10 Rules of the Road for Good Nutrition

By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Here are ten rules to good health that may be easy to follow. You don’t have to comply with all the rules, but the more you follow, the greater the benefit.

Eat more plants

While certain cows may be telling you to “Eat more chickin’,” you should eat a rainbow of plant‐based foods, organically grown, if possible. “Plant‐based” refers to veggies, fruits, nuts (except peanuts), and seeds. “Rainbow” refers to green, yellow, red, orange, and purple produce. Head to the produce section at the local grocery store, and you’ll see a rainbow of colors; select foods from the entire spectrum.

Eating veggies raw or juiced is best, because heating tends to destroy nutrients. If you heat your veggies, steam, bake, or sauté them, and try not to cook them to mush.

Avoid sugar in all forms

Processed sugar in all of its many forms is bad for you, so avoid products that contain any sugar:

  • Sugar is addictive.

  • Sugar contributes to non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that’s now showing up in kids.

  • Sugar causes insulin resistance, which is the precursor to metabolic syndrome and increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, high levels of insulin dampen the hormone that tells you when you’re full, so you just keep eating.

  • Sugar is inflammatory and lowers your immune response, causing chronic pain and frequent illness.

Eat grains rarely, if at all

All grains — wheat, corn, oatmeal, quinoa, rye, and so on — are simple carbohydrates that spike your blood glucose levels. If you want to include grains in your diet, eat no more than one small serving of non‐gluten grains daily.

Grains are not an essential food. In fact, grains are a relatively new food in the history of human evolution, introduced to the human diet a mere 10,000 years or so ago. Many people feel much better on a totally grain‐free diet. Try it, and see how you feel.

Don’t drink your calories

Most calories consumed in the U.S. are empty calories in the form of soda pop, fruit juice, energy drinks, and other beverages loaded with some form of sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup. In addition to spiking your blood glucose and insulin levels, the calories that many of these drinks contain have low or no nutritional value — no fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, phytonutrients, or other nutrients.

The healthiest beverage you can drink is quality, filtered water. Unsweetened green tea, herbal teas, and even coffee are better than the sugary beverages that have become a staple of the standard American diet.

Don’t replace sugary drinks with diet drinks that have artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame. In many ways, diet drinks are worse for you than drinks that contain sugar. And contrary to what many people believe, diet drinks don’t help you lose weight.

Drink plenty of water

Your body is about 70 percent water, and every cell in your body requires water to function properly, so drink 8 ounces of water every two waking hours. Drink more on days you exercise or are exposed to hotter, drier conditions than normal. (Drink half your weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, then drink 100 ounces of water daily.)

Exercise regularly

Exercise is essential for improving every aspect of health, including lung function, circulation, digestion, detoxification, brain function, bone density, and muscle tone. It improves mood, boosts energy, and makes you look and feel younger. Do some form of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes at least every other day along with at least three days a week of strength training — some sort of resistance exercise, such as lifting weights or doing pushups, pull‐ups, crunches, burpees, and so on (all of which use your own body weight).

Don’t be a weekend warrior. Getting all of your exercise in one or two days a week may actually be harmful, increasing oxidation and free radicals that damage cells. Exercising regularly is the only way to reap the health benefits of exercise.

Stop eating when you’re 80 percent full

How you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Follow the Japanese rule of hara hachi bu — eat until you are 80 percent full. When you stop eating before you’re bursting at the seams, you naturally lose weight and are likely to eliminate any problems related to indigestion, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Chew your food to liquid before swallowing and stop eating three hours before bed.

Healthy living starts in your gut. Proper digestion enables your body to more fully absorb nutrients and prevent a host of autoimmune disorders related to leaky gut and food allergies and sensitivities.

Get an oil change

Replace bad fats with good fats:

  • Bad fats: Sources of bad fats are margarine; shortening; fried foods; hydrogenated peanut butter; microwaved foods, such as popcorn, that form bad fats during microwaving; commercially prepared cookies, crackers, and chips; chocolate candy; doughnuts and other pastries; and many processed foods.

    Sources of bad saturated fats include hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, rancid (sharp‐smelling) oils, poultry skin, high‐temp deep fried foods, cheese, and red meat (beef, pork, and lamb). Avoid fatty cuts of meat and items cooked or prepared with high amounts of saturated fats, such as butter, but keep in mind that butter is better for you than margarine.

  • Good fats: Sources of good fats include olive oil, sesame seeds and oil, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts/filberts, avocados, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, cashews, and pine nuts. Avoid peanuts, canola, and soybean oil. Purchase good quality oils in tinted bottles labeled “cold pressed” and “extra virgin” or “first‐pressing.”

    Good sources of omega‐3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) are flaxseeds and oil, walnuts, algae, dark leafy green vegetables, cold water fish (cod, salmon, tuna), and pumpkin seeds (avoid soybean and canola, which are mostly genetically modified). Good sources of omega‐6 are flaxseed oil (cold pressed); walnuts; safflower, sunflower, and sesame oils (avoid grapeseed oil); and tahini.

Keep in mind that heat and light can change the composition of fats and oils. For medium heat (375 to 449 degrees Fahrenheit [190.6 to 231.7 degrees Celsius]), use olive oil. For high heat, use coconut or palm oil, which are the most stable under higher heat conditions (450 degrees Fahrenheit [232.2 degrees Celsius] or higher).

Don’t eat low‐fat, fat‐free, light, or reduced‐fat foods. Manufacturers simply replace the fat with sugar. Healthy fats are good for you. Sugar is bad for you. Low‐fat or nonfat foods don’t help you lose weight or lower your cholesterol.

Don’t fall victim to pharmageddon

Pharmageddon is a common phenomenon in which a patient is prescribed a medication and then must take another medication to treat illnesses caused by the first medication. For example, many antipsychotic medications cause obesity and type 2 diabetes, requiring insulin and medications to treat weight gain. Acid blockers cause anemia. Certain blood pressure medications cause erectile dysfunction.

Powerful anti‐inflammatory medications to control arthritic pain often cause kidney damage leading to dialysis. Long‐term use of ibuprofen may lead to heart attack, stroke, and gastric bleeding. Acetaminophen can cause liver failure. All these adverse reactions require more drugs, and the next thing you know you’re on a dozen medications. Welcome to Pharmageddon.

Take the least amount of medication for the shortest period of time. Your doctor has no way of predicting how medications are likely to interact with one another or with your genetic makeup. It’s diagnosis by prescription — a trial‐by‐error approach with you as the guinea pig.

Get enough sleep

You need to sleep about one‐third of every day to rest your body and give it time to repair itself. Some people need more sleep than others, and you may need a little more or less sleep, depending on what’s going on in your life. However, if you’re getting less than five hours or more than ten hours, or if you’re worn out soon after waking, you have a problem.