These 10 tips will ensure that your body is getting plenty of what it really needs.
1. Add fiber—especially soluble fiber.1 of 11
Most of us are deficient in fiber—the essence of fruits, veggies, nuts and beans. Fiber not only tames the insulin spike that results from excessive sugar consumption, but also lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to the Institute of Medicine, adult women need 25 grams of fiber a day and men need 38 grams. Two-thirds of that should come from soluble fiber you find in vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts.
2. Get adequate Vitamin D.2 of 11
Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D, a serious problem that could compromise our immunity. Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. D2 comes from plant foods, and D3 comes from animal foods, such as fish, eggs and liver. Your body also produces D3 when you expose your skin to a big dose of sunshine.
How well we absorb Vitamin D from food varies depending on our age, lifestyle and health, so there is no one-size-fits-all prescription. The Vitamin D Council recommends we take 2,000 IU daily if we get little sun. But if you are Vitamin D deficient, your wellness doctor may recommend 5,000 to 10,000 IU of D3 for a month until you get up to par.
3. Eat healthy fats and omega-3 fats.3 of 11
The food industry has deceived many of us into thinking refined junk oils from genetically modified plants like corn and canola qualify as "healthy." Nope. Instead, get healthy omega-3 fats from fish, flax seed or flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Eating these daily lowers inflammation, depression and heart-threatening triglycerides, and supports brain health.
4. Boost antioxidants.4 of 11
These healthy cell protectors and cancer cell blockers come mostly from plants like brightly colored berries, legumes, dark greens like kale, sweet potatoes and dark grapes like the ones in wine. In general, any fruits and vegetables with deep color are likely to boast antioxidants among their benefits. Bonus: All of these pack a big punch of fiber.
5. Eat lean and plant-based protein.5 of 11
Most wellness doctors and nutritionists say Americans consume too much protein.
Check the USDA guidelines to see how much protein you need every day. And you don't have to eat meat to get your protein. Some of the best protein sources come from plants, such as legumes, seeds, nuts and whole grains. Also, consider seafood like small-mouth, wild-caught fish and lean, protein-rich, animal-based proteins, such as eggs and Greek yogurt.
6. Choose whole grains.6 of 11
Whole grains have not been polished, stripped or ground, so 100 percent of the original kernel (the bran, germ and endosperm) is present. These are high in fiber and protein, but are also nutrient-rich.
Whole grains come in a variety of tastes and textures, including quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, oats, barley, cracked wheat, bulgur and wheat berries.
7. Consume magnesium-rich foods.7 of 11
Magnesium is a chemical element found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body and is a key player in removing toxins from your body—and thereby helping prevent cell damage from dangerous environmental chemicals and heavy metals. Magnesium also plays a major role in reducing stress and managing weight.
You'll find it in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, avocados, whole grains and dark chocolate.
8. Eat calcium-rich foods.8 of 11
We always associate calcium with strong bones and teeth, and though it does help prevent osteoporosis, its benefits don't end there. Calcium also regulates muscle contractions, staves off heart disease and prevents certain types of cancer.
In addition to milk and yogurt, other foods rich in calcium include leafy greens like kale and spinach, legumes, some fruits and seafood like sardines.
9. Consume cruciferous vegetables.9 of 11
Cruciferous vegetables have it all: fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eat at least a cup a day of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage or bok choy. This will enhance your liver's ability to detox your body and help lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
10. Drink healthy beverages.10 of 11
Start with water, water and more water. The Institute of Medicine's general guidelines suggest 125 ounces (about 15 cups) for men and 91 ounces (about 11 cups) for women each day. If you like lemon water, limit it to mealtimes, because the acid can erode the enamel on your teeth.
Drink tea and coffee in moderation, but cut back on fruit juices and milk—and totally cut out real or artificially sweetened beverages. Limit alcohol to one serving per day if you're a woman and two if you're a man.