Poor lifestyle and nutritional habits contribute as much to the aging process as the passing of years. When it comes to your eating choices, the key concept is to view your body as a Ferrari, and to put high octane fuel (healthy foods and beverages) into it at all times.
Here are some helpful guidelines:
• Don't skip breakfast, and make breakfast and lunch your largest meals each day, as pancreatic enzyme production is at its peak in the morning hours.
• Finish eating dinner no later than 8 p.m., or even hours earlier. Try to keep your evening meal small, as pancreatic enzyme production is at its lowest in the evening.
• Create meals that contain 70 to 80 percent alkalizing foods and only 20 to 30 percent acidifying foods.
• On average, limit your total protein intake each day to no more than 50 grams unless you regularly engage in rigorous exercise, in which case it can be higher. To prevent the acidifying effects of excess protein, always eat a lot of alkalizing, non-starchy vegetables with protein foods.
• For most people, a ratio of 40 percent protein, 20 to 40 percent complex carbohydrates, and 20 to 40 percent healthy fats for each meal is ideal.
• As a rule, most people should increase their intake of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, eat fish low in mercury at least three times per week, and eliminate all sugar, table salt (use sea salt or Celtic salt instead), canned and processed foods, bottled juices, milk, tap water, and unhealthy fats, especially hydrogenated fats, including margarine and other butter substitutes. Such fats block the chemical pathways that are necessary for us to utilize the cholesterol manufactured by our bodies.
• Consume alcohol, and coffee sparingly.
• Eat fish. Research has proven that the body requires certain essential fatty acids in order to manufacture certain hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins, which are vital for proper immune function. Essential fatty acids in your diet can be increased by consuming coldwater fish. Examples include salmon, cod, mackerel, and sardines. Warm ocean fish such as snapper, flounder, and perch are second best. Freshwater fish (catfish, trout) contain the smallest amount of essential fatty acids.
• To further ensure you are getting enough essential fatty acids, try to eat one tablespoon of extra virgin (not pure) olive or flaxseed oil daily on salads. Keep the flaxseed oil refrigerated after opening. As a snack food, walnuts are high in essential fatty acids. Supplements rich in essential fatty acids include fish oils containing EPA, evening primrose oil, and flax seed oil.
• Avoid cooking food at high temperatures, as doing so destroys the enzymes that food contains. It is preferable to cook longer at lower temperatures, which also helps to preserve the nutrient content of foods. Stir-fried vegetables or wok crispy vegetables are healthier than those which have been over-cooked.
• Fruits should be eaten by themselves, either one-half hour before a meal or two hours after. When fast-digesting fruits are held up in the digestive system longer than necessary by being combined with foods that digest more slowly, fermentation takes place and intestinal gas production is the result.
• Proper food combinations will also greatly improve digestion and assimilation of vital nutrients. Do not combine starches (pasta, rice, potatoes) with proteins (meat, chicken, fish). Unfortunately, this is the way meals are served in restaurants. The ideal way to eat is to combine non-starchy vegetables with proteins, or to combine non-starchy vegetables with starchy carbohydrates.
• Avoid artificial sweeteners, such as saccharine, Nutrasweet, and Splenda. Stevia extract, an herb which is a natural sweetener, is an excellent substitute, and is healing to the pancreas.
• Try to drink at least eight glasses of filtered or bottled water daily. Remember that at birth we are 97 percent water, and as adults we are 70 percent water. Premature aging is associated with a further loss of total body water. Don’t drink water with your meals, however, as this dilutes the digestive juices necessary to digest your food. Never drink tap water unless you have a very good filtration system. You can energize water by leaving it in the sun for a short period of time.
• Cut down on your total carbohydrate intake, limiting your carb consumption to no more than 40 percent of each meal, and ideally less. Also avoid simple carbohydrates. Americans by and large not only consume too many carbohydrates in their meals, they typically eat the wrong types of carbohydrate foods. The top carbohydrate foods in the standard American diet are cold breakfast cereals, bread, bagels, candy, commercial fruit juices and punch drinks, jams and jellies, muffins, potatoes (especially as French fries, white pasta, white rice, pizza, pancakes, soda, sweets (cakes, cookies, pies), and table sugar. When consumed regularly, these foods and beverages are guaranteed to produce fatigue, gas, bloating and other GI conditions, irritability and mood swings, unhealthy weight gain, diabetes, poor sleep, and many other health conditions.
• Take a moment before meals to give thanks for the food you are about to eat. Doing so fosters feelings of gratitude and contentment, which, can go a long way towards maintaining and improving your health. Giving thanks can also help trigger the relaxation response, making it easier for your body to most effectively digest the food you eat and make use of the nutrients it contains. You can enhance this experience by taking time to fully chew each bite of food, which not only aids your body's digestive processes, but also makes it easier for you to savor and enjoy the food you are eating.
(Adapted from "Outstanding Health: The 6 Essential Keys To Maximize Your Energy and Well Being" by Michael Galitzer MD and Larry Trivieri Jr. For more information, visit www.outstandinghealthbook.com)
Posts by Michael Galitzer, M.D. and Larry Trivieri Jr.
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