These tips are general and are not intended for certain people that may have specific health conditions. Please consult your physician before making any dietary changes.
Foods to Eat a Lot of for Maximum Health
- Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), and some nuts and seeds.
- Consume at least 9 servings of fruits and veggies each day. More if possible.
- Eat dark leafy greens daily. These include foods like: spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, collards, etc.
- Eat lots of fiber. It is very strongly associated with longevity and health. The above mentioned foods contain lots of fiber. Fiber has numerous protective health benefits.
- Eats lots of unrefined carbohydrates for a premium fuel source that includes sweet fruits, whole grains, starchy veggies and legumes. Remember every cell in the body runs on glucose (sugar) and the brain needs a steady stream of glucose to work efficiently. Don’t fear carbohydrates; just try to consume them from unrefined sources. Carb Up!
- Eat enough calories to have plenty of energy to get through the day. It is okay to eat when hungry just remember to make good choices. Food is not the enemy, but too much unhealthy food can surely cause health problems. If you are hungry simply eat the above listed foods, and then you don’t have to worry about counting calories or feeling guilty! You can feel good about consuming more fiber, vitamins and minerals!
Foods to Minimize for Maximum Health
- Animal products including beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, dairy and eggs. All of these foods are highly associated with the various chronic diseases that plague this country. In short they contain no fiber, no to little carbs, no phytochemicals and have ample amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and acidic protein. These foods are highly associated with numerous chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure, digestive diseases and many more.
- Processed Foods. These foods are high calorie but low in nutrition. They are usually devoid of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals like antioxidants and also are usually high in fat, salt, sugar and manmade chemicals like artificial flavors.
- Soft Drinks. These drinks are highly acidic, and have really no nutritional value. Diet soda is not a health food either; it will decrease the quality of your health just as much as full flavored soda. Choose clean water or unsweetened tea instead.
- Foods high in refined sale, oil, and sugar.
- Deep fried foods/fried foods. These are high in trans fats and saturated fats and can lead to numerous diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Concepts to Remember
Be Wary of Calorie Restrictive, Carbohydrate Restrictive and Fad Diets
These types of diets may have a few short term benefits but long term they rarely work and can be very dangerous. There are multitudes of enterprising people in the world who will gladly tell people what they want to hear in order to sell their books or supplements. Don’t be fooled. Base your choices on solid, peer reviewed scientific studies. Check out the nonprofit website NutritionFacts.org for thousands of short science-based nutrition videos.
Don’t Worry About Protein!
It is almost impossible to not get enough protein! Protein is in almost every whole food, even fruits and especially veggies. The body’s needs for protein is small (5 -10% of calories consumed) and the body is very efficient at conserving what it has. Too much protein (namely animal protein) can lead to all sorts of complications including increased cancer risk, increased risk of kidney failure, and increased risk for osteoporosis.
There is plenty of calcium in plant foods!
Eat a wide variety of whole plant foods and you will get plenty of calcium. It is especially present in dark leafy greens and beans.
Plants are Loaded with Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber, and Phytochemicals like Antioxidants
If you are not sure what food to eat for a certain nutrient there is a good chance it is found in dark leafy greens. They are just loaded with so many health promoting nutrients. There is no essential nutrient found in animals that you can’t also get from plants. The exception is B-12. I would advise taking a B-12 supplement for those eating plant based and maybe vitamin D if your sun exposure is minimal but otherwise whole plant foods will provide you with everything you need to be super healthy.
Just Do Your Best
Surely not everyone is just suddenly going to switch to a whole foods plant-based diet overnight despite the fact that this diet lifestyle is highly associated with decreased risk for all sorts of chronic diseases.
However, you can still make an effort to eat more whole plant foods and less animal products and processed foods. Just try to make changes a little at a time. Eventually, these little changes can add up to big gains. If nothing else consider at least being open minded about trying new foods or try to be open to learning how to prepare a few plant-based dishes. Add a little meat or cheese if you need to; just don’t overdo it.
- Consider making yourself a nice delicious smoothie everyday as a tasty and easy way to consume a daily dose of fruits, veggies, nuts and/or seeds.
- Try a nice big bowl of oatmeal with mixed fruit for breakfast for a nice fiber packed start to the day.
- Make salads interesting. Add lots of fruit, veggies, quinoa, beans, tofu, and some nuts. Try making your own dressing. No need to use oil if not wanted. For example, blend oranges, bananas, and a little vinegar together.
- Try cooking a nice big stir fry. Add brown ride or quinoa and don’t forget lots of veggies, legumes, and fruit. No need to cook in oil if weight loss is a goal. All you need is a nonstick pan and some type of liquid to simmer with like veggie broth.
- Use the internet to look up all sorts of plant based dishes. You’ll be surprised at how good most taste.