Recommendations for a healthy diet from Dr. Christopher Bray.
The definition of health is well-being and freedom from disease. Both heart disease and type 2 diabetes are preventable, yet both conditions are on the rise in our country.
When risk is identified, most health professionals will first recommend lifestyle interventions such as eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity. Unfortunately, short and infrequent physician visits often lead to an under-emphasis of this important first step. Complicating such advice are the many ideas and conflicting opinions surrounding the concept of a healthy diet.
Dr. Christopher Bray, who specializes in internal, integrative and functional medicine, recommends the following for a healthy diet.
- Increase intake of whole foods
- Examples of whole foods are those that come naturally from the earth including vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Legumes (kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas/hummus, green beans, lentils, black eye peas, black beans and peas) are a great source of fiber.
- Colorful vegetables are nutrient-dense especially when eaten raw or freshly juiced. Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, avocado, mushrooms, celery, cabbage, kale, spinach, carrots and broccoli are some great choices.
- Healthy oils such as olives or fresh, uncooked olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocados, raw nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds and cashews) and seeds (pumpkin, sesame and sunflower) can help to reduce heart disease.
- Focus on eating more of the low glycemic fruits like apples, cherries, figs, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Eat in moderation the high glycemic fruits like bananas, grapes, melons and pineapple.
- Reduce and try to eliminate processed foods
- Processed and refined sugars (and other carbohydrates) can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. These are found in most processed foods and can be as addictive as street drugs. Eliminate any products containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is a cheap sweetener found in many processed foods and drinks and can be toxic to a person’s body. Avoid sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, beer and other alcohol.
- Reduce your intake of items made from flour and most “baked” goods. (Pasta, bread, cakes, bagels, doughnuts, potatoes, crackers, potato chips, corn-based snacks, pancakes and processed grains [most grocery-store cereals]).
- Avoid inflammatory oils like canola, soybean, safflower and corn oil (often hidden in snack bars). Cooked or old vegetable oils are usually inflammatory.
- Reduce added sugar to as low as possible. A good starting point is to reduce sugar intake to <25 grams for women and <37.5 grams for men. Be a vigilant consumer and read food and drink labels.
- Eat animal based protein, dairy and whole grains in moderation
- Avoid animal products that sit in a grocery store refrigerator for days and purchase organic, wild, free-range or pasture-raised wherever possible.
- Good choices:
— Shrimp, crab, calamari, scallops and lobster (preferably wild and not farm raised).
— Yogurt without added sugar, kefir, non-homogenized milk, cheese and butter (from organic, pasture-raised cows).
— Eggs (preferably from free-range chickens).
— Whole grains not made from flour such as gluten grains (wheat and barley) or gluten-free grains (oats, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, wild rice and sorghum).
Identify Your Risk Factors
It is impossible to determine a person’s health by the way they look on the outside, and many people who believe they are “healthy” have hidden risk factors for disease.
Screening for early disease biomarkers can allow for intervention before a disease develops.
Gainesville Total Body Healthcare offers advanced laboratory testing to screen a person’s risk for diseases, such as heart disease and/or diabetes. Nutritional testing is also available to look for vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by problems with diet or absorption. Specialized diets are often needed for specific medical conditions, which is why it is important to work with a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
At Gainesville Total Body Healthcare, your blood will be drawn in a private, calm, and stress-free environment. Once the lab results are received, a consultation visit is scheduled to review the results in detail and develop a personalized, anticipatory health plan. This service is not intended to replace a primary care provider, but to enhance knowledge on achieving optimal health.