In my last healthy living post, I discussed the importance of reducing stress to increase health and longevity. However, stress does not always happen in the mind and emotions. Much of the time it is inside the body; in other words, exposing your bodily systems and organs to the wrong things can cause as much stress as the death of a loved one or losing a job. This is why diet is almost as important – if not as important – as stress reduction to health: because the wrong diet causes stress inside your body.
In the world of diets, there has been, and continue to be, a lot of controversy. Vegans claim that eating animal meat causes cancer. Paleos – who eat meat several times a day – claim that vegans are doomed to become dangerously deficient in certain nutrients, and that carbs are evil.
One camp declares that cow’s milk is unfit for humans; others, that as long as it is consumed raw, it is a superfood. Some say gluten is bad for you, others say that if you are otherwise healthy, gluten is safe to eat.
Who is right? Or do we just compromise and meet in the middle?
The eating lifestyle principles I am about to present are based on about twenty years of my personal research about diet and nutrition. I have read books by naturopaths, medical doctors, chiropractors, and certified nutritionists. I have also experimented with several eating lifestyles and noted the consequences. Mixing that all up with a good dose of common sense and logic, I believe the principles are firmly grounded in what science now knows about the human body. You are free to disagree, of course, “…only,” as Eeyore says in Winnie-The-Pooh, “don’t blame me.”
1. Eat a 95% whole foods diet.
Processed foods are full of synthetic chemicals that are mostly toxic. These toxins can and do build up in the body. Processed foods are also full of unhealthy sweeteners, from artificial ones to high fructose corn syrup. Except for certain organic brands, they tend to have genetically modified ingredients, mainly from corn and/or soy.
They also tend to have trans fats. On the ingredients label you can spot them as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” These fats get into your cells and cause a reaction that basically hyrogenates your cells. This is the main cause of heart disease, not saturated fats.
Eat foods that have been minimally, or not at all, processed.
2. Eat organic.
Thanks to modern technology and agriculture, conventional farmers in the U.S. now put enough pesticides and herbicides on their crops to feed each American eight pounds of them every year. Those cancer-causing toxins do build up in the body.
Yes, eating organic is important.
3. Limit your grain intake.
Grains are not human food. They are bird food. Whole grains contain the bran and germ which are hard on the intestines and can cause perforations in their delicate lining. Refined grains have usually been soaked in bleach, contain almost no nutrition, and cause an insulin spike because there is no fiber to slow down the starch-to-sugar conversion.
If you eat any grains at all, you should limit them to four ½ cup servings.
4. Eliminate gluten.
Gluten may be more dangerous than the germ and bran of whole grains. It, too, is hard on the digestive tract. When the integrity of the digestive tract is compromised, toxins get into the blood, leading to autoimmune disorders.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have celiac disease. Gluten is still bad for you. Read medical doctor William Davis’ book Wheat Belly if you don’t believe me.
5. Eat a mostly raw diet.
The original human diet was raw vegan food. Paleo fanatics can scream at me all they want; it’s the truth. Besides, the reason a Paleo diet gives such great results is not because of all the meat, but because of the lack of grain.
Aim for at least 60% of your diet to be raw, including fruits, vegetables that you find easy to digest in their raw state, nuts, seeds, and – if you want and it is available in your area – dairy.
If you want to acquire a taste for raw meat, knock yourself out.
6. Consume dairy raw, vat-pasteurized, or fermented – if at all.
Goat milk is more easily digestible than cow milk, even raw cow milk, but it has a flavor a lot of people don’t like. And some people are sensitive or allergic to the protein in milk, casein. So if you want to leave it out of your diet, no worries. You can get your calcium from seeds, nuts, and dark leafy greens.
Why raw or vat-pasteurized? Such milk is processed at under 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps the casein protein molecules in their natural state, which makes them much easier to digest than casein that has been pasteurized at the conventional temperature of 165 degrees. Fermenting dairy, such as making yogurt or kefir, helps to make pasteurized milk much more digestible.
7. Include healthy fats.
Saturated fats in moderation – especially plant sources such as coconut and palm oils – and monounsaturated fats such as what is found in olive and macadamia nut oils are essential for healthy brain function and optimal immune function. Do not eat low-fat, just make sure you eat the right fat.
Get processed foods and vegetable oils out of your diet, and you will automatically avoid the unhealthy fats.
8. Cook meat and eggs low-and-slow.
Cook eggs at low or medium-low heat. Roast meat under 300 degrees for several hours. This keeps the protein molecules in their natural state, and also prevents the production of carcinogenic compounds.
Making any kind of healthy diet change is hard, especially if you’re used to eating a lot of processed and fast foods. A great resource to help you segue into a healthier eating lifestyle is Robyn Openshaw’s course, “Twelve Steps To Whole Foods.” This course includes tons of recipes, audio files, DVDs, and several of her books on healthy living. Her Premium Course is the most comprehensive; the Standard Course is the next level down. If you apply everything you learn in either version of the course, you will probably save you thousands of dollars in doctors’s bills down the line.
However, the cost of that course won’t fit in everyone’s budget, and Robyn realizes that. So you can get just the manual for the course at a fraction of the price.
Whatever you do, I encourage you, if you have not transitioned to a whole-foods diet yet, to begin to do so. You will never be truly successful if you struggle with ill health.
To your success!