Spring is here. You have been thinking about improving your health but not sure you have the time. Simple works, so here are three quick things you can add to your day that will immediately improve your health!
Increase fiber in your diet by each day enjoying whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits. Legumes are also high fiber wonders. Eat as seasonally as possible and explore high fiber choices like blackberries or raspberries (contain twice as much fiber as blueberries and strawberries), some good greens like collards or some fresh peas.
Why fiber? Science is clear that fiber decreases the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart attacks. The more the better. Be careful your fiber is not mixed with large amounts of sugar (breakfast cereals are often guilty of this). When we realize that on average people in the US consume only 15 grams of fiber a day when people in societies with much lower incidence of disease consume ten times that amount, we might get a clue to the importance of dramatically increasing the fiber in our diet. Just increase your average fiber intake gradually and allow your system to adjust. And be careful not to fall into the trap of making bread your main fiber addition, as that will likely add too much refined carbohydrate.
Flax seeds are the single best source of omega three oils outside of eating fish. They decrease risk of breast and prostate cancer and have an anti-inflammatory effect. And as an added bonus, they are a great high fiber food.
Reminder: Keep your flax seed refrigerated as they oxidize easily. Grind your seeds as needed before sprinkling them on your oatmeal, in your smoothie, on your salad or soup. Recommended serving is 1-2 tablespoons/day
Are you surprised? Healthy fats are a foundation of an anti-inflammatory diet. So grab some cold-water fish, avocados, nuts and extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). These fatty foods provide essential nutrients for your cells and metabolism. On the other hand, most Americans are consuming way too much saturated fat (think meats) and so increasing their chances of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases.
When choosing a cooking oil for sauté or stir fry use EVOO or organic canola oil instead of other vegetable oils. Never reuse oils after cooking, and if the oil smokes, throw it out and start over.
Remember these three Fs… FIBER, FLAX AND FATS. You probably have heard the merits of these before, correct? We learn through repetition, and indeed action is what counts. Your life is worth the effort of these small, simple changes, so … right NOW, put these on your grocery list
To your health,
Robert Pendergrast, MD,MPH