We don’t just need food to satisfy ourselves and our hunger. The cells of the body also need nutrition. The body develops from a single cell and every part of our body is a collection of cells continually dying, being replaced, being repaired and maintained. The nutrients we get in our food have to be sufficient for cells to carry out this work as they are essential to our being.
Each cell has a nucleus containing the body’s DNA. Chromosomes are clusters of DNA molecules in a cell containing 1000′s of genes. Each cell contains 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. Genes carry the genetic code for the formation of the body and every gene is a tiny piece of DNA.
Chromosomes are therefore part of our genetic make up. Shortages of nutrients causes cell damage including breaks in the chromosomes, which leads to disease. Folic acid is one nutrient needed for DNA repair and other nutrients also work at a cellular level providing the nutrients needed. We therefore need to be aware of the importance of a nutrient rich diet. Not just to feed us on a general level but also to supply the nutrients that are necessary for the very basics of our being – the cells.
If the cells don’t get the food needed they can’t operate properly and disease is more likely. The lack of nutients goes unnoticed until it is too late and the damage is done. This is one of the reasons that we should all be following a nutrient rich diet now, as a preventative measure and to help ensure a long and healthy life. Remember your body needs food but the right food.
Now a bit of a conundrum. Here I am advocating a healthy lifestyle and a diet of nutrient rich food. I follow (more or less) my own recommendations on healthy eating which can be found on my website at www.thenutritiondietclub.com. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, least of all me. I eat healthily most of the time, exercise and walk up to 1 1/2 hours daily and consider myself reasonably healthy at 66 years.
As I said I practice what I preach though not perfect – who is. I may have a couple of glasses of wine 2 or 3 times a week and the odd bowl of crisps. I don’t eat sugar (except fruit) and avoid all processed and junk foods. I only eat small portions of meat once twice a week, fish the same and the other days none at all just vegetarian. So why did I wake up one day at the end of November with GOUT!! Yes gout in my left foot.
That’s the conundrum. Gout is supposed to be caused by too much purine high foods. Red meat, offal (liver etc), alcohol (beer more than wine) all of which I ate in moderation. So if diet is to be the cure how to improve the diet and keep it practical and realistic. Trying to get any information is confusing as it is in anything to do with diet and health. One study will say one thing, another the opposite. We are told to eat more oily fish, yet sardines, mackerel, herrings are in the list of foods to avoid if you have gout.
We are all different and variety of foods should be taken, eating more fruit and vegetables, avoiding processed and junk foods most of the time. Everything in moderation. I can’t pinpoint a particular cause for the gout attack. However the initial flare up and pain has subsided after a few days of self treatment. So far no repeat of the problem. I was not as bad as the picture thankfully.
After a search on the web for answers and getting lots of good ideas I think I solved the problem by drinking a large glass of water with the juice of fresh lemons then a little later a glass of water with bi-carbonate of soda. I did this every 1/2 hour for a couple of hours to make my body more alkaline. This was meant to help flush out the uric acid crystals from the joint. Then resorting to modern medicine (anti- inflammatory tablets) for two days. Together the problem seems to have been solved quickly.
I am now looking again at my own diet and drink alkaline water. In fact finding it difficult to change my diet, drinking alkaline water seems to be the main difference and presumably enough to solve the problem. I drink mainly bottled water and what I did not know until I looked into things, bottled water is in fact generally acid. Now I add PH drops to my water to make it alkaline. You can also buy alkaline water filters. Hopefully this will stay a one off attack and I will keep you informed.
1. Record daily everything you eat and drink. Everything – snacks and drinks as well not just meal content. Do this for at least a week and include snacks and meals out.
2. Go through your list and highlight with a green highlighter all the ‘good’ healthy foods on the list. Then highlight in red all the ‘bad’ unhealthy foods on the list. Healthy foods would be fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, water, herb teas etc. Unhealthy foods would be snacks – crisps, salted nuts, anything processed and full of sugar – cakes, biscuits, puddings, coffee, alcohol, etc. Be strict with yourself.
3. Then start changing some of the red highlighted bad foods for healthier options. You may be able to start simply by cutting out some of the ‘red’ bad foods and eating more of the ‘green’ good foods you are already using. Make things easy for yourself. For instance if you have chips with a meal, replace them with a baked potato. If you are busy and need to have more vegetables use frozen vegetables or a side salad which may include grated carrot for an added benefit. Start in simple ways which is better than doing nothing.
4. When buying food read labels if it is packaged. If you don’t understand the ingredients or there are a whole list of unpronouncable items don’t buy. Someone once said if there are more than 5 ingredients listed on a product don’t buy the product.
5. Further reduce the ‘bad’ foods by cutting the portion sizes. Meat is healthy and you don’t have to try and be vegetarian, but you don’t need a an 8 oz steak. Have half that and save the other half for another day! Add more vegetables to the meal for more health and so you don’t feel you are starving yourself.
6. Change to healthy snacks if you must have a snack - mixed fruit and nuts (not salted), fresh fruit or vegetables like carrot sticks, celery or even raw cauliflower ( which is delicious and totally different taste to cooked cauliflower). Seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin are also a healthy snack and again not salted ones.
7. Exercise more. Leave the car and walk to the local shop if just going on an errand. Park further away from you work and give yourself a little bit extra walking everyday. Do exercises at home, even if you don’t want to miss your favourite tv programme do them while watching the tv. Not ideal as you should be thinking about the exercises but better than nothing.
8. Don’t tell yourself that you can eat anything in moderation. If that includes bad foods they are still bad even in moderation. If you have to have a treat change to a more healthy on – dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. But don’t get stressed out by falling by the wayside. If you go to a party or dinner with friends and can’t stick to your new regime don’t worry. Just make sure you are even more strict with yourself the next day.
9. Begin in simple stages – one step at a time and get used to the change, then take another step. It doesn’t matter how small the step, each step is forward and is a success. With success comes better health and well being. You will feel better, look better, have more energy and feel better about yourself.
As you know I go on about eating more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Eating more raw foods is one way of getting more nutrition from your diet. Most fruit is eaten raw and then there are salads – the limit of most peoples raw vegetable experience. But other vegetables are also tasty raw and can be added to any meal or salad. Cauliflower is crisp and sweet raw and nothing like its boiled version. Then of course there is carrot either grated or cut into sticks. The white of leeks is also tasty and succulent chopped on salad. Beetroot and turnip can also be grated raw onto you salad leaves and then of course there are the herbs - parsley, basil, coriander etc.
So as you can see taking more raw foods is not difficult and you also add variety to a meal which is also important for getting a wider variety of nutrients. More fruit and vegetables are also good for your health. Just this week a report from a Canadian study showed that more fruit and vegetables in your diet can weaken the effects of faulty genes that cause illness. Healthy foods apparently modify genetic code variants that would otherwise increase the risk of heart disease. The scientists analysed DNA of 27000 people from a variety of backgrounds looked at their dietary habits in relation to heart disease.
It is not just the faulty genes that may cause heart disease that may be corrected by a healthier diet. There is a new field of epigenetics – the study of how our genes react to our behaviour, including diet and lifestyle. Epigenetics plays an important role in mediating between nutrition and the ensuing phenotypic changes throughout our life and seem to be partly responsible for biological changes that occur during aging. Recent studies indicate that because nutrition modulates epigenetic events associated with disease (e.g. cancer, diabetes) there is in theory a link between nutrition and a longer life. Nutrition has a strong impact on these epigentic processes and therefore has a role in health. Just type in google – epigenetics and nutrition for more infomation, though some of it is a bit scientific.
It now seems that what we eat affects our genes and we also inherit the affects of what our parents ate. But this need not be permanent and if a parent had heart disease or cancer and you inherit the faulty gene that causes the problem you don’t have to think that you will also inherit the illness. The problem need not be permanent. As the new study by the Canadian scientists shows, your faulty genes can be corrected by diet. It appears that we can control the health of our genes and diet can correct and control genes that are not working properly. Nutrients and bio active food components can influence epigenetic phenomena. No doubt there will be more on this in the future as more studies follow.
Once again it shows the importance of healthy nutritious food in a wide and varied diet together with a healthier lifestyle including more exercise. As I said at the beginning eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and as wide a variety as possible which you can do without much planning or changes to your existing diet. There is plenty of information on a nutrition diet and tips on how to vary your diet in my book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book which is available totally free as a download from www.obooko.com (under heading Health and Self Improvement.)