Salad - Good Nutrition

Building on Balance – What is Good Nutrition?

If I asked you today what you believe good nutrition and a balanced diet look like, what would you tell me? Would you say that we should be eating foods from all of the food groups – meat/fish/eggs; breads and cereals; fruit and vegetables and dairy? Would you point me to the food pyramid? How about calories – would that be part of the equation called “balanced nutrition”?

Our ideas around nutrition have morphed over the years as we’ve explored all types of diets, many of which have left us frustrated and fat. Part of that is due to the fact that (you’ve heard me say this over and over again) diets don’t work. And, creating a “balanced diet” is entirely dependent upon whether we’re vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto or heaven knows what. It seems that balance is in the eye of the beholder … so let’s take a look at some of the basic facts about nutrition and go from there.

Why is nutrition important?

The short answer to this question is that a balanced diet (way of eating every single day all year long) is vital for good health and wellbeing. Food provides our bodies with everything we need to grow and function properly. We know we need a wide variety of different foods to provide the right amounts of nutrients for good health. Nutrients is the operative word here, it’s the foundation of “nutrition”. When we enjoy a healthy way of eating it not only keeps us full of energy and vitality, it is also one of the great cultural pleasures of life. The foods and dietary patterns that promote good nutrition are pretty simple and quite basic – yet in today’s world, the simple and basic have been replaced with refined and unhealthy.

Nutrition Risk Factors

An unhealthy diet increases the risk of many diet-related diseases. Many of the major causes of death, illness and disability can be traced back to the way people “nourish” their bodies, in other words, their nutrition. Some of the diseases in which diet and nutrition play an important role include coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, obesity, some forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, dental caries, gall bladder disease, dementia and nutritional anemias. And this isn’t the entire list!

So, What Constitutes Good Nutrition?

It’s a fact that many people in Western countries are eating like crazy but they’re malnourished. Malnutrition happens when a person does not eat the right amount of nutrients. There’s a very simple fix for this … eat foods that contain the necessary nutrients to make and keep you healthy.
There are six main types of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins and water. We need to eat a lot of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) and although we need lesser amounts, it’s important to ensure we’re getting enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals and water).
It may come as a surprise to you, but carbohydrates are not needed by the body; however, most people eat a lot (often too many) of them. Complex carbohydrates are more nutritious than simple carbohydrates and they take longer to digest, staying in the stomach longer so the person has a full feeling for a longer period – think sweet potato, squash, peas and beans as well a whole grains. Protein, comprised of amino acids, is necessary for the building of cells and tissue. The most common sources for protein are milk, meat, fish, beans, and eggs as well as certain grains and vegetables.
Fat occurs naturally in some foods and saturated and trans-fat (the unhealthy kind) is found in abundance in processed foods (cake, chips, many breads, you get the idea). The combination of simple carbohydrates and bad fats is what makes and keeps people fat. The good news about healthy fats, like those found in certain oils, nuts, avocados and fish is that it is a magnificent source of energy. Our bodies need Omega 3 and 6 fats for good nutrition. As I’ve written in a previous blog, not all fats are bad.
To sum up, good nutrition is a balanced blend of macro and micro nutrients in portions that are moderate. That means you get to build your own diet based on your body’s nutritional needs. If you need help with that, book an appointment and let’s talk.

 

 

Fish is healthy

Go Fish

Fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet. It is loaded with important nutrients, such as protein, vitamin D, B2 (riboflavin), calcium and phosphorus, a great source of minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium, and is also the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for your body and brain.

Besides being a high protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits, white-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats.

How often should I eat fish?

Government dietary guidelines recommend that people eat fish two to three times a week. And we know that fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids—which can benefit both heart and brain. While it might be safe to eat fish every day, it’s still not clear if there is any added health benefits to that level of consumption. Just make sure to choose a variety of fish lower in mercury, such as almon, tilapia, tuna and cod. Due to the high levels of mercury in white (albacore) tuna, you should not exceed 6 ounces per week.

Telling the Truth about Fish

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you’re pretty aware of the advisories against eating farmed fish. But, what about fresh fish vs. frozen fish? I often get questions about that from my clients and here’s a bit of info that could prove to be very helpful to you:
Unless you know for sure it’s high-quality fresh fish, go with frozen. A lot of fish is flash frozen on the boat right after it’s caught. After thawing, it should still be quite good.
On the other hand, “fresh” fish that was never frozen may have spent a few days sitting in a smelly ship’s hold by the time you buy it. And, some “fresh” fish may have been frozen and then thawed out behind the supermarket counter.

 

 

Healthy Fats

The Skinny on Fats

Eat fat – get fat. Right? Actually, no, not entirely.

Incorporating good fats in your diet help you with weight loss

The general line of thinking over several decades was that if we just eliminated fat from our diets all of our weight loss problems would be solved. But the truth is that we actually need fats – in fact, we can’t live without them. They’re an integral part of a healthy diet, providing essential fatty acids that help to keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, provide energizing fuel and probably most importantly, they keep our brains functioning. Still, it’s very easy to get confused about good fats vs. bad fats, how much fat we should eat, how to avoid artery-clogging trans-fats, and the role omega-3 fatty acids play in heart health.
As most people these days know, fat has made it back into our diets, which is a really good thing. It’s recommended that 20%-35% of calories in an adult’s diet should come from fat and, at the very least, 10% of calories in the diet come from fat.

Here’s the problem: the typical North American diet is much higher in fat – roughly 34% to 40% of calories in the Standard American Diet (SAD) comes from fat. Why is that? Well, it’s because fat makes food taste good and it’s widely available (thanks to food manufacturers) in the food supply. Fats enhance the flavors of foods and give our mouths that wonderful feel that is so satisfying. The food industry has that figured out and it really has paid off for them. Using trans-fats (the worst of the worst) has contributed to the high level of inflammation in people that results in disease such as diabetes, obesity and many more.

Eat the Right Kind of Fats
In other parts of the world, fat has always been welcome at the table. In the U.S.? Only now is the truth being realized: Not all fats are created equally. Our bodies need fat — more specifically, they need healthy fats. As the ketogenic diet that emphasizes healthy fats gains in popularity, more and more people want to know what fats qualify. By upping our healthy fats we lower bad cholesterol, increase our satiety (so we avoid overeating), and boost our immune system.
Here are some suggestions for great fats that pack a lot of punch. From lowering bad cholesterol and helping shed excess weight to giving you shiny hair and healthy nails, your body will reap the benefits of these healthy fats.

Avocado

  • Rich in monounsaturated fats (raises levels of good cholesterol while lowering the bad)
  • Packed with Vitamin E to boost immunity
  • More protein than any other fruit
  • Full of folate (excellent for pregnant women)

Butter and Ghee

  • Full of Omega6 and Omage3 fatty acids – great for brain and skin health
  • Rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals
  • Ghee (clarified butter) is better for cooking at high temperatures

Coconut Oil

Rich in medium chain fatty acids which:

  • Are easy for your body to digest
  • Not readily stored by the body as fat
  • Small in size so they infuse the body with energy quickly
  • Improve brain and memory function

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • High levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants
  • Boosts heart health, memory and cognitive function
  • Not recommended for cooking at high temperatures

Omega 3s

  • Preferred sources are DHA and EPA, found in seafood sources like salmon and sardines
  • Supplement with fish oil
  • Get at least 1,000mg/day of EPA/DHA and 4,000mg of total omega3s ALA/DHA/EPA combined

Nuts & Seeds

  • Rich in ALA Omega3 fats (brain food)
  • Helps lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL)
  • Walnuts and almonds are the best nuts
  • Flax seeds and chia seeds are the top seeds

Eggs

  • Packed with protein and a full amino acid profile
  • Can lower cholesterol while improving heart health
  • Can reduce risk of metabolic syndrome

Full-Fat Dairy

  • Yogurt is full of omega3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and probiotics (non-sweetened w/o fruit)
  • Raw milk keeps all vitamins, minerals and proteins intact
  • Goat milk is easily digestible and makes a great option for those with GI issues