If you find yourself feeling confused by the many and contradictory messages about food and diet and supplements, you’re not alone. It’s a maze!
Believe it or not, medical students do get training in nutrition. Here are some general guidelines to help you figure out the weird and wacky world of food and supplements today!
1. Eat as broad a variety as you can. Include as many vegetables and fruit as you can. It doesn’t need to be fresh vegetables. They can be frozen or canned, or even processed. But the variety helps you get vitamins and minerals, and is tasty too.
2. Don’t bother with organic. There’s no nutritional difference or health benefit. You’re better off saving the money and using it to buy more vegetables.
3. Be reasonable with salt and fat. Don’t go on a very low salt/fat or very high salt/fat diet. Your body needs both, but too much of either may increase your risk of heart disease.
4. Unless you’ve been told otherwise by your doctor, don’t take multivitamins, vitamins, or supplements. Not even antioxidants! They don’t do healthy people much if any good, and may cause harm. Exceptions to this rule include calcium for women who don’t get enough calcium in their diet and iron/folic supplements for pregnant women to prevent anemia and birth defects.
5. Eat less and move more. You don’t need to run a marathon unless you want to. But moderate exercise is definitely good. So is being a “normal” (not overweight, obese, or underweight) weight.
6. Try eating less meat. Eating lots of meat is associated with cardiac disease. Try eating a little less and getting your protein from lentils, beans, tofu, nuts, dairy, or plain ol’ whole wheat. Besides, meat is expensive.
7. Ignore fads. Yes, this includes low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, high-fat, no-gluten, many food intolerances…and the list goes on!
8. Tell your doctor about your nutrition and if you take any supplements, including herbs. Some foods may interact with your medications (grapefruit is notorious for this). If you’re trying to change a habit for the better, consider mentioning it to them. They may know some resources that would help.
Got any more? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!