Moderating your food consumption is the most important component of a healthy, balanced diet. Incorporating concepts such as food combining and food rotation can also be beneficial when addressing poor digestion or food allergies. Following these simple guidelines below will help support your digestion and a strong immune system.
Eat Whole Natural Foods:
Whole natural foods that come direct from gardens, farms and orchards are the best choices for optimal nutrients, energy and vitality. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes should ideally constitute 60-70% of your diet. Although processed food has an undeniable convenience factor and longer shelf life, they typically contain unnecessary additives and chemicals that can be detrimental to your health in the long run.
While not always the budget-friendly option, there are many benefits for eating organic whenever possible. Many believe that organically grown foods have a higher nutrient value than commercially grown produce, while others disagree. There are many studies to prove either side. What cannot be disputed is the undeniable benefit associated with the minimization of chemicals sprayed on organically grown produce, and therefore the reduced toxic load our bodies have to deal with.
Eat Naturally-Raised Meats (Fish, Seafood, Poultry, Beef, Lamb and Eggs):
Protein is an important component in diets, as it is the building block of all of our cells – and therefore our muscles, tissues and organs. And it is a tremendous source of vitamin B12 and iron. Due to its high fat content, it is important to consider only lean sources of protein. And to minimize our chemical and hormone exposure, look for naturally raised sources of protein.
Eat Raw or Lightly Steamed Vegetables:
Fruits and vegetables are best eaten as fresh as possible, though many can be stored well for several weeks. To maximize the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables, it’s best to eat them raw or lightly steamed. When cooked, many of the vitamins, some minerals and certainly the enzymes in fruits and vegetables are lost, thereby reducing their nutrient value.
Eat in Moderation:
As a general guideline, every meal and snack should have 40% lean protein, 20% fat and 40% complex carbohydrates for optimum nutrition and satisfaction. One of the best things you can do is to always eat a healthy balanced breakfast, setting up your metabolism properly for the day. If you have time constraints, consider options such as protein smoothies, healthy muffins, hardboiled eggs or granola with fruit, nuts and seeds.
Eliminate or Minimize Caffeine:
Caffeine is a stimulant that helps us feel temporarily energized, but it has many negative effects to the body. It has a laxative effect that may cover up sluggish bowels; it’s also a diuretic that causes frequent urination and dehydration, which can lead to many physical symptoms if taken in excess, including insomnia, high blood pressure and headaches.
Use Natural Sweeteners in Moderation:
Generally, it’s best to minimize sugar due to its well-documented impact on health, including hypoglycemia, weight gain, cravings, high cholesterol and dental cavities to name a few. When a sweetener is required, consider natural sources such as raw honey and maple syrup instead.
Eliminate or Limit Alcohol:
The negative effects of excessive alcohol use are well documented. Even in moderate amounts, alcohol is a diuretic and also uses up B vitamins as it is processed from the body, so it’s best to eliminate or strictly limit consumption.
Get Plenty of Sleep:
The importance of sleep is often overlooked. During sleep, our muscles and tissues are repaired and revitalized, and our minds process experiences and things we have learned during the day. Although we all have different sleep patterns and needs, the average person requires a minimum of seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
To achieve optimal sleep, avoid consumption of caffeine, heavy meals, exercise or alcohol within a few hours before bed. Before bed, consider reading, journaling or meditation to relax, as the day’s anxieties and an overactive mind can also impact your ability to sleep. And finally, ensure that your sleeping environment is set up for the best quality of sleep – minimize noise and keep the bedroom as dark as possible.
Exercise – Move your Body!:
Many feel that exercise only includes weekly classes, trips to the gym or running. The reality is that any form of exercise is beneficial, including morning or evening walks, or even taking the stairs whenever possible. Ideally, find an activity you enjoy doing and do it as frequently as possible. If finding the time becomes a challenge, use simple methods such as parking your car farther away from your destination and even taking business meetings outdoors and making them “walking meetings”. The key is to find every opportunity in a day to get your body moving.