We all know that we’re supposed to “eat healthy” but what does that really mean? New fad diets show up every couple of weeks, endorsed by some twig of a celebrity, and then disappear just as quickly. Then there’s the health professionals who seem to change their minds every year or so. How do we, as the general public, know what kinds of food are really good for us? Let’s take a look at the two main categories: processed foods and whole foods, starting with processed.
Simplified, processed foods are whole foods that have been broken down into their constituent parts, leaving them exposed to air and light which leads to decay. Most of the fiber and nutrients are then removed and replaced with preservatives, additives and bleaching agents. Finally, they are fortified with only a fraction of the nutrients which were removed. The result is a product that is significantly inferior to the original whole food, and leads to a host of health problems.
For example, obesity is still on the rise in America and, you guessed it, processed foods play a role. Because they are nutritionally deficient, your stomach says you’re full but your cells are still hungry. The brain then sends a signal to the stomach to keep eating which causes over-consumption. Ever heard the phrase “obese yet starving”? Tack on to that the fact that processed foods are highly addictive and you have quite a force for destruction. Don’t believe me? Try cutting them out, cold-turkey, for one week and watch the myriad of withdrawal symptoms you go through, the greatest being the intense craving for junk food.
So how do we combat this unhealthy downward spiral that is so prevalent in our country? The answer is simple: go back to the source. Whole food is food found in nature, either raw or minimally processed. It is “living food”. It contains nutrients, fiber, and enzymes in their natural state and perfect balance, which are uniquely qualified for human consumption. Our bodies recognize it, our digestive system is designed for it, and our cells get fully fed by it. Plus, whole foods are the ultimate immune system booster. A regular diet gives your body all the necessary nutrients to battle bacteria, viruses, mange stress and deal with the myriads of toxins we face each day. Whole foods have both the power to feed and to heal.
Now I know that a change like this can seem daunting, but there are many things you can do to start where you’re at. The first step is to change your perspective toward food. Try to eat as close to “nature” as you can. For example, instead of reaching for applesauce or apple juice, enjoy a whole apple with the skin on it. A great way to start is to get acquainted with your local organic food market and farmers markets. They can show you the wide variety of whole foods available to you, many of which you may not even know exist! Remember, one of the secrets to an optimal diet is variety. And shopping locally has a positive impact on the environment, since produce generally travels 1300-2000 miles to get to you. You can even grow some of your own produce saving money and ensuring the freshest possible fruits and veggies. Also, acquire some whole food cookbooks and you may just find that healthy eating is more than just good for you, it’s delicious!
If you want a healthy diet, one that won’t change with Hollywood or “need further testing”, whole food is your answer. It’s great for you, can reverse the damage of poor eating habits and is good for the earth. Day in and day out, what you put in your body directly affects every part of you for good or bad. Remember, you’re worth the work to obtain great health. Take care of yourself! You’ll be glad you did!