Thanks for coming back to learn more about eating for the health of your mitochondria. If you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to circle back.
If you research the daily requirement of vegetables, you’ll see that the USDA breaks down the requirement specifically for men, women, boys, girls and children; each with different requirements for age groups. 2 1/2 -3 cups is the average amount of vegetables you should be eating daily, according to the USDA. I think that is a great start but I am a part of “the more, the better” camp when it comes to veggies. My personal diet consists of eating 6 cups of vegetables of all different colors, daily; yellow, green, orange, red and purple. The different colors in vegetables and fruits represent specific phytochemicals, which are compounds that benefit your health by removing free-radicals and providing nutrition to your cells. I prefer you eat fresh vegetables, but canned and frozen vegetables are better than that cheeseburger you’ve been drooling over.
Fruit recommendations are also broken down into the same categories (age/sex) and average 1 1/2 to 2 cups between the groups. Juice is not considered a serving of fruit since many juices contain added sugar, so stick to the real thing and you will make your body happy. I agree with the USDA recommendation for fresh fruit, unless you consider yourself an athlete who works out a few times a week or those that don’t have a sedentary occupation, which could allow you to add more servings of fruit. Just like with vegetables, you should also eat a variety of different colored fruits to ensure your cells are receiving a variety of nutrients and vitamins. Anthocyanin is a phytochemical found in the deep blue flesh of a blueberry, which are shown to remove free-radicals from your cells. Luckily for you, you can order fresh, hand-picked blueberries right here.
A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that only 15 % of Americans consume their daily requirement of fruit and only 13 % eat enough vegetables. It’s now no secret why the US is battling an Obesity epidemic.
Fats are essential to a healthy diet and a healthy body. Without fats your body would not be able to absorb vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K (which are known as “fat soluble” vitamins). Your body uses fat as fuel, while also using the “essential fatty acids” to support brain function, control inflammation and aiding in blood clotting. All fats aren’t created equal; there are Saturated, Trans, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats. The amount of fat allowed in a healthy diet range depending on the type of fat (and age/sex), but you should be consuming less than 35% of your daily caloric intake in the form of fat. If you consider a 2,000 calorie diet, the amount of calories coming from fat should be roughly 700 calories (again, this all depends on the specific person).
Since fats are an intricate part of your overall health, I will be devoting a special post directly to understanding fats, later this month.
Protein is extremely important to your diet, also. Your body needs protein to build and strengthen hair and nails & create and regulate hormones and enzymes. Without protein, your body can’t efficiently produce red blood cells or build and maintain muscle tissue. The problem with protein is the American diet is heavily focused on meat proteins, which can be healthy, yet not in the amount eaten in today’s society. On top of that, the environmental impact of raising the vast quantity of livestock to satisfy the typical American’s diet is proving to have a detrimental impact on the environment. Humans occupy roughly 40% of the land mass on the planet and 30% of that land is used to raise livestock for human consumption. Further more, livestock production uses 1/3 of the world’s fresh water, which if you pay attention to recent events, may need to be looked at in order to avoid droughts which seem to be popping up around the world . The recommendation for a typical adult should be between 5-6 oz of lean protein a day, if you don’t have access to a scale that is roughly the size of 2 decks of cards, once cooked.
While I do not agree with the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations on grain and dairy (I personally cut them out of my diet since I have an auto-immune disease which didn’t respond well to dairy and grain) they do provide good information regarding fruits and vegetables.
If you’ve been paying attention, you should be able to analyze your current diet and see if it fits within the guidelines of the USDA MyPlate program. Are you part of the 15 % of Americans that consume their daily requirements of fruit or part of the 13% that eat enough vegetables? If you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, you are paving the way for a harder life that may include health issues ranging from diabetes to heart disease.
The silver lining to this cloud of potential disease and early death is that YOU are in charge of what you put in your body. Yes, it takes time to cook meals everyday while calculating if you’ve had your daily requirements of fruits, vegetables, fats and protein. Once you feel the difference in how your body performs when you are eating correctly, there will be no turning back, I promise. You will sleep better, you will be happier (remember how many mitochondria are in your brain?) and you will absolutely look better.
I will constantly be adding new posts on ways to improve y0ur health, so check back frequently and you may learn something new.
Be part of the solution, not the problem
Chad R. Puschel