In this article, fifth in a series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), I will talk about:
A way to improve your diet in order to prevent and reduce the risk of chronic modern diseases, including high blood pressure.
To begin, as we are facing an era of endless amount of contradictory information about nutrition, recommending “miraculous” diets, the best way to refresh our ideas about what diet we should follow is by looking back to our evolutionary history.
As human beings, for millions of years, we could survive on a wide range of nutrient-dense foods that contained both: plants and animals. However, we are the only species of animals on the planet who have been dramatically changing or reinventing our diet and lifestyle. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Profound changes in our diet and in our daily habits took place around the agricultural revolution when we lost our hunter-gather abilities and settled. And since then, our plants and game have been domesticated and transformed in order to satisfy our palate, leaving behind the majority of their fiber, nutrients content and quality. (5, 6)
We have spent millions of years with limited and unpredictable availability of our foods. In contrast, from the agricultural revolution 10,000 /12,000 years ago, with the spread of agriculture is associated with a surprising reduction in the diversity and nutritional quality in our foods. In addition, an increase in caloric availability (60 percent of Standard American Diet is based in three grains: rice, wheat and corn). (7)
That means that as species we experience radical changes, both in our diet as well as in our lifestyle, in a very short period of our existence. 10,000 /12,000 years is nothing when compared to 2.5 billion years of our genes. At this point in our history, we had more food available but, with a great reduction of its nutrition.
In fact, there is evidence that “early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet.” Contradicting, the vastly diversified diet and vigorous lifestyle, our hunter-gathers ancestors had. (8)
Our nutritional needs are individual and depend on a great number of factors such as our health status, stress levels, activity levels, etc. However, somewhat understanding what our ancestors ate is a starting point for understanding how our nutritional needs were shaped. Then, we can improve our diet and lifestyle in a way that benefit our health.
It is great when we understand that extreme changes in our diet template happened over a very short period of time. And these changes are showing to be very risky towards our health. In reality, a true recipe for a disaster. (9, 10)
We are somehow inventively replacing our diet template that was respected for millions of years. And lately, with the food industry producing these professionally crafted “food-like” processed foods, highly rewarding, resulting in the epidemic of obesity and chronic health diseases that we’ve been seeing around us. (11)
Processed foods literally set a "fire" on our body. Differently from the foods that we are genetically adapted to eat, these “foods-like” products are chemically processed and made from refined ingredients, artificial substances, and depleted from fibers and vital nutrients. Products that are designed by the food industry to be highly palatable, filled with colorants, preservatives, and chemicals to make them last in the supermarket shelves for extended periods of time, even years. Also, are enriched with synthetic micronutrients, overloaded with inflammatory refined vegetable oils, excess of sugar and salt, etc.
Then, most of the common modern chronic diseases as obesity, heart disease, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune problems, digestive symptoms such as food intolerance, allergic reactions, Alzheimer’s disease (to name a few), are all driven by chronic inflammation. (12, 13)
Currently, chronic diseases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. And most of these modern chronic conditions are the result of chronic inflammation, resulting from an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. So, preventable. (14, 15, 16)
Think about a forest on fire, and when one tree catches fire, it’s difficult to prevent the entire forest from burning down. (17)
According to Dr. Andrew Luster, of the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, an acute inflammation is not evil per se. It is our body’s way of fight invaders that may cause us infection, as well as being a part of the healing process.
However, when the inflammation is chronic, the same reaction as in an acute inflammation process takes place, except that now the flame persists for long periods of time, damaging tissues, joints, and blood vessels.
With that in mind, it is clear that the choices we make in the supermarket have a huge impact on our body's inflammation. So, the goal to keep body inflammation in check, not letting the “fire” run wild, is to choose a non-inflammatory diet.
As you can now imagine, one way to prevent chronic inflammatory processes is by eliminating the processed and packaged foods in our diet. And as a general rule: if it comes in a bag or box, don’t buy it. (18)
Below there is a list of the inflammatory “food-like” products that should be completely removed from our diet:
• Crackers, chips, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals (one of the worst “foods” on the planet), pancakes, snack bars, packaged pastries, processed flour (even if it is whole and organic because still processed), pasta, bread, etc.;
• Ready packed frozen meals such as prepared pizzas, nuggets, etc;
• Canned foods, unless they are free from preservatives, additives and all the processed ingredients;
• Sugary and processed products including diet sodas and soft drinks, juices, sweet teas, energy drinks, processed honey, candies, cookies, etc.;
• Processed industrial vegetable and seed oils such as corn, canola, sunflower, soy, cottonseed, peanut, etc. In addition, completely avoid margarines and mayonnaise;
• Artificial concentrated sweeteners - Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, etc.;
• Processed sauces, seasonings and syrups such as soy sauces, tamari, mayonnaise, ketchup, processed pancake syrups, sorghum syrups, dips, gravies, seasoning mixes, etc.;
Besides removing from our diet these inflammatory “foods”, it’s essential to feed our body with a nutrient-dense type of diet in order to correct potential nutritional imbalances required to a radiant health.
Then, it is wise to focus on a diverse, high nutrient-dense, and also high nutrient bioavailable diet. Based on fresh (as fresh as possible) ingredients (from the animal and vegetal), with the best quality our money can buy, varied, colorful and rich in available nutrients, easily absorbed and ready to be used for normal body functions. Mimicking the same kind of diet that our ancestors had. (19)
Below, you can find a list of anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense foods to be included in our daily diet:
. High-quality meat and poultry (organic, grass fed, and pasture-raised animals preferable);
. Organ meats that are the most nutritious foods on the planet, and the most concentrated and available source of almost every vital nutrient. Things such as liver, heart, kidney, etc.;
. Bone soup and broths from beef, lamb, poultry, fish and bison. All filled of essential amino acids such as proline and glycine that we can’t efficiently make enough to keep up with our body’s demand;
. Shellfish and fatty fish (unless you are allergic), such as wild salmon, mackerel, herring, fish eggs (amazing source of minerals), oysters, mussels, shrimp, lobster, etc.;
. Free-range and organic eggs (be careful with eggs in the case you are allergic to it or have an autoimmune disease);
. Fermented foods – an incredible source of probiotics and increased bioavailability of micronutrients because of its fermentation process and includes meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, yogurts, kefir, kin chi, kombucha, etc.;
. Fresh vegetables and leafy greens such as cruciferous veggies as broccoli, kale, arugula, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, bok-choy, etc. All packed with phytochemicals, powerful protective against cancer. Also, adding some leafy greens to every meal, in order to booster its micronutrients and fiber content. In general, look for a colorful and diverse plate;
. Starchy Roots and tubers as sweet potatoes, plantain, yuca, taro, potatoes, celery roots, parsnips, boniato, winter squash, etc. All an excellent source of carbohydrates packed with micronutrients and phytochemicals (an excellent carbohydrate source to replace the grains in our diet);
. Fresh fruits, also excellent sources of micronutrients and fiber. Also, delicious;
. Quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, lard, duck fat, chicken fat, red palm oil, etc.
Bystopping the consumption of processed and inflammatory foods and replacing it with a diversified, anti-inflammatory diet, we benefit from vital nutrients needed to correct possible nutritional imbalances and decrease chronic inflammation associated with almost all modern chronic diseases.
Consider food as information for our body readily available after the digestive process occurs. So, by choosing a nutrient-rich diet we have all the right information required to a radiant health and well-being.
Then, summarizing, if you are suffering from any chronic health condition, I recommend you to try for at least 90 days:
. Eliminating processed and inflammatory foods from your diet
. Implementing a nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory diet
In this way, you will be reducing your intake of toxins from processed and refined foods filled with empty calories and also, correcting potential nutritional imbalances in your metabolism. Perhaps, these are exactly the changes your body needs most, in order to improve your health.
Instead of to be waiting for a magic drug to solve your health problem, why not give it a try? Just 90 days!
By implementing these changes in your daily diet, you will notice an incredibly positive difference in your health by reducing blood pressure, regulating your weight, energy levels, better sleep quality, improving blood markers, food allergies, etc. Consequently, these positive changes in your overall health will motivate you to keep eating a nutrient-dense diet as our ancestors did for the last 2.5 billions of years.
In the following articles, I will give you more tips on how to prevent and reverse not only hypertension but all modern chronic health problems.
See you soon and please leave a comment on the link below.