For decades, the U.S. Army has had a standard diet for the troops and basically, it has been whatever they seem to enjoy. Now, the diet may be changing to ensure soldiers reach optimal health for better performance, fewer injuries and physical alertness.
Sugar laden cereals, sodas and white bread have been the standard “cuisine” for soldiers for decades. The new, healthy approach will treat soldiers like athletes. Drill sergeants will now focus on a performance diet hoping to reduce injuries and improve physical readiness. Upon arrival into a stressful basic training, over 25 percent show up unfit and over 60 percent require dental care. Lt. General Mark Hertling claims, “this is not an Army problem, this is a civilian problem that the army plans to fix.” When the United States suffers from obesity, so do the soldiers. The Soldier Athlete Initiative will roll out first at Fort Leonard, Missouri.
Taking a responsible approach for our soldiers and focusing on optimal health can bring effective changes to the troops and may eventually trickle down to civilians.
Ways to Create Optimal Health for Soldiers
Whole Food Solutions
To gain energy and reduce stress, a whole food solution is key for the troops. Boosting fiber, eliminating sugar and hydrogenated oils are necessary to strengthen immunity and battle fatigue. Taking “processed” out of the food chain can make a huge difference.
Cereals and Grains
Healthy cereals consist of whole grains. Opting for whole grain pasta, brown rice or nutritional grains such as quinoa or amaranth hold vitamins and minerals that power the body from becoming ill.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are nerve protectors as well as immune enhancers.They also contain essential fatty acids, which everyone needs for survival. Since the body can’t make essential fatty acids, they must come from food. Flax seed is the richest source of essential fatty acids. Chia seeds also contain high levels of the acids. Aztec soldiers used it to fight, due to the strength the seed provides.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
The healing properties of fruits and vegetables will keep disease away, but it is critical to keep a rainbow of colors to give the body an entire spectrum of pigments. The different pigments each have different antioxidant effects and unique nutrients for preventing disease.
Water is a “must have” for the troops. It is essential for staying well and alive. Mild dehydration can impair performance responses. Not only does water transport nutrients to the cells, it keeps the kidneys clean by carrying waste and toxins out of the body.
“The Encyclopedia of Healthy Foods”; Michael Murray, N.D.; 2005
“Healing with Whole Foods”; Paul Pitchford; 2002
“Yogurt In, Soda Out: Army Revamps Diet”; www.npr.com