Every day there seems to be a new research study on healthy eating or lifestyle habits, along with a new diet or exercise recommendation. How can you sort out what’s proven from the “fad” of the week, and then make the necessary changes in your family’s routine.
Dr. Greger (nutritionfacts.org) is a well-known guru of healthy eating who writes an interesting column. He has pulled together a Daily Dozen nutrition and lifestyle tips which he tries to follow. They are all well proven and might give you a place to start if you are interested in changing your own health routine.
It is important to stress that these tips are just a guide, suggestions, and not a list of absolute “must dos”. The Daily Dozen is just a tool to get you started.
It’s interesting to note that Dr. Greger encouraged his family engaged by using an erasable white board on the refrigerator with check boxes for each item. But reaching their daily goal soon became just another piece of the family’s routine and the white board was moved to the garage.
The recommendations are generally food focused with two lifestyle goals as well.
- Beans (legumes). Legumes are a key to keeping your colon bacteria (the microbiome) happy. You should have three ½ cup servings a day. Split peas, chickpeas, lentils, and tofu count as legumes, as does pea soup and hummus.
- Flax Meal. One tablespoon a day. Flax contains lignans, a potentially anti cancer compound, at a concentration one hundred times higher than other foods. And the other poorly absorbed plant fibers in the flax also help keep that microbiome in balance. Mix the flax meal with applesauce and you can take credit for a fruit serving along with your fiber.
- Berries. One halfalf cup every day. Fresh or frozen. These along with other colored vegetables are loaded with micronutrients and antioxidants.
- Fruit. One medium apple or other piece of fruit (orange, banana, pear) a day. Or substitute one cup of cut up fresh fruit or a half cup of dried fruit.
- Cruciferous vegetables. One half cup a day. Broccoli, cabbage, collards or kale. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, which is not found in other green leafy vegetables.
- Greens. Two servings. One serving is a cup of leafy vegetables or half cup cooked such as kale or spinach. And if you had an extra half-cup of broccoli, you can count that as well.
- Other vegetables. Two one-half cup servings. Carrots, asparagus, anything that is not leafy.
- Whole grains. This one is easy in a western diet. One half cup of oatmeal. One half cup of cooked pasta. One tortillas or one slice of bread. Or popcorn (three cups) for an evening snack.
- Nuts. One-quarter cup. A great snack mid morning when you are tempted to open the refrigerator. Peanut butter counts as well!
teaspoon. I don’t think its alleged anti cancer properties are as
proven as Dr. Greger’s other recommendations, but I’m including
it as it is his Daily Dozen.
- Ninety minutes (total per day) of brisk walking or 40 minutes of more intense exercise such as jogging, swimming, or biking. It does not need to be consecutive. You can break it up over the day.
Five glasses. As with the Tumeric, I’ve seen articles
questioning the benefit of five glasses of water.
At first glance, this list looks overwhelming. But when you think about it, a peanut butter sandwich with a banana covers the nuts, fruit and whole grains for the day. And a big salad with a few nuts, tomatoes, and other vegetables covers a lot of ground.
The advantage of starting with a list is that it helps keep things balanced and on track. It reminds you what you may need to buy at the store, and helps with meal planning, especially if you are making dinner and want to add categories you’ve missed during the day. And before long, your choices second nature and the list can go back in the drawer.
If you want to give it a try, there is even a smart phone app called Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen (in the Apple App Store for sure) that will take the place of that white board or sticky notes on the refrigerator.