I am SO glad you are here – checking in on how you can support your overall health. At Sanas Health Practice, we believe in giving our patients the best knowledge we have in the field of health & wellness, so that they can make the best choices for their health.
To start this series off, I am going to highlight something I feel is arguably of the utmost importance – DIET.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates.
Truth is, I’m not the biggest fan of the word “diet”. I believe there is some negative connotation around the word due to decades of dieting fads and trends. Weight Watchers Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, Jenny Craig Diet, Liquid Diet, Low Fat Everything, the Ornish Diet, Low Sugar Diet, Blood-Type Diet, Atkins Diet, Low Cal(orie) Diet, Keto Diet, Vegan and Vegetarian Diets, Gluten Free Diet, Intermittent Fasting, Paleo Diet, Whole 30 Diet, The Mediterranean Diet.. it goes on and on. I bet you’ve been confused about which diet is best for you. I know I have. I’ve tried various diets myself – some for my own personal health goals, and some to try so that I can have a better understanding when working with patients.
Because of this, I usually approach this topic, by asking “what does a day of eating look like?”, “give me some meals that are typical”, and “how are you fueling your body?”. Diet should not be your enemy and I don’t want to foster any thought along those lines. If used properly it is our medicine, so let’s look at it in a positive light – our NOURISHMENT.
Let’s break it down. What does the body actually need?
Macronutrients: what the body needs in larger amounts. This includes proteins, fats and carbohydrates. While we haven’t figured out the exact balance of these macronutrients, there is a general consensus going around that the average person should aim to get 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats and 10–35% from protein. (Please keep in mind this break down is based on calories) This translates to meals looking something like this:
But as we know, we are all different. Depending on your age, health, risk factors, this will vary, which is why it is best to work with a practitioner who has nutritional knowledge.
Proteins are the building blocks for our immune system, structure of our cells, enzymes, transporters and messengers. They do most of the work in our body. Proteins are classified as nonessential (meaning that our body can make them), essential (our body cannot make them) and conditionally essential (in certain circumstances, our bodies cannot make enough, example: stress). This is why having a wide variety of protein sources is important in the diet.
Fats are a major source of energy, support balanced hormones (sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, androgens/testosterone; mineralocorticoids for blood pressure regulation; glucocorticoids – cortisol), and the building blocks for our cell membranes. They also help absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Understanding the difference between them is important. Fats can be classified (by their chemical structure) into saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans. Of which, we want to focus on the healthy fats – higher in monounsaturated fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and avocado oil, nuts and seeds, fish), and a balance of polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 & Omega 6). While not having too much trans fats (fast foods, chips, pizza, margarine, coffee creamer) which raise your lousy cholesterol (LDL), lowers your healthy cholesterol (HDL), and are associated with increased cardiovascular disease and inflammation in the body.
Carbohydrates (simple – sugars; & complex – starches and fibers) are important for energy. Simple carbohydrates such as white breads, pastries, chips, fruit juices & pop, cause a quick spike (and drop) in blood glucose for energy which is why we often crave these foods, because they’re a quick source of fuel and may make us feel good temporarily. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, oatmeal, quinoa, fruits & vegetables, cause a slower rise in blood that is more stable long term. This is because of the fiber, which also helps to keep our digestive tract regular.
A special note on water. Water is sometimes classified as a macronutrient as well since our body requires it in large amounts, however it provides no energy. We know it’s important because it is the entire basis of life. It is the medium for all our metabolic processes. So it’s important to have adequate daily hydration. On average, a sedentary adult in a temperate climate should drink about 1.5L of water per day.
Stay tuned for more about micronutrients (vitamins and minerals): what the body needs in smaller amounts.
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