Healthy Living with Proper Nutrition & Diet

From a biochemical and physiological standpoint, natural remedies are essential for most people to remain in balance with our modern lifestyle. Our nutritional requirements vary person to person as much as one’s eye prescription. We are all aware that eyeglasses or contact lenses are personalized to each individual’s eye prescription; so why would we think that our personal nutrition is a one size fits all? The question is, which natural remedies does one need to supplement in order to correct and maintain healthy living? The answer is not so easy, it depends on many factors including genetic makeup, diet, environment, and even lifestyle such as stress and sleep.

That is why it is so critical to see a professional for nutritional consulting. At the end of the day you are wasting your money if you are taking a supplement you don’t need and/or an ineffective supplement due to poor quality. Furthermore, even though a food is considered “healthy,” if your body has an allergy or sensitivity to it, you should avoid or limit that food because the body will have difficulty with digestion and absorbing nutrients.

Gail’s Simple Rules for Healthy Living

  1. Drink more water.  The body is composed of 60-70% water and is required for many if not all functions of the body.  If possible only drink water with the exception of small amounts of coffee, tea, or red wine.  DITCH the soda both diet and regular as they are health disasters.  If you feel the need for carbonation try club soda or sparkling water garnished with fruit.  If you are drinking tap water I highly encourage a water system.  Ensure that it removes fluoride as some systems don’t.  You can get an under the sink filtration system online for around $200 and it is relatively easy to install (even my husband can do it.)
  2. Get more sleep.  I find it amazing how many people report they sleep only 5-6 hours per night.  Although researchers are still uncovering why sleep is so essential to health it’s not hard to find the health issues that may accompany lack of sleep including weight gain, moodiness, decreased sex drive, anxiety, and lack of concentration.  Get a minimum of 7, although 8 is better and if possible go to bed early.  Experts agree the quality of sleep is better earlier. It may have something to do with how our body is used to functioning. Before modern times we would go to bed when the sun went down and got up with the sun.
  3. Eat whole foods.  Unlimited vegetables, however keep the starchy vegetables to 1-2 serving per day which include sweet potatoes and butternut squash, some fruits, some raw nuts/seeds, small amounts of gluten-free grains, and small amounts of lean, high quality meat.  When choosing fruits and vegetables try to eat many different types of colors also known as the rainbow diet.  Also try to buy organic and local if possible.  Recent studies indicate that organic produce is 97% more nutrient than conventional produce. Try to eat a large portion of your foods raw as cooking destroys valuable nutrients including enzymes which are essential for digestion.  Remember the less ingredients the better.  Typically less ingredients = better digestion and food absorption as well as less toxins that our body has to process.  It is also important to include fermented foods in the diet on a regular basis in order to balance intestinal flora which is responsible for gut health.  These foods include kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, kimchi, raw fermented veggies such as sauerkrat, and occasionally fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh, however please ensure they are made from organic soy.  You can typically find these foods readily available at your local health food store or Whole Foods.  
  4. Avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs), gluten, dairy, processed sugar, partially hydrogenated oils/trans fat, food additives including msg, food coloring, all artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup. Why you ask?  Because these foods are inflammatory and toxic resulting in a variety of health issues.  Many are neurotoxic meaning they are poisonous to nerves or nerve cells which affects our nervous system.
  5. Remember the rule not the exception is the biggest key for creating a successful healthy lifestyle.  For success I don’t recommend “dieting,” calorie counting is a big waste of time and can make people crazy and quite possibly nutrient deficient.  Instead follow Rule #3 and #4 most of the time.  If you slip up no big deal, you can always eat better at the next meal.  Try and adhere to the 80/20 Rule which means eat very healthy 80% of the time and “cheat” 20% of the time.  Better still, I try to follow the 90/10 Rule.  Therefore you SHOULD have a piece of cake at your child’s birthday party (just make it a small piece and don’t forget your digestive enzyme).
  6. Avoid household chemicals whenever possible; these includes toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and makeup.  Your toothpaste should be fluoride-free and without harsh chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate.  Newer research indicates that fluoride has no benefit to protecting your teeth’s health.  Soap and shampoos can surprisingly contain many toxic ingredients. The skin is the largest organ so you’d better believe it’s absorbing whatever you put on it.  I even recommend a water filter for the shower.  The beauty benefit is softer skin and hair, but the health benefit is less toxins for your body to process when chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine are removed.
  7. Exercise on a regular basis.  Whether you feel drawn to yoga, cross-training, or walking, make sure you are able to find something that you enjoy because you are more likely to stick with it.  It may also be a good idea to switch it up sometimes so you may do one activity one day and another activity another day.  Increase the frequency to most days of the week if you are doing low-intensity work outs such as walking and you may decide to decrease frequency to 3-5 days a week for higher intensity work outs such as cross-training.  
  8. In addition to regular exercise find another way of reducing your stress.  Meditating is an excellent example of this and is why I am such a big fan of yoga because you are meditating and exercising at the same time.  If you are not into yoga take 10-15 minutes a day to just close your eyes, breathe deep, and just be.  You will be amazed at how much better you will feel after practicing this for a few days. Regular sex is also great stress reliever and can have positive benefits on your mood.
  9. Get a yearly physical including blood work, an eye exam, and have your teeth cleaned twice a year.  Yearly blood work will help keep a pulse on what is going on in your body so that you can be preventative vs.reactive to health issues that may arise.  There are many other wonderful assessment tools that can be utilized throughout the year to further gather information on how your body is functioning.  Many people don’t realize how important eye exams are for health. Regular eye exams can detect health issues very early on and are relatively non-invasive.  Proper maintenance of your teeth can also keep you healthy.  Poor oral health can result in issues such as gingivitis and is now linked to a variety of heart conditions.
  10. Although this is my last tip it is one of the most important ones.  Ensure proper bowel health. It is said that 70% of our immune system is held in the gut.  Further, new research indicates that the gut is actually the 2nd brain linking gut imbalances to brain imbalances.  It is recommended that you should be eliminating after each meal or at least twice a day.  Your bowel movement should be thick, brown and in the shape of an S.  It should flow easily and you should not have to strain.  Please, no reading the newspaper while doing the deed!  With proper bowel health you would only have enough time to read a couple of sentences. The Standard American Diet is not conducive to proper bowel elimination.  Almost all of my clients need work in this area and once gut health is addressed the rest of the body can then be balanced.


Certified Nutrition Specialist versus Registered Dietian

A Registered Dietian (R.D.) focuses on following the food guide pyramid and ensuring clients get the proper breakdown of fats, carbs, and protein, and the correct amount of total calories. The food guide pyramid is not a formula for ensuring optimal health. Some R.D.s do continue their education above and beyond their undergraduate degree and licensing exams so that they are able to consult patients/clients in more specific areas, however food is typically where their expertise ends. Don’t expect a typical R.D. to be able to counsel you on nutritional, homeopathic, or botanical supplements. Further many R.D.s work for hospitals or other institutions, this means politics may unfortunately play into their recommendations.

In most states including Connecticut, a nutritionist is a term that can be used by basically anyone. It is important that you differentiate how your practitioner was educated and what credentials he/she holds.

A Certified Nutrition Specialist (C.N.S.) is a nutrition practitioner or a person who uses nutrition therapy to address health needs, according to clinical nutritionist and C.N.S. Corinne Bush. C.N.S.’s have an advanced degree (master’s level or above) in nutrition or a related field from an accredited university. C.N.S.’s must pass the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) examination on science-based nutrition therapy.
According to the Chicago Tribune you should always look at credentials and remember that a C.N.S. usually, but not always, has the most advanced science-based training.