Your entire body is made from the food you eat and the water you drink. The human body is roughly 63% water, 22% protein, 13% fat, 2% minerals and vitamins. Eating the highest quality food in the right quantity helps you to achieve your highest potential for health, weight control, vitality and freedom from disease. In short, a long and healthy life. Based on 12 years research at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition here’s how to eat yourself to better health.
There are two kinds: saturated (hard) fat, and unsaturated fat which comes from seed and nut oils or fish. It is neither essential to eat saturated fat, nor ideal to eat too much. The main sources are meat and dairy products. There are also two kinds of unsaturated fats: mono-unsaturated fats, rich in olive oil; and poly-unsaturated fats, found in other nuts and seeds. Certain poly-unsaturated fats are essential. These are called linoleic and linolenic acid and are vital for the brain and nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and skin. A common sign of deficiency is dry skin.
The optimal diet provides a balance of these two essential fats, also known as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. Linoleic acid (Omega 6) is rich in sesame and sunflower seeds, while linolenic acid (Omega 3) is rich in pumpkin and flax seeds. Linolenic acid is converted in the body into DHA and EPA, which are also rich in mackerel, herring, salmon and tuna. These essential fats are easily destroyed by heating or exposure to oxygen, so having a fresh daily source is important. Processed foods often contain hardened or ‘hydrogenated’ poly-unsaturated fats. These are worse for you than saturated fat and are best avoided.
Eat 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed seed oil (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, flax seed etc.) or 1 heaped tablespoon of ground seeds a day.
Avoid fried food, burnt or browned fat, saturated and ‘hydrogenated’ fat.
Protein is made out of 22 amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body. , As well as being vital for growth and repair of body tissue they are used to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies, neurotransmitters and helps transport substances around the body. Both the quality of the protein you eat, determined by the balance of these amino acids, and the quantity you eat is important.
In terms of quantity the Government recommends that we obtain 15 per cent of our total calorie intake from protein, but gives little guidance as to the kind of protein. This is in sharp contrast to the average breast-fed baby who receives just 1 per cent of it’s total calories from protein and manages to double it’s birthweight in six months. This is because the protein from breast milk is very good quality and easily absorbed. Assuming good quality protein, 10 per cent of calorie intake, or around 35 grams of protein a day is an optimal intake for most people, unless pregnant, recovering from surgery or undertaking large amounts of exercise.
The best quality protein foods in terms of amino acid balance include eggs, quinoa, soya, meat, fish, beans and lentils. Animal protein sources tend to contain a lot of undesirable saturated fat. Vegetable protein sources tend to contain additional beneficial complex carbohydrates and are less acid-forming than meat. It is best to limit meat to three times a week. In real terms it is difficult not to achieve adequate protein from any diet that includes three meals a day, whether that be vegan, vegetarian or meat-eating. Many vegetables, especially ‘seed’ foods like runner beans, peas, corn or broccoli contain good levels of protein and help to neutralise excess acidity which can lead to mineral losses including calcium, hence the higher risk for osteoporosis among frequent meat-eaters.
Eat 2 servings of beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu (soya), ‘seed’ vegetables or other vegetable protein, or 1 small serving of meat, fish, cheese, or a free-range egg a day.
Avoid excess animal source protein.
Carbohydrate is the main fuel for the body. It comes in two forms: ‘fast-releasing’ as in sugar, honey, malt, sweets and most refined foods, and ‘slow releasing’ as in wholegrains, vegetables and fresh fruit. The latter foods contain more complex carbohydrate and/or more fibre, both of which help to slow down the release of sugar. Fast releasing carbohydrates tend to give a sudden burst in energy, followed by a slump, while slow-releasing carbohydrates provide more sustained energy and are therefore preferable. Refined foods like sugar or white flour lack the vitamins and minerals needed for the body to use them properly and are best avoided. The perpetual use of fast-releasing carbohydrates can give rise to complex symptoms and health problems. Some fruit, like bananas, dates and raisins, contain faster releasing sugars and are best kept to a minimum by people with glucose related health problems. Slow-releasing carbohydrate foods - fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains - should make up two thirds of what you eat, or around 70 per cent of your total calorie intake.
Eat 3 or more servings of dark green, leafy and root vegetables such as watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans, peppers, raw or lightly cooked.
Eat 3 or more servings of fresh fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, berries, melon or citrus fruit.
Eat 4 or more servings of whole grains such as rice, millet, rye, oats, wholewheat, corn, quinoa as cereal, breads or pasta.
Avoid any form of sugar, foods with added sugar, white or refined foods.
Rural Africans eat about 55 grams of dietary fibre a day, compared to the UK average intake of 22 grams. The ideal intake is not less than 35 grams a day. It is easy to get this amount of fibre, which absorbs water in the digestive tract making the food contents bulkier and easier to pass through the body, by eating wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans on a daily basis. Fruit and vegetable fibre helps slow down how quickly sugar is absorbed into the blood, helping to maintain good energy levels. Cereal fibre is particularly good at preventing constipation and putrefaction of foods, which are underlying causes of many digestive complaints. Refined diets that are orientated towards meat, eggs, fish and dairy produce will undoubtedly lack fibre.
Eat wholefoods - wholegrains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Avoid refined, white and overcooked foods.
Two thirds of the body is made of water which is therefore our most important nutrient. The body loses 1.5 litres of water a day through the skin, lungs, gut and via the kidneys as urine, ensuring toxic substances are eliminated from the body. We also make about a third of a litre of water a day when glucose is ‘burnt’ for energy. Therefore, the minimum water intake from food and drink is more than 1 litre a day. The ideal intake is around 2 litres a day.
Fruit and vegetables are around 90% water, and provide water in a form that is very easy for the body to use, at the same time providing the body with a high percentage of its vitamins and minerals. These foods can provide a litre of water, leaving 1 litre of water a day as an ideal intake, taken as water or in diluted juices, herb or fruit teas. Alcohol, tea and coffee cause the body to lose water, so are not recommended as sources of fluid intake. In addition, alcohol, tea and coffee rob the body of valuable minerals.
Drink 1 litre of water a day as water or in diluted juices, herb or fruit teas.
Minimise intake of alcohol, coffee or tea.
Vitamins are needed in much smaller amounts than fat, protein or carbohydrate and are no less important. They turn enzymes on, which in turn make all body processes happen. Vitamins are needed to balance hormones, produce energy, boost the immune system, make healthy skin, protect the arteries, are vital for the brain, nervous system and just about every body process. Vitamins A, C and E are anti-oxidants and keep you young by slowing down the ageing process and protecting the body from cancer, heart disease, and pollution. B and C vitamins are vital for turning food into mental and physical energy. Vitamin D, found in milk, eggs, fish and meat, helps control calcium balance. It can also be made in the skin in the presence of sunshine. B and C vitamins are richest in living foods - fresh fruit and vegetables. Vitamin A comes in two forms: retinol, the animal form found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce; and beta-carotene, found in red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E is found is seeds, nuts and their oils and helps protect essential fats from going rancid.
Eat 3 or more servings of dark green, leafy and root vegetables and 3 or more servings of fresh fruit plus some nuts or seeds every day.
Supplement a multi-vitamin containing at least the following:
Vitamin A 2,250µg
Vitamin D 10µg
Vitamin E 100mg
Vitamin B1 25mg
B5 (pantothenic acid) 50mg
Folic acid 50µg
Also supplement 1,000mg of vitamin C a day.
To order supplements online visit Totally Nourish who stock a wide range of good quality supplements.
Minerals, like vitamins, are essential for just about every body process. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus help make up the bones and teeth. Nerve signals, vital for the brain and muscles, depend on calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. oxygen is carried in the blood by an iron compound. Chromium helps control blood sugar levels. Zinc is vital for all body repair, renewal and development. Selenium and zinc help boost the immune system. Brain function depends on adequate magnesium, manganese, zinc and other essential minerals. These are but a few out of thousands of key roles minerals play in human health. We need a large amount of calcium and magnesium each day, which are found in vegetables such as kale, cabbage and root vegetables. They are also rich in nuts and seeds. Calcium alone is rich in dairy produce. Fruits and vegetables also provide large amounts of potassium and small amounts of sodium, which is the right balance. All ‘seed’ foods, which includes seeds, nuts, lentils and beans, as well as peas, broad beans, runner beans, wholegrains and even broccoli, the heads of which are the seeds, are good sources of iron, zinc, manganese and chromium. Selenium is rich in any food beginning with ‘se’ - seafood, seaweed and seeds, especially sesame.
Eat 1 serving of mineral-rich foods such as kale, cabbage, root vegetables, low-fat dairy such as yoghurt, seeds or nuts such as almonds, as well as plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholefoods such as lentils, beans and wholegrains.
Supplement a multi-mineral containing at least the following: calcium 150mg, magnesium 75mg, iron 10mg, zinc 10mg, manganese 2.5mg, chromium 50µg, selenium 25µg.
Organic, unadulterated wholefoods have formed the basis of the human diet through the ages. Only now in the 20th century has the human race been subjected to countless man-made chemicals found in food and the environment.
One foundation of health is to eat foods that provide exactly the amount of energy required to keep the body in perfect balance. A good deal of energy is wasted trying to disarm these alien and often toxic chemicals, some of which are incapable of elimination and accumulate in body tissue. It is now impossible to avoid all such substances as there is nowhere on this planet that is not contaminated in some way from the by-products of our modern chemical age. Choosing organic foods whenever possible is the nearest we can get to eating a pure diet today. By supporting the movement back to pure, organic food we help to minimise the damage of chemical pollution which poses a real threat to the future of humanity.
Raw, organic food is the most natural and beneficial way to take food into the body. Many foods contain enzymes that help digest them once the food is chewed. Raw food is full of vital phytochemicals whose effect on our health may prove as important as vitamins and minerals. Cooking food destroys enzymes and can reduce the activity of phytochemicals.
Eat organic as much as possible. Make sure at least half your diet is raw fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
Avoid processed food with lists of additives and cook foods as little as possible.
Top Ten Tips for Perfect Health.
1. heaped tablespoon of ground seeds or 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed seed oil
2. servings of beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu (soya), or ‘seed’ vegetables
3. pieces of fresh fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, berries, melon or citrus fruit.
4. servings of whole grains such as rice, millet, rye, oats, wholewheat, corn, quinoa as cereal, breads or pasta.
5. servings of dark green, leafy and root vegetables such as watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas and peppers.
6. glasses of water, diluted juices, herb or fruit teas.
7. Eat whole, organic, raw food as much as you can.
8. Supplement a high strength multivitamin and mineral and 1,000mg of vitamin C a day.
9. Avoid fried, burnt, or browned food, ‘hydrogenated’ fat and excess animal fat.
10. Avoid any form of sugar, white, refined or processed food with chemical additives and minimise your intake of alcohol, coffee or tea - max 1 alcoholic drink a day.
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