You are what you eat, or so the old adage goes. But should we be taking a closer look at how the foods and liquids we consume are affecting our overall health and well-being? The short answer is, yes. Ever since we were children we have been told to eat "healthy", but what exactly does that mean? The FDA places emphasis on eating a large number of fruits and vegetables daily, watching calorie intake, and minimizing the amount of sugar we put into our systems. In other words, eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, watch portion control, and stay away from sugary drinks, cereals, and baked goods that may spike your sugar levels.
The FDA also talks about limiting the amount of processed foods in our diets. But what makes a food processed? Honestly, the answer to that question is less complicated then it sounds. Each time you pick up a piece of food, ask yourself one question, do all of the ingredients in this item grow naturally on the earth? If the answer is yes, you've got yourself an unprocessed, whole-food to enjoy.
Why should we be avoiding these processed foods? Because the amount of processed foods we eat has been linked to Cancer as well as many other hormonal and immune disorders documented worldwide. Eating unprocessed, anti-inflammatory, and whole food items is an effective and holistic way to lessen your chances of contracting many of these diseases and health-issues.
Individual DNA is another factor in a persons overall health related to diet. Each person has a different genetic makeup, and while some people may be able to eat a diet rich in gluten or dairy, others may not. It is important to seek out advice from a health professional concerning a person's own dietary needs and restrictions. What works for your husband, may be very different from what works for you.
We know a well-balanced diet and exercise plan has great effect on cardio-vascular health, but it can also have a great effect in preventing certain Cancers as well. According to Jocelyn Weiss Ph D. in this Wellness Chat from HealthyChild.org, certain types of Endometrial and Prostate Cancers are found in higher concentration among sedentary people who consume high amounts of processed foods, besides the fact that just being overweight, or obese is in and of itself, a risk-factor for Cancer.
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In order to fight against these disease related issues, consuming a large amount of plant-based food is a relatively easy and delicious combatant. Staying away from large amounts of red meat and sugar is also helpful.
Here are a few tips to help you stay on the right path while you are food shopping for you and your family:
1. Stick to the perimeter of the store so you can shop the whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy items without getting caught up in the snack and prepared food aisles.
2. Stay away from canned vegetables and instead choose fresh or frozen options. Canned vegetables often contain BPA's and are often filled with added sugar and salt.
3. Stick to lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish instead of steak or other red meat.
4. Avoid seafood with high mercury levels such as tuna and swordfish.
5. Read nutrition labels so you can make sure the items you are buying are not filled with unhealthy additives like sugar, chemicals, and sodium.