Are You Killing Yourself One Bite At A Time?
By, Dr. David Martin, Fort Myers Acupuncturist
Do you eat “diet” foods, bars or drink commercial shakes?
Do you experience stress, headaches, or body aches?
Do you consume: packaged foods, products containing white sugar, white flour or eat fast food?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions your health may be at risk because of the food you eat, but the good news is there IS something you can do about it!
Isn’t it interesting that in a country as rich as ours in knowledge and availability of high-quality food, we have tragic obesity rates in excess of 20% in all but one U.S. state (Colorado)? Furthermore, chronic anxiety, disease, and pain “syndrome” rates are soaring to new heights annually. What could a population as diverse as ours possibly have in and common that could cause such alarming statistics? The answer is: The Standard American Diet (SAD). In Traditional Chinese Medicine the first place a Doctor of Oriental Medicine will look is the patient’s diet to find the source of the dis-ease in the body. Once the potential cause is isolated, then dietary changes, acupuncture and herbs are added as ancillary treatments to create balance and healing in the body. But the first goal is always to help patients to start choosing life-giving foods.
Hippocrates once said, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” What Hippocrates didn’t plan on was a world where foods are processed, laden with sugars, salts and chemical compounds. A world where food labeled as “healthy” can create inflammation and dis-ease in the body. Our bodies must work harder to metabolize these foods, and oftentimes the “simple” sugars place your body on a roller coaster ride of high blood sugar and low blood sugar. This ride increases your cravings for salty, fatty, sweet food and activates a cascade of hormone reactions that increase your sensitivity to stress. The end result is more cravings, mood swings, hormone surges, inflammation.
What CAN You Eat?
Flip on any channel or YouTube video and you’ll find advice on how to count carbs, eliminate corn syrup, or which new and wonderful supplement can help you lose inches without changing a thing. The information is contradictory at best, and at worst encourages consumers to put more things into their bodies that can create inflammation, dangerous blood sugar drops, or even long term cardiac problems. What’s even worse is that with the right foods (found at your local grocery) you can do more than save money; you can even reverse some medical problems. Below is a simple list of natural foods you can eat to start living a healthier, fuller life:
- Aim for 7-11 vegetables a day. Fresh and organic is best, lean and green is golden. Eating 1-2 fresh fruits a day in addition to your vegetables is a great way to give yourself an energy boost!
- Eat 1 or 2 half-cup servings of a whole grain each day. Grains like Kamut, Quinoa, Bulgur and Barley are great when cooked ahead; they travel well and are cost-effective. The best place to buy these grains in their natural state is in stores that sell in bulk.
- Grab a quick handful of raw nuts or seeds like almonds, pecans, pumpkin or sunflower to make snacking easy and nutritious. Nuts are rich in calcium and selenium to help you keep stress at bay while protecting your heart.
- Make friends with fat by adding a ¼ of an avocado and 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to your diet to protect you heart and help you body build a stronger immune system.
- Try eating between 1 and 3 servings of lean meats a day. A serving is typically the size of a deck of cards. Key words like “Organic” “Grass-Fed” and “Free-Range” indicate meats that might be healthier for you to eat. In the fish category, look for labels such as “Wild” to ensure these are not farmed fish with high levels of antiobiotics pumped into them.
- Adding ½ a cup of legumes each day is a fantastic way to add more nutrients and protein to your diet without adding animal fats.
- Sweets should be eaten rarely and dairy should be taken in only if you are not sensitive to it. There are many plant-based sources of calcium available like collard greens, kale, broccoli and the like.
Will The Real Healthy Food Please Stand Up! Many “diet” foods are heavily processed, filled with artificial sweeteners and are full of empty calories. Bars shakes and pills are often convenient ways to try to trim down and they are also among the fastest ways to clog up your intestines with hard to digest foods. Furthermore, products labeled as “natural” and “whole grain” or boasting “12” grains are often just newly labeled processed foods with “allowable” minimums of the real stuff. So, read the labels carefully and look for words like “raw” “sprouted grains”, “certified organic” as well as salt and sugar contents. Raw stevia makes a great sugar substitute and Ezekiel brand bread is an example of a true whole grain bakery item; so stock up on these at your health food store.
Do you need help to stay on track? The most powerful tools we have as humans are our thoughts which drive our choices, our choices which create our behaviors. So it’s important to do all that you can to learn about your food, where it’s best to shop and how to make eating well easy. We are lucky enough to live in an area with many dedicated healers who offer free classes throughout the month on nutrition-classes that are geared towards education rather than pushing the latest pill or product. If you need help finding one of these classes or if you need some extra support in fighting cravings and are ready to embrace a natural approach, feel free to call our office at: 239-277-1399 or email us at: davidlotusblossomclinic.com.
By David Martin – Acupuncture Physician serving Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples.