Making healthy dietary and nutritional choices is one of the most important ways to enhance overall health. Eating well leads to feeling well, having more energy and strength each day.
What is a healthy diet?
Opinions abound about what constitutes the ‘perfect’ diet. I proscribe to the notion that the healthiest diet is one that is inclusive and contains real, unprocessed foods. The focus should be on eating sufficient amounts of nutritious, real food, not less food.
An ideal diet, assuming you do not have any gluten or casein (milk protein) intolerances/allergies, is a Mediterranean diet over a Western diet.
One’s focus should ideally be on eating healthy food, not less food. Opt for organic, locally sourced foods to minimize toxin exposure and protect the nutritional value of produce. Choose fresh produce over packaged or canned versions whenever possible. Processed sugars should be minimized and avoided if possible, and caffeine intake should be no more than 200mg/day (a cup of coffee is roughly 80-100mg).
Choose meat and fish wisely
Making informed choices about the type of meat and fish eaten is another important component to a healthy diet. Eating NON-feedlot meat, and wild rather than farm-raised fish minimizes hormone and toxin exposure, and provides additional sources of omega-3’s, plus vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Fish caught in the wild has less mercury than farm-raised fish; mercury is neurotoxic if ingested at high quantities, and is lipophilic, or fat-loving, meaning it can hang out in the body’s fat rather than being quickly eliminated.
Minimizing mercury exposure is extremely important for women of childbearing age. Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should limit intake of large, predatory fish that contain high levels of mercury. Examples include but are not limited to tuna, swordfish, tilefish and mahi mahi. For a complete list, see the Mayo Clinic “Pregnancy Week by Week” guide and the NRDC “Mercury Contamination in Fish” guide.
Additional ways to maximize health
Additional lifestyle modifications that can be beneficial for health and well being include using glass rather than plastic for food heating and storage, and minimizing use of the microwave in order to maximize healthy cooking.
Furthermore, it is essential for a healthy body and mind to go outdoors at least daily, exercise regularly and make informed, sound sleep hygiene choices. Complementary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, breathing exercises, mindfulness, and psychotherapy are additional tools. All of these things are of vital utility for total body health and wellness.
Until next time, take care of yourself and be well.