I strongly urge my clients, my family, and all of you reading this to consider the food you choose to put into your body. In this article, you’ll find a list of foods that offer key nutrients that the average person consuming modern crap (i.e. commercial, refined, artificial, processed) food is commonly deficient in.
Modern life, food technology, movement away from cultural food traditions, distortion of what is considered by many to be “real” food, fast food, genetic modification of crops, deterioration of top soil, pesticides. You get the idea at this point. These modern-day food processes have not only introduced an array of foreign chemicals to the human organism, but they have also led to most people being nutrient deficient. I would hope you see the relevance of that, and the potentially negative impact it could have on you, your body, its systems, function, genetic expression, performance, health, and lastly but importantly, your surfing.
What I aim to do with this food list is provide you with real food options that will help provide you with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that most people are deficient in and that are essential to bodily systems and functions.
Consume Weekly, Stay Nourished
This list, if consumed on a weekly basis, will help to provide your body with crucial micronutrients to help your body function at its most optimal. Keep in mind that this list simply encompasses foods that supply an adequate amount of a particular micronutrient which modern diets commonly lack. Not all of these foods may fit into your food paradigm, and there are certainly other real food options that may suffice. However, I personally view this list as almost necessary (for me, at least), and recommendable to most people. This list does not take into account food intolerances, personal dietary ethics or values, or whatever diet you’re on at the moment. What it does take into account is that these foods are quite nutrient dense and have particular attributes that help the body and its various systems.
Before anyone starts getting all food-nazi on my blog or Facebook about this food isn’t good for you because of blah blah blah, consider the facts that:
1. my nutrition paradigm is different from yours, and mine is completely non-biased, as I don’t give a shit about food gurus, current diet fads or titles, orthorexia, or any other food-related nonsense.
2. any single food could have both positive and negative cases made for it.
All I care about are that the foods I eat give my body the micro and macronutrients that the human organism requires and has evolved to utilize, and that they make me feel good.
If these foods are consumed, they will help your body to acquire more: Vitamins A, E, K, C, B, Folate, Zinc, Magnesium, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, a wide range of antioxidants, and micronutrients to help support your liver and detoxification systems, as well as your immune system.
EGGS. Buy the best quality eggs you can source. Eat both the yolk and the white. Eggs offer a complete protein source, valuable saturated fat as well as fat soluble vitamins. I urge you to find the highest quality eggs you can find from properly and humanely raised chickens. Nearly every city now has farmers markets. Go there, meet the farmers, ask about the quality of the eggs, and eat some good eggs! If you’re worried about the cholesterol and fat, there’s some links down the page that will help educate you on the truth regarding fats and cholesterol.
LIVER. Source the highest quality liver you can find. Chicken, beef, lamb, whatever. Eat quality liver. Keep in mind that animal foods are only as good as the health of the animal. Commercially farmed animals are gnarly. Find liver from happy, healthy, properly raised animals. I see a lot of people that aren’t too interested in eating liver, or completely unhappy about the taste. A way I generally incorporate it into my diet is by chopping it into small pieces, mixing it with ground meat for burger patties, or chopping and frying it with bacon and onion, then mixing it into scrambled eggs. If you’re not so sure about liver, here is an excellent article from an intelligent guy named Chris Kresser regarding the benefits of liver.
LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES. Eat these both raw and cooked. Cruciferous vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower not only offer a wide range of vitamins, but also offer specific micronutrients that support the liver and are a great source of magnesium.
VEGETABLES. Eat your damn vegetables – all colors and an assortment of raw and cooked. Vegetables are good for you, give you loads of vitamins and minerals, and offer an array of antioxidants and polyphenols. I always have carrots, tomatoes, avocados (yeah, technically not a vegetable), onions, capsicum/bell peppers, and sweet potatoes.
GRASS-FED BUTTER. Yep, butter. The “grass-fed” part is there, as butter from cows that are actually fed what they’ve evolved to eat is far more nutrient dense. And, if a cow is grass-fed, it’s likely an all around healthier and more humanely raised animal. With animal foods, find the highest quality you can find. Saturated fat and cholesterol (I urge you to study alternative research on cholesterol as it has been largely demonized and most people are unaware of the actual physiologic need for cholesterol) are critical to the human body, its nervous system, and its hormonal systems. It also delivers vitamins A, E, CLA and some vitamin K. Learn more about cholesterol and its importance here.
SALMON. Acquire your omega 3’s from quality salmon. Eating seafood also offers different amino acid concentrations compared to muscle meats, and offers magnesium, B vitamins, and selenium.
HIGH QUALITY ANIMAL MEATS. Yes, I am an advocate of the consumption of animal meats. This topic warrants its own article, but for the sake of brevity, I will offer this. You must source the highest quality animal meat you can possibly get. Commercial farming is disgusting and unfortunate. It creates unhealthy animals. Common sense should dictate not eating unhealthy animals. Source meat from animals that have been raised in the manner nature dictates, such as eating grass and free-range. The best option you have is to visit local farmers markets and speak with local butchers. Find out how and where these animals are raised. Is it humane? Does it support environmental health? Is there prevalent use of antibiotics and hormones? Don’t be afraid to ask these questions.
With that out of the way, I strongly feel that animal meats offer exceptionally nutrient dense food sources, that the human organism has evolved to utilize. B vitamins, iron, amino acids, saturated fats, collagen, omega 3’s, and CLA are just a few of the benefits. If animal protein doesn’t fit into your nutritional paradigm, I advise that you take a look at the foods you are eating and whether you’re acquiring the necessary macro and micronutrients. Also, examine if your opinion is based on moral or value ideals versus physiologic needs.
In the end, take an honest look at if your nutritional paradigm supports your body. Experiment and make changes. I eat quite differently now than I did three, five, or ten years ago. We are all very different, and what works for you may not work for me. That simple.
BONE BROTH. Learn to make your own bone broth. It is incredibly simple to make and has numerous benefits. Here’s a good write-up on the how’s and why’s of bone broth.
FRUIT. Fruit has gotten somewhat of a bad rap due to fructose alarmism. Unless you have specific blood sugar issues, or digestive issues, fruit offers your body a readily available supply of glucose, which is beneficial for those of us who are active and packages it up with an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Don’t be afraid of fruit. It’s delicious. Some of my favorites are oranges, bananas, grapefruit, kiwis, pineapple, papaya, and blueberries.
SPICES. Fresh garlic, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, oregano, and chili. Bottom line: use fresh herbs and spices. I would recommend that you invest in a mortar and pestle and grind fresh spices and herbs. Most store-bought pre-packaged herbs and spices have been irradiated to promote shelf life. Spices and herbs offer an array of health benefits, and high quality, fresh sources are still absolutely cheap, and they taste fantastic.
Other Absolutely Great-For-You Foods:
Nuts/Seeds: Macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and brazil nuts are the ones I’ll often find myself eating. I would recommend you seek out raw nuts and then soak them. I also don’t recommend massive consumption of nuts/seeds, as they are full of poly-unsaturated fats, and over-consumption of them can have some negative effects on the body.
Also, a note on roasted nuts: the roasting process basically turns the unsaturated fats within the nuts into free-radicals as the fat molecules have been broken down by the roasting process. That, as well as a few other reasons are why I opt for raw soaked nuts.
Yogurt: Organic, plain, full-fat yogurt. It’s a great source of probiotics as well as calcium and other nutrients that come from full-fat yogurt. Flavored yogurts are basically sugar and artificial flavoring.
Mushrooms: Shiitake, reishi, portobello.
Teas: green, black, red, licorice, and peppermint. Drink more herbal teas!
Probiotics: I generally recommend people make their own probiotics such as sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables, and also look into taking a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic. Modern diets and higher antibiotic use influence an offset in beneficial gut-bacteria. The health of your gut, and the microorganisms within it have a very large influence on your overall health. I strongly emphasize that you take a closer look at your digestive system health and consuming foods that help support it. Supplementing your diet with quality probiotics, from homemade sources or supplemented ones is a step in the right direction to improve the health of your digestive system. Here’s a video of me demonstrating how to make sauerkraut.
While this list is far from exhaustive of all the food options that help support vitamin and mineral acquisition, it does help to provide an essential foundation of nutritious food intake. I hope it shows that real-food-based nutrition truly does offer the essentials of what your body requires to perform optimally. Assess your weekly nutrition and see which of the mentioned foods you do eat, and for those that you don’t, begin to incorporate them.
Eat Good Food, But Realize It’s a Modern World
With all that in mind, I still realize it’s 2014. Meaning, we’re all still going to get drunk from time to time, eat a pizza at 4am, have a Snickers bar (I love Snickers bars), and eat some processed shit. However, if the majority of your food intake comes from high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, your body, its systems, and your performance won’t suffer.
For more information on nutrition, movement, and exercise for surfers, check out www.surfstrengthcoach.com