Kris Gethin is a nutrition consultant, trainer, founder of the app HealthKik (healthkik.com)
Lately terms such as “healthy” and “clean” are used by people, including myself, to describe the quality of food. The question a lot of people have is what quantifies the “healthiness” of a food? It is fair to say there is a great deal of ambiguity surrounding this topic, so this article should help give you a complete understanding on this matter so you know what’s going into your body.
Forget about macros and calories for a moment, the micronutrition of any food really sets it apart from others. Specifically, we are interested in the vitamin, mineral, trace element and digestive enzyme content. The human body needs food, which is abundant in micronutrition to sustain optimal health, complete internal biological processes, immune function, and digestion. Deficiencies in any of these things can potentially undermine your health radically.
Even when the macro breakdown of two foodstuffs is the same, the overall nutrition can be very different. Two whole organic eggs contain 10g of fat, about the same found in some candy bars. Guess which is more nutritious for you and better in terms of inflammation? You don’t need me to tell you, the answer is obvious.
Never before have so many additives such as monosodium glutamate, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colorings such as Yellow 5 and Red 40 been present in the food people consume. My recommendation is to avoid processed foods which contain things like this (there are many more examples), to keep things “clean.”
Although more data is needed, there are strong indications these additives are harmful to the body. Associated risks which have been which have linked to their consumption are insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Invest the time to select foods which are exactly as nature intended them to be – free of any synthetic additions.
The processing involved in bringing any food to your plate is relevant because it can expose it to harmful chemicals. The example I always use is raw carrot – if you eat a raw carrot with the skin on which is not organic it will probably cause you to have gastric discomfort. If you eat an organic raw carrot, it probably won’t. This is because of the pesticides used – now compound this impact across an entire diet for years and imagine the difference it makes!
This example is particularly important because it still refers to “natural” foods which have been processed incorrectly, usually to accelerate the growth phase for commercial gain. Wherever possible, buy organic food, or from local farms where the food has been produced without the use of these chemicals. Many people don’t consider how the food they are eating has been treated before it reaches them, yet it can have massive consequences.
Referring specifically to your health and wellbeing, I want to raise the point of monitoring your body’s response to food intake. For example, oatmeal is a perfectly natural ingredient which is also abundant in a wide array of healthy nutrients, but many people find it causes their gut to combust. If a food does this to you then it isn’t healthy for >you, which is what ultimately matters. When you continue to consume food that doesn’t agree with your body, it causes systemic inflammation to occur which over time impacts health.
The easy solution to avoiding troublesome foods is to keep a food diary, logging everything you eat along with any adverse symptoms. Note how your gut felt, if you were tired or experienced anything else untoward. By having this diary to refer back to within seven days you will quickly notice the foods which need to be removed. It is a very simple ‘self-diagnosis’ strategy which I get my online clients to use. Of course, the ultimate solution is to have a comprehensive allergy test done on the gut if your budget allows.
Take Home Message
Natural, organic food from the earth without the interference of man is usually the best answer. When giving a broad answer to an intricate question there are anomalies, but sticking to natural food which has not been messed with is usually the best policy.