Of all the recommended strategies for fighting disease and promoting overall health and well being, few are as critical and profound as the practice of healthy eating. Healthy eating is a lifelong process of nourishing our bodies, minds and spirits. It is not about depriving ourselves completely of foods that we enjoy, because even when a specific medical condition dictates such restriction, there are a number of healthier alternatives to many of our favorite foods that are available on the market today. Instead of deprivation and rigid dietary control, healthy eating ought to be viewed as the regular consumption of a wide variety of nourishing, whole foods, accompanied by positive attitudes toward eating wholesome meals that together provide us with the ability to rejuvenate and rebuild. However, with all the differing recommendations in today’s popular dietary trends, choosing eating habits to help keep you healthy and energized throughout the year can seem a daunting task riddled with heated conflict and contradictory information.
There is overwhelming evidence; however, supporting an organic, whole foods-based diet full of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as a means to better health. Due to the high nutritional and antioxidant content of many whole foods, this type of diet is linked with increased antioxidant activity, improved digestion, healthy inflammation response, healthy glucose metabolism, healthier lipid profiles and increased immune activity among other benefits. A whole foods diet can also be tailored to a specific health condition with a larger focus on certain foods. For example, foods such as cruciferous vegetables, which are high in sulfur, have been shown effective in supporting heavy metal detoxification. The members of this vegetable family also provide support in the fight against cancer, among other health conditions.
What defines "whole foods"? Whole foods are foods that are available in their original form, minimally processed and/or refined, and not containing additives of any kind. Whole foods consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (not hulled or polished), legumes, and raw nuts and seeds. Animal products should be organic and eaten in smaller quantities than is typical in the American diet. Aside from a higher phytochemical (plant nutrient and antioxidant) profile, whole foods contain much higher amounts of fiber, the regular consumption of which is linked to reduced cancer and heart disease. High fiber diets promote overall gastrointestinal health, as well as the detoxification of toxins and heavy metals.