How To Eat For Optimal Health

healthy-eatingFrom the Berkeley Wellness letter, a new book How to Eat for Optimal Health.

You’ve heard it a thousand times.

“You are what you eat.”

The idea of eating right for better health has been pounded into our heads for decades.

Today, it’s an idea whose time has come … and one that’s right on the money. For eating healthy can pay big dividends — in improved health, increased vitality, and greater longevity — to men and women who are choosey and deliberate about what they pile onto their plates.

Unfortunately, many of us “talk the talk” when it comes to eating right … but don’t “walk the walk.”

It’s not simply a matter of will power. Though it can take a fair amount of that to bypass your favorite “guilty pleasures” in favor of safer — and healthier — foods.

But most of us simply aren’t up to date on how to shop, cook, and serve balanced, nutritious meals for optimal health and wellness.

Take a simple snack food like nuts. You’ve probably read that they are fatty, salty, and high in calories. And indeed, they are.

But studies have consistently linked nuts to a reduced risk of heart disease, largely because nuts have a favorable effect on blood cholesterol.

What about fruits and veggies? We’ve been told that raw is best. Cooking boils the nutrients out.

But cooking also makes some nutrients, such as lycopene, more available to the body. For example, cooked and processed tomatoes have 2 to 10 times more lycopene than fresh tomatoes. Moreover, cooking destroys potentially harmful bacteria.

Hardly a week passes without headlines announcing some new study or discovery in the field of nutrition.

It could be a cancer-fighting vegetable … a diet that claims to lower cholesterol … or a food — like eggs — previously considered harmful that turns out to be healthful … or vice versa.

With thousands of books … articles … websites … reports … and clinical studies on eating for optimal health, no single person can keep up with all of the new developments in nutritional research. It would be a full-time job–and you probably already have one of those!

Also, unless you’re an M.D. yourself, do you really have the background to separate the good science from the hype?

That’s where the Wellness Report series from the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter can help save you time and money while improving your health.

Our editorial advisors, all M.D.s or Ph.D.s with impressive credentials in their specialties, conduct an exhaustive search of the medical literature on a particular topic — in this case, eating for health and wellness.

They then review the research to ensure that it’s based on scientifically sound methods … and to confirm the accuracy and reliability of the findings.

Next, our editors painstakingly convert medical jargon, formulas, and statistics into clear, plain English. I know you’ll find it fascinating reading — and useful.

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll discover in our just published UC Berkeley Wellness Report: Eating for Optimal Health.

  • Gluten-free diets are in vogue-but that doesn’t mean this is a healthy way to eat. Here’s why not to go gluten free.
  • Seafood safety-why you should think twice about serving up imported farmed fish.
  • How to read between the sugar lines on Nutrition Facts panels to know how much sugar you are really getting.
  • How to get a “healthy” tan from your diet. No skin-damaging sunlight required!
  • Why antioxidant claims on food packages are over-rated: 5 good reasons to ignore them.
  • Sodium limits-is it possible to get down to 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, as the government advises for most adults? You’re hardly alone if you find it a challenge.
  • These 4 diet tips can help reduce your risk of stroke.
  • The pros-and cons-of probiotic foods. Plus, how to pick the best yogurt.
  • This diet reportedly helped Kate Middleton drop two dress sizes before her marriage to Prince William. Will it work for you?
  • If you love cheese, here’s news you’ve been waiting for.
  • Trans fats are on the decline in packaged foods. That’s great news-but here’s why you still need to be vigilant.
  • Does alcohol increase the risk of breast cancer? Why women should pay attention to this new study.
  • This food may improve men’s fertility.
  • Cuing into food cues: How our “food environment” entices us to eat more than we need-and how to become a more mindful eater.
  • Two apples day will help keep this health risk at bay.
  • Heartening news for women about soy.
  • Snooze and lose? Why some researchers think that getting more zzz’s should be part of standard weight-loss advice.
  • Concerned about mercury in tuna? Choosing this type will reduce the risk.
  • Can coconut oil treat Alzheimer’s disease? A national bestseller offers that promise-but here’s a look at the reality.
  • Skim milk is now bad for you? Why not to believe the latest anti-milk claims.
  • Food manufacturers are adding fiber to all kinds of foods these days. But are fiber-fortified products the way to go?
  • How to read between the menu lines to make wiser-and more healthful-decisions when dining out.
  • The real deal on wheat: Should you believe claims that it causes obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses?
  • If you think tomatoes don’t taste like the ones you remember, here’s why.
  • The coconut water craze: No question, this topical tonic is healthful and hydrating-but is it all it’s cracked up to be?
  • Sugar: How are our kids doing? Results of a new survey may surprise you.
  • What do Pacific sardines, rainbow trout, Coho salmon, barramundi, and squid have in common? Find out here.
  • Does this diet make sense? The truth behind Sensa weight-loss crystals.
  • Rethinking cholesterol advice. Why it might be okay for you to consume more dietary cholesterol than you’ve been told.
  • This plant form of omega-3 fat is good for you, but is no replacement for the omega-3s in fish.
  • It’s been a good year for coffee: Read about 6 studies showing that a few cups of Joe a day might help prevent colon cancer and more.
  • Using these 4 research-based “tricks” at the table may help you eat less.
  • Booze and bones: Can drinking alcohol protect against osteoporosis? The latest research is promising.
  • Why you shouldn’t get hooked on fried fish.
  • The ABCs of antioxidants: how these substances fight oxidative damage.
  • How to plate up your food using the new MyPlate nutrition guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hint: it’s veggie-heavy.
  • Why we think calorie-shifting diets are pretty shifty.

And so much more…

  • You’ve probably heard the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” Here’s what they really mean.
  • Looking for yogurt with live and active cultures? Why this seal may not mean much.
  • How these COOL regulations can help you choose safer seafood.
  • Many people fall short on vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones and has other potential health benefits. Find out more about this “sunshine vitamin.”
  • Can this food reduce your risk of colds and flu? Proponents say it may even curb gingivitis.
  • A lack of this vitamin can impair your immune system. One Brazil nut a day is all you need to get the recommended amount.
  • Dieting can lead to bone loss. Here’s what to be sure to eat more of when you’re cutting calories to keep your bones strong.
  • Coconut and palm oil are now common ingredients in packaged foods. But are these tropical oils really any better for you than the unhealthy fats they are replacing?
  • What high-dose supplement to be wary of – especially if you are a smoker.
  • Insoluble dietary fiber has no nutrients. No calories. And your body cannot manufacture enzymes to digest most fiber. So why should you consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day?
  • Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling advocated taking massive doses of vitamin C. But there’s little evidence that it can prevent or cure a cold – and good reasons to avoid large doses.
  • 7 foods rich in niacin – an essential coenzyme that helps keep your skin, nerves and digestive system healthy.
  • Why none of us, even women, need to take an iron supplement unless a physician advises it.
  • Exercise: It’s the other half of the diet equation. How much and how intensely you need to do it to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 34 out of 100 American adults 20 years of age and older — over 60 million people — are obese. That means they are 30 or more pounds over a healthy body weight.

Ironically, while our stomachs are full — even bulging — our bodies are malnourished and starved for vital nutrients … simply because we don’t eat right.

But the good news is: you don’t have to be fat … or sick … or unhealthy … or malnourished any longer.

Because right now, the UC Berkeley Wellness Report: Eating for Optimal Health can help you make better, healthier eating choices–at the grocery store, in the kitchen, or when dining out.

The Truth About Salt and Your Health

And Why Potassium May Be the Antidote

  • What Should You Believe About Salt? A low-salt diet benefits many people with hypertension. But cutting down on sodium is important even if you don’t have high blood pressure.
  • Salt Tips. Sodium lurks in unexpected places. Some fast food meals have three to five days’ worth of sodium, in one sitting. What to watch out for.
  • Sodium Substitutes. These are a good option for many people. They help reduce blood pressure and heart disease deaths when used in place of table salt. But they are not for everyone.
  • Potassium Power. If sodium is a bad guy, then potassium is a good guy, since it helps lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, most of us consume far too little of this vital mineral. Here’s why you should get your potassium from food, not supplements.
  • Making It Add Up: A Sample Menu. How can you get up to the recommended 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day? A sample menu shows you how it can be done.

You can literally “eat your way” to better health, more energy, and a trimmer, slimmer you!