I am joyfully blogging from my hotel room at the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s Food as Medicine Conference. Yesterday I spent an entire day in a room with 300 like-minded colleagues: doctors, RD’s, nutritionists, therapists, all joined together to learn more about integrative nutrition. For once I’m not the woo-est one in the room (and trust me, I am DEFINITELY not the woo-est here!)
Instead of writing expanded posts, I’m going to give you some of the highlights from the lectures I attended. Here’s one major take-away of the day: Alternative thinking is the new mainstream.
Origins of our Diet by John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD:
1. Millet is our oldest grain in diet, but never made up more than 3% of the paleolithic diet
2. Changes in human diets were intensified with agriculture. Meaning, our diets changed with the refining of micronutrient (vitamins, minerals) density.
3. Our GI tract is more suited for our paleolithic ancestors who ate upwards of 110 grams of fiber each DAY!!! With the way our diets are now (standard American diet with less that 15g fiber each day), we should have the digestive tract of a lion who eats very little fiber.
4. There has been a significant decrease in the mineral/micromineral content of foods in the past 20 years. Our foods are not as nutrient dense as they once were.
5. Organically grown produce DOES have higher antioxidant content compared to conventional. When you spray pesticides on a grape, for example (conventionally grown), the fruit loses the necessity to defend itself against pests. The pesticides do this for them, and the grapes don’t need to produce as many antioxidants (read- they get lazy!)
6. We should all move towards more of a paleolithic diet: lean protein (but not that much!!), nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables (half of our dinner plate should be Fs&Vs), and small amounts of whole grains.
Understanding Core Imbalances by Dr. Cindy Geyer, MD
1. Ever meet a TOFI? Thin outside, fat inside? It’s what I call a skinny-fat person. Remember: thin does NOT equal health! There are other markers of health besides weight.
2. We create free radicals any time we convert food into energy. Inflammation and oxidative stress (free radicals) feed each other, so a diet full of inflammatory foods (sugar, wheat, etc) is what really harms us. We need the antioxidants found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains to protect us from the inevitable free radicals we create every time we eat.
3. Every other day calorie restriction has been found to lower free radical production.
4. Inflammation is related to aging and is an imbalance of diseases of our modern western society.
5. On the whole, Americans are deficient in: magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins, and Omega-3′s
6. To reduce our toxic load: buy organic, wash everything else, eat smaller fish, get your water tested, and exercise.
7. Stress in our lives is unavoidable, but we can greatly reduce the physiological effects of stress on our body: massage, walk in nature, have an attitude of gratitude, yoga, meditation, etc.
Nutrition in Practice by Kathie Swift, MS, RD
1. Check out Superdrive, a website dedicated to providing healthy food to food banks.
2. Food influences our entire body’s cells, repairs DNA, and has the potential to cool down inflammation (it’s medicine!)
3. The word DIET= Developing Intuitive Eating Techniques (love this!)
4.Quick trick to find out if a packaged food has too much sodium: double the calories. If there is more sodium than double the calories, this is one processed food. Do not eat!
5. Check out the food label. Is the fiber greater than the sugar? Then go ahead. If there is more sugar than fiber, leave it!
6. As a general rule, you should drink half of your weight in ounces. So, 120 lbs= 60oz of water.
So there you go—that’s day 1. More to come on day 2!!