Bring Mother Nature into your kitchen

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Eat foods that are closest to their natural state: fresh vegetables — raw or briefly cooked — instead of produce in cans or precooked frozen dinners.

By Judy E. Buss

Mission Nutrition

Would anybody consider irrigating a plant with anything but water and expect it to live? Would anyone pour a liquid other than gasoline into the gas tank of their car and expect it to run? The answer is obvious. We care for our plants and vehicles by “feeding” them with what supports their health and performance. Yet unfortunately, too many of us think nothing of putting into our bodies foods and beverages that do not belong there and are detrimental to our health and pocketbooks.

Our lifestyle choices, especially what and how much we eat, determines, in great part, our quality of life.

Highly processed foods, far removed from their natural state, are dense with numerous manufactured substances and additives: artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, preservatives, thickeners, MSG, gum, corn syrup, sugar, unhealthy fats and more. Processed foods and beverages provide only a fraction, if any, of the nutrients present in the original natural products. Such food wannabes inflict a double whammy on our health: First, they load us with unnatural, and in many cases, foreign substances that our bodies don’t recognize and are frequently unable to use or detoxify. Consequently, unhealthy chemicals accumulate in our cells and organs and overtime contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Second, intensive processing of these foods greatly diminishes, or completely depletes them of their natural nutrients vital to the function of the body’s trillions of cells and their ability to maintain good health and fight disease.

The solution is simple: Eat foods that are closest to their natural state: fresh vegetables — raw or briefly cooked — instead of produce in cans or precooked frozen dinners. One look at a commercial salad dressing ingredients list should scare you into to making your own wholesome dressing in one minute right in the salad bowl before adding the veggies. (A basic dressing can include: wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper). Substitute nutritious whole grain products, such as brown rice, pasta, bread, pita, oats, barley and corn tortillas, for ones made of processed and nutritionally depleted grains. Cook super nutritious dried beans in larger batches to last for two to three meals, instead of using canned ones. Even generic salt is intensively processed. Instead, use pure (naturally colored) pink Himalayan salt, available in health food stores and many supermarkets.

Drink mainly plain (filtered) water instead of chemically-dense sodas, commercial sweetened beverages and energy drinks. Squeezing a little fresh fruit juice into your water can lend some variety. Hot or cold additive-free home-prepared herbal teas are another good option. Consuming a glass of pure juice is harmful to your health because of the high concentration of fructose (fruit sugar) in the absence of the fruit’s fiber — that slows down absorption — which was removed during juicing. Eating fruit whole is a better choice.

Pastries and frozen desserts are loaded with sugar, artificial food colors and flavors, unhealthy fats, white flour and other health saboteurs. Good fats, consumed in moderation: extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, fish and lean meat for example, help support a healthy you.

Foods in their natural state provide nutrients in the right. Take charge of your health. Empower yourself to exercise your right to choose health over disease. It’s never too late to start.

Judy E. Buss is a syndicated food/health columnist, blogger for the American Holistic Health Association, nutritional cooking instructor and speaker.

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