“Food is medicine” is more than just a catch phrase, how to eat your way to wellness.
The phrases “food is medicine” and “you are what you eat” can be taken quite literally. On the most basic level, that which you eat becomes a part of you. The slice of bread on your plate gets broken down into carbohydrates, which get broken down even further into tiny particles called glucose that enter the cells of your body to provide energy. Likewise, the protein in the eggs you had for breakfast got broken down to molecules called amino acids or peptides that help build muscles and the calcium that was extracted from that slice of cheese goes to your bones to strengthen them.
Everything that goes into you, is becoming part of you or being rejected by the body and flushed out. Now, if you have a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals, you are creating the foundation of a healthy body. However, if you are taking in lots of processed foods and chemicals, then those aspects are going to end up causing damage to your body and toxin overload.
In the words of Ann Wigmore: “The food you eat can either be the most powerful medicine you take or the slowest form of poison.”
Every time we eat we are not only nourishing body, but also creating waste and stressing the body. On the cellular level, the process of transforming food into energy leads to cellular waste. On the organ level, the food we consume goes through the gut and intestines, getting turned into large quantities of waste on the way and then exiting the body through the colon.
Luckily, the body is well equipped at withstanding the stress of eating and is able to flush waste from our system. However, if we are taking in lots of unhealthy foods or foods loaded with chemicals and toxins, the body starts to get overwhelmed. This is why the food we eat is one of the biggest factors in our health.
Nutrition 101 Five-Step Approach
Eating healthy doesn’t need to be boring. You don’t need to wake up every morning at 6 am, sip on lemon water on the way to the gym, and then munch on kale all day. Nor do you need to spend your life fatigued, depressed, and taking more pills than you can count. You can unlock wellness and prevent many illnesses by eating smarter.
Everybody, and every body, is unique, so seeing a trained nutritionist is truly the best way to ensure you are consuming the best diet for your personal health, medical conditions, and goals. There is no such thing as a diet for “everyone,” but there are, however, certain rules that apply to most and are backed by science.
In this section, we will go over 5 basic steps to improve your diet. This includes; a health report card, detoxing if needed, learning why some foods are better than others, healing the gut, and lastly implementing what you have learned to sustain wellness.
Step 1: What My Insides Say
Before starting a new weight loss program, you should always consult a medical provider to determine if you have any conditions or any food allergies that will require a specific diet. If you are lactose intolerant and eating a diet high in dairy then you are certainly setting yourself up for failure.
· Identify health conditions: thyroid disorders, diabetes, hormone imbalances, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal issues, metabolic syndromes, etc have a big impact on the way the body utilizes food.
· Identify food allergies: peanuts, gluten, dairy are some of the most common, but people can be allergic to any food.
· Identify if you have any nutrient deficiencies: this can be the result of unhealthy habits, unbalanced diets, medical conditions, medications, environments, or even genetics. People of Indian descent, for example, are known to be at risk for calcium deficiency. Also, those who are on PPI’s such as omeprazole for heartburn are also known to be low in calcium due to the medication. Unfortunately, other supplements can even lead to deficiencies. Those who are on calcium supplements are often found to be deficient in magnesium cause too much calcium blocks magnesium.
Step 2: Detox time
Yes, you really are addicted to that cheeseburger. It has been scientifically proven that sugar, carbs, and fats can be as addictive as street drugs. A detox is a great way to wipe the slate clean and give your body a break from the constant assault of questionable foods that make up the typical American diet.
I would highly recommend anyone who is consuming a high sugar diet, Western diet, is overweight, has hormone imbalances, poor digestion issues like leaky gut, food allergies, widespread inflammation, autoimmune disorders, or any chronic disease to start with a 2 day broth fast followed by a 2-4 week inflammation detox diet. Even if you think you have a good diet, you likely would still benefit from a detox due to its ability to regulate hormones such as insulin and ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and clear toxins from the body.
The purpose of the 2 day fast is to reduce insulin resistance, lower ghrelin levels, increase metabolism, increase hGH, shrink the stomach, and allow for gut healing. Fasting will also help reduce cravings for unhealthy food.
I do not want you to be following a “diet” for the rest of your life. Instead, I want you to gain a knowledge of healthy foods and develop an ability to listen to your body. To be able to recognize when your cravings are the body asking for nutrients versus when the bad bugs in your gut or off balanced hormones are triggering cravings. In order to stop the cravings for bad foods, we must clean up the gut and balance our systems.
This phase is going to be a little inconvenient, but I am asking you to do it anyways. To sacrifice 14-30 days of your life to start a new chapter of health. You may feel tired at times, you may get hangry, you may notice you’re sleeping more or sleeping less, sweating in your sheets, having emotional ups and downs. This is because many of you will be legitimately detoxing off the junk food and sodas that you are addicted to. Its best to get medically cleared by your provider before beginning a fast to ensure your body can handle it. Keep in mind that the first 3-7 days of any diet are the worst, just stick with it, I promise it will be worth it. After a few days to a week, depending on the person, feelings of clear-headedness, energy, and euphoria often occur.
Step 3: Learning the “why” factor
In this phase, you will learn the good foods that should be eaten regularly, the bad foods that should be avoided, and the foods that straddle the line between both and should be consumed in moderation.
Beans, for example, have nutritionists playing tug-o-war at the battle line that dictates what we should and should not consume. On one hand, they are high in fiber, a good source of protein, and a complex carb. On the other hand, beans have a toxic coating on them to prevent them from being eaten by insects, as you could guess this coating is also unhealthy for adults. This is why some nutritionists claim that beans, with their phytic acid nutrition blocking and “fire in the hole” leaky gut inducing ability, make them a product that should be avoided. Luckily there is a solution to eating beans; soaking and boiling them will greatly reduce the lectins, which harm us.
Nuts and soy are other examples, too much soy leads to excess estrogen and with too many nuts we can run into that lectin issue again. Straddle foods are products that have enough good qualities to outweigh the bad, but should be eaten in moderation.
Step 4: Gut Health
The gut is so much more than just where we digest our food. For years the gut had been the black sheep of the family, the organ that no one really cared to talk about, but now, after years of neglect, the gut is finally having its time in the sun.
Countless studies have been published proving the importance of gut health. Roles of the gut include, but are not limited to, absorbing nutrients from our food, being the biggest player in our immune system, creating happy hormones like serotonin, and having the ability to alter our emotions and mood.
There are many things we can do to improve the health of our gut; taking pre and probiotics, avoiding foods we are allergic to or that cause us gastric upset, taking in enough fiber, consuming bone broth and other gut healing foods, etc.
Step 5: Maintenance phase
Before the detox, it was very likely that the foods you craved were due to the bad bugs in your gut and off balanced hormones sending faulty signals to your brain. Once you ensure there are more good bugs than bad bugs in the gut and get your hormones balanced, you will notice you start to crave healthy foods. In this phase, you get to apply what you have learned and choose the good foods that make you feel best inside and out.