Taking Action to Optimal Health - Part 1
“You are what you eat!” A famous quote that may bear reasonably true. I like to say, “You are what you absorb or what your body does not excrete.” So many people today have damaged their internal systems, intestinal tract and cells so much that it is hard for them to function as they were designed to.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General (2002), 61% of North Americans are overweight and over half of those are obese, leading to many degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, all of which are preventable with a proper nutrition and exercise program.
With the New Year upon us, what better time is there to focus on, get started, or continue with your fitness and nutrition goals. Do you find that your clothes don’t fit like they used to? That you have low energy levels or fatigue? Stress levels out of control? Don’t know what or when to eat? Still battling the bulge? Have tried all the fad diets out there or use thermogenics (fat burner pills) to jump-start your day? Well, I have one question for you: what are you prepared to do about it? You need to start focusing on your health, wellness, fitness and nutrition before it is too late. Thought determines what you want; and action determines what you get!
When the gastro-intestinal tract has been bombarded with less than healthy nutrients, our colon will begin to clog up and cause problems with digestion, along with numerous other negative effects on the body. What if I told you we could actually begin to control some of our hormonal reactions, metabolic functions in the body, heal our cells and intestinal tract, and see an actual difference without making a ton of difficult changes?
This leads back to my question. How important is your health and wellness to you? And again, what are you prepared to do about it? Through this series of articles, to be presented in Rising Women over the next few issues, I will discuss different ways to: (1) de-age the body; (2) prevent disease; (3) incorporate weight-loss; (4) control blood/glucose (Insulin) levels; (5) decrease stress; (6) improve digestion; (7) supplementation (vitamin/minerals); and (8) create patterns of success.
First, some basic rules to begin our new Nutrition System:
- Increase your metabolism instantly. Consume 5-6 small, frequent meals everyday. Each meal should be no longer than 3-4 hours apart from waking till bedtime.
- Create the balance the body needs. Each meal should be a balance of protein, complex or simple carbohydrate, fibrous carbohydrate and EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids).
- Drink water to burn more calories. Drink 3-5 litres of water per day, minimum.
- Exercise daily to raise lean body mass. Exercise at least three times a week with combination of resistance and cardiovascular training.
Let’s begin by discussing how metabolism in the human body works. If you are consuming less than 5-6 balanced meals daily, you’re not using 60% of your body’s potential metabolism. When we eat, our body requires energy to digest food. If you burn fat and raise your metabolism every time you eat then eating many times throughout the day will immediately help to raise metabolism, burn body fat, control blood/glucose (blood sugar levels) and keep hunger pangs from tempting the body to binge on tasty sugary or salty snacks. If however, too much carbohydrate is eaten at any given time, sugar will enter the blood stream too quickly and cause immediate flooding of insulin into the system enabling fat storage, causing fatigue, sugar cravings and increased stress levels. Easier said then done? Try it for one week; eat 5-6 small balanced meals, spread out in 3-4 hour intervals from the time of waking until bed. You will notice your body will start to create hunger more often throughout the day. If however, we wait too long to eat, our body shifts into a mechanism called ‘starvation mode.’ While in this mode the body stores fat to use as energy until it is fed again because it does not know when it will be given nutrients next.
With each meal we will need a balance of healthy proteins, simple or complex carbohydrates, fibrous carbohydrates and essential fatty acids (EFA’s). The largest portion of your plate should contain fibrous vegetables (organic if possible), such as 1 to 2 cups of greens or salad. Next we will add a portion of dietary protein, about a palm size of meat or tofu, or 1/2 to 1 cup of cottage cheese and yoghurt. We can now add the smallest portion of the plate, which will be the complex or simple carbohydrate consisting of your choice of 1/2-3/4 cup of fruit, pasta, rice, potato, oatmeal, yams, or one slice of flax, rye or multi-grain bread or wraps. It would be best to try and not consume any white or refined foods which are bleached in production and do not contain as many nutrients.
Water is vital. The human body is composed of two-thirds water and on any given day, nine litres will filter through it via the small intestine, much of which is derived from the juices our own body creates. Water is critical for metabolic functions, digestion, absorption, circulation, excretion, transportation of nutrients, maintenance of body temperature, and ensuring all body cells are functioning healthily. When proper levels of water intake are not reached, the body will produce water retention hormones to maintain the levels needed to stay alive. Begin with 1-2 cups in the morning and between each meal. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and work your way up to 3-5 litres daily. If exercise is incorporated, an extra litre of water per hour of training is necessary.
Exercise builds strong bones and helps maintain lean body mass. The more lean body mass, the more fat burning that can take place daily. When exercise is incorporated, the body will raise its immune system and help to fight off degenerative disease such as osteoporosis. It is important for every person to exercise with resistance and cardiovascular training to ensure fitness levels. We will explore this topic more next time!
Jason has the gift in sharing the science behind the healing & building power of the human body.
The above article was published in "Rising Woman" magazine in 2003, now known as "timeless" magazine.