As a society, we have become so far removed from the diet of our ancestors that has sustained us throughout history and seem to have lost the traditional wisdom in properly preparing our foods for optimal nutrition.
Many people no longer know how to eat healthy and wonder what is a healthy diet? Regardless of what diet you follow, there are some universal basics to eating nutrient-rich foods for a healthy balanced diet
As a result, many people have turned to processed foods of convenience or trendy diets that are not healthy in the long term.
Eating a well-balanced diet from a variety of whole foods that are properly prepared is important for obtaining all the vitamins and minerals needed by the body.
Keep in mind that the quality of food is of the utmost importance when learning how to eat healthier.
Why is it important to eat nutrient-dense whole foods?
To maintain health, the body needs pure water, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals following a general guideline of 30% protein, 30% fats, and 40% carbohydrates which can vary according to bio-individuality. All the macronutrients must be included in one’s diet as they are all necessary and play a role in the body.
Most importantly eating a whole food diet high in vitamins and minerals is crucial for making energy in the body and liver detoxification.
Vitamin and minerals also act as co-factors for every enzyme (gene) in the body so that the body can function. For example, the MTHFR gene needs folate (found in leafy greens) and vitamin B2 (found in dairy) to function.
Choline is a crucial nutrient found in eggs required by the PEMT gene to make phosphatidylcholine and thus prevent fatty liver and gallbladder problems. Eating a healthy balanced diet is the best way to get these nutrients among many others into the body.
Carbohydrates will provide fuel for the brain and a quick source of energy for our muscles and contain fiber to assist in promoting healthy bowel movements.
Fats will provide another source of energy that is slow-burning to maintain steady energy levels. A wide variety of healthy fats are necessary to be used as building blocks for hormones and to make up the cell membranes in all the cells of the body. Fat also makes food taste good and is required for the absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients A, D, E, K.
Proteins are the building blocks for the body and are used to form organs, nerves, muscles, and flesh and are also used to make up enzymes, antibodies, hemoglobin, and hormones which all have very important functions. Proper balance is the key to providing the body with the appropriate macronutrients that contain the vitamins and minerals to fuel the body and its many functions
When talking about obtaining macronutrients and micronutrients in the diet we must be able to recognize the difference in the quality of the food as processed versus nutrient-dense whole foods will impact the body differently and provide different nutrition.
Avoid all processed and refined foods including refined sugar, white flour products, canned foods, pasteurized, homogenized, skim milk, toxic additives, and refined table salt along with fruits and vegetables that are grown in artificial fertilizers and heavily sprayed.
Hydrogenated fats, margarine, rancid/refined vegetable oils, and commercial animal products that have been raised in crowded pens and fed antibiotics should be avoided as well.
Instead, we want to be sourcing nutrient-dense whole foods such as free-range organic eggs, organic or locally grown fruits, and vegetables, whole raw and cultured dairy products, grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, deep seawater fresh fish, cold-pressed unrefined oils, butter, unrefined sea salt and properly prepared (soaked) whole grains, beans, legumes, raw nuts, and seeds.
Eating a wide variety of foods that are local and in season will help to ensure that the body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
When including grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds in the diet it is important to soak and spout them to provide more availability of the nutrients to be utilized by the body.
All nuts seeds, beans, legumes, and grains contain enzyme inhibitors that block the absorption of vitamins and minerals and puts a strain on the digestive system and should, therefore, be soaked before cooking to deactivate these enzyme inhibitors in food. Soaking will make the nutrients in these foods more readily available and absorbed by the body.
Fermenting and culturing foods is another great way to increase the enzyme content of foods which will help to aid in digestion and add more nutrition.
A diet including 30-50% raw foods will also provide live enzymes and keep nutrients intact that can be damaged through heating. Mineral-rich bone broths are also highly recommended to add in the diet as they provide a great source of minerals for the body
Achieving optimal health through nutrition begins with eating a properly prepared nutrient-dense whole food diet. A nutrient-rich diet is a true foundation that leads to optimal health.
It is the food choices that we make daily that impact our well being and taking steps to eat a healthy diet by replacing processed and refined foods in the diet with whole natural foods found in nature is key to obtaining more nutrition through the diet.
It is not a coincidence that health issues are rising with the consumption of processed and refined foods of convenience which are nutrient deficient and taking the place of high-quality nutrient-dense whole foods that should be in our diets.
For more information on how we have been led astray from our traditional diets and how to properly prepare your food for optimal nutrition, I recommend reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M Haas.