Eating Right and a Healthy Lifestyle: Your Dieting Questions Answered
8 minute read
Everywhere you go there are advertisements offering the best food, the tastiest food, and the healthiest food. How are you supposed to know what to eat?
Every other animal on the planet knows instinctively what and how to eat, but our big brains get in the way (not to mention marketing). Things get complicated when you have favorite foods, tempting foods, and the foods you should and need to eat.
All those tempting pictures, smells, and marketing tactics out there confuse us and have us eating pretty much whatever we see. Unfortunately, most of the food being peddled in this way is convenient but unhealthy.
Processed foods are highly addictive, hooking you into a perpetual cycle of bad eating. Then you have fad diets telling you what to cut out of your diet, and things really become complicated.
All You Need to Know About Eating Right
Researchers collected questions and requests from people all over the country in order to provide an overall guide to eating right. By directly addressing the concerns you have, a guide to eating right was established.
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It is much simpler than people realize, once you get all the hype, fads and advertising out of the way. The top concerns about eating right are discussed below.
1. Is Eating a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet Healthier?
So many people are confused about whether the vegan or vegetarian diet is healthier. The truth is that there is no single diet that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to be healthier.
Everybody’s body is different and some people have intolerances that will affect their diet. You may have trouble digesting some foods and require digestive supplements to help you out. Whatever the case, you need to know your body and how it reacts to determine what is right to eat.
Essentially a diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and water is right for you. Whether you choose to include meat, fish, or dairy is up to personal preference.
2. Is the Paleo Diet Really All It Is Purported to Be?
The Paleo diet is based off of foods our ancestors used to eat and is advertised as being the ultimate healthy diet to follow. A true Paleo diet is indeed very good for you, as this is what our bodies naturally adapted to.
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The problem is that the Paleo diets today have been manipulated and include foods like bacon now. Meat is good for you but not greasy, fatty bacon.
The original diet also included whole grains and natural plant-based foods, which is where the nutrition comes into play. There is still no hard evidence that this diet is better for you, so it may be healthier to just opt for natural food, be it plant or animal based, and to avoid anything processed.
3. Are Juice Cleanses Dangerous?
Juice cleanses are popular because they are thought to cleanse your body of toxins. They are not really dangerous so long as you are already in good health.
However, they are not entirely useful either. Your body naturally removes toxins daily through your liver, spleen, kidneys, and gut, so it would be wiser to take care of those organs rather than periodically do a juice cleanse.
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Foods that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, green tea, walnuts, and kidney beans, are all beneficial for supporting your natural detox systems.
Managing stress, exercising, and getting enough sleep also help to promote health and will allow your body to detoxify itself naturally.
4. What Is the Final Verdict on Eggs?
Individual medical studies do not prove much. It takes a long time to amass enough evidence to make any real statements that approach something definitive.
In the meantime, health news sites often make outlandish, shocking headlines about the findings of whatever study may have just come out the day before. Because of this, it can seem as though science is giving us conflicting reports about many foods.
Eggs are often studied, and can be a prime example of this problem. They are a great source of protein, but are high in cholesterol. Since you are always told to avoid cholesterol, what should you do?
Most of the high blood cholesterol that is dangerous to your health is not from dietary foods, like eggs. It is actually from saturated and trans fats. In moderation, about one per day, eggs are okay for you.
5. What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
This is another diet trend that people follow because it is supposed to be healthy. It deprives you of glucose and forces your body to burn ketones (or fat) for energy.
It may cause you to lose weight, but in the long run it is neither good for you nor bad. Well-rounded diets combined with exercise are better for long-term weight loss and sustained metabolic health.
The only times ketogenic diets scientifically are better are for the treatment of refractory seizures in children.
6. Where Do Carbohydrates Come Into Play?
Some people opt for the high-carb, plant-based diet while others swear by a low-carb diet with meat (Atkins, for example). Evidence overwhelmingly favors a plant-based diet in terms of longevity and vitality.
As for the amount of carbs you eat, it is important to understand that all carbs are not evil. Most plant foods contain carbohydrates, and vegetables and beans are very nutritious, just like your mother told you.
The bottom line is that you cannot have a healthy diet or lifestyle by cutting out carbs completely.
7. How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
Depending on who you are talking to, the answer to this will vary. Ideally, you need 1 gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. There is not a problem with protein deficiency in this country.
If you are looking to build muscles, then you want to increase your intake as well as do the right exercises.
8. Sugar in Moderation Is OK, Right?
Sugar provides calories with no nutritional value. It is absorbed quickly and triggers the release of insulin, which carries excess calories through the bloodstream to be stored as fat, fostering weight gain.
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Sugar also increases your appetite and cravings, causing you to eat more than you should. It is often very difficult to moderate sugar intake, but you can improve your health by limiting processed foods.
You also need to look out for hidden sugars in sauces, snacks, and salad dressings.
9. Does Cooking Food Make It Less Healthy?
Yes and no. Heat from cooking can damage some antioxidants, so eating raw is better, where possible. Of course, heat is also a great way of killing pathogens that are present in something like, for example, raw ground beef.
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Cooking can, however, make some foods more nutritious. The antioxidants in tomatoes are more bioavailable when cooked, broccoli and other dark greens are more easily digested when lightly cooked, and beans are more nutritious when cooked as they cannot be eaten raw.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a final takeaway concerning your diet, it should be that moderation and routine can do a lot more for your health that a get-healthy-quick scheme. Following the basics of eating proteins, carbs, and plenty of fruits/vegetables while avoiding excess sugar and fat will help you stay healthy and even lose weight.
For more help with creating a healthy diet, check other articles on 1MD and consider the many benefits of dietary supplements, like probiotics, for your health.