With LISA MATHEWS, williamson medical center
From viral videos to internet searches, today’s digital landscape drastically shapes our understanding of nutrition, health and what we should and shouldn’t eat. While influencers and articles can sometimes provide helpful information, it’s best to compare what you learn to a trusted source. Clinical Nutrition Manager Lisa Mathews at Williamson Medical Center seeks to set the facts straight about what it means to eat, drink and be merry in a healthy way.
Depend on Real Food Nutrition, Not Supplements
Vitamins and supplements are an important part of any healthy diet, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency. But they were never meant to be your primary source of nutrients, Lisa says. “Vitamins are OK to supplement your diet,” she said. “But they should never be a whole food replacement.” Our bodies more readily absorb nutrients from food than synthetic vitamins and minerals, Lisa explained. In addition, whole foods contain phytonutrients, plant nutrients that can help fight infection and prevent cancer while also acting as powerful antioxidants.
Drink in Moderation
“Earlier this year, many people took part in dry January and cut back on alcohol consumption for a whole month,” Lisa said. While the movement is part of a popular internet trend, Lisa says there can be real health benefits to reducing how much alcohol you drink. “Short-term benefits include better sleep, less heartburn, fewer headaches and increased energy,” she said. “Long-term, reducing your alcohol intake can lead to a decreased risk of developing certain cancers.” While several non-alcoholic beverage lines have recently flooded the market, Lisa advises reading the nutrition labels. “Be careful not to choose products loaded with sugar and artificial flavorings,” she said. “Try adding a squeeze of lemon, lime, orange or a splash of pomegranate juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage.”
Fat Is Not Always the Enemy
“Many of us believe that eating fatty food makes you fat,” Lisa said. “But eating more calories than we’re expending is what causes us to gain weight. That includes proteins, carbohydrates and fats.” So rather than regarding fats as the enemy, Lisa invites us to recognize the vital role fats play in our bodies. That includes aiding the formation of healthy cell membranes and helping our bodies absorb vital fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K. While fats aren’t all bad, you need to practice some restraint. “Make sure to choose unsaturated heart-healthy fats such as salmon, tuna, nuts and nut butters, avocado and seeds,” she said. “Avoid consuming fatty cakes, cookies and fried foods.”
Reap the Immunity Benefits of a Healthy Diet
Rather than loading up on supplements and healthy food when you start to feel a little run down, Lisa suggests eating a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet every day. “A diet like this will ensure you’re getting lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods each day,” she said. “So, if you do get sick, your immune system is in good shape and ready to fight.” Choose foods rich in color, like brightly colored berries and leafy green vegetables, and those containing healthy fats and lean proteins, such as avocados, salmon, nuts, seeds and lean meats. Rather than eliminating food based on color — such as avoiding all white foods — Lisa suggests a more intentional approach. “The refined, processed white foods are items to cut back on, but don’t eliminate all the wonderful white foods out there.” Those include pears, garbanzo and northern beans, cauliflower and more.
Healthy nutrition is key to living a healthy life. At Williamson Medical Center, we’re committed to helping you live your healthiest life. From researching nutritional best practices to navigating a diagnosis, we’re here for you.
Lisa Mathews, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Williamson Medical Center
Lisa is the clinical nutrition manager and certified diabetes care and education specialist at Williamson Medical Center. For more information about Williamson Medical Center, visit williamsonmedicalcenter.org.