Eat Low on the Food Chain
- It helps to lower blood pressure.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
- It lowers the risk of eye and digestive problems.
- It helps maintain healthy levels of blood sugar that can help keep your appetite in check.
This week’s challenge is about eating the appropriate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that your body needs for optimum health. Nutritionists agree that to stay healthy a person should have a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Nine servings are considered optimal for most people. One serving size is approximately ½ cup. Most people have an easier time with fruit than they do vegetables, but it’s important to include vegetables because they are extremely high in vitamins and minerals and they are generally low in calories. Although fruits also tend to be high in vitamins and minerals, they are higher in sugar. It’s almost impossible to eat too many vegetables, but this is not the case with fruit. For this reason, we recommend a two to one ratio of vegetables to fruit.
Despite what you might see in commercials, fruit juice,V8, and other drinks made from fruits and vegetables aren’t nearly as healthy for you as the real thing. It’s much better to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are some reasons why:
One 8 ounce glass of orange juice has well over 100 calories in it. It takes about two and a half oranges to make up that many calories.
You don’t get the other benefits the actual Orange has to offer like roughage and the additional vitamins and minerals contained in the roughage. The actual fruit will make you full so you are less likely to overeat.
Eat Fresh and Unprocessed Foods Whenever Possible
What is processed food? It is food which has been chemically altered with additives such as flavor enhancers, binders, colors, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc. Generally speaking, if any of the ingredients in food aren’t “natural,” it can be considered to be processed. Extremely processed foods (think Twinkies) aren’t really even real food at all. They are edible “food-like” substances.
Processed food isn’t all bad. Processing has made the world’s food supply much safer to eat, and has made the storage of food a much healthier and more viable option. Processing kills pathogens, and extends the shelf life of food. If there was a food shortage or even a famine, processed food items would be remain edible and could keep you alive a lot longer than raw food, which would be rotten within a few days.
Despite these benefits, a diet exclusive in processed foods will almost certainly lead to disease. Our bodies thrive on natural, fresh foods; there’s no doubt about that. Fresh and unprocessed foods contain beneficial enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed through processing. Just because a pill
contains the “nutrients” of a whole shopping list of vegetables, it doesn’t mean that our bodies would get the same benefit as we would from eating the vegetables themselves. Nutrients, enzymes, and other components of the foods we eat work synergistically. We really don’t know how well they work when they’re isolated from each other, or when we ingest synthetic versions.
So realistically, how can we minimize the amount of processed food that we consume? Here are a few examples and guidelines to apply whenever possible:Have an apple instead of applesauce or apple juice.
- Have Grape Nuts instead of Lucky Charms.
- Have a baked potato or salad instead of french fries.
- Use lemon or oil and vinegar sparingly on your salad instead of ranch and other “heavy” salad dressings.
- Retrain yourself to eat real food like oatmeal, 100% whole grain bread, pasta, beans and legumes, (and of course fresh fruits and vegetables) etc.
- Start looking at the ingredients listed on the labels of food and try to buy foods with fewer ingredients listed.
- Make an extra effort to minimize foods that have lots of hard to pronounce, scientific names in their list of ingredients.
- Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fat).
Here is this week’s challenge:
- Eat a minimum of five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, with at least three of the servings coming from vegetables. Drinks do not count in this challenge. It has to be the real thing. Fresh or frozen is always better than canned or overcooked.
- Replace all white flour products with whole grain products. Make sure the label doesn’t just say “Wheat or Multi Grain”. It must say 100% Whole Wheat. Replace white rice with brown rice. Replace all over-processed breakfast cereal with a more natural, healthy choice.
- Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. If you want juice, try squeezing your own from fresh fruit.
- Eliminate or minimize the use of high calorie condiments like butter and margarine, mayonnaise, BBQ Sauce, etc.