When it comes to consuming foods and liquids, always ask yourself, is this going to benefit my body or harm it? Much of the nutritional information we read these days can be very biased thus making it difficult to choose correctly. More and more people are becoming aware of what is happening with the food industry and who controls it. If you have yet to see the movie Food Inc, I highly recommend you take the time to hear the truth of some of the crop growers that supply the food industry.
I would like to share some of the common healthy characteristics of the Innate Diet to increase your awareness of health and present a clear picture of how we are programmed for health, not sickness. The characteristics of the Innate Diet have been referenced from Dr. James Chestnut.
The 10 Healthy Characteristics of the Innate Diet
1. Low Glycemic Loads
– High Glycemic Loads demonstrate higher levels of cortisol in the bloodstream.
– Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:
Impaired cognitive performance
Suppressed thyroid function
Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
Decreased bone density
Decrease in muscle tissue
Higher blood pressure
Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of , higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems.
Click here to see Glycemic Load Table
2. Omega 6 : Omega 3 Fatty Acid Ratio at 1:1
– A healthy diet contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and some omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.
– Gluten—Many people are very sensitive to gluten. Many health problems can be related to gluten. So try to avoid gluten grains, substitute millet or buckwheat.
– The role of Omega-3 EFAs (specifically EPA and DHA) in the promotion of health and the prevention of illness has been studied a great deal in recent years. Both scientists and practitioners are celebrating the results that have been found to date and with every research study the importance of omega 3’s for health promotion and illness prevention becomes more evident. Omega 3 fatty acids are some of the most crucial essential nutrients for human and other animal health ever identified. Over 2000 scientific studies provide evidence of the importance of EPA and DHA essential fatty acids for the maintenance and restoration of health and the prevention of disease. Omega 3’s are extremely important in the structure and function of every cell in the body and the function of your cells is what determines your health. Your cells are what determine your immune function, healing, hormone levels, heart function, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, digestion, moods etc. Literally, the function and health of your cells determines every aspect of your health.
3. Protein 20-30%, Fat 30-40%, Carbohydrates 40-50%
– Protein – So when choosing protein-rich foods, pay attention to what comes along with the protein. Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans and nuts are excellent choices, and they offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry. If you are partial to red meat, stick with the leanest cuts, choose moderate portion sizes, and make it only an occasional part of your diet.
– Fat – Unsaturated fats are called good fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, minimize inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and play a number of other beneficial roles. Unsaturated fats are predominantly found in foods from plants, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Our bodies can make all the saturated fat we need, so we don’t need to eat any of it. That’s why saturated fat can be in the bad category—because we don’t need to eat any of it, and it has undesirable effects in cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats boost total cholesterol by elevating harmful LDL. Like all dietary fat, saturated fat also raises the protective HDL. Unsaturated fat is much preferable since it lowers the bad cholesterol and raises the good.
– Carbohydrates – The best sources of carbohydrates – vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant compounds with properties that are believed to protect health. Easily digested carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.
4. Trace Mineral Deficiency
– Trace minerals are present and required in very small amounts in the body. Trace minerals have specific biological functions. They are essential in the absorption and utilization of many nutrients and aid enzymes and hormones in activities that are vital to life. Trace minerals can be toxic at higher intakes, especially for those minerals whose absorption is not regulated in the body.
5. Alkalinity VS Acidity
– A surprising number and variety of physical problems and diseases can be caused by the problem of foods that are acid-producing after digestion. Today the majority of the population in industrialized nations suffers from problems caused by the stress of acidosis, because both modern lifestyle and diet promote acidification of the body’s internal environment. The current typical Western diet is largely composed of acid-forming foods (proteins, cereals, sugars). Alkaline-producing foods such as vegetables are eaten in much smaller quantities. Stimulants like tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol are also extremely acidifying. Stress, and physical activity (both insufficient or excessive amounts) also cause acidification.
An acidic pH can occur from an acid-forming diet, emotional stress, toxic overload, and/or immune reactions or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients. The body will try to compensate for acidic pH by using alkaline minerals. If the diet does not contain enough minerals to compensate, a build up of acids in the cells will occur. Acidosis can cause an array of health problems.
6. Equal amounts of sodium and potassium are recommended
– Many people know that high sodium intake may lead to hypertension. Approximately 10 percent of people with high blood pressure are sensitive to dietary salt. A reduction in sodium helps lower blood pressure in all people with hypertension. Potassium works with sodium to maintain the body’s water balance. One possible explanation for potassium’s protective effect against hypertension is that increased potassium may increase the amount of sodium excreted from the body. Potassium is essential for good nutrition and health. Meeting the minimum requirement is not difficult if you eat a variety of foods. Maintaining the recommended sodium to potassium ratio, however, may be more difficult. Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. A slight increase in dietary potassium, in addition to a reduction of excess sodium, may be beneficial, especially for people at risk for hypertension.
7. High Fiber Content (Raw Fruits and Vegetables)
– Benefits of consuming high fiber content include normalizing bowels movements if they are irregular, reducing the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, lowering blood cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels and assisting in weight loss just to name a few. If you are not getting enough fiber daily, you may want to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Try to avoid refined or processed foods. The grain refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers its fiber content. Similarly, removing the skin from fruits and vegetables decreases their fiber content. Whole foods rather than fiber supplements are generally better, however, some people may still need a fiber supplement if dietary changes aren’t sufficient. Always check with your doctor first if you feel you need to take fiber supplements.
8. Non Acidic Water
– I wrote a blog last month pertaining to the type of water we should be drinking. You can read it at: What’s in your water bottle?
Water is necessary for every part of the body to function efficiently. Considering that our bodies are almost 2/3 water, it is important to understand water’s role in healthy lifestyles. The following are just some of the things water does in the body. The brain is the most metabolically active organ in the body. It is comprised of 75% water. Your blood is 92% water. Bones and muscles are 22 and 75% water respectively. Other functions of water we tend to overlook include the ability to regulate body temperature, carry nutrients and oxygen into the cells while removing the waste, helps to convert food into usable energy, helps the body absorb nutrients and also acts as a cushion for vital organs and numerous joints throughout the body.
9. Probiotic Sufficiency
– Probiotic bacteria are ESSENTIAL for wellness and prevention. The human body contains 90% microorganisms. Dietary sufficiency of healthy microorganisms (probiotics) is necessary for the proper function of the digestive and immune systems and for overall wellness and prevention. The Western diet is dangerously deficient in probiotic bacteria. Research shows that we now consume one millionth of the healthy probiotic bacteria that we did before pesticides, herbicides, and industrial farming. We also kill many of our probiotic bacteria with poor nutrition, prescription drugs, and stress. This deficiency of healthy probiotic bacteria is implicated as a casual factor in lack of health and an alarming number of preventable illnesses from infancy to old age.
10. Absence of chemical food additives, pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics
– This is an easy concept to grasp for many. I was once told, if you look at the ingredients of an item in the grocery store and you have extreme difficulty pronouncing the word (s), you probably shouldn’t be putting it in your mouth. When patrolling the local supermarket it is best to shop the parameters of the entire market. This is where you will find the fruits and vegetables. Typically the aisles are loaded with canned or boxed goods that have a shelf life of 1-2 years. Anything that can stay in a can for that amount of time is very likely to have an excessive amount of additives. It is best to read the label and check for hazardous additives. One of the most common additives is high fructose corn syrup. It is found in almost everything that is packaged in a can. You may have to spend a little extra time to find a can without this additive but it is definitely worth it in the long run. Another concern that we run into these days is the source of our poultry, pork and beef. It might cost you a bit more to purchase these things from an organic, grass fed farm, but again, definitely worth it in the long run. I understand there are not grass fed cows in all areas. Here is a link from MarksDailyApple.com that provides locations in your state on where to buy grass fed beef: Where to Buy Grass Fed Beef
There is a good chance you might not be following the characteristics of the Innate Diet. More people should be living this way but aren’t for one reason or another. Change takes time and patience. Slowly incorporate one fruit or vegetable each day, and as time goes on, your body will crave the fiber it needs and reject the foods that start the inflammation process. Good luck!
Live your best,