Nutrition is a very popular and complex subject these days and the weight loss industry capitalizes on this through promoting various diets. There are numerous diets that we are told will help us lose weight and improve our overall health.
These include the low carbohydrate diet, gluten free diet, paleo diet, vegan diet, ketogenic diet, Atkins diet and the numerous other diets that are out there. Many of the diets out have conflicting recommendations and can obscure the truth about what we should be eating.
As a physician and healer I have read most of the books that are out there on nutrition and can simply the nutritional quagmire that so many people get caught up in. I have boiled down everything that I have read on nutrition into four recommendations:
- Increase your intake of certain plant-based foods. I say certain because there are many so-called plant-based foods that you may think are healthy but can be harmful. This is because they contain proteins called lectins which cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Lectin’s are the plant’s mechanism to ensure its survival. The list of lectin containing plant foods includes lentils, legumes, all grains and all nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. The complete list of recommended plant-based foods can be found at the following link and includes all cruciferous vegetables, most root vegetables and any fruit that is in season. It also includes most nuts except for peanuts and cashews which are legumes.
- Eliminate all factory farmed animal products including eggs and all dairy products. Factory farmed animal products are raised with hormones, given antibiotics when they are not necessary and fed genetically modified grain all to increase their yield of meat. They are also kept in cramped quarters and not allowed to roam freely like they were meant to. This is done for profit alone with no concern of the effects of these measures on the consumer.
- Eat modest amounts of pasture-raised, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free meat and eggs. Animals that are raised this way will be living a more natural lifestyle which means that their meat will be of the highest quality and healthier for consumption. One of the reasons is that they will have a higher proportion of omega 3 fatty acids which have been proven to be beneficial to overall health. Having said this, reducing the amount of meat consumption has been shown to benefit overall health but it does not necessarily need to be eliminated altogether.
- Eliminate sugar, processed foods, corn and soy. These foods cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract which is the main precursor of chronic disease. Most processed foods contain wheat , which contains gluten which can cause inflammation even in those who do not have celiac disease.
These recommendations are simple but not necessarily easy to follow. However, if you suffer from a chronic disease of any kind, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, cancer of any kind, rheumatoid arthritis, any neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease or any autoimmune disease you need to ask yourself the following question.
Am I truly unwilling to make changes in my diet which could potentially reduce my symptoms and decrease my overall chronic disease burden? Even if you do not believe that this is possible, you have nothing to lose by experimenting with the above recommendations.
I would encourage you to try the above recommendations for at least 2 weeks and notice what changes occur in your symptoms, energy level and overall health. Then you can be the judge of whether you wish to continue with these changes. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain and I can guarantee you that you will be pleasantly surprised.
Nauman Naeem MD