Sticking to a restricted diet for an entire lifetime is not very realistic. However, eating a balanced diet paired with regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Brenda Watson’s H.O.P.E. plan is one of the most sensible plans for maintaining good health. Watson is a natural health practitioner specializing in digestive care, nutrition, internal cleansing, and detoxification. She has been in the field of natural health for more than 20 years.
H.O.P.E. stands for high fiber, omega oils, probiotics, and enzymes. Eating foods containing each of these elements contributes to keeping the digestive system healthy. Healthy digestion is critical for a healthy immune system. Approximately 70% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract. Eating according to the H.O.P.E. plan increase one’s chances of maintaining a healthy digestive system and good health overall.
H is for High Fiber
Eating a balanced amount of soluble and insoluble fiber will help to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Fiber helps the stomach to feel full, which results in eating less. Eating less helps with weight loss. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass through the stomach and intestines. The Institute of Medicine recommends that children and adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories of food that they eat daily. Watson recommends 35 grams of fiber for women and 45 grams of fiber for men daily. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
O is for Omega Oils
The oils in the H.O.P.E. diet contain fatty acids that are not created by the body. These fatty acids are necessary for good health. Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids that are considered to be good fats. Fish oils and olive oil are two of the common sources of these good fats. Omega-3 oils are unsaturated and are believed to reduce inflammation in the body. They are also helpful for reducing blood fat (triglycerides), lowering the risk of heart disease, relieving arthritis symptoms, reducing symptoms of depression, and much more. Watson recommends 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day, some of which may have to come from a supplement.
P is for Probiotics
The word probiotic can be broken down into three parts. Pro– is a prefix which means “in favor of” a particular thing. Bio– is from the Greek language and means “involving life or a living organism”. The suffix -ic is from the Greek and Latin meaning “having some characteristics of”. Probiotics are good bacteria that live in the intestine. They’re associated with immunity and proper digestion. Watson recommends consuming probiotics like lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bfidum. These microorganisms provide a variety of health benefits. She suggests an intake of 5 billion to 15 billion cultures of probiotics per day. Probiotics are found in foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables.
E is for Enzymes
Enzymes are proteins that accelerate the digestive process. Watson suggests plant-based enzymes that enhance digestion by targeting proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, and fibers. Pineapples, papayas, and ginger root are just a few plant-based foods that contain digestive enzymes. Raw, organic honey, peppermint, and fennel also contain helpful enzymes.
Eating according to the H.O.P.E. plan and drinking healthy amounts of water can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. A healthy digestive system increases the chances of having a properly functioning immune system. The Harvard School of Public Health offers tips on how much exercise is needed to be healthy as a child, as an adult, and as an older adult. They also provide guidelines for how to prepare a balanced, healthy plate of food. Their recommendations are in pretty close agreement with Brenda Watson’s H.O.P.E. eating plan.
The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.