The next place to look for real food is in a health food store. Go on a prospecting trip first if it seems intimidating. Maybe one of your relatives or neighbors is a health nut. Ask them to take you to their favorite store. Remember, we’re not buying supplements yet, just food, so you can focus on food alone. The produce in a health food store will offer more variety than that at the Farmers’ Market. You will find some tasty out-of-season items to add to your menus. You may need to shop for most of your produce in the health food store if you do not have a Farmers’ Market in your community or when the market is not in session (wintertime). Health food store produce will be more expensive than the produce you formerly bought in the supermarket. Forget about making comparisons. You can only compare price; you cannot compare the quality. If you have ARMD or any other degenerative disease, you need to spend money on good food. Your savings will come when you stop buying junk food. Right now, though, we are adding, not eliminating.
During your first visit to the health food store, plan to buy grains, nuts, and legumes. Sound squirrelly? Again, we are going to keep it simple. Buy some organic, short grain brown rice out of a bin (not a box). You know what brown rice is. You can take a peek at the quinoa (pronounced keenwa) and the millet, but you don’t have to venture that far yet. Then buy some almonds. No, they are not slivered and in plastic. They are whole and in the bins, too. Take them home and roast them in an iron skillet or toast them in the oven until they start to pop. Let them cool. Eat them when you are hungry for a snack. Get some pumpkin seeds and toast them in the oven too. Grain, nut, legume! You are all set to add them to your greens and apples. If you like eggs, you might be pleased to know that those laid by hens raised on a natural diet without hormones, antibiotics, or
pesticide-laden food have been proven to have less cholesterol than commercial eggs. There is no advantage to eating fertile eggs, but get them if you wish. You will probably see a whole host of other organic dairy selections – milk, butter, and cheese. Use your discretion and try them if you have not been advised to curtail fat and cholesterol intake. Take a look at the yogurt. Fewer flavors and options will be offered, but you will get more digestion-enhancing cultures in the health food store brands.
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Not everything in health food stores is particularly healthy. In trying to appeal to the American palate, they carry prepared food and imitation items like fake sausage made from soy products. None of these things will enhance your health particularly; but they will probably not harm you too much. My guess is that if you really love sausage, you will not like fake sausage. Just begin to fill up your plate and your stomach with whole food, and your craving for sausage will probably subside. Many health food stores carry high quality meat such as range-free chickens and pesticide-free fish. Feel free to add these to your diet if you wish.
Now that you know the way, shop at the Farmers’ Market and the health food store until it becomes a habit. Experiment with a wide variety of food items. Learn or relearn to cook or pay someone to do it for you. There is no way around this. You must prepare meals fresh and eat at home a great deal of the time. When you eat out, go to ethnic restaurants and have a good time. Do not eat at fast food restaurants. The fat, salt, and sugar content of their food may actually make you sick once you have feasted on real food for a while. By adding all these good things to your diet, you will naturally become more discriminating, and many of the things you formerly ate will lose their appeal.
You may be wondering why I am so firm about your buying organic produce. The answer is that I assume you have or may be a candidate for ARMD, which, as we have already discussed, is a degenerative disease. Degeneration happens in the presence of certain conditions. One of them is having a toxic inner environment. All the toxins in your body get there because you admit them in some way. They come through the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat. (By the way, get a good quality water filter on your next trip to the health food store.) In recommending the dietary changes in these pages, I am trying to help you detoxify your body. Why? I want it to be freed up to help you cope with life, aging, and healing your ARMD. There are more ways to detoxify. One of them is chelation therapy which I will explain in a later chapter. But the
key to success and greater health is to reduce your toxic load on a daily basis. Therefore, my approach is two-pronged: stop adding to your toxic load by improving your diet, and eliminate the toxins you have accumulated through exercise and treatments like chelation therapy.
Eating organic produce eliminates the toxins contributed by farming chemicals. Eating whole foods eliminates the toxins contributed by chemical preservatives, additives, and artificial nutrients. By whole foods, I mean items that are as close to the way they grow as possible. A freshly caught fish might be quick frozen and be very close to its original state. Fish sticks are far from it! Brown rice has the nutrient rich hull still surrounding its kernel. You get the idea.
Change like the tortoise
Many blogs on regaining health have chapters on diet and nutrition. Usually they launch into a list of foods that you must eat as well as those you must avoid. After that, they give you pages and pages of recipes, most containing unfamiliar ingredients. This racing ahead and then stopping is like the way the hare ran the famous race against the tortoise. I am suggesting you take a lesson from the tortoise. Change slowly but steadily. Shop at the right places; become comfortable with many items at your new shopping locations; learn how to make a few good meals and snacks.
What to add
Later in this blog, I will tell you all about the supplements you will need to add to your good diet, and you will need to supplement. Remember, you are trying to arrest a degenerative condition or, if possible, reverse it. This requires a fullblown attempt to improve your nutritional status. We have all heard that carrots are good for the eyes, and they are. The thing that makes them good is the presence of beta carotene, the nutrient that converts to Vitamin A on an as needed basis. Researchers have found, however, that other foods are an even richer source of beta carotene. The winners here are kale, spinach, and collard greens. You should still seek out orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables for their beta carotene, but do not let a day pass without at least one large serving of kale, spinach, or collard greens. Secondary choices for beta carotene are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, fresh parsley, green peas, and raw tomato.
The next nutrient you need to obtain from food in a significant quantity is zinc. Sources of zinc are oysters, crabs, and bran cereals. Selenium is very important in eye health since it protects against ultraviolet light damage from sunlight.
Selenium has been depleted from our soil, so a lot of the commercially grown produce contributes very little of this mineral, even if the item is traditionally known to be high in selenium. Begin to add organic red chard, oats, brown rice, barley, wheat bran, nuts, and garlic along with orange juice to your diet.
All fats are not the same. While I strongly urge you to abandon margarine and limit saturated fats such as that found in meat and dairy products, it does not mean that you cannot have fat. On the contrary, the fats named Omega-3 and Omega-6 are vital for their role in lubricating delicate eye tissues and clearing clogged arteries. Food sources of these oils are salmon, sardines, tuna, and cod liver, flaxseed and olive oils. Add one large serving of at least one of these to your daily diet. You will find flaxseed oil in the refrigerated case at your health food store. Keep it refrigerated at home, too. Eat two tablespoons daily or use it as a dressing on salads.
One of the newer diet ideas I’m recommending is replacing some of the carbohydrates in your diet with protein. As a nation, we have become overloaded with carbohydrates. The concern about fat in meat and dairy products has produced a real carbohydrate craze. We have been told to eat pasta, salad, cereal, and bread. We have been advised not to eat fatty meat or full fat dairy products in the dietary gospel of the past decades. However, some new research, particularly, in the realm of obesity, has caused a partial retraction of that gospel. I find the work of Barry Sears, author of The Zone and Mastering the Zone, to be quite compelling. Other popular authors have built upon his core concept. The idea is that the production of insulin is related to weight gain, and insulin production soars when we overload on carbohydrates. Our dietary fads of the past decades may be to blame for the increased incidence of diabetes in adults. All that pasta and bread, even the whole grain products, have been quietly converted to fat by our bodies all these years.
Ideally, you should try to balance carbohydrates with protein and fat at each meal or snack. I urge you to take a look at one of these authors’ blogs. You will probably find your thinking about nutrition modified considerably. One of the things I like about Sears’ approach is his emphasis on vegetables and fruit for carbohydrates. When balancing a meal in terms of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, it makes sense to think about bountiful servings of spinach instead of a tiny bit of pasta on your plate as the carbohydrate allotment. The improved digestion and increased energy levels reported by many who have tried the zone approach, along with the filling and appetizing meals, make it worth trying. I hope you do so.
A word about preparation. Now that you know what to eat, be careful in your preparation. Yes to steaming or sauteing vegetables and poaching or grilling fish. Nix to frying or overcooking. You paid too much money for this food to ruin its value through poor cooking. High temperatures kill the nutrients in vegetables and cause oil to become carcinogenic.