Since I often refer to “whole” foods and “real” foods, it’s important to understand what is meant by these terms. These terms are used interchangeably on my blog.
Regardless of the diet plan you pursue, optimal health BEGINS by eating a whole foods-based diet!
WHAT ARE WHOLE/REAL FOODS?
- Foods that have not been processed or altered in any way
- Foods that contain its original nutrients
- Foods in its most natural state – as originally designed by our Creator
- Foods grown in a garden, orchard
- Foods not originally produced in a factory or engineered in a lab
- Foods not full of artificial ingredients (ie: artifical colors, sweeteners, flavors)
Examples are: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, whole grassfed meats, raw milk
The main benefit of whole foods has to do with the complete nutrients that are naturally contained within it.
When ALL the original nutrients are still contained in the food, it is considered a “whole” food and is therefore in a form that can nourish our bodies on a cellular level. Cellular nourishment is at the heart of true health!
To say it another way, a whole food is a “real” food, as opposed to the fake foods (or food-like products) of highly processed and highly refined foods where most of the nutrients have been isolated, depleted, or been made synthetic. The primary reason for processed foods is to substantially increase the shelf life of food in order to increase profits.
However, there is a cost to pay when we begin to interfere with the original design of food. Here is a very telling quote from Erasmus, p.73:
For example, according to Dr. Time O’Shea, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals are 3 important legs of a stool. By themselves, they are just pieces to the puzzle. In order to perform their specific life functions within the cells, all co-factors (nutrients that help the other nutrients to work) must be present. In other words, enzymes cannot work without vitamins and minerals, vitamins cannot work without enzymes and minerals, and minerals cannot work without enzymes and vitamins. This concept is the foundation of whole foods.
processed = fractionated = synthetic = FAKE!
Keep in mind that synthetic means two things:
- occurs nowhere in nature
WHAT TO EAT & AVOID:
Below is a basic set of guidelines to remember when trying to eat a whole foods-based diet.
- eat as much fresh produce as possible
- eat raw foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, dairy
- eat meats that have been raised healthy (grassfed, pastured, no hormones, no antibiotics)
- eat healthy oils
- eat natural sugars (no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners)
- eat 100% whole grains (no refined grains like white flour, white rice)
- avoid anything boxed, canned, bottled or packaged that has more than 5 ingredients(1)
- avoid “fast foods”
Here are some additional resources that also explain what real foods are:
(1) According to Michael Pollan, the food writer for the New York Times and the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food:
“Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients. The specific number you adopt is arbitrary, but the more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is.”
Pollan goes on to explain that this 5-ingredient limit tends to guide us to rule out foods that are highly processed. He also says we should avoid foods that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food– Go-Gurt, breakfast cereal bars, non-dairy creamer — stay away!!