Five To Stay Alive

It's the rare child who actually wants to eat fruits and vegetables. Kids are bombarded by television and radio ads for cereals, candy, and chips that contain huge amounts of sugar and large quantities of saturated fat. The sugar craving begins in childhood - kids quickly develop a taste for sweets. To a child's sugar-sensitized palette, the complex sugars contained in fruits and vegetables are a poor substitute.

We carry these habits into adulthood and our long-term health suffers as a result. Twenty-four hours is not enough time in the day for most of us, and many consistently choose fast foods as a means of satisfying our need for food and a method for limiting the amount of precious time we spend on meal preparation.

But fast foods are not really food in the sense that the nutrition they provide is minimal. Fast foods are essentially empty calories.

In the 1950s and 1960s a well-known health-related slogan was "an apple a day makes the doctor away". This advice represented ancient folk wisdom. Today, decades of research has shown that apples - and all fruits and vegetables - have remarkable health-promoting and disease-fighting properties.

Most fruits and vegetables are packed with magical biochemicals called phytochemicals - "phyto" means plant. Phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their color, so the more colorful a food, the more phytochemicals it contains.

Ongoing research studies show that phytochemicals - of which there are thousands of varieties - provide protection against the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis.1,2

Many phytochemicals are antioxidants and neutralize free radicals in human cells. Others have anti-inflammatory properties - these help slow the aging process.

Fruits and vegetables are so important for our health and well-being that many national organizations have promoted the "five to stay alive rule" - the recommendation is to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day.3

Portions could include any of these - an apple, an orange, a banana, a cup of grapes, a cup of blueberries, a yam, a couple of carrots, a couple of tomatoes, and a couple of tablespoons of broccoli.

For many of us, "five to stay alive" would be a radical departure from our old habits. It might take a little effort to develop new shopping and eating habits, but once you're in the groove it's likely you'll be feeling so much better you'll wonder why you didn't start this healthy-eating plan sooner.

Your chiropractor is an expert on nutritional health and will be glad to help you create a food plan that works for you and your family.

1de Kok TM, et al: Mechanisms of combined action of different chemopreventive dietary compounds: a review. Eur J Nutr 47(Suppl 2):59-59, 2008
2Ware WR: Nutrition and the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: Association of Cytochrome P450 CYP1B1 With the Role of Fruit and Fruit Extracts. Integr Cancer Ther December 2008
3Liu RH: Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action. J Nutr 134(Suppl 12):3479S-3485S, 2004

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        Complete Protein

If fruits and vegetables are so good for you, why not just go all the way and become a vegetarian? This is a choice many people make, and it's certainly a valid option.

Regardless, it's necessary for all of us to ensure our diet contains "complete protein". The proteins that make up most of our body's structures are themselves composed of amino acids - there are approximately 20 known varieties. Of these, eight amino acids are described as "essential" - we need to obtain these essential amino acids via the food we eat.

Essential amino acids are found in turkey, chicken, fish, meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. Vegetarians who do not eat any of these foods must be sure to obtain their daily requirement of essential amino acids.

How much protein should a person eat each day? For good metabolic efficiency, i.e., for fit people who exercise regularly, an approximate measurement is one gram of protein for each pound of body weight.

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