By George B. Brooks, JR. PH.D.
Say this in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice: “Men, eat healthy if you want to live.” Now, if that sounds like a command, it is.
As a youngster, I felt immortal. I could eat anything I wanted, whenever I wanted, and not pay any price. However, as I have matured it seems that feeling of immortality has a direct correlation to the food I eat. To maintain a trim figure and a strong body, eating healthy is vital. As we get older our bodies are not as resilient. Stating it simply: the healthier we eat, the better off we are.
Healthful eating helps us to rely less on medications. Way too many of us are conditioned to take a pill or two (or more) every day. However, many of the problems we’re taking these pills for are either caused by or enhanced by the bad food we eat. By increasing our intake of vitamin-laden vegetables and healthy fats, we not only arm ourselves against disease but also create the ability for optimal health without the need for supplements.
In writing this article I looked up the leading causes of death in the United States. They are, in order:
1. Heart disease
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5. Unintentional injuries
8. The Flu and Pneumonia
9. Kidney disease
Seven out of 10 of these death sentences are often directly affected by the food we eat. Remember that report that came from the World Health Organization last year that processed meats, such as the crowd-pleasing bacon, cause cancer? That report hurt my heart, both literally and figuratively.
So what can we do?
Understand that if we eat better, we will be better. By profession, I am an agricultural scientist working in urban agriculture with a focus on aquaponics. This is a very cool version of aquaculture that allows us to sustainably grow fish, shrimp, vegetables and fruit all together in urban settings and backyards. For years now my wife and I have been encouraging people to start gardens and grow their own food. We have an aquaponics garden in our backyard that has provided up to 10 percent of our annual food bill. But it is a lot of effort, and it would be challenging to do for those of us who work all day or who live in apartments and condos.
For those who don’t have the means to grow their own organic farm yet still want the benefits of a healthy diet, I suggest that between sneaking a hamburger and a taco or two, learn to cook healthy meals. Eat lots of fish high in omega-3s alongside whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts and vegetables and cook with olive oil. To add flavor, choose herbs and spices instead of salt to keep your sodium intake down. Though growing your own food is best, get to know the organic section of your local grocery store or farmer’s market.
It may be hard, for men especially, to put down the bacon burger and pick up the salad fork. But do yourself a favor, and treat your diet like your life depends on it, because really, it does.
Dr. George B. Brooks, Jr. Ph.D. is the principle of NxT Horizon, an Agriculture Technology company that connects the dots between bioenergy, food, health and prosperity. NxT specializes in health and wellness through aquaponics, urban agriculture and STEAM education and in international bioenergy consulting. Dr. B. is also an active member of the Maricopa County Food System Coalition. For more information, visit NxTHorizon.com.
Photos by George Brooks
For more articles about nutrition visit greenlivingaz.com/nutrition