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A Healthier You

At one point or another, nearly everyone wishes they could enjoy better health, have enhanced mental clarity, possess extra energy, or regularly feel upbeat.  Unsurprisingly, as the years go on, such thoughts seem to increase.  Yet, did you know these types of aspirations might not be as difficult to attain as they sound?

Well, they’re not!  In fact, the person who helped coined the phrase, “You are what you eat,” was truly on to something.  In Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach’s 1863 essay, Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism, he states (via translation), “Man is what he eats.”  In essence, the food we put in our mouth has a considerable influence on our overall well-being.

Sure, that sounds logical at some level, but what about Aunt Betsy?  After all, she ate whatever she wanted and lived happily to a ripe old age.

As impressive as Aunt Betsy’s narrative may be, by and large it is not the norm.  In reality, a diet high in processed foods (like bacon, sandwich meats and bread), sweetened fare (like desserts and soda), and unhealthy fats (like margarine and hydrogenated oils) can encourage undesirable health consequences.

But why bother changing it up, as one year we’re told to consume certain foods and a few years later those same offerings are alleged to be taboo?

Okay, that assertion holds some merit.  Still, we must remember that as additional studies are underway, more telling information becomes available.  Based on current research, assorted health experts suggest the following:

Fruits and Vegetables.  Various fruits and vegetables have repeatedly surfaced as healthy choices.  Even so, some forms are better than others.  For example, canned vegetables are believed inferior to freshly prepared because vitamins and minerals can diminish in the cooking/canning process.  Frozen varieties are typically better than canned, but they are usually not as nutritious as fresh.  Organic is the way to go whenever possible, as there is some measure of assurance the food you consume is devoid of pesticide residue.  However, if you have a hankering for corn or edamame (soybeans), then organic is almost certainly suggested, as most conventional soy and corn crops in the U.S. are genetically modified.  Spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and kale are other wholesome thoughts in the veggie department.  And fruit?  Indeed, many are beneficial, but berries seem to be superstars.  Yet again, it is generally wise to seek out organic, as pesticides can seep through the fruit’s skin and end up in your body (this is especially true regarding strawberries).  Naturally, it is difficult to find fresh berries year-round in New England, but grocery stores often carry organic brands in the frozen aisle section.

Protein.  A variety of foods contains protein.  For example, animal-derived products, like organic eggs and cheese, are good protein sources.  Seafood, chicken, and beef are also high in protein.  If you choose to get your protein from meat, endeavor to find grass-fed, lean selections, and keep portions around four ounces.  At one time, people thought nothing about consuming a 12-ounce steak, but some of those same individuals now reconsider the practice, especially since certain meats are rich in saturated fat, and a diet high in saturated animal fat can place a fair number of people at a higher risk for some diseases.  Moreover, mixed studies have indicated that excessive protein may perhaps lead to kidney problems or some types of cancer in immunocompromised individuals.  If you choose to get protein from non-animal sources, then nuts, beans, seeds, tempeh, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, peas, and even artichokes are fine choices.

To recap, the meals we consume have an impact on our health.  Interestingly, some people have even overcome illness by following a specialized diet (BTW, juicing is amazing!).  Whole foods are appreciably better than processed, and fresh is superior to canned.  Organic is preferred over conventional, and moderation is key no matter what you enjoy.

Lastly, it’s best to limit (or eliminate) refined carbohydrates such as bread, baked goods, pizza crust, sugary soft drinks, etc., as the aforesaid items have little nutritional value and can lead to weight gain and Type-2 diabetes.  On the other hand, good fats, like extra-virgin olive oil (a.k.a., EVOO), grass-fed organic butter, coconut oil, and avocado oil, are beneficial in a proper measure.

Nonetheless, it is always best to listen to your doctor regarding diet, as certain foods may not be right for you.  For additional cuisine tips, go to authoritynutrition.com.

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