Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Focus Topic: Fruits and Vegetables

            I’ve decided to do something new this year and have a focus topic every month to help you stay focused. (And I’ll be honest, it’s to help me stay focused too.) Each month I’ll announce the focus topic and I’ll try my best to cover as much as I can on that topic during the month. I’ll be sure to write on several subjects but mainly on the focus topic. Check the sides of my blog for polls on future focus topics. Thanks!
            This month’s focus topic is nutrition! Why, might you ask, did I chose this as the first focus topic? Because nutrition is an essential building block for having a healthy body. Giving our body the proper nutrition in needs gives us energy, helps us keep up a strong immune system, helps us to build muscle (yes, nutrition plays a part in muscle building), helps us to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, and so much more! Good nutrition helps us feel good. Plain and simple.
            So let’s start off with talking about something we all need but most of us don’t get enough of. Fruits and Vegetables!
            In 1996 a study was conducted (on humans as well as animals) to find out if there was a relationship between diet and cancer. At the end of the study they found that eating fruits and vegetables can help protect against cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, oral cavity, pharynx, endometrium, pancreas, and colon. A big deal? I think so. After further review it was proved that if Americans consumed 5 or more servings per day of fruits and vegetables, the prevalence of cancer would be cut in half. Doesn’t that make you want to start eating your fruits and veggies already? Um, yeah.
            Another interesting study shows that the skins of your fruits and vegetables are just as important as what’s inside the skins. The skins have important phytochemicals (among other things) that help to fight off free-radicals (free radicals are thought to be one of the causes of aging, Alzheimer’s, cancer and other things, and our bodies are bombarded with hundreds of thousands of them every day!). These important phytochemicals appear to be concentrated in the skins, so eat up!
            Eating fruits and vegetables can also help us reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower our blood pressure, and once again, the amazing phytochemicals help to repair the cloudiness in our eyes called cataracts before they ever become a problem. I’m tempted to call this amazing food group a super food. :) Couple that with antioxidants and various vitamins and you’ll be hooked on the benefits of this food group for life!
            So the big question is, how much should I eat per day? Well the study above specifies 5 servings a day but how many of us really know what a serving is? A safe assumption is that about a cup of a fruit or vegetable is a serving. Usual it’s a whole apple, orange, banana, tomato, you know, things of that size. Dr. Ken Cooper from the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Texas frequently says this about servings per day, “Eating five will keep you alive, but nine is divine.” That being said, 5 servings per day at least, nine servings per day would be amazingly good.
            Before you start thinking, “I wish there were a pill that would give me all the benefits without actually eating fruits and vegetables” you should know that pills are not always a good thing. I’m very against a lot of types of supplementation (with proper daily nutrition you don’t need them) and I’ll explain why later this month but for the time being, here are a few things to help you understand a little bit. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytochemical and an antioxidant. It has amazing properties, like all phytochemicals and antioxidants; however it only works in conjunction with all the other things contained in a tomato. That lycopene pill you take? You know, the one that’s supposed to prevent cancer? Guess what? It’s not doing anything for you. In fact, top researchers in the world say that lycopene pills should not be marketed because they don’t know enough about lycopene by itself to feel comfortable selling it to the public as a healthy supplement because the reality is, they don’t know what it does on its own yet. Health supplement companies have relatively few FDA guidelines to follow so they took that research, told the scientists “we don’t care,” and sold it to us anyway. The stink of it is, they know the majority of the public won’t know they’re taking a pill that doesn’t work and they’ll keep on buying it.
            Here’s a tip. You want the benefits of fruits and vegetables? All the benefits? Ones that work? Just eat your fruits and veggies. Don’t cut corners.
          Check back soon for posts on how to incorporate 5 or more servings per day of fruits and vegetables into your diet as well as learning about the awesomeness of whole grain foods.

* You can find all of the information I've used along with citations in Steven Aldana's book "The Culprit and the Cure" also found in the Turbo Fit Store.

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