For optimal functioning, the human body needs fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water to transport them. These are the main sources of energy that fuel the cells so that all the body’s functions are performed. Unfortunately, most food is now being overprocessed and has undergone so many modifications it is unrecognizable. This is done because of flavoring preferences or for ease in preparation.
Processing is also done to ensure the food retains its flavor or freshness, as many foods remain on store shelves for long periods of time. These processes usually entail the use of preservatives and other chemicals that can be harmful to our health.
This is why I highly recommend adherence to a whole foods diet for health and human performance, both in and outside of the gym. With numerous advocates and programs that we have for healthy living at CrossFit Alanis, you probably have already heard or read about the consumption of whole foods
Whole foods are not genetically modified or chemically altered. When we talk about whole foods, it means that fruits and vegetables are grown with minimal chemical intervention. Ideally, we strive to consume organically-grown produce.
Meats obtained from free-range or pasture-raised animals also belong to the whole foods category. If meat is sourced from factory-farmed animals, there is a greater than 100% chance that they were fed with hormones, antibiotics, and other chemical additives. Feedlot-raised animals are fed a high-grain diet, and this is almost always obtained from non-organic sources and is quite often GMO grain.
If you choose to pursue a whole foods diet, it means eating foods in their most natural state. prepared and cooked without the use of additives and other artificial flavor-enhancing agents.
So what are a few of the benefits if you follow this diet?…
Our Bodies Obtain More Nutrients
When you eat whole foods, your body has more access to unaltered vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional content, obtaining the most amount of nutrients from the food eaten. For example, if you compare fresh juice sourced from organic oranges to one from a bottle with hard-to-pronounce ingredients on the label, the first option will more likely give you a higher dose of Vitamin C in the form most needed and easily assimilated by your body.
We Minimize Our Risks Associated With Processed Foods
Eating whole foods will minimize your body’s risk of being exposed to the dangers associated with ingesting preservatives and additives. A common example of preservatives is nitrate. This is often used in meat products to prevent bacterial growth. However, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, excessive intake of this preservative leads to increased risks of cancer. Nitrates are commonly found in bacon, ham, sausage and hotdogs.
We Find It Easier To Manage Our Weight
While we’re watching our weight or trying to lose weight, whole food consumption is the best way to go. Processed foods that are high in calories and low in fiber are known to contribute to weight gain and obesity, due to the fact that foods that have no fiber are less likely to make you feel full and sated. In turn, you increase your tendency to eat more than you need to.
We Spend Less When We Adhere To A Whole Foods Diet
Although processed foods reduce the hassle of preparation because they can be eaten in an instant, the preservatives and other chemicals added add to the higher production costs. These costs will then be shouldered by you, the buyer.
Wouldn’t it be better to just buy an apple and eat it raw than fall in line at your favorite smoothie shop for a sugar-laden apple-flavored drink? With processed foods, you are also paying for the packaging that your body does not even consume.
At least with whole foods, you are only buying what you eat, which includes all the nutrients and benefits to your health, so it’s worth every cent spent. Whole foods won’t subject you to side effects and health problems commonly linked to processed foods, which means fewer visits to the doctor and less money spent on medicines.
We Have Reduced Risk Of Diseases
Whole foods not only give you vitamins and minerals, but also provide your body with much-needed phytochemicals. Phytochemicals can be found in a wide variety of fruits, plants, and grains. Ingesting foods that contain phytochemicals lessens your risk of contracting cardiovascular disease. It also protects your body from the risks of cancer and type-2 diabetes. Bright colored fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of phytochemicals.
We Are Spared From The Dangers Of Sugar
One great advantage of being on a whole foods diet is that you will spare yourself from the dangers of excessive sugar intake. You will be eating more fruits and vegetables that contain natural sugar, and their fiber content helps offset the adverse effects of sugar. Processed foods are often devoid of fiber and taste sweet due to the added sugars, so it is easy to overeat these products. Regularly ingesting processed, sugar-laden foods is when health problems can start.
Generally, maintaining a whole food diet prevents diseases and promotes overall well-being. If you aim to make positive changes to your diet, a simple and healthy way is to start with eating primarily whole foods.
~ Beaux Dyson is a BC Holistic Health Practitioner, Certified CrossFit Trainer L3 and Master Nutritionist at CrossFit Alanis in Wylie, Texas