12 Nutrition Essentials
Column #117, 7th May 2011
Would you agree that there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on Nutrition? Google manages to bring us 99million pages on ‘Healthy Nutrition’ in 0.10 seconds. Walk into any bookstore and there are hundreds of books to chose from, all contrasting and contradicting each other vying for their own niche. For someone who is simply looking for some good advice and answers to reaching their health and performance goals, this is a frustrating situation. Yet it is avoidable. Here’s how.
On a Plate
As a Nutrition and Exercise Coach I have spent the last 7 years searching for these answers and invested in learning from the leaders and experts across the world. It’s been challenging and fascinating, I’ve learned and unlearned and it will drive forward as we learn more about nutrition and human function. Surprisingly, what I have seemed to do most of is the Unlearning. Trying to erase all the non-truths, poor science and engrained beliefs that have flooded the education and media settings. Why this is the case is a topic best left for another article and today we’ll briefly skip past this to getting some truths and tips that can make a difference to you immediately.
Having enjoyed every minute of this journey is all well and good for someone who is willing to devote their life to it, but what about the person who wants the information and answers in a collected, simple and effective package. This should not be too much to ask. Read on and you’ll find some essential lessons that we all need to embrace for a robust health and optimal vitality.
First, The Myths
If your health or athletic performance is not where you would like it to be at the moment, then the key is to change something. This might be a few factors or just some minor tweaks, but be ready to change something…..even if it’s just a deeply engrained belief system that is not serving you in a positive way. Lets look at some disruptive myths in nutrition:
- Saturated fat and Cholesterol have been demonized. They are poorly understood and misrepresented. Do your research into what the body needs them for and you’ll find they are essential nutrients.
- Don’t take my word for it. In fact don’t take anybody’s word for it. Don’t BELIEVE a word anyone says. Find out what you feel about it. What makes sense?
- Surprisingly enough, breakfast cereals are not the best choice for breakfast. Consider that the cardboard box in which they come has been shown to be more nutritious. ‘Wholegrain, slow release, fat free’ – its all setting you up for challenges with glucose and causing issues with insulin resistance.
- Inflammatory foods have been shown to include Soy, Cow’s milk, Gluten, Sugar and Alcohol. Eating them can contribute to immune problems, arthritis, food intolerance, digestive issues and much more. These actually make up much of the processed foods out there. Take them away and it really shouldn’t be a revelation that we’re left with fresh meats, fish, vegetables and fruit. The question here is, if you aren’t benefiting from eating these inflammatory foods…..who really is PROFITING from it?
- One-size-fits-all never works for everyone. What does work for everybody 100% of the time is finding the individual nutrition that their body is set up to do well on.
Fairly simple really when we take a step back and look. So lets keep it that way. From the variety of fantastic courses and colleagues I have worked with, here are 12 Essential Nutrition Lessons we can all benefit from. If they sound good to you, there are details of a program that might interest you below.
12 Essential Nutrition Lessons
Here is a very brief overview of twelve essential lessons on nutrition. Some seem very simple (almost too simple – maybe that’s why they’re often missed out) and some challenge conventional ideas on healthy eating. You wouldn’t ever try to change everything at once, but start by adding in one successful step at a time:
1. Hydrate: A perfect example of the simplest of steps, drinking enough water and enhancing hydration is a commonly missed opportunity for health and athletic performance (and that doesn’t mean tea, coffee, juice and sports drinks). 90% of clients I work with in clinic are not consuming enough pure quality water. Consider that your body requires water for all of its functions all day everyday and if you don’t supply it, then it will pull it from your tissues (muscle, bones, joints, spine). Are your tissues dehydrated?
2. Macronutrients: Fats, Protein and Carbohydrates are covered in Lesson 2. It is key to set the record straight early on. For some reason it is commonly thought that we only get energy from carbohydrates – this is simply not true, Fats and Protein provide energy too. It is essential to provide a balance of fat protein and carbohydrates for efficient metabolism. In addition, optimal metabolism is achieved when we tailor to our individual requirements. Ace this step first before you start thinking about specific vitamins and minerals – put your socks on before your shoes.
3. Healthy Breakfasts: Our typical breakfasts of today have migrated far from what provides us with what the body needs to perform well. That’s why it needs special focus early on. You might need to completely re-wire your software on this one, but imagine that if you do this successfully, it could completely revolutionise your health, productivity at work, cravings, blood sugar, hunger, energy levels and mood throughout the rest of the day. Does it make sense to be extremely carbohydrate heavy with ‘foods’ such as cereals, breakfast bars, fruit juice, pastries, croissants and toast – all of which are processed in some way?
4. Healthy Lunches: Does your lunch predominantly include bread, pasta or crackers? When we work and our lifestyle is busy its especially rare to see convenient, available options that do not include these in some way. There are however, stress-free ways of achieving lunches that do not lead to energy slumps, cravings and lethargy in the middle of the afternoon.
5. Healthy Dinner: For those of us with busy lifestyles do other things take priority over this meal after a day at work? Picking the kids up, finishing work at home, housework etc. A few simple tips can mean that you don’t need hours of prep time to provide a nutritious dinner and even have enough for lunch the next day. Some of us will experience major benefits from getting these three nutritious meals established each day, but for those who need a bit more ‘grazing’ throughout the day, there are a whole host of healthy snacks that support your goals of health.
6. Gluten: This is probably one of the most underestimated steps. Research shows that 70% of us can be suffering from intolerance without noticing it. The more we understand about Gluten, the more we find that it may account for things such as digestive issues, inflammatory conditions, joint aches and pains, liver and thyroid problems and blood sugar challenges.
7. Cow’s Milk Dairy: Shown to be the Number 1 allergy causing food. Difficult to argue with. Either way, if it is causing your body disruption then it would be great to know what alternatives you have at your disposal. Try 2months off cow’s milk and see if your digestive issues, skin problems, sleep difficulties and immune challenges improve.
8. Truth about Fats and Oils: Unfortunately fat has been portrayed very negatively in our media and almost demonized in society. Are you open to finding out just how important saturated fats are for your health? Do you know how many essential roles cholesterol plays in the body? Furthermore, all the vegetable oils we are ‘told’ to consume leave a lot to be desired in terms of nutritional value. We owe it to ourselves to get clued up and find our own truth on this
9. Raw and Cooked Foods: Across the internet there are many debates on raw versus cooked foods. As no surprise to me, what I have found out is that as usual, the answer is an individual one. There are instances where a 100% raw diet may be the worst thing for your health, but other situations where it may be perfect. There are benefits to consuming cooked or fermented foods too, but if you don’t get the balance right then we might not be providing the body with the best form of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes to aid in healthy digestion and detoxification.
10. The Soy Debate: By Step 10 you’ll probably realize why these 12 steps need to be implemented one at a time, successfully. Only when you have achieved the step should you move to the next. Working One-to-One with clients would usually take around 3 months to cover all this valuable material. In addition we are challenging and changing many habits, routines and belief systems, which takes time if we are to do it right. The Soy Debate is another such topic and the research linking it to many diseases for many people is powerful information worth learning.
11. Sugar and Alcohol: This won’t come as a shock, but the refined sugar that is consumed by the ton and the gallons of alcohol by the ‘developed world’ populations is detrimental to health. Most of us are aware of this and make decisions based on that, but are we all aware of other foods (artificial sweeteners, processed foods, diet foods) in the diet that cause major blood sugar challenges, or how alcohol impacts on inflammation, hormonal balance and body composition.
12. Organic Food: Ultimately, it seems a shame that food that hasn’t been tampered with requires a special label and everything else that has been sprayed and engineered is considered normal. Quite bizarre. However, it now seems that just because it says ‘Organic’, it doesn’t always mean that the food is of greater quality. There appears to be major marketing, political and economic forces at play. We’ll cover what choices you can make about your food to ensure you get the best reasonable quality food that you can.
Over the next few weeks we’ll go into more detail on each topic. For anyone who wants to learn more about these topics there are high-quality online resources that provide this entire program and more.
Each of the 12 Lessons Includes:
- A VIDEO PRESENTATION that teaches you all they key issues related to that specific topic.
- An AUDIO RECORDING of the lesson that you can download and add to your iPod, MP3 player or even a CD so that you can listen to the information in your car!
- A downloadable presentation, in both PDF and POWERPOINT formats for you to print and follow along with the audio presentation (if you’d prefer not to stare at the computer screen!)
- A PDF ACTION GUIDE, which provides KEY ACTION POINTS for you to implement IMMEDIATELY to enable you to make key the changes that are discussed in each lesson.
- Additional PDF documents with extra information and resources to help you implement each lesson with minimal stress and disruption to your lifestyle.