When you are hungry what do you reach for?  There is an entire industry that wants you to choose their product.  In fact if you really looked, I think you would find that the typical grocery store sells more packaged, ready to eat, lab made food than fresh, real food.  And this is a problem if you want to be healthy.

Packaged, lab made foods must survive on a shelf for a long time.  Quite often these products must travel long distances.  Next time you are at the market look at the label of one of these products. How many of the ingredients on the list do you recognize as edible?

I am in a unique position for my new avocation of health coaching, the pharmacy overlooks the produce section.

It is very common for me to refer customers to this area for real food.  My suggestion is always to eat real food in its most natural, least processed state.  Your options will vary with season, but usually you can eat as much as you want from the produce section.

As a pharmacist I often will have customers ask about meal replacement or meal supplement products.  This is common for the elderly who do not consume adequate food, due to health or because they live alone.  Unfortunately the commonly recommended replacements/supplements are a concoction of lab made ingredients.  There are real food alternatives, and they are the healthier option!  For products like Ensure, Boost and Glucerna yogurt or kefir are options.  Yogurt and kefir both contain probiotic cultures which enrich the native culture of bacteria in your gut.  These native cultures are important to your immune system, they keep the bad bacteria and yeast in check, and they aid in digesting food. Yogurt and kefir are both available made from a variety of milks, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and even coconut milk.  Greek yogurt and kefir contain fermented cultures, which are even more active and beneficial than regular yogurt.  Always read the label so you know exactly what you are consuming.

Other products that are made in the lab, often recommended, but not beneficial are sport drinks. Think Gatorade and Propel.  A healthy option to replace these with is either plain water, or coconut water.  Coconut water is high in potassium, and also contains calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.  Coconut water may be an option if you are preparing for a colonoscopy, and do not want to consume the chemicals in the sport drinks.  Again, read the label so that you know what you are taking into your body.

I use kefir, coconut water, and fresh fruit and vegetables to make smoothies. I also add cacao powder, flax meal and/or ginger root, The precise combination varies with the season and contents of my refrigerator. Other favorite snacks I enjoy are raw nuts and seeds, fresh fruit, hummus and vegetables, or jerky.

If you would like other ideas on using fresh ingredients visit the recipe page of my website