diet, and if you eat a lot of processed food, you are almost certainly already getting a lot more sugar than you need.
For example, when marketers boast about their “reduced fat” product, a peek at the ingredients often reveals that sugar has been added to compensate. Also, bear in mind that reducing quantities from sky high to just high doesn’t help.
Stop buying processed foods and eat a whole foods diet.
Say No To Foods With A High Salt Content
When it comes to your overall health, it turns out that the evil twins sugar and fat have a big brother known as sodium.
Sure, we need about six grams or one teaspoonful per day for the average adult. Consuming too much salt dramatically increases the risk of high blood pressure, which is a major health threat that can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
That 6 gram daily serving of salt doesn’t mean to pour a teaspoonful of salt on your dinner (way to many of us actually do this), that amount is mostly found in trace amounts in the food you eat throughout the day.
This is another reason not to eat processed, the manufacturers add a lot of salt to act as preservative. Once again it’s worth checking the ingredients label to make sure you know what you’re eating. This may be labeled as a percentage of your recommended daily allotment or in grams.
And don’t forget that salt is normally labeled as its chemical name Sodium or sodium chloride.
Vitamins, Too Much Of A Good Thing?
With the exception of vitamin D, which is produced by exposing your skin to sunlight, vitamins cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the food we eat.
It is almost impossible to eat to many vitamins solely through your diet, but can be detrimental supplementing with certain vitamins, especially vitamin A and D.
Your doctor may advise you to take certain vitamins during pregnancy, but other than that the only time I would look into a multi vitamin is if you were doing highly active cardio exercises or strength training.
Buy Fresh Whole Foods
When possible buy or eat fresh whole foods rather than processed foods with their added salt, sugar, chemical preservatives, colorings, and flavorings.
Fresh fruit, vegetables, and salads are the superfoods of nutrition. Along with grains, and potatoes, they should form the largest part of your diet, and the famed five a day rule(5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day) should be seen as an absolute minimum.
Apart from the benefits to your heart and the protection against damaging free radicals, the fiber in fruits and vegetables helps the bowel work more efficiently, and the vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
Make sure that you include leafy greens too. Popeye was right superfoods such as Spinach and Kale provide an abundance of beta carotene, vitamin C, and folic acid ( which is vital for the development of new cells and women who are pregnant). And you can’t talk about popeye without bringing up Olive oil, which is a great source of vitamin E.
Healthy eating isn’t just about finding the right kind of food, the way you prepare your food affects its nutritional value and calorie count.
A portion of boiled potatoes, for example, contains around 100 calories of healthy carbs, but if you roast the same quantity, you’ll end up with double the calories.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
The new diet trend today is skipping breakfast as a way to practice intermittent fasting, I have done this and it works but is generally more successful with people that have already established healthy habits and are a little more disciplined.
If you try to start off by fasting you are obviously going to be hungry and you’re going to have greater temptations to eat whatever is in front of you. It takes a lot of dedication and discipline and if you’re trying to eat right to lose weight this may not be your strong point right now.
American’s have a bad habit of grabbing a pastry, skipping breakfast completely, or relying on coffee for to kick start the day.
For a healthy breakfast you should aim for whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole grain cereals, or whole wheat toast. Choose good sources of protein like eggs, salmon, or a small serving of nuts and peanut butter.
You’ll also want to include calcium rich dairy products, like yogurt, cheese, and milk. And get a helping of fruit and vegetables, which can be enjoyed as a smoothie.
By contrast, the final meal of the day should be light so that your digestion system doesn’t have to go into overdrive while you sleep. A typical evening meal option is a salad with healthy dressing, fresh fish, and brown rice..
Drink Lots Of Water
Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Apart from keeping you hydrated, it helps keep your skin clear and curbs hunger pangs so you don’t feel the need to snack between meals.
If you find plain water to be bland, squeeze some lemon, watermelons, peaches, and cucumbers are also great sources of water.
Keep a water bottle with you as a reminder to drink water throughout the day, and instead of taking a sip take 2 or 3 to make sure you’re drinking enough. The average adult should be drinking at least 2 liters a day, but can change if you have a physical job or drink coffee.
Changing a large part of your lifestyle like your eating habits can and is hard to do, food evolves around social functions, our emotions, and our survival. Start off by making small changes and overtime you’ll see big improvements.