Let’s Recap the first 2 Weeks…
GOAL 1: 1L of water per day.
GOAL 2: Adding a healthy fat to breakfast.
This Week: Veggies at Dinner
Eating vegetables with dinner does two things for us:
- Decreases systemic inflammation and
- Improves gut health via fiber.
Low-level, chronic inflammation is associated with 7 of the 10 leading causes of mortality.
Vegetables are the pound-for-pound king of anti-inflammatory nutrients. If we want to stay alive and be mobile we need to eat vegetables.
Vegetables are also the most potent food source of fiber (prebiotics), which act as fertilizer for good bacteria in the gut.
We will eat cooked vegetables with dinner.
There are benefits to cooking vegetables as well as to eating them raw, but for the sake of digestion overnight and because most of us like a hot meal for dinner, we’ll save raw vegetables for later down the road.
Cooking vegetables breaks down the plants’ thick cell walls and aids the body’s uptake of some nutrients bound to those cell walls.
Two examples are tomatoes and carrots.
When to compared to their raw counterparts, cooked tomatoes have 35% more of the antioxidant Lycopene and cooked carrots have increased levels of the antioxidant Beta-carotene.
You’ll get similar anti-inflammatory benefits with many other cooked vegetables. Increased absorption of anti-oxidants and improved gut health before bed will result in a better night’s sleep.
A better night’s sleep will result in a more productive day tomorrow, so make it a habit to eat cooked vegetables with dinner every night.
Let’s Talk About Carbs
We want to minimize or do away with refined sugar and most grains in our kitchens.
Carbs you should eat come from three sources: vegetables, fruit, and starches.
Vegetables are good for you, and odds are you are not getting enough of them. There’s a pretty easy fix for that: eat more vegetables.
Vegetables are the pound-for-pound king of micronutrient density. They contain large amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Green leafy vegetables are predominantly what you eat in salads. Kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce are all great sources of magnesium, fiber, and a broad spectrum of antioxidants.
Cruciferous vegetables (i.e. cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) play an important part in providing fiber.
They also detoxify the body in three main ways:
- Breaking the toxin down and removing it from its location in the body.
- Moving that toxin to the digestive tract to be eliminated
- Teaming up with fiber to remove toxins from the body.
There is no such thing as a bad vegetable, so anything in the grocery store is fair game.
That said, avoid canned soup and juices.
See below the list of “clean 15” and “dirty dozen” vegetables to prioritize which vegetables you should spend extra money on for the organic label.
The “clean 15” are the top 15 produce items with the least amount of residual pesticides in conventional farming practices; in contrast, the dirty dozen are the 12 produce items with the most residual pesticides from conventional farming.
Fruit is good for you.
The concept that fruit makes people fat is completely misguided.
Fruit is a great sources of antioxidants, and incorporating different types of fruit such as berries, tropical varieties, and citrus diversifies your antioxidant profile.
Antioxidants are your cells’ defenders.
Different antioxidants protect different cells, so it’s important to vary your antioxidant consumption.
The misconception that fruit is “bad” is the result of what people do with fruit. A prime example is fruit juice.
A 12-ounce glass of grapefruit juice requires three to four grapefruits, but no one eats three to four grapefruits in one sitting! Bottled juice has preservatives and is usually spiked with added sugar.
Furthermore, juice doesn’t contain any fiber to fertilize the gut or blunt the insulin spike from the excess sugar. In a lot of cases, “juice” is just a sugar water drink with artificial fruit flavoring and a small amount of actual fruit.
The only acceptable way of eating fruit is whole, fresh or frozen. Avoid canned fruit. Canned in syrup or juice often means “in sugar water.”
Good choices are berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and others. Polyphenolics in berries activate the brain’s natural “housekeepers,” which clean up and recycle biochemical debris that would otherwise get in the way of brain function.
Left unchecked, this debris may accelerate age-related memory loss and other mental decline. The polyphenolics in berries not only slow or stop this process, but can also reverse it.
Only buy organic berries, as they’re are one of the most heavily sprayed conventional crops in the world. You can save some money by buying frozen organic berries. I like to buy frozen berries as they are much cheaper.
Citrus—grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes—is not just for fighting off colds but for recovery from workouts.
Citrus is a potent source of intracellular electrolytes magnesium and potassium, which increase cellular hydration after a workout.
Citrus is also the best source of vitamin C, an anti-oxidant that aids in recovery. Training is a stress on the body that creates inflammation.
Vitamin C reduces that inflammation, allowing the immune system to focus elsewhere.
Reduced inflammation in the body also means fewer stress hormones are produced. It’s a win for everyone.
When shopping for other fruits, opt for organic apples, peaches, nectarines, berries and grapes. Save money and go conventional on pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, grapefruit, and melons.
Avoid juices (aka sugar water), dried fruits that are coated in sugar and/or preservatives, and canned or jarred fruits.
Starches have nutritional value, but their main purpose is fuel.
Starch is a slower digesting carbohydrate that produces glucose at a slower rate than sugar, better managing blood sugar for red blood cells.
Potatoes, white, red, yellow, purple, orange—and all the others in-between—have value.
Their nutritional profile varies, but they all are good for you.
For example, sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene but white potatoes are high in vitamin B6.
Chris Voigt, the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, ate 20 potatoes a day for 60 straight days and lost 20 pounds during that time, all while lowering his cholesterol from 214 to 147. That’s a 31% reduction in 60 days.
Now, I’m not recommending you eat 20 potatoes a day for the next 60 days, but it’s important to de-vilify white potatoes.
White rice is basically glucose—a quality source of fuel, cheap, portable, and easy to cook.
Be careful to cook your own rice so you don’t get rice made in corn oil or some other industrial seed oil.
One of my favorite ways to eat rice to prepare sushi rice and mix in a splash of rice vinegar and sea salt.
The vinegar significantly reduces the insulin response and the salt adds a bit of trace minerals.
It also makes a tasty rice dish to eat cold if you don’t want to heat up your lunch.
Squash are both vegetables and starches.
Summer squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash, have a relatively low starch content, but winter squash such as acorn, butternut, and spaghetti are a great source of starch.
Starchy or not, squash are highly nutritious.
For instance, winter squashes are among the best plant-based sources of omega-3 (ALA) and beta-carotene.
Further, the B vitamins and magnesium in both summer and winter squash aid blood sugar management.
When buying squash, choose summer squash for vegetables, winter squash for starches, and always organic for both.
Gluten-free rolled oats are great, but stay away from the instant varieties.
Oats have a low impact on blood sugar due to the high fiber, particularly beta-glucan, which boosts the immune response to infection by neutralizing fungi and bacteria.
Avenanthramide is a polyphenol unique to oats that is a potent anti-inflammatory.
Incorporate rolled oats into your starch rotation for anti-oxidant diversification.
***Remember, if you have not completed weeks 1 & 2 goal, please refer back to them and start again. Keep strong, stay Disciplined!