With the New Year here, many people are resolving to lose weight and get healthy in 2014. I think this is really wonderful and I love my work as a Nutritionist because I get to help support those goals. While every health condition that is treated with nutrition and supplements is different – whether you are trying to lose weight, get pregnant, lower your cholesterol, or manage your blood sugar levels, there are some universal truths. Here are my top 5 universal tips for getting healthy in the New Year:
1. Eat whole and real food. Focus on protein sources like fish, eggs, beans, (organic when possible) meat, and nuts and seeds. Pair these with plenty of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit daily. Even if you are trying to use lose weight, eating heavily processed “diet” and “lite” foods is counterproductive as these foods bombard your body with additives and/or excessive sugar or artificial sweeteners. These additives often only make weight loss more difficult.
2. Eat leafy green vegetables every day. Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, and broccoli are loaded with beneficial nutrients like vitamin C (a potent antioxidant and important for the immune system), folate (especially important during pregnancy and while trying to conceive), calcium (for bone health), and vitamin E. Leafy greens are also alkalizing for the body.
3. Cut your sugar intake as much as possible. Sugar promotes weight gain and may encourage the development of numerous health issues including high cholesterol, diabetes, and even cancer. The first step is to eliminate all sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened teas. After that, set limits on desserts such as 2-3 times/week or less. As you eat less sugar, you will crave it less.
4. Take probiotics and eat probiotic foods. Probiotics are a popular area of research these days as it turns out that the bacteria in our intestines can play a powerful role in our health. Gut bacteria may play a role not only in digestion, but also body weight, the immune system, and even mood. Try a probiotic supplement, but also include probiotic foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir.
5. Eat healthy fats. The common fear is that eating fat puts fat on your body, but our bodies don’t operate so simply. Your body needs fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins D and E. Don’t forget the heart healthy and anti-inflammatory and fertility supportive omega-3 fatty acids found in (low mercury) fish, walnuts, and leafy greens. Other healthy fats include those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil.