Wellness means much more than the absence of sickness. It is a way of living that emphasizes such preventive measures as eating a healthy diet; making exercise an enjoyable part of your life, and making self-care decisions that will actively improve the quality of your life. Wellness means reducing your risk for chronic disease, preventing and treating injuries, banishing environmental and safety hazards from your home and workplace, and eliminating unnecessary trips to the doctor—but making the best use of the healthcare system when you need it.
The premise of wellness is that you can live a long, healthy, and active life. All you need is the desire to do so—and the right information on which to base your actions.
Eat foods rich in vitamin C every day.
An adequate intake of such foods may help protect against cancer and possibly other diseases. Besides oranges, the best sources of vitamin C are, in alphabetical order, asparagus, blackberries, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, kiwifruit, mangoes, mustard greens, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, and tomatoes.
Select foods rich in carotenoids, notably beta-carotene. Research shows that these substances may play a role in preventing disease. Their orange color tells you that carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe are excellent sources of beta carotene. But so are many dark leafy greens, such as collard greens, kale, and spinach, as well as broccoli.
Be a semivegetarian. That’s someone who supplements a steady diet of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruit, and dairy products with occasional moderate servings of beef, poultry, and fish. The potential benefits are many: a lowered risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, the maintenance of a healthy weight, and fewer digestive complaints.
Eat tomatoes and tomato products.
One four-ounce tomato supplies about one-third of your daily need of vitamin C, plus a little beta carotene, potassium, folate, and other B vitamins, iron, and fiber. Tomatoes are also rich in a carotenoid called lycopene, a potent antioxidant. The lycopene in cooked and processed tomatoes (sauce, paste, salsa, canned tomatoes) is more easily absorbed than that in raw tomatoes. Watermelon and pink grapefruit also contain lycopene.
Choose skinless turkey breast—it’s just about the leanest of all meats. A three-ounce portion has less than a gram of fat and 120 calories. Plain roast turkey is your best bet: turkey cold cuts and self-basting turkeys can be quite high in fat.
Eat fish to help your heart.
Eating fish just once or twice a week may significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack. The protective value of fish comes primarily from the type of polyunsaturated fatty acids, called omega3s, found in its oil.
If you’re trying to lose weight, eat foods with high water content. Fruits and vegetables and dishes made with them (such as stews and smoothies), as well as soups, can help you cut down on calories and still feel satisfied.
A glass of nearly any orange juice will supply at least the daily RDA for vitamin C. Freshly squeezed juice usually has the most vitamin C, followed by frozen and canned (which retain their vitamin C for months), then by chilled cartons and unrefrigerated “drink boxes.” Always check the “sell before” date. The fresher the juice, the more C.
Drink vegetable juice—but don’t expect it to replace whole vegetables in your diet. Vegetable juices are fairly rich in vitamins and minerals but low in calories. For instance, 6 ounces typically contains about 60% of the RDA for vitamin C and nearly half the suggested daily intake of beta carotene. But vegetable juices provide little fiber (about a gram in 6 ounces). Commercial varieties tend to have lots of sodium.
Eat at least three servings of whole grains a day to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. These foods include wholegrain cereals and bread, oats, and brown rice.
Try to avoid charred grilled meats.
Cooked over high heat, fat drips onto the heating element (coals, wood, gas flames, electric coils), forming potentially cancer-causing chemicals that are deposited on the meat by the rising smoke. Such substances form whenever meat is charred; this also occurs to some extent when meat is broiled or pan-fried, especially if it’s cooked until well done. 12. To reduce the risks from grilled meats, pick low-fat cuts, and trim all visible fat. Wrap meat in foil to protect it from the smoke. Don’t place the meat directly over the heat source (push the coals to the sides of the grill once they are hot). Place aluminum foil or a metal pan between the meat and the coals to catch the dripping fat. And scrape off charred parts from the cooked meat.
Many studies have now found that people who regularly eat nuts, especially walnuts or almonds, cut their risk of heart disease by as much as half. Nuts are rich in cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats, folate and other B vitamins, heart-healthy minerals, vitamin E, arginine (an amino acid that helps relax blood vessels), fiber, and phytochemicals. The trick is to eat nuts in place of other foods. Since they have 160 to 190 calories per ounce, it is easy to gain weight if you simply add nuts to your daily fare.
For a juice that’s high in iron, choose prune juice. One cup provides 30% of the RDA for men, 17% of that for women. Prune juice is also rich in potassium.
Highly nutritious foods are often low in cost.
Among them are bananas, carrots, potatoes, whole wheat flour, and dried beans—the sort of high fiber foods that nutritionists now recommend. They also tend to come with minimal packaging—an environmental plus.
Keep coleslaw low-fat. It is usually more fat than it is cabbage, but you can make it low-fat. Instead of mayonnaise, try a dressing made of H cup plain nonfat yogurt, 3 tablespoons apple juice, and 2 tablespoons vinegar. That’s enough for 1H pounds of shredded cabbage with 2 cups of shredded carrots, 2 shredded celery stalks, B cup raisins, and 1 diced apple. Each one-cup serving has just 74 calories and almost no fat.