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What to Eat: The Basics of Optimal Nutrition

Mar 9, 2022 | Blog, Nutrition

If you ask 10 different doctors or health care professionals what to eat you’ll get 10 different answers. The truth is there is no one right diet. Everyone is different.

 

We are biochemically unique individuals, so there is no one-size-fits-all. What works best for your friend or spouse or the neighbor down the street, may not be the best plan for you. However, there are some core foundational nutritional principles that are very important to keep in mind and implement.

 

In our country today, we are overfed yet undernourished. We eat a lot of calories, but many of these calories have little to no nutritional value. The foods you choose to eat are the building blocks of your body. Your body is composed of cells and about 1% or 330 billion of these cells are replaced every single day. In about 3 months’ time, all of your cells will be replaced, which means you are a brand new you. These cells are made from the materials available to them, provided by your diet. You are what you eat.

 

Here’s another thing: All diets work while we are on them. Have you ever been on a diet for 30, 60, or 90 days? I have and I usually feel great when I’m on them. But when the challenge is over, I slowly but surely revert back to my old ways.

 

Now my approach is a more intuitive way of eating that might not yield results as quickly but is something I can stick with forever! Yo-yo dieting is bad for your metabolism and your overall health. And remember, the tortoise wins the race, not the hare, right? Think forever, not necessarily fast.

 

So these are my top 10 tips for healthy eating, in no particular order:

 

1: Eat real food.

 

2: Eat veggies, veggies, and more veggies. They are packed with nutrients, low in calories, filling, and really good for you. Eat vegetables with every meal. Learn to like them.

 

3: Instead of counting calories, track fiber. Aim to get 25-50 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is the part of plant-based foods that pass through your digestive system w/o breaking down or being digested. It is healthy for the gut lining and is also food for good gut bacteria.

 

4: Drink lots of water. However, there can be too much of a good thing and too much water can be dangerous leading to life-threatening low sodium (hyponatremia). Aim for ounces per day equivalent to ½ of your body weight in pounds. For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs, your goal intake for water would be 75 ounces.

 

5: Stop buying low fat. Fat is a major source of energy. It helps absorb some vitamins and minerals and is needed to build cell membranes. Additionally, fat forms sheaths around nerves, protecting our brain and nervous system. However, not all fat is good. Incorporate mono and polyunsaturated fats in your diet–like olive oil, avocados, nuts, fatty fish, and flax seeds.

 

6: FAST. The time between meals is when our gut repairs itself. If we are constantly eating, this never happens. Also at night, our body cleans up bad cells. I recommend starting with a 12 hour fast (for example 7pm to 7 am). And avoid snacking between meals. This will lead to improved insulin sensitivity, weight loss, and better health.

 

7: Limit sugar and flour. With flour, the beneficial part of the whole grain has been removed. The fine powder spikes the sugar, which spikes the insulin. Frequent spikes of insulin lead to insulin resistance which is one of the main drivers of many chronic diseases. II think all white powders are best to avoid–sugar, flour, excessive salt, and cocaine!

 

8: Limit your exposure to toxins by buying organic foods. Organic foods are worth the extra money, especially with fruits or veggies where you eat the other layer. For instance, I buy organic berries, but not bananas (since the peel is thrown away anyway). The foods on the dirty dozen list are best to buy organic. You can save your money and buy non-organic for the clean fifteen. For more information, visit EWG.org.

 

9: Eat before you are starving. It is so hard to make good decisions when you are really hungry. It’s like going to the grocery store when you are hungry–usually not a good idea. Learn your rhythms and eat before it’s too hard to make a decision that is in alignment with your goals and good for your health.

 

10: PLAN. Failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s so helpful to have healthy items easily accessible and ready to go. Likewise, if the unhealthy choices aren’t readily available, they are easier to avoid. Set yourself up for success.

 

There is so much more to say about each and every one of these and I could write an entire blog on each of these principles. I’ll add that to my list of ideas for the future. But for now–pick one of the 10 principles above that you aren’t already mastering and implement it today.

 

Here’s the thing: Small, consistent actions build up over time to create huge results. The problem is that TIME is the secret ingredient. Don’t give up. It is working.

 

You’ve got this!

Dr. Libby

 

P.S — Register for my 16-week program The Gut Restoration. This program will test/optimize your gut health. We’ll kill the bad guys, support the guys, and fortify the gut lining! You’ll also learn about what to eat and what to limit for a flourishing gut.

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