Have you seen the news? Recently, Yale researchers identified a high-salt diet as a potential factor for autoimmune diseases like MS, asthma and eczema.
It seems that every day, more and more research like this emerges, supporting the notion that most illnesses - even those with a genetic factor - are preventable with proper diet and lifestyle.
Unfortunately, proper diet and lifestyle require something that most Americans are short on: time & energy. Time for menu planning, food shopping, cooking and cleaning, not to mention an hour a day for exercising.
But cooking is crucial because it gives you control. When you can control what goes into your food, you have much greater control over your health. Since prepared foods aren't as fresh as those that you make at home, they require additives like salt, sugar, and preservatives to maintain a good taste. As we see with the Yale study, it's additives like these that can be so detrimental to good health.
OK, so maybe you're convinced that attention to what we eat and how we live is necessary. But in our busy lives, is it sustainable? What if you're wokring, have children at home, or both? How can you maintain a healthy diet without cooking and cleaning every single day, three times a day?
A few tips:
1. Preparation: Dedicate one of your days off to menu planning, shopping, and preparing as much as possible for the week ahead. Wash and chop veggies, make hard-boiled eggs, prepare dressings or sauces....you can even cook meats ahead of time and gently re-heat them in the sauce pan.
2. Hire help: A natural chef is an investment, but it can be a time- and sanity-saver. If you have the extra cash flow, hiring a natural chef to help out at home a few days a week can removed the burden of healthy cooking.
3. Mix it up: Find a few healthy pre-made "cheats" (for example, the salad bar at your local grocery, a pre-roasted whole organic chicken, or the cup of soup from the corner bistro) and pepper them into your weekly menu for the sake of simplicity.
4. Read lables: Avoid anything with added sweeteners, added salt, artificial ingredients, or words you don't understand.
In terms of salt specifically, potassium can help balance excess sodium intake. Potassium is found in bananas, yes, but even more so in leafy greens like swiss chard and spinach, mushrooms, papaya, and many other vegetables and fruits.
A juice fast is also a tasty way to reset your sodium/potassium balance and help prevent the health issues associated with high salt intake.
It can be a challenge to worry about preventing autoimmune problems before they begin, but addressing them now not only helps you avoid them, but also boosts all areas of your health. By eating a proper diet, you give your body the best chance at maintaining a healthy weight, delaying the signs of aging, and preserving your energy.
Energy you'll need - for the kitchen.