We’re bombarded daily with ads to eat healthy, with ads touting non-existent nutritional claims, with government agencies and Michelle Obama pushing some new diet or nutritional study on how we should eat.
Put your gray matter into high gear – Use common sense
According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, nine out of 10 Americans said that they were eating a “somewhat” “very,” or “extremely” healthy diet. Yet, in the same study, 43% said they drank at least one sugary drink a day, and only 30% said they eat the recommended five or more servings of fresh fruit or vegetables daily. With the CDC showing that one-third of American adults are obese, you have to realize that either most of us are in a state of denial or making our food choices based upon lies and half-truths.
Fat-free does not mean calorie free. Manufacturers replace the fat in low-fat versions of most food with extra sweeteners and empty carbs to make the food edible. The harmful effects of high sugar consumption goes way beyond empty calories. Sugar, primarily because of its high fructose content, wreaks havoc on our metabolism and sets us up for weight gain and many serious diseases.
If you’re confused about healthy eating, it is with good reason. For example, everyone from the Food and Drug Administration on down has made fats the villains of the food industry. So it goes to reason – sort of – that if you are limiting your fat intake, you are “eating healthy.” The trouble is, many Americans are replacing perfectly healthy foods that contain some fats with unhealthy foods that contain unhealthy fat substitutes.
While limiting your intake of man-made fats, like trans-fats and refined polyunsaturated fats, is a good choice, some saturated fats found naturally in meat, dairy, certain oils and tropical plants such as coconuts, are essential to your health. Man-made fats typically contain the same amount of calories as their counterparts.
Polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy because some studies show that they lower your risk of heart disease but there are many types of polyunsaturated fats and they are not all the same. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and lower your risk of many diseases related to inflammation. Humans actually need to get Omega-6s and Omega-3s in a certain ratio. If the ratio is too high in favor of Omega-6, it can cause problems. Research on Omega-6 fatty acids show that they actually increase the risk of heart disease. The biggest sources of Omega-6 in our modern diet is from processed seed and vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower. Stick to “first cold pressed” extra virgin olive oil.
Real milk has many valuable nutrients, including calcium and Vitamins D, A, E and K. When the fat content is removed to produce NO-FAT MILK, these benefits are removed as well. While some dairies put Vitamin K back into skim mile, it is not in its natural form. Opt instead for 2% or 1% milk where you will get the all the nutrients plus conjugated linoleic acid in its natural state.
Real butter from grass-fed cows is one of the most important foods you can eat for a healthy heart. Grass fed butter is loaded with Vitamin K2, the nutrient that decalcifies you arteries.
Pork, the “other white meat” isn’t healthy. Pigs are nasty animals that will eat anything and everything, including their own feces. Pigs do not have sweat glands so toxins are retained in their fat.
Think those reduced-fat veggie chips are healthy? Actually, they’re no better than a bag of salty, greasy potato chips. Potatoes and vegetables in their natural state are good, but vegetable chips are just as salty, contain added sugars, potato starch and food coloring to make the chips look like vegetables.
Veggie Patties have a complicated list of fillers that include gums, yeast extract and cornstarch to achieve that burger-like appearance. Check the label. If you don’t see at least some vegetables leading the list of ingredients, you might want to avoid them.
Yogurt contains live, active cultures that can help maintain the “good” bacteria in your digestive tract. However, most commercial frozen yogurt has been heat-processed, killing all those beneficial cultures. Soft-serve yogurt while low in fat is typically high in sugar.
Eating a salad at many fast food restaurants can be just as bad for you as eating a burger and fries. Many fast food salads have calorie-laden add-ons such as cheese, dried fruit and croutons as well as rich, sugary salad dressing. In terms of nutrition and calories, you’d be better off ordering a small burger and a small order of fries.
Coffee is actually very healthy. It is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which leads to a stimulant effect, improving energy levels, mood, various aspects of brain function, as well as helping your body burn fat.
Eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease. In fact, eggs are the most nutritious foods on the planet. They’re high in all sorts of nutrients along with unique antioxidants that protect our eyes.
Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems. Eat them sparingly.
Soy, often touted as not only safe but good for you is now attributed to endocrine disruption, digestive problems, hormone issues, thyroid problems and fertility complications. So if soy is your thing, make certain it isn’t genetically modified, and don’t buy it unless it’s fermented.
Honey, in its raw form, is nature’s perfect sweetener. Honey contains calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, chromium, manganese and selenium. The honey you purchase in the grocery store however, has been heat-treated which destroys its natural vitamins, enzymes and minerals. Just remember that honey also contains fructose so monitor your daily intake and buy raw unprocessed honey.
Eating a high protein diet is associated with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. High protein also lowers blood pressure and improves diabetes symptoms, which should lower the risk of kidney failure.
Low-carb diets, demonized by nutritionists and the media, are the healthiest, easiest and most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease. Low-carb diets reduce body fat much more than calorie restricted low-fat diets, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, increase the good (HDL) cholesterol, lower triglycerides and are much easier to stick to.
Common sense is the best approach to a healthy diet. Educate yourself, avoid processed foods, read labels, control your portions, eat natural – follow God’s health laws (Leviticus 11) and enjoy a long, healthy life.