Functional Health Services for Your Well Being

A Better Guide To Food – Part I

written by Alex Boersma

food pyramid 2

PRINCIPLES OF THE FOOD TRAPEZOID

The longer a food has been part of our evolutionary history, the more we should eat of it.

The closer a food is to its natural state; the better it is for us.

The human body requires the consumption of protein and fat. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. We can easily thrive without carbohydrates in our diet.

Eating a low fat diet is about the best way there is to become sick. Fats should make up between 30% and 60% of your daily caloric intake.

Saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet have very little to do with heart disease

Over-consumption of refined carbohydrates plays a large role in most of the diseases of modern civilization.

Whole grains and legumes do not get a free pass. They are at best a very recent addition to our evolutionary diet and should be consumed with caution.

Vegetable oils are composed primarily of inflammatory omega-6 poly-unsaturated fats. Processing oxidizes them and creates high levels of free radicals. Hydrogenation turns them into Trans fat. Would you like to cook your French Fries in this toxic soup?

BASE FOODS

Base Foods are exactly what they sound like…they are the foods which should make up the principle portion of our diet. They are the primary foods of our evolutionary history. If we were to step back 20,000 years in time and travel to almost any location on the earth, we would most likely find some combination of these foods being consumed.

Base foods should make up 70% to 80% of our daily caloric intake. They should be the foods around which all of our main meals are built. I once heard somebody put it like this:

“At every meal, fill 1/4 of your plate with unprocessed meat, eggs or seafood. Fill the other 3/4 with fruits and vegetables. If you need to lose weight, get smaller plates and store them farther away from your table”

Raw-Meat-1eggs1nutsmyron-olive-oil-2402853fruits-vegetablesSpecialtySeafoodSelectionLG-500

MEAT

Meat, especially red meat, has been the whipping boy of protein consumption for so long now that it is hard to believe there was never really any evidence to support decreasing it’s consumption in the first place. Let’s get this straight right away…red meat consumption has only a very limited effect on raising LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) and has neutral to positive effects on HDL and triglycerides. There will be more on this in future articles.

Simply put, we evolved to eat meat…there may be some debate over how much meat we evolved to eat, but there is nothing in the evolutionary history to suggest that we should avoid eating it. It is an excellent source of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, many of which are difficult to come by if we avoid eating meat.

Having said that, there are many things we do to meat which lessen its healthy benefits. These include:

PROCESSING Processed meats such as deli meats, cured meats, hot dogs, etc. are almost always high in chemicals which have the potential to be carcinogenic. Try to avoid them as much as possible

BARBEQUING In most cases, the process of barbequing will burn parts of the meat and fat which also creates carcinogenic by-products. I love a nice barbequed T-bone as much as anyone (probably more than most) but barbecuing is something I really try to minimize. And if I do barbeque, I will try to cut off the worst of the burnt parts

LOCKING IT UP AND FORCEFEEDING IT GRAIN

Enough has been said elsewhere about antibiotic and pesticide usage in industrial feedlots and how these chemicals end up in our systems. My biggest problems with modern, large scale animal husbandry, though, is the fact that grains – primarily corn – are used to produce the biggest, fattest animals in history. Because they eat grains, they end up with disrupted fatty acid profiles…too much inflammatory poly-unsaturated omega-6…not enough anti-inflammatory omega-3. My advice: wherever possible, choose free range, naturally raised meats.

Just so you know…monounsaturated fat (discussed below), made famous by the Mediterraneans and found in high concentrations in olive oil, is also found in high concentrations in almost all types of animal fat. Anywhere from 30% to 70% of animal fat is monounsaturated, depending on the animal it comes from. Eat a variety of meat and you will get more monounsaturated fat than you could ever hope to get from using a little olive oil in your salad dressing!

MY TOP MEAT PICKS

images not this kind of chicken lamb1

FREE RANGE BEEF, FREE RANGE POULTRY AND NEW ZEALAND LAMB

EGGS

Eggs have received the same bad rap as red meat…for the same ridiculous reasons. Let me say it again, with feeling: Neither eggs nor red meat have ever been proven to cause heart disease! Their effect on LDL is minimal and guess what? High LDL is a very poor predictor of heart disease anyway! So get over it.

Eggs are just about the best food Mother Nature ever came up with. If I ever had to pick just one food to eat for the rest of my life I would pick eggs because they are probably the best source of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins around. (And also, they taste great fried in butter, which is the next food on my top 10 list)

Although eggs of any kind are probably OK, I always recommend free range varieties. The type of feed chickens eat will make a difference to the proportions of polyunsaturated fats in the eggs. The more natural the feed (i.e. free range) the more likely the eggs are to have more anti-inflammatory omega 3 and less inflammatory omega 6.

Although eggs are an excellent food, people do tend to develop allergies them. This is usually caused by leaky gut syndrome, a common digestive disorder, the resolution of which is beyond the scope of this article. Because of this tendency to become allergenic, eggs should be rotated in and out of the diet. Translation: don’t eat eggs every day or you will become allergic to them!

MY TOP EGG PICKS

eggs 2

NATURALLY RAISED OR OMEGA 3 EGGS

SEAFOOD

For the sake of simplicity, I shall expand the definition of seafood to include any fish or shellfish, including fish from fresh water. Seafood is good for you. It has lots of high quality protein and usually a very healthy fatty acid profile high in anti-inflammatory, heart healthy EPA and brain stimulating DHA. It is also usually high in cancer fighting selenium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients.

Although just about all seafood has a healthy fatty acid profile, the fattier fish, of course, will have greater total quantities of these omega-3 fatty acids. If I had to choose one, I would probably choose Wild Alaskan Salmon because it tastes greats, has high omega-3 levels and has low levels of mercury and other toxins.. Sardines would probably be an even better choice if I could stomach them!

There are two things to be careful of when purchasing fish:

1. Is it wild or farmed? Farmed fish does not have as good a fatty acid profile as wild fish (although it is still usually far better than mammalian meat). But, more importantly, farmed fish will tend to collect PCBs and other toxins used in the fish farming industry. Although the levels of these toxins are very minimal, it is still probably best to avoid them.

2. How big is the fish? Unfortunately, large portions of our oceans have become toxic dumping grounds. The bigger the fish, the more likely it is that it has absorbed some of these carcinogenic toxins into its fat. That’s why smaller fish, such as salmon and sardines are probably a safer bet than large fish such as tuna, halibut, sea bass or shark

MY TOP SEAFOOD PICKS

shrimp-appetizer wild-salmon-alaskan sardine

SHRIMP, WILD ALASKAN SALMON AND SARDINES

FRUITS

I love fruits! They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fibre and other micro-nutrients. But most of all, they taste great…something that can’t always be said about their equally healthful cousins, the vegetables. And you can usually get your kids to eat them!

The only real issue with fruit, of course, is that it tends to be fairly high in sugar. So if you are trying to lose weight and/or you have blood sugar issues, there may be limitations to the amount and type of fruit you should eat. Having said that, I challenge anyone to become obese or become diabetic on a diet consisting of just meat and fruit. Have you ever heard of somebody getting fat on apples? My point? If you are worried about your weight or blood sugar, lose the potatoes, the sugary snacks, the juices and pops, and all the grains first. If you are still having problems, then come talk to me about which fruits you shouldn’t be eating.

The real superpowers of fruit are certainly the berries, with apples coming a very close second. Both are rich in anti-oxidants and soluble fibre, as well as a host of other micro-nutrients. But there is really no such thing as a bad fruit, so feel free to experiment and enjoy as great a variety of fruits as you can supply yourself with.

MY TOP FRUIT PICKS

BLUEBERRIES, RASPBERRIES AND APPLES

VEGETABLES

Although not as exciting as fruits, most vegetables are equally as nutritious…and they don’t generally carry the same sugar baggage. If only you could get the kids to eat them! Actually, as a small aside, it is fairly easy to make vegetables just as palatable as fruits with the simple addition of one of nature’s true wonders…butter. Surprisingly enough, the addition of some fat to your vegetables actually increases the absorbability of many of the nutrients in them! In fact, I will go as far as to say that vegetables should almost always be eaten with a source of fat…and it better not be some over-processed vegetable oil!

As with fruit, variety is important when choosing vegetables. The conventional wisdom suggests that you vary your vegetables according to colour…the more colourful your plate, the more varied the nutrients you are consuming. I tend to agree with this concept with the caveat that many of the “colourless” veggies have somehow been misconstrued as lacking nutrients. The truth is, some of the “white” vegetables, namely onions, cauliflower and even white button mushrooms are loaded with a variety of cancer fighting nutrients. So don’t be afraid to add a little white to your dinner palette.

MY TOP VEGETABLE PICKS

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES AND LEAFY GREENS

NUTS AND SEEDS

Between the ages of 10 and 30, I probably averaged one peanut butter sandwich per day! And if I didn’t know how bad all that bread and sugar (oh yes…most commercial peanut butters are loaded with added sugar!) was for me, I would probably still eat one or two every day…I love them that much! Instead I usually eat rye crackers with butter and almond butter.

There is no doubt about the fact that nuts and seeds are good for you. Numerous large scale long term studies have consistently associated the consumption of nuts with decreases in heart disease. Nuts and seeds are usually high in monounsaturated fat (think olive oil). They are high in arginine, a protein which keeps your arterial walls pliable. They are a great source of selenium, a proven cancer fighting mineral. And they are also an excellent source of fibre.

One concern with nuts is that they do go rancid fairly quickly. Try to get them as fresh as possible…nuts with the shell still on are always better than pre-shelled. Nuts, seeds and particularly nut butters should be stored in the fridge for longer shelf life.

Also, you should always be aware that because they are high in fat, it doesn’t take many nuts to add up to a significant number of calories. So always be aware and practice portion control when consuming nuts.

MY TOP NUT PICKS

WALNUTS, ALMONDS AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS

BUTTER, LARD, OLIVE OIL AND COCONUT OIL

Being a good Dutch boy, I have always loved butter. Never mind these expensive restaurants with the fancy dipping bowl full of pricey Sicilian olive oil. Give me a slab of butter for my bread! So imagine my elation on discovering that, notwithstanding years of bad press, butter is actually good for you. As is lard. As is coconut oil. As is, of course olive oil.

Most of you will already be aware of the benefits of olive oil, so I won’t get into that here. But who knew that butter, lard and coconut oil were equally beneficial…if not more so? Who knew that butter was full of anti oxidants, vitamins and minerals? Who knew that butter helps to fight cancer and fungal infections? Who knew that it contains an anti-stiffness factor which fights off joint calcification and hardening of the arteries? Who knew that it contains high levels of Activator X, which helps you absorb vital nutrients?

And if, like me, you think that’s just great, just wait till you hear about the benefits of coconut oil! Just about everything butter can do, coconut oil can do better. In fact, some researchers have elevated coconut oil to “super-food” status. Coconut oil is composed primarily of a medium chain triglyceride called lauric acid, which is renowned for it’s antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It can actually kill things like candida, staphylococcus, and even H-Pylori.. Let’s all go out and buy some.

For all three of these oils, my recommendation is to buy from as natural a source as possible. Organic butter is going to have a better fatty acid profile than non-organic…never mind the fact that it won’t be carrying as many pesticides and hormones. Cold pressed virgin olive oil will not have been over-processed as much as cheaper variations. And virgin coconut oil will be free from any attempts at hydrogenation.

MY TOP OIL PICKS

ORGANIC BUTTER, COLD PRESSED EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL AND NON-HYDROGENATED LARD

To book an appointment online, please go to www.totalbodyhealthstudio.com or call 519 939 9034
Copyright © 2009 Total Body Health Studio, All rights reserved.