The following are 6 essentials that I have found work for optimizing my health. I have tried many approaches over the years and those 6 things that guide me in my food choices.
Nutrition is a passion of mine. I prepare about 95% of the food I consume, and I love doing it. This passion was instilled in my by both my parents, but in very different ways. And by the time I was about 16 years old I was willing to learn from any an all approaches to optimal health through food choices. The following are 6 essentials that I have found work for optimizing my health. I have tried many approaches over the years and those 6 things that guide me in my food choices.
Today my diet is very simple, and I like it that way. I found the foods that I like the best, are the most nutritiously dense, and work well with my body. When people observe my dietary habits and ask me what kind of diet I follow, I keep the answer simple and just say I eat lots of vegetables, predominantly green ones and sweet potatoes. Aside from a base of vegetables I consume a lot of eggs, fish, grass fed meats, chicken, and a moderate amount of nuts. Foods containing gluten and dairy make up a small fraction of my diet.
#1 – Vegetables = Majority of your Food
Sweet Potatoes / Yams, Broccoli, Carrots, Kale, Spinach and Garlic are some of my favourites. Sweet Potatoes have an amazing nutritional profile, taste great and can be prepared in so many ways. Steamed broccoli is tough to beat for texture, flavour and nutrient density, and when your 4 year old eats it by the handful you keep it in the fridge at all times. Variety is important and there are very few, if any vegetables that I don’t like.
I believe in supporting local businesses and for that reason you will often find me at The Root Cellar – these guys have it all, and if they don’t have it then ask for it and more often than not they can get it.
#2 – Incorporate a Variety of Healthy Fats
Good fats are critical for optimal health. There are many opinions on what the best fats are but I have always come back to high quality Olive Oil as my favourite. The health benefits of high quality Olive Oil are very well documented and stood the test of time. I feel that every person who is able to would be wise to invest some money (drink 3 or 4 fewer Starbucks this week) and get a single source, properly processed Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
#3 – Choose Clean, Nutrient Dense Proteins
Clean proteins whenever possible. That is what I strive for. Eggs, Fish, Grass Fed Meats, Chicken, make up the majority of my protein intake. I also consume high quality protein powders after almost every workout. Free Range Eggs are easy to find. Fresh fish isn’t always easy but if you live on the coast take advantage of it. Grass Fed and Local Meats are getting easier and easier to find. The Omega-3 content of grass fed cattle is far superior to that of feed-lot animals. My favourite here is Island Bison.
InBalance Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is my post workout staple. WPI has a high Biological value and is quickly & easily absorbed. Unless you have a diagnosed, extreme allergy or sensitivity to dairy you will find the InBalance brand will agree with your system as it is 100% pure, has no other ingredients, and uses the best processing methods available today.
#4 – Ensure your Gut Flora Environment is Healthy
Over consumption of sugars, refined grains and hydrogenated and poor quality fats can lead to a poor digestive system. There are a few things you can do to keep your digestive system and (as a direct result) the rest of your body functioning much better. A high quality probiotic supplement is a sound place to start. Nova Probiotics is a fantastic Canadian company who offers absolutely top quality products. Fermented foods that appeal to you should be incorporated almost daily into your diet. Karthein’s Sauerkraut and Rise Kombucha, are Canadian companies too, and these two probiotic foods unique bacteria so try using both. Try some other fermented foods too, like Miso, Kefir, Natto, and Kimchi.
I can’t stress enough how much of an important role probiotic foods have played in improving my health. I feel they are essential.
#5 – Limit Sugar Consumption
Sugar isn’t good for us, we all know that. I have cut it from my diet whenever and wherever possible. Ask yourself if you can use less anytime you reach for some. Carbohydrates are necessary for high performance in endurance sport. Everyone has a unique requirement level for this macro-nutrient and that will amount will fluctuate daily depending on your volume and intensity of training as well as how you structure your day to day food intake.
Sugar in the form of mod-high glycemic fruits, and some raw honey should really only be consumed immediately post exercise. You need to replenish the carbohydrate stores you have just used up. But careful not to overdo it, we have certainly been led to believe by industry that we need a lot more sugar than is actually the case. A 2-3:1 Carbohydrate to Protein ratio is a good starting point for people just beginning dial in their post-workout food intake (but please remember there are many variables at play here, and getting yourself a customized plan is always the way to go).
#6 – Choose High Quality Supplements
Over the years I have been able to minimize the amount of supplements that are on my shelf. Today I rely on Purica products (especially Cordyceps, Recovery Extra Strength Adrenal Support and Immune 7) to maximize my cardiovascular system and immune system strength as well as keep my joints and ligaments strong.
My hope is that the above information can help others make some life enhancing decisions when it comes to diet and nutrition. I have tested a lot of things over the years and it really can be very simple once you break it down. Eat more vegetables and butter.
I believe that in order for a person to improve their health they have to understand what the path to good health is. That path will be slightly different for everyone but in any case knowledge and understanding is power. Here are some resources that have helped me find the dietary approach that works best for me.
1) Basic Primer on Macronutrients, and cholesterol – http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-2-nourish-your-body
3) Sugar: The Bitter Truth – A video of the presentation Dr.Robert H Lustig did on Fructose. He is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at UCSF – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
4) Sally Fallon – The Oiling of America – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvKdYUCUca8
5) Sally Fallon – Nourishing Traditional Diets – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ixsBn_lfXE
6) Gary Taubes – Why We Get Fat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDneyrETR2o
7) Sugar Content in Fruit Reference Chart – http://thepaleodiet.com/fruits-and-sugars/
9) Glycemic Index/Load information for most foods – http://www.glycemicindex.com
10) Nutrient Database 8000+ foods – http://ndb.nal.usda.gov
11) Quick Primer on why Sweet Potatoes are the King carbohydrates! – http://www.naturalnews.com/031543_sweet_potatoes_minerals.html
12) Macadamia Nuts are the bomb – most nutritious and most delicious. Learn why they are the healthiest nuts. http://www.gfnc.co.za/index.php/nutrition