Seven Steps to Gain Health and Lose Weightsam
by Ivy Larson
Seven years ago I ate like most Americans. In other words, overly-processed foods took center stage in my diet. I liked to eat goodies such as pop-tarts for breakfast, pretzels and soda for a snack and fast food for lunch. Dinner was hit or miss and could sometimes be as atrocious as sugary cereal, ice cream and crackers. Not only was I eating a terribly unbalanced, nutrient-poor diet but little did I know I was also eating foods that dramatically increased systemic inflammation within my body. I was only twenty-two years old and had enjoyed great health my entire life and to be honest I was not overly concerned with subjects as â€œboringâ€ as nutrition. Ironically, I was a health fitness instructor certified with the American College of Sports Medicine. I looked fit and trim thanks to hours of vigorous exercise a week. Unfortunately, I soon learned outward appearance was not the only mark of good health.
It was the summer of 1998 when my well-being took a sharp turn for the worse. I began having terrible bladder problems, including incontinence, bladder infections, and urgency and frequency. Things got progressively worse. My right leg became numb and I lost considerable strength in my right hip-flexor, making it difficult to lift my leg, much less teach exercise classes. One night I couldnâ€™t go to the bathroom at all; I ended up in the emergency room and left wearing a catheter. By this time I knew something was terribly wrong. I traveled to the University of Miami and after extensive testing I ultimately received a disheartening diagnosis. It took my neurologist less than fifteen seconds to say the words â€œYou have multiple sclerosisâ€ but with one 4-word sentence my life was forever changed.
While the bad news was hard to swallow I was given hope that I could greatly improve my health by adhering to a program of lifestyle modification, which included a major dietary overhaul. I collaborated with my husband, Andrew Larson, M.D., a general surgeon and together we began researching nutrition for the management of multiple sclerosis. My health greatly improved with my change in lifestyle and today I am in remission without ever needing to take any of the disease-modifying drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis.
As my husband and I continued to study nutrition it soon became apparent the research overlapped and by combining a variety of lifestyle approaches at least ten chronic and prevalent diseases could all be improved. We put our research together into what is now a book titled The Gold Coast Cure: The 5-Week Health and Body Makeover (HCI Books) targeting obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, allergies, arthritis, vascular dementia, fibromyaglia, osteoporosis, and of course multiple sclerosis. While results can be seen in as little as five weeks, the Cure is a plan to be followed for life.
The crux of the Cure is our anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich whole foods diet. Furthermore, this diet is not low fat, low carb or even low calorie. It all sounds just too good to be true but science now proves it doesnâ€™t take deprivation dieting or extreme measures to gain health and lose weight. On the Gold Coast Cure you do not need to eliminate food groups or limit portion size as long as you learn how to break the following 7 deadly dietary habits of modern society:
- Eating too Many Empty Calorie Carbohydrates: The only empty calorie carbohydrates you need to avoid are foods made with refined flour (also called enriched flour, bleached flour or wheat flour), sugar (also called high fructose corn syrup) and white rice. All other carbohydrates are healthy (potatoes, corn, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, beans, all fruits, all vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)
- Eating too Much Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is found in animal products and should be eaten in moderation. Choose organic low-fat dairy, organic and lean cuts of chicken and beef, and use butter in moderation. Limit saturated fat to no more than 15 grams a day.
- Eating too Many Trans Fats: Completely avoid all fried foods as well as foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine and vegetable shortening.
- Eating too Little Essential Fat: Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 essential fats such as fish, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, walnut oil and expeller-pressed canola oil. Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-6 essential fats such as edemame beans, nuts, seeds, all-natural nut and seed butters, tofu, and wheat germ.
- Eating too Little Fiber: Read the back of the nutrition label and make sure all carbohydrate-based foods you eat contain at least 2-3 grams of fiber per 25 grams of carbohydrate. Foods naturally rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, corn, beans, legumes, whole grains, soybeans, and potatoes with the skins on.
- Eating too Few Micronutrients: Increase your intake of all fruits and vegetables.
- Eating too Much Processed Vegetable Oil: Eliminate overly-processed nutrient poor oils such as corn oil and â€œpureâ€ vegetable oil and instead choose oils rich in antioxidants (such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil) or essential fats (such as walnut oil or flaxseed oil)
Ivy Larson is co-author of The Gold Coast Cure: The 5-Week Health & Body Makeover published by HCI. You can learn more about Ivyâ€™s new book by visiting: http://www.goldcoastcure.com