Make no mistake about it, food is the most powerful medicine you’ll ever take.
Why? No matter what other medicine you take (prescriptions, herbs, vitamins, etc.), your food has a greater impact. A plate full of food wins over a handful of pills every time because there’s so much more of it.
So choosing your food shouldn’t be just a casual matter. But it also doesn’t have to be difficult. By paying a bit of attention to just three qualities of the foods you eat, you’ll automatically start feeling better.
1) Eat Whole Food:
This means unprocessed. A piece of fruit is far better than a glass of fruit juice, even if the juice is freshly squeezed. This is because juice has 3 to 5 times more sugar per volume than fresh fruit. And since most people already get too much sugar, less fruit juice is better.
Of course if the juice is homogenized, pasteurized or bottled in a way that requires heat, it’s even worse.
This doesn’t apply only to juices either. Each step of processing removes nutrients and alters the original nature of any food that’s processed.
This means that processed grains (bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, muffins, etc.), any kind of snack food (chips, pretzels, popcorn, etc.) and anything else you might eat that’s been processed before you buy it will be less nutritious than the whole food version of the same exact ingredient.
In addition, if you eat these processed foods you must become a ‘label detective’ to make absolutely sure what has or hasn’t been added to the end result. Most food additives are there to improve color or shelf-life, not to improve your health. The bottom line is, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
2) Eat Fresh Food:
This one is obvious, but there’s a hidden message here as well. When we pick out produce, dairy or meat, we typically choose those that are fresher.
For example you’d never pick out a soggy tomato with mold on it from the tomato bin. You’d go for the one that is firm, fresh and smells good. The same goes for any other food you buy that you can see in its normal state.
But when foods are processed, we have no idea what the original state of the food was.
A recent NY Times article drives this particular point home. The article details how a group of purchasing managers from well-known companies such as Kraft Foods, Frito-Lay and Safeway took bribes for buying substandard crops as ingredients for their processed foods.
The substandard crops included millions of pounds of tomato paste and puree with mold counts far above safe limits. The produce got by regulators due to falsified documentation about the quality, acidity and age of the product.
That’s not to say that every processed food suffers from these problems. However it does point out that if food comes in a box, a jar, a can, a bottle or a package, you can’t tell what condition it was in before processing.
To be safe, fresh is always better.
3) Eat Food In Its Natural State:
This one is simple.
Ever seen a bread tree? How about a pasta bush?
Nope. Neither have I.
The point here is that if you’re eating food in a form that you can’t find in nature, it’s, um… not natural. The closer to its natural state a food is, the more likely it is to have all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutritional factors nature intended.
In summary, by eating primarily foods that meet the above three criteria, you can be reassured that you’re actually getting what you pay for. And you’ll be getting your food with the maximum nutritional value possible.
P.S. – There is one more element to an ideal diet, namely knowing which foods are the best fuel for your unique metabolic tendencies. Since there are 5,760 basic metabolic patterns, Metabolic TypingÃ‚Â® is unsurpassed for zeroing in on the right foods for you.
NY Times Article, February 24, 2010