Pizza; French fries; iceberg lettuce; lifeless, unripe tomatoes; jelly beans; hamburgers; chips; processed frozen dinners; ketchup: What does this group of "foods" provide? White processed flour, fatty meat and cheese, excess sodium, trans-fatty acids, preservatives, white sugar, minimal fiber, and artificial coloring. A diet of these foods is void of all nutrient value and is a recipe for health and beauty disaster. Yet, these are some of the most commonly eaten "foods" in the American diet today. The four veggies on the list - iceberg lettuce, French fries, unripe tomatoes, and ketchup - describe the narrow variety of produce consumed by many children and adults in any given week. Sad, isn't it? We are often overfed and undernourished. The average American these days is overweight and out of breath, certainly doesn't look his or her vibrant best, and is aging prematurely - inside and out. Most Americans appear and feel older than their years, proving "You are what you eat." If you belong to this group, you'll continue to suffer from lack of energy and vitality and a variety of aches, pains, and illnesses. What's more, what we eat directly affects how we look. At some point, your outward appearance will reflect this insufficient nutrition, with lifeless hair, brittle nails, and pallid, problematic, toneless skin. Remember that if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. The quickest and least expensive way to change your looks and feel better mentally and physically is to clean up your diet. You can make effective improvements easily. Much of the mass-produced food today is not raised or made with an eye toward your maximum fuel potential, but instead for corporate profits. Intensive farming practices and poor soil management produce foods that tend to lack taste and nutrients. Add synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and genetic engineering to the mix, and you've got additional woes. Your diet should consist of foods that are moderate in complex carbohydrates, low in omega-6 fats but with ample omega-3 fats, high in fiber, and moderate in lean protein. You should consume daily a wide variety of foods in their whole, natural, preferably organic, unprocessed state, including several servings each of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans; a few tablespoons of fresh, raw nuts and seeds; and a little extra-virgin olive, flaxseed, or unrefined coconut oil . . . plus a bit of cod liver or fish oil blend (for your omega-3 fatty acids). Consume eggs from certified, organically raised chickens in protein shakes and fruit smoothies or cook them any way you like. You can even enjoy them on a daily basis or several times a week if you avoid other animal sources of protein. I don't really worry about the cholesterol content of eggs, especially if the balance of your diet and lifestyle is healthy. Meat, poultry, and seafood eaters should limit their consumption to three to four ounces per day (about the size of a deck of cards or size of your palm) and try to buy only organic, free-range chickens or turkeys; wild, deep-sea fish (such as salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, smelts, or haddock) and shellfish; and grass-fed beef or pork from cows and pigs raised without hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Alternative animal sources of protein such as lamb, venison, goat, and buffalo are frequently untainted by chemicals. Remember to avoid excess consumption of animal proteins; they're often high in fat and totally void of fiber. Your can also meet protein requirements with vegetarian choices such as non-genetically-modified soybean products (tofu, tempeh, soy burgers, and so on), rice and pea protein powders, nut butters, seeds, sprout breads, bean sprouts, seaweed, and bean and grain combinations. A wholesome, balanced diet containing these products nourishes the inner body and is reflected on the outside. In next week's blog, I will continue on the subject of nutrition with - "Whole-Food Supplements". (Portions of this blog were adapted from my latest book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", by Stephanie Tourles, lic. esthetician and herbalist, Storey Publishing, 2007.) NOTE: The information in this blog and in "Organic Body Care Recipes" is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Stephanie Tourles. The author disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.