Whole food nutrition has recently become a popular BUZZ word in the food world and throughout the conservative healthcare fields. i.e. – Chiropractic, Clinical Nutritionists, and Naturopathic Doctors. Each of these professions, along with many other people who live a healthy lifestyle, are very in tuned to eating whole foods. What are whole foods you ask, what can they do for you, and why should I eat them are all questions that are going to be answered later in this newsletter.
If you do not know what whole foods are don’t be alarmed or feel ashamed. I didn’t know what they were until I was almost one year into my doctoral degree. Before that I thought that chicken nuggets from McDonalds were whole foods. They may look whole, but after doing some research I realized they are many small parts, which we will not list, compressed into shapes which look like all the states of the union. Needless to say, they are not whole foods. Whole foods simply are foods that have not been changed or altered. They are what nature gave us. Examples include all fruits and vegetables, legumes, potatoes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains without processing. These foods also do not contain harmful food preservatives or additives. They are the purest form of food. It is noteworthy to say that whole foods do not have to be organic, and organic foods do not have to be whole foods.
It is also important for you to know about the antithesis of whole foods. These are processed foods. These are foods that contain labels that can’t be read by most scientists. I give an example of Propyl p-hydroxybenozoate, found in most cereals, snack foods, and processed meats. These are things that we all eat on a regular basis. These are things that most healthcare professionals agree should be avoided whenever possible. I try to avoid them, but believe me no one is ever going to take away my Reese’s peanut butter cups!!
After learning about nutrition through many venues I began to think of eating differently. I now had the knowledge and ability to turn eating into medicine and therapy for myself. (Disclaimer: Do not change or discontinue any medication prescribed by your doctor. Whole food nutrition should be only used in conjunction with your current medication and not as a replacement.) What if by eating foods less tampered with and more nutrient dense you could increase the amount of nutrients you take in and absorb. This would increase your body’s functional capacity on all levels. Most importantly it would boost your body’s ability to fight off disease, build new tissue, and stay healthy even under the most stressful conditions. You know, when the in-laws come over. You can accomplish this by eating right. Did you know that some foods contain certain B-vitamins that can reduce and protect you against stress? It is true. Some foods high in these vitamins are leafy greens (sorry iceberg lettuce does not count) and green peppers.
“Diets rich in whole and unrefined foods, like whole grains, dark green and yellow/orange-fleshed vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, contain high concentrations of antioxidant phenolics, fibers and numerous other phytochemicals that may be protective against chronic diseases.” (Spiller et al 2000)
It is now easier than ever to find whole foods. There are many stores where they can be purchased. Some stores are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. These stores are going to increase your grocery expense, but in my eyes you cannot put a price on health. Eating healthy now is only going to give you a healthier and more productive future decreasing your time spent seeing the doctor.
Making this change is not easy. The best way to change is to change slowly. Buy one or two items from these stores each week for the first month. Then increase as subsequent months pass. Once you have been eating these foods for a month or two your palate becomes accustomed to good wholesome foods and you will begin to feel better. You will be able to taste the difference between processed and whole foods. You will have more energy, walk easier, and just feel better. These are things I noticed in me and my patients whose diets I modified. Your body wants these foods, but society has just made it easier and more convenient to buy the other. I challenge you to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. Your body will thank you. If you have any doubt whether something you are buying or eating is a whole food or has been made by whole food products please contact me at Armandgagliardi@gmail.com.
I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday. And for the love of food, please eat what you want… that is what holidays and vacations are for!!