A lot of people are under the assumption that illness can show up out of the blue. Like all of a sudden they have increased inflammation, or diabetes, or digestive issues. The reality is that most of the time, it takes years for the body to break down to a point where symptoms start to show up on a regular basis. Years of environmental, physical, emotional, nutritional or just neglectful behavior will eventually catch up with them. It’s hardly ever someone’s priority to preventively stave off illness that hasn’t even shown up yet, but this is exactly why so many illnesses today are considered “preventable”, but no one knows what to do about it since it’s not already an issue for them.
This is where preventive nutrition can come into play. There is a significant amount of research and information today showing that eating a variety of whole foods can play a key, preventive role in many imbalances including diabetes, digestive disruption, hormone dysregulation and even some forms of cancer. With just a few conscious and intentional changes to the diet, you can be eating for life long health in a sustainable way that’s not in any way too overwhelming.
Here are some of the basics:
- Eat 5 different colors every single day. The more color on your plate, the more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and good enzymes are collectively going into your body. These colors should come from whole foods (pop-tarts don’t count). Focus on dark leafy greens, richly colored berries, egg yolks, whole grains and herbs and spices.
- Choose at least one anti-oxidant rich food per day. Antioxidants are some of the most powerfully preventive foods we know of today with a direct correlation to foods rich in antioxidants and preventing certain cancers. Foods rich in antioxidants include blueberries, blackberries, red grapes, turmeric, elder berries, goji berries, dark chocolate, kidney beans, artichokes and cranberries.
- Use Omega-3 rich oils. Omega-3 is considered an “essential fatty acid” because the body cannot produce this on it’s own – we must get it from dietary sources. Foods like salmon, cod, anchovies, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are some of the highest omega-3 containing foods out there. Omega-3’s are extremely anti-inflammatory, and support eye health, brain function, cardiovascular function and our joints. Oils in general are also very moistening to the body (including olive and coconut oil) which is extremely beneficial for overall function and flexibility of the body. If we become too brittle – we will certainly break.
- Use a variety of healthy proteins. Proteins are comprised of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). These amino acids are essential for the formation of muscle and also for producing several of our emotional “mood” hormones in our gut. Rotating through a variety of proteins including high quality meats, dairy products, nuts and seeds, whole grains like quinoa, beans, eggs and soy products ensure a comprehensive array of amino acids.
- Probiotic rich foods. The gut is perhaps the most important area of the body in terms of preventive health. Almost all imbalances could start in the gut, and keeping the digestive system (and the enteric nervous system in general) healthy and strong is absolutely essential. The gut (colon, large intestine and small intestine) is filled with trillions of probiotics (little bacterial critters) that modulate your digestion, metabolism, absorption and immune system. They rely on a stable and healthy environment to thrive, and probiotic rich foods help to continually repopulate with extra probiotics. Fermented foods are the best way to get probiotics dietarily, and foods like kimchi, Sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, yogurt and pickles are excellent ones to start with at just a serving per day.
Still need some guidance on how to implement this into your daily routine? Schedule a free 30 minute health coaching appointment at Ellwood Thompson’s to get individualized recommendations and support for your own health needs. Email Lindsay at HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com to schedule.
Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com