We all want to be on top of our health and fitness, but with all the hustle and bustle of modern life, juggling between work, school family and social life, we often push aside one of the most important aspects of maintaining a stable lifestyle, what to eat to stay healthy and fit. To add to this, our modern diets have become so deficient in the good and essential nutrients we need for normal, healthy function and are instead laden with a plethora of toxins and additive that make healthy living difficult to achieve. The only way to obtain and maintain good health and fitness is to recognize and avoid the dietary missteps that have become all too common in our daily routine.
The quantity and quality of food we eat has lead to many conditions that diminish quality of life and decrease the amount of life available to live. Metabolic syndrome diseases such as diabetes and obesity are now the leading causes of death due to the plethora of complications they cause. Heart disease, kidney failure, hypertension, dementia and even certain cancers can all be traced to the deficiencies and toxicities in the modern western diet. Sugar, trans fats. and the smorgasbord of chemical additives all play a role in our metabolic demise.
So recognizing that you need to eat healthy is one thing, but recognizing what is or isn’t unhealthy is where the challenge lies. That’s because between most people not being very clued-up on what to look out for, and the food industry’s juggernaut marketing machine, it’s hard to nail. Because of this, we’re going to show you some of our top tips on how to make the change to a healthy diet while avoiding all the pitfalls many people face in achieving this.
What to Eat to Stay Healthy and Fit
The 2 Most Important Healthy Eating Tips.
Get Rid of the Sugar
Most people have a sweet too right? The sensation generated when sugar hits your taste buds is a ubiquitous pleasure no matter who you are. This response is natural and in fact, has its origins in a very vital evolutionary mechanism. You see, sweetness indicates a very ready source of carbohydrates and carbohydrates are the most ready source of metabolic energy. When a carb is sweet it means it has been reduced to either a monosaccharide (single carb molecule) or disaccharide (2 molecule carb) which we know as sugars. In this state, they are easier to harvest for their energy giving qualities. This means recognizing sweetness was developed to allow us to locate the most efficient energy sources for the sake of survival. These sources would typically be fruit and other plant tissue. Today, with modern technology and since the neolithic age we have learned to extract sugar chemicals in isolation in the form of syrups and crystal powders. These refined extractions are then reintroduced to prepared and processed foods or just eaten as they are. Our natural sweetness response now recognise these new sugar sources as good, abundant energy sources necessary for survival. Just as honey bees and ants swarm around a can of soda, our survival mechanism craves sugar. The only problem is, sugar as it is now commonly available is more harm than help.
The thing is, when we obtain sugar the way nature intended, through fruit and plants, it comes in conjunction with loads of dietary fiber, micro nutrients and phytochemicals. All this extra stuff has the benefit of regulating how much sugar our bodies actually absorb and at what rate. This leads to a mediated healthy uptake of sugar. The way we consume sugar today leads to a sudden and uncontrolled boost in sugar levels in the blood and other systems. This is what exposes us to conditions like type 2 diabetes. Your body responds to sudden increases in blood sugar by releasing insulin. Over time, excess insulin release causes your cells to become resistant to the effect it has on removing sugar in the blood and turning it into glycogen. Once you reach this point, you are knocking on diabetes door. So it’s pretty clear that avoiding excess, refined sugar is totally necessary. The only thing is, most people don’t know how to hunt and eliminate sugar from their diet.
Sugar is everywhere, and the food industry has it there on purpose. Over 70% of processed food (which is most available food nowadays) contains sugar. This means that avoiding sugar is a matter of avoiding processed food. Another thing to worry about is the many types and names for sugar that can easily mislead you into assuming what you’re eating is sugar free. Look out for the following words on your food packaging:
- High fructose corn syrup.
- Rice syrup.
Another thing to keep an eye on is foods that are marketed as healthy, but are actually giant sugar bombs. 100% fruit juices, trail mix, granola and dried fruit are all laced with excessive amounts of sugar.
You can curb your sugar craving by substituting with artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame, or alternative sweeteners like xylitol, erythritol or stevia.
Also remember that carbs in general, even if not classified as sugar, are ultimately reduced into their basic sugar building blocks. Refined carbs in pastas and white flour baked goods are ones to look out. Try going whole grain for that fiber advantage.
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Avoid Trans Fats.
Until the 90s, not much was known about trans fats. These fatty acids occur either naturally or are artificially produced by chemical processing.
In a natural sense, trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals during digestion in a process called hydrogenation, or are found in the natural constitution of some animal products like dairy and meat. Trans fats as an artificial product are produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable fats, often making them more solid at room temperature. This is how margarine, a butter alternative is made. Trans fats are cheap to produce in large quantities and do not go rancid like other unrefined vegetable fats, making them easy to use in commercial food processing, especially when it comes to large scale frying.
Trans fats also give food a desirable smell, taste and texture making it an even more attractive option for the big food profiteers. Unfortunately, all that glistens is not gold, in spite of the golden crispiness you can expect from your trans fat fried foods.
That’s because trans fats reduce good cholesterol known as HDL (high density lipoprotein) and increase bad cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoprotein). The effect this has on the body can be dangerous and even fatal if unchecked. LDL leads to increases in plaque build up in the arteries. This can lead to arteriosclerosis, a condition where the natural suppleness and volume of arteries is impeded by hard deposits in the lining of the arteries. This restricts blood flow and leads to hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension can have many runoff complications such as stroke, heart failure, aneurysms and organ failure. Al lot of these conditions can cause permanent damage or even death.
Opt for polyunsaturated fats and stick to natural saturated fats like butter or coconut oil for frying purposes. Avoid mass-produced, deep-fried foods like doughnuts or fast food
So there you have it, our two go-to tips for healthy eating. There’s much more to this story, like what bad additives to avoid and look out for and healthy dietary protocols like intermittent fasting. For now, knowing to avoid sugar and trans fats is a great head start to healthy living.
Understanding trans fats