In this book you will find thirteen simple, applicable principles to help you change those old, unhealthy habits, without sacrificing any of life's fun. They are easy to adopt and include practical, daily exercises to help set you on the path to a longer, healthier life.
The author believes in enjoying life and sees food as playing a major role in that enjoyment. The key principles he proposes in What Are You Doing to Your Body? offer users the chance for a healthier life that they can truly enjoy! The earlier we start healthy living, the better we'll be in our later years. We only live once. Why not make the best of life's wonderful journey?
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What Are You Doing to Your Body?Thirteen Simple Changes Can Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life
By Alon Biran
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Alon Biran
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEat What Nature Intended
Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. -Albert Einstein
Let's take a step back from the daily rat race for a moment and look a little more closely at ourselves. Do you realize that we are really just upright apes with extremely developed brains? That's right, according to The American Museum of Natural History, genetically our DNA is a 98.8 percent match with chimpanzees! And what do these close cousins eat? Let's have a look:
1. Orangutan: Living in the treetops of the rainforest of Indonesia, this large, gentle red ape is one of our closest relatives, sharing 97 percent of the same DNA as humans. Their diet is made up of bark, leaves, flowers, a variety of insects, and most importantly, over three hundred kinds of fruit.
2. Gorilla: Gorillas are predominantly herbivores, eating mostly plant material. They forage for food in the forests during the day. They eat leaves, fruit, seeds, tree bark, plantbulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They have been known to eat various parts of over two hundred different plant species. Occasionally, gorillas supplement their diet with termites and ants.
3. Chimpanzee: Chimpanzees are omnivores (eating plants and meat). They forage for food in the forests during the day, eating leaves, fruit, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They also eat termites, ants, and small animals (they have even been known to eat young monkeys).
A close look at these diets tells us that our closest relatives thrive predominantly on plants, roots, and fruits, supplementing occasionally with animal source protein in the form of prey or insects. It only makes sense that what is good for our closest relatives should be good for us.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in living enzymes that are vital for proper digestion of food. In addition, they contain vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants essential to our health and longevity, as well as fiber that is crucial for intestine health. I can't stress enough the importance of eating at least one large serving of fresh fruits and/or vegetables every day.
Mother Nature has designed a perfect kitchen for us, one that offers the right food at the right season. However, in the United States and other Western countries some fruits and vegetables are available year-round thanks to globalization.
Nevertheless, choosing fruits and vegetables in season and locally grown can be extremely beneficial. With every day that elapses from the time a fruit or a vegetable is picked at the field or orchard, to the time it reaches your plate it loses its freshness and vitality. This means you receive fewer enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
And where can you buy locally grown fruits and vegetables? At farmers' markets; most large cities now operate farmers' markets, and they are a great source for locally grown produce. If you can't get to a farmers' market, one way of knowing when fruits and vegetables are in season is watching their price; when the price drops you know the produce is in season. For example, the price of berries drops by almost half between end of April to end of June, and you should cash on it.
Other staples of the modern diet are grains and legumes (beans). These impose a challenge on modern-day diets for dietitians and nutritionists alike, as most of them endorse these foods as being super-foods and extremely beneficial to our health.
The reality, though, is that if you were dropped in a middle of a wheat or rice field without means of igniting fire, you would not be able to consume these foods. However, if you were extremely hungry, you would have been able to chew their sprouts. According to Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, head of The Integrative Institute of Nutrition in New York City, most legumes and grains are seeds and as such contain phytic acid in the outer layer of the barn, which makes them hard to digest. This is nature's way to protect these seeds from being eaten by animals before they had a chance to sprout.
However, once they sprout this phytic acid breaks down, and it becomes easier to digest these grains or legumes. The conclusion is that grains and legumes have to be consumed after they are sprouted, a process that occurs after they have been soaked in water for a few hours. If you were to examine the way traditional people eat legumes, you would realize that they always soak them in water for at least twelve hours, and even restaurants who serve legumes usually soak them for a few hours, which is good news. When it comes to grains, it is much harder to find sprouted products, although they do exist-mostly in health food stores.
My recommendation is that whenever you cook legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and green peas at home, you should soak them first for at least eight hours. You can do the same with many grains such as rice, oats, quinoa, barley, etc. As far as bread, it's best to avoid it unless you can find sprouted bread, which is available in health food stores and even in some supermarkets.
The Meat of It All
This brings me to one of the most controversial areas of nutrition today. The debate of whether we were supposed to eat meat or not has raged in the nutrition world for decades. My view in this respect is that biologically and structurally we were not designed to consume meat. Our jaw can move from side to side in order to grind but carnivores' jaws can only move up and down for tearing and biting. A carnivore's teeth are sharp and pointed for killing and tearing up prey, but we have molars for crushing and grinding. A carnivore's intestines are three times the length of its trunk, allowing meat to move through quickly so it won't rot. Ours are twelve times the length of the trunk, designed to extract as much nutrients as possible from fibrous food such as fruits, roots, and vegetables. I'll get back to this point a little later.
However, over thousands of years we have probably adjusted to consume animal-based protein in moderate quantities. The fact that our closest natural relatives, chimpanzees, do so, as well as the fact that we rely on animal products for vitamin B12 and the argument that early humans shed their hair and developed more sweat glands in order to out-run animals (see chapter 4, "Running") all point in this direction.
Here's the problem with meat, though; as seen in the movie Fast Food Nation, the animals (that includes beef, pork, and fowl) whose meat we are consuming are in large part grown in commercial farms in inhuman, crowded, sedentary conditions (and that is a social conscious issue as well). They are injected with hormones to speed up their growth and antibiotics to prevent infections. And you ingest all of this when you eat their meat-the hormones, the antibiotics, the fat of an animal that didn't move much and was living in its own manure and worst of all, the emotions of fear and anxiety of an animal that was living in grave conditions before it went to be slaughtered.
That brings me back to the length of our intestines; our intestines are designed to digest large amounts of fiber but are not designed for meat consumption and extraction. When you eat a diet that is rich in animal protein and lacks fiber, some portions of meat tend to get stack to the intestinal walls, rot, and ferment. This rotten meat fragments lead to growth of bacteria and infection inside the intestines, which later can lead to colorectal cancer, the second deadliest form of cancer.
As a matter of fact, a large federal study of AARP members published recently at Archives of Internal Medicine found that people between the ages of fifty and seventy one years old who consumed on average 4.5 ounces of red meat per day increased their chances of dying from heart failure 31 percent for men and 50 percent for women. For processed meat, the highest intakes of 1.5 ounces per day were associated with a 16 percent overall increased risk of dying in men and 25 percent increased risk in women. Cancer risk was about 20 percent higher in those who ate the most red meat, and 10 percent higher in those who ate the most processed meats.
The Organic Way to Eat
After reading this chapter I hope that you'll reach the same conclusion as I have: the proper diet for those of us seeking health, longevity, and vitality should consist of fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, and nuts in abundance, grains and legumes in moderation, and unless vegetarian, meat (preferably organic and/or grass fed) or fish once or twice per week. Wild-caught fish is the best option, as it's free of saturated fat and is loaded with essential fatty acids (more on fats in chapter 7).
I also highly recommend choosing organic whenever possible. Organic food is free of herbicides, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics and contains more vitamins and minerals than non-organic food. When you choose organic food you not only help your own body but you also make a statement on a much larger scale about maintaining earth's biodiversity, which is so essential for the rest of our existence.
For those of you who shy away from organic food because of its price, keep this in mind; the more you and other people buy organic food, the less it will cost. In addition, most big supermarket chains now offer organic options at a cost very similar to non-organic food. So, the next time you buy non-organic food, think of all the deadly, toxic chemicals you're ingesting. Then consider that for just a few pennies more per pound you can have food that is completely clean and more potent.
Want more incentives? I promise you'll see the payback in reduced medical bills over the years to come.
Getting in the Habit
The next time you visit the supermarket, pay attention to what's in your cart. Is it mostly fresh, raw fruits and vegetables or frozen and processed food?
If it is mostly frozen and processed food, turn back to the vegetable aisle. Try to tip the balance in favor of fresh produce (and that doesn't include salads made up of iceberg lettuce in plastic bags).
If your cart already contains a good portion of fresh produce, pay a visit to the organic food area. Compare the prices with the non-organic food. Once again, try to tip the balance in favor of a larger portion of organic produce.
If you eat fresh food, brimming with energy and vitality, you'll quickly feel your own energy and vitality surge as well.
Chapter TwoRefrain from Refined
I don't eat junk foods and I don't think junk thoughts. -Peace Pilgrim (Mildred Lisette Norman)
Unfortunately, most of the food around us in supermarkets is "white poison" (i.e., pre-packed, refined, or processed foods). It's the process of refining and processing foods like flour, rice, and sugar that depletes them of their vitamins, minerals, and the dietary fiber that is so instrumental in keeping our colon clean.
All carbohydrates we digest turn into sugar in the form of glucose before entering the bloodstream. When we eat wholesome, unprocessed food packed with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, it takes our digestive system time to break down all these nutrients. When we eat refined and processed food, however, it not only lacks most the nutrients of unprocessed food but also converts into glucose more rapidly. This is because the digestive system doesn't have to do the extra work to break down all these additional nutrients.
The result is a fast but unsustainable rise in blood sugar levels, prompting the body to secrete massive amounts of insulin, the hormone responsible for delivering glucose to the various cells. Massive insulin secretion leads to sudden crash in blood sugar levels, which, in turn, leaves us famished and fatigued. Now we're craving even more sugar, which only exacerbates the conditions of unstable sugar levels in our blood.
The Roller-Coaster Effect
The effect of this roller-coaster ride is that we are constantly craving more food, especially sweets and noncomplex carbohydrates. The latter are carbohydrates like white bread, pizza, and pastries that have been stripped of their nutrients.
If we continue this vicious, chaotic cycle we begin to gain weight. This is because the only cells that will continually accept glucose, regardless of how much energy was spent, are the storage bins of our body-the fat cells. But even worse than that, we may cause our cells to become resistant to insulin, resulting in the infamous syndrome X insulin resistance-a precursor to type 2 diabetes. And diabetes is one condition we all want to stay away from.
The Low-calorie Swindle
Even using low-calorie products like Equal, Splenda, and different diet sodas contributes to this vicious cycle. Artificial sweeteners not only affect your blood sugar levels, increasing your appetite and causing you to crave more sweet foods but also contaminate and poison your blood, cells, and ultimately the liver. According to Dr. Sandra Cabot MD, author of several bestselling books, including the Liver Cleansing Diet, The Body Shaping Diet, Don't Let Your Hormones Ruin Your Life, and many more, when you ingest aspartame, the main ingredient in most artificial sweeteners, it is absorbed from the intestines and passes directly to the liver via the liver filter. The liver breaks down or metabolizes aspartame to its toxic components-phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. The process of metabolizing aspartame to its toxic components requires a lot of energy from the liver, which means there will be less energy remaining in the liver cells. The result of this ordeal is that the liver cells will have less energy for fat burning and metabolism, which will ultimately result in fat storing.
According to the Global College of Natural Medicine, the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is the technical name for some well-known brand names, such as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, is one of the most dangerous substances added to food on the market today.
The solution is to use wholesome, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, legumes, and whole-wheat products. These wholesome products contain the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in the outer shell, which wasn't removed through processing, thus it takes the body longer time to metabolize them and they release to the blood stream in a slower manner. As a result, consuming these wholesome products will make you feel more satisfied after a meal, keep your blood sugar balanced, and reduce your cravings.
Excerpted from What Are You Doing to Your Body? by Alon Biran Copyright © 2010 by Alon Biran. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
First Thing First....................xiii
Chapter 1: Eat What Nature Intended....................1
Chapter 2: Refrain from Refined....................11
Chapter 3: The Art of Food Combining....................18
Chapter 4: Exercise & Breathing: The Ultimate Maintenance Program....................27
Chapter 5: Detox: The Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your Health....................37
Chapter 6: To Dairy or Not to Dairy, That is the Question....................45
Chapter 7: Fats: The Good and the Bad....................51
Chapter 8: Supplementing for Life....................57
Chapter 9: It's All in the Elimination....................64
Chapter 10: Minimize ACNFFPD Consumption....................68
Chapter 11: Peace Within....................74
Chapter 12: Soul Food-Our Primary Nourishment....................80
Chapter 13: The 90/10 Rule....................84
Last Things Last....................89