When it comes to preventive health care in Northern Colorado, the health and wellness experts at Restore Health Center have your best interest in mind. We believe in the power of consistent measures taken to achieve disease prevention, rather than just focusing on disease treatment. Disease and sickness are dynamic processes that often begin as a result of lifestyle choices, genetic predisposition and environmental factors. With anticipatory treating of these factors, or preventive health care, overall health and wellness can be achieved.
One of the most efficient ways we’ve found to prevent and treat a number of conditions is the Caridiometabolic Food Plan. This food plan, created by the Institute for Functional Medicine, was formulated specially for those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease or dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood fats, high blood sugar and increased belly fat.
When it comes to these types of conditions, fortunately, diet and lifestyle interventions are quite effective. The Cardiometabolic Food Plan allows people to use food medicinally to treat the underlying causes of both cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions. The components of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan are as follows:
A modified Mediterranean approach – While 16 different countries comprise the Mediterranean region, people in these countries tend to eat a similar diet: whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, extra virgin olive oil, and spices; modest amounts of poultry, fish and red meat; and red wine. It is not one of these foods that is responsible for the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of this way of eating, but the combination of all these foods.
Low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) – The food plan presented in the Cardiometabolic Food Plan provides a list of allowable foods that are low or moderate in GI or GL. Eating foods low in GI or portions low in GL helps to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. When blood sugar is stabilized, people experience less hunger and cravings and have better health results overall, whether there are cardiovascular concerns, metabolic dysfunction or blood sugar imbalance.
Targeted calories – A targeted calorie plan that specifies individual food groups and servings can help people lose weight and achieve cardiometabolic balance. However, Drs. Fischer and Howton generally discourage calorie counting and instead instruct patients to eat “proportionally.” For example, eating 5-7 servings daily of vegetables versus 1-2 servings of non-vegetable carbohydrates.
Regular eating times – The average meal should provide at least four hours of energy before the person feels the need to eat again. A balanced meal will result in a feeling of satisfaction, clear-headedness, the ability to focus, and sufficient energy. If the person experiences hunger within an hour or so of eating or reports feeling “brain fog,” shaky, or fatigued, it may be that the meal was missing something, most likely quality protein, fat, or enough fiber to keep the blood sugar levels balanced.
High in fiber – Along with the low GI and GL features of this plan, eating whole, relatively unprocessed foods also helps the patient take in more dietary fiber and less added sugar. Fiber is found in plant-based foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. It is a form of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest, giving the sensation of fullness without many calories.
Low in simple sugars – Another feature of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan is the reduction or absence of added sugars. Added sugars contribute a significant portion of calories to the American diet.
Balanced quality fats – Anti-inflammatory fats are typically high in omega-3 fats compared with omega-6 fats, and are found in foods like fish, leafy greens, nuts, certain oils, and seeds. Organizations like the American Heart Association have recognized the health benefit of these anti-inflammatory oils and encourage individuals to include more omega-3 sources in the diet.
Condition-specific phytonutrients – Plant foods contain thousands of compounds called phytonutrients that affect body function. Certain phytonutrients can intervene to help with blood sugar regulation, lower LDL-cholesterol, and even help to get blood pressure back into a healthier range.
The Cardiometabolic Food Plan also offers a snapshot of the foods that people should choose from every day based on the suggestions of their health practitioner. These food categories include: fats and oils, nuts and seeds, protein, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy and alternatives, starchy vegetables, fruits and some grains.
For more ideas and suggestions on preventive care in Northern Colorado, call Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center. She would love to talk with you more about the Cardiometabolic Food Plan and other forms of preventive care that will keep you healthy and strong for years to come.