Following a healthy, balanced diet can not only help you to maintain a healthy weight and to lower your cholesterol, but it can help you reduce your risk for disease as well. Making healthier food choices will also improve your mood and overall quality of life.
How Foods Affect Your Health
Ask Dr. Nandi
Dr. Partha Nandi, leading physician and author of Ask Dr. Nandi has a mission is to improve the health of America and the world with compassion, empathy, and integrity. He offers advice to those looking to make changes in their health through diet, fitness, and lifestyle changes. There is a strong connection between the foods one eats and overall health. Certain foods can help prevent or control diseases. There is also a connection between the gut and brain and how it affects your health. Dr. Nandi says, “There’s an entire ecosystem of bacteria operating in our guts.” He adds, “Researchers are investigating how this assemblage can play a crucial role in disorders including autism, anxiety, depression, and more.”
Making simple changes to your diet can contribute to your overall health and well-being. Dr. Nandi suggests, “Load up on fruits and vegetables, choose the healthy fats, add more water to your diet, always add more fiber to your diet, keep portions in check, and add more exercise to your lifestyle.”
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut has been gaining attention and can be contributed to many health issues. Dr. Nandi explains, “In sensitive people, gluten can cause the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining.” He adds, “When your gut is leaky, things like toxins, microbes, undigested food particles, and more can escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream.”
To better defend yourself against diseases, it is essential to maintain a healthy gut. Dr. Nandi recommends people, “Promote a healthy balance of gut flora and encourage an increase in the friendly bacteria that help to reduce toxins, absorb nutrients from food and train the immune system.”
According to Dr. Nandi, there are certain foods to eat that are good to heal a leaky gut. He suggests:
- Gluten free foods such as rice, oatmeal, and polenta
- Fruits such as bananas, melons, and berries
- Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish
- Vegetables such as green beans, carrots, and eggplant.
Foods to Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is thought to be the root of many chronic diseases. It may be linked to diseases such as;
- Heart disease.
According to Dr. Nandi, “Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help relieve inflammation.” He adds, “Foods that cause inflammation can damage the intestine.” Instead, Dr. Nandi recommends eating food that will help heal the intestines and promote a healthier lifestyle.
He gives the following suggestions:
- Avoid sugar, carbohydrates, preservatives, and additives are out
- Instead, choose anti-inflammatory healthy fats (flaxseed and avocado), fiber-rich foods (nuts and seeds), and fresh veggie.
- Garlic, an antiseptic, is an excellent choice to add to foods.
How Much Water to Consume
There is much debate on how much water to consume daily. Water is an important part of any diet. Some say to drink eight cups of water a day or to consume half your body weight in water. Dr. Nandi gives the following simple tips on how much water you should consume:
- Don’t Drink More than You Sweat Out: That may be hard to know so a good guide is drinking water until you don’t feel thirsty.
- Know Your Health and Medications: If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of hyponatremia or you take diuretic medications, be aware of the symptoms like headache, confusion, nausea, muscle weakness, or spasms.
- Look at Your Urine: It it’s dark, you’re likely dehydrated and you should drink water. But don’t think clear urine is good if you’re constantly running to the bathroom. That could signal you’re drinking too much.
- Consider Sports Beverages: If you’re working out hard or running marathons, consider sports drinks as they have sodium and other electrolytes. But remember, too much liquid of any kind that is drank too fast can cause issues.
Choose Proper Portions
Portion distortion, or eating larger servings of food that is necessary to meet basic physiologic demands of the body, often contributes to excessive caloric intake. Unfortunately, individuals who consume more calories than their body needs may be at risk for the development of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
You can use common objects to estimate portion sizes. For example, a cup of pasta or cereal is the size of your fist. A cup of ice cream is the size of a baseball. Paying attention to your portions can help control your weight and help you maintain control of how much you are consuming.
Autoimmune Diet Suggestions
Those with autoimmune conditions, such as thyroid disease or arthritis, often struggle with their health. Whether it is weight issues or pain, those with autoimmune disorders face many struggles. Dr. Nandi says ,”Many people with autoimmune disorders are discouraged from exercising but now some research is showing that people suffering from an autoimmune disorder should do as much physical exercise as they can comfortably.” He continues, “Yoga, Pilates, and stretching (modified as needed) in addition to whatever level of cardio exercise you can manage – whether it’s swimming, walking, biking, or dancing, is now being suggested.”
Those with autoimmune disorders often find losing weight can be difficult. Dr. Nandi states, “It is important for people with autoimmune disorders not to fall for fad diets.” Instead, he says, “Work with a nutritionist on developing a balanced diet that includes a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.” If you want dessert or a snack, “Sweets and treats are okay in moderation and may help reduce cravings.”
Dr. Nandi points out, “Always keep track of what the medication being prescribed to you is doing to your body and do not be shy about discussing it with your doctor.” Open communication is an important part of your overall health plan.
What About Probiotics?
In addition to eating healthy, there are supplements you can add to your daily routine. Dr. Nandi says, “Probiotics are good bacteria, and they are being hailed to help maintain digestive health and boost the immune system.” You can take probiotics in a dietary supplement, such as capsule, tablet, or even in a powder you can sprinkle on food. You can also get them from food sources such as yogurt. Dr. Nandi mentions, “Researchers and doctors have said probiotics can be helpful in some cases, but we have relatively few studies to tell us if and when they are safe and effective for older adults, and some people may experience diarrhea in the first few days of taking probiotics, but this usually goes away.”
Make It a Lifestyle
Healthy eating does not need to be difficult. With a few simple changes, you can make eating healthy part of your lifestyle. Don’t think of eating healthy as a diet but as a part of your daily routine.