Get Your (Nutrition) Facts Straight!
A trip to the supermarket for groceries can turn into a daunting task when faced with a dozen aisles stocked with packaged foods claiming to be “healthy.” Nutritional information on labels and restaurant menus can be incredibly deceiving, and many of the health claims on these foods are nothing but a marketing gimmick—with many packaged foods being the furthest thing from healthy. Choosing to eat a salad at a café can pack on more calories than a cheeseburger due to rich, creamy dressings and toppings. Many popular “health” foods like granola bars are actually full of processed ingredients, along with excess salt, sugar, and calories. Drinks like artificially flavored fruit juices have little or no nutritional value and contain little if any “real” fruit—with many popular drinks just packing on the empty calories and even exceeding the daily recommended limit of sugar in some cases.
While some states have tried to enforce stricter regulations on nutritional facts, misinformation and confusing food labeling in the market still abound. What’s worse, many consumers are not really aware of the negative effects on their health, beyond weight gain, that come from poor food choices. Certain foods, and especially a consistently poor diet, can even throw hormones off balance, leading to symptoms like depressed mood, fatigue, and menstrual irregularity in women.
Insulin overload may be one of the biggest hormone-related problems linked to diet. When carbohydrates are digested, glucose travels into the bloodstream, triggering insulin production in the pancreas. As so many foods are heavy in carbs, excess insulin production can become a significant issue. Diets rich in high glycemic-index foods can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels, thereby increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes. Refined carbohydrates, such as those found in white flour and sugar, are especially bad for the body. They spike glucose levels while offering little to no nutritional value. Instead of white breads, crackers, and cookies, opt for complex carbohydrates that have a lower glycemic index, such as vegetables and legumes. Not only do they provide good nutrition, they will help keep insulin levels stable rather than causing a “sugar rush” followed by an inevitable crash.
Balanced Nutrition, Balanced Hormones
Being aware of food nutrition and labeling is an important first step to making better, healthier eating choices. Try to choose whole foods whenever possible, such as fresh veggies and lean, organic meats, as those are most often the most nutritious choices—no label needed to let you know they are healthy! When browsing packaged goods, try to find the ones with whole, simple ingredients—like beans or brown rice—and avoid processed chemical ingredients and hydrogenated oils whenever possible.
Food is ultimately intended to be fuel for the body, and balanced nutrition is one of the key points to creating a strong foundation for health. The expert physicians of the BodyLogicMD network can help you evaluate your current eating habits and work with you to make healthy diet and lifestyle changes. Throughout this process, they can address any underlying health issues, such as hormone imbalances or chronic disease. With this integrative approach, they can help you build a lasting, holistic way of living that fosters in a healthier relationship with food—and takes the mystery away from nutrition for good.