Carpe Diet: Eat Better, Live Better

Sep 15, 2012 by

Grilled Wild Caught Chinook Salmon and mixed vegetables

Many adult Americans are perpetually sick and yet most have absolutely no idea of this fact.

This is because in our society we have literally come to accept sickness as a way of life and tacitly embraced the notion that symptom suppression, usually by means of some pill or other pharmaceutical concoction, is preferable to actual prevention or even resolving the underlying cause of an issue.

For example I have many ‘healthy’ friends who tell me they get headaches of varying degrees of severity every so often. When I ask them what they do about it, they generally tell me that some type of drug or another makes the pain go away and then they’re back in business before long.

Invariably they never even consider the question of WHY exactly does my head start hurting in the first place?

The same tale could be told of my friends who get colds a few times a year, or the flu, or complain of not having any energy, or get all ‘backed up’ from time to time, or have developed a pot belly, or have acne/skin problems, or any number of other clear indicators of poor health which most of us these days seem to consider as being simply ‘normal’ day to day inconveniences of life, not to mention the common major illnesses like cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and so on.

We’ve come to the point of placing trust for our health in institutions like the FDA, EPA, etc. while all indications point to them being in the pockets of the big drug and insurance companies – companies who are also supposed to be committed to promoting the common good and a healthy community, but who’s primary motivation is clearly not to actually cure what ails us, but simply to make sure we don’t die of our sicknesses too soon, so that we may limp along with just enough discomfort to keep us happily and perpetually buying their products.

Clearly then, trusting our wellbeing to these entities is not a winning strategy at all – just look around you and see where that’s gotten us as a nation, we’re fatter and more sickly than ever before, yet we’re actually living longer, albeit while generally pumped full of pharmaceuticals, steroids and other chemicals which just extend and perpetuate the cycle of dependency and deterioration.

There Must Be A Better Way

I propose we keep the ‘living longer’ part, but dump the fatter and sicker part by taking the money we’d have spent on all the medicines, surgeries and doctor visits and instead using it to feed ourselves better foods and also stop feeding ourselves the things which are making us sick in the first place.

With that in mind, we’ve put together the following ThriveQuest nutritional blueprint of major big ticket items that you should be consuming on a regular basis as well as the things that you should avoid at all costs, if being healthy and truly thriving is something that’s important to you and your family.

What To Eat (and drink):

Fresh Lean Beef

In some circles it gets a bad rap, but it says here that beef is actually quite deserving of a place on the plate of anyone interested in maintaining a healthy diet.

Beef is an excellent source of protein and iron, not to mention potassium, zinc, B12 and many other essential vitamins and minerals.

Particularly good for you is the grass fed variety of lean beef or bison, which has a better omega3 and high CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, another ‘good fat’ and powerful cancer preventer) profile.

Fresh Seafood

Seafood is not only quite tasty, but also very beneficial to our overall health; it is generally another great source of protein and in particular the deep water fishes such as Bluefin Tuna, Atlantic Mackerel and wild caught Salmon provide a great source of important fatty acids such as Omega3.

Of course you’ll want to stay away from deep fried seafood and stick with grilled, baked, sauteed, etc.

I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing wild caught salmon instead of the farmed salmon, yes it will cost you more but the difference in nutritional profile is hard to overstate and in fact some studies show that the farmed salmon may in certain cases be BAD for your health.

Certainly everything is relative so I’m sure its not any worse for you than, say a cheeseburger, but suffice it to say the farmed salmon loses some credibility as a supposedly ‘healthy’ food choice.

Other types of seafood such as shellfish are also a very good healthy food choice, so long as you aren’t allergic.

Free Range Poultry & Eggs

Free range poultry has a much higher nutritional profile in terms of vitamins, minerals and fat content when compared to the caged birds.

Even better is choosing organic free range poultry and eggs when possible.

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

What are you, five? How many times do I have to tell you to eat your veggies?

Seriously, you can’t go outside to play unless you start including a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet, including as many different colors as possible.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this one action to your overall health.

Tree Nuts

For those of us who arent allergic walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and pistachio are all excellent sources of healthy fats and also include some protein, but more importantly the antioxidant and macro-nutrient profile of these tree nuts supports overall health in many ways.

Heart health, cancer prevention, blood pressure regulation, promoting healthy cholesterol levels and much more are all benefits realized by incorporating tree nuts into your daily diet.

Herbs & Spices

Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Tumeric, Garlic, Ginger, Parsley, Sage and many other spices have particularly potent health benefits due in large part to their very high antioxidant count.

Today scientists are finally beginning to realize how powerful these spices are in terms of overall health and well being.

“We’re now starting to see a scientific basis for why people have been using spices medicinally for thousands of years,” says Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

The list of health benefits literally runs the gamut, but in particular recent studies are showing certain spices have powers of prevention for common diseases such as Alzheimer’s,  cancer and even help promote fat loss.

Water

Most of us don’t drink enough water and are basically in some degree of dehydration on a regular basis.

As far as I’m concerned, particularly for anyone who works out regularly or lives in a warmer climate, daily water intake should be one full gallon.

You can certainly get by with less, but a gallon will ensure that you aren’t dehydrated and you’ll reap many benefits including, just to name a few:

  • improved energy,
  • improved muscle function,
  • proper digestion,
  • proper nutrient assimilation,
  • improved bowel function,
  • better skin
  • improved kidney function
  • prevention of painful kidney stone formation

Krill & Fish Oil Supplements

Our modern diets have unfortunately taken us to a place where we have too much Omega6 fatty acids in our systems, we need to balance this out to keep more favorable ratios of Omega3 to Omega6 in order to prevent inflammation, cell damage and other health related time bombs from overwhelming us.

High quality Krill and Fish oil supplements are the only non food or drink items on this list, I added them because they are the only ‘supplements’ which I use daily and consider somewhat indispensable for optimum health.

There are a lot of options out there, and frankly when you do the research you’ll find that many simply aren’t worth your time or money. Personally I use and recommend Carlson’s Fish Oil and Olympian Labs Krill Oil, surely there are also other good products worthy of your consideration, Krill Oil in particular can be tricky so here is some information which can help you spot a good vs an inferior Krill Oil product.

What NOT To Eat (or drink):

Eliminate Wheat

I’ve been reading a very interesting book by Dr. William Davis called Wheat Belly. The long story short of this book is that wheat is not the health food that its been billed as and in fact is deserving of a place right up there with corn and sugar as our nation’s biggest threats to overall health – very much like the other two big ticket items it’s largely due to the way it is manufactured and processed for our consumption.

The take away? Eliminate or severely cut back on wheat & flour based foods, this includes breads, pastas, cereals, bagels, pizza, wraps, baked good, sandwiches, etc.

What’s that you say? Those things make up about 75% of your daily diet? Well, how’s the ol’ waistline looking these days…?

All jokes aside, wheat causes massive insulin spikes which as we all know by now is not at all a good thing, it also promotes weight gain, abdominal fat storage, hormonal imbalances, Inflammation, digestion issues, advanced aging symptoms and a whole host of other non thrive-like conditions.

Eliminate Corn & HFCS

Corn is pervasive in our western food supply.

It comes in many forms such as corn oil, meat that’s been fed a corn diet and High Fructose Corn Syrup to name a few. HFCS in for instance is used to cheaply sweeten nearly every product on the market. This generally includes all soda, many breads, certain condiments, jellies, instant oatmeal, baby foods, most baked goods and practically any sweet beverage which isnt 100% fruit juice.

It is a major contributor to our obesity epidemic.

In the case of HFCS there are some who will try to convince you that ‘sugar is sugar’ and its equally good or bad for you whether it comes from HFCS or plain old table sugar – the thing is, most of the people saying that are funded by the National Corn Growers Association.

In fact, Dr. Kimber Stanhope, a nutrional biologist at the University of California Davis, who is actually an authority on the subject and NOT paid by the Corn Growers, has stated based on her research that ‘a calorie isn’t just a calorie’ and that overconsumption of high-fructose corn syrup increases risk for heart attack and stroke.

Eliminate Sugar

I know its not easy, most of us do have quite the sweet tooth these days because of the fact that sugar is an ingredient in just about everything we eat and has been shown to be equally as addictive as cocaine.

According to Dr Mercola, “death by sugar may not be an overstatement—evidence is mounting that sugar is the major factor causing obesity and chronic disease.”

Eliminate Trans Fats

Trans fatty acids, quite simply, are man made poison. They increase your risk of stroke, bad cholesterol condition, heart disease and diabetes.

Don’t eat foods which contain them. Ever.

Unfortunately avoiding trans fats is still easier said than done, despite the public health uproar about this ingredient over the past decade, because like HFCS it can be found in practically everything on the shelves.

Many foods list zero trans fats on the label but can still contain up to 1/2 gram of trans fat per serving. The real test is to check the ingredients list for partially hydrogenated oils.

Eliminate Soy

Soy is a food source which goes back to ancient times, however the soy which we get in our foods in western society is a far cry from those ancient soy products and the absence of proper fermentation along with other processing methods that our soy is subjected to effectively renders it a health hazard, as it is now shown to wreak havoc on our hormonal systems, cause weight gain and a laundry list of other great reasons to simply leave it alone.

Eliminate Fried Foods

Deep fried foods are the devil.

In most cases they contain the aforementioned trans fatty acids as well as lots of unhealthy corn oil, additionally, the deep frying process removes practically all traces of nutrition from a food item, leaving only large amounts of artery clogging calories.

If you intend to thrive – buy broiled, baked, sauteed or grilled alternatives and cook foods at home in virgin olive or coconut oils.

Eliminate Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products

I know it’s smoke and not a food or drink, but its definitely important enough that I felt I should include it.

I’m not even sure that I should have to write a description here – certainly you don’t need me to tell you that smoking is bad for you, so if you smoke, basically nothing else you could possibly do for yourself is going to be as effective as stopping. Now.

Eliminate Processed Foods & Preservatives

This is pretty much a broad list of ‘foods’ to avoid, just about anything that can sit on a shelf for months on end is not good for you to be eating.

If it comes in a box and has more than a few ingredients that you have no idea what they are and couldnt pronounce to save your mommas life, its probably not good for you to be eating.

OK, so I know that’s a lot of information to ‘digest’ all at once, possibly it can seem like a daunting task right now if your current diet is WAY out of whack with the above recommendations.

Sure, maybe its not likely that you’re going to become a super healthy eater overnight and follow all the above recommendations flawlessly for the rest of your life, that’s just not realistic and damnit, here at ThriveQuest we’re nothing if not realists!

I really wanted to present you with as much good information as possible, but I realize that making lifestyle changes takes time – baby steps are in order here. Start slowly. Implement one or two changes at a time until they’ve become a new habit for you. After you’ve mastered those, move on to add other changes and so on.

The most important thing is that you take action in a positive direction, not now but right now, even if that first change is a small one. Secondly, but also important, is that you share this information and your new-found knowledge with others; the goal is to bring as many people as possible along on our ThriveQuest!

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