Healthy eating – Healing with food
The next time you’re eating something, chew on this: the nutrients that are present in food help the cells in our bodies perform their functions. Nutrients are essential for growth, development and maintenance of our bodies as well as for instructing our bodies about how best to work. To that end, absence of nutrients is absence of health. The connect is really quite simple.
While we’re on the topic of our body’s functions, healing is an essential body function. The process of recovering from illnesses — both major and minor — is best aided not just by medication and treatment courses but also by what you eat to get your body back on track. By that definition, using food as an adjunct therapy when recovering from something as simple as the flu to cancer, should pretty much be a done deal.
But how seriously is it taken?
That nutrition should be given significant importance while healing is not too strongly practised. Yes, some nutritional caution is advised when undergoing treatment for various conditions but the power of food is not usually emphasised to the extent it possibly could be.
So many diseases like cardio vascular disease, Type II diabetes, obesity and even cancer, have been linked to improper nutrition. Ingredients like saturated fats, trans fats, high sugar and so forth have been linked to more diseases, than there are cures. But if food has caused so many conditions, why can’t it help reverse them?
Healthy eating tips :
- Eat a variety of 5 or more of different coloured fruit and vegetables every day. Choose leafy green vegetables regularly. Smoothies can count towards your fruit and vegetable intake, but try and choose only fruit and/or vegetable based smoothies. Check the label for sugar and fat.
- Choose lower fat milks, low fat/no added sugar yoghurts and yoghurt drinks and reduced fat cheese.
- Choose vegetable oils that are high in monounsaturated fats such as rapeseed or olive oil. Oils high in polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower or corn oil are also good fats.
- Wholegrain breads, high fibre cereals, especially porridge, potatoes, wholewheat pasta and brown rice satisfy hunger and are the best foods to fuel your body. These provide a slow release of energy. Be aware of the calorie difference – some types may contain more calories than others.
- Prepare and cook your meals using fresh ingredients. Ready meals and take-aways tend to be high in fat and salt and should not be eaten regularly.
- Choose healthier cooking methods like steaming, grilling, baking, roasting and stir-frying instead of frying foods. Limit bought fried foods, such as chips.
- Eat more fish; it’s a good source of protein as well as containing important vitamins and minerals. Try to eat oily fish at least once a week, for example, mackerel, sardines and salmon. These are high in omega 3 fats.
- Add as little as possible or no salt to your food in cooking or at the table. Try other flavourings instead such as herbs, spices, pepper, garlic or lemon juice. Have fresh foods as much as possible. Look at the salt content on food labels
- Adults need about 8-10 cups or glasses of fluid every day. 1 cup is about 200mls. You need more if you are active. Children and teenagers need to drink regularly throughout the day. Water is the best fluid.
- Always make time to have a breakfast – people who eat breakfast are more likely to be a healthy weight.
- Alcohol contains calories, so if you drink, drink sensibly within recommended limits and preferably with meals.
- If you eat a healthy balanced diet, you should not need to take food supplements, unless you are advised to do so by your doctor. However, all women of childbearing age who are sexually active are advised to take 400µg folic acid every day – preferably as a folic acid supplement. The Irish diet is low in vitamin D – talk to your pharmacist or doctor about taking a supplement.