Staying healthy and illness free is important for a great quality of life. There are simple things that we can do to ensure that we are at our optimal health and help our body fight infections and inflammations. This week, Dr. Andy Fine begins the first of a five part series to steps that we can take that could help us stay out of the doctor’s office. Learn more from Dr. Andy Fine as he talks about the importance of a healthy diet.
Dr. Fine points out that the contents of the food we eat has the potential to cause inflammation in our body. Foods that are processed and are high in sugar content can cause inflammation and cause you to age faster. Research has shown that chemicals like preservatives and additives are not healthy and can cause inflammation and disease. Inflammation can cause illness like pneumonia and diseases like stroke, memory loss and dementia. While these are not entirely preventable, they can certainly be delayed and mitigated through a healthy diet. Here are his steps and recommendations for maintaining a healthy diet.
Avoid Processed Foods
Dr. Fine recommends that when you are shopping for groceries, pay attention to the food that you are buying. Buy food that is as close to its natural state as possible. These foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry and meat. These foods do not have many additives and preservatives in them. The foods that are packaged and processed, that are in a can or frozen tend to be high in preservatives and chemicals. These are foods like snacks, chips and anything that is out of a container. These products are usually in the center of the grocery store in an easily accessible area.
Read Food Labels
Food labels can be misleading. Dr. Fine cautions that just because a label says all natural or gluten free does not mean that it is healthy for you. Read the food labels carefully and pay attention to the sugar content and saturated and unsaturated fats that the food item has. Dr. Fine points out that the sugar and fat content in processed food tends to be high.
The best way to avoid sugary and processed foods is by eating minimally processed foods. Minimize red meat and use lean proteins like beans and lentils along with nuts to get a nutrient rich diet. Dr. Fine says that this could include a plant based diet with occasional meat from poultry and fish. Reduce or avoid carbohydrate heavy foods like pasta, potatoes and bread which are nutrient deficient.
Dr. Fine asks his patients to remember that everything they drink is also part of their diet. Avoid carbonated and sugar heavy drinks like sodas. He also reminds patients to especially monitor their alcohol intake. Alcohol is toxic to brain cells and can cause dementia and cognitive impairment. He advises that the rule of thumb should be 2 drinks per day for a man and 1 1/2 for a woman (i.e 1 oz. of hard alcohol or 5 oz. of wine).
Portion control is key to maintaining a healthy diet. Dr. Fine’s advice is to eat small portions at regular intervals. Eating out at restaurants could be detrimental to a healthy diet. The larger portions, sugary drinks, alcohol and desserts can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. He points out that research has shown that eating out in restaurants one extra time per week can add an extra five pounds per year.
Dr. Fine considers eating healthy is a key factor to maintaining good health. In addition, eating better can have subtle improvements towards your overall quality of life by giving you more energy and simply feeling good.