A conference was held this year bringing together representatives from several current Fad diets including: Atkin's, South Beach, the Zone, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc. It seems new diet crazes are popping up all the time. It's hard to know what to eat any more. Fruitatarians encourage a diet exclusively of raw organic foods while Vegans discourage the consumption of any animal products. On the other hand, Atkin's suggests a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is best. If one were to follow all these guidelines the only thing left to eat would be DIRT. The purpose of the conference was to determine what dietary and nutrition guidelines could all these groups agree on. Well, the conference turned out to be a great success and the nutrition guidelines that were agreed to make up a balanced, common-sense diet we all can live.
1. Stay away from trans-fats. This is the stuff in the ingredients labeled "partially hydrogenenated vegetable oil." This is Crisco shortening. It is commonly found in margarine, artificial whipping cream, snack cakes, packaged cookies, bread and many other processed foods. So, butter is better than margarine. Trans-fats have reciently been linked to Alzheimer's Disease, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Trans-fats will be listed on all product labels beginning 2005.
2. Eat more Omega-3-fatty acids. This is the stuff in fish oil. It is a polyunsaturated fat, which is considered an essential fatty acid. This means our bodies can not make it. It is an essential vitamin just like A, C, E, B12 without which we would become diseased and die. Other sourses of Omega-3-fatty acid include venison, buffalo, canola oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, almonds, and wheat germ. Supplementing can reduce risk and treat an array of conditions including: heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's, type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune dieases, and depression.
3. Exercise. Research was done in the 1950's looking at several groups of peoples around the world who had an extremely long lifespans. Researchers noted one group in Russia ate a peculiar food unkown at that time to the rest of the world; called Yogurt. Well, you know the rest of that story. Other fad foods have been introduced into our diets through similar studies without the desired health benifits. It turns out the one thing all these healthy, long-lived groups have in common is a lot of hard work and exercise. So, get off the couch, go out and get your pedometer, and walk your 10,000 steps a day.
4. Pay more for food. The American diet is killing us. Too much of the food we eat is processed and stripped of essential nutrients. We buy processed foods to save us time and money. However, we fail to appreciate how much time and money we're going to loose 20-30 years down the road when we've developed some terrible chronic disease.
5. Eat whole grains. Even Atkin's agrees that not all carbs are bad. The difference between some wheat bread and white bread is a little carmel coloring to turn it brown. Some wheat bread is made with varying amounts of the bran but very few wheat breads include the germ. Wheat germ contains fat and unless it is removed, flour will spoil and turn rancid within a few days (grandmother kept freshly ground flour in the freezer). Instead, to increase shelf life, the wheat germ is removed, sold to shampoo and cosmetic companies and the bread is then enriched with a few vitamins. Unfortunately, flour enrichment isn't able to put back everything that is taken out. Other fantastic grains include barley, sesame, oats, brown rice, rye, triticale, and corn.
6. Watch out for oxidants. Iron is the #1 oxidant consumed in our diet. Iron an essential mineral for blood cells and many other biochemical processes. Babies, children and menstrating females usually don't get enough iron because iron is poorly absorbed, they usually fail to eat enough red meat, and women loose iron by each month due to the bleeding associated with their period. However, post-menopausal women and adult men are suffering the results of too much iron. Research proves that iron oxidized bad cholesterol (LDL) which is directly related to the formation of the atherosclerotic plaque which causes heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. It has been shown that men who give blood twice a year can reduce their risk of heart disease. Additionally, it is important to note that white grape juice and orange juice facilitate iron absorption while purple grape juice inhibits absorption. So, the French and Italians had it right all along, "Red wine with Red meat." It's not the alcohol, its the flavinoid and polyphenol antioxidants.
7. More Fruits, Vegetables, and Fiber. Some of the best sourses of fiber are fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables. The "king of fiber" award however goes to the bean. Whether its navy, kidney, pinto, or black just a half cup of cooked bean equals 12 grams of fiber and close to half of your daily requirement. Not enough fiber in the diet is related to increased risk of colon cancer. Fruit juices are not much better than soda pop. Apple juice for instance is so processed that it is almost devoid of nutrients except for some added vitamin C not to mention the sorbitol in it being hard for many babies to digest. Real apple juice is cloudy and the apple peal contains fiber, and antioxidant flavinoids. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," but apple juice is keeping him busy.
8. Reduce sugar but do not substitute. The first part is common sense but the later advice comes from a recient study involving lab mice fed either a treat with real sugar or artificial sweetener. Both mice ate the same amount of sweet snack but the mice who had the artificial sweetener went on to eat three times as much regular food afterwards than did the mice who had the snack with the natural sugar in it.
9. Loose weight the healthy way. When it comes time to decide on a weight lose method, make life-style modifications that will improve you're overall health. There are many ways to loose weight using powerful stimulant and diuretic drugs. Some of these drugs can be habit forming or can result in severe electrolyte abnormalities. On the other hand, healthy changes will be easier to stick with for a life-time and the excess weight will therefore more likely stay off.
10. Don't supersize. Eat smaller portions. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. A serving of carbohydrates (e.g. rice, beans, potato, pasta) is about the size of your fist.
11. Take your time. Eating too fast fails to provide sufficient time for your distended stomach to signal to the brain that your full. Concequently, you eat more calories than you need or would want to if you had eaten more slowly.
12. Drink water not soda or juice. Some adults drink up to 1000 calories a day in softdrinks such as soda, juice, and koolaid. Many could loose weight simply by eliminating these extra calories. Certain sodas carry an added risk. The phosphoric acid in many dark sodas such as Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper bind calcium and can lead to osteoporosis, especially in females.