The short, simple answer is YES! Doctors offer throw around advice such as: “Eat better”, “Get some exercise”, “Decrease your stress level”, “Get adequate sleep”. All of this is good advice! In defense of my colleagues, they do not have the time (and sometimes the training or knowledge) to address these complex issues.
As a Direct Primary Care physician, I set aside the time to address these needs. As a Naturopathic physician I am trained to deal with the complexities of health, nutrition, disease, and conventional medicine.
In this post we will lay the foundation for “Eating Better”. I will cover the other topics in the next few posts.
What foods might me most beneficial FOR ME? How do I implement this in my life?
Food and nutrition impacts our bodies’ response to infection. It also impacts the chronic diseases we face. Many of these conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, predict a worse outcome for a COVID-19 infection.
What we eat becomes us. Yes, we are rebuilding our bodies all the time. What we eat and drink provide the building blocks.
There are some well-established dietary principles. Eating whole, unrefined/processed food diet is a great place to start. Even this can be difficult to figure out.
Foods that are high in antioxidants help reduce inflammation, cleanup excessive dangerous “free radicals”, and provide substances our immune system can use to do its job. Vegetables and fruit are high in antioxidants.
Meat, dairy, sugar, and process foods are high in substances that promote inflammation. [I know, nobody likes to hear this—me included.] For example, arachidonic acid (a kind of Omega-6 fatty acid) largely promotes inflammation. Red meats are high in arachidonic acid. Omega-6 fatty acids have been linked to elevated blood pressure, blood clots, and increase pain related to inflammation. We need some Omega-6 fatty acids in our diet. Most of us already get way to much!
[NOTE: This is for general information only! There are many conditions that require special consideration. Check with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet.]
The USDA recommends 5-7 servings of a combination of fruits and vegetables. This is a good general recommendation. Check with your healthcare provider to see if that is right for you. Some (many) of my patients/clients require more. And some (very few) require less—due to specific medical conditions.
An array of colors is a good place to start. I only mention two powerful groups below; but there is so much more.
The dark blue in blueberries and blackberries (and other berries) are loaded with a powerful group of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Consider including 1-2 servings every day [1-2 cups]. Choose either fresh or frozen.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in substances that support immune function (and a lot of other good stuff). Examples include: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Consider including 1-2 servings per day. (Check out Eatright.org for serving sizes suggestions).
There is so much more to this vast topic. Many need more than a diet plan. They may need a therapeutic nutrition plan. I needed one after my heart attack. Unfortunately, the medical community provided little help in resolving my underlying health issues. This help propel me to go to medical school to learn both conventional standards of care plus nutrition and Naturopathic medicine.
It's difficult to cut back on these foods. They have addictive qualities. These foods surround us on every side!. Not to mention, “everybody is doing it.” 😊
I know I need support in this area of my life. I am blessed that my wife and I are on the same page when it comes to food; and to have graduated from a medical program that emphasized therapeutic nutrition.
[You may notice I did not mention supplements or herbs. Both can play a therapeutic role. However, it should be based on a foundation of solid nutrition.]
I encourage you to find a doctor trained in applying nutrition to address disease to walk with you on your journey.