Missed the first installment? Never fear, Part 1 is here.
Now for the second part of my little health rant – originally an email for family, now a refresher for me as I try to control my sweet tooth and get ready to lose 25 pounds of pregnancy weight.
I want to step back a minute and say that, though I might sound obsessed (and perhaps am, a little), my goal is not to cheat death or live to be 120 or anything like that. My hope is to live to the average life expectancy, hitting at least 80 or so.
I want to see my kids and grand kids grow up and do all the awesome things I know they’ll do. And I don’t want to watch from a wheelchair or be weighed down by medications and treatments. Everybody’s going to die from something, but why not put the odds in your favor for not having a slow and painful demise? If you want to live, don’t you want to live well? Then read on, loves:)
The main thing is to go low-fat, and get your cheese and milk from grass-fed animals if you can.
Yogurt is a special case – it’s got the active cultures for your digestion (good digestion supports overall good health because it’s how you absorb the nutrition from the food). BUT, it’s often full of sugar, and high fructose corn syrup (about which there is controversy, but whether it’s the same as real sugar or not, it’s not good for you. Avoid it). Get plain versions (Greek is especially good and creamy, even the fat free kind) and add fresh fruit, a little bit of natural honey (a less refined sugar), or something savory like chopped olives. It’ll be an adjustment, but you’ll get used to it. I did.
Keep in mind that our bodies aren’t always thrilled with having to digest dairy. Most of us are accustomed to it, but I must say I noticed improvements in digestion when significantly reducing my milk and cheese intake. Where I used to have a large glass of skim, one percent or two percent dairy milk, I now have a little bit of organic one percent mixed with coconut milk, almond milk or both. Not quite the same, but it’s good. And the milk alternatives are fun when experimenting with smoothies and Asian foods such as Thai and Indian.
Another thing – hormones. Many mainstream dairy brands label their food as “rGBH free” which is a good thing. Obviously this is not a concern if you go organic.
Raw milk is something I know very little about from experience. My understanding is that the lack of a pasteurization process maintains the milk’s enzymes that assist with digestion, perhaps countering the trouble some folks have with lactose intolerance and milk allergies. Of course, if you go raw, make sure the milk comes from a small, clean farm that doesn’t carry as much risk of the bacteria pasteurization is meant to kill.
Dairy is something we kind of take for granted. I highly recommend learning about it and how it works with our bodies. There are pros and cons, and they might surprise you.
Salt, and Why it can Lead to High Blood Pressure
Your body hoards salt. In millenia past, salt was tough to come by, and because our bodies need it, they hoarded it. Our bodies still hoard it today.
Water molecules follow sodium molecules. This means that the more salt in your body, the more water. That means that your blood is working harder, and your blood pressure could go up, and that can mean all sorts of badness. Too much salt also contributes to weight gain. You CAN use less salt. This is another adjustment, but if I got my husband to like food without ANY salt, I imagine you can do the same.
Using less salt in your own cooking is good, but almost 80% of most people’s sodium intake comes from processed food. This is why it’s so important to read labels. So many things like soup, crackers, sauces, etc contain almost half of your recommended daily intake, and the recommended daily intake recently went down (finally!) READ LABELS!!!
Fruits and Veggies
Easy peasy. You cannot overdo this. As a U.S. citizen, you probably get way less than you need (at least 5 daily servings), and don’t have to worry about the calories here. Eat a variety of colors – they indicate different nutrition – and eat them as freshly as you can. If you want them warm, a light steam is best. The more cooked a veggie is, the more nutrition (in the form of digestion-supporting enzymes) is lost (hence the raw food diet trend).
That last statement is not, in fact, entirely true. It’s a good rule of thumb, but certain elements, like the lycopene in tomatoes, is more easily absorbed by your body when the vegetable is cooked.
Concerning organic items: Yes, it’s more expensive, but it might be worth it. No one really knows how those pesticides interact with our DNA. The buildup in our systems could be doing more damage than we realize. There are certain things that are more important to buy organically. For the list*, see here: http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214
*The list has been updated, but I think the new one is quite similar.
Summing Up and Expounding On Parts 1 and 2
1. Beyond supporting the health of your heart, digestion, and weight, eating better can be good for your eyes, brain, lungs, feet, hair, nose and bellybutton. Basically, every little bit of you will benefit.
2. READ LABELS. Rule of thumb – they fewer ingredients you can recognize, the more processed and foreign to your body the “food”. Watch our for sodium, high fructose corn syrup (it’s in everything), and trans fats (bad. badbadbadbadbadarterycloggingbad).
3. Buy local food. Not only is this good for our economy, but the food is fresher, and thus healthier. It also didn’t require as much gas to get to you, which means it pollutes less. Local is all around superior.
4. There’s a lot I didn’t get to here. I hope what I did say has been some inspiration to do a little research of your own. You don’t have to depend on diet fads and the government to tell you how to eat. Educating yourself is the best thing you can do for your health.
So I decided to make this a three part deal. Next Wednesday’s Part 3 conclusion will be about supporting your healthy diet with other healthy habits. See you then!