A Healthy Diet- Eat the Whole, not the Parts
It seems to me that, for our health, the thing that most of us have had the most trouble with for the longest is diet. And, boy, has our diet changed, in just one generation! Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common. Fiber levels are one tenth of that of our historical diet.
Even if our Standard American Diet (laughingly abbreviated SAD) could keep us healthy, which it obviously can’t, our bodies could never make the switch that fast. It just seems logical that eating more like our ancestors did will be better for us.
Michael Pollan says, If your Grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, don’t eat it. That’s probably enough dietary advice, right there.
The biggest change is that we no longer eat actual whole food. We largely eat edible food-like substances. Modern chemistry at its finest. Usually, in the interest of taste, shelf life, appearance or economics, we end up stripping out the very parts of the food with most of the nutrients.
One significant dietary change occurring during the past century is an increase in the consumption of refined grains, such as white bread instead of whole wheat bread, and white rice instead of brown rice. The average American eats over 20% more sugar (about 25 more pounds per person per year) than she did in 1986.
So, one great first step toward getting back to a nutritious diet is to eat foods in as close to natural form as possible. Personally, I don’t eat refined foods. Clearly, you could not chomp on a wheatberry, but you could eat bread made with whole wheat flour or whole grain cereal.
Speaking of grains, let’s take a quick look at them. When we eat refined grains, they are digested rapidly and speedily metabolized into glucose. This rapid assimilation creates a spike of acid that the body may have trouble dealing with. Out come the alkalinizing minerals from the skeleton to buffer the acid byproducts of carbohydrate metabolism. Unfortunately, just like your checkbook, it might be easier for the body to make a withdrawal from the mineral bank account than it will be to cover it with a deposit a while later. Oops- overdrawn.
And whole grains have many other benefits. With the bran and germ still intact, all the original fiber remains in the grain. In addition to all the dietary benefits of the fiber, it also slows down digestion of the starch, retarding the blood sugar spike. The whole grain contains almost all of the other nutrients in the grain- the minerals, especially magnesium, the vitamins and the essential fatty acids.
Substituting whole grains for other foods in your diet actually allows you to feel full but eat less total calories. Whole grains, on the average, have fewer calories than the foods they would typically replace, and the fiber content makes you feel more satisfied with fewer calories.
How have you changed your diet to include whole foods?