Nutrition: 5 tips for achieving optimal health

Bri Edwards PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Bri Edwards PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

During the past decades, as a culture, we’ve done a great job of making health a luxury that only a few can achieve. Health is no longer seen as a birthright, but as an accessory that can only be bought with trendy supplements and the perfect exercise program.

One of my missions is to change the way our community thinks of health, end the masquerade of achieving it and make it approachable to every human within my reach.

One of the best ways of achieving this is to provide the community with education on health and nutrition that is truly helpful and can lead to not only good health but optimal health.

I believe that these next five health tips are so impactful that slowly integrating them into your life can lead you down a path of longevity, increased vitality and a deeper connection to and appreciation for your health.

Health tip 1: Incorporate protein, carbohydrates and fat into each meal and snack throughout the day. Protein, fats and carbohydrates are incredibly important in keeping our bodies energized, balanced and running optimally. By eliminating any of these three macronutrients from our daily nutrition, we’re depriving our bodies of vital nutrients they need to maintain homeostasis and support our optimal health.

Health tip 2: Reduce consumption of inflammatory oils. When eating to support health, often we overlook the oils that we are consuming. The quality of the oil we cook with can make a big difference in our health, including our hormones.

Inflammatory oils like peanut oil, vegetable oil, seed oils, canola oil and butter substitutes can cause inflammation and decrease the quality of the cells our body is using the fats from these oils to create. In other words, to have high-quality health, we need to consume high-quality fats.

To cut down your exposure to these oils, try cooking at home most of the time as these oils are heavily used in restaurants, by fast food companies and in highly processed food.

Health tip 3: Eat within 60 minutes of waking. One of the most important components of health is blood sugar balance. The best way to set yourself up for balanced blood sugar each day is by eating a protein-rich breakfast, in addition to incorporating carbohydrates and fat. This gives your body the support it needs to feel safe and nourished, which in turn leads to optimal health.

Health tip 4: Honor your hunger cues. Most of us have been sold the idea that to be healthy, we need to get by on as little food as possible. This has led to millions of humans (especially women) destroying their metabolism and driving their stress hormones through the roof. Once this happens, health becomes harder and harder to achieve.

To support your metabolism and keep your body from being bombarded with constant stress hormones, eat when you are hungry. Starving our bodies of vital nutrients and energy sources will never increase our health but honoring your hunger cues with balanced, nutrient-dense meals will.

Health tip 5: Make the quality of your food a top priority. As the quality and freshness of our food has declined in the past decades, so has our health. This is not a coincidence.

We often hear the phrase, “you are what you eat,” which is true. But what also is true is that “you are what you eat eats.”

Eating animal products from animals that are fed natural diets (grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chickens/eggs) or plants that are grown in their natural environment with regard to soil health increases the quality and quantity of the nutrients we are getting from these foods. When the quality of the food that we’re eating increases, the quality of our health increases as well.

Bri Edwards is a holistic health coach at Healthy Foundations in Dubuque.

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