Collier Edition

Holidays/New Year’s Cleanse and Diet

By Kriston J. Kent, M.D., MPH

The holidays are some of the most blessed and wonderful times of our lives because they allow us the opportunity to practice many healthy habits.  These include quality time with those that we love and care about, more time for relaxing activities and down time, more time to move and spend time out of doors, and hopefully, more positive thoughts.  For those with strong spiritual beliefs, the holidays also provide time to participate in spiritual endeavors.  However, for most people, the holiday season does not provide us with the opportunity to practice healthy eating and drinking habits.  Finally, for most, the holidays increase stress instead of reducing it.  We simply try to do too much, too fast and don’t allow for adequate sleep and rejuvenation.

Well, if you are able to practice healthy eating habits and decrease your stress level over the holidays, then congratulations and you need to help teach the rest of us your secret.  However, I suspect that we all need to immediately refocus our attention to the daily choices that we make in order to cleanse our bodies and our minds of the ravages of the holiday season!

So where do we start, to look and feel our best in 2015 and beyond?  The true secret for long lasting health and well-being lies in the choices we make, and these are determined by our daily habits.  When it comes to healthy habits (and several habits are of critical importance), none are more important than the fuel and healing nutrients which we choose to put into our bodies.  No matter what you have done nutritionally in the past to sabotage good health, you can gain incredible improvement in a very short period of time using the healing power of the right foods.  A variety of tasty whole foods contain all of the necessary nutrients to improve energy, decrease inflammation and pain, reduce weight, and correct a multitude of serious cardiovascular and metabolic (type 2 diabetes) risk factors and lab values.  In fact, recent research has demonstrated the ability to modify our Gene expression in a positive (or negative) direction based on the nutrients (yes, that means our food choices!) we choose to eat.  Cancer promoting genes and cancer suppressing genes can be turned on or off, based on the type of foods we eat.  The same is true for certain cardiovascular genes.  That’s scary.

There are many myths related to eating a purely whole food, mostly plant-based diet.  The 2 most common include: “It doesn’t taste good” and “It is much more expensive”.  Each year, Harvard Medical School and the Culinary Institute of America co-sponsor a course for physicians, nutritionists, and chefs to teach and learn how healthy and nutritious foods can also be prepared to taste good.  Likewise, recent studies have proven that an individual can in fact eat very healthy on a similar budget with those who choose inexpensive, processed food options.  Therefore, it can be equally expensive to eat healthy foods or to eat lavishly with rich, unhealthy foods. Likewise, one can similarly eat inexpensively with either healthy or unhealthy choices.

So how can we cleanse our bodies during the holidays and in  the New Year through healing diet/nutrition choices?  The answer is simple: Eat whole foods, mostly plants, and not too much!

Though the answer to the incredible healing power of using food as medicine is simple, it is not always easy.  If your current habits and culinary choices are limited to foods which lead to poor health, then assistance may be needed to improve habits and discover new foods with healing powers.  The Kent Center for LIFE provides a talented team of health professionals to assist anyone interested in looking and feeling their best.  Isn’t it time to change the health path we are on and choose a path which leads to healthier, happier, and longer lives, instead of the path that ultimately leads to reduced energy, increased aches and pains, and the common chronic diseases of “old age”!!

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