I believe it is safe to assume that most people want to live a long, healthy, and pain-free life. One might decide to attain a certain aesthetic or seek longevity by adopting a new workout regime to achieve those goals. Physical activity is pivotal to having a healthier, stronger, fitter and more trim physique, but that potential is heavily contingent upon nutrition. As the old adage follows, you are what you eat; I realize that colloquial phrase is very cliched, but it remains intractably true, nonetheless.
Many of you may have heard of the term “clean eating”. Fear not, it does not necessarily refer to a flavorless raw food diet consisting of kale and carrots. Rabbits we are not, and enjoyment in food largely bellies the other pleasures we derive from life and should not be sacrificed to be healthy. Clean eating refers to consuming, whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods. In other words, you should be capable of identifying the food you are consuming.
Clean eating can entail a slightly different composition depending on the individual, their needs and preferences. A paradigm shift in health recommendations have arisen in recent years however, advocating for incorporating more plant-based foods. Here, we will be discussing the various health benefits to eating a more whole foods diet.
Benefits Of Clean Eating
1. Prevention Of Cancer
Research shows that eating a diet rich in antioxidants from colorful fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee can reduce the risks of various cancers by inhibiting carcinogenesis that leads to malignancies in the larynx, mouth, pharynx, trachea, colon, cervix and lung. Also, the consumption of folate, vitamin D, calcium and phytoestrogens from soy all help to reduce the risk of cancers in various organs as well
(Mahan, Escott-Stump, Raymond, & Krause, 2012).
2. Prevention Of Cardiovascular Disease
Eating a diet high in fat, especially saturated fats, simple sugars, and low in fiber from the regular consumption of red meats and ultra-processed foods (among other dietary and lifestyle factors), may lead to the development of atherosclerosis (occluded blood vessels), and cardiovascular disease (Moubarac, et al., 2012). Eating a diet rich in plant sterols from plant derived fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, eating fiber-rich foods from legumes and whole grains as well as fruit and vegetables, can help mitigate the risk
(Mahan, Escott-Stump, Raymond, & Krause, 2012).
3. Prevention Of Diabetes
Consuming a diet rich in legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables), nuts, seeds, and small quantities of starchy vegetables, can help regulate and reduce blood glucose spikes and subsequent insulin increases. These stark surges in blood sugar are observed when people habitually consume large amounts of simple carbohydrates from processed white bread, candy and starchy vegetables leading to insulin resistance and diabetes (Mahan, Escott-Stump, Raymond, & Krause, 2012).
Fiber is classified as either soluble or insoluble fiber in water. Fiber is essential for many important functions such as regulating blood glucose, lowering cholesterol, promoting bowel regularity, reducing risk of developing liver and colon cancer, increasing satiety, and feeding the bacteria of the gut microbiome which has a host of other local and systemic benefits as well. A high fiber diet is associated with a reduction of weight, and in mitigating disease manifestation (Mahan, Escott-Stump, Raymond, & Krause, 2012).
The westernized diet which is typified by foods laden with fat, sugar and salt, are high in calories and comparatively void of micronutrients vital for health and development. By limiting these processed foods and incorporating healthier, whole food options, you optimize the minerals and vitamins they naturally contain in abundance (Spritzler, 2019).
6. Obesity And Weight-Loss
Ingesting more whole, unprocessed and home-prepared meals are higher in fiber and lower in calories, so that satiety is reached sooner, and therefore less food is consumed (Mahan, Escott-Stump, Raymond, & Krause, 2012). Habitual whole food consumption also lowers cravings for junk foods. Additionally, research shows that a comparison between two isocaloric meals from processed versus whole foods, increased postprandial energy expenditure in the latter group by about 50%!(Barr & Wright, 2010). These factors help promote weight management, reducing the incidence of obesity.
7. Supporting Farmers
Purchasing fresh foods from farmers markets, or foods endemically grown in your region, helps to support small scale, local farmers and ranchers. It even has the added benefit of reducing transportation and packaging, hence lessening environmental impacts of food husbandry and consumption (Spritzler, 2019).
8. Dental Health
Dental caries or tooth decay are promoted by the consumption of fermentable carbohydrates from candies, white bread, crackers, juice and pop. This can be prevented obviously through good oral hygiene, but also by consuming calcium rich foods such as cheese, whole fruits and vegetables, fish, eggs and fats, and reducing sugar containing foods that are cariogenic. Additionally, consuming fluoridated water and foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, C, & A, and protein can help keep teeth and gums strong, preventing periodontal diseases (Mahan, Escott-Stump, Raymond, & Krause, 2012).
Skin integrity, esthetic, moisture and elasticity can be attained by eating foods rich in protein, vitamin C, antioxidants, fat soluble vitamins A, E & D, omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats from foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, lean meats, fatty fish, eggs, avocados, fruits and vegetables (Hiticas, Butnariu, & Sarac, 2019).
Our final point revolves around taste, because nobody wants to chow down on the equivalent of a bowl of grass to be healthy. Eating a clean, whole foods diet introduces a wealth of variety in taste, texture, color and possibilities for new and old recipes in the kitchen that can be both satisfying and healthy. So, go experiment!
If you’ve been curious about what a clean eating diet might look like then please follow this link for my 7 day free Clean eating plan including recipes, shopping list and simple instructions to make clean eating tasty and easy. Connect with me and share with me on Facebook and Instagram how my recipes turned out for you on social media
Can't wait for you to taste my creations on social!
Barr, S. B., & Wright, J. C. (2010, July 02). Postprandial energy expenditure in whole-food and processed-food meals: Implications for daily energy expenditure. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897733/
Hiticas, V. V., Butnariu, M., & Sarac, I. (2019). Essential Compounds in Skin Health. EC Nutrition, 1-8. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Monica_BUTNARIU/publication/336775342_Essential_Compounds_in_Skin_Health/links/5db1ab064585155e27f8b2c4/Essential-Compounds-in-Skin-Health.pdf.
Mahan, L. K., Escott-Stump, S., Raymond, J. L., & Krause, M. V. (2012). Krauses food & the nutrition care process (13th ed.). Singapore: Elsevier (Singapore) Pte.
Moubarac, J., Martins, A. P., Claro, R. M., Levy, R. B., Cannon, G., & Monteiro, C. A. (2012, November 21). Consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health. Evidence from Canada. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/consumption-of-ultraprocessed-foods-and-likely-impact-on-human-health-evidence-from-canada/22FD38DE1BB3B5CD42B843A36D9D8D25/core-reader
Spritzler, F. (2019). 21 Reasons to Eat Real Food. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/21-reasons-to-eat-real-food#section7
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