Ensuring good nutrition is the most important thing we do to nurture and maintain our physical existence. Our grandmothers were on to something when they told us “you are what you eat.” Even the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, understood the great power of nutrition when he counseled, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.”
Let’s assume you are aware of the health-promoting, disease-preventing qualities of food. The next challenge comes in knowing what the best diet is. Considering all the many diets out there, choosing one might seem like an impossible task. The answer, surprisingly, is not so complicated. Here at Nutriex we would like to let you in on a little secret. Here goes… All healthy diets are basically the same! Look at the list of popular diets and see for yourself.
South Beach Diet
Replaces “bad carbs” and “bad fats” with “good carbs” and “good fats.” Recommends diets full of vegetables, beans, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and oily fish.
DASH II diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
This National Heart Lung and Blood Institute recommended diet is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, fiber, lean protein (poultry, fish and nuts). The DASH II is low in fat, red meat content, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages.
ADA diet (American Diabetes Association diet)
A diet high in dietary fiber, low in saturated fat and high glycemic carbohydrates.
Proven to dramatically decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Recommends 11 vegetable and fruit servings per day and even vegetables for a “main course”. Skim dairy, lean poultry, fish, and whole grains are emphasized.
Anti-Inflammatory Zone Diet
Centers on a “40:30:30” ratio of calories obtained daily from good carbs, proteins and fats respectively. In lay terms, “eat as much protein as the palm of your hand, as much non-starchy raw vegetables as you can for the vitamins, enough carbs to maintain mental clarity, and enough monounsaturated oils to keep feelings of hunger away.”
Paleolithic diet (a.k.a. caveman diet, stone age diet, hunter-gatherer diet)
Centers around game meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, roots, and nuts; and excludes cultivated grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, processed oils, etc. (which were not available to cavemen/women).
Emphasizes abundant plant-derived foods (fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert), olive oil as the principal source of fat, dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt), and fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts. Zero to four eggs are consumed weekly. Red meat consumed in low amounts and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts.
Advocated to reverse heart disease, emphasizes extremely low fat, minimal to no animal-based foods: no dairy unless non-fat variety. Unlimited fruits, veggies, beans, peas, lentils, whole grains. Egg whites are OK. Red meats, poultry and fish are not recommended. Basically a low-fat lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.
- Use olive, flax, or canola oil, instead of butter or salad dressing.
- Use flaxseeds, flaxseed powder/oil in your diet. Use ground flaxseeds in your whole grain muffin, pancakes or waffles.
- Add a tsp of olive, canola, or flaxseed oil to vegetables at dinner.
Enjoy a small serving of unsalted nuts rich in monounsaturated fat, like almonds, peanuts, and pecans as a snack.
- Put thin slices of avocado on sandwiches instead of mayo or miracle whip.
Protein is the body’s main building block. It is the necessary component in repairing and building new cells. Protein is important for hormones to function properly and it is even used as energy.
- Have a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk as a snack.
Add beans, nuts or whole grains to salads and main dishes.
- Try adding tofu, tempeh or hummus to sandwiches, salads, stirfries, etc.
- Mix protein powder in your fruit smoothie, hot cereal, or whole grain pancake, waffle or muffin mix.
- Incorporate soy protein in your diet: Snack on edamame. Try soy milk in your recipes and drinks. Add tofu to your main dishes.
Whole grains are “Good Carbs.” Unlike enriched grains, whole grains haven’t been stripped of their fiber and protein content. They provide your body with a longer lasting fuel source and help reduce hunger.
- Check out the first ingredient on your food labels. First ingredients should say “whole wheat flour” or “whole grain flour”. Avoid “enriched wheat flour” which is a fancy way of saying “processed white flour”.
- Check out the Nutrition Facts and look for the Dietary Fiber. If the food has 3 gms or more of fiber it is made from a whole grain source.
- Eat oatmeal or other whole grain cereal for breakfast.
- Learn to cook various grains like barley, quinoa, wild rices, etc. Add them to your favorite recipes such as pasta, meat dishes, salads, even desserts. They have a nice mild taste and blend in with many foods, and add increased protein, nutrients and fiber to your standard recipes.
- Instead of buying whole grain breads at the store (which often contain large amounts of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup) bake your own whole grain breads.
- Use quinoa instead of white rice. They are both prepared the same way but quinoa contains more fiber and protein.