Welcome to Happy Health with Nancy!
Re-gain and maintain your health through health education and action.
Re-gain and maintain your health through education and action.
"Thank you for helping me change my life! I actually think for me anyway the best part of my change is how good I feel. I find myself doing more things rather than just sitting around these days. My goodness who would’ve ever thought that I would think that I could work again! For me the biggest improvement is feeling energetic and just moving effortlessly. Sending love."
"It was shocking when I watched your video and realized that that person on a slow slide towards death was me! I had just never noticed, or I didn't want to notice as all my friends are overweight and taking medications. After just a few weeks of healthy eating my doctor was able to take me off my diabetes and blood pressure meds. Thank you Nancy for helping me make this change."
Your Optimal Life
is up to you!
What is health?
What can I do for you?
What's For Dinner?
Food is not just a bunch of nutrients on a plate. Eating is supposed to be pleasurable, as well as eating with friends and family. Food is essential to our health and our lives as human beings! The enjoyment of food is a natural reaction in the brain and incorporates a cornucopia of our senses, taste sight, smell, and memory. We come together to gather, to grow and prepare food, for daily meals, for celebrations and for support in times of grief.
We can describe our foods as containing macronutrients and micronutrients, but there are thousands of nutrients we do not classify, and only a few we measure and talk about. Nutrients are substances that our bodies need for energy, maintenance, repair, and growth. A pear on a pear tree will not have the exact nutrients as another pear on the same tree, but there are general measurements we can use. All nutrients work together and isolated nutrients should belong in the drug class as they are not natural for our bodies.
There is no way to know exactly what nutrients are in your food, or how much of these your body digests in your gut, or what exactly you will absorb into your blood stream. It is impossible to know exactly how or where these nutrients are transported. However, we can use laboratory experiments and reductionist studies (add one food or class of food or take it away, and see what happens), as well as population studies to get a good idea of what is the best diet for humans to achieve optimal health and for prevention and reversal of disease.
The science of nutrition is not like physics, where when you throw a ball up, it will come down. If you smoke four packs of cigarettes every day, will you get lung cancer? Maybe. Your odds are much higher than for a non smoker, but the information we have might tell you if you want to start smoking or stop, as it appears through studies in laboratories and in populations that smoking is definitely related to lung cancer.
The Four Macronutrients
(the largest portions of any food by weight)
Carbohydrates are produced by plants through photosynthesis. They include simple sugars and chains of sugars called complex carbohydrates.
Your body digests these chains into simple sugars so they can be absorbed into your blood stream and transported easily to your hungry cells which use carbohydrates as energy. Carbohydrate is the energy currency of the body.
Some long chains of complex carbohydrates cannot be entirely digested. These fibers eventually end up in the colon and form the bulk of your stool. Many people think fibers are only the husks of grains and the peels and fibrous parts in fruits and vegetables, but dietary fibers are present in all plant tissues. Even peeled potatoes contain a lot of fiber. Fiber is essential for the health of your gut microbiome, which is an important part of your immune system and mood, as well as many other crucial functions of your body. There is no fiber in beef, pork, chicken, cheese, egg, or other animal foods.
Starches contain sufficient calories to easily meet the energy requirements of an active person, and they have enough proteins, essential fats, fibers, and minerals. Many starches, such as the potato, have all the nutrients you need. Grains and legumes need the help of fruits or green and yellow vegetables in order for you to get all the nutrients humans require.
Sugar is generally thought of as a substance that’s highly refined and unhealthy. A common myth about sugar is that sugar turns to fat causing obesity, however because it is ‘expensive’ for your body to make fats from sugar, these extra sugars are usually burned as heat. Sugar is believed by many to cause type-2 diabetes, but the cause of type 2 diabetes is consuming too much fat. When used in small amounts, simple sugars can enhance your enjoyment of food without adverse effects. But is always best to consume sugars in their natural forms like unprocessed starches, vegetables and fruits.
Artificial sweeteners damage your gut microbiome and also contribute to hunger as they prime your body to use energy but do not provide it.
We know that populations of people who consume the greatest amounts of carbohydrate are the thinnest and fittest and have the lowest incidence of heart disease and diabetes. This is confirmed by observing the change that occurs when people from Japan, for example, migrate to the United States. As they eat less carbohydrate (rice) and more animal foods they become fatter and sicker. Their genes did not change on the plane!
Fats are not as easily digested as carbohydrate, and are like a battery for energy storage. Generally fats that are eaten are directly moved to your fat cells. A biopsy of your fat cells can tell scientists what kind of fat you have been eating, olive oil or fish oil or lard. Even “healthy oils” are moved from your mouth to your fat cells so efficiently, you can bet that every bit is transported to where you don’t want it.
Our bodies can make many fats, like cholesterol, from carbohydrates. We only need to consume a very tiny amount of fat. Patients who used to be fed intravenously needed only a dab of safflower oil rubbed on their skin to get enough fat.
Essential fatty acids are fats the body can't make on its own. We can get all these from plant foods. Remember, even corn has oil!
Fats act not only act to store energy, they are chemical messengers and are important for growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. Sixty percent of our brains are fat!
In nature, fats are bound in plants with other nutrients and fiber, and our bodies know how to digest and use these nutrients healthfully. However when oils are refined out of foods, they are stripped of these essential fibers, vitamins, minerals and thousands of other phyto-chemicals like antioxidants, and these oils are more like drugs and/or toxins. Some of the common consequences of consuming these so-called “good fats,” even flaxseed oil and fish oil, are obesity, type-2 diabetes, bleeding, immune system depression, and cancer. Free oils have been shown to suppress many natural microbe killing mechanisms, and may be toxic to your body tissues. All refined oils contribute to atherosclerotic lesions. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are associated with an increased risk of cataracts. Population studies show that, worldwide, the lower the total fat intake, the less the risk of common cancers, such as breast, colon, prostate and skin.
Good Fats, Bad Fats?
‘The fat you eat is the fat you wear.’ Dr. John McDougall
The primary purpose of fats and oils is storage for times of famine. You do require some fat, but you can get all the fat you need in plants like potatoes, oats, corn, beans and peas, etc.
Fish oils, (omega 3s) cause bleeding, (the Inuit native Americans died of nose bleeds) and suppress immune function. These refined vegetable fats promote cancer and viral infection, and are more toxic to the arteries than animal fats.
There is now science both in animal and human studies that show how oils injury your arteries. Evidence indicates that consuming processed oils, whether monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated, contribute to reduced blood flow and diseased arteries.
The Predimed study, which was supported by the nut and olive oil industry, claimed the prevention of cardiovascular disease with the Mediterranean diet. At the study onset, no selected participants had a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. At five years of follow-up, all three diet groups had sustained scores of major cardiac events of heart attack, stroke, or death.
Vogel examined the effect of components of the Mediterranean on the function of the arteries, observing that meals prepared with olive oil reduced flow by 31%, while meals prepared with canola oil reduced it by 11% (1).
(1) Vogel r, Coretti M, Plotnicks G. e ‘Postprandial effect of components of the Mediterranean diet on endothelial function.' J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000;36:1455.
Proteins are made up of amino acids joined together in long chains, like beads on a string. There are 20 amino acids that help form the thousands of different proteins in your body in different combinations and shapes. Digestion, energy production, blood clotting, immune function and muscle contraction all depend on proteins, as well as hormones like insulin and growth hormones. Only as a last resort are they used as a source of energy. Proteins are found in all foods, and our bodies can make most of them. The rest we have to get from our food and all can be found in plants.
It is impossible to structure a diet that includes enough calories that does not provide enough protein, yet people are still convinced that they need to eat more! Furthermore, most have incorrectly associated protein consumption with benefits that don’t exist. The way to build and maintain a lean body is to exercise, and do strength training. Eating protein by itself does not build strong bodies or most Americans would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Our bodies cannot store protein and must get rid of the excess. These extra amino acids make your blood acidic and your body will ‘pull’ calcium from your bones to buffer the acid, in order to excrete it. This excess protein is broken down mostly by the liver, and partly by the kidneys and muscles. Consumption in excess of our needs overworks the liver and kidneys, and can cause accumulation of toxic protein byproducts.
Animal proteins especially are abundant in sulfur-containing amino acids which break down into very powerful sulfuric acid. Released bone calcium used to buffer the acids settle and coalesce in the kidney system, causing kidney stones. Fruits and vegetables are largely alkaline, preserving bone health and preventing kidney stones.
Proteins can supply your body with energy, however carbohydrate and fat are metabolized more efficiently. In fact, protein supplies your body with very little of its energy needs under normal circumstances.
In a state of fasting (18–48 hours of no food intake), your body breaks down skeletal muscle so that the amino acids can supply you with energy. Your body also uses amino acids from broken-down skeletal muscle if your carbohydrate storage is low. This can occur after exhaustive exercise or if you are on a low carb diet.
How much protein do you need?
Think of protein as the water in a fountain. The water is recycled but some evaporates and needs to be replenished every day. Carbohydrate is like the fuel in your car. When your body runs out, your energy plummets.
Mother’s milk is six percent protein, and this is enough for growing human babies, yet most Americans consume 35 to 40 percent protein. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein, and this is actually more than you need. The extra protein most consume is not stored as muscle, just look around!
Your kidneys did not evolve to continually excrete these excess amino acids, which is why by the time most are in their seventies, many have a 25% loss of kidney function. Lucky most of us have two of them! Excess protein is also hard on your liver.
Consuming plants, even white potatoes, will supply more than enough protein. As long as you consume sufficient calories you will easily meet your protein needs.
It is a myth that athletes need more protein. There is no special diet for athletes. They just need to eat more calories, and that increased calorie intake will increase protein intake enough to fuel performance.
Water makes up a large part of our foods, too. Although it yields no energy, water is an essential element for life. Water is crucial in forming
building blocks of cells and is the environment in which cells live. About 60 percent of your body is water! Our bodies require 64 oz a day of water.
(which make up an essential but small percentage of our food by weight)
Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies cannot make, so we must eat them for normal cell function, growth, and development. There are 13 essential vitamins. Plants make all the vitamins we need, except B-12 which is made by bacteria, and vitamin D which is not a vitamin. It is a hormone our skin makes when we are in the sun.
Minerals like calcium and iron are micronutrients that come from the earth and are absorbed by plants as well as some like carbon and oxygen which plants get from air. Minerals participate in thousands of metabolic reactions that take place throughout the body. Our bodies know how much calcium and iron to absorb when we eat plants, but when we consume animal iron, or minerals from supplements for example, we may absorb too much which can be harmful.
When plants make glucose from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, they also make antioxidants to protect the surrounding tissue as this process is like a tiny nuclear power plant. There are many chemical reactions in our bodies that create oxidation, which is natural, but it is also natural that we eat plants, as we do not make our own antioxidants. Chronic oxidation is a process that can lead to all disease, so eating plants is essential!
Salt is the only micronutrient our bodies specifically crave. Although American’s diet contains about the same amount of salt as it did in the 1950’s, the rate of high blood pressure has increased. It’s the fat.
So, where do you get your protein? Where does this bull get his?
My favorite book on nutrition is The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
A wonderful documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1LUj3kxB9M
The articles on this website are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
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Does thin equal health?
Please see the other pages on my website for specific disease and health issues, as well as tips and recipes. Thank you!