Skip to main content

The 7 Pillars of Optimal Health

The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.

In my 22 years as a dietitian, I’ve witnessed many food fads and quick fix diets. However, there are a handful of principles that have stood the test of time. Heinen’s refers to these principles as the seven Fx Pillars: “F” is for food and “x” is for prescription.

Using a “food-as-medicine” approach, the pillars can be thought of as basic “food prescriptions” for optimal health. And like legs to a table, each pillar works with the others to help balance your overall wellbeing.

Let’s explore each Fx Pillar!

Eat Your Greens Logo

Pillar #1: Eat Your Greens, As Many as you Can Every Day

Greens are one of the most impactful foods you can add to your diet for better health. They lower inflammation in the body, aid in detoxification and are rich in fiber, bioavailable vitamins and minerals and natural plant chemicals called phytonutrients.

The darker and leafier the greens the better, so reach for arugula, collard greens, dandelion greens and kale. For more greens recommendations, check out our Fx Top 100 Foods List.

Eat the Rainbow Logo

Pillar #2: Eat the Rainbow, At Least One Fruit and Two Vegetables Every Day

Veggies and fruits are rich in plant pigments—special compounds responsible for giving plants their color. From cauliflower to blueberries, each color works to support key areas of your health. To enjoy the wide range of benefits, be sure to incorporate a rainbow of produce as you plan your weekly meals.

Rainbow fruits and vegetables include the “Big 3” Berries—blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, as well as the “Sweet 16” Veggies—including onions, asparagus, carrots and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Omega-3 Fats Logo

Pillar #3: Dose with Omega-3 Fats Every Day

Omega-3 fats are essential fats found in marine algae and certain species of fish. They play an anti-inflammatory role in the body, helping to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds, cold water fish like salmon, tuna and trout and grass-fed beef are all rich sources of omega-3 fats.

Pick Your Protein Logo

Pillar #4: Pick your Protein: Choose Plants over Fish over Fowl over Beef

Protein is an important part of your meals. Adding small amounts can help maintain muscle mass, carry oxygen to cells, balance your sugar and keep you feeling full after eating.

Plant-based proteins are the optimal source and include tempeh, lentils and quinoa. Fish high in omega-3 fats are also recommended and include salmon, cod, halibut and trout. When choosing poultry and beef, opt for those raised without antibiotics or added hormones, including pasture-raised organic chicken and turkey and grass-fed beef.

Whole Grains Logo

Pillar #5: Choose Whole Grains, Preferably Sprouted

Whole grains offer more dietary fiber, B-vitamins and minerals than their refined counterparts. Sprouted grains are even more beneficial for your health because the process of sprouting allows for better nutrient absorption. They also tend to be gentler on blood sugar and easier to tolerate and digest.

Recommended grains include wild rice, quinoa, and sprouted breads and wraps.

Functional Foods Logo

Pillar #6: Remember Functional Foods: Fresh Herbs and Fermented Foods

Functional foods have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. They include herbs and spices like cilantro, parsley, ginger and turmeric, as well as fermented foods like raw sauerkraut and kimchi. Dark chocolate, green tea and mushrooms are also considered functional foods.

Less Sugar and Sodium Logo

Pillar #7: Watch your Sugar and Salt: Minimize Added Sugar and Sodium

When you build your meals and snacks around whole, minimally processed, plant-based foods, this final pillar tends to fall right into place. In other words, minimizing added salt and sugar becomes a breeze when you follow the first six Fx Pillars.

Key Takeaway

Little steps yield big results, so focus on making just one small change at a time. Choose one of the Fx Pillars and make it your goal to master it! Adopting the right mindset is important too. Instead of eliminating certain foods, it’s more helpful to think of adding nutritious foods to your meals. The healthier foods have a way of crowding out the less healthy ones when you approach eating this way.

For personalized guidance on your nutritional strengths and gaps, discover the VitalHealth Optimization Package, now available at the Personalized Nutrition Center at Heinen’s Mayfield Village.

Melanie Jatsek, RD, LD
By Melanie Jatsek RD, LD
Heinen's Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek, RD, LD believes that the answer to a strong, healthy and vibrant body lies within. She graduated cum laude from the University of Akron, earning a degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and has over 20 years of experience in wellness program development, health coaching and professional speaking. As a published author of three books and registered dietitian for Heinen’s, Melanie offers programs, services and tools to help Heinen’s customers take inspired action to build the healthy body they were meant to live in without giving up their favorite foods.

This site is not optimized for your current browser (Internet Explorer 11).

Please switch to one of the following browsers for a complete viewing experience:

Chrome Logo Chrome Firefox Logo Firefox Edge Logo Edge