The primary source of nutrition is the food we eat. If you are not as healthy as you want to be then one key factor in improving your health is to be sure you are eating as healthy a you can. In order to do this you need to know:
how much (serving sizes) of what variety of foods you need to eat daily
the healthiest sources of these foods available to you
the healthiest ways to prepare these foods
if you are able to meet all your vitamin and mineral needs
though the body will eventually wear out, being unhealthy and diseased is not normal, not inevitable and should not be expected to be part of your life
being healthy does not mean just the absence of disease
for most of us, good health is really a choice, not an accident
true health and wellness has little to do with doctors, medications lotions, potions or surgery
even though the workings of the body are complex, its needs for true health and wellness are relatively simple
The first thing we need to do is change our definition of what being “healthy” really means. To me being “healthy” does not just mean the absence of symptoms of a disease/diseases or the absence of a disease itself or of diseases themselves. I would define being “healthy” as an ideal state of wellness in which the body functions at maximum efficiency both physically and mentally with the least amount of outside or medical intervention ( prescription or nonprescription medications or any other medical treatment). It is a state where one feels as good as one can, has as much energy as one can have and if ill or injured can heal as fast as one can. The only way you will know this is if you take good care of your body and give it everything it needs.
Most of us are concerned about the availability and affordability of quality healthcare for all. This usually centers around trying to rein in the costs of health insurance premiums, their co-pays, high deductibles and increasing out of pocket expenses. However, it has been almost sixty years since our nation has tried to solve the problem of escalating healthcare costs with various recommendations, programs and laws. Unfortunately, none have been successful so far. The reason is because all of the above issues are the RESULTS of the problem but are not the actual CAUSE. Unless we acknowledge and do something about the CAUSE we will never resolve the problem. The CAUSE is disease. Too much disease and the fact that more and more people at younger and younger ages are being diagnosed with chronic diseases and conditions such as: heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Chronic diseases are responsible for at least 75% of the $3.5 trillion our nation spent on healthcare costs last year. This is what we must focus on and do something about. If we do not, healthcare costs will always go up!
Since 2001 Gallup has included healthcare in it’s yearly polling. Concerns about healthcare has been number one or tied for number one thirteen out of the past eighteen yearly Gallup polls and has been number one for the last five years in a row. I guess that should be no surprise to most of us. As a nation we have had problems trying to rein in the costs of healthcare since 1960. We have tried various things to accomplish this the most recent being the ACA (The Affordable Care Act). However, healthcare costs still go up and there is a lot of uncertainty of what is going to happen in the future with it. It seems like it will be front and center as a political issue during the upcoming mid-term elections. The reason why we cannot solve this problem is because we never deal with the cause of it. All we ever do is try to do something about the results of the cause of the problem.
To be continued next week…..
The body also needs phytochemicals or phytonutrients. These are bioactive substances found in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes that give these foods color and flavor. They are natural antioxidants and have antibacterial and antiviral properties that help support the immune system. There are thousands of these nutrients that are grouped into different classes depending on their molecular structure and beneficial function to the body. Some of these classes include: carotenoids, flavonoids, gluosinolates, indoles, isoflavones, lipoic acid, phytosterols, polysaccharides and tocopherols amongst others.
Minerals are used to build and repair the body. The body cannot produce them, so you must get these nutrients by eating plants grown in mineral rich soil or meat from animals that eat such plants. Standard medical knowledge suggests that there are seventeen minerals necessary for bodily function. Some sources place the number of required minerals to be higher at forty or even up to sixty. No matter which number you recognize, only eight occur regularly in the food we eat. There are two basic categories of minerals: macro and trace minerals. The most important of the macro ones are: calcium,chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur. The most important trace minerals are: chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride(this is not the fluoride in your water),iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.
Of the micronutrients you need there are thirteen different vitamins. Of these vitamins only vitamin D can be produced by the body and this occurs only when you get enough exposure to sunlight. There are two types of vitamins; water soluble and fat soluble. The water soluble vitamins are the B complexes and C. Since they cannot be stored in the body you need to ingest a certain amount every day. Excess mounts are excreted out of the body usually with no negative consequences. The fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in the body. When ingesting them you need to exercise a bit of caution, as consuming very large quantities of these can be toxic to the body.
Adequate nutrition is an absolute must for good health. You should obtain as much balanced nutrition as you can from high-quality foods that you eat for your daily meals and snacks. First you need to decide what your body needs are and then you can figure out if you are meeting those needs by the way you are eating now. The body needs a certain amount of macronutrients. These are: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This is what I use as a guide for my eating. 45%-65% of my total daily caloric intake should come from “ideally” good carbohydrates which are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.10%-25% should be from proteins. Finally, 25%-30% should be from fats. Try to avoid trans fatty acids completely and keep your consumption of saturated fats below 7% of your total calories per day.
1-We eat food and drink beverages that look, smell and taste great that are available in larger and larger quantities but have minimal nutritional value.
2-Many people consume excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages and alcohol. These can act as diuretics, remove nutrients from our bodies and interfere with nutrient absorption, besides adding toxic substances that can also be very harmful to the body itself.
3-Many people still smoke which depletes nutrients from the body.
4-Many of us often eat on the run, skip meals and consume foods based on their convenience versus their nutritional value.
5-Many of us go through periods of time when we travel and get into situations where it is difficult to eat nutritionally balanced meals regularly.