I treat every patient as the individual they are, and therefore may instruct a patient to restrict certain foods or food groups in order to achieve optimal health. Please note that all foods you eat should ideally be in their whole form; that is, the way they appear in nature. Anything processed is almost always a burden to the system. Also remember to consume many (not necessarily all) foods in their raw, uncooked state. However, raw animal proteins should be avoided as they may contain harmful bacteria or parasites. Also, truly organic foods are best as well, because they don’t contain the toxic pesticide residues (or hormones and antibiotics from meat) that conventionally-grown food does. The nutritional content of them may also be superior. I’ll be doing an update on this topic soon, as the research continues to flip-flop.
1) PROTEIN – Eat foods rich in protein about 3 times a day. Generally every meal should contain some protein. These include, beef, fish (if you can locate mercury-free fish), chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, eggs, buffalo, duck, goose, pheasant, or squab. I know, that’s a bit much at the end there, but the point is essentially that animal foods are the richest in protein. If you can manage to get the amount of protein your body needs every day through vegetarian sources, that is fine also. Some protein powders are acceptable, but most sold in health food stores have unnecessary, harmful ingredients. I personally begin almost every day with a protein shake, as it’s quick, healthy, and easy to digest. I’m often not in the mood for animal proteins first thing in the morning. Another general guideline would be to make sure you are consuming 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day. Your weight in pounds, divided by 2.2, and then multiplied by 0.9 would equal the number of grams of protein that is recommended. You may need more if you are especially active.
2) VEGETABLES – Eat a wide variety of as many vegetables as you can every day. Also, remember to eat some of them raw. However, I would avoid white potatoes as they are very high in starch and can cause blood sugar imbalances because of the way they are metabolized in the body. Additionally, take it easy on the carrots and beets because they are also high in sugar. Dark, green leafy vegetables are by far your best option. Fresh vegetables are always best; and steaming them with the least amount of water possible is a great way to prepare them. PS: drinking the left over water is also a good way to get all the nutrients from the food.
3) FRUIT – If your blood sugar is stabilized well, limited amounts of fruit should be fine. Do not combine fruits with other food groups if you have digestive problems, because it may compromise your system. Fruits digest relatively quickly compared to other foods, so you don’t want them to sit around in the stomach for longer than necessary, as they may begin to ferment and cause problems in the lower part of the digestive tract. When I find a patient’s problem is primarily related to blood sugar problems, I usually have them lay off fruit for about three months. This is usually a sufficient amount of time to get the blood-sugar handling mechanisms back on track. By the way, I think everyone should avoid fruit juices as they are too concentrated with sugars. The fact that they are natural sugars makes very little difference. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar.
4) FATS – In relation to food (not supplements) I prefer the oils of olive, coconut, and sesame. Butter is also an acceptable source of fat. Additionally, these are the best to cook with as they can sustain higher temperatures than most, if not all other oils before burning, which you definitely don’t want. Avocados and some nuts and seeds contain healthy fats that are acceptable as well; especially walnuts, sesame seeds, and fresh flax seeds. If you need to balance your fatty acid intake relative to a specific condition, you may need to consider a supplement. Avoid consuming trans fats (i.e. partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods) and margarine. Also, vegetable and grain/legume oils like corn, soybean, canola, safflower, sunflower, etc. should generally be avoided as they go rancid quickly, and can cause problems with fatty acid balance. As an aside, everyone does not need more Omega-3’s, you can have an Omega-6 deficiency as well. The concept you should focus on is balance.
5) WATER – By now you should know my take on water. If you don’t, click here.
6) GRAINS – Generally, I would eliminate or avoid all grains. If you “must” better ones to choose from may be quinoa, amaranth, oats (if you’re not sensitive to gluten because of the likelihood of cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains during processing) and brown rice (if you don’t have blood sugar problems). Grains often cause blood sugar imbalances in people which will exacerbate most symptoms. Wild rice is actually a grass and generally OK.
7) SUGAR – To attain optimal health, all sugars and heavily processed grains should be avoided. These include, but are certainly not limited to: cereals, flour-based foods (like breads, pasta, muffins, cakes, cookies, brownies, croissants, etc.), candy, soda, ice cream, etc.. Unfortunately, that 7-grain, 9-grain, 99-grain, or even sprouted-grain bread is almost always a bad idea as well.
Again, these are general guidelines. And please note how I referred to blood sugar metabolism quite often; it is critical for everyone. Appropriate foods that people should be consuming and avoiding will vary by individual; especially as it relates to food allergies and sensitivities, and health concerns. I find that about 50% of my patients’ health concerns are related to the foods they eat. One more thing – alcohol consumption (if OK individually) is generally alright at a rate of twice a week, but not two days in a row. And when you are celebrating, there are no guidelines – that’s what holidays, birthdays, etc. are for. I’ll be discussing the proper “way to eat”, or eating habits soon. Good luck!
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology