What Is a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet? | Part 1

Many illnesses are directly aggravated by the food that we eat. These inflammatory foods can challenge our immune system in the setting of stress and how we react to this stress. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. integrates a healthy eating habits as a critical component to every treatment since every illness dramatically improves and is prevented as a result.  A healthy and well-balanced diet provides vital nutrients to the body to keep us physically and mentally strong. It also boosts our mood and energy, stabilizes our blood sugar and keeps bad cravings away.

What does a healthy and well-balanced diet actually look like? In this two-part series, we look at healthy eating habits along with foods to have and those to avoid.

Healthy Foods to Eat

A variety of foods should be included on your plate to provide all the different vitamins, minerals, and other substances that the body needs.

1. Organic Leafy Green Vegetables

Vegetables should make up 65% to 75% of your daily diet, and consist mostly of leafy greens. Leafy green vegetables are full of almost everything you need: protein, vitamins (i.e. Folate, calcium, potassium, iron), minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and fiber. They are also low in calories, fats, and toxins.

When you mix a large percentage of greens with most meals, you feel satiated fairly quickly and for hours. Greens also bind toxins and bad bugs from the gut, and help to effectively clear them out of the body.  

The healthiest leafy greens are kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, watercress, turnip greens, Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, arugula salad, and small leafy greens like parsley, spearmint, cilantro, sage, fenugreek, and thyme.

2. Other Organic Fruits and Vegetables

Include a variety of colored fruits and vegetables on your plate. The more colors, the greater the variety of nutrients you’ll consume. Fruits and vegetables are also the best natural sugars. Here are some guidelines to follow:

3. Legumes

20% of your diet should consist of beans since they are rich in nutrients, fiber, and minerals.  Some healthy options are:

Try to mix beans into many of your meals during the day. Be aware that beans may be too heavy to digest when eaten at night.

4. Non-Wheat Whole Grains

Whole grains should consist of 15% of the daily diet. They are rich in essential nutrients and help keep inflammation low. Stick to unrefined, unprocessed whole grains like millet, quinoa, brown rice, barley, oats, rye, amaranth, and buckwheat.  Limit your intake of wheat since it is genetically modified in the U.S. and hence, poorly digested from the gut.

5. Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices make food delicious and provide many critical health benefits. The health benefits include boosting the immune system, improving metabolism, lowering blood pressure, and lessening depression.

Mix a variety of herbs and spices into your daily diet since they each have different medicinal properties. Some great examples include garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, Boswellia (Indian frankincense), oregano, black pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, mint, and cinnamon.

6. Omega 3 foods, such as Seeds, Nuts, and Oils

Omega 3’s have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which protect the heart, brain, and eyes, and improve blood circulation. Some great examples include:

Fish and fish oil have been heavily marketed as being rich in omega-3’s. The problem is they are now plagued with tons of toxins and heavy metals since our waterways throughout the world are heavily contaminated.  These toxins are concentrated in fish’s liver and poisonous to humans.  

7. Water

Since 75% of our bodies are made up of fluids, it is imperative we stay well-hydrated with WATER. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Drink more when in extremely warm days and while exercising.

Healthy Eating Habits

Our eating habits are as important as what we eat to our overall well-being. I have listed my top healthy eating habits which will help you immediately feel great while improving your digestion, energy level, and metabolism:

Are You Ready to Change to a Healthy and Well-Balanced Diet?

Contact Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. for personalized guidance on how to make small changes to shift to a healthy diet. Making dietary changes takes time. Having the right medical guidance can make the process easy.

There is a wide variety of delicious foods you can eat without getting tired of your menu. Changing your diet may take some time to get used to.  

Next week we will discuss the foods you should limit or cut from your diet completely.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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