The Essentials of Heathy Eating
There are a large variety of diets professed to be the only solution to keeping you Happy and Healthy. However despite all of the variations that you may find within these diets, there are certain essential foods that are necessary to a healthy diet or, in their absence, need to be carefully substitued for.
These essential foods (Proteins, Vegetables, Fruits) are important to the human diet due to the health enhancing benefits they provide through contributing to the critical nutrient intake of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. Other foods are also beneficial, yet their consumption may need to be balanced within an Eating Plan specific to your individual health requirements.
All of the Healthy Eating Plans we use at the Beach Street Centre are built upon the principles of essential foods in the human diet and after which modified by your individual Medical Conditions, Dysfunctions and Food Intolerances. A basic understanding of the primary Food Groups and their importance to the human diet is therefore important before you proceed onto any given diet. Let us explore what food components are important to the human diet.
How much Protein do you need?
An Adequate Protein Intake is required to maintain Lean Body Weight (muscle and organ health). This should equate to at least 1 gram /kilogram ideal body weight up to 80 grams in a woman and 100grams in a man. During weight loss programmes or during the first 6-12 weeks of a strengthening exercise programme, this may be increased to 1.5 grams/kilogram body weight. This equates to 2 meals per day with a quality protein source.
Do you need to eat Animal Meats?
This is highly individual. Some people manage well on a Vegetarian Eating Plan, others do not. Adequate protein intake is achievable on a balanced Vegetarian Eating Plan, however if you find you are becoming fatigued have your iron levels checked.
Are there benefits to Red Meat?
Red meat provides high levels of Iron, Zinc and B12 compared to other foods. Some people do not manage on a Vegetarian Eating Plan as they are unable to effectively absorb adequate Iron over the long term. Vegetarian iron sources are also difficult to absorb as they are bound to phytates.
Red Meat may be included in the above protein levels, 2 to 4 times/week, 100-150 grams/serve (higher levels over short term). Note that more than 400grams of red meat per week has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure.
What about Fish?
Fish, particularly the deep water oily group (tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, ocean trout, herring) provide the all important Omega 3. Evidence shows these fish should be eaten 3 times per week, 150-200 grams, per serve.
It is important to note that the larger fish (tuna, salmon etc.), depending upon their source, may now unfortunately contain significant amounts of toxins such as mercury and PCBs, thus local guidelines for eating fish should also be followed. Consider quality fish oil supplementation as an alternative.
What other sources of Protein are there?
Chicken, turkey, pork and lean game foods are all good sources of animal proteins. Dairy and soy (tofu, tempeh, soy milk) products are high in protein in a form that is quickly absorbed, although ensure you are tolerant to these foods. Eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes/beans and mushrooms are vegetarian sources, while grain products all contain moderate amounts.
How many serves of Vegetables/Herbs should you consume?
As many as you can, as vegetables and herbs are nutrient rich foods. They are not only high in vitamins and minerals but many health enhancing phytonutrients. It does not matter what Eating Plan you are on, vegetables should be eaten in abundance.
Are there any Vegetable exceptions?
The starch vegetables; potato, sweet potato and corn are energy dense and need to be controlled on some Eating Plans, such as weight loss. However, they remain healthy foods due to their high nutrient and fibre levels if consumed in moderation.
What about Fruits?
Whole fruits are also an important part of your Eating Plan for similar reasons. However limits may be placed on your fruit intake where your energy intake needs to be managed, as they are calorie rich foods. In particular, fruit juices (whether freshly squeezed or commercial) and dried fruits are discouraged as they are concentrated calorie food forms.
Are Legumes and Beans Healthy?
Another excellent food due to their high nutrient and fibre value. Should be included often in your Eating Plan.
And Nuts, Seeds and Avocadoes?
Many people worry about the calorie content of nuts, seeds and avocadoes due to their high fat content, but the fat in these foods is predominantly from the healthy monounsaturated group. These foods are often very filling and decrease hunger, although this is not always the case for some individuals. Excellent foods as long as you don’t over eat them.
Are Grain and Dairy Foods necessary to the Human Diet?
No, these foods are not essential, even if they form the cornerstone of the modern diet and many one-size-fits-all dietary approaches. In fact prior to the farming revolution, these foods were not consumed by hunter-gatherers in significant quantities, therefore they can not be considered to be essential. As high energy foods, they also should not be over consumed otherwise weight gain may result. On the other hand, if you are tolerant to these foods and eat them in balance they can have health enhancing benefits as, like all natural foods, they are rich in nutrients.
As many people are intolerant to these two food groups in particular, they are therefore important to evaluate in any Eating Plan you undertake. Of course, the health benefits are only derived if you are eating natural minimally processed grain and dairy products. Like all foods, the more processing that occurs before we consume these foods the less healthy they become.
What about Cooking Oils?
Although your use of cooking oils should be minimized, there are healthy aspects in their consumption in small quantities. Olive oil is the preferred cooking oil where taste is not essential, yet where the Intrinsic Flavour of an Oil is essential to the taste of a meal, we suggest you go with the recipe.
In effect, this means you will predominantly use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, however, enjoying on occasion the variations of Coconut Oil, Peanut Oil, Palm Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Avocado Oil, Macadamia Oil, Walnut Oil, Sesame Oil (mainly in Spreads) and so forth, as well as Butter and Ghee all have health benefits in small amounts.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
Water is essential to the correct functioning of every cell in our body.
In fact, water makes up at least 70% of every cell. It is important to note here that we are not talking about water that is filled with impurities (copper, lead etc) and micro-organisms (Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba coli etc.).
Thus, it is extremely important for all individuals to drink adequate amounts of pue filtered water every day. For the majority of individuals, 1.5-2 Litres daily is advised.
Some diets that are very high in fruits and vegetables (that also contain water) may mean a reduced amount of water would suffice, while on the other hand, 3 litres per day may not be enough in a hot environment when you are active.
If you do suffer with headaches, it is suggested that 2 litres per day in addition to any coffee, tea, alcohol or otherwise is a good rule, more if it is hot.
You should also cut down your caffeine and alcohol consumption as headaches can be associated with mild withdrawal. Trial a period of no caffeine (including caffeinated soft drinks) and alcohol and note what happens in the first 2-4 days with your headaches. If they get worse, persist because you may be withdrawing from these substances (Paracetamol will assist with withdrawal symptoms).
Is Alcohol good for You?
Be honest with yourself, do you restrict yourself to the healthy serving suggestion of 1-2 serves per day maximum. If so, then there are health benefits for several Medical Conditions, Cardiac Disease in particular. Yet you must be honest with yourself, once you take more than the suggested amount, the benefits quickly become risks instead.
Coffee and Tea?
What has been done to your coffee and tea before you drink it? Choose green teas and quality coffee products and there are health benefits to both due to their antioxidant and phytonutrient qualities. Decaffeinate (often with dry-cleaning fluids!) and process and much of these benefits disappear, so make the choice of healthy varieties.
2-3 serves of each per day are the maximum recommended levels in most healthy people..
And Biscuits, Sweets, Donuts…
Does this really need to be answered? Start with honest choices and you can make many simple changes in your eating prior to considering any advice from anybody else, including this site. Ignore the reality of your choices and no amount of advice is going to matter.
Finally, Are any of these Rules set in Stone?
These rules are guidelines, not Doctrine. As you will find, we believe every general Eating Plan, whatever your condition, needs to be adjusted for Food Intolerances. Understanding the concept of Food Intolerances and, where necessary, undertaking a Food Elimination Regime, is a critical step in individualizing any programme recommended to you due to your unique set of Medical Conditions and Dysfunction