Wisdom for the body

As many Laurier students can attest to, eating healthy during university can be a challenge.

Not only are we bombarded with unhealthy food options, we don’t always have the time or finances to buy healthy alternatives.

Joanne Willis-Smith, a registered nutritionist in Kitchener, shared some helpful tips and insight into the world of healthy eating.

Having battled and won against lymphoma cancer at age 26, she dedicated her life to learning ways to strengthen her immune system, eat healthy and help others become aware of the importance of a healthy diet.

According to Willis-Smith, one of the most important foods that many people are deficient in is fatty acids.

“Society has been told we are supposed to go on a low fat or no-fat diet to lose weight.”

She continued by describing our bodies as a building made of bricks and cement, “However, this causes our cell health to be lacking.”

When we are lacking in certain nutrients and essential fatty acids like Omega 3, the cement holding the bricks together can crumble, causing our bodies to be “wide open to free radicals.”

“It is important to include the good fats in your diet,” Joanne continued. “Walnuts, fruits and vegetables, avocado, salmon, almonds and nuts are all good choices.”

She also stressed the importance of cooking with the right fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.

In a perfect world, we would eat healthy foods all the time and never get sick.
However, we are not living in a perfect world and frankly, many of us don’t have time to always stick to eating healthy while studying for midterms and juggling a social life.

In light of this, Willis-Smith gives a few suggestions for university students who are busy and lacking in the financial department.

“At this point in your life, you need your brains right now for the best performance,” Willis-Smith said, referring to the intense workout our brains go through during a term.

“That’s why it is important to fuel your body with protein to feel full and complex carbohydrates to balance blood sugar levels.”

She thinks portable healthy food is important and said it can take a bit of planning and preparation. “Boiling eggs or having cans of tuna to put in salads,” she said, are a cheap way to get protein into our diets.

Most fruits and vegetables are inexpensive too and can be brought on-the-go to class. “Just try to eat as close to natural as you can,” Willis-Smith hints.
When you do eat out, there are things to avoid and things to look for. “Try to order foods that have been steamed or grilled over other options,” she recommended. “Also, pass on dips and sauces.”

Finally, what is the 411 on drinking alcohol? Willis-Smith is a fountain of knowledge on this topic as well.

“Frankly, it’s not bad to have two or three drinks a week,” she postulated. “However with more than that your liver is being taxed.”

She continued, “all alcohol, whether it’s beer or vodka, burdens the liver because it causes it to become busy detoxifying. It’s busy regulating your blood sugar levels, your protein levels and more.”

So, she gives a few tips:

“Eat healthy complex carbohydrates and
protein right before you go out
drinking for a good base.”

She also suggested, if possible, to “alternate drinks with water to keep hydrated.”

The important thing to realize is that by making small changes now in your diet, there can be long-lasting effects for the future.

Willis-Smith, having battled cancer and won, is an inspiration for us all. She realizes the importance of eating healthy in relation to overall strength and immunity.

Why wait for a wake-up call twenty years down the road? Make positive dietary changes now and increase your chances of a long, healthy life.

After all, wisdom is to the mind what health is to the body.