I come to the eating counseling topic from three directions. The first is the connection between low blood sugar and violence as outlined by Barbara Reed Stitt in her book, Food and Behavior.
The second is from the brain fitness work of Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., who have written about the role of micro and macronutrients in their book Brainfit for Life, and the third is through my experience with the Coronary Health Improvement Plan, or CHIP program, which is the brain child of Hans Diehl.
I live in Rockford, Illinois which has been participating in Dr. Diels's epidemiological studies at the community level.
Here is some background information on CHIP from Illinois Central College.
"Coronary Health Improvement Program
As the debate rages on how to "fix" our country's ailing health care system, a new understanding is dawning: At the root of our current health care crisis is a health crisis. A U.S. surgeon general's report in 1990 warned that 70 percent of all causes of death in America are lifestyle related—and therefore preventable. Ten years later, three studies showed the following to be avoidable: 71 percent of cancers, 70 percent of strokes, 82 percent of heart disease and 91 percent of type II diabetes.
Illinois Central College has a program to help reverse this alarming trend on a local level. Known as the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP), it is an intensive, science-based lifestyle change program with more than 50,000 graduates worldwide. CHIP classes are presented in a 12-week, two-hour-per-week format that includes video instruction by program founder Hans Diehl, a cardiovascular epidemiologist, and personalized instruction by a dietitian, exercise specialist and life coach. The program's goal is to markedly reduce coronary and other health risk factors through lifestyle changes, such as healthier eating, consistent exercise and not smoking.
Lifestyle evaluations taken before and after the program document a host of participant statistics, including weight, blood pressure, pulse, and fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Documented results of CHIP programs are impressive. For example, a 2002 Rockford study of 470 CHIP participants showed blood cholesterol levels were lowered an average of 17 points and clinically obesity was reduced by 15 percent.
CHIP has been shown to be effective in preventing, controlling and even reversing many chronic diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, gout, arthritis, overweight, certain adult cancers, impotence, diverticular disease, constipation, heartburn and gall bladder disease.
Results include normalized blood pressure, lowered blood cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels, weight loss, and enhanced overall quality of life. Research studies documenting immediate and longer-term results of the program have been published in the American Journal of Cardiology (1998), the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2002 and 2005), Preventive Medicine (2004) and the Journal of The American Dietetic Association.
For more details about visit CHIP nationwide. Copyright © 2006-2009 Illinois Central College :: 1 College Drive, East Peoria, IL 61635-0001
Dr. Diehl, Barbara Reed Stitt, who is the owner of Natural Ovens Bakery, and Professors Evans and Burghardt all advocate strongly for the importance of eating lots of fruits and vegetables and grains for a full complement of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, glyconutrients, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and this is hardly a complete list of ingredients that our bodies need to minimize violence, chronic illness, and maximize brain function, or any other function.
So eating counseling would certainly include information about two recent discoveries about the human brain.
The first discovery is that we grow new brain cells every day, which is called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is contingent on how well I attend to the pillars of brain fitness, which are physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
The second discovery is that our neurons are incredibly plastic and make new connections constantly when I learn new things.
Those connections are not kept, though, unless I make the new circuit fire a number of times, because the brain is very much an energy efficient organ, which pares connections and circuits which are not being used.
How does nutrition play into those discoveries?
For example,Evans and Burghardt speak to the importance of omega 3 fatty acid for our brain fitness.
It turns out our neurons are sheathed in a membrane composed of omega 3 fatty acid, which becomes brittle if not fed replacement omega 3. If those membranes become brittle, communication between neurons can become garbled, and the body that goes with that brain will look and sound confused.
I emphasize the brain fitness aspect of eating counseling because I think folks will pay attention to that faster than they will eating carrots for the beta-carotene for your immune system function.
Immune system degradation happens slowly enough that we can easily ignore it.
Folks my age anyway are very worried about alzheimers though, which is about the memories forming my identity, and when folks discover that they can keep their memories longer by eating fruits and vegetables, they tend to change a bit.
Do you have a blender? Try this for a sweet treat full of antioxidants and immune system boosters.
A scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt, a banana, an orange, several fresh or frozen strawberries, several blue berries, and some milk, enough that the blender will run easily.
In fact, you may want to blend this in stages so as not to burn out your blender's motor, but blend the mixture until all the frozen fruits are blended, if you used frozen and taste. I guarentee you will be surprised at how tasty this combination of fruits is.
Do you have some tomatoes, carrots, and celery from your garden? Blend them with some V-8 juice for a very tasty home made potion full of the requisite brain fitness stuff.
So hopefully you get a sense of how flexible, nutritious, and tasty eating counseling can be.
No boring and bland here, and of course, as you wake up your body with all those nutrients that it misses from processed foods, you will want to practice some of the computerized brain fitness programs that maximize your neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Here are links to programs that have research validation. If you are a Boomer or a Senior, then the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program and the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro are excellent choices.