Dignity Health Merced | helloHealthy | Spring 2019

2 DignityHealth.org/Merced | Spring 2019 Springtime is upon us, and that means longer days, warmer air—and an abundance of fresh, local produce! Here in the San Joaquin Valley, we are fortunate to have access to locally grown produce for much of the year. This region is known as the “Food Basket of the World” for good reason. The diverse agricultural offerings include walnuts, oranges, peaches, garlic, tomatoes, kiwis, broccoli, asparagus—the list goes on and on! Focus on food in its natural form I work hand in hand with my patients to help them understand the importance of eating well. If you are unsure of where to start, I recommend a visit to your local farmers market, where you will find locally grown, fresh-picked produce. Try to buy a variety of colors. Produce that is colorful is typically more nutrient- rich. Talk to the local growers selling the food and ask if they have tips for preparing their produce. Avoid frying or sautéing foods. Instead, focus on steaming or roasting them using healthy oils, such as olive, flaxseed, or avocado. At mealtimes, a healthy plate should be made up of at least half fruits and vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter carbohydrates. Focus on eating food that is in its natural form—or as close to it as possible. The closer a food is to its natural state (fresh-picked, not processed, and not overcooked or over-sauced), the more nutrients it will provide. More flavor, less salt Once you have that fresh produce at home, avoid falling into the trap of using salt to add flavor. Instead, try using spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger, or the juice or zest of a lemon. All have been found to reduce inflammation and can provide some antimicrobial benefits as well. If your dish still needs salt, consider using sea salt or Himalayan salt. Their bigger crystals don’t get lost in food and add more flavor while allowing you to use less. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate Finally, don’t forget to hydrate. Almost all of us could benefit from drinking more water every day. The recommended amount is a minimum of eight glasses, or 64 ounces, every day. And that needs to be water—not coffee, juice, or soda. Often when people think they are hungry, they are actually thirsty. Next time you want a snack, have a glass of water first—you may not need that snack after all. Research has shown that a healthy diet, when done right, is one of the most important preventive health tools we have. When you are eating a nutritious diet, you feel better, sleep better, and have more energy. A healthy diet decreases your risk for many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. This season, take advantage of the beautiful bounty our region produces and improve your health by improving your diet! Eat well! Eat local! Building blocks of a better diet can be found here in the San Joaquin Valley By Natasha Kyte, MD Dignity Health Medical Group – Merced Better than an apple a day Stay in good health by seeing a primary care provider for regular checkups. Find a full list of experts at dignityhealth.org/ourdoctors .