Step 4 – Nutrition
Food and drink can help heal you or hurt you. Making the right choices will help reduce your risk of serious conditions including cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Not all carbs are bad. The key is the glycemic index of a carbohydrate food, which indicates how quickly the food is digested and releases glucose into your bloodstream.
Simple carbohydrates break down quickly and hit your system with a glucose rush, which triggers an insulin spike. Eventually, this spike (and subsequent sharp drop) can lead to insulin resistance, which is the main cause of metabolic syndrome.
Complex carbohydrates have a lower glycemic impact and break down slowly in your system. These tend to have more fiber and nutrient content and should be included in a healthy diet.
- Aim for 33-40% daily calories from low-glycemic carbs*
- Choose complex carbohydrates
- Avoid sugar and try stevia instead
- Pick foods high in fiber
*Note: If you are type 2 diabetic, trying to lose weight, have metabolic syndrome, are addicted to sweets, or have a high risk of heart disease, we suggest the Low-Carbohydrate Corrective Diet. For specific guidelines on this diet, please see Chapter 11 of Transcend.
Not all fats are bad. You need to ingest fat to keep your organs and body healthy. The key is the type of fat consumed and the balance between the types of fats.
Trans fats do not exist in nature, never a good sign, and are simply unsafe. They inhibit the body’s natural detoxification and decrease testosterone levels.
Saturated fats, which come mainly from animal products, are rigid and can raise cholesterol and clog your arteries. You do need a little bit of these to maintain healthy cell membranes.
There are several types of unsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fats. The typical Western diet contains too many omega-6 fats, which are essential to life, but contribute to inflammation. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and enhance overall health. Finding a balance between these is important to overall health.
- Choose healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, fish)
- Limit 3-7% daily calories from saturated fat
- Avoid both whole and skim milk dairy
- Favor skinless white meat poultry
- Do not eat fried food
- Supplement with EPA and DHA
Note that individuals with the lowest carbohydrate intake will necessarily have to consume a higher percentage of their calories from fats.
Not all protein is good. Over consumption of protein has been linked to kidney dysfunction, gout, osteoporosis and possibly cancer. These effects are particularly linked to animal proteins, although specific guidelines for vegetable proteins are still under review.
- Emphasize plant proteins (tofu, miso, lentils, nuts)
- Avoid whole milk and eggs
- Eat more fish
- Vegetarians should focus on variety for amino acid balance
The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association state that most healthy adults should aim for at least 50-60 grams of protein daily. Note that this amount if affected by exercise frequency. Individuals who exercise regularly should increase this amount by 10 grams per 60 minutes of exercise.
Alcohol counts. Recent studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption actually enhances cardiac health and lowers your risk of diabetes. However, alcohol consumption may increase the risk of some cancers. Moderate consumption is essential if you seek the health benefits of alcohol.
- Two or less alcoholic drinks per day for men under 65
- One or less alcoholic drinks for men over 65 and women
- Red wine appears to offer additional health benefits
- Beer may lower homocysteine levels
What to Eat
Check out Ray & Terry’s tips on foods make eating healthy not only easier, but tastier too.
World’s Healthiest Foods is a non profit organization that lists and details 100 of the best foods to eat for your health. Their weekly or daily newsletters include excellent recipes and nutrition tips.
Try our Nutrition Quiz and see how well you know your calories.
Go to Step 5 where we discuss “S”upplementation.