Nutrition You Can Count On
If you’ve been around the last few decades you’ve probably noticed our societies obsession with calorie counting. From Weight Watchers to Zero calorie soda, we are constantly inundated with the message that less calories and less fat equals skinnier, healthier bodies. But the sale of low calorie products and obesity rates are both on the rise. Here’s the truth about calorie counting and the importance of something called nutrient density.
Quality vs. Quantity
The truth is most empty-calorie foods are highly processed foods that contain added saturated fats and sugar. Examples include baked products such as cakes, cookies, pies and pastries as well as puddings, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, breaded fried burgers and ice cream. Empty-calorie foods also make up most of the long shelf life foods and beverages sold in vending machines such as chips, salted snacks, candy, soda, energy and sports drinks. Although empty-calorie foods are cheaper and more readily available than nutrient-dense foods, habitual consumption of these foods can have a negative effect on health.
So what’s the deal with nutrient density? Nutrient dense foods are foods that have a high ratio of vitamins and minerals and healthy fats per calorie content. Nutrient dense foods are easily recognizable as whole foods like vegetables and fruits. What makes these foods so special is their bio-availability, meaning they have a higher degree of nutrients which are available for absorption and utilization in the body. It takes less energy to digest these foods and they produce longer lasting energy levels.
Here’s an example of nutrient density in action: Let’s say you are low in Vitamin E. If you eat 1 slice of whole wheat bread containing approximately 130 calories, the Vitamin E content would come to 0.3mg. Comparatively, if you were to eat 1 cup of spinach, calorie content is only 7 calories which contains 3.7mg of Vitamin E. That’s more than 12x the amount of Vitamin E in 1/18th the amount of calories!
Cravings & Blood Sugar
It seems simple, eat more vegetables and be healthier. But that can be a tall order if you struggle with cravings. So where do cravings come from and what are they trying to tell us? The name of the game is insulin. Here’s how it works, imagine you get up in the morning and have a typical American breakfast: large coffee with cream and sugar, a doughnut and some bacon. Your body quickly digests all the bread and sugar as your pancreas starts producing large amounts of the hormone insulin. You experience this as a spike in blood-sugar which gives you a rush of energy. You’re feeling great as this also stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine in the pleasure and reward center of your brain, but like any high this is short lived as the body can’t sustain the overproduction of these hormones and chemicals.
Suddenly you experience an equal and opposite reaction, you crash. By the time lunch rolls around you’re not only starving but exhausted. So maybe you intended to have a salad for lunch but after eating that you don’t feel satisfied so you also grab another large coffee and cheeseburger with french fries. For most Americans this is a typical day. We are riding peaks and valleys of insulin production, causing intense cravings, mood swings and highly variant energy levels.
What our bodies really want is simple, nutrient dense, high fiber foods. These are things like leafy greens, squash, avocado, carrots, cabbage, etc. When we eat these foods that are high in fiber and nutrients, our bodies take longer to digest them. This means that as the body is breaking them down the pancreas begins to slowly release insulin, and blood sugar levels rise slowly and steadily over time, reaching a peak that lasts hours and sets the body down gently. So if you were to start your day out with a fried egg, some asparagus and cup of raw spinach and an avocado, by the time lunch came that ravenous craving for more insulin and dopamine spiking foods would be greatly reduced.
Keep It Simple
If you’re stuck in a high blood-sugar cycle and not sure how to get out of it, don’t worry! You don’t have to quit the doughnuts and coffee. It’s as simple as starting to crowd out the ‘bad’ with the ‘good’. Before you drink your coffee try drinking a large glass of water. Maybe add a vegetable to your morning routine, then have your doughnut. You’ll be amazed how adding high nutrient foods will dramatically reduce your cravings until the less healthy choices just start to fall away.
If you’re wondering which foods are best to incorporate, its really very simple: eat the rainbow. If it grows from the ground (fruits & vegetables) and has a vibrant color it’s a nutrient dense food. The darker green vegetables like collards and kale are the richest and most fibrous veggies, while everything from eggplant to peaches has value that your body will love. Still everyone is different so try experimenting with new foods to see which ones feel best and produce the most energy for you.
If you want to know more contact The Natural Body Shop and set-up an appointment to learn more about the importance of nutrition and colon health and how colonics help with detox symptoms and cravings.
Nancy Foss The Natural Body Shop Boulder, CO 720-304-6223