Education

‘We Really Are What We Eat’: Benefits of Nutrient-Rich Foods


(Video: Natalie Castro, R.D., chief wellness dietitian at Baptist Health South Florida, provides insight and guidance on how a nutritious diet can help prevent inflammation and chronic diseases.)

As the adage goes: You are what you eat. So it’s vital to “fuel” your body with nutrient-rich foods to achieve optimum health – and help prevent chronic diseases, says Natalie Castro, R.D., chief wellness dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida.

“People don’t realize that we really are what we eat,” says Ms. Castro. “Those nutrients that we eat from the foods we choose directly impact our blood pressure, our blood sugar and our cholesterol.”

Poor food choices can destabilize a body’s ability to regulate these crucial levels, and that can lead to major complications, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Examples of Nutritious Foods

Fruits and vegetables provide an excellent springboard to a healthier diet, she emphasizes.

“They are loaded with those vitamins and minerals that we want to make sure that we’re getting, and they’re very high in antioxidants,” Ms. Castro says. “So that helps decrease any inflammation that we might be having.”

Additionally, lean proteins and whole grains should round out a diet for properly fueling your body.

What About ‘Carbs’?

The marketplace is packed with so-called low-carb diets. But the proper carbohydrates are vital for providing bodies with the proper energy.  Ms. Castro says you should look for the higher-fiber carb foods.

A healthy diet contains a daily serving of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber for men. Unfortunately, the average American does not consume enough fiber.

“(High-fiber foods will decrease how fast are blood sugar will go up,” Ms. Castro. “One example is white rice vs. brown rice. The amount of fiber in brown rice will decrease how fast your blood sugars go up. The trick with carbs is how much you’re having throughout the day. If we cut back on our portions, we will decrease how much we’re having.”

Small Changes Equal Big Results

It is a formidable challenge for many people to transform their diets in a short period of time. So Ms. Castro recommends taking small steps toward healthier eating.

One example, she says, is to replace sodas or other sugary drinks with water during meals.

“The way to success is to really start small,” she says. “Think of it as small steps. I always say: ‘small changes equals big results eventually.’ The biggest trick is consistency.”

(Watch the video with Ms. Castro for more valuable tips on fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods.)

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 13 hospitals, more than 23,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 100 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.