Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why eat healthy?

Really. Why bother? There is so much good tasting, easy to obtain and eat foods out there.  Fast food, packaged stuff off the shelves, salt and fat and sugar, oh my!  Well, let me tell ya, from experience, the effect of what we eat has on a body.  Keep in mind, it's not just what we eat, but all other substances we ingest or inhale, our personal lifestyles and exercise habits, and our mental wellness as well that contributes to our total well being. But, for this post, I will concentrate on foods.

No, I am not a granola-head, tree-hugger, Euell Gibbons type of person. Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Nor am I the strict meat-and-potatoes type either, though I love a good steak.  I will not propose a miracle diet nor state any one food type is better over another.  I believe in balance. Wholesome, nutritious foods, like our forefathers used to eat. Before complex pesticides, GMOs and shelf-life-increasing preservatives.  Not that all preservatives are bad. I do not recommend eating tainted food, even naturally tainted! I am a person who, at an early age, had good, wholesome, even home-grown foods to eat.  Then I suffered from mal-nutrition.  Then I went to college and learned the, dare I say, "value" of fast and junk foods. NOT.  Now I am 48 years old with Parkinson's disease, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, an ulcer and suffer from migraines. And, oddly, I am better now than I was a few years ago, when I had to walk with a cane to get around, and was very sick, almost constantly. Since improving my diet, or eating habits as I prefer to call it, I have been healthier than I was. I also have a 57 year old husband who is a very healthy, younger-looking truck driver.

So, what is good, healthy food and why should we bother with it?  

A healthy, balanced diet (or, eating habit) contains all the elements a body needs to grow, replenish strength and health, provide energy and keep the body functioning at an optimal level. These elements include essential protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.  While every body needs every available nutritional element, some need more of one thing than others.  Much depends on one person's individual metabolism. For instance, I am a protein burner, and require more protein than carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates give us the quick energy we need to function, so we all need them in one form or another. But if I don't get my share of protein, I get weak and shaky. I find that a good portion of protein plus a portion of a complex carb, such as a piece of fish, chicken or steak, with broccoli and an orange is perfect for my metabolism.  Some need more carbs and some need other nutrients in greater quantity. I have found that the good foods that make you feel energetic after you eat them, for a couple of hours, and not make you feel sluggish, are the foods that boost your metabolism.  Someone told me that once and I found it on various other sources, but mostly found it to be true with my own eating habits.

Also, interestingly enough, foods that are "in season", such as fruits and vegetables when they naturally grow, are best eaten at those times and give the body what it needs for the season.  A good article on this is Benefits in Season.

Good foods include:

  • Lean meats, eggs or meat substitutes (like beans) for protein and amino acids
  • Fresh, non-starchy vegetables, in season for necessary vitamins and minerals
  • Fresh in season fruits (natural sugars needed by the body)
  • Wholesome, whole grains
  • Fresh dairy & cheese, without hormones or additives
  • Natural, non processed fats, in moderation - needed by the brain and organs to function

Body for Life has a good list of what are considered, for the most part, good foods and what should be eaten in moderation: http://bodyforlife.com/library/food-list   I am in agreement with most of it, however, I find that dairy fats (milk, butter) to be more on the healthy side than not, with moderation and care that they don't contain extra substances.  It was once thought that I was lactose intolerant.  It turns out I am only intolerant of milk products that are full of hormones, preservatives, extra vitamins and are homogenized. I get my milk products from an Amish farm supplier.

Why fruits and not juices? Juices tend to contain water (which is good!) but also preservatives and processed sugars.  Sometimes they aren't juice at all, but flavorings.  Many fruits and vegetables loose much of their nutritional value shortly after "juicing" or cutting open.  So have a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable, or juice them yourself.

One of the benefits of fresh vegetables and fruits - you can eat a lot of them (esp. vegetables) without gaining a lot of calories. Fruits contain natural sugars your body craves and provides long-lasting energy that won't damage your liver.

When looking at the labels and wondering what to avoid, here are some major items:

  • Processed, refined sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Preservatives, non-natural additives and hormones —BHT, BHA, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate
  • Artificial sweeteners (Nutrasweet, etc)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Hydrogenated Oils (Crisco, fake butter, etc)
  • Processed soy products
  • Anything unpronounceable

See the Page Tab "Previous Writings" for more info.

Why bother?

I mean, I can get what I need from a vitamin and just eat what I want, can't I? Maybe. The body only absorbs so much from a pill. Sometimes, supplements can pass right through a body without being absorbed at all. I am not knocking supplements, or medication, when necessary.  But, when one is on a good, healthy eating plan, one gets the nutrition one needs in a way the body can absorb it and use it properly.  Eating properly ensures you are getting what you need. And you aren't filling up on poisons.

Not only is eating healthy foods the best way to get nutrition, but there is also the danger of processed foods and their effect on the body. One might get vitamins and minerals from a supplement, but eating nothing but processed "junk" foods can poison the body.  Preservatives, hormones, processed sugars and salts and artificial additives have a severe and adverse affect on our health.  Everything is chemical and there are chemical reactions.

When we ingest anything, our digestive system is set up to handle the good and the bad, within limits. It pulls out what the body needs and gets rid of the rest. When the body is overwhelmed with "foreign" substances, the liver is put into overdrive.  Too much of these causes problems such as fatty liver disease and diabetes (see below for links).  Other problems include obesity and heart disease.  One of the problems facing truck drivers right now is mandatory medical examinations for sleep apnea with those with obesity based on the body mass index.

The purpose of the liver: "Some of the functions are: to produce substances that break down fats, convert glucose to glycogen, produce urea (the main substance of urine), make certain amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), filter harmful substances from the blood (such as alcohol), storage of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, D, K and B12) and maintain a proper level or glucose in the blood. The liver is also responsible for producing cholesterol. It produces about 80% of the cholesterol in your body."  (http://www.mamashealth.com/organs/liver.asp).

Too much processed sugar can lead to a sugar addiction which can lead to diabetes and overeating, as it affects the body's triggers to when we feel full when eating, bypassing those triggers and creating imbalances such as with insulin.  These can lead to obesity which brings with it a myriad of other issues as stated above.

Above all, drink lots of water.  Water is essential for a healthy and well-functioning body.

Finally, exercise.  Exercise helps your body absorb and process much of its needed nutrients, as well as maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. It also helps you sleep better and just feel better. Trust me, I know!

So, there you have the reasons for healthy eating.  May you be healthy and live a long, strong life. 

Obesity, sugar and liver problem links:
Fatty Liver Disease and Diabetes
Detrimental Effects of Sugar on the Body
Sugar, its Effects on the Body and Mind
Junk Food Addiction may be the Clue to Obesity

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Don't Drink and Drive
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1 comment:

  1. Please note: I will no longer be approving anonymous comments, and especially comments with various links in them. If you wish to share something with me, please email me and I will look it over. If I find your link appropriate, I will put it in the links page.


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