Healthy Eating for Your Good Health!

Healthy Eating For Your Good Health.

By Carol Penfield, M.S., Nurse Practitioner

I will be addressing healthy eating in “To Your Good Health” (an insert in the Cape Codder) on a regular basis.  My expertise is in the relatively new medical specialty of Lifestyle Medicine.  The principles of Lifestyle Medicine were developed from evidence-based medical research, and help you prevent and even reverse disease by addressing how you live your life day to day.  This includes exercise, stress management, substance abuse, sleep quality and, most germaine to this column, diet.  What you eat greatly affects your health and wellbeing. This makes sense to most of us intuitively, but up to now that knowledge has not led to behavior change in the general population.

So what is a “healthy” diet, and why should you follow it?  Dr. Dean Ornish is one of the pioneers who scientifically addressed how a low fat, plant-based diet was able to decrease and reverse narrowing of the arteries.  Not only did his seriously ill patients achieve a remarkable clinical reversal of their disease, but he used actual pictures of the heart vessels called “angiograms” to prove that those changes were real.

As a result of this and other research supporting “plant-based diet”, that term is now used more often, but what does it really mean?  It involves eating foods as grown and in their natural state, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts.  It also involves avoiding or minimizing the consumption of animal-based products, meaning foods produced from animals, such as cheese, ice cream, or meats. An easy way to remember this is to avoid eating anything that came from something with eyes… except potatoes, they are the only plant with “eyes”!  Furthermore, it means you need to avoid eating processed foods.  The body is designed to absorb the nutrients from foods in their natural state rather than products invented over the past few decades.

OK, simple enough, but at this point you might be thinking, “I still want my steak, and butter on my toast.”  I will address in future columns how you can change your eating habits in a positive and lasting way, and in more detail what you need to do, and why you will want to.

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