By Dr. Kaley Burns EBS COLUMNIST
The saying “you are what you eat” may be a cliche, but it reflects the fact that nutrition serves as a foundation for our health.
An excess of unhealthy dietary factors and deficiency in required nutrients are both associated with increased risk of chronic diseases and malnutrition. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted in 2003-2006, reported that “8 out of 10 Americans” do not meet recommended intake of colorful foods, creating a “phytonutrient gap.”
Here are some of Dr. B’s tips on improving your diet.
Enhance Your Immunity
Eating an assortment of whole foods can enhance the immune system by providing the body with adequate nutrients, providing their respective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic inflammation can compromise the body’s ability to guard against disease and illness.
Eliminating the “phytonutrient gap” by consuming an assortment of colorful, plant-based foods can enhance health and longevity and reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders, and can be used in combination with traditional medical protocols to minimize multidrug resistance in cancer treatment.
Engage Your Microbiome
An eating plan consisting of a variety of whole, plant-based foods supports the gut microbiome in producing a diverse population of bacteria and microorganisms needed for overall health. A systemic relationship exists between the microbiome and the body as a whole, affecting illness or health, as well as how the gut interacts with the brain. A healthy approach to eating that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can increase the diversity of gut microbiota. Cocoa has also been shown to enhance beneficial and decrease non-beneficial bacteria, as well as boost immunity and aid anti-inflammation.
Augment Peaceful Mood
Substantial evidence provides support for the role of diet in the prevention and control of mental disorders. Foods such as artificial sugar, sweetened beverages and processed foods may lead to several health issues such as indigestion, bloating, restless sleep and agitation. A balanced diet rich in a variety of foods can promote better sleep and improved overall mood. As you consume a more balanced and diverse diet, energy increases and stress hormones become more optimally balanced.
Finding the right nutrition routine for you and your goals can be tricky to navigate. Truth is, there is no one-regimen-fits-all, since every individual has a unique metabolism, genetic makeup, health history and goals. A diverse diet can ensure that you benefit from the complementary actions of the micro-components of your food. Now is the time to start incorporating a variety of healthy foods into your diet. If you have food allergies or questions about which foods can best support your health goals, talk to your healthcare team for options based on your individual circumstances.