Nutrition + Hydration: The Basics
Here are the basics: hydration is key, nutritional requirements are 100% unique to you, and eat as organic and pesticide free as possible. For details, read on.
SUCH AS IN ALL OF LIFE, WE BEGIN WITH WATER
Most of us know that drinking water is a non-negotiable for health, but knowing how much water our body requires and what type of water we are drinking is so often overlooked.
Here are the basics of hydration:
1. You need to be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces, per day, minimum. So for a 150lbs woman, 75oz per day is her bottom line.
2. Hydration requirements rapidly increase with stress, dry environments, travel, warm weather, exercise, caffeine/sugar/alcohol/drug intake, sauna, breastfeeding, sickness, and more.
3. The quality of your water is incredibly important. Make sure that it is filtered!
4. When drinking filtered water, it is crucial to add the nutritious minerals back in that were lost during the filtration process. Without these minerals, our body is not able to fully hydrate.
I sip on this water tonic all day long. Rich in minerals, chlorophyll, medicinal mushrooms, and more, this tonic ensures that I am flooding my body with rich hydration.
Daily Water Tonic
- 32 oz. of reverse osmosis water
-Juice of 1 Lemon
-2 dropperfuls of Chlorophyll
-2 dropperful of Reishi extract
-2 dropperful of Lion's Mane extract
-2 dropperful of Chaga extract
-3-5 drops of Trace Minerals
Swirl + enjoy. Repeat 3 times per day.
For ingredients see Master List in the Resources section of the Spirit House.
NUTRITION REQUIREMENTS ARE INDIVIDUAL AND UNIQUE
Although there are definitely some across-the-board general guidelines, I cannot stress enough how individualized diet and nutrition is.
Some people need to eat a lot, some people need very little. Some do better skipping meals, some need to eat every 2-3 hours. There is no right or wrong way to feed your body so long as you are eating enough of the right types of foods and the foundation of your nutritional intake is solid. The diet you follow, if any, should be the diet that works for you--not what influencers, marketing strategists, or media tells you is best.
The basics of adequate nutrition depend a lot on tiny structures in each of our cells called Mitochondria. Mitochondria make energy by using oxygen and nutrients from food. The cells in the brain, heart, nerves, muscles, and organs all have higher concentrations of mitochondria, which dictate body-wide wellness.
Through the use of therapeutic foods, we can support our cellular mitochondria and enhance vitality.
Mitochondria thrive when we eat beautiful, nutrient dense foods that help maintain blood sugar and decrease inflammation in the body. Below, you can find recommendations and breakdowns of all of the food groups, whether you subscribe to a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore diet. For extreme ease, see the Grocery Shopping Essentials or the Eat the Rainbow handout in the Nutrition Bonuses module.
This category is of utmost importance for providing necessary phytonutrients. My patients are encouraged to try vegetables new to them and to aim for a minimum of 5–8 servings every day (ideally, 10–12 servings). A serving is only ½ cup of most vegetables or 1 cup of raw leafy greens. A plate filled with vegetables or a hearty salad can provide up to four servings. All greens (including collard, dandelion, kale, mustard, and turnip greens), along with chard/Swiss chard, spinach, sea vegetables, and the many green vegetables in the crucifer family have been found to support the mitochondria in the brain. Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kim chi, have been shown to improve signaling between the gut and the brain and countless other health benefits. The best way to eat an abundance of vegetables daily is to include them in at least two meals (three if possible). Also, seasonal ingredients should be eaten when possible. For example, try a red cabbage salad in the winter, when highly nutritious cabbage is abundant.
In addition to the therapeutic vegetables listed, you should be sure to eat a “rainbow of colors”: red peppers, tomatoes, and radishes; orange carrots, peppers, and pumpkin; yellow summer squash and peppers; green asparagus, avocado, and green beans; blue/purple eggplant and cabbage; and white/tan mushrooms, jicama, and onions.
Organic vegetables should be purchased, and if organic produce is not available, be sure to wash vegetables carefully and peel before eating.
Fruits are packed with phytonutrients. Therapeutic foods in this category include all berries, pomegranate seeds, and grapes with the skin, which have shown to increase levels of glutathione in the body. Blueberries contain one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits and also help with blood sugar control. Apples contain phytonutrients that suppress inflammation. Fruit juices are not encouraged, as they are dense sources of sugar and can increase blood sugar levels. Small amounts of dried fruit are good occasionally, and dehydrated, non-sweetened fruit can be made at home. It’s always better to couple fruit with a little bit of protein, such as nuts or nut butter, to offset any blood sugar spikes. As with vegetables, it is important to purchase organic fruit whenever possible.
Protein helps stabilize blood sugar, which is important for brain health. Ideally, some protein should be included in every meal. Vegans can choose soy and legume proteins; lacto-ovo-vegetarians can have soy in addition to eggs and cheese; omnivores can have all of these foods plus animal foods like poultry, beef, wild game, turkey, and fish. High-quality proteins are the best choice, including grass-fed, organic, non-genetically modified organism (GMO) sources. For fish, remember to choose wild-caught sources, as farmed fish may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Legumes are an important source of the B vitamin folic acid. They are a healthy alternative to animal protein, as they contain quality vegetable protein. They are also a complex carbohydrate, which helps keep blood sugar stable and promotes a feeling of fullness. Legumes may be eaten in the form of soup, cooked beans, dips, or hummus and will complement a non-starchy vegetable.
Dairy + alternatives
Many people avoid dairy products because of allergy or sensitivity, or because they find them inflammatory. If dairy works for you, making sure to choose grass fed, organic, free range dairy from
small farmers (check your local farmer's market!) is best. Fermented dairy, such as yogurt and kefir is optimal as they contain beneficial microbes known as probiotics, which are important for a healthy digestive system.
There are several dairy alternatives to choose from, such as almond, hemp, oat, coconut, or soy milk. Labels should be read carefully to ensure the absence of added sweeteners; evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup are commonly added to these dairy alternative milks. It is safest to purchase milks that say “unsweetened” on the front of the box, or to make your own. Coconut and nut-based yogurts also have some added health benefits from their beneficial fats. When choosing soy milk, it is essential to select only organic to avoid GMOs.
Nuts + seeds
While all nuts and seeds are healthy for the brain, be sure to buy nuts that aren’t heavily salted and roasted in oil. Eating a variety of nuts ensures getting a variety of phytonutrients. Nut butters are easy to incorporate into snacks and meals; examples are tahini drizzled over vegetables and pumpkin seed butter spread on an apple slice. Another option is adding ground flaxseed meal, chia seed, or hemp seed to a smoothie, or sprinkling them on salad. Please note that hemp seed and ground flaxseed may easily become rancid if not stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Seeds have differing nutritional benefits, so consuming a variety of them is best when possible.
fats + oils
It is important to include good-quality fats every day to help keep inflammatory processes in balance. A vast selection of fats and liquid oils can be used for salad dressings (cold preparation) and cooking (warm to hot preparation). Minimally refined, cold-pressed, organic, non-GMO fats and liquid oils should be used whenever possible, as these will be the best quality. Several servings per day of these healthy fats are beneficial. When possible, phytonutrient-dense, unfiltered, extra-virgin olive oil should be used to dress salads and vegetables. MCT oil is another option. For medium high-heat cooking, coconut oil, MCT oil, and ghee are best because they are less likely to oxidize than other oils. Another advantage of coconut oil is that it is a precursor for betahydroxybutyrate, a super fuel for the brain and a critical component of the ketogenic diet approach.
Remember that fats and liquid oils break down in heat, light, and oxygen and become rancid. Paying attention to the quality of these oils is imperative. Oils should be stored in dark glass containers and thrown out if they smell rancid.
First, it is important to note that all the fiber and phytonutrients that the body needs are available from the abundant vegetables and fruits listed above. Grains tend to have a major (unnecessary) role in our diet, and I encourage you to use them only supplementally on an as-needed basis. Healthy grains should be certified organic whenever possible, and the least processed the better. Examples include oats, rice, corn, quinoa, flour, and more.
NUTRITION ROUND UP + OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Now that you've got a good understanding of the basics that make up adequate nutrition, there are a few extras that will really ensure your success and help the body thrive.
First and foremost, if you stick to eating seasonally, you will be giving your body exactly what it needs, saving money, and helping the environment. See our Guide to Seasonal Eating included in the Nutrition module bonuses.
Second, when purchasing food, make sure you understand labels, ingredients, servings sizes, and codes that appear on the sticker. If it contains ingredients that you can't clearly picture in your mind, ie potassium sorbate, than its probably best to pass. When purchasing fruits and vegetables, the first number of the code on the sticker tells you the following: 3: conventionally grown, 4: conventionally grown, 8: genetically modified (GMO), 9: organic
While its best to consume all-organic-everything, this is not the reality for most of us. Following the Dirty Dozen + Clean 15 is an incredibly helpful tool for avoiding the most pesticide and toxin laden foods, and knowing what is best to buy organic. A quick google search on your phone can yield some incredibly helpful diagrams. All in all the most important things to remember about nutrition are to truly figure out what foods work best for you, what your body needs, and the best, most healthful ways of providing that for yourself.
Copyright © 2018 by Motherhood Medicine.
All rights reserved. These writings or any portion there of many not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review. These writings are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters related to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.