Eating for Optimal Health

I want to lay our some guidelines on how we can best eat to attain optimal health.

Our food can be divided into 3 groups – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In general we want to eat about 30% protiens, 30% fat and 40$ carbohydrates. Now this is just a general guideline. Each of us has our own unique metabolism and should pay attention to what keeps us healthy, energetic, and happy. When I say happy I literally mean in a good mood -some foods can make us grumpy, angry, and depressed. Listen to your body. So some folks may feel better eating 40% fat and fewer carbs others may feel better on more protein.

Carbohydrates

Let’s look at the carbohydrates. We want to eat lots of low glycemic non-starchy vegetables – mostly raw or lightly cooked. Carbohydrates are a good source of vitamins, fiber, liquid, and glucose that keeps our brain functioning and feeds our muscles. We want to eat low glycemic fruit like apples, pears, peaches and berries. The old adage “that an apple a day keeps a doctor away” is a good maixm. By the way, glycemic means the sugar in the blood. So a low glycemic food does not have a lot of sugar in it.

The higher glycemic fruits include oranges, bananas, mango, pinapple, grapes, olives, pomogranates, cranberries, dried fruit. So try not to gorge out on these higher sugar fruits.

The best carbohydrates we can eat are the dark green leafy vegetables – kale, chard, spinach, lettuces collards, dandelion, mustard and beet greens. These vegetables raw and cooked are what keep us healthy – eat lots of them, ideally twice a day. Other vegetables that we should eat are beets, cabbage, broccoli, onions, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, parsley, peas, peppers, beans, carrots, squash, garlic, brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi and lots more. Mix up the vegetables and have lots of colors on your plate.

So where is the bread, rice, and potatoes you ask? We want to limit our diet to only 15% of the starchy carbs – they should be unrefined and mostly complex (eg. Brown rice not white rice, whole wheat not white bread). These include potatoes, brown rice, dried beans, legumes, sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, oats, millet, wheat, lentils, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and corn. Phytic acid is found in the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains. Ruminant animals have the enzyme phytase that allows them to digest these foods, humans don’t. Not only can we not digest the phytic acid, it binds to calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc making these minerals unabsorbable, leading to definiciencies.

In order to consume these foods we need to prepare them properly – they need to be soaked, sprouted, fermented and naturally leavened like sourdough. Historically we used to do this – the Scots soaked their oatmeal overnight, the pioneers make sourdough bread, Native americans used wood ash or lime water to treat corn.

Proteins

Let’s looks at proteins. There are 20 amino acids and your body uses these to make enzymes, hemoglobin, hormones and antibodies. Of these there are 8 that your body can’t produce – these are called essential proteins and we need to eat them. Eating them is enough, our body’s need us to consume these proteins in the proper proportion.

Animal products have complete proteins, that is they have all 20 amino acids and then are in the proper proportions. When we discuss animal products we only want to consume products from happy animals. Ideally they are on organic diets, they should be pastured, grass fed, or raised in clean water. Grass fed beef, lamb, goats, wild meats – deer, elk, birds. Pigs and chickens are omnivores, they should be pastured so they supplement their diet with bugs and insects. Deep sea water fish a very healthy and include sardines, herring, anchovies, salmon, trout, mackeral and cod liver. Deep sea fish tend to have lower levels of mercury and high levels of Omega 3. Make sure your fish is wild caught and not farm raised.

Other sources of complete proteins include pastured eggs and raw milk products such as yogurt, kefir, milk and cheese. I have a picture of a sadhu we met in Nepal – a holy man that had subsisted on raw milk for 11 years. It’s a perfect food with an optimal balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Low fat and skim milk have removed the fat and protein leaving just the carbohydrates. This becomes a high glycemic food contributing to blood sugar regulation issues.

Homogenization is a process where the cream is pushed through tiny holes that breaks the fat globules into tiny particles that no longer float to the surface but stay suspended in the milk. This is done only for esthetic issues not health reasons and there is some science that suggests homogenized milk can increase the risk of heart disease and contribute to milk allergies. Personally I love seeing the fat floating at the top of a fresh bottle of whole non-homogenized milk.

Pasteurization causes its own problems. When the milk is heated it, many enzymes are destroyed. These enzymes help break down the milk, without them milk becomes much harder for humans to digest. Non-pasteurized milk has antibacterial effects, where as pasteurization also decreases the availability of calcium, vitamin C, A, and B. It goes without saying that we want milk from grass fed, organic cows.

If you don’t have access to raw dairy, don’t drink milk. You can try consuming raw cheeses (read the labels).

Soy products – The soybean is very difficult for us to digest so we should really only consume fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso, and natto. Tofu and soy milk are highly processed and not a good source of protein.

Fats

Contrary to popular opinion we do want to consume fat – approximately 30% of our diet. Humans have always been fat burners; it’s only in the past 100 years that we’ve started consuming so many carbohydrates. Our heart and slow-oxidatvie muscles – those endurance muscles run on fat; the fast twitch sprinting muscles and brain use glucose for energy. The body also uses fats to build the outer structure of each cell in our body – so fats are important.

We want to eat high quality fats and a good variety – 30% saturated, 60% monunsaturated and 10% polyunsaturated. Saturated fats give our cells structure, while polyunsaturated make them flexible. So you can see, you need to consume a mixture of fats, too much of one type puts us out of balance.

High quality fat means organic, raw, grass fed, cold pressed. Tallow from a grass fed cow can contain omega 3 polyunsaturated fats in addition to the saturated fat. Conventionally raised animals will not have as beneficial a fat profile. You never want to consume hydrogenated oils.

  • Saturated fats – These fats are very stable. They tend to be solid at room temperature and are great for cooking with heat.
    • Butter is best – butter from a grass fed cow is a fantastic food.
    • Coconut Oil – like butter this oil has anti-microbial properties. It’s great for stir-fries as well as baking.
    • Palm Oil, Lard, Tallow and other animal fats are all wonderful fats – they don’t go rancid and are good for cooking.
  • Monounsaturated – These fats are relatively stable and will go solid if refrigerated. They are appropriate of lightly sauteing at lower temperatures.
    • Olive Oil – Extra virgin, expeller pressed
    • Avocado
    • Peanut, duck fat, goose fat, chicken fat
    • Lard – is made up of about 50% monounsaturated and 50% saturated fat. This means it’s super stable for cooking and has all the benefits of monounsaturated fat.
    • Dairy, eggs, & nuts are also good sources
  • Polyunsaturated – These oil are very unstable and go rancid very quickly. The should be stored in the refrigerator in dark colored bottles. Never heat them! Only use them fresh in salad dressing for example.They are good sources of the essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6 of which we want in equal amounts.
    • Omega 6 – sesame oil, sunflower oil, black current and evening primrose
    • Omega 3 – flax, pumpkin seed, walnut, wheat germ, help, chia and fish oils

Fats can also be divided into the lengths of the fatty acid chain. Again we want a variety in our diet.

  • Short & Medium chain fatty acids – include butter and coconut oil. These fats are a good source of energy because they are absorbed quickly through the small intestines.
  • Long chain – include animal fats, Olive Oil, borage, oil, black current oil and evening primrose
  • Very Long Chain – Include fish oil, egg yolks, organ meats

Avoid

Notice that I don’t have Canola, corn and soy oils listed under fats. These oils are highly processed and not healthy for us. I strongly recommend avoiding them.

White flour, refined grains & sugar, canned foods, skim & low-fat dairy, artificial vitamins, toxic additives & colorings, table salt, microwaves, pasteurized milk, teflon and aluminum cookware.

Never Ever Consume!

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil, soy products, farmed seafood, homogenized dairy, ultra pasteurized dairy, high fructose corn syrup

What to Do?

  • Eat fresh, organic, seasonal, local food
  • Have 2-3 servings of fresh each day
  • Eat 30-50% of your food raw (eg. dairy, meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs, honey, roe)
  • – For two meals a day have 5 colors on you plate.
  • Eat some lacto-fermented, cultured, pickled side dishes each meal. eg. Sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, yogurt, kimchi
  • Soak, sprout, ferment, naturally leaven all seeds, nuts and grains.
  • Eat sea salt.
  • Drink lots of water (half you body weight in ounces)