Eating a balanced diet that largely consists of plants and fresh whole foods is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your health. Consuming large amounts of processed foods is risky behavior. Eating processed foods has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune illnesses, atherosclerosis, and many more common sicknesses. If you would like to start feeling better, consider these 10 simple suggestions to help you begin your unprocessed diet:
- Over 65% of your diet should come from unprocessed fruits, berries, vegetables, raw seeds, nuts and mushrooms, and roughly a third should consist of unprocessed proteins and starches. In the Standard American Diet (SAD), we do not get enough nutrients for optimal health; I am not only taking about vitamins and minerals, but also phyto-nutrients and fiber compounds, which are readily found in whole plants. These ingredients are vital nutrients that serve as immune boosters, cancer fighters, anti-aging compounds, endocrine system (hormone) supporters, and much more. Fresh plant foods also tend to be incredibly high in phyto-nutrients and fiber, and as a result, eating them at every meal can have profound impacts on our health.
- Eat only meats in moderation which are unprocessed, fresh, not from industrial feedlots, and are as local as possible. Grazing animals should be from grass-fed origins.
- Eat fresh or frozen low-mercury sustainably-caught seafood and shellfish. For a buyers guide, please click here.
- Eliminate food that has been packaged or processed, including bread. Stay away from food that comes in a container, plastic bag, box, or is promoted with a television commercial. Avoid all of the chemical ingredients found in processed foods. Literally hundreds of chemicals are used in food; many of these chemicals are already banned in other countries because they are known toxins.
- Try cutting out all wheat products for a month to see if you feel better. Many people have inflammatory processes which are related to modern wheat. Anyone with chronic pain, allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s Disease, IBS, or any other chronic illness (or symptoms) that are related to auto-immunity or inflammation should try eliminating wheat for at least 30 days. After a month, slowly re-integrate wheat into the diet and note how your body reacts. Are the symptoms worsened by eating wheat?
- Use only natural sweeteners and use them very sparingly. Products like local honey and maple sugar are better than refined sugars. Avoid Agave nectar because it is very high in fructose, which is known to cause health problems such as diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
- Choose sea salt rather than refined salt.
- Eat whole grains, and beans, but do not make them the biggest part of your meal, instead eat more vegetables and fruits.
- Drink water, and only small amounts of fruit juice and milk. Fruit juice lacks all of the fiber and most of the phyto-nutrients that whole fruit contains. Plus, the high concentration of fructose in fruit juice (think how many apples goes into one cup of juice–with none of the fiber to help you process it) raises your blood sugar considerably.
- Reduce or eliminate all pressed oils except for olive oil. Pressed oils (e.g. sunflower, canola, grapeseed, vegetable) do not last long on the shelf after pressing and become rancid quickly. Rancid oils are strong carcinogens and contribute to toxin buildup in the blood vessels, cellular decay, cancer and other diseases. Stable oils, such as coconut oil, have a much greater tolerance to heat and remain fresh at room temperature for several months. Grass-fed butter is another stable fat that should be used sparingly in place of vegetable oils or margarine.
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