Are you on a mission to eat healthier? If you are, you are not alone. Consumers have spoken and made their desires for more natural food products known. According to members of the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, the industry has reformulated 30,000 products since 2003 to meet consumer requests. Additionally, it appears some major restaurants and food companies are taking note and phasing out artificial ingredients over the next year.
As a pediatrician, I encourage my families to reach for foods that are naturally nutrient-rich and delicious without the need of artificial ingredients. Wholesome foods in their whole form provide super-nutrients that help prevent or treat some chronic diseases. Parents can feel confident when purchasing fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean-meats and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods to feed their family.
One set of super-nutrients on the radar is probiotics, microorganisms, which may positively influence health by keeping one’s intestinal bacteria in balance. There are also Omega-3’s found in foods such as fatty fish, which can help with the prevention of heart disease. Of course, all of these products must be consumed regularly and in appropriate portions to positively impact health status.
Fermented dairy foods like kefir and the live and active bacteria found in some yogurts offer potential probiotic protection plus added health benefits, since they also contain protein and eight other essential nutrients.
The recent changes made by the food industry are a step in the right direction to help us all live a healthier lifestyle. Experts still agree that if you’re hungry for a healthier lifestyle, the best way to achieve it is to eat a variety of foods in appropriate portions, replace sugary beverages with healthier beverage options, get adequate sleep, reduce stress and exercise moderately on most days of the week.
Gerri A. Cannon-Smith MD, MPH
Innovative Health Strategies, LLC
“Creating Healthier Futures With You”