June 18, 2015

My Day Starts and Ends with Good Nutrition

Fifteen years ago, one shelf in my kitchen cabinet was devoted to all the dietary supplements and other pills I was taking: aspirin, multivitamins, various B vitamins, calcium, vitamins D, C and E, niacin, omega-3 fish oil, coenzyme Q10, creatine, and glucosamine/chondroitin... just to name a few.

At one point, I was working with a dietitian who used a blood sample to produce a list of deficiencies in my body chemistry. It turned out that the best remedies for these "problems" were the exotic supplements available only in the shop next to his office.

Now I've gone to the opposite extreme, not unusual for me. I used to smoke two or three packs of cigarettes a day; I haven't touched a cigarette in over 50 years. Vodka dominated my life for decades; I haven't had an alcoholic drink in 37 years.

The only supplements I take today are vitamin D3, curcumin, ashwagandha and 5-HTP. I subscribe to several health newsletters, and I do lots of online research. The consensus is clear: most of us are better off getting what we need from food, not pills.

I also find eating nutritious food a lot more enjoyable than popping pills. Here are two examples:

My Super Healthy Breakfast

Morning is my favorite time of day, and breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (particularly when it's followed by several cups of good coffee). The bowl in the center of the picture contains my standard breakfast. I enjoy it nearly every day and never get bored with it. In fact, I've been known to have it for supper.

The ingredients surround the bowl. I start with Fiber One cereal. Then comes blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Then I add I handful of mixed nuts from the container with the blue lid. Instead of sugar or an artificial sweetener, I scatter some chopped dates on top from the bag in front of the cereal. 

Here are just two nutrition factoids on this breakfast:
  • Blueberries rank the highest of any fruit for antioxidants, and one cup delivers 14 percent of the recommended daily dose of fiber and nearly a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Blueberries are also low in calories – – fewer than 100 for a full cup.
  • Nut consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of major chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Clinical trials have shown nuts help lower cholesterol and oxidation, and improve arterial function and blood sugar levels. Researchers at Harvard reported, based on a study of nut consumption and subsequent mortality of over 100,000 people followed for decades, that nut consumers lived significantly longer whether they were older or younger, fat or skinny, whether they exercised more, smoked, drank, or ate  foods that may affect mortality.
My Bedtime Snack 

At first glance, this looks like a lot of work, but it takes only a couple minutes. Before going to bed, I put into the bowl one tablespoon of the yogurt (at left) and one tablespoon of applesauce (next to the prune juice). Then I sprinkle on top two teaspoons each of the powdered Metamucil, flaxseed, and chia seeds. As a final touch, I pour some prune juice on top.

I find this concoction much more effective than Senokot -- or other laxative -- in assuring a regular bowel movement the next morning. And it's quite tasty.

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