Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Bite of Nutrition

     First off, I would like to thank you guys for the feedback. It seems the majority of you are interested in making a good healthy meal, with that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about nutrition. Nowadays nutrition is a bit of a confusing subject, and a lot has changed since I was a kid. First it was the four food groups, then there was some sort of pyramid, and I'm almost sure they followed that up with some sort revised pyramid. Whats the deal with eggs, are they good or bad? Well, that depends on the time frame, its one of those back and forth things. How about dense fatty protein all day??? No carbs, all good... Or so some doctor from somewhere thought. Now carbs are ok, not all carbs, just some carbs. But which ones? You see what I mean by confusing? I want to share some general info, some easy guidelines that anyone can benefit from. In a sense, I would like to give you guys a bite of nutrition!


     The first thing I would like to touch on is good old H2O. Yes folks, good old water.I talk about it first because I think it is one of the most important parts of our diets, and now more than ever I see people opting for sport drinks and all sorts of  energy concoctions instead of drinking some water.
     Most of your body is comprised of water, roughly two-thirds of our body weight is water alone.. It's no wonder why getting an adequate supply every day is crucial for maintaining good health and wellness. Water should be the first thing you reach for in the morning.  Most people sleep anywhere from 5-8 hours a day. During this time the body slowly loses water through sweat, and from  moisture in the breath. Having a glass of room temperature water when you wake up not only helps your body to rehydrate after a nights sleep, it also helps to flush and  lubricate your digestive system. I recommend drinking 12 ounces and then waiting at least twenty minutes before having some breakfast or your "morning joe." Don't take my word for it though, try it for yourself and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. Trust me your body will thank you!
     Now you may be asking yourself, how much water should I be drinking? Well that's a great question, I'm glad you asked! When it comes to nutrition I like to think, different strokes for different folks. Every body is different so to speak, people have varying levels of activity, which in turn place varying nutritional demands on their bodies. Someone engaging in  intense cardiovascular workouts will require more water to stay hydrated than say someone who sits at a desk all day. For myself, as a rule of thumb, I try to consume at least two-thirds of my body weight in ounces every day. To do this just simply take you wight and divide by two-thirds. Use this as a general number to shoot for and adjust your water intake based on how you feel. If you feel bloated, cut back a little, or if you plan on doing a workout you may want to drink a little more. I usually drink a 12oz bottle of water for every hour I work out.
    Drinking water will help keep you healthy, energized, and thinking clear, so grab a glass and drink to your health!

Fruits and Vegetables
     I would like to think by now that most people understand the importance of getting an adequate supply of fruits and vegetables in their diets. What many people fail to realize is the fact that most of the vitamins and minerals found in raw fruits and vegetables are lost through the cooking process. Generally speaking, the more you cook it, the less vitamins it will have. To get the most nutrition out of your veggies I recommend eating them either raw or lightly steamed to preserve the nutrients in the food. Vegetables as we know also provide an excellent source of fiber which aids digestion.
      I recommend going organic whenever you have the option. Today's farms are routinely sprayed with all sorts of steroids and pesticides, buying organic is a great way to limit your exposure to these harmful chemicals. Last but not least, buy fresh, there is no substitute for fresh produce, pass on the cans!
     Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables is another way to get a good dose of nutrition. The majority of fruit and vegetable juices on the shelf in the supermarket are loaded with sweeteners and preservatives. Most juices also go through the pastuerization process, which slowly raises the temperature of the juice killing any bacteria, coincidentally most of the vitamins are also lost in this process. Making your own fresh juice is an excellent way to squeeze some extra fruits and veggies in your diet. 
Whole Grains
     I mention whole grains because I believe they are an important, yet overlooked part of a balanced diet. Whole grains are grains which have not had their outer shells removed. They serve as an excellent source of fiber and are also packed with other essential nutrients such as potassium, iron, and selenium. Studies have linked the consumption of whole grains to a lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Adding brown rice and oatmeal into your diet are easy ways of getting your daily fix of whole grains. Not as popular ,but just as delicious, is quinoa,  another whole grain making it's way into popularity. A bowl for breakfast and you will be full and satisfied until lunch. Whole grains are a complex carbohydrate, which will give you sustained energy throughout the day. They also give you a lasting full feeling which may help curb snacking between meals.


   The dreaded carb. Today the carb is subject of hard debate. I kind of feel bad for the carb. I mean c'mon, they get such a bad wrap, it's the not carb's fault that millions of people stuff themselves with bread, pasta and potatoes on a daily basis. The carbohydrate is very misunderstood, so I figured I would shed a little light on them.
     Carbohydrates are actually an excellent source of energy, and are also an important part of our diets. When you eat a carb, whether it be pasta, bread or potatoes, your body will break it down into glucose which can readily can be used as fuel. Herein lies the problem, if that fuel is not utilized by the body it will become stored as fat. So what does that mean for you? If you don't have a jog planned in your near future you probably would not want to sit down to a gigantic bowl of pasta. So what carbs are better? Carbohydrates once classified as either simple or complex are now measured using the glycemic index. The scale measures how quickly a food will release glucose into the bloodstream. Choose foods which have a low glycemic index such as, brown rice, carrots, beans, and oatmeal. These types of foods break down slowly and give you lasting energy throughout the day. All the white breads and rices, all the cakes, as delicious as they are, not so good for the waistline.
     Remember avoiding carbs altogether is not a good idea either, they are an important source of fuel for the body. Just remember to choose wisely and be sensible, everything in moderation.

Food Combining

     Food combining, also called trophology is the science of properly combining foods for optimal digestion. It's not exactly a new concept, but it's a far cry for being common knowledge. In fact, the science itself goes against most of what we Americans think about food. I'm sure plenty of you think of a well rounded meal consists of a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. Steak with potatoes and veggies for instance. What food combining tells us is that when eaten together, the body cannot properly digest that combination of food. So why not? Well, when you consume a starch, lets say a potato, digestion will actually begin in the mouth with an enzyme known as salivary amylase. Neurotransmitters will then signal for your body produces a chemical called ptyalin, which is an alkaline digestive fluid that gently digests the potato. On the other hand when you eat a steak, the salivary amylase will be unable to act on the protein, your body in turn will signal for the production of hydrochloric acid and pepsin. These two digestive fluids are highly acidic and will act to properly digest the protein. So what's the problem? Let's say you eat that nice steak and potato dinner,.your body will release both alkaline and acidic enzymes. The two will act to neutralize each other, resulting in poor digestion. 
     This poor digestion has been linked to a host of problems ranging from heart disease to cancer. One of the most prominent problems being nutrient deficiency. Having poorly digested food moving through your system is dangerous. The undigested food could begin to release toxins. In an attempt to safeguard itself, your body  will signal your colon to form a protective barrier to shield you from absorbing any toxins. The only bad part about this is that the barrier doesn't allow anything to pass through it, including all the good vitamins and minerals that you need to maintain good health. This essentially robs us of the nutrition our bodies need.
     Learning to properly combine foods is a great way to enhance your overall health and wellness. I found it hard at first to try and prepare meals that were properly combined, but after noticing a change in how I felt after a properly combining my foods I decided to make it part of my regimen. I can be honest, every meal I eat is not properly combined, not by a long shot! If you told me I could never eat a cheeseburger, or pasta and meatballs again, I would be a sad, lost soul. It's all about learning moderation, and incorporating healthy habits into our daily routines. If you are interested in learning more about proper food combining I included this link for you guys to check out!

The Supermarket

     Just a few tips about the supermarket. With today's fast paced world it's easy to take the fast route and go for a quick fix for a meal. Now more than ever people are stocking their freezers with microwaveable dinners and frozen pizzas. The days of homemade soup have been replaced by cans of  mass produced slop, loaded with preservatives and anything but flavor. When shopping try to stay to the refrigerated sections. There you will find all of your fresh produce and meats. Buy fresh vegetables, they are just as easy to prepare as the canned ones and they taste much better than their tin counterparts. Try to get whole, natural foods, if there are more than five ingredients listed on the package, most of which are not recognizable food sources, give it a pass. If it can sit on a shelf for five years by all means by it, stock up as a matter of fact, then neatly store it in the basement in case of an emergency. Don't eat it otherwise! Learn to check lables for fat content, if you see hydrogenated oil, drop it! Learning to purchase the right food in the supermarket is a huge step in eating healthy. Throw out the TV dinners, and start throwing down some healthy eats!
    Small Steps Go a Long Way 
     When it comes to diet and nutrition taking small steps can be the start to a healthier you. Being aware of what you eat is the first step in eating right.  Keep a look out for my healthy recipe, I'm cooking up something special for you guys! I will be posting soon! In the meantime try implementing one of these ideas I touched on into your daily life. Whether it be as simple as drinking some more water or as adventurous as planning a properly combined meal, these guidelines will serve to make a healthier you! 


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