Discovering Health Naturally

Dr. Sensabaugh’s “Real Food” Diet

Many people have sensitivities to foods. However, just avoiding those foods isn’t enough to become a healthy eater. When I test someone for food sensitivity, the most common question I get is “Well, then what CAN I eat?” I’ll attempt to answer that question here. The following is the type of diet that I stick to myself. It takes a bit of willpower at first, but after a little while it becomes very easy.

I call this a “real food” diet because ideally you should only eat things that are foods, not products. Cheese flavored crackers may claim to have “real” cheese in them, but if you look at the ingredient list, it sounds like a chemistry experiment. Actual real foods are things that are not processed, altered, or highly modified from their original form before you buy them. Real foods are things that were once alive, and don’t need a factory to make them edible.

Now let’s discuss the specifics of what I’m talking about.

Fruits and Vegetables: These should be eaten in their raw form when available, or frozen. Canning removes most of the valuable nutrients. Fruit and vegetable juices are also not ideal because they remove most of the fiber and cause spikes in blood sugar. Berries are the best source of dietary vitamins with high fiber. Remember, fresh and whole is best and plants should make up the majority of your calories, about 60-70%. This is also where you should get most of your carbohydrates, being slowly digested starchy root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, and beets.

Meats: Ideally about a third of your calories should come from animal fat and protein. Again, fresh unprocessed cuts of meat and fish are best, especially if the meat is raised eating its natural food source in its natural habitat. Examples: Wild caught salmon, free range chicken, and grass fed beef all have significantly higher nutrient contents than their commercially farmed counterparts. It should also be noted that wild harvested game meats such as venison, turkey, and rabbit are excellent protein sources.

Grains: It is an extremely common misconception that you must have whole grains in your diet to be healthy. Current research into grain based foods shows that they can increase blood sugar, cause inflammation, and even cause immune conditions to appear. I believe this is mainly due to the high amount of hybridization and genetic modification of most commercially farmed grains. The main ones to avoid are wheat and corn. They are the most modified of all the grains. If you do eat grains, they should be the smallest part of your diet. You should also look for grains that are less modified and have been around longer than the current wheat and corn. Quinoa, amaranth, and millet are examples of these “older” grains.

Dairy: This one can be tricky because many people have allergies to dairy or its component parts. These are largely eliminated when dairy is consumed in its natural, unprocessed state. However, finding raw dairy is almost impossible within the United States. My advice to most people is to eat butter and plain greek yogurt, and leave the rest of it alone. I say "most people" because some people are so sensitive that they can’t even handle butter and yogurt.

Water: This is something most people don’t think about, but it can make a huge difference in your health. The water source you choose for drinking can make the difference in how you feel and perform on a daily basis. Tap water is generally bad because it contains chemicals like chlorine and fluoride, which are harmful to your liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The best drinking water sources are generally wells and springs. They contain the best balanced mineral and pH levels that your body needs to stay hydrated. Reverse osmosis water is usually not beneficial because most of the minerals are removed, and the pH is not optimal. The easiest way to test if your drinking water is beneficial is to monitor how often you urinate compared to how much your drink. Look for a water source that causes the least frequent urination when consumed in large amounts. I say large amounts, because the recommended amount for daily consumption is half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water. For example, I weigh about 180 lbs, so I need to drink 90 ounces of water per day. That equates to about 2/3 of a gallon.

Seasoning: Salt is important to your body, and the right salt can make a difference in your hydration level and cardiovascular health. Table salt, or sodium chloride, is not what our bodies require for minerals. It has also been shown to increase inflammation in the cardiovascular system. The best type of salt to use is mined Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. These salts have lower sodium content; as well as natural minerals that your body needs for optimal function. They also taste better than table salt.

Cooking fats and oils: Just like your foods, the fat you cook them in is best if it’s natural as well. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils like canola and hydrogenated oils like Crisco are the worst for your body because they react with heat and oxidize forming highly inflammatory trans fats. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil are better for low heat cooking and roasting. High heat cooking frying and roasting is better served by naturally derived saturated fats such as coconut oil, palm oil, and lard. Another common misconception is that saturated fats lead to cardiovascular disease. The current research shows that this is not the case and that highly processed vegetable oils are dangerous.

I hope this page is informative and helpful to you. If you have any specific nutrition questions for me, please contact my office and I’ll be happy to help any way I can.

-Dr. Morgan Sensabaugh

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