Ever considered eating a whole foods diet as part of a healthy lifestyle?
Doing so may have some health benefits that not only include lowering your risk of developing certain diseases, but also may help you to live longer too.
However, is eating a whole foods diet better for you and is it necessary?
Eating a whole foods diet may lower your risk of developing certain diseases like heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes according to several studies on eating a plant-based diet. As is, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention names heart disease or cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the United States.
While there are many different types of heart problems associated with cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the blood vessels due to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, is the most common form.
Atherosclerosis is mainly due to an unhealthy diet, being overweight or obese, lack of exercise, and smoking. As a result, according to the Journal of the American Medical, two-thirds of Americans in the United States are overweight or obese.
Consequently, if you want to maintain a healthy heart and weight, your main goal should be to learn how to eat healthier since the traditional western diet, which consists of food that is overly processed; contains additives and preservatives; and is high in sugar, calories, and fat; is linked to higher incidences of sickness and disease.
Likewise, if you want to lower your risk of developing a terminal disease, adopting a whole foods diet may be the key to living a healthier and longer life as advocated by many plant-based food enthusiasts.
I remember once hearing that to eat healthier, one should shop in the outer perimeters of the grocery store where you usually find the produce, meats, and dairy. However, based on a whole foods diet, your grocery shopping should only be done in the produce section where you eliminate foods that have been altered and/or contain animal products (the main emphasis is to eliminate all foods from animals).
If you ever seen the popular documentaries Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a diet rich in animal products, including seafood and diary, is what makes people in western society sick and diseased.
Therefore, if you plan to adopt a whole foods diet, the types of food you mainly should be eating are rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts. Basically, foods that come straight from nature.
That means no beef, pork, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, butter, cream, and of course any food that has been processed or altered.
Can you do that?
I will admit, a whole foods diet sounds very convincing, but I am not totally convinced that a whole foods diet is completely necessary.
For one, the importance of exercise as part of an overall healthy lifestyle never seems to be adequately addressed when you research information about eating a whole foods diet. Yes, being healthy is about eating healthier foods, but being healthy is also about being more physically active too.
Secondly, many advocates of a whole foods diet fail to point out that one reason why so many people are overweight is because they fail to portion control their meals. To maintain a healthy weight and size, people have to learn how to eat certain foods in moderation if they want to avoid gaining unwanted weight (whole foods are excluded because they are lower in calories and therefore, you can eat more of it).
In general, Americans eat way too much food that over exceeds the recommended daily calories. However, do dieters have to necessarily count calories in order to lose weight?
Nevertheless, eating less results in consuming fewer calories and thus, weight loss can be achieved rather simply. That’s why reading the nutrition label on the back of all foods is important (and a useful tool to losing weight) so dieters can understand exactly what they are putting into their mouths.
Although there is nothing wrong with completely adopting a whole foods diet free of processed, refined, and animal products, I do think it’s more imperative that dieters make an effort to be more physically active, learn how to portion control their meals, and learn how to eat certain foods in moderation (i.e. eat less animal-based foods).
That said, if you are interested in adopting a whole foods diet as part of a healthy lifestyle, but feel you won’t be able to give up some foods that contain animal products, consider eating organic meats and poultry, wild caught fish, organic dairy products, or at the very least, limit your intake of animal-based foods to only 2-3 per week.
*Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net