Today my article is going to be based on the most effective diet for good health and overall wellness. This diet is based upon how our bodies have evolved to eat and thrive over thousands of years based on an evolutionary perspective. This diet has been compiled by combining numerous research articles from different nutrition resources and current diets (more specifically anti-inflammatory diet, paleo diet, and poly meal diet). What I would like to hammer home is that this is by no means a weight loss or weight gain diet. This is specifically a diet for healthy living to answer the frequently asked question "what is a well rounded diet?". Don't be fooled by the old food pyramid or new american dinner plate dietary recommendations. They are still based off of pre-1980s research.
This article is also going to be a follow-up to our previous article "Our Changing Food Source". In that article I hinted that I would be a little doom and gloom with a lot of "avoid this" and "don't eat that". I also explained that in this upcoming article I would explain how to fill a lot of the nutritional holes that exist in today's average western diet. I plan to do exactly that. This diet will help address nutritional deficiencies. This article is going to be more specifically gear towards "eat this" and "eat even more of that" in order to get more nutrition packed foods into your body.
This diet consists of six different sections:
water, vegetables and fruits, meats, probiotics, legumes and spices, grains and dairy.
Today's article will cover the first two. Follow-up articles will wrap up the remaining sections.
Lets Get Started!
Let's start off with water. The most critical and overlooked part of a healthy diet. We have all heard the statistics in the past but normally this does not translate into us drinking more water. But just in case you haven't seen it. Here they are one more time:
"Up to 60% of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight, as is the brain; body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water. About 83% of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten."
Does that make you understand the important roles that water plays in our body? No? Well besides composing a large percentage of our cells and mucus membranes water can also improve numerous health problems, including but not limited to:
Inflammation, Fatigue, Headaches, Constipation, Allergies, and Joint Pain
Still not sold? What if I told you that your body cannot effectively get rid of natural waste products, foreign chemicals, food additives, toxic heavy metals, and/or pesticides without adequate water. Your body must dilute one's blood in order to rid the body of them. Now do you understand why you are so fatigued? You are most likely holding onto all these waste products if not adequately hydrated. I was once told at a nutrition class to remember that "dilution is the solution to pollution". Your body cannot get rid of waste products in the blood without sufficient water, this is basic human physiology yet every fad diet wants to overlook it. Some even claim that we should try and loose as much water weight as possible which is not recommended for healthy living by any respected health and nutrition journal ever published.
On a side note, tea and coffee do not count as water. Caffeine is a diuretic (actually makes your body expel more water than it keeps). But it is not a huge one so in order to offset your caffeinated beverage you should drink at least one 8 oz glass of water as well.
Now comes my first asterisks of the article. It is important to understand that not all water is created equal in my mind. This is the list of some common pollutants found in tap water, some are known carcinogens:
- Heavy metals
- Radioactive Materials
I can go on and on about the devastating health effects of these substances on the body but it would take me an entire week to finish. So instead I leave the list with you to further research.
If you are a person that tries to seek refuge in plastic bottled water you run the risk of consuming high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been recognized as being toxic by numerous countries due to its hormone-like effects (mimics estrogen). This is why I recommend that every person has a reputable water filtration system (carbon, charcoal, or reverse osmosis) or drinks bottled water only out of glass bottles.
Moral of the story is to drink more filtered water. How much exactly? I recommend 1/2 ounce of water for every pound a person weighs. If you weigh 180 lbs you should drink 90 oz. Sound excessive? At least attempting to hit this number will be a big improvement for most people. If your fear is that you will be running to the bathroom every five seconds. I want to let you know that this is completely normal in the beginning. Remember that your body is now detoxing. Waste products are flowing out of your body at a much higher pace than before. Trust me this will stop after 1 to 2 weeks of consistent drinking and your body will be better off because of it.
VEGETABLES and Fruits
Now onto the next portion of the diet, VEGETABLES and Fruits. This is another critically important portion of the diet. VEGETABLES and Fruits should compose about 85-90% of the food consumed. Our bodies developed as hunter gatherers thousands of years ago. This meant a large portion of what was eaten was either grown or gathered in the form of VEGETABLES and fruits. Now I capitalize VEGETABLES for a reason. Ideally 1/2 to 3/4 of the food you consume should be organically grown vegetables. Usually when I say eat 90% vegetable and fruits, the only word the average person hears is the word fruits. This is because fruits are sweet sugar based items. We are trying to break this sugar addicted cycle our current western world has given us. So although fruits are natural sugars rather than refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, it is still a sugar none the less. We are trying to change this sugar based mindset to a nutritional micro-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) based one.
Here are just some of the benefits of eating vegetables:
- Vegetables contain a high amount of Folic Acid. Folic acid is critical in reducing heart attack risk, increasing serotonin productions (which is important for depression patients), and has also proven to help with subjective complaints such as energy levels.
- Vegetables contain numerous minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and others. These minerals are critical for bone health (explained in my previous blog post). Minerals are also important enzyme co-factors.
- Vegetables are high in Vitamin C which has numerous health benefits.
- Vegetables have proven important in helping the liver detoxify more efficiently. This is critical because the liver could be the most important yet abused organ in our body. From alcohol to high fructose corn syrup our liver has its job cut out for itself. Detoxifying ones blood (livers primary function) is critically important to overall wellness.
- Vegetables help create a more alkalized body pH which is critical for today's highly acidic diet (Higher acidic pH has been associated with cancer, heart disease, and auto-immune dysfunction).
- Vegetables also help maintain an anti-inflammatory ratio of 1:1 high omega-3 fats vs omega-6 fats. An anti-inflammatory diet has been linked to preventing numerous degenerative diseases such as aches and pains, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, acne, aging, metabolic syndrome X, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and more. Check out my "Battle Against Inflammation" article in order learn more.
- Vegetables are also a critical source of fiber. Fiber slows the absorption of fats and toxins. Fiber also increases satiety and helps you feel full longer. Fiber when eaten in the correct amount daily (25-30 grams daily) has proven to regulate cholesterol levels. Fiber also speeds up bowel movements (when combined with the proper amount of water) which leads to a healthier Gastrointestinal tract.
- Vegetables also help normal bacteria live longer periods of time and help prevent yeast over growths within the gut.
Vegetables clearly help numerous healthy functions within your body and provide the necessary nutrients for these mechanism to be completed. I can go on and on about each individual vitamin and mineral found within any given vegetable but again this would take me all week (for the purpose of time I won't). But without these micro-nutrients that vegetables supply, your body in turn becomes comparable to a mechanic with no tools. It knows everything it needs to do to help run correctly but doesn't have the necessary equipment to complete the job.
Now although it is getting easier for people to get a hold of these organic vegetables with the growth of companies like Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, and farmers markets across the world. It still remains much more difficult and expensive than just purchasing conventionally farmed and pesticide riddled crops. One alternative I suggest is drinking a greens mix every morning. These mixes contain numerous servings of vegetables in one scoop of powder. I personally drink one everyday as well as recommend it to all of my friends and family. This greens mix should contain organic ingredients, no fillers, probiotics, no artificial flavors, sweeteners, no added sugars, made with non-GMO ingredients, low glycemic, grain free, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Both myself and others who use them have felt an increase in energy (which I would assume is most likely due to nutritional needs being addressed). These mixes should be taken in addition to eating more vegetables not as a replacement for.
Fruits are also critical to our diet because they provide essential sugars (which are not in short supply in our current food landscape) as well as anti-oxidants which reduce free radicals. Free radicals are associated with tissue and cellular damage in turn causing numerous problems such as early aging, heart disease, and cancer. Fruits also provide numerous vitamins and minerals to our bodies. But I'm not going to get too into fruits because as mentioned above, eating fruits is normally not the problem, it is eating vegetables that is.
That should be enough to think about for today. Start making the little changes now as I will continue to explain this health and wellness diet in part 2.
- Cordain L, Watkins BA, Florant GL, Kehler M, Rogers L, Li Y. Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: Evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002; 56:181-191.
- Simopoulos AP. The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med. 2008;233(6):674-88.
- Enig MG. Know your fats. Silver Spring: Bethesda Press; 2000: p. 123, 142, 280-292.