Naturopathic medicine seeks to prevent and treat health problems with as much of a natural, noninvasive approach as possible, says the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. A healthy eating plan is key to the naturopathic philosophy. While naturopaths differ in the specific types or amounts of food they recommend, all of them stress unprocessed food items with as little added sugar or preservatives as possible. Not all of the recommendations agree with the dietary guidelines set up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Talk to your doctor before beginning a naturopathic eating plan, and never attempt to self-treat a serious medical condition with food alone.
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A typical naturopathic diet plan instructs followers to obtain approximately 40 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from protein and 30 percent from fat. According to naturopath and clinical nutritionist David J. Getoff, the majority of your carbohydrates each day should come from a variety of colorful, nonstarchy vegetables; raw fruit eaten whole; dried beans and legumes; and cooked whole grains like brown rice, barley or oatmeal. Have up to three daily servings of free-range poultry or eggs, grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood and raw, organic dairy products. Snack on raw nuts and seeds and use unsaturated vegetable oils like olive oil when cooking.
Foods to Avoid
Naturopaths advise avoiding all types of refined grains and most processed bread products, even if they're made from whole grains like whole-wheat bread or whole-grain pasta. Sugar and any type of artificial sweeteners aren't allowed, nor are any type of processed or prepackaged products, pickled or fermented foods, fungi like mushrooms, regular dairy items, potatoes or produce that is canned, frozen or dried. The eating plan limits your seafood to low-mercury fish and prohibits larger varieties such as swordfish, tuna or mackerel. No form of caffeine, alcohol or fruit juice is permitted.
If you're like the average American, your diet contains too much sugar; too many processed foods, refined carbohydrates and fat; and too little fresh produce and fiber. Switching to a naturopathic eating plan would most likely help you lose weight and lower your risk of a variety of chronic medical problems, including cancer and heart disease. Dietary changes like reducing your salt intake may help you control current conditions, such as high blood pressure. The plan's restriction on beverages can help you avoid consuming excess calories in the form of soda or sugary coffee drinks.
Completely giving up sugar, pasta, salt and all convenience foods may make a naturopathic eating plan difficult to follow, especially if not everyone in the same household adheres to the diet. Purchasing only fresh, organic, hormone-free meat, seafood and poultry can be prohibitively expensive. Additionally, the raw dairy products recommended by naturopaths may increase the risk of potentially dangerous foodborne illnesses in children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions. A typical day on the diet won't supply you with the amount of grain servings advised by the USDA and may make you susceptible to nutrient deficiencies.