Last week we went into detail on how food is foundational to health and happiness. Food is medicine and has been taught as such in many cultures worldwide. Food fuels your cells to function, your heart to beat, your kidneys and bladder to flush toxins. It also allows your metabolism to function so you have energy plus a healthy weight and body temperature.

This week I’m offering you the following 5 food fixes that can help you and your family improve your health and longevity starting today!

1. Eat more fresh vegetables and moderate fruits.You might eat a favorite vegetable once in a while, carrots or green beans are common in the US. Green beans are technically a legume, not a vegetable. Begin by increasing your veggies to 2 to 3 different ones per day. If you don’t even eat one a day then start with increasing to one a day. Ideally, science has found we need at least 7 servings of veggies a day – that is 7 cups of veggies. Don’t become overwhelmed, just do your best and commit to adding a few new ones to your diet daily. It can increase your nutrient levels and help your body repair, increase immune function, avoid diseases like cancer, and stay younger longer. Fruit sugars are better than high fructose corn syrup or soda, so choose wisely. Fruit also contains a lot of sugar so be mindful of the quantity and quality of fruit you eat.  Berries are a great option as well as fruit higher in fiber and pectin, like apples. Get organic whenever possible, and at the very least rinse or scrub them well.

2. Diversify your diet & eat a wider variety of fresh foods. Many people have their 3 or 4 favorite foods and they eat them quite often. The more colors the better, and I don’t mean in the packaging. When it comes to fresh produce you simply can’t get enough. Different colors of vegetables means a broader spectrum of nutrients. Mix things up with red, orange, yellow, green, and purple veggies. Stir-fry, bake, or lightly steam them with a drizzle of olive oil, butter, ghee, or perhaps a twist of lemon. Another tip is to eat with the season as you diversify. If it isn’t in season, then it’s likely been bombed with a chemical to help it stay fresh or ripen early.

3. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Avoid the middle aisles of your local grocery store as much as possible. The perimeter of the store is likely where the produce is located – the fresher the better. The center isles contain the processed and packaged foods that are high in calories and preservatives and empty of real nutrients that your body knows how to absorb. Shop local whenever possible – this means farmer’s markets or local food chains that support local farmers. The fresher the food in your grocery cart, the better your health is going to be longer term. Remember to eat that good stuff, don’t just let it go back bad in your fridge!

4. Avoid processed foods. Anything in a package or bag is likely processed. Look at your grocery cart or pantry and if everything is in a box, bag or some other kind of packaging then it’s time to make a small change in order to avoid a health disaster in your future. Did you know that foods “fortified” with stuff, like calcium, vitamin C, or folate are extremely processed? The procedure requires the removal of anything healthy so the manufacturers try to compensate by adding synthetic nutrients to make the labels look more compelling. Avoid foods with bad oils in them such as trans-fat and hydrogenated oil. These are also in many processed foods and cause inflammation and other organ and brain issues. Most Americans stock up on chips, breads, cakes, candy, soda and ice cream. Kids are sent to school with mostly processed food in their lunch boxes. How do we expect them to do well in school without proper fuel for their bodies and brains? I’m always shocked at the grocery store when I see moms loading their carts with bags and boxes of food and hardly a vegetable or fruit in sight. We are seemingly a fast food nation and the rate of illness among younger and younger people proves it.

5. Become a label reader.  If you purchase something in a package, can or box, at least read the list of ingredients and be informed. If there are hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, soy products, corn products (which are mostly GMO), or a list of chemical preservatives you have trouble pronouncing then it’s not a healthy choice for you or your family. You may be shocked to find many processed foods full of junk that is more harmful than healthful. The good news is you can then begin to look for healthy alternatives. Even conventional grocery stores have an organic, gluten-free or health section, so start here when looking for alternatives. I will help you in future blogs so please check back regularly.

Improving your health and conversely, decreasing your chance of disease and suffering isn’t about perfection, it’s about improvement. Even just one baby step toward better health is worth it and impacts your well-being.  Do your best to implement these 5 food fixes and increase your health immediately!

Blessings of Vibrant Health,

Kristin Grayce McGary

Health & Lifestyle Alchemist