The basics of a good diet
I wanted to do a blog post on a good basic diet. These days you have a ton of different choices when it comes to your diet. This is a distillation of several programs that I have looked at. This diet can be used to reduce inflammation, regain your health, maintain your health and/or in some cases lose some weight. Many people jump right into supplementation and seem to forget that your diet can make or break you.
Diet is more than what you eat.
I commonly have new clients that seem to do everything right but still have health challenges. In these cases we need to look at every little detail and diet is no exception. If you look at diet as a sequence of events rather than what you eat, it sometimes can be easy to tell where the breakdown can be. This sometimes requires us to break our old conceptions of diet and how we should eat. So, for those of you who are looking for a missing key, here it is.
The sequence of a healthy diet:
1. Food selection/environment
The idea of having a good diet is to get the nutrients we need for metabolism. The choice of food is half the battle. We need to take those nutrients and break them down so our body can use them and efficiently get rid of the byproducts of metabolism.
Rules for food selection and a basic healthy diet:
1. Eat breakfast within the first 30 min of waking up
2. Eat protein 3x per day
3. Eat something every 2-3 hours
4. Eat primarily vegetables – Limit potatoes
5. Eat fruits as snacks – Limit bananas
6. Stay away from white sugar and artificial sweeteners – honey and maple syrup can be used in small amounts
7. If you suspect allergies stay away from all: dairy, wheat, corn, eggs and soy – These are not the only allergens but the most common allergens
8. Lentils, nuts and seeds are welcome for this diet
9. Drink half your body weight in oz per day
10. Vegetable juices are good – Stay away from fruit juices
11. If you have to ask if it is ok to do while on the diet, chances are it is not ok for this diet
What you eat is just as important as when and how you eat!
Your autonomic nervous system can turn on or shut down digestion. Anything that excites the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system will shut down digestion. So, when eating it would be to your advantage to excite the parasympathetic or digesting portion of your autonomic system.
There are a couple ways you can do this.
1. Environment – Things that are traumatic and stressful excite the sympathetic system. This is why watching TV or movies when eating can be bad for you. When you watch things blow up on TV, you might know that it is only TV but, your nervous system reacts as if it is real. It would be best to eat in a peaceful environment
2. Chew your food – Please do not underestimate the power of mechanical digestion. The smaller your food is broken down, the more efficiently your enzymes can break the food down. I am suprised to find out that many people do not chew their food but almost swallow it whole. Please chew 20 – 30 times before swallowing. Chewing and taste can further excite your parasympathetic nervous system further helping out digestion.
3. Slowing down how you eat – This allows for your hormones to kick in and let you know you are full. Many of us know we are full when the stomach has been stretched to a point where it is sending pain signals to your brain. This is not good and can very easily lead to patterns of overeating. Slowing down will also allow for the enzymes to better break your food down.
This actually has a lot to do with chiropractic. If you have subluxation present then your autonomic nervous system will not function correctly. This can cause spikes in your sympathetic system shutting down your digestion. This can also happen if you have pain in different parts of your body. Yes, that means your low back pain can be effecting how your body processes food.
How to help chemical digestion!
Once we get past mechanical digestion, our enzymes and stomach acid begin to break down our food. This is the first area where we see supplementation for digestive problems. If you have a stressful lifestyle then you might require some enzymes here and possibly acid supplementation. Supplementation may be important to kick start your digestion. Please remember that the above recommendations will also help get the nervous system ready to activate your enzymes and stomach acid production.
Stomach acid activates the enzymes you take in as supplements or that your body produces. A huge sign of low stomach acid is indigestion or acid reflux. I am not talking about pathological acid reflux but a functional acid reflux from lifestyle. So, if you have seen people take Betaine HCL supplements, apple cider vinegar or lemon water with their food, this is to prime the stomach for digestion.
Assimilation and elimination
Once you break down all the nutrients into basic components, you then need to get it into the body. This is done in the intestines. This is also where we see your probiotics at work.
This area follows the same pattern as above. Stress takes blood flow away from the intestines and decreases assimilation of nutrients. If this happens for long periods of time, your intestines will start to break down and create a condition called leaky gut. There are many problems that can be tied into leaky gut.
If you do have leaky gut or suspect you do, this diet might help to a certain degree. It would be best to find some help to overcome it.
Don’t forget to eliminate!
If there is one area of digestion that almost always seems to be left out, it is usually elimination.
Elimination is healthy if you have consistently 2-3 bowel movements per day. For some people this seems easy, others almost impossible.
This diet calls for an increase in vegetables for most people. This will increase dietary fiber and has the ability to regulate elimination. Some of the supplements that can help with elimination are Vitamin C and Magnesium.
100% vs. 80/20 when applied to diet:
When looking at all we have to do for a great lifestyle and diet, sometimes we ask ourselves how much do we really have to do. Well today you are in luck. I am going to let you know!
The good part is that there is really only two real ways to go. There are those who want achieve health goals and those who want to maintain their health goals. Yes, individual biochemistry and goals can change this. But, if you follow these guidelines they should be able to guide you on the right direction.
Those of you who are looking to achieve a health goal will reach it the closer to 100% they can get. Those who are looking to maintain their health goal can follow the diet about 80% of the time and stray 20% of the time.
This diet is a starting point and can be changed to fit any need. Feel free to try it out and give us some feedback on your experiences.