A Nutritional Insurance Plan in Just 20 Seconds a Day

Published: September 27, 2012

Optimizing Your Health, Part 7: Getting Optimal Nutrition

Yes, twenty seconds — because that's about how long it takes to stir a scoop of high-dose vitamin powder and ribose into a glass of water or juice and drink it!

Taking a high-dose vitamin powder every day is what I call "nutritional insurance" — a way to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need.

Food is your best source of nutrition, of course. But most of us eat a heavily processed modern diet, which doesn't deliver an optimal level of nutrients. Why not? Do the nutritional math:

18% of the calories in the modern diet are from sugar. Another 18% are from white flour. A good chunk of the rest is from added fats. In all, more than 50% of the calories in the modern diet are from empty calories, stripped of vitamins and minerals.

The good news is that there are plenty of easy (and delicious) ways to get the proper nutrition you need, which I talk about in the rest of this newsletter. And getting optimal nutrition promotes optimal health of every part of your body: your heart, brain, digestive tract, thyroid gland, joints, skin … well, you get the idea!

Six Easy Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition

1. Make simple, delicious food choices — and forget about dietary deprivation!

To eat healthy, you don't have to spend half the day at the supermarket — finding and eating "health foods" you've never heard of, like carob or groats; soaking beans for 50 hours and then cooking them for 5; or otherwise taking time you don't have to prepare foods you don't like.

The tasty trick to ensuring you get optimal nutrition is to make healthy, simple, pleasurable food choices.

Example 1: For breakfast, eat a whole grain cereal like Cheerios or Quaker Oat Squares, along with a handful of berries, a sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. This is a delicious, healthy breakfast that takes only a minute to prepare.

Example 2: Enjoy vegetables with butter and salt, neither of which is bad for you in spite of the medical myths you hear just about every day. Eggs aren't bad for you either. Neither is coffee, or chocolate, or alcohol. In fact, all these foods are healthy foods when enjoyed in moderation.

Bottom line: To eat healthfully, there's no need to stop eating the foods you love (like pizza). Just start making small changes in your diet, like eating whole wheat instead of white flour. Over time, those small changes will make a big difference!

2. Use stevia instead of sugar.

This natural sweetener is an excellent substitute for sugar. I like the Body Ecology brand, which tastes great. (Some other brands are actually bitter, which is not at all what your taste buds want from a sweetener!)

3. Just say no to sugary sodas.

Twelve ounces of soda delivers nine teaspoons (about 150 calories!) of added sugar. Instead, opt for healthier beverages, like water, tea or coffee (see Want to Live Longer? Drink Coffee!).

If you love soda, try a sugar-free brand, such as Zevia (stevia-sweetened, with zero calories), or Hansen's sugar-free diet sodas.

More good news: VitaminWater and Sobe Lifewater now offer stevia-flavored, zero-calorie varieties. Vitamin Water's Zero "Go-Go Berry" even has a touch of energy-boosting ribose.

4. Enjoy sugar-free chocolates.

Chocolate tastes really good. And it's really good for you, too.

Moderate consumption of dark chocolate (one or two ounces a day) is linked to weight control (lower body mass index), lower "bad" LDL, lower blood pressure, and lower risk of heart attack and stroke (see Chocolate Is a "Yes Brainer!" for yet another health-protecting power of chocolate: stroke prevention!).

A brand of sugar free chocolates that are awesomely delicious? Abdallah (you can order their sugar-free chocolates online).

Russell Stover also offers a delicious line of sugar-free chocolates. You can find them at most grocery stores.

Caution: Sugar-free chocolate is sometimes sweetened with maltitol, which in some people has a mild laxative effect.

5. Take a high-potency powdered vitamin.

A high-potency vitamin can provide you optimum levels of almost every key vitamin and mineral that might be missing from your diet.

However: Most multi vitamin and mineral supplements don't provide heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fish oils. You can get plenty of that nutrient if you eat three to four servings of fatty fish a week, like sardines, salmon or tuna. If you don't, take a fish oil supplement. I prefer the brand Vectomega, which delivers a high dose of omega-3s in a single capsule, rather than having to take 7 or 8 capsules as you would with most other brands.

6. Try some nutritional bibliotherapy.

For more insightful information and great ideas about optimizing nutrition, check out my new book Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale, August 2012). Chapter one is titled, "Nutritional Deficiencies: Optimize Nutrients, Optimize Health," and has a lot of good, practical information on this topic — as well as many other ways to optimize health, no matter what your health concern.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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