Many chronic conditions are related to gut health and the foods we put into our body. The obvious conditions are obesity, metabolic disorders, and diabetes. But what about heart disease, auto-immune disorders (like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus), hormonal imbalances (like PCOS, endometriosis and breast cancer)?
Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer are also related to gut health. Mood disorders like chronic depression and anxiety and migraine headaches are related to gut health. Skin issues like psoriasis and eczema and chronic allergies and asthma are related to gut health. And our gut health is heavily influenced by the foods that we eat.
There are many studies out there showing over and over again that lifestyle choices affect our health in profound ways. Our choices of food are one of the easiest ways to heal our gut and improve our health. It is so hard when all day long you are bombarded by ads for unhealthy choices.
There don’t seem to be a lot of ads for kale out there.
Aisles and aisles of processed and ultra-processed foods, some even disguised as “healthy”. Cookies being sold by young female entrepreneurs, overpriced sweetened coffees, golden arches, pizza places, and ice cream shops. It is so hard to know what to do.
I learned something amazing recently. There was a study that showed going from 0 servings of vegetables daily to 2.5 servings of vegetables demonstrated remarkable health benefits. So, if you are one of the majority of Americans who does not eat any vegetables (or very little), there is still some benefit to adding just a little bit to your diet.
It really is all about small steps. Small pivots.
So, there is a general consensus that certain foods convey health benefits and certain foods are detrimental to health. The healthful foods are whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Choose more of these.
Unhealthful foods are processed meats, added sugar, refined grains, and ultra-processed foods. Choose less of these.
You may be thinking…aren’t there some foods missing. Yes, there are foods that have some evidence of health benefits and some detrimental effects (depending on circumstances). Foods like poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish. Fish can be very healthy, but there is the concern about mercury.
So, I would recommend choosing one of these to start:
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
2. Switch from sugary drinks to water/seltzer/unsweetened tea
3. Swap out some meat or chicken for beans, lentils, or chickpeas
4. Add more whole grains (like sorghum, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, or brown rice).
5. Cook at home more frequently.
Then make it a SMART goal.
1. Eat a salad three times a week. Or eat fruit for dessert 2 times a week.
2. Exchange 1 soda for a glass of water once a day.
3. Eat 1 vegetarian meal for dinner each week.
4. Exchange white rice, white or wheat bread, and other refined grains for brown rice, or quinoa, or oat flour bread.
5. Cook 3 home dinners each week.
Once those become a habit. Keep going. Add another goal or increase the frequency. Food is medicine. Food is power. You can do this! You can feel healthy again, just by changing some habits one step at a time.
Are you ready to PIVOT to functional health and wellness?