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The Colors of Nature: Prescribing Produce the Best Rx

The San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council recently conducted a nutrition summit to tackle the poor state of health among many of our residents.  One of the two primary goals was to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables using the slogan Prescribing Produce to Prevent Disease. The second goal was to encourage the community to eliminate sugary drinks from their diet.

In a Super Size World

In the land of puffy tacos, flour tortillas, and super-size-me everything, the average Alamo Joe’s diet is off-kilter.

Looking at the check-out line at the grocery store or cafeteria line, it’s obvious that locals like their dead animals, and preservative-filled non-perishables, and carcinogenic calories.

Sorry, no euphemisms here. The “protein” sources that our residents consume lost their lives months or years before they make it to the dinner or breakfast, plate after being fed hormones amid filthy conditions where the torturous slaughter may be a blessing.

Oftentimes the animal flesh is cooked with too much fat, served in portions fit for a marathon runner, and accompanied by white starches and sugars. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that only 35 percent of adults in Bexar County have healthy BMIs. A full 29 percent are obese, and another 36 percent are overweight, figures which have improved since 2010.

The 2010 USDA Guidelines suggest five to 13 servings of vegetables and fruit a day.  According to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, more than 95 percent of residents eat less than the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables.

As part of the city’s plans to get people to eat better, the Mayor’s Fitness Council is offering solid, smart, and simple tips.

Skip the potatoes. 

Although potatoes are the source of many nutrients, the carb content is far too high to make it a smart choice. As someone that needs to watch my blood sugar level (which is normal for residents of my age), I haven’t eaten a white potato for several years.

Eat the colors of the rainbow.

69 percent of our residents don’t eat enough green which contributes to healthy eyes, lungs, liver, and arterial function. 76 percent don’t consume enough purple or blue foods, like eggplant and grapes, which nourish the brain, bones, and heart. Eight in ten are lacking yellow and orange foods, like pumpkin, papaya, and carrots, rich in the carotenes and luteins.

Some may be disappointed that brown, beige, and grey (the colors of animal meat) are not part of the rainbow. And, when we’re talking reds, we’re referring to tomatoes, berries, and watermelon. Pepperoni, shrimp, merlot, and Big Red don’t fit anywhere in the rainbow.

Shop at a Farmers’ Market or inquire about SA Farm to Work.

FitCitySA.com has a listing of the 20 local markets across the city. SA Farm to Work brings fresh locally grown produce, with suggested recipes, to the workplace, weekly. Buyers pay a nominal fee for a box brimming with the best seasonal fruits and vegetables, making it a win-win for both farmer and consumer.

Keep fruit where you can see it.

We’re talking fresh fruit. No fruit drinks or juices. According to a study conducted among more than 66,000 women, “greater consumption of fruit juice is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.” No wonder, as fruit juice is loaded with sugar, and the natural way to consume fruit is fresh, with the pulp, not processed.

Salads and stir-fries are two ideas for getting tasty vegetables on your plate.

The city’s toolkit includes recipes for healthier meal options including mushroom and kate pasta, whole wheat penne with arugula, avocado and walnuts, cantaloupe and avocado salad, and broccoli soup.

One-quarter of your plate should be a healthy protein (including beans and nuts).

Harvard Medical School says to “Limit red meat and cheese; avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.”  Taking that a step further, protein-rich vegetables like kale and spinach can help to fill the plate, stomach, rainbow, and protein requirement.

According to Ayurvedic (the life science of ancient India) teachings, meat-eating is only suggested seasonally, or for people with certain health issues. Traditional yogic belief condones an egg-free vegetarian lifestyle, and Americans eat twice the amount of protein as other nations, and twice the RDA, adversely affecting our health and the environment.

For more information on Ayurveda, or vegetarianism, search the articles featured on www.thenamastecounsel.com/yoga-blog

Somehow, in the I me mine world that we live, emotional and physical well being has escaped the vast majority. The Namaste Counsel encourages simple proven practices to live a healthier and happier life. Any time. Any where. By anyone.
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