Food is medicine – I know it sounds cliché, however, that does not make it any less true or relevant. What you eat, drink and breathe today, literally becomes You and your cells, tissue and organs of tomorrow.
Every chronic disease – yes, every single one -- can be linked to diet and lifestyle factors. Think of the requirements to maintain optimum health: food, water, sunlight and sleep are all absolute foundational requirements for the health of any animal. Unfortunately, traditional medicine spends all of its time studying diseases, drugs and vaccines and has lulled us into seeing ourselves as separate from the natural world. Medicine and healthcare would be a lot more effective and less costly, if we devoted much more of our resources to addressing these core essentials to health -- core essentials every man, woman and child absolutely must have in order to be healthy.
Let’s say you were raising plants which then begin to wilt and die – what questions would you ask yourself? Would you ask what faulty genes caused the plant to wilt? What drug or surgery might stop the wilting? No, that wouldn’t be very logical, would it? Most of us would naturally assume the plant was getting too much or too little water, nutrients or sunlight. Why then do we make it so much more complicated with our own health?
High quality food and nutrients are essential to build, repair and regenerate every cell and tissue of the body. These nutrients needed for repair and regeneration can be broken down into 6 basic elemental building blocks for life: Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates – Minerals, Vitamins and Phytonutrients, memorized as (PFC - MVP).
Therefore, what you choose to eat has a very direct bearing on your immediate and long-term health and vitality. The food we choose is the fuel that sustains us, impacting our energy level, our immune and defense mechanisms, our blood pressure, our mental well-being, our hormones, our ability to repair and regenerate new cells, tissues and organs, and every physiological process carried out by the body.
There are, of course, small steps we can take that go a long way to improving our diet. Lowering our caloric intake, eating more fruits and vegetables, eliminating processed foods, choosing local and organic whenever possible, and avoiding added sweeteners can help all of us keep our weight down and avoid the biggest killers: heart disease and cancer. Optimizing your nutrition is not hard or complicated, and it’s about much more than just avoiding disease. It’s about giving you the all the health, energy and vitality you need, to do whatever you want for as long as you want!
Dr. Hanes’ Core Food Plan
My Core Food Plan is the first step toward healthier eating and is designed to encourage eating in a way that will nourish and energize the body. It is based on current research and describes what and how people should eat in order to live long, healthy lives. My CFP takes elements from the Mediterranean diet and the hunter-gatherer approach (referred to as the “Paleo” diet), and encourages eating low-glycemic carbohydrates. My food plan can be easily changed to suit personal preferences and health needs including vegetarian options and can accommodate foods from virtually any culture.
My Core Food Plan lays the foundations for eating well that will carry an individual throughout life. It uses the basic principles of “food as medicine” to support an individual’s health goals and improve his or her relationship with food.
My Core Food Plan starts individuals on a journey to better health. It allows people to meet daily needs for the macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It also supplies all the necessary minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients, along with adequate fiber and fluids. My CFP is appropriate for children, adults of all ages, and pregnant women. The plan can also be easily adapted for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. It can also be modified to meet the needs of athletes, achieve weight loss or gain, control blood pressure, and exclude dairy, gluten, or any foods to which one is allergic, intolerant, or sensitive.
Rule 1: Focus on whole foods - Whole, plant-based foods are an important source of fiber and phytonutrients. Dietary fiber is critical for proper health and digestion. Fiber binds to toxins and excess hormones and helps the body excrete them. Fiber is also the preferred food of the cells that line the digestive tract. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds with a wide range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. These compounds give fruits and vegetables their deep colors (for example, the phytonutrient beta-carotene is found in yellow-orange foods like carrots, winter squash and cantaloupe).
Rule 2: Clean and organic - Eating “clean” food helps to reduce toxin exposure. Our food supply has become compromised by the addition of artificial colorings, flavorings, additives and preservatives. Pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides are also found in conventionally-grown (non-organic) produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. One of the biggest nutritional problems is the amount of synthetic sweeteners in processed foods. Eating a “clean” diet—avoiding non-organic, processed foods can increase the liver’s ability to eliminate toxins and lower the toxic burden in the body. For these reasons, my CFP promotes eating organic foods.
Rule 3: Adequate quality protein - Protein is necessary to repair cells and make new ones, support muscle growth, maintain lean muscle mass, and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels (which also helps to control hunger). Every cell in the human body contains proteins: they are the building blocks of life. Choices for protein on my CFP are moderately lean and include both animal and plant foods. Choosing protein from grass-fed and free-range animals and poultry is encouraged. Such “clean” protein is not just lower in toxins but also higher in omega-3 fatty acids than is protein from corn-fed and caged animals. Given its vital role in bodily functions, protein should be included with every meal and snack.
Rule 4: Balanced high quality fat intake - is a first-line approach to minimizing inflammation in the body. Anti-inflammatory strategies include the following: (1) eliminate trans fats (typically found in processed foods); (2) decrease intake of saturated fats and omega-6 fats from animal sources; and (3) increase intake of omega-3–rich fats from fish and plant sources. Dietary fats and oils play a significant role in the risk of many chronic diseases. The emphasis on fat-free foods in the past has led only to weight gain, because the fat in processed products was replaced with refined sugar. Refined sugars convert to body fat and can increase levels of blood fats called triglycerides. There are many types of saturated fats, and they have different effects on the body. Healthy sources of saturated fat include coconut oil and butter from grass-fed cows and anti-inflammatory fats from foods like fish, leafy greens, nuts, certain oils and seeds.
We’ll be covering a lot more in future posts about my Core Food Plan, diet and nutrition. Use common sense and avoid things like high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, fluoride, GMOs, as well as all irradiated, processed and fast foods. “Leaky Gut” syndrome and GERD (reflux disease) are almost unavoidable with GMOs, HFCS, wheat, corn and soy in everyone’s diet. Foods laden with pesticides, sugars and preservatives damages our intestines and gut flora causing chronic inflammation, cellular damage and premature aging.
In addition to eating a clean, healthy and well rounded diet, there is clear evidence that we all need to take supplements in order to get all the nutrients we need. It’s well-established that the average American is not eating anywhere close to the 7-9 servings of vegetables or 3-5 servings of fruit needed per day. Most are walking around chronically dehydrated and deficient in vitamins A, D, C most of the B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and zinc. The farming soils across America have been depleted of organic topsoil since the 1970s and the only nutrients added back to the soil (in the form of fertilizer) are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Another reason to add supplements is that they help eliminate harmful toxins, providing extra nutrients to the liver, kidney and organs of elimination. They provide a powerful boost to the immune system, and offer much needed nutrient support for the repair and regeneration of new cells, organs and tissues. Quality, purity and potency are of primary concern when selecting clinical grade nutraceuticals, so one must be cautious. The mass produced supplements available at discount pharmacies and warehouse stores are not well tolerated by many individuals and are not suitable for those with complex, chronic disease or autoimmune conditions.
High quality, clinical grade nutraceuticals on the other hand, can provide the extra nutrients and co-factors needed for energy production and to slow oxidative damage. These nutrients can preserve a better quality of life and a longer life for anyone, and they are imperative for anyone with complex, chronic disease or autoimmunity. In this day and age of toxins, stress, environmental pollutants and unnatural ingredients, the risk of cancer, diabetes, autoimmunity and Alzheimer’s is at an all time high, and anything we can do to lower the risk of these debilitating diseases is a step in the right direction.
Food allergies and sensitivities
“Optimizing Your Nutrition” is a critical part of my 6-Step Protocol. You are what you eat from your head to your feet; and what may be nourishing for some, may be poison to others, which is why I want to touch briefly on food allergies and sensitivities (aka food intolerances) here. We’ll do a deep-dive into this subject in the allergy section; however, it’s interesting how many people are completely unaware that they have allergies or sensitivities to certain foods or additives.
It’s estimated that over 50% of us have some form of food allergy or sensitivity. Most of the reactions will not be as severe as those reactions from nut allergies. Instead, certain foods may make you feel sluggish, bloated, irritable, shaky or cause headaches. They can also be responsible for intestinal damage, and chronic symptoms such as fatigue and lethargy; mood swings, depression, restlessness, migraines, joint pain, gas and indigestion.
We can help avert things like cancer and long-term health issues, simply by listening to our bodies and understanding how certain foods react with our body as individuals. This is extremely important because what may be healthy for one person might be a poison to another.
To continue reading about Food Allergies/Sensitivities click here, where I discuss my choice for Functional Medicine Labs to uncover your triggers and later discuss my ASERT Protocol (Allergy/Sensitivity Elimination & Reprogramming Technique) to help eliminate many allergies and sensitivities.