Eating and living healthy: It's your choice

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Daniel Wright of Health--Works in Craig sometimes wonders where the "health experts" he sees in the mainstream media get their ideas.

"Everybody is trying to market dietary needs for their own gain," he said. "From my experience, it's more simple. You look at your body's composition."

For example, the body is 70 percent water. That means that the top priority for the body is replenishment of its main ingredient.

"Your body needs water, and that should be priority No. 1," Wright said. "All of the juices and soda and health drinks are never as important as water."

Beyond the body's need for water is the need for fuel to function.

Jeff Pleasant of Rehabilitation Services of Craig teaches a class at Colorado Northwestern Community College called Human Nutrition, and in the class, he covers the body's needs during the span of one's lifetime.

Among the many aspects Pleasant said he teaches students are: how to read food labels, digestion and absorption of what they eat, infant nutrition and how to mix diet and exercise for better living.

"Craig is starting to become a fast-food town," he said. "You look around, and none of the fast-food joints are going out of business."

A diet problem Pleasant sees is how much fried food people eat.

"Fried food is at every restaurant," he said.

For the most part, the oils that are used to fry food are not good for the body.

"We need fat, but not heavy oils and a lot of animal fat,"

Fat is an essential part of the body's functions. It stores fat to use when carbohydrate sources are used up in the body.

"It's your long-term fuel," Pleasant said.

Fat appears naturally in a lot of foods instead of adding it by frying.

"If you bake chicken, you'll get enough fat," Pleasant said. "When you bake it, most of the fat will end up in the pan."

Oils that contain "trans fat," or fats that are "hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated" are the hardest on the body.

"I've found that olive and coconut oils are the most natural and useful for your body," Wright said. "They provide the necessary fatty acids your body needs."

In the newest food pyramid released by the Food and Drug Administration, fat is just as essential as protein, but oils have been moved down with sugars and sweets.

Refined sugar is another enemy of the body.

"White sugars and white flour are empty carbohydrates," Wright said. "That's mostly nasty stuff that doesn't help the body."

Other everyday needs Wright suggests are products with probiotics in them. Probiotics work as the opposite of antibiotics by adding beneficial bacteria to the body that boost the immune and digestive systems.

If weight loss is something a person is interested in, Pleasant suggests exercise and proper diet.

If someone is less inclined to diet, Wright suggests several natural sources that increase the body's metabolism.

"I've found that the South African herb hoodia gordonii and green tea help speed up metabolism. He also suggested taking supplements that will help clean the body of the "nasty stuff" that has been stored up.

"If you are serious about losing weight, you have to be serious about making a lifestyle change," Wright said. "Yo-Yo diets and inconsistent binging don't help your body in the long run. You have to be ready to make the commitment to live a healthier lifestyle."

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