The Basics of Optimal Health
When people hear that I was healed of cancer naturally and without traditional treatments, medications or surgery, they want to know what I did. One of the most important things I did was change my diet. While I believe in taking a holistic approach to optimal health, diet modification is a great place to start. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated and the results of your efforts are usually seen quickly which helps keep you motivated.
Below are 10 simple tenets that I follow to stay on the path of optimal health.
1. Green, green, green…
Eating greens and other vegetables cannot be emphasized enough! During my healing process I found that vegetables, especially leafy greens, had many medicinal properties that help the body repair itself. Fill up on them. Some of my favorites are bok choy, kale, spinach, collards, seaweed, broccoli and asparagus. Vegetables provide numerous nutrients and vitamins that the body needs, and as an added bonus they are low in fat and calories, cholesterol free and full of fiber!
2. Fruity pebbles
No, I’m not talking about that sugar-filled cereal in a box! I’m talking about the real gems—the wonderful world of fruit! They key here is to eat lots of whole fruit, lots of variety and often. I like to start the day with a nice piece of fruit, kind of like a breakfast appetizer. Aim for three pieces or more a day. With all that fruit, you won’t have time or an appetite for those tempting processed snack foods. It doesn’t get any easier than fruit --wash and consume to your hearts content and get ready for an antioxidant festival, not to mention more fiber!
3. Keep brown around!
While most of the processed grains and breads that you see in the supermarkets or restaurants are white or of a light variety, whole grains are generally brown! When grains are processed and refined, important nutrients are removed including all important fiber! Fiber not only keeps us full and satisfied, it plays an extremely important role of cleaning up internal debris and toxins. Always choose whole grains like brown rice instead of white, whole wheat instead of white bread, steel cut oats instead of processed oats. Try other whole grains like spelt, amaranth and quinoa. Try whole rye and pumpernickel bread for breakfast. Read the labels and look for the word “whole”.
4. Beans, beans good for the heart
Guess what – it’s true! Beans are not only an excellent source of protein, but also provide another great source of fiber. Beans, greens, whole grains and fruit help keep the arteries--the highway to the heart clear and flowing freely. Raw nuts and seeds also provide great sources of protein and fiber. Black beans and lentils are some of my favorites, packed with protein, fiber and flavor!
5. Old McDonald had a farm...
And on that farm he had a pig, and cows, chickens, turkeys, etc. But it’s best to leave them on the farm! There is much sound scientific evidence that shows that many diseases including the “big three”, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are linked to increased meat and dairy consumption. Populations that eat the least amount of meat and dairy are shown to have the least occurrences of these diseases. Studies by leading researches and physicians also show that diabetes, heart disease and some cancers can be prevented and reversed by eliminating animal products from the diet and adopting a healthy low-fat, plant-based diet. When moving to a completely plant-based diet be sure to add a vitamin B12 supplement as it can be difficult to obtain from plant sources.
6. Hold the cholesterol (butter, cheese, milk) please!
While products like cheese, butter and cream add flavor, they also add cholesterol and loads of saturated fat. Your body is great at making cholesterol and doesn’t need additional cholesterol from your diet. Why is eliminating cholesterol important? High blood cholesterol levels put you at greater risk for disease and are shown to be key indicators for many diseases including the “big three” mentioned above. Those with very low cholesterol levels have a significantly reduced risk of lifestyle related disease and generally have a lower body weight. High dairy consumption has also been linked to prostate cancer, osteoporosis, Type I diabetes and other conditions. You’ll only find cholesterol in animal products, not plants. Substitute dairy items with healthy items like small amounts of virgin olive oil or nut butters. Use plant-milks (soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc.) in place of cow’s milk. Find new recipes to make your favorite creamy recipes that use healthy ingredients such as tahini and explore plant-based dips like hummus. Your arteries will thank you..
7. Endorphin Power!
Feeling blue? Power up your endorphins! By now, we all know that exercise is essential. But aside from the obvious benefits of keeping us fit, trim and strong, exercise can boost your mood. When you exercise you get a good boost of endorphins, the all-natural feel good compound released during exercise. Exercise is also a key factor in reducing disease risk and helps maintain proper body weight, another factor in disease prevention. Try to get in 30 minutes or more of movement a day; walking, biking, jogging swimming, along with some weight bearing exercises will do. Like former First Lady Michelle Obama says, “Let's Move”!
8. Will “Real Food” please stand up?
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a “real food” movement going on. People are demanding foods free of hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, hydrogenated oils (trans fats), high fructose corn syrup, high sodium content, artificial sweeteners and colors, and with good cause! These food additives are extremely unhealthy! Avoiding these products is a must for achieving optimal health. Avoiding meat and dairy products will aid you in avoiding harmful hormones and antibiotics. Generally, you’ll find most of the additives hiding in packaged processed foods which are full of refined items like white flour and sugar. Processed foods can wreak havoc in your body and often can’t be properly digested. To avoid these products, choose whole foods and minimally processed foods and spend more time in the fresh fruit and vegetable isles. Visit nearby health food stores where you’ll find packaged foods free of most of the toxic substances.
9. Water yourself
Drinking plenty of water is another “no-brainer”, but it is often overlooked. It’s best to start the day with 2 large glasses of water, just after rising. Remember, coffee, tea, juice and sodas don’t fulfill your body’s need for pure water. Water does so many important things in the body including ridding the body of toxins. Be sure to get at least eight glasses a day. It’s also best to drink water at least a half hour before meals and an hour after meals rather than during meals for optimal food digestion.
10. Pause, Pray, Be Thankful!
These are important. Take the time to reflect, meditate, pray and be grateful for life! Pausing gives us a chance to calm down, get centered, and focus on the important things in life. Prayer gives me the peace, power and courage to move forward each day. A grateful attitude can change the outcome of the bleakest situation. In everything, find a reason to be grateful and observe what great things will come your way. I am grateful!