5 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition
Food is your best source of nutrition, of course. But most of us eat a heavily processed modern diet, which doesn’t deliver an optimal level of nutrients. Why not? Let’s do the nutritional math:
18% of the calories in the modern diet are from sugar. Another 18% are from white flour. A good chunk of the rest is from added fats. In all, more than 50% of the calories in the modern diet are from empty calories, stripped of vitamins and minerals.
The good news is that there are plenty of easy (and delicious) ways to get the proper nutrition you need, which I talk about in the rest of this newsletter. And getting optimal nutrition promotes optimal health of every part of your body: your heart, brain, digestive tract, thyroid gland, joints, skin … well, you get the idea!
6 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition
1. Make simple, delicious food choices — and forget about dietary deprivation!
To eat healthy, you don’t have to spend half the day at the supermarket — finding and eating “health foods” you’ve never heard of, like carob or groats; soaking beans for 50 hours and then cooking them for 5; or otherwise taking time you don’t have to prepare foods you don’t like.
The tasty trick to ensuring you get optimal nutrition is to make healthy, simple, pleasurable food choices.
Example 1: For breakfast, eat organic, whole grain cereal, along with a handful of berries, a sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. This is a delicious, healthy breakfast that takes only a minute to prepare.
Example 2: Enjoy eggs and vegetables with a little bit of butter and salt, neither of which is bad for you in spite of the medical myths you hear just about every day. By now, we all know that eggs aren’t bad for you.
Bottom line: To eat healthfully, there’s no need to stop eating the foods you love (like pizza). Just start making small changes in your diet, like eating whole wheat instead of white flour. Over time, those small changes will make a big difference!
2. Ditch the added sugar!!!
Here’s a few ways you can do this:
- Use stevia instead of sugar: This natural sweetener is an excellent substitute for sugar. I like the Body Ecology brand, which tastes great. (Some other brands are actually bitter, which is not at all what your taste buds want from a sweetener!)
- Just say no to sugary sodas. Twelve ounces of soda delivers nine teaspoons (about 150 calories!) of added sugar. Instead, opt for healthier beverages, like water, tea or coffee. If you love soda, try a sugar-free brand, such as Zevia (stevia-sweetened, with zero calories), or Hansen’s sugar-free diet sodas.
- Enjoy sugar-free chocolates. Chocolate tastes really good. And it’s really good for you, too! Moderate consumption of dark chocolate (one or two ounces a day) is linked to weight control (lower body mass index), lower “bad” LDL, lower blood pressure, and lower risk of heart attack and stroke (see the write up on this study for yet another health-protecting power of chocolate: stroke prevention!). To Note: Sugar-free chocolate is sometimes sweetened with maltitol, which in some people has a mild laxative effect.
3. Take a high-potency powdered vitamin.
A high-potency vitamin can provide you optimum levels of almost every key vitamin and mineral that might be missing from your diet. Conventional doctors who don’t take the time to read in-depth research on nutrients, as well as many dieticians, even, fail to acknowledge that there’s a different between “a sufficient” amount of a vitamin or mineral to prevent deficiencies and an “optimal dose” that helps prevent chronic diseases, inflammation and free-radical callular damage.
However: Most multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t provide heart-and-brain-healthy omega-3 fish oils. You can get plenty of that nutrient if you eat three to four servings of fatty fish a week, like sardines, salmon or tuna. If you don’t, take a fish oil supplement. It’s one of the most important supplements you could ever take.
4. Read your nutrition labels!
Food manufacturers—and even grocery stores, these days—are out to dupe you into buying addictive junk food by using alternative names for dangerous ingredients and misleading labels on unhealthy food products. Don’t fall for it! Check out this list of food additives to avoid at all costs and be sure to read the fine print. Worried about buying from brands that appear to be small-business, local and organic, but really they’re owned by Big Agra conglomerates? Check out this app!
5. Try some nutritional bibliotherapy.
For more insightful information and great ideas about optimizing nutrition, (shameless plug…) check out my new book Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale, August 2012). Chapter one is titled, “Nutritional Deficiencies: Optimize Nutrients, Optimize Health,” and has a lot of good, practical information on this topic — as well as many other ways to optimize health, no matter what your health concern. It has a ton of information you could really benefit from.
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, also known as “Dr. T,” is an integrative physician and one of the country’s foremost experts on fatigue, sleep and pain management. The treatment program he developed for combating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia and related conditions has helped hundreds of thousands of sufferers reclaim their health and vitality.
Dr. Teitelbaum is the Medical Director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and author of the best-selling books, From Fatigued to Fantastic!, Beat Sugar Addiction Now! and Pain Free 1-2-3. He has also authored several landmark scientific studies. Dr. Teitelbaum has firsthand experience with CFS and Fibromyalgia — he battled the condition when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. Since then, he has dedicated his career to developing effective strategies to treat these conditions and educating the millions of people who need help. Visit his web site to learn more.