Saturday, July 21, 2012

Nutritional Basics

   Food is fuel. We eat to maintain our health and generate energy to function throughout the day. Digestion is the hardest thing the body has to do. Yet, it is the result of digesting foods and absorbing their nutrients that creates the energy we need to survive. If we are not digesting our food, we are not benefiting much from it. In fact, everything that is not digested is considered toxic to the body, and may be the cause or perpetuation of your inflammation, illness, disease, or discomfort. Simply knowing what foods are best for you, and in what combination to eat them, can keep your digestion flowing, your body healthy, your mind clear, and your energy level up. So many people suffer from digestive issues, food allergies, unhealthy weight gain/loss, and  poor health as a result of misunderstanding, or lacking an education in, the laws of a healthy diet. I'm going to address two basic rules about proper nutrition: building foods and cleansing foods.

Building Foods
   Building foods consist of starch and protein. They are not to be eaten together since the body can only digest one at a time. The classic hamburger (protein) and bun (starch) is the icon for an unhealthy American diet. Sadly, many still believe we are to eat meat and potatoes to be healthy and strong. However, habitually mixing protein and starch at meals can clog arteries and thus obstruct organ function - such as heart function, and decreased male/female sexual drive and ability. Since whole grains are naturally a combination of protein and carbohydrate, they are the exception. For instance, eating fish and brown rice is a healthy combination. However, white flour, sugar, and starchy vegetables (such as white potatoes or corn) are not recommended to be eaten with high protein foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts & seeds).

   We need vital amounts of protein, as well as starch and fats to maintain the building blocks of our body. These building foods are essential for brain function , cellular regeneration, and much more. Without a healthy functioning digestive system, the food you eat may not be absorbed by the body for nutrients. Undigested protein becomes toxic poison stored in the body when it builds up from improper digestion, and this build up can be the culprit of several ailments and diseases. Getting the right amount of protein for your body type is critical. Vegetarians, and meat eaters alike, can obtain required amounts of protein if they know suitable food combining. There are likely as many unhealthy vegetarians as there are meat eaters due to improper protein intake and assimilation. In general, good protein combinations are: grains and legumes, grains and dairy (or dairy alternatives), legumes and nuts or seeds, meat and whole grains. For adult men, 65-70 grams of protein per day, depending on height, is the the norm. For adult women it's 55-65 grams of protein per day, depending on height.

   The most important rule about protein is when to have it. Here are three general guide lines for when to eat protein. First, eating 20-30 grams at breakfast (depending on your daily requirement), unless you are cleansing, is critical. Consuming appropriate amounts of protein at breakfast can help you  maintain a balanced blood sugar level all day, preventing weight gain and fatigue, and giving you plenty of energy. Eating more than 25-30 grams per meal may result in toxic protein, as the body can only assimilate a maximum of 25-30 grams in one sitting. 

   Second, only eat protein if you are hungry, and don't eat it if you have eaten it less than 3 hours before. Eating protein when you are not hungry may cause unnecessary fatigue and toxic build up since digestion can  become idle when there is no appetite. Eating protein closer together than three hours (the time it takes to be sufficiently assimilated in most people) can create toxic undigested protein. Undigested protein is stored as fat, as well as in the lymph system, and can cause severe health complications. 

   Third, it is best not to mix your proteins with certain foods, including other forms of protein (except the proper combinations listed above). The improper mixing of foods, including mixing different types of proteins at the same meal, can be extremely hard on the body. Our body appreciates simple meals. Mixing meat/eggs/fish with nuts or seeds, mixing fruit and protein, and mixing protein and starch can result in painful digestion, fatigue, and other health issues.

Building foods are best assimilated when one is experiencing gratitude. One of the fastest ways to increase your digestive juices and promote the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat is to enter into a relaxing state of mind before and during your meal. Any distractions from the food, such as TV, negative conversation, driving, loud rock music, or rushed behavior can send messages to the body that interfere with the job its trying to accomplish for your benefit. 


Cleansing Foods
Fruits and vegetables are cleansing foods. Fruit stirs up toxins, while vegetables eliminate toxins. They work together to clean the body from the inside out. Although, fruits and vegetables are also best eaten seperately. Fruits are beneficial when eaten either 20 minutes (or more) before a meal or sometime after. Fruits can be profound healers of the body when we need to eliminate toxins if they are eaten with an understanding of their properties and benefits, and not in excess. Causing fermentation in the body when mixed with starch, fruits may also interfere with enzyme production when eaten with vegetables. The enzymes our body produces to digest are specific to certain types of food. For example, eating fruit and protein at the same meal will likely impede the break down of protein, thus creating toxicity.  

   Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals necessary for nourishing the body and creating a clear mind. They can be eaten with protein or starch, individually. A good ratio of fruits to vegetables per day is 2 fruits to every 6 servings of vegetables. While vegetables are the staple for healthy nutrition, a strictly vegetarian diet can be good for some while not for others. Largely this depends on one's blood type. O blood types process animal protein best, while A blood types typically do not process meat well, and are known to be the most healthy vegetarians. B types can fare on a vegetarian diet for a short time, yet often are healthiest with lean meats in their diet. AB types may enjoy a vegetarian diet for a while, but also find benefits with small servings of meat (apx. 1-3x per week). The scope of blood types span far beyond these classifications, and even knowing your blood type does not ensure its diet specifications will be best suited for you. Within each blood type there are also sub-types, and different ends of the spectrum. If you don't know your blood type, or you are unsure about what foods are best for you, you can experiment with different amounts of meat and plant protein to see what gives you the most energy. All diets should have at least 6 servings of vegetables per day in addition to any plant or animal protein.

   When you feel a cold coming on, or there is inflammation in the body, or a fever, a cleanse is usually in order. At the onset of an illness, or any pain in the body, the first step is to stop eating all protein, fats, and starch (building foods). This way the body can use its energy to heal itself. Cleansing can be the fastest way for the body to focus on eliminating the problem. If high or low blood sugar is present, most fruits are best left alone - both generally, and when cleansing.

General Healthy Diet

20-25 grams of protein for average female 
25-30 grams of protein for average male

  • 2 eggs, steamed leafy greens, whole grain toast
  • Whole grain cereal, nuts & seeds
  • Protein shake (1/3c raw sunflower seeds w/ seed, nut or goat milk, & frozen berries)

Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts & seeds
No protein if within 3 hours of a meal

  • Fruit (Grapefruit, papaya, berries, kiwi, orange)
  • Raw veggies (Carrot, celery, cucumber sticks)

Vegetables, whole grains, protein
  • Large raw vegetable salad with garbanzo beans or organic chicken, oil and vinegar
  • Vegetable soup, whole grain bread or crackers, small salad with oil and vinegar
  • Meat or fish with steamed vegetables, quinoa or brown rice, small salad

See Allergies * for more information on food allergies and how they can affect your health.