In honour of Earth Day and in appreciation to our bodies here are 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Diet and the Environment
We all know that natural nutrition is essential in preventing disease and bringing our bodies to a place of balance. Little tweaks in your current diet can make all the difference in the world to your health. But did you know that these changes to what you put on your plate can have an impact on the environment?
Follow these 5 easy tips and enjoy your ride to optimum health and a greener earth through natural nutrition:
Eat Whole Foods
This means eat foods that are closet to their natural state or closet too nature. For instance, eat a baked sweet potato as opposed to a bag of potato chips, which has been processed, striped of its nutrients and saturated in oil and salt. Choose sprouted or multi-grain breads over refined wheat where the bran and germ (the reservoir for vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids) have been removed. Try This: Close your eyes and imagine what a “whole food” looks like. Does a cereal box with a picture of a toucan come to your mind? (If so, you definitely need to continue reading) Or does the words “whole food” bring a picture of freshly harvested fruits, vegetables and whole grains?
Most “food” products, if not all, that come neatly packaged in colourful boxes and plastics have been made in a factory where pollutants are being pumped into our air and waste is being spilled into our oceans. Whole foods do great things for your body and even greater things for our earth.
Choose Local and Certified Organic
The term ‘organic’ simple means foods that have not been exposed to pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, fertilizers and other harmful chemicals during their growing stages. More organic food in the diet means less toxins in our soil, air and water and less toxic material entering the body, therefore less work your body has to do to get rid of it and less damage to your body.
Choosing local reduces carbon emissions from planes, trains and automobiles and supports your local farmers. When these non-local foods ride in trucks for a few days they lose some of their nutritional quality and taste. You should also keep in mind that local produce for instance is harvested at its peak whereas non-local is picked when it’s not even fully ripe. This ensures the produce will not rot on its way to the supermarket.
If you’ve ever eaten a tree-ripened peach I don’t need to tell you how it bursts with flavour and juices over the truck-ripened peach which is dry and bland. Ideally you want to eat food that is both organic and local.
Image By “A Gude” on Flickr
Choose foods that are dense in their nutrients
When making food choices concentrate on picking foods that are dense in their nutrients. For example, eat oranges for their vitamin C and Kale for its calcium. Also, go for more nutritious foods; romaine lettuce over iceberg lettuce, yams over white potatoes, brown rice over white rice and lean cut meats over organ meats and pork. A package of frozen french fries is not dense in its nutrients because of the chemicals, fats and salt added to them.
Making your own homemade French fries reduces waste in the landfills and air pollutants spewed from the factories. And of course, they will taste a million times better and will be so much healthier than the packaged kind.
Moderation, Variety and Rotation
We are all human and sometimes you just want to go out for a burger and a beer with your bff. Let yourself have a cheat day and don’t feel guilty about it either. A ‘cheat day’ is an example of having moderation in your diet. But remember a ‘cheat day’ meal is not an ‘everyday meal.’
A Smithsonian study estimates that the need for grazing land and grain feed leads to the destruction of a land area equivalent to seven football fields in the Amazon basin every single minute. This means that if you eat a hamburger from a cow raised in South America, you’re meal has contributed to 55 square feet of rain forest destruction. (1) Still want that Baconator?
Add Variety To Your Plate
A good rule of thumb is to buy brightly coloured fruits and vegetables to ensure you are getting a variety of different vitamins and minerals in your diet. (similar colours=similar nutrients). Lastly, make sure to rotate your foods every day. Eating the same foods day after day can result to food intolerances.(http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-allergy/AN01109)
Image Credit: Bergius
Drink fresh spring or distilled water every day! Divide your body weight by 2 and then divide by 8 to get the number of 8oz glasses of water you should drink per day. Your body needs water to live, detoxify, metabolize fat, transports nutrients and oxygen to cells and moisturize and protect your organs.
Soda pop and so-called nutritious boxed juices come in a variety of plastic, tin and tetra materials which overflow our landfills. Substituting these non-foods with clean drinking water will help reduce landfill waste. Be sure to invest in a stainless steel water bottle to reduce plastic bottle waste in the landfills.
Say No to GMO
Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) and Genetically Engineered Microorganism (GEM) refer to a living organism that has been genetically altered using molecular genetics techniques such as gene cloning and protein engineering, making them more stable and resistant to drought, disease and pesticides. Studies have shown that the B.T. gene used in the GMO crops caused death in organisms such as the monarch butterflies (1).
An article published in Lancet examined the effects of GMO potatoes on the digestive tract in rats (2)(3) This study claimed that there were significant differences in the intestines of rats fed GMO potatoes and rats fed unmodified potatoes which led to pre-mature death. “Would you like to super-size your fries?” Not unless they’re Certified Organic!
On Earth Day 2010 make an effort to find a diet that has balance in nutrients, food groups, flavours and colours. A varied diet will prevent boredom and nutritional imbalances. Be sure to keep it realistic and complementary to your lifestyle that way it becomes a part of your life and not just another ‘fad.’
By incorporating even one of the 5 tips you will not only be nurturing your body but also making a positive difference in preserving our beautiful precious earth. Remember, we only have one Earth and once it’s gone it’s never coming back.
(1) Smithsonian Institution, “Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating,” Science Daily Online, 15 Jan. 2002.
(2) Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae (Nature, Vol 399, No 6733, p 214, May 1999)
(3)Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine (Lancet, Vol 354, No 9187, pp 1353-1354, Oct 1999)
(4)Safety of genetically modified food questioned: Interview with gene scientist, Dr Arpad Pusztai(http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/gmo-j03.shtml )
For more on GMOs visit: http://www.saynotogmos.org/scientists_speak.htm
STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor, PTS, Holistic Nutritionist