I am sitting here with my Green Smoothie (recipe to come), contemplating the foods I feel are the absolute best modes to optimal health and nutrition. There are so many foods that I know you should NOT ingest, as it will not lead to a healthy weight or lifestyle, so we will start with this list first. I will then move on to the list of foods that should be consumed in order to reach a healthy weight. However, remember that the foods on the DO NOT EAT list can be eaten every now and then if you have no other health issues such as diabetes or insulin troubles, obesity, high blood pressure or cholesterol. If you are exercising, getting enough sleep, getting plenty os sunshine and addressing emotional problems in an effective and natural way, I don’t believe eating these foods, every now and then, will set you off track.
Foods That Will Lead to an Unhealthy Lifestyle and Weight
Below are the foods that I have seen (and have been proven) to contribute to unhealthy lifestyles. These lifestyles obviously lead to unhealthy weights, minds and bodies. Try to eliminate, or at least reduce, your intake of these items.
All Processed Foods – This really is a no brainer, as most of you who are reading this have already eliminated as many processed foods as possible, or are slowly integrating into a whole foods diet. Most of these convienice foods contain GMO (genetically modified) ingredients, of which we have yet to see any good research to indicate their safety. Knowing that all of the man made foods have ended up being unhealthy, I would suspect that these ingredients are unhealthy as well.
Controlled studies using genetically modified ingredients have only been performed on animals; however a mass experiment is being performed on the majority of the public with these foods, and we will only expect to see the results in the years to come. Please, don’t eat man made or altered foods (“mother nature knows best”), and don’t become a part of this worldwide experiment. Most of the animal studies performed with GMO ingredients have shown liver and kidney toxicity
and low birth weight
Artificial Sweeteners – Again, another man made product. When will we finally realize that sometimes man does not know better than the earth, and start realizing that there are natural ways to bring about the same results? Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) are commonly used for weight control in popular diet foods (all of which are processed heavily) or as in little packets in coffee or tea.
Artificial sweeteners have actually been shown in controlled, scientific studies to increase the chances of gaining weight and developing obesity.
Two groups of rats in this study (performed at Purdue University) consumed artificial sweetened foods and beverages, while the other group consumed a diet of regular sugar. Those that consumed artificial sweeteners gained significantly more weight than those eating regular sugar.
Another study involving 18,000 people showed that those who drank at least one diet drink a day increased their chances of gaining weight.
Isn’t it suspicious that with the rise of diet drinks and artificial sweeteners in our food, weight and BMI has increased on average? I don’t think it is as suspicious as it is just plain obvious.
Certain Grains – As you are probably aware, I’m not a huge fan of grains. Our bodies are really not designed to eat grains, and our evolutionary history makes this known to us. We survived for millions of years without them, but the advent of agriculture only just brougth them into our diet 10,000 years ago.
Most grains consumed in this country are refined and processed, such as white flour, white rice, white potatoes and corn. These carbohydrates will turn into sugar very quickly in our bodies and lead to weight gain, insomnia, diabetes and other illnesses. Findings by Weston A. Price suggest that grains lead to tooth decay. Whole grains will stimulate your insulin levels as well and will turn into sugar quickly due to the high carbohydrate content. Consuming the grain in its whole form is recommended over refined carbohydrates and grains, but only in small amounts, if at all.
That’s right–soy milk, tofu and veggie products are not good for our weight. It’s a pretty bold statement, seeing as how the market is flowing with soy products, advocating its health properties. Soy is an incredible and powerful health food, but only when it is prepared the correct way.
Unfermented soy contains isoflavones genistien and daidzen which has been showed in numerous studies to supress thyroid function. In fact, the research suggests that excessive intake of soybean products can lead to hypothroidism. This leads to a supressed thryoid function and a sluggish metabolism.
If you continue to consume processed foods, and you want to eliminate soy, be sure to read the label CAREFULLY. My body doesn’t react to soy very well, and it is highly allergenic; however, it is in everything. Just look in your pantry or on the grocery store shelves at some processed food products, and examine the ingredients. 8/10 times you pick up an item, you will see the word “soy” in the ingredient list. This is a cheap crop that the government loves, and most of the time is genetically modified, which, if you remember earlier, can affect your health and weight in a negative way.
Traditionally, soy used in Asia was fermented (in the forms of natto, tempeh and miso) and were, and still are, used as side dishes, not as a main course or a staple. The majority of Asia’s protein intake does not come from soy; rather, it comes from fish and pork. If you continue to use unfermented soy, try and get it unprocessed (very hard to do) and organic. Then, consume it only once or twice per week. However, I DO NOT recommend consuming it, even if it is organic.
Another research study performed at the Danish Research Center found that rats who were fed an organic diet, compared to those fed conventional, were slimmer and were at lighter weights. Along with this was a higher amount of Vitamin E in their blood stream (a powerful anti-oxidant that is important for anti-aging) and slept better (research is showing that less sleep is associated with unhealthy weight gain).
Most conventional meat, dairy and eggs (those that you find in the supermarket) are loaded with growth hormones that can affect your own hormones and your metabolism. These animals are also fed a high amount of grains, something that they are not designed to eat. These grains are high in genetically modified ingredients and omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory fats) that can lead to weight gain. Currently Americans (and other such countries) are consuming a high amount of these fats. However, there are ways to find healthy animal protein.
Foods That Contribute to a Healthy Weight
All of the foods mentioned below have a common theme–they’re all whole foods. Whole foods are superior to processed in every way, and can help you not only with your weight, but with your over all wellness lifestyle.
Raw vegetables are probably one of the most important foods to me, as they supply so much nutrition that is bioavailable such as calcium, vitamins A, C, E and sometimes D, fiber, protein (however incomplete) and antioxidants. Not only are these beautifying foods, they fill you up (due to their water and fiber content) and provide your body with the right amount of nutrition to support your metabolism.
You want to make sure that your vegetables are raw, with only certain vegetables being cooked (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach), but even then having them steamed, instead of boiled. Boiling your vegetables in water leaches the nutrients into the water, which does not provide them for your body. Cooking food denatures many nutrients and also kills them, so other leafy greens and vegetables need to be eaten raw. Juicing or making a green smoothie is a great way to get your 4-6 servings in a day (some experts recommend 1 lb of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight, per day).
It is also important to buy as many organic vegetables as you can, as pesticides can lead to weight gain, can be carcinogenic and also contribute to a variety of other disorders. Some vegetables are higher than others when it comes to pesticide load, so if you can only buy some organic and not all, choose to buy the ones higher in pesticides as organic.
Fruit is a great food, as well, but shouldn’t be consumed in excess; or, at least, you shouldn’t consume more fruit than vegetables. Raw fruit is best, but dried fruit (as long as it isn’t heated to a temperature above at least 115 degrees) still contains the same amount of nutrients. Raw, fresh fruit will fill you up faster than dried fruit, but take what you can get.
Fruit contains sugar called fructose, which is damaging to the body and metabolism if consumed in excess, and most importantly if it is consumed in a free form (such as HFCS). The fructose found in fruit allows the fruit to be low on the glycemic index, making it a slow acting carbohydrate, not contributing to elevated insulin levels. Too much fruit, however (as with too much of anything), will lead to high insulin, contributing to unhealthy weight gain.
Try to buy fruit organic, or at least buy the ones highest in pesticide resdiue as organic. Those would be anything that has a thin skin (as pesticides can leach through the skin, making peeling the fruit almost worthless) such as apples, pears, peaches, grapes, strawberries, rasberries and cherries. Avocado and bananas are lower in pesticides due to their hard outer layer that cannot be eaten. Avocado, by the way, is an easy digested fat and helps support your metabolism (you can actually eat fat and stay slim and healthy!).
Free Range, Organic Meat, Dairy and Eggs
Buying organic animal products is incredibly important if you consume them regularly. These animals are not treated with artificial growth hormones, antibiotics and are not fed genetically enginered grain. Plus, if you get these products free range (meaning they have the freedom to graze out on the land and eat grass–which is what they ARE designed to eat), then you have a complete protein full of omega-3 fats, something that helps out the metabolism, as well.
Raw dairy is something that I’m very passionate about, and I have blogged about this before. Even though it is whole milk, the fat makes you very satisfied and is easily digested. In fact, raw goat’s milk can digest very quickly, usually in 30 minutes. A good digestion system is crucial for maintaing a healthy weight, as good bacteria help eliminate fat and bacteria that could affect your weight negatively. Raw milk and dairy products contain an abundant amount of good, beneficial bacteria, whereas pasteurized milk does not. Find a farmer near you for free range, organic animal food; or, find a farm that can legally sell raw milk.
Animal products provide a complete protein, which is essential for your body (the body cannot make these proteins on its own, or from plants). Quinoa is a complete protein, and a seed; however, I believe animal protein is the best source. If your body responds to a more vegetarian type diet, it is still advised to consume some egg or milk protein (and, of course, raw).
The best way to eat a grain is to soak it and/or sprout it. Only do this if you find your body handles grains well, and if you are a type of person who needs more carbohydrates in our diets (some need more fat and protein, some thrive well on a more vegetarian type diet, and some are mixed). I have blogged about how to soak and sprout your own grains here
. If you are cutting out grains, but not carbohydrates, then you might consider trying quinoa and buckwheat. These are highly nutritious seeds
that are a good replacement for rice or gluten free, grain free baking flours. They sprout and cook quite easily (you can even eat them raw!).
Sprouted grain bread is coming into many supermarkets these days, and you should find them in the refrigerator section. You could also make your own sprouted bread using wheat berries, which is quite simple. I haven’t tried using just sprouted buckwheat, but I just may one of these days for all those who choose (or have to) to not eat gluten.
This is my favorite sweetener of all time, as it is non-caloric, doesn’t affect insulin levels and actually has some good research to support some health benefits. Because it doesn’t contain any calories, you will be taking in less energy than you would sugar. I don’t always believe the “calories in, calories out” saying, or the “a calorie is a calorie”, because many foods contain different compositions, of which can either help you lose or gain weight at the same amount of calories. However, sugar DOES contribute to weight gain due to its rapid insulin raising effects, as well as having around 768 calories per cup.
To replace sugar in a recipe when using pure powdered stevia
, a teaspoon generally equals a cup of sugar. It’s incredibly sweet. Make up for the missing bulking agent that sugar provides, if needed, with additional ingredients and/or liquid (still experimenting with this). This spring, I am thinking about starting my own stevia plant so I can have stevia all year long.
The Fat That Makes Your Slim
In the last post, I left off with a food item that would surprise you as my favorite weight loss/healthy weight promoter. You might have already guessed it, but I’ll take a drumroll anyway…
[drum roll noise]
…Coconut! Yes that saturated and tropical fat that has nourished many a people is actually a very terrific weight reducer and metabolism booster. Coconut in general is extremely healthy, providing fiber and medium and short chained fatty acids. The fiber and the fat will keep you very satiated. The medium and short chained fatty acids are also immediately turned into energy in the body, rather than being stored as fat. Other fats and oils, such as polyunsaturated vegetable oils (soy, canola, safflower, corn, etc.) are stored as fat more easily.
Coconut also increases metabolism due to its fat. Studies show that supplementing with straight up coconut oil actually contributes to weight loss. This, again, is due to its short and medium chained fatty acids. Yesterday, when I was making homemade coconut milk, I started to nibble a bit at the fresh coconut meat. Immediately I noticed my core body temperature increasing and my energy levels rising. I started doing some moves in that kitchen!
Fresh, shredded coconut is recommended, as well is coconut oil. Coconut oil is growing among consumers, making it available at some grocery stores. You do want to, however, purchase organic and unrefined. This will provide the best taste and you will be insured that it is from a good, organic source. One brand of coconut oil that I LOVE is Jarrow Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
You can take coconut oil as a supplement, and some people swear by 1-3 tablespoons a day. Yes, a day. I thought that was a bit excessive as well, but when I consider how it speeds up the metabolism and even decreases appetite (in a healthy way), I started to think that perhaps it was a good recommendation. Find what your body does best on, and stick to it.
You can also use coconut flour as a gluten free, grain free baking flour. I go by Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Flour
as it is organic and makes my baked goods taste so good. You need to use more eggs in a recipe than you would for traditional wheat flour (a lot more), giving you a high protein baked good. Protein burns more calories and helps build more lean, healthy muscle, anyway. There is a lot of protein in coconut flour, as well as fiber (both nutrients help keep you feeling full and can support healthy
weight loss efforts).
So there you go, the long awaited “Food List” in order to build a healthier, slimmer body; at a healthy weight, full of energy, life and vitality. Start doing your own research on what I have written about here, make your own conclusions, listen to how your body reacts to certain foods and get healthy!
This is The Healthy Advocate.