Healthy eating doesn't have to be a juggling actJan 02, 2023
The lack of awareness about the role of diet in chronic disease development genuinely saddens me. We have all the evidence we need to live a healthy, long life, yet it seems to get lost amidst the mountains of misinformation stemming from social media influencers and bloggers who are simply not following the evidence in the medical literature and seem to have no problem with spewing out potentially harmful dietary advice.
The reality is that diet plays a bigger role in disease development than most of us are aware of. And it makes sense. Our body runs on what we fuel it with. The the saying, “you are what you eat”, couldn’t be more accurate.
World renowned nutrition expert, Dr. Michael Greger, describes it best when he says to think of the body as a ‘perpetual construction site that constantly rebuilds itself with building materials from food.
What you put in your body determines how it functions.
Disease cannot exist in an unhealthy terrain and what you eat provides the foundation of that terrain. Your cells undergo millions of functions per second! Without the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, they can't perform at an optimal level.
The proof of the importance of nutrition is shown perfectly when looking at disease statistics in North America. The leading causes of deaths in North America are chronic diseases, also known as lifestyle-related diseases, are cardiovascular disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and cancer. Contrary to common belief, these diseases are largely PREVENTABLE through dietary and lifestyle habits. In fact, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most chronic diseases are preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes.
And here's the most mind-blowing fact: The largest study ever done on chronic disease risk factors, called The Global Burden of Disease Study, determined that the number one cause of death and disability in North America is diet.
That's right.- what people are putting in their mouths is the primary determinant of how long they live and whether they become disabled.
So what type of diet should we follow to optimize disease prevention and longevity?
The dietary pattern that has been consistently associated with preventing, arresting and even reversing chronic diseases is a whole food, plant-predominant diet that is centered around vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
But what does this look like in real life?
The meal-planning framework I share with my clients is one I've adapted from Dr. Joel Fuhrman, world-renowned nutrition expert, author of 'Eat to Live', and creator of the 'Nutritarian Diet'.
This framework is as follows:
Breakfast: Should ideally include a whole grain, berries, and omega-3 rich seeds.
Example: Oats or quinoa with ground flaxseed, soy milk, and fresh/frozen blueberries.
Lunch: Should ideally include legumes, allium vegetables, and leafy greens.
Example: Black bean soup with a side salad of baby kale, arugula, or romaine lettuce (top with diced red onion) and a slice of whole grain toast topped with hummus or avocado. Remember to add a piece of fruit for dessert!
Dinner: Should ideally include raw leafy green vegetables, other cooked vegetables, legumes, and a whole grain.
Example: Red lentil penne with a tomato-based pasta sauce made with onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, and herbs. Try my favourite creamy, incredibly taste one-pot pasta recipe: One Pot Pasta: Easy Vegan 20 Minute Dinner - Elavegan