Saturday, September 11, 2010

Healthy Living Series Intro

We all know that nutrition, health, and well-being (mind-body) are interconnected. Most diseases can be traced back to, or show a relationship to nutritional deficiencies, mal-absorbtion, enzyme deficiency or something within the body that can be helped naturally. I'm going to start with the basics, and hopefully leave you with the tools, skill and confidence to make informed decisions and cut through all the confusion.

 Basically I want to provide you with information on all aspects and facets of Nutrition (and how things work in the body, they're function and purpose etc) so you can derive and make your own decisions based on WHAT YOU THINK WORKS BEST FOR YOU!

I really want to put the emphasis on getting maximum nutrients from your foods, so that you have more energy, more focus, better workouts, better recovery, and a better life over all.

I'm going to focus on a few 'key' aspects of CLEAN EATING: what it is, what it looks like, some things to keep in mind; give you some Nutritional ideas you may want to incorporate into your life, give some meal ideas and really focus on optimizing your health, your workouts and recovery; your overall well-being through Nutrition (food) to gain energy and live at your optimal peak potential.

I'm going to briefly touch on: Nutrient Timing-including briefly discussing supplements and protein shakes, their place and the benefits of whey; super foods, key words to look out for when eating out, what a proper plate should look like. I want to focus on foods that give you the most bang for your buck on a nutrient/cell level- foods that yield high benefits per serving (phytonutients,vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and fats), in effect maximizing your results-all the hard work you guys are doing in trying to live fit and healthy lives, and hopefully provide some clarity as to what you should be focusing on.

What is CLEAN Eating

 Clean Eating has become a 'catch phrase' or fad word we are all hearing lately, but it is actually as sustainable, sound and sensible as you can get. It refers to getting your fuel (energy foods) from whole, unprocessed, natural, clean sources- as close to mother nature as possible. You should be able to trace foods back to their origin. Focus on minimally processed foods (ex. baked potato vs. potato chips).
 "Real Food". Of course, with our modern lives- (busy, stressed, financial instability) convenience, availability and cost often are our decisive final factor. What I hope to show you is that you can eat relatively clean, healthy and nutritiously anywhere. Above all, I want to 'remind' us of one important fact that when truly considered, provides strong impetus for chosing to be mindful of " Healthy Living", facilitates in choosing "healthy" nutrients and lifestyle habits; brings"health minded" to the forefront of our priorities, as well as encouraging mindfulness: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. You cells literally are made up of (sythesis) what you consume, and it is the strongest area of which we have control over (behavior, paradigm, attitude, and mind-set: Decisions and Behaviors are yours). Control your thoughts = control your life.

So, what are the main components of Healthy Eating/Diet? We are going to focus on 4 main components of what a meal should consist of:

1.A lean protein source

2.Complex, low glycemic, high fiber carb (of fiber)

3.A healthy fat

4.Vegetables (Green, Leafy, Colorful).

I often like to give the analogy of looking at a plate like a FACE. Think of 2 eyes, a mouth and a nose. Each main meal should combine a serving of the four main components. I like to think of one Eye as the protein; Protein is made from amino acids, and is the building block of the body. Getting adequate protein in your diet is vital to the repair, growth and recovery of the human body. In order to have proper developement,  recover from workouts and gain lean muscle you must obtain sufficient dietary protein – this cannot be overlooked. I will go much more in depth in regards to protein and the various Macro/Micronutrients later, but for now remember Protein= STRUCTURE- BODY TISSUE NUTRIENT and BUILDING BLOCKS OF YOUR BODY.

Think of the other eye as your high fiber, low GI, low sugar, complex carbohydrate (oats, quinoa, brown rice etc). Again, I will go in depth on Carbohydrates, but suffice it to say that Carbs are your Brain's and Nervous System's energy source, as well as your bodies preferred source of fuel. This is why people on extremely low carbohydrate diets tend to get depressed, moody, lack energy and have trouble sleeping. They aid in the metabolism of fat and protein, and are the chief source of energy for all body functions and muscular exertion.

The mouth or bottom half of your plate should be your vegetables. These are loaded with fiber, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals such as anthocyanids, xanathins They are low in calories, while adding bulk to your diet due to water and fiber. Fiber (also a carb) helps to fill you up, slows digestion, binds toxins for removal, and has a host of health benefits. Aim for about 6-9 servings of  Vegetables a day.

Finally, the "nose" of your plate, or face- your healthy fats. Fats are your "Reserved Energy", as well as providing vital protection to your brain and organs. Fats are vital! They are necessary for hormone synthesis, muscle repair, fat loss, brain function, joint mobility, skin elasticity, heart health etc. Fats do not make you fat! Excess ANYTHING will cause weight gain, and fats in and of themselves aren't bad. Not only is this thinking erroneous, but it can also be detrimental to your body, health and impedes any results you have been making. There are two fatty acids that are essential to the body, the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid (LA). If your body does not get enough ALA and LA from your diet then many metabolic processes and even hormone production can suffer. When choosing the dietary fat sources that comprise your diet, you want to choose foods that are high in ALA and LA (i.e. almonds and olive oil) and stay away from foods that are high in saturated and trans-fats (i.e. butter and bacon). While you do need some saturated fats in your diet, the majority of your fats should be unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Fat= RESERVE ENERGY. Fat is energy dense at 9 calories/gram, as opposed to the 4cal/gram of Protein and Carbohydrates.

Healthy sources of fats are: Pumpkin seeds, Olive oil, avocado, Chia, flax oil, fish oil walnuts, olives, salmon. Avocados are loaded with heart healthy fats, as well as antioxidants that you need to prevent free radical damage. They Containing omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamins like B-complex, and vitamin E, as well as important antioxidant minerals like selenium. Brazil nuts, Nuts and seeds are another super-health food. Eat unsalted nuts, like almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts and walnuts; seeds like sunflower, flax seeds, poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds.etc

Carbohydrates are another vilified and misunderstood Macronutrient. Understanding the different types of Carbohydrates is key. A healthy diet should not eliminate food groups. You need over 40 different nutrients for your body to function- none of which can be obtained from one specific food group. You need a wide variety. Macronutrients refer to Carbs, Fats, Proteins and are needed in large amounts by the body (hence MACRO), Micronutrients (Vitamins, Minerals, Phytonutrients etc) are still needed, but in smaller amounts (hence Micro).
In my next post I'll start going into more detail and focus on the specifics. I also plan on doing a brief post dedicated to each of the Vitamins and Minerals: their functions and role within the human body, and which sources to best obtain them from.
Any questions or areas of specific interest you would like to learn more about: PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT. My goal is to provide comprehensive, easy to understand and use information!


  1. Great post, thanks! I'm really looking forward to reading more!

    Anyway, I have a question regarding fats.

    The fat sources you've mentioned are healthy undoubtedly, but they all are also polyunsaturated. (I know omega-3 is very good, but it's still polyunsaturated.) So what about monounsaturated and, especially, saturated fats? I believe they are also very good!

    By now, there's a lot of evidence showing that dietary sat fats and cholesterol aren't correlated with blood fat levels (that rather depend on sugar consumption instead), so eating saturated fat doesn't put you at a higher risk for CHD or whatever. Moreover, an advantage of saturated fats over polyunsaturated fats is that they are more stable. Polyunsaturated fats, to the contrary, can be easily oxidated and then become oxidants themselves, being able to cause damage to cells and tissues. (As far as I know.)

    I'd love to hear your opiniton on that!

    Another question I have concerns carbohydrates, but I'll save that for later. :)

    Again: It's really, really great you're posting this! I'm so excited what to come more!

    Will you also post recommendated intakes of certain macro- and micronutrients? That would be specifically interesting for application.

  2. Thanks for the questions: I plan on getting to that in my "fats" post! Actually, newest research has shown that it isn't even LDL that's bad in general, it's the size of the lipotropic factor. They've discovered that the BIG molecules aren't really that harmful. It is the SMALL dense molecules which cause most of the damage! They've found that total LDL is not a reliable biological marker for disease. It is just "part" of the story, not the entire picture. It's a symptom. When replacing PUFA's with Sat.Fats, they have seen a reduction of heart disease. This simply states that Polyunsaturates are good- not that Saturated Fats are necessarily bad! Of course, this is still being tested, and not conclusive, but it goes to show how much we still have to discover! Fascinating stuff!

  3. I'm drooling for more! And I'm still excited what you'll write about the oxidation potential of PUFAs. Great project you've begun here! :D :D :D

  4. awesome project darling! you are an amazing writer. i'll email you asap tomorrow! i'm off to class! love you girl! xo. chin up ;)

  5. I have no problem getting in components 2-4 but I severely lack #1. Do you think that certain people just don't need as much protein as others? I actually feel better the less I get which seems...odd?