Food is fuel, and what we put into our bodies has an enormous impact on our health. Eating healthy food is the only way your body obtains energy for you to use. Think about that for a second, you have an important decition to make everytime you eat, you have the opportunity to build energy through feeding your body nutrients that are converted into energy (and many other important biochemical functions), or miss that opportunity by consuming something that is less nourishing. You can’t drive a car on empty, or fill up a diesel with petrol and expect it to run well, so why fill your body with foods devoided of nutrients which won’t make you thrive.
We forget sometimes that the key to better health, improved energy, greater vitality and a clear, focused mind lies in our own hands. Of course, there are other factors which contribute to all of those things (such as exercise, sleep habits, stress, health conditions), however nutrients from real, whole and unprocessed foods lay down the foundation.
As a Registered Clinical Nutritionist, I encourage my clients to focus on “wholefoods” that are nutrient dense rather than “processed foods” that are energy dense. What is the difference between the two? Well, nutrient dense foods are foods which are loaded with essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, good fats, protein, complex carbs and are low in sugar, while energy dense foods are processed and refined foods which usually come in packets, such as muesli bars, cereals, ice-cream, lollies, white bread, pasta, processed meats and most “convenient foods” such as microwave meals and fast food.
Just as the name applies, a whole food basically consists of one ingredient. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fresh fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, wholegrains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, millet are all examples of a whole food. There is nothing added to them for flavour or to preserve them. Consuming a wholefoods diet can help assist your body in regulating blood sugar levels, support gut health, weight management, healthy cholesterol levels, decrease diabetes and chronic health conditions.
Another name that is somewhat self-explanatory, processed foods imply that they are man made and developed. Over time with people leading busy lifestyles and wanting more “convenient’ foods, processed foods have become more popular. Also, people like things that taste good and last a long time. Companies who make processed foods know this and will go almost to any length to accomplish meeting those needs of the consumer, it is a business. Have you ever looked at a best before date on juice bottles, canned goods, muesli bars, processed meats, ice cream, sweetened yoghurt and seen a best before date in less than one week? It is very rare! Processed foods are filled with additives and preservatives such as salts, sugars and other chemicals to make them taste good and last longer. These foods have a negative effect on our health, they are low in nutritional value, high in sugar (hello weight gain and digestive problems), and can have other adverse effects on health such as increasing cholesterol levels, causing blood sugar imbalances, heightened risk to health conditionals such as diabetes.