I hate to be polarizing - I really do.
From all those years of being an immigrant child - I try to be liked. But, when it comes to health and nutrition, I have some clear opinions! So, here goes.
My “NO” List is short but really important. In my eyes, there are no qualms that these things cause harm to our bodies.
There’s also a long list of “maybe-no’s” and then there are things that are “maybe-maybes” for me, such as crystals, waist trainers and essential oils. My opinion on these is to do it if you love it and have time, they probably won’t do any harm.
So, what’s on The “NO” List?
#1 Constant Insulin Spikes
For heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hormones, fat loss, performance, and inflammation - let’s be clear: your number one priority is to choose a diet that keeps your blood sugar from spiking all over the place and keeps your insulin balanced.
This statement is just as much for me as it is for you. When debating the minor details of diet, sometimes we forget this one rule that trumps everything else.
I started out by not having sugar or grains for breakfast. When I’m doing intermittent fasting, this is easy! On non-fasting days, I need to pick things like a cup of mixed nuts and seeds, Chai tea, and vegetable juice.
“Listen, sugar’s a recreational drug. Its use is fine, but realize it’s a drug. I like tequila, but I don’t have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
I remember when Mark Hyman, M.D. said this and it hit home. When he has it, he savors it! It made so much sense to me and really changed the way I thought about sugar.
You know what spikes up insulin the fastest? Sugary drinks!
And not just Coke and Pepsi but also juices and your favorite vanilla lattes!
I found out through trial and error that a low insulin diet is basically one full of vegetables, nuts, low sugar fruit like berries, and occasionally raw Stevia.
Insulin is the hormone that signals fat storage and increases bad cholesterol. Too much insulin released over time causes all kinds of hormonal issues, leading to metabolic syndrome.
This is really personal for me as almost my entire family has been taken by diabetes and heart disease at a young age.
The bottom line is: for good hormones, stable metabolism, strong ab muscles, brain function, heart and gut health, and a long life - focus on eating a diet that doesn’t spike your insulin! If you’re like me, you like health tips that multitask.
#2 Processed Oils and Fats
Cutting processed oils and fats out of your diet sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not.
MOST fast food meals, and even some sit down restaurants, use processed oils.
This has been shown over and over again to cause inflammation, which leads to heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
This is my problem with meat and why processed, smoked, and fried meat is firmly on my “NO” list. Frying with vegetable, canola, or other oils with low smoke points is also bad for our bodies.
Avocados and nuts are good whole food replacements. I love adding some olive oil to salads or low heat cooking - it’s far healthier than frying, plus it’s delicious.
So, steer clear of the processed oils and fats, especially processed/heated meat, and other high-fat options like dairy.
#3 "Following the Fad"
Do you remember when low fat/no fat was all the rage?
I literally would eat 4 bread rolls at a restaurant before the food came! Although that’s not that bad - I actually thought I was being really healthy since rolls are low fat!
Blindly following fads will get you into trouble EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Instead, take parts of the fad that seem to work for you. For example, Ketosis is a fad, but maybe playing with a little higher fat and less carbs will be beneficial without going into real ketosis.
There is no shortcut.
Studies show that eating a diet that’s primarily plant-based, whole foods, and low sugar leads to a longer life, regardless of what region you’re from.
Following new research is always good, but make sure you trust your sources! Check with doctors you trust, nutrition specialists, and genuine medical studies.
What’s on The “YES” List?
The “YES” List is short because a lot of it needs to be customized to your personal taste. The foods that I would absolutely say help with your gut and hormone health are:
#1 Vegetables. Tons of them. This has been proven over and over again.
I recommend 3-5 cups of cruciferous and leafy greens a day for their fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and hormonal value.
Of course, when you’re increasing your vegetable fiber intake, increase your water as well - and go slow. Your gut bacteria may get angry with you if you try to add in too much plant fiber all at once.
I say start with 1 cup of cooked spinach and ½ cup cooked broccoli with tons of water. Although your gut bacteria will love it in the long run, it takes some getting used to.
The other great thing about plant fiber, especially cruciferous vegetables, is that it actually binds the excess estrogen and other hormonal byproducts and helps you excrete them. This is the REAL detox.
#2 Superfoods, like spices, every single day.
Turmeric (I like the new one by Vani Hari that is organic and pesticide free). I also use the actual root from whole foods or other organic markets.
Ginger. You can easily add ½ teaspoon shredded root or powder in your tea or green juice.
Garlic. Add it to food, raw or cooked - actually cooked is even more potent - and delicious!
It doesn’t matter the spice (cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, etc), I love to play with them on a daily basis and encourage you to as well.
The most important thing with your diet is that it’s healthy and sustainable FOR YOU. Have fun, experiment, and enjoy the trial and error process that will bring you closer to complete health.
Note: I have tried and loved Vani’s supplement and therefore I am a small affiliate partner. In addition, I have my own supplement that contains Ashwagandha, called Balance and Restore. I included this note because I want you to know if I am ever part of a company I will let you know. I buy and use both supplements and so I feel very comfortable talking about them. In order to be as transparent as possible I wrote this note. I think you deserve Transparency and honesty!