By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: January 6, 2015
Written by Dr. Verna Brooks McKenzie, one of our lovely Red Hot Mamas® Medical Advisory Board Panel
Hippocrates said “let thy food be thy medicine….if we could give every individual the right kind of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health”
Thomas Edison also said “the doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his or her patient in the care of the human frame, in proper diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”.
Good nutrition is the key to good health.
Women are living longer and many older women are living alone therefore it is important to preserve our health as we traverse each decade of life.
This article is a listing of important nutritional information for you to keep in mind while buying or ordering food.
- Amino acids derived from proteins are the building blocks necessary for building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes, hormones and hemoglobin which carries oxygen all over the body.
- Healthy sources of protein are found in foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish (tuna, salmon, cod), chicken or turkey (without skin), soy, egg white, lean cuts of meat, milk, low fat cheese and yogurt.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in the diet and provide energy or fuel for muscle contraction and other biological functions.
- The brain and red blood cells primarily use glucose as the energy source.
- There are simple carbohydrates (found in candy, soda) and complex carbohydrates (starch, fiber). Simple carbohydrates provide energy which lasts for a short period of time. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and result in a slow and steady increase in the release of insulin to maintain a constant blood glucose level. Energy is slowly produced and lasts for a longer period of time (healthier option).
The degree of increase in blood glucose levels after eating foods containing carbohydrates is called its Glycemic Index (GI) which is high, moderate or low.
- The higher the GI, the faster the glucose is absorbed, used and depleted in the body resulting in weakness, dizziness, mental and physical fatigue. The more refined carbohydrates have higher GI (processed white flour foods, rice, noodles).
- High fiber containing foods have low GIs.
Essential fatty acids (linolenic and linoleic acid) are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important in maintaining normal fluidity of cell membranes, essential for many functions.
Cholesterol is required for the synthesis of cell membranes, steroids and bile.
- Trans fatty acids and saturated fatty acids are associated with an increase risk of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease.
- Trans fatty acids also make cell membranes rigid and less fluid resulting in signal transduction systems that don’t work very well.
- Fatty fish (salmon, sardine, mackerel), vegetable oils, flaxseed, olive oil, walnuts, almonds are good sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients needed by the body in small amounts.
- Vitamins are coenzymes needed for energy production, protein metabolism, making DNA and new cells.
- Water soluble vitamins (B complex and Vitamin C) are needed in frequent small doses. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) are stored in the liver and fat and utilized by the body when required. Minerals are obtained by eating plants and meat from animals that graze on plants.
- Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is found in bones and blood along with phosphorus and magnesium.
Calcium is necessary for formation of teeth and immune health.
- Heme (iron) in red blood cells bind oxygen to be transported. Iron deficiency results in anemia which causes weakness and fatigue.
- Zinc, found in legumes and meat is necessary for immune function.
- Potassium found in bananas, dates, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes is important for proper nerve and muscle function.
Colorful fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains contain pigments (phytochemicals) such as quercetin, carotenoids, lycopene, zeaxanthin, lutein that may help to protect DNA and prevent cancer formation.
Allyl sulphides (in garlic, onion, celery, asparagus, endive, artichoke, chives) may stimulate enzymes that help the body get rid of harmful chemicals, beneficial for maintaining health circulation and blood pressure.
Please consider all of these when planning your meals. Good nutrition gets you back to being healthy!
Dr. Verna Brooks-McKenzie’s website: www.goherbalife.com/vernaj