When it comes to judging your food choices, foods that remain relatively intact from the time they are harvested to the time you pop ’em in your mouth are the most supportive to your health. The closer a food is to its original state, the more nutrients- vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber- are available for your body to absorb. Adequate nutrient intake helps every single process that goes on in your body– from brain function to muscle building to digestion.
Benefits of consuming whole foods
- Greater physical and mental energy. Whole foods often make you feel more satisfied and leave you feeling full longer. When you consume a food that is intact (i.e. it doesn’t have a part of it removed, like a refined grain), blood sugar levels become balanced, which reduces cravings and gives you more even, prolonged energy throughout the day.
- Strong immune system. Improved immune system function decreases the risk of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Weight loss. A diet based on whole foods decreases obesity risk because it cuts out processed and damaged fat, added sugars, and synthetic ingredients, all of which have been show to cause weight gain.
- Healthy digestive system. Consuming primarily whole foods is easier on the digestive system and prevents the onset of many allergies. Fresh food has enzymes built in, which helps us digest and metabolize food so our body is better able to synthesize the nutrients.
Problems with consuming refined foods
- “Negative nutrition.” Refined foods that may include pesticides, herbicides, waxes, artificial coloring and flavoring, MSG, injected antibiotics, and hormones burden your body and deplete it of valuable nutrients. If your body does not receive the essential nutrients it needs from fresh food, then it has to get it from your body’s reserves, starting with your blood, then your tissues, and eventually your bones.
- Gene health. Repeatedly consuming nutrient-deficient foods actually has an effect on your genes. In the field of epigenetics, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that even though you are born with a set of genes, your environment (diet, in part) affects the expression of those genes. Furthermore, it affects the genetic makeup of your children. Hereditary diseases are a weakness is some people’s genetic makeup, but nutrition plays a role in whether or not it will express itself or not.
- Contributes to disease. Synthetic chemicals found in food enters our body and is stored in fat cells. Repeated exposure to some pesticides, for example, is known to cause damage to the nervous, immune, and endocrine (hormones) system, as well as cause cancer. This is especially true in children, whose organs and body systems are still developing and particularly sensitive.
- Lowers immune system. Antibiotics found in many conventional meat products affect humans in several ways. Repeated exposure to antibiotics in food makes it harder for our immune systems to resist bacteria naturally, which potentially causes a wider range of infections.
By consuming a balance of quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from a variety of whole foods, one can promote optimal health and contribute to the prevention of degenerative diseases. Start by choosing fresh fruits and vegetables grown in nutrient-rich soil, whole grains, beans and legumes, quality fats, (and if you’re a meat-eater) free-range poultry and eggs, grass-fed beef, and wild fish as the foundation of your diet.
Refined foods are reduced versions of the original whole food, which means it has less nutritional value. The bottom line is this: the more refined foods you add to your diet, the less space there is for whole foods!