I’ve been working on my overall health and have been *mostly* gluten free since January of this year, and its made quite a difference in my health and well being. I’ve recently decided to take my lifestyle changes even further! I’m going to a wholly whole food diet! And while I’m a little intimidated, and I know its going to be a bit of a challenge, the benefits are so going to be worth it!
Lets talk about a wholly whole food lifestyle and what that means…
A whole food diet is plant-based, focused on eating unrefined and unprocessed foods. You enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (not so much for me since I am remaining gluten free), tubers and legumes, and cut back on or eliminate any type of processed food. This typically means reducing the amount of meat and eggs you consume, as well as anything with refined sugar, bleached flour and other processed food ingredients.
Why Eat Food with Minimal Human Intervention?
Why would someone eat nothing but natural, unprocessed and unrefined foods? More and more people are turning to a whole foods diet because of the long list of health benefits this nutritional approach has to offer. You don’t have to be a nutritionist or health expert to understand that an apple is better for you than a double cheeseburger.
This is because the more tinkering and modifying that is done with your food before it reaches your plate, the less healthy it is for you. The following is a short list of just a few of the major benefits a whole foods diet provides.
- Reduces your risk of becoming overweight or obese
- Helps moderate healthy blood pressure
- Regulates a healthy cholesterol level
- Reduces your risk of contracting diabetes
- Lowers your odds of developing heart disease
- Makes your skin and hair stronger and healthier looking
- Lowers your chances of developing neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Increases mental functioning and clarity
- Boosts your natural energy level
- Boosts your sex drive
- Improves your sleep patterns
- Cranks up your natural immune system, dramatically increasing your ability to resist and even cure disease
When you eat unprocessed foods, as close to their original, natural state as possible, you get more of the nutrients, minerals and vitamins your body needs! Foods that are highly processed (generally those products sold in a bag, wrapper, container or can) have many of their nutrients removed in the manufacturing process. Then unhealthy, addictive ingredients like refined sugar, salt, MSG and trans fats are introduced. No good my friends!
This makes food last longer on your grocery store’s shelves. It also drastically limits the natural components your body needs to be healthy. Even worse, since your brain recognizes after a 1,500 calorie fast food meal that you are still lacking in nutrients, it tells you to eat something else. The addictive chemicals that have been added to your food answer that call by making you crave the very food that caused this unhealthy problem in the first place.
So your reach for more fast, processed foods, your body never gets what it needs to be healthy, and you develop a laundry list of physical and mental health complications.
This is how a wholly whole food approach to nutrition delivers so many incredible benefits. You replace unhealthy, nutrient-poor processed foods with natural, nutrient-dense foods. These foods contain high levels of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and are wonderfully low in calories and carbohydrates compared to fast food and processed foods.
So your body begins to heal itself, your natural energy levels are boosted, your immunity system kicks into high gear to keep you healthy, and from your head to your toes you are able to enjoy mental and physical health benefits. Begin eating more organic/grass fed meats and plant-based whole foods today, and cut back or eliminate processed foods. In as little as 24 to 72 hours you will begin to experience the wonderful benefits a whole foods diet has to offer.
But What About All That Chewing?
Munching your way through a lot of whole food, though, is a little strange when you haven’t done it before. Mostly, people are used to eating mushy, soft foods that don’t contain a lot of fiber. So when you suddenly start chowing down on massive bowls of kale salad, you find that your jaw muscles start to ache.
According to Dr. Karen Cooper – a dental professional – the trick here is make sure that you’re comfortable chewing. At first, it will feel difficult because you need to train your muscles. But, over time, they will adapt. If you have any problems with your teeth, you should sort them out as soon as you can to reap the full benefits of a plant-based diet.
Evidence suggests that you don’t have to chew your food into oblivion to get the benefits. In fact, less chewing might be more beneficial because it reduces the post-meal insulin spike.
Now that doesn’t mean I won’t ever enjoy a baked good or sweet treat, but there will be much more moderation! I honestly never thought my lifestyle would change in this direction, but its going to be SO GOOD! Not just for the health benefits, but the over all life benefits that come with it!