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Nutrition – the first path to longevity

Let medicine be thy food and food be thy medicine

- Aristotle

Many talk about maximizing longevity and healthspan using the latest diagnostics or technology. Yet there is a quiet, not-so-secret truth out there. Here it is: Proper nutrition gets you more than halfway there.

No matter how often you hear it said, it can't be emphasized enough. At Dignity Integrative Health and Wellness we'll speak a lot about nutrition for that very reason.

First though, let's distinguish nutrition from diet.

Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.

Diet refers to the kinds of food a person habitually eats.

Notice the difference between what your body requires for health and growth vs. what you eat out of habit or choice.

There is nothing that impacts your health more than the daily decision on which 2,000 to 2,500 calories you put in your mouth. That is why early in your evaluation we will start with a review of what you eat and drink on a daily basis. The root cause of most chronic disease is often the end result of years of nutritional deficits and toxins an individual has accumulated over time.

There are many reasons people eat certain foods. You may eat "comfort food" to provide consolation or a feeling of well being, or because it is associated with childhood or home cooking. Or, food can be used as a personal reward. Think of the child who is promised a cookie or dessert for eating their dinner. It can also be used as a shield, as when individuals describe the safety of maintaining a certain weight or body type.

The connections between nutrition and health

You can draw a straight line connecting food with chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and often cancer.

Once we have a better picture of your current nutritional state, we can work together to build a plan to help you achieve your goals. The human body has an amazing flexibility and capacity to repair itself and change. Small, positive changes can build confidence that continued progress is possible.

So, where do we start? By following a simple four step process:

  1. Remove foods that are clearly harmful

  2. Replace with whole foods your body craves

  3. Abstain (temporarily) from foods that are likely to cause issues

  4. Repair with micronutrients and nutraceuticals

Let’s take each of these one at a time.

Remove foods that are clearly harmful

There are certain foods and chemicals you should try and avoid or eliminate. This list includes:

  • Sugar sweetened beverages, including fruit juices

  • Refined flour and grains (chips, white bread, pizza, white rice, pastries, granola bars)

  • Deep fried anything

  • Processed meats and cheeses

Often, removing these foods just as first step has a remarkable impact on your body. Doing so allows that self repair we mentioned above to begin. You will feel better and have more energy in a short period of time.

Replace with whole foods your body craves

At the same time as we remove harmful foods, you should replace those calories with whole foods. The often heard saying first popularized by author Michael Pollan is true: eat whole foods, not too much and mostly plants.

  • Whole foods are foods closest to their natural form: fresh vegetables, fruit and clean proteins like organic chicken, grass fed beef and wild caught fish. These should be prepared simply by baking or lower heat cooking.

  • Mostly plants means just that. The majority of what you consume should be plants.

  • Not too much refers to eating slightly less than you're likely used to. It is okay to "skip" breakfast if that is your choice. Try to have a 12 hour period of fasting overnight between dinner and your first meal (thus stay true to "breaking the fast").

Abstain (temporarily) from certain foods

Once you have cleaned up your nutrition we may ask you to abstain from foods that are commonly found to cause inflammation or sensitivities in your body. These could include:

  • Gluten/wheat

  • Dairy

  • Soy

Typically, we recommend avoiding foods that contain these three ingredients for three weeks. Then, slowly reintroduce them one at a time. In this way, we can determine if you have common sensitivities to any of those foods.

We may also order specific tests around those sensitivities based on your particular history and symptoms.

Repair with micronutrients and nutraceuticals

Over time your body may be low on certain micronutrients as well as be out of balance regarding your "good" and "bad" intestinal bacteria.

We will check some basic laboratory tests, including Vitamin D. Based on the overall lack of micronutrients in our soil over time, we may recommend a general multivitamin or other nutraceutical. In addition, a good probiotic often helps to balance your gut bacteria.

While the above may sound like a lot, Dignity Integrative will be there with you every step of the way. This is part of the journey you take for optimal health. Typically, there are setbacks and missteps along the way. After all, we are human. Taking those setbacks in stride and making course corrections are part of our monthly coaching process.

We will always celebrate your many successes and help you to live your best life one day at a time.

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