Choose foods that help you thrive


By Jessamine Sothard

Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner

Nutrition is the very foundation of life. Without nutrition, we simply would not survive. So, wouldn’t it also be true that the foods we choose can either help us thrive versus merely survive?

The standard American diet consists of ultra-processed foods, refined carbohydrates and added sugars and is lacking in protein, fiber, fruits, and vegetables. The standard American diet, SAD, is pro-inflammatory and lacks proper nutrients to fuel our bodies properly. With our fast-paced lives, choosing healthy options becomes difficult and leads to increased reliance on the fast-food industry and pre-packaged dinners. This leads to increases in metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The Mediterranean diet is amongst the healthiest diets in the world. It is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. This diet is largely anti-inflammatory and can have protective effects from metabolic disorders.

Start with eating meals at home and choosing foods that support our bodies. Meal planning and meal prepping will also help to keep you consistent. Try to eat whole, nutrient dense foods like colorful fruits and vegetables which contain phytonutrients that prevent and repair damaged cells and DNA which can decrease your risk of chronic disease. Aim for 4-5 cups of vegetables a day. Pair this with 20-30 grams of protein with each meal and incorporate whole grains, beans and legumes which are high in fiber, protein and micronutrients which will support our gut microbiome as well as fueling our bodies with the nutrients it needs to thrive and not just survive.

The five pillars of health and wellness are lifestyle factors that are modifiable and can change the trajectory of your life. Choose the area you are weakest in first and focus on that for 3 months, until it becomes easier, and then move on to the next pillar. In the course of a year, you will have changed your entire life in a healthy and proactive way, optimizing health and improving longevity and vitality.

Triad High School alumna Jessamine Sothard, APRN, is a board certified nurse practitioner and owner of Thrive Integrative Medicine in downtown Urbana. She specializes in chronic disease and functional medicine with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wright State University.

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