1. Here are the final 3 keys to Eating Smarter.
2. Key 5: Eat Healthy Fats. A low-fat diet does not = healthy eating. However, the type of fat you eat has a major effect on your overall health. Add healthy fats to your diet, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts.
3. Key 6: Eat Healthy Carbohydrates. Just like fats, there are good and bad carbohydrates. In general, healthy carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre and slow digesting (low glycemic), while unhealthy carbohydrates are simple and high glycemic.
4. Key 7: Eat Healthy Protein. Neurotransmitters are signalling proteins in the brain that create thoughts, memories, and critical thinking. What you eat significantly affects these neurotransmitters and therefore how your brain functions.
Here are the final 3 keys to Eating Smarter.
Key #5: Eat Healthy Fats
It is time to end the low-fat = healthy eating myth. That concept has not served us well. Food manufacturers simply removed fats and replaced them with sugars and refined grains and the negative impact on our health has been frightening. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the percentage of fats in your diet, whether high or low, does not determine your risk of disease.
What matters is the type of fat that you have in your diet. Harmful fats are the saturated fats that come from animal sources (grain-fed meats, poultry, and full-fat dairy from grain fed cows) and the trans fats from hydrogenated vegetable oils. A good way to tell if your fat source is healthy is to see whether it is solid at room temperature. For example, butter is solid at room temperature (not healthy), whereas olive oil remains liquid (healthy). Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, flax, avocado, coconut, nuts, and seeds.
The takeaway here is not that you should be afraid of fats and of adding healthy fats to your diet, but that you should avoid unhealthy fats that can damage your health and metabolism.
Key #6: Eat Healthy Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates (commonly referred to as “carbs”) have gotten a very bad rap lately as well. However just like fats, there are good and bad carbohydrates. In general, complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre and are slow digesting (low-glycemic index carbohydrates) can be quite healthful, while foods that are high in simple carbohydrates that are high glycemic can be problematic.
The rapid rise in sugar and fructose consumption in the 1980’s mirrored a steep increase in obesity in the UK, Canada, and the US. More recent data suggest that the types of foods that we eat – especially foods that have a high glycemic index (e.g. white bread, white rice, cereals, juice, and pop) – can cause changes in our internal gut micro-flora (bacteria) that can increase inflammation in our bodies. High-simple sugar diets can also impact our immune systems. Some of the problems that happen in the body when we eat too much sugar include a depression of the immune system (the same system that fights off cancer), kidney damage, atherosclerosis, oxidative stress, and cancer.
Stick to healthy carbohydrates as much as possible such as quinoa, whole grains, vegetables (such as sweet potato), fruits (especially berries), beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Try to avoid simple carbohydrates, often found in refined and processed foods like breakfast cereals, white bread, pastries (such as cakes, cupcakes, muffins), candy, sweet drinks (including fruit juices), sugars, and syrups.
Key #7: Eat Healthy Protein
Neurotransmitters are small bundles of protein that work in the brain to carry signals from one nerve to another. This creates thoughts, memories, and basically controls the way the brain functions. Tyrosine is an amino acid that is an essential precursor (a building block) to neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which have stimulatory effects on the body and brain. Basically they wake you up and help you concentrate. Higher levels of tyrosine help you feel good, they improve your mood, and can also improve concentration and mental performance. Sources of tyrosine include protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, beans, tofu, and lentils.
You are not likely to choose every meal based on amino-acid composition. That makes life just a little too complicated. But if you need to be alert – to perform at a work event or for an exam – go for a protein-rich, low simple carb meal. If you need to wind down and get to sleep at night, enjoy a higher carbohydrate meal such as bowl of yogurt with a handful of sunflower seeds sprinkled on top. Use your food to help you perform better. The outcome will be that you’ll be healthier too. Here are a few ideas for you:
o Add eggs to your toast
o Be generous with your nut/seed butters on crackers, wraps, or bread
o Bring along a can of tuna fish to add to your meal
o Add hemp hearts to just about anything!
o Choose quinoa instead of rice
o Add nuts/seeds or legumes (lentils, chick peas, or beans) to salads
o Have hummus with veggies instead of ranch dressing
o Choose poultry, fish, or meat for a blast of complete protein
High quality, nutrient-dense foods are the optimal fuel for our brains and bodies and help to deal with stress. In addition to eating healthy carbs and healthy fats, healthy proteins are critical because they have such a powerful influence on our brain neurotransmitters, which can help us concentrate, focus, and problem solve.
Today's New Habit: Pick your new revolutionary habit
Small changes done consistently over time always win when it comes to the human body. If you start small, you will eventually make big changes.
This week, identify 2-3 small changes that you can make to your nutrition that you think you can do consistently over time. Maybe it’s to replace your morning juice with a piece of fruit. Maybe it’s to switch from white to whole grain brain. Whatever you pick, make sure that these are changes you think you can easily incorporate into your life so you stick to it.
Then pick one and go for it! Next week we’ll check in on how you’re doing.
The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist you with improving your performance, as well as your general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release The Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.