Diets vs nutrition: Losing weight and being healthy

The numerous fad diets out there might meet your immediate goals but at what cost?

 LEMONS DETOX the liver.  (photo credit: Cristina Anne Costello/Unsplash)
LEMONS DETOX the liver.
(photo credit: Cristina Anne Costello/Unsplash)

I know it is a little late to state this, but all of us have entered a new era. We know what we’ve been through, but where are we headed now? Have we learned anything from the past?

So many people are focused on losing weight, getting ripped, showing off muscle tone, losing fat and the list goes on. However, now more than ever before, we finally understand the necessity of eating to promote health. Your well-being and inner peace are so much more important than how you look in a selfie.

Quality of life for the long term must be the goal in the New Year and beyond. This doesn’t mean relying on new pharmaceutical drugs to sustain you, it means you have a responsibility for your own health management by taking measures to shield your body from anything that could harm it, while simultaneously arming it with the capability to fight off anything that might try to break through its natural defenses.

The numerous fad diets out there might meet your immediate goals but at what cost?

There are plenty of people who believe they must harm themselves in order to reap any gains. What they don’t see are the long term effects of these behaviors. Internal health may suffer dramatically in the struggle to appear fit and healthy. I have seen bodybuilders who eat an immense amount of protein, drink little water, avoid fresh fruit and take steroid injections to get the results they desire. Later on, these same athletes unfortunately experience heart attacks. I’ve also seen people workout while smoking and eating fast food, only to subsequently suffer from diabetes, hypertension, or worse.

 Intermittent fasting (illustrative) (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Intermittent fasting (illustrative) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Most fad diets do not pay attention to providing all the nutrients, minerals and electrolytes needed to support a healthy body. Their perspective is to manipulate the nature of anatomical functions for the sake of weight loss, without regard for overall health.

This trick will always backfire. Examples of this would be bodybuilders who follow a keto or some other strict diet to control their amount of fluid retention and muscle mass, while possibly contributing to illness because of a lack of balanced nutrients and electrolytes. Do muscles respond to overloaded stimuli? Absolutely. Will there be strength and sizable gains? Yes. However, what they will not see for many years down the road is the damage they have done to their bodies. As illness creeps up, they will quickly remember their contribution.

While in the short run, you may reach your immediate weight loss goals from a fad diet, in the long run, you might be making your body work harder to get rid of toxins, thus creating the perfect environment for illness to arise. Without a strong enough immune system, your body cannot fight off sickness effectively enough.

Vitamin deficiencies can equally cause damage. It is for this reason that a healthy regimen is essential. Eating a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and drinking water will provide you with what you need to maintain good health for as long as possible.

Certain foods specifically work to aid digestion, build up the blood, increase immunity, decrease blood pressure, decrease appetite, foster brain health, reduce acid production, and the list goes on.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Lemons become alkaline in the stomach, reducing acid reflux or indigestion. They also detox the liver. Put lemon in freshwater, either hot or cold and you have a wonderful beverage that will aid in digestion.
  2. Both melon and cucumber have the texture to sweep out unwanted grit from the intestines, thus making it a great cleaning food.
  3. Walnuts aid in maintaining a healthy brain.
  4. Figs and radishes are great for fighting against prostate problems.
  5. Garlic gives a great boost to your blood production and protects your stomach lining.
  6. Flax seed made into an oil or a mealy consistency is great in combating hot flashes in menopausal women. Flax also contains Omegas-3, 6 and 9, which promote a healthy brain. This is perfect to help anyone with ADHD.
  7. Beets are packed with enough fiber to combat constipation.
  8. Avocados are a great source of natural healthy fat.
  9. Celery is filled with fiber, while containing natural sodium, which your body needs to keep electrolytes balanced.
  10. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber targeted to keep organs healthy, while additionally providing antioxidants your body uses to keep all its systems working in good order.
  11. ON THE other side of the dietary coin, dairy products cause a great deal of mucous production, creating an acidic environment that is primed for illnesses, such as cancer, viruses, yeast infections, inflammation, and so on.

Also, keep in mind that many flesh foods, such as beef or poultry, have been injected with hormones. These chemicals get digested and cause a myriad of physical problems.

Do your own search for foods you like, to find out which boosts your own metabolism best. Wouldn’t you rather consume meals that sustain long-term health?

Every time you eat or drink processed foods or beverages with chemicals, you contribute to the demise of your own health. All these synthetics build up in the blood and internal organs, immensely straining the entire anatomical system, wreaking all kinds of damage in the process.

In response, you might feel sluggish or not be able to concentrate. You might not have enough energy to function properly. You might also experience sleep disorders, any number of illnesses, or depression. But by eating natural, healthy fresh foods, your body does not have to work as hard. Energy will be abundant and overall feelings of wellness will flow through your veins.

One of the wonderful side effects of healthy eating is eventual weight loss. Without the need to hold on to anything it does not need, physiological systems won’t be strained.

Trying to trick your body is not necessary. Nature will always win, no matter how hard you try your tricks. Why not work with it, rather than fight against it. This is the way of peace, after all.

So, throw away those diets you have been following. Turn your eyes toward your health. Eat to live rather than live to eat. Use nutrition to qualify your life. Let your diet nourish, rather than limit you.

This year, the time has come to make health your priority. As you can see, diets don’t improve health, nutrition does. A healthy body has more power to fight illness. The selfie of any lifestyle should cultivate powerful self-respect. Personally, I regard myself highly enough to engage in a relationship with foods that heal, rather than harm me.

Which will you choose? ■

The writer is a certified medical exercise specialist, personal trainer and group fitness instructor.