Updated: Jan 28
What is one of the best things we can do for our health? Simple, eat food. “Well, yeah, obviously. Thanks for the advice, genius.” You’re welcome! Look deeper into what my answer really means. Eat food. Well we all know how to eat, chew, chew, chew some more and swallow. That is obvious, we learn that in the first few years of our lives. Then what about food? What is food? “Food is something which you can eat”. You can eat 4 week old leftover clams, you wouldn’t though, would you? What should our definition of food be? Real food must fit a criteria:
1. Provide Nutritional Benefits
Real food should contain vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, healthy fats or protein, antioxidants, fibre or probiotic cultures. Not all at once, obviously.
2. Suit Your Individual Dietary Requirements
A tricky subject as not all negative effects of certain foods are obvious, however, there are some ingredients and food items which everyone should avoid such as trans fats, sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods. In our opinion, we should also avoid gluten, inorganic varieties of certain vegetables and intensely farmed meats and fish.
3. Be Palatable
Let’s face it, food should taste good. As healthy as a few sprigs of raw asparagus, downed with a shot of spirulina are, they don’t taste very nice. There are ways to enjoy the nutritious benefits of food whilst enjoying delicious flavours.
What Do I Have To Do?
Be more conscious of what you put into your body. We live in a world where most food manufacturers do not care about the quality of the food they produce. It is all about profit. This means that corners are cut and cheap, unhealthy ingredients are used. High fructose corn syrup, vegetable oils, carcinogenic additives and trans-fats are added to our “food” so it lasts longer, tastes better (debatable) and costs less to produce. This all equals profit for large food companies at the expense of human health. (1)(2)(3) I don’t know about you, but this is a depressing insight into the way the world works today. Not to mention the fact that almost all modern ailments have been linked to poor dietary habits (feel free to Google this, please).
It’s not all doom and gloom. We can retake control of our eating. It’s actually quite easy. Get back in the kitchen, be conscious when choosing ingredients and be more knowledgeable about what you are eating. There is a wealth of information available nowadays on the topic of healthy eating and a change is occurring thanks to the work of Mark Sisson, Dave Asprey, Luis Villasenor, and Dr. Axe, to name a few. Hopefully, this will lead to a revolution in our eating habits where we go back to eating how we should do!
How Should We Eat?
I like to think of it this way: if the food has been processed in a factory, you probably shouldn’t be eating it; if a farmer has sprayed it, injected it or caged it, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it; if its expiry date is a year from now (excluding nuts and water) then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
There are, of course, exceptions to these rules. EVERY plant, organic or not, can be sprayed with some sort of pesticide. In the EU there are 35 allowed “active substances” which may be used in organic farming; in America, that number is around 25. (4) Selecting organic food does not eliminate pesticides from your diet, it merely reduces the amount of exposure you experience. Still, when considering that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals sprayed onto crops in conventional farming, it is still worth selecting organic food where possible. (5)
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The quality of our protein sources should also be rigorously considered. Grass-fed, organic beef and lamb, pastured chicken, eggs and pork and wild-caught fish should always be selected over cheaper options. Again, there are exceptions. Pastured chickens and eggs are extremely difficult to find - chickens are unable to roam freely outdoors 24/7 (it turns out foxes think they taste good too) so organic, free-range chicken is a good compromise. Icelandic and New Zealand lambs are almost all grass-fed so keep an eye out for them.
Organic fish is an interesting concept. How can anyone be sure of a fishes diet if they are caught in the wild? (6) Opt for wild-caught fish. Organic fish means they have been farmed, but fed an organic diet.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Fat
Fat is vital to human life. We need to eat a diet high in good quality fats for optimal health. A low fat diet is not synonymous with good health. (7) Sure, you will lose weight with it, but there are healthier, more sustainable ways to lose FAT. If you want to be an efficient, fat-burning machine then you need to make yourself efficient at burning fat. If you want to be an efficient sugar-burning machine, then a low fat diet is the way for you. I would rather burn body fat for fuel than dietary carbohydrates. Keep your carbs to a minimum and get a good helping of healthy fats from a variety of sources every day to teach your body to use fat for fuel.
Colour Is The Spice Of Variety
Did I get that right? I was never any good with idioms. What I am trying to say is that a variety of colourful veggies, herbs and spices can have a massive impact on your health. (8) The more colourful the plant, the deeper the colour, the bigger the hit of healthy antioxidants. Antioxidants play a vital role in human health and can help to prevent degenerative diseases such as dementia, reduce the risk of certain cancers and even the signs of ageing. (9) Aim to eat foods from every colour of the rainbow.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John Maitland is the co-founder of 'The Evolved Way.’ A personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience, he has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.
Co-founder of 'The Evolved Way', and personal trainer, Samson practices what he preaches. Daily progress motivates him although he is very passionate about the long-term results of his actions. Four things he cannot live without are food, music, sport and sleep.