Keys To A Healthy Diet

These days, there seems to be as many “healthy diets” as there are experts. Whilst our specific dietary needs may vary according to our individual body types, metabolisms, and genetics, there are also some basic guidelines that can be useful in determining which foods are nutritious and which aren’t.

1. Try to emphasize fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants–nutrients which help neutralize toxins in the body. In general, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of antioxidants: for example, yellow, orange, and dark green vegetables; citrus fruits; and cruciferous vegetables (those in the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage). Whilst taking antioxidants in supplement form can be beneficial, those found in foods are a lot more powerful.

Fruits and vegetables are also high in other sorts of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, which is supportive of the immune system, is abundant in strawberries, oranges, and bell peppers. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are a powerful source of beta-carotene, which is important for vision. Green leafy vegetables support the health of our bones and teeth, amongst other things, with high levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K.

Some helpful guidelines for you to follow: Eat two to four pieces of fresh fruit every day, and fill half of your plate with vegetables at any meal.

2. Eat the amount and combination of whole foods that make you feel your best. There are so many different approaches to healthy eating. If you feel good when eating a high-protein diet with lots of non-starchy vegetables and few carbohydrates, it may be the best diet for you. However, if you feel your best when eating a diet high in grains, vegetables, and beans, then that may be the best diet for you.

Animals that are grass-fed and/or grown on organic foods (and all the products those animals produce) seem to have superior nutritional profiles. Additionally, studies have shown that children who grow up eating organic foods have lower levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies than those raised eating conventional foods.


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Discovering The Zone Diet

Celebrities such as Madonna, Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston swear by the results of the Zone Diet created by Barry Sears, PhD. The Zone Diet contains 40% protein, 30% carbohydrate and 30% fat and is also known as the 40-30-30 plan. The Zone Diet works on the basic idea that 100,000 years ago, we were essentially meat eaters and our bodies was designed to handle the demands of a meat-based diet.

As we have evolved, more carbohydrates have been introduced into our daily diets, causing an imbalance. The reason for weight gain could therefore be attributed to the many grains and starches in our diet (pasta, rice, breads, and potatoes). The Zone Diet’s strategy calls for a return to the diets of our ancestors where meat, fruits and vegetables were the main dietary items.

How Does The Zone Diet Function?

The Zone Diet functions by working the right ratio of carbohydrates to proteins and fats in order to control the insulin in the bloodstream. Excess of that hormone (insulin) can increase fat storage and inflammation in the body (conditions that are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease). Sears asserts that through using the Zone Diet, you will be actually optimising the body’s metabolic function. Through the regulation of blood sugar, you will allow your body to burn excess body fat.

The Zone Diet doesn’t actually prohibit you from any particular food group. However, food with high fat and carbohydrates such as grains, starches, and pastas must be avoided. Fruits and vegetables are the preferred source of carbohydrate and monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil, almonds, avocados) are the ideal choice of fat. The Zone Diet claims to use food as a medicine for overall good health, weight loss and prevention or management of heart disease and diabetes.

Sears says that you can test to see whether you are ‘hormonally’ correct by testing the Zone diet and see how you feel four hours later. To simplify the Zone Diet, you may fill one-third of a plate with low-fat protein, and then two-thirds with fruits and vegetables.

Promoters of the Zone Diet

Promoters of the Zone Diet include certain celebrities and also some health experts who say that the Zone’s recommendations don’t stray far from the USDA’s (United States Dietary Association) dietary guidelines. Critics have nevertheless argued that the Zone Diet has flawed ratios but Sears argues that the Zone diet is really a low glycemic-load diet that has adequate protein. Sears also defends the criticism that the Zone Diet is complicated. He believes this is a misconception. The reason for it was that his first book on the Zone Diet was targeted to cardiologists who were more scientifically-oriented.

Criticizing The Zone Diet

The AHA (American Heart Association) classifies the Zone Diet as too high in protein and does not recommend the Zone Diet for losing weight. They assert that the Zone Diet hasn’t been proven effective in the long term for weight loss. They even issued an official recommendation warning against diets such as the Zone Diet.
They believe that the Zone Diet is hazardous because it restricts the intake of essential vitamins and minerals present in certain foods.

They are concerned that the protein ratio in the Zone diet is too high even if the minimal fat ratio is alright. Robert H. Ecker M.D of the A.H.A., finds the Zone Diet’s theory on insulin flawed and argues that there is no scientific proof that the hormone insulin plays a big role in the regulation of weight.

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What’s Good About Nutrition

Nutrition is a hot topic in all places, with differing opinions and approaches all around us. For some honest, straightforward advice, there is still nothing that beats the current USDA guidelines. They are something everyone should know!

USDA Key Recommendations For All The General Population

Adequate Nutrients Within Your Calorie Needs

• Try to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and drinks within the basic food groups whilst choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans-fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.

• Meet the recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced eating pattern, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan.

Managing Your Weight

• To maintain your body weight within a healthy range, balance the calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.

• To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make some small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

Physical Exercise

• Try to engage in regular physical activity and reduce your sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

• To reduce the risks of chronic disease in adulthood: try to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.

• For most people, greater health benefits can be achieved by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.

• To help you manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately one hour of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week whilst not exceeding caloric intake requirements.

• To sustain your weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people might need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.

• Achieve physical fitness through including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.

Safety With Food

• To avoid micro-bacterial food borne illness:

• Always clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and poultry should always be washed or rinsed.
• Separate raw from cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing food.

• Cook your food at a safe temperature in order to kill micro-organisms.

• Put perishable foods in the fridge promptly and defrost foods properly.

• Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or food which contains raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices, and raw sprouts.


John Rifkind is a contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.