Mama Always Said: You Are What You Eat
Maybe mom really did know best when it came to nutrition. As research has shown, what we eat can actually impact our health profoundly. Over the years, we have learned that our dietary choices can influence our risk of disease. And some have made it a profitable business to teach us new ways to look at food (anti-inflammatory diet, Keto, heart healthy, etc.).
And so, in some instances, food is now looked at as medicinal. While taking supplements can be beneficial, there is no substitute for eating whole, nutritious foods. Why? Because the nutrients found in certain foods can promote health and protect our bodies from disease.
Lacking in the Basics
Our Western diets, high in processed foods and low in whole foods like fresh vegetables, keep our bodies from getting the vitamins and minerals we need to thrive. Deficiencies can then increase our risk of disease. Heart disease, certain types of cancer, and immune dysfunction can all be impacted by a lack of certain vitamins and nutrients.
In addition to protein and carbohydrates, it’s important to include vegetables, fruit, beans, and grains as part of a well-rounded diet. Many of these foods, also known as superfoods, include antioxidants which can protect our cells from damage.
Fiber is also part of the building blocks of a healthy diet. High fiber foods include the same list just mentioned and can help protect us from disease and decrease inflammation. Fiber promotes healthy digestion and elimination and also feeds the good bacteria in our guts.
Protein and fat are not the enemy when they come from whole, nutritious foods and they can play a critical role in keeping our bodies operating efficiently. Omega-3 fatty acids, mainly found in fish, help to regulate inflammation and have been linked through much research to improved heart health and proper immune function. And the amino acids found in protein can aid in muscle health and regulating metabolism.
Everything in Moderation
We all know that doing anything to excess isn’t healthy, and that includes what and how much we eat. Diets high in soda and other sugar-filled drinks, fast food, processed food, and refined grains are the main culprits to health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and all the complications that come from unhealthy weight gain and obesity.
A lifetime of poor choices can lead to all kinds of health problems like insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol, and heart disease. On the other side of the coin is the research that points to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, for example.
A Thoughtful Approach to Food
While the jury might still be out on whether we really are what we eat, we all know enough now to understand that our dietary choices can have long-term effects on our health and quality of life. Abiding by the rule of moderation can help us build healthy habits so we make smart choices. And those choices could have a generational impact on those in our family who look to us as an example.
If you are looking to improve your diet and get your health on track, talk to your acupuncturist about a course of treatment that can help you get back into balance with your diet. It’s never too late to start making progress in the right direction.