There is no argument against this next statement I am about to make. Eating whole foods is the best foundation for healthy nutrition. It is the most crucial, easy, and effective way to begin feeding your body and mind appropriately.
Before I dive deep into this discussion, I believe it is necessary to preface with what it is we are trying to accomplish by looking at our nutrition. What we are trying to accomplish is feeling our best every day. In this case, we need to ask ourselves, “what makes us feel our best?”
Like my bolded statement above says, whole foods make our bodies feel their best. This has so many reasons behind it, but I’ll tackle the biggest ones in this article.
Whole foods are the most nutritious, meaning that they have the most nutrients in them. Nutrients have two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that give us energy. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that enable the body to produce things such as hormones, enzymes, and other necessary substances for growth and development of our bodies.
Well, if we want to grow and develop ourselves, it makes sense that we want as many nutrients as is necessary, right? This doesn’t mean go and take as many gummy multi-vitamins as you can get your hands on. Studies show that multi-vitamin supplements aren’t always in bio-available forms. This means that just because you are taking a vitamin supplement, your body may not absorb it. If your body doesn’t absorb the vitamins and/or minerals they can’t be beneficially utilized.
In that regard, we must focus on eating the right amount of nutrients in their most bio-available forms. How do we do that? You guessed it: whole foods. Vitamins and minerals are most easily absorbed into the body through whole food sources. So, if you want to make your body feel its best, eat whole foods that are filled with the necessary nutrients you need. This will fuel your body with the proper energy and compounds needed to grow and develop yourself in order to feel your best.
At this point, we should also define what a “whole food” is. I’m sure there are numerous definitions of this, but I’ll try to simplify it according to the philosophy that will help us feel our best. A “whole food” can be defined as a nutritious food that naturally occurs in nature that can be eaten either raw or with little preparation necessary.
This means two things:
1. processed foods (such as chips, pasta, bread, ice cream, candy, etc.) are not whole foods as they have gone through numerous steps to become edible
2. whole foods are food items that typically spoil (fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, etc.) because they have not been processed in such a way that allows them a long shelf life
A quick note to be made is that “processed foods” have not been in existence for long. Even agriculture is somewhat of a new phenomenon. I mention this because our bodies, our minds, our organs, all of us have evolved to run off of certain fuel sources. Those fuel sources, unfortunately, aren’t Twinkies and Doritos. The optimal fuel sources that will provide the nutrients necessary for us to feel our best are whole foods.
As you can imagine, foods such as Doritos are processed through a multitude of steps. Let’s just go through the life cycle of how a Dorito is likely made. Think about it, you start with wheat that is overproduced and likely genetically modified to ensure it survives and grows to produce the highest yield. Harvest comes around and a farmer rips it out of the ground with dirt and pesticides still on it, grinds it, and throws it into a big metal container. From here, it is transferred to some cleaning facility where it undergoes some type of treatment to ensure it is clean enough to be ingested. Then, it moves onto a facility that crushes and grinds it into a minuscule dust known as flour. Next, it travels to a food processing plant where it is dumped into massive vats to be mixed together with other industrialized ingredients to form a tortilla paste. It is then pressed, cut, and dropped into industrialized vegetable oils that are unhealthy to begin with (I’ll cover this topic another time) to be fried. Finally, it is dusted with seasonings and placed into a bag to sit on a shelf for months.
That wheat, which is already bad for our gut health, is put through so many steps that there is a minute amount of nutrient left in it besides calories. Do you think that our bodies have evolved to properly function off of such a fuel source? Our bodies have slowly evolved over millennia. We are not adapted to operate from highly processed, industrialized foods that have only come around in the past few decades. What our bodies need is what we have been eating and fueling ourselves with from the start: naturally occurring whole foods.
Remember, we are trying to feed ourselves with nutritious foods that make us feel our best. So, we need to eat what also helps us feel energized and produce the hormones that make us feel good too. Our hormones are produced when we have the right nutrients in our bodies. The big ones I focus on are: testosterone, dopamine, serotonin, leptin, and melatonin. If we can produce these in the right amount, naturally without supplementation, they will literally make us feel our best. The most effective way to do this is through proper nutrition and diet.
Another point to be made is that natural foods reduce inflammation. Processed foods, on the other hand, cause inflammation. Inflammation is basically our body fighting enzymes or compounds that we are not built to handle. This causes bloating, swelling, nausea, and other negative symptoms. I’ll repeat that: negative symptoms. If we want to feel our best, shouldn’t we eat foods that not only produce positives but reduce negatives? Well, whole foods are the best solution to naturally fight inflammation. Yet another reason that whole foods are the best foundation to healthy nutrition.
Simplicity is beauty. Simplicity is elegant. Often times, the best solutions are the simplest ones. Bear that in mind when evaluating your nutrition because eating whole foods is the simplest approach to help us achieve our goal in feeling our best. If you, like me, build a foundation of whole foods into your diet to help you become a healthy individual who feels their best, you will make substantial progress immediately. This one change, eating more whole foods, will positively benefit your body, mind, and pursuit of wellbeing more than anything else. It truly is the Archimedes’ lever to optimal wellbeing.