When I started this post it began to grow arms and legs. There is just so much to say about the benefits of eating real food. But I decided that instead of making this post ridiculously long, this would be a little intro, a quick list of 10 reasons to stop eating processed foods and start eating real foods. In further posts, I’d like to explore each of these topics a bit further. If you want to read a bit more about what IS real food and what ISN’T check out my post here.
So here are my top 10 reasons (aside from weight loss which is a pretty obvious benefit) why you should make the switch from processed foods to eating real foods:
A Stronger Immune System
Not getting ill as often is so important, especially at this time of year. Ever feel like you or your kids seem to catch every bug that goes around? Do you feel like someone is always ill in your family? While there are many factors that contribute to a strong immune system, diet plays a HUGE role. A diet rich in a variety of real whole foods provide the body with all of the essential nutrients that the body needs to maintain a strong immune system.
Having a strong immune system means that you won’t feel the effects of all the bugs that are being passed around. While you may still catch it, you may never know because your body was strong enough to fight it off or you may just get a few sniffles rather than a full-blown cold that knocks you out completely.
Sugar and other additives that are put in processed foods weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to all the illnesses that surround us.
Energy is such an important thing to me and I imagine it is for most moms (especially those who have little ones). We need as much energy as possible to keep up with our kids and accomplish all of the task in our busy lives.
Nutrient deficiencies are some of the biggest and most common causes of fatigue and exhaustion. A diet heavy in processed foods lacks most of the essential nutrients we need to keep our body functioning properly. A diet rich in a variety of whole vegetables of all types and colours (leafy greens, cruciferous, squash, etc), fruits, good quality animal products, nuts and seeds will provide the essential nutrients that our bodies need to maintain energy all day long.
Sugar, trans fat and other additives to processed foods can hinder our bodies ability to absorb nutrients even if we are eating the good real food as well. These chemicals deplete our energy stores, spike our blood sugar and leave us more exhausted.
Decreased Sugar Cravings
Real foods are naturally lower in sugar than processed foods. 74% of packaged foods have sugar added to them by the manufacturer. As we replace processed foods with real foods the amount of sugar we eat will drop significantly. The less sugar we eat, the less cravings for sugar we will have and the more stable our blood sugar levels will be.
Anytime sugar enters our body, whether through sugar itself or when a carbohydrate (bread, pasta, grain, etc) converts to sugar during digestion, it spikes the blood sugar and gives us a short burst of energy. That is over quickly and when it is it leaves out body tired and weak searching for another quick hit of sugar to spike the energy again. We get into a cycle of high and lows that leave us tired and constantly craving sugar.
Eating real food low in sugar helps our body maintain a stable blood sugar level which eliminates cravings and increased energy.
A Healthy Heart
Heart disease is an epidemic in our day, one in four of all deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease. High triglyceride levels and inflammation within the body are known drivers of heart disease. Processed foods contain trans fats, processed carbs and sugars that cause inflammation and raises the triglyceride levels within our body. By removing these foods from your diet, you are taking a huge step towards a healthier heart.
Real foods are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that help protect our heart from these risks. Healthy fats found in fatty fish, nuts, avocados, olives and whole milk dairy fight inflammation in the body and can significantly lower the levels of triglycerides. By replacing the foods that damage your heart with foods that protect your heart, you are significantly decreasing your risk for heart disease.
Better Mental Health
While diet is not the sole contributor to mental health diseases, it does play a big role. There are many studies that have found nutrition can either make one’s depression worse or help one heal from a bad bout of depression depending on the kind of diet they are on. Nutrients are essential for the proper function of our brains and healthy fats are some of the most important foods to promote good mental health and cognition.
High sugar intake has been linked with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Scientists also attribute unstable blood sugar levels with a higher chance of developing mood disorders. Not only can eating the wrong foods increase your chance of mental illness, but sugar can impair your cognitive abilities like learning and memory.
Better Dental Health
Healthy teeth are just another benefit of a real food lifestyle. Not only do the added nutrients found in real food strengthen the enamel and overall tooth health, but a diet low in sugars and refined carbohydrates protects against tooth decay, cavities and plaque build up. Sugar and carbohydrates provide food for these bacteria to feed on and gain strength as well as break down tooth enamel at the same time.
Better Skin, Hair and Nails
Unhealthy skin, hair and nails can be a clear sign that your internal health is not good. Instead of trying to fix this by slathering on more products and chemicals, look at your diet.
Too much sugar or artificial sugar substitutes accelerates ageing and contributes to dry skin, acne, brittle hair, and wrinkles just to name a few.
A diet rich in nutrients like beta carotene, visions A, E and B, and Omega 3 fatty acids can boost our skin, nails and hair health. This can help decrease the effects of aging o n these parts of our body. Crazy as it may seem a diet rich in Vitamin A is known for increasing your skins ability to tolerate sun exposure.
Better for the Environment
If we can promote the development of sustainable systems to grow and produce real foods by increasing our demand for them and decreasing the demand for processed foods, we can decrease waste and reduce the energy needs placed on our planet.
Producing processed food takes a big toll of the environment, creating many toxic greenhouse gases and increased usage of fossil fuels to run the factories and machinery necessary to produce these foods. Also, think of all the waste that is produced from the packaging of these kinds of food. Let’s think about the toll these kinds of foods are placing on our environment.
A Good Example for Your Kids
Kids learn more from watching what their parents do rather than listening to what their parents say. If you value eating real food, your children will too. It might not happen right away if your children are older and have gotten used to processed foods, but it does come with time.
Children today need a diet of real while foods rich in the nutrients necessary to facilitate their growing bodies. They are so susceptible to the ill effects of processed foods as their bodies are developing and growing at such a fast rate. The younger you start them on eating real food and avoiding processed food, the better off they will be. Don’t put it off!
It Just Tastes Better
The longer you have been eating real food the more you will notice if you are eating processed foods. Because our family eats a diet rich in real whole foods, when we are given processed foods we can tell straight away. They just don’t have much flavour to them and all taste very much the same. Real food tastes amazing! Don’t be fooled by the substitute or edible ‘non food’ as it’s often called. Experiment with new foods and you will be surprised by how delicious and full of many different flavours they can be.
These are just a few of the many reasons to wean yourself off processed foods and begin to really enjoy real food. If you want quick tips on how to get started, check out my post 5 Simple Habits for a Healthier Lifestyle.
Or, if you want some one on one coaching in person or virtually, I’ve still got a few spaces left on my super low introductory rate. Get in while it lasts! Check out details here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.