There has been a flurry of good articles on menu ideas, recipes, shopping tips and the benefits of supporting local growers. Dieticians, Nutritionists, Personal Trainers and even Organic Farmers all share a common goal of improving the health of Canadians. Encouraging the growing trend of eating well and being fit, in my mind, is the true meaning of health care.
Our role is to provide the public with the education and resources to do this. Knowledge is the key to prevention and prevention is the key to a lifetime of wellness. I like to use the comparison of your body to that of a car. Both are amazing machines, when cared for and provided with the necessary fluids and fuel to function optimally. We know what happens if a car uses bad gas, never has an oil change, gets a clogged filter or is stationary for too long. Your body is the same. It needs to move and it is of utmost importance that you provide it with natural, wholesome, quality food and limit the intake of questionable fats, excess sodium, additives, preservatives and pesticides in order to function optimally. We do not want to see ourselves or future generations become weaker and more susceptible to disease.
It would be nice to assume that the majority of the population is healthy, but there is a vast and varying range of health conditions that many people are dealing with. (Sadly the pharmaceutical companies are not complaining.) If you struggle with a health issue, it is important to pay attention to the finer details of your diet and lifestyle. Some foods can aid healing while others can cause harm. For example, consuming foods with fiber aids proper colon function, helps lower cholesterol, and provides many vitamins and minerals, but the insoluble part of fiber can irritate and inflame the delicate and damaged tissues of the intestinal lining for those with any kind of Irritable Bowel issues (IBD). Wheat fiber is especially scratchy and it is recommended that sources of more soluble fiber are consumed.
Legumes and fruit pectins are good sources of soluble fiber along with other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that aid in warding off disease. Legumes are complex carbohydrates which take longer to break down into sugars and are therefore beneficial to those with diabetes. If combined with whole grains they are considered complete proteins with low saturated fat and can replace meat on the menu. This provides a good protein source for those with cardiovascular issues or Gout. Gout is an inflammation of the joint, most often the big toe, caused by excess uric acid produced by the breakdown of some proteins. Over-consumption of red meats in particular create a pro-inflammatory condition.
These are some examples of how knowledge can get you on the right track with nutrition for your individual needs. Taking steps to improve your shopping, eating and lifestyle habits can be easy, fun and even invigorating when you have the knowledge. For you and your family they will be steps towards a healthier, more vital life.
Carol Pillar, R.H.N