The Beginner's Guide to Natural Living
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Dr. Angela Agrios, ND
My very talented Naturopathic Doctor
She treats a wide variety of conditions
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Los Angeles, CA (Pacific Palisades)

Naturopathic Medicine
A Proper Diet Is Critical For Good Health
Interview with Dr. Angela Agrios, ND
My personal naturopathic doctor. Dr. Agrios is in Los Angeles and
accepts office and phone appointments.

So we live in a world that’s pretty fast, and so most of us are looking for foods that we can grab on the go. Unfortunately, most of those foods are really processed and refined, and even though they have a long shelf life and can stick around – they're just easy to grab – they don’t do anything for promoting our health. We really have to go back to the basics, and I know this is a tough one because it’s more time-intensive. It means more food prep, more shopping, and everybody’s like, “Ahh!” But I mean, the good news is you can actually learn what whole foods look like, just kind of taking it back a step. And then you can even learn how to eat out using whole foods, but just really recognizing what a processed food is, what a packaged food is, and what a whole food is.

Typically, when you go into any store – I don’t care if it’s Whole Foods or Ralph’s – most of the real food lives in the periphery of the store. So all of the aisles, if you notice, that’s pretty much the packaged shelf stuff. So that’s really what we want to stay away from. Consider that like, emergency earthquake food – it’ll get you through if there’s like, a total hazard and maybe we just have some in the garage somewhere – but that’s not something we should be consuming on a daily basis.

If you have one day a week where you can do just like, a little bit more food prep just to kind of wash your vegetables, chop them, do whatever you need to do so that things are kind of ready to go. If you do eat meat, then grilling some meat or doing whatever you do to prepare things so that you can just kind of easily put things together during the week if you don’t have as much time to cook. Or simply learning how to order out.

We’re really lucky here in California. We have a lot of really amazing restaurants and cafes. We have Earth Café; we have Whole Foods. I mean, there’s a lot of places where you can just go get great organic whole food on the go. So just thinking about what this looks like in each individual’s life and what you need to be successful around this piece.

There is a lot of debate around what’s the best diet. I get asked this one all the time. Is it vegan? Is it vegetarian? Is it Paleo? Is it omnivore? Is it raw? I mean, there’s just so many different types of diets, and what’s true is that different constitutions actually tolerate different diets. But I think what’s true across the board is that we all need real food and no one benefits from synthetic, processed foods. So just kind of hold that as our hallmark.

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Number one: We need lots and lots of vegetables. I don’t care what diet you are on. You know you could do this cooked; you could do it raw. It doesn’t matter. But you need lots of vegetables. They're a great source of natural fiber; they're a great source of natural minerals and vitamins and antioxidants, and that’s another really big buzzword. And we’ll talk about packaged things you can add on top, which are very beneficial. They enhance our health in many ways, but you can't replace a great diet with pills and bottles and tinctures.

So if we’re eating fish, we want to think about eating wild-caught fish. We want to think about eating fish that are maybe lower on the scale of mercury contamination, so some of the smaller fish. If we’re eating meat, thinking about eating grass-fed meat because it actually changes their fatty acid profile. Beef, for example, that’s fed grass has a higher omega-3 concentration in it, so that’s useful to us.

We want to think about wild game. If we’re eating eggs, we’d like them to be free-range and organic. If we’re eating dairy – and a lot of people don’t tolerate dairy, but if we’re going to eat dairy as adults – we really want to think about organic and sometimes raw. There’s a lot of places in the community, whether it’s Whole Foods or farmer’s markets or co-ops, where we can actually find raw dairy, so that’s something to think about as well.

Whole foods look like whole legumes, nuts and seeds and grains. I’m really a stickler about this one because there are so many processed flours these days and it’ll say like, “Flourless bread” or this and this and that. But really, we want food as untampered as possible. So wheat is actually a wheat berry; it’s not flour. Just minimal synthesis.

I think most all of us really feel better on these kinds of diets. It does take a little bit more food prep or knowing where to go to get this sort of food, but most people feel a lot more energy; they're less bloated; they're more vibrant when they're eating whole organic foods, non processed food diet.

Healthy fats. We’ve had such a miseducation in our society. For a while, it was…you remember the nineties? It was all about fat-free, fat-free and eat all the sugar you want, but don’t eat any fat, like this is how that went. Fats are good for us. We just have to know which kinds of fats we need. Olive oil is a great type of fat; avocado; coconut oil, which got a bad rap for a long time. It’s actually very good for you. It helps with immune function; it helps keep your body lean, so that’s actually a really good one.

And it’s very stable at high temperatures, so you can actually stir-fry at very high temperatures with coconut oil without damaging that oil because olive oil, although it’s wonderful for salads, if you fry with this or you heat it to very high temperatures, you will damage that oil and create free radical damage that then causes oxidation in our body – so just knowing which oils to heat.

Butter’s actually another one, too. Butter actually is a source of butyric acid, and that’s actually good for our intestine. I think raw butter’s even better, if you can get that. But butter’s gotten a bad rap, and butter’s not bad. It’s much better for you to have whole, real, raw butter than it is to have any kind of margarines or any kind of hydrogenated oil… We don’t want any kind of hydrogenated oils. Steer clear of hydrogenated oils. They're very carcinogenic.

And fresh fruits. I mean, some people would say, “Well, dehydrated fruit, it’s not processed either,” but a lot of people really don’t tolerate the dehydrated fruits. You’d eat a lot more dehydrated fruit than you would of like, a whole fruit – you wouldn’t eat ten apricots, typically, where if you’ve got a bag, they're just easy to eat them. And so I really like my patients to mostly stick to fresh fruit, but it’s not the worst thing to do if you're going to fall off the wagon.

And so we really do have to eliminate sugars, flours, trans-fats, and any artificial sweetener and chemical food additive. This is a big one. This is like the society full of artificial sweeteners, and there’s not a single artificial sweetener that doesn’t cause some kind of health problem. They’ve got to go. It’s a chemical. It’s an artificial chemical that does not promote health in any way.

Water’s really important – clean, filtered water. On average, we really want about half of our body weight in ounces of pure water a day. So for example, if a person weighs 100 pounds, you want about 50 ounces of water per day.

I really want to encourage people to get acquainted with farmer’s markets, if they're not, in the community. We have some really nice ones. There’s one here in the Palisades; on the weekends, there are some in Santa Monica. We have Whole Foods. There are local co-ops.

There is community-supported agriculture (CSA) in different communities we can think about where you can actually pay ahead of time and then have seasonal vegetables and fruits delivered to a location near you. That’s another thing to do. And then there’s always… Trader Joe's actually has a lot of organic foods if people are more on a budget and they feel like they spend too much money going to other places. It’s another one where you can find a lot of organic foods.

There are some books that I think are really good starting places. Larry, who’s our videographer tonight, actually wrote a book. He’s become a health advocate and health expert over the years and wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Living. And there’s a lot of just basic health-promoting practices in here, and he talks a lot about food and how to shop and how to find organic food, so that’s a really good one.

I really like The Paleo Diet as well. This is by Lauren Cordain. A lot of my patients do this diet, and essentially, this is looking at a diet that does not include dairy and does not include too many grains. Now it depends because, again, different people do well on different diets, but this diet works really well in particular for people who have trouble with their blood sugars, have gained a lot of weight and want to lose weight, and it’s a really healthy approach to doing that.

For those of you who are interested in fermenting your own food, the reason you would ferment food is so that you can get a natural source of probiotic in the diet. So this is things like kombucha that’s become so popular now, kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurts. It’s basically a way of getting protective organisms into your body that help keep your immune system up and actually help modulate immune functions so that we have less of a chance of things like autoimmune diseases happening and inflammation. And we’ll talk about that. That’s actually one of my top five to thrive supplements, and we’ll talk about probiotics in a little bit.

This book, Healing with Whole Foods, has little bit more of a Chinese medicine focus. It talks about warming and cooling properties of foods and it is a really interesting, really good book. Just another thought for kind of varying up your day: If you guys like the thought, I mean, it’s kind of fun to think about taking a cooking class (or check out my organic whole food recipes), too, because that’s another way to really just get yourself immersed with how to prepare whole foods.

Interview with Dr. Angela Agrios, ND

Dr. Angela Agrios, ND Health Series
Dr. Angela Agrios, ND - home page
What is a California Licensed Naturopathic Doctor?
Happiness Is Essential For Good Health
A Proper Diet Is Critical For Good Health
Sleep Promotes Weight Loss, Anti-Aging & Health
Dairy Can Cause Sinus Problems and Joint Pain
Magnesium Is A Natural Way To Treat Constipation
Remove Processed Foods to Lower Cholesterol
Antioxidant Supplements Improve Our Health
Fish Oil Improves Mood & Reduces Inflammation
Regular Exercise Is Required For Good Health
Use Green Body Care Products For Better Health
Use Probiotics For Better Digestive Health
How To Pick A Multivitamin for Health & Energy
Vitamin D3 5,000 IU Improves Immune Function