The journey to optimal health of bones and joints begins with maintain a healthy weight. The body mass index (BMI) is commonly used to help determine if a person is over-weight and at risk for health problems. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the correlation between the BMI number and body fatness is fairly strong. However, the correlation varies by sex, race and age.
These variations include the following examples:
- At the same BMI, women tend to have more body fat than men.
- At the same BMI, older people on average tend to have more body fat than younger adults.
- Highly trained athletes may have a high BMI because of increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness.
It is also important to remember that BMI is only one factor related to risk for disease. For assessing someone’s likelihood of developing overweight or obesity-related diseases, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute guidelines recommend looking at two other predictors:
- Waist circumference (because abdominal fat is a predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases)
- Diseases and conditions associated with obesity (for example, high blood pressure or physical inactivity)
Optimal health can only be attained and maintained by eating an abundance and variety of plant foods including lettuce, chard, kale, spinach and herbs which are high in anti-oxidants. In fact, the benefits of antioxidants are documented and proven.
Anti-oxidant foods have become popular both in the news and on the shelves. They are best when consumed in their most natural form like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds. When we eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, we benefit from the antioxidants actually protect us from the damaging effects of free radicals. This is the only way to be protected and to effectively minimize the chances of developing degenerative diseases.
Science is now validating the ancient instruction of consuming high-nutrient and low-calorie foods. Every day, several new scientific studies are confirming that following this ancient instruction is the only way humans are able to nourish their cells sufficiently to avoid degenerative diseases.
Since antioxidants-rich foods tend to be lower in calories, they are a natural way to lose and/ or maintain a healthy weight. Even though the super antioxidant diet offers an abundance of food to promote healthy bones and joints, maintaining a healthy weight is just one of its benefits.
A low-calorie diet can actually benefit our health. Studies show that restrictive diets have a powerful effect on our ability to protect against atherosclerosis, a condition caused by fatty material clogging up arterial walls. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen from the heart to other parts of the body. With these types of diets, glucose, inflammation and triglyceride levels typically decrease.
Numerous scientific studies have concluded that only one basic diet plan is optimal for strong bones and joints, a diet plan high in antioxidant foods. The suggested dietary guidelines are as below:
- Opt For Vegetables
One pound or 3 to 5 cups of fresh salad including a variety of raw vegetables. Or 3 cups of a variety of cooked vegetables. There is no limit on leafy green and colored vegetables. Some examples include asparagus, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts, carrots, green beans, onions, peppers,spinach.
- Opt For Fresh Fruit
4 to 5 servings of different fresh or frozen fruits or berries. (A serving is half a cup of high-glycemic fruits or one cup of low-glycemic fruits or berries). Some examples include blackberries, grapefruits, melons, papayas, prunes, plums, grapes, strawberries, raspberries.
- Cooked Legumes
One to two cups of cooked legumes or a half-cup serving of legumes with fish or meat. One thing to take note is when raw legumes are properly soaked and germinated, their nutritive value increases, usually to levels equal to or exceeding those of the cooked bean.
Some people have problems digesting raw sprouted legumes, and there is some controversy about raw legumes containing certain toxin chemicals. Blending raw foods into dips, smoothies and gazpachos is important because it breaks down the plant foods cellular walls, greatly increasing nutrient absorption.
- Starchy Vegetables
One to three half-cup servings cooked, unless you are trying to lose weight (limit to none or one serving per day) or needing to lower blood sugar (avoid altogether). Examples including chestnuts, corn, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash.
- Whole Grains
1 to 3 servings per day, unless you are trying to lose weight (then limit to no more than a half-cup cooked whole grains per day or one slice of bread or omit completely), are athletic, or are trying to gain weight (increase daily servings accordingly). Examples include barley, oatmeal, polenta, wheat berries, whole-grain rice.
One thing to take note is that breads on grocery shelves are often not healthful, although their labels might deceive you. Purchase your bread from a health store but make sure its ingredients do not include chemical preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.
- Raw Nuts And Seeds
Consuming good fat is both healthy and important. By eating healthy fat only available in whole foods, you increase your intake of antioxidants. Your goal is to limit other types of oil. Recommended intake is 12 raw nuts per day or 2 tablespoons raw seeds.
- Animal Products
Recommended daily intake is less than 150 calories per day or no more than 4 ounces per day of lean meat, skinless poultry breast, wild game, wild fish or skim milk or yogurt. If possible, reduce it to fewer than 4 servings per week.
- Meat And Dairy
In ancient times, people ate dairy and other animal products because they lived in harsh environments where fresh produce was not readily available. In religious rituals, they sacrificed animals and often ate the flesh. Their livestock was naturally raised, unlike most of the meat sold for food on today’s market. Even meats with labels like “free-range” are questionable.
Organically raised meat does not necessarily mean grass-fed or free-range. And the label “free-range” does not mean the animals always roam freely. In fact, animals do not have to leave the stall or coop to be labeled “free-range”. The USDA’s ambiguous free-range standards only require that outdoor access be available for an unspecified time each day. Although the only healthy animal is one that can roam freely and graze at will, meat does not contain any antioxidants.
On top of that, most poultry, beef and lamb on today’s farms are fed grains rather than a natural diet of grass. This “upset” in diet causes an excess production of arachidonic acid. Research has linked arachidonic acid to inflammatory diseases. Arachidonic acid is also found in the fatty tissue of muscle meat, organ meats and egg yolks. Our bodies also produce it when we have high insulin levels.
Arachidonic acid has been proven or suspected to cause and contribute to a long list of diseases. As such, super antioxidant diet meal plans are designed to fight inflammation as well. Excess animal protein upsets the pH balance of the body. Whereas plant foods are alkaline and calcium-rich, animal protein increases the production of metabolic acid.
To neutralize this excess acid, calcium is leached from bones and excreted through the urine, decreasing bone density. Calcium in the urinary tract results in an increased risk for developing kidney stones. Some of the best antioxidant and calcium-rich foods include bok choy, turnip greens, collard greens, kale and tofu.
Numerous studies reveal that dairy products including cheese are not healthy for children or adults. After all, cow’s milk is designed to develop a calf from 30 pounds to 400 pounds by the time it is weaned about 6 months later. Human beings are the only mammal species that continues to drink milk after being weaned.
Today, hormones and antibiotics are the order of the day on animal farms and these drugs can be found in the milk that is produced. Additionally, the primary component of milk protein in both non-fat and whole dairy called casein has been shown to promote some forms of cancer at least in animals.
One study at Cornell University, revealed that casein tends to promote tumor growth. Casein has also shown to increase coronary artery blockages in animals.
Fish does offer a healthy alternative to animal products, but it is wise to be cautious. Farm-raised fish tends to be high in arachidonic acid and many types of fish contain high concentrations of mercury and other pollutants.
Anchovies, herring, mackerel and wild salmon actually help combat arachidonic acid. Wild salmon from less polluted waters such as Alaska are always the best choice as the fish contains a hefty portion of healthy omega-3 fatty acid.
Catfish, shellfish and carp tend to accumulate more pollutants than other types of fish. And both catfish and shell fish live on the waste and toxins expelled from other fish. Clams, oysters, mussels and scallops are filter feeders. They get their food from filtering massive amounts of water. These creatures consume whatever chemicals, toxins, bacteria and viruses happen to be in the water where they live.
Almost all of the shrimp eaten in the United States is imported and more than 80% of that farm is raised. Most of these shrimp farms are found in Southeast Asia, where labor and environmental standards are less controlled than in the United States. These waters are often full of pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals.
If you like fish, it is recommended to eat a small serving (3 to 4 ounces) of wild salmon 3 to 4 times a week. If you choose to eat shellfish of any kind, research its origin whenever possible. If you eat meat, consume only small portions (3 to 4 ounces two to three times per week) of lean free-range chicken breast, free-range turkey breast, lean wild game, and even less frequent and smaller portions of grass-fed beef or buffalo.
Below is the summary on the recommended as well as non-recommended animal products:
- Anchovies, herring, mackerel, wild salmon
- Lean free-range chicken breast, free-range turkey breast
- Lean wild game
- Infrequent, small servings of grass-fed beef or buffalo
- Younger, smaller fish
- Clams, oysters, mussels, shrimp, crayfish, lobster, squid, octopus, eel, scallops, catfish, carp
- Farm-raised fish of any type
- Grain-fed beef, poultry or lamb
- Milk and milk products
- Egg yolks
Eating an abundance of natural whole plant foods loaded with antioxidants gives us the ability to reclaim and maintain our health. After all, when antioxidant-rich foods are consumed, the body begins functioning more efficiently and replacing unhealthy cells with the healthier ones. As such, it fights off inflammation within the body system, thereby eliminating the risk of joint diseases. As you begin to follow the super antioxidant dietary guidelines, you will notice that your bones and joints is healthier and stronger than you may thought of.