Often, I talk about prevention measures of a pathology. One of my favorite topics is eating healthy food and having balanced diet as a preventative measure. After all, your body becomes what you put into it and what you do with it! So many times, I hear people talking about eating particular food upsets their body, or flares up the symptoms. Contradictory, eating different kind of food (healthier version of course) helps a person to feel better and reduces the symptoms. Since this is becoming so common, I want to dedicate this article on nutrition. Nutrition is basically what we feed our body. It is how our body gets energy. Once we start going in detail about nutrition, it is easy to understand how a different source of diet affects our organs and so our health!!
Food and Nutrition
This article talks about few examples of how the different kind of food affects our health in a good or a bad way. There are several articles available on internet that discuss about proportion of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fluid in your diet. I am not going to repeat the same here. My aim for this article to talk about specific food that can help with specific diseases or body systems to keep us healthy. It may be that some diet is proven to slow down the disease process. That is what I want to discuss here. So let’s get started!
Nutrition needs of our Body:
An average person requires around 2000 to 2200 KCal a day to be healthy.This is based on FDA guidelines. This number can go up or down based on a person’s activity level. It is important that we get this calorie from different sources like carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Also, let’s not forget the importance of fluid. Thank you for all the different thoughts on fluids, but here I am talking about Water – primarily 😉 All of these different foods get broken down into smaller parts to give our body enough energy. It will be too difficult for me to talk about full cycle of Glycolysis or Glycogenesis (yes, remember those biochemistry classes!!) . This is how our body gets glucose – to generate ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) a form of energy that our body recognize and can use.
Joint pain and inflammation:
I have had several patients and family members complain of increase in pain and stiffness after eating too much of acidic food. Opposite to that, patients feel less pain and stiffness with diet high in omega 3 fatty acids and with green vegetables like Broccoli, kale etc. Foods with turmeric powder in it or turmeric tablet also helps with inflammation and so with the pain.
Some food like Apple cider vinegar, garlic, turmeric powder, herbal tea, and food with high vitamin C are known to help with arthritis pain and inflammation. We get vitamin C from fruits like kiwi, oranges, cherries etc. Antioxidant property of these fruits helps to reduce inflammation and thereby reduces the pain. I have had patients though, who will complain of pain flaring up after eating these same fruits. So this may not work for you and that is OK. Every person is unique. So what may work wonders for one person may not have any similar effects on the other person. If you are reading this, please try to have open mind and be ready to accept that your body may not react the same way as other person.
Every doctor will talk about diet change to all their cardiac patients and high risk cardiac patients. It is very important to keep LDL (low density cholesterol) under control and have high number of good cholesterol – HDL. To keep your heart healthy and happy, it is critical to avoid deep-fried food, food with high fats and unhealthy snacks. Processed food or processed cheese, food with high sodium, high trans fat, and high sugar should also be avoided or reduced in quantity to keep your heart smiling and running smoothly! Nuts like almonds and walnuts, green vegetables, avocado, whole grains etc are proven to be good for a healthy and happy heart. You can find more detail about heart failure in my previous article.
Food for healthy Brain:
Just like all other organs in our body, brain also gets affected by what we feed our body. The good food you want to feed your babies and your families, are nuts mainly walnuts, berries, vegetables and whole grains, to get a smart generation!! I review about stroke and TBI in my previous articles.
For GI system:
Our stomach, intestines, liver, gall bladder, pancreas etc all get affected with what kind of food we put into our body. Our GI system loves yogurt, whole grains, fruits like banana and apples etc. Ginger is also very good for digestion. Cardamom or cardamom powder, cloves and cinnamon are considered good to subside symptoms of nausea, vomiting, morning sickness due to pregnancy, motion sickness or sea sickness. Personally, I have experienced good results with cloves and cardamom when I had severe morning sickness.
Our GI system starts crying when we fill it up with hot food, deep-fried food and foods with high in trans fat. People with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) complain of flare up of symptoms with dairy, alcohol, or coffee.
Who does not want a beautiful, shiny skin that never ages? Yes, your food (along with stress, sleep and fluid) plays an important role in how beautiful you look. Nuts like walnuts and almonds, vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, beans and lentils help you look more beautiful and fresh. So ladies, get on this diet for at least 4 to 6 weeks before attending that party or wedding!! On the other hand, fried food or too much alcohol (remember those puffy cheeks and eyes last time you had too many drinks??) make you look tired or less shiny looking.
I am talking only about WATER 😉 It is recommended to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Pure water, no added sugar or flavor. This is my personal experience, more water you drink, healthier you become. With more amount of water in your body, you can manage your weight, your kidneys become more efficient, and you are going to have more energy.
How can I not talk about exercise and health?? After all, I am a physical therapist, that is what I do for living, exercise and prescribe exercise. Exercise keeps all body organs and systems in check. It keeps all risk factors under control. I am going to talk about effects of exercise on our body as a separate article. I can write another five pages on this topic just being a PT, lol.
Weight management is very crucial. I am choosing to say management and not reduction is because it is not numbers on the scale that counts. If you are active, healthy and have a good muscle mass, you may weigh more than an anorexic person. Size zero is not considered healthy any more. You need to have enough percentage of bone mass, muscle mass and fluid to make up your appropriate weight number. In other words, it is the makeup of weight that counts and not so much the numbers. The key here is to get rid of visceral fat and fatty tissues in general. Visceral fat is the fat that accumulates around visceral organs like heart, liver and intestines. Regular exercise and eating healthy food is a great way to take care of the visceral fat.
Health truly is our biggest Wealth. We need to make sure that we take care of our body first. Nothing will be important or as joyous without a conditioned body . So let’s act wisely for ourselves and for our loved ones. Remember, it always starts small. Install one healthy eating habit at a time, change one meal at a time, make a difference in one day at a time. That is how it works!!
Take Care till next time!!