Wholesome wholefoods and why they’re good for you

by Dean Stacey, Natural Health Adviser, BCmpMed

Hungry for something better?
I’m often asked what the best and healthiest diet is – paleo, raw, vegan, blood type, low-carb, ketogenic – and the list goes on. The truth is there is no ‘best’ diet for us all. While one person may thrive on a particular diet, another may not. So it’s important to find what works for you. However, there is a common thread that runs across all ‘healthy’ diets – the celebration of wholefoods.

What are wholefoods?
Put simply, wholefoods:

  • are real, natural foods;
  • have been minimally processed, are unrefined and as close to their natural state as possible;
  • include fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs and unprocessed meats;
  • are ideally locally-sourced and grown naturally.

 

Why do we need wholefoods?
Contrary to processed foods, wholefoods provide the essential nutrients our bodies require. Whilst processed foods can deplete nutrient levels; eating a balanced diet, rich in wholefoods, helps to ensure that we are giving our bodies the essential nutrients we need to function. Wholefoods are also rich in antioxidants – chemicals that help protect against oxidation in the body, a process that causes cell and tissue damage.

Health benefits
Following a wholefood diet based on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, left as close to their natural state as possible, is believed to have numerous health benefits. That’s because eating wholefoods is the best way for the body to absorb essential nutrients. They also:

  • Have a higher nutritional content – they are richer in vitamins, minerals, good fats and antioxidants compared to processed foods;
  • Are a rich source of essential fibre which helps prevents constipation and is thought to help prevent diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease;
  • Contain less sugar, salt and fat than processed foods; 
  • Are generally free of preservatives, added flavours and colours;
  • Help promote and maintain a healthy weight compared to a diet high in processed foods; and 
  • Contain a rich variety of the micronutrients your body needs rather than just a single nutrient.

 

Top tips for shifting to a wholefood diet
Transitioning to a predominantly wholefoods diet can take time, but it is not hard. Always read the food label and check that the ingredients are natural.

  • Include five or more servings of fruit and vegetables plus nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals, beans, fish and lean meats in your diet every day;
  • Opt for brown rice over white rice; 
  • Choose whole fruits and vegetables – e.g. have a baked potato instead of frozen chips or a whole fresh pear instead of canned fruit;
  • Eat raw nuts rather than a nut bar;
  • Opt for lean steak and chicken fillets over processed patties, sausages etc; and 
  • Choose plain milk instead of pre-packaged flavoured milk; and
  • Make your own – simple salad dressings (with raw apple cider vinegar and organic olive oil), muesli (with oats, nuts, seeds and dried organic fruit) and curry pastes (from scratch using fragrant organic spices).

It’s worth the effort – you’ll be looking and feeling better with more wholesomeness in your life!