by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB
“I really regret eating healthy today.” (said or thought by no one ever!)
“EATING CLEAN” is a popular term to describe a health-promoting way of eating. It embraces a philosophy re: food choices–and how to take better care of our bodies, and our lives in general.
MOTIVATIONS to “eat clean” range from: “I feel like crap (FLC syndrome!!), “tight jeans”, “food cravings out of control”, “I want to run a 5 K”, and “I am concerned about my long-term health.”
In Part 1 of EATING CLEAN, we explore the philosophy and possible benefits of “Eating Clean”. In Part 2, we offer practical TIPS for Eating Clean. Part 3 provides Meal and Snack Ideas, Food Shopping Guidelines, and an extensive reference list (books, websites).
There are many “eating clean” programs–which mean different things to different people. For some folks, it may simply be a 7-21 Day CLEAN Challenge. Ideally, 21 days is just the beginning of long-term nutritional changes and improvements.
***Eating Clean is not just a diet; it is a way of eating that takes time and practice to create and sustain.***
HOW IMPORTANT is it to ‘eat clean’? We will review how, and why, it can benefit us.
OVERVIEW of EATING CLEAN:
• Eating MORE WHOLE FOODS like vegetables, fruits, some whole grains, plus choosing healthy proteins and healthy fats.
• Choosing more organic and locally grown seasonal crops
• Limiting intake of GMO (genetically modified organisms) and GE (genetically engineered) foods
• Avoiding/limiting HIGHLY PROCESSED packaged foods laden with refined grains, sugars, salt, unhealthy fats, chemicals, dyes, artificial sweeteners, toxins, and preservatives. For some folks, it includes avoiding foods that may trigger food intolerance reactions.
***ORGANIC: When whole foods are certified USDA Organic, they are grown under strict regulations and contain fewer toxins, chemicals and pesticides.
USDA organic: 95% free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, dyes– and NOT processed using industrial solvents, irradiation or genetic engineering. The remaining 5% of ingredients must be items on an approved list.
Many foods claim to be organic, or contain some organic ingredients, but do not have the USDA seal. Some foods ARE highly organic but did not go through the USDA regulation process; therefore, cannot use the official seal.
***GMO (genetically modified organisms) refers to organisms and genetics from other species being introduced into food crops, particular large farm crops, like soy, without the public being notified.
GE (genetic engineering) is a broader term meaning that the original genetic template of a food has been altered in some way.
WHY and How Eating Clean has Health Benefits
1. When we eat large amounts of processed foods: we consume excess chemicals, preservatives, toxins, and additives. Our bodies are challenged to nourish us, as well as keep up with detoxification.
This creates a heavy work load. The body cannot keep up with resulting INFLAMMATORY processes. The stage is set for INFLAMMATION.
What is Inflammation? Inflammation occurs when the body rallies to defend itself against invading germs, or to heal damaged tissue.
Inflammation, in acute situations, saves our lives by helping us fend off disease-causing bacteria, viruses and pathogens. Once the job is done, inflammation should subside.
Inflammation is only a problem when it becomes a CHRONIC state. Scientists are discovering a link between heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric illness and chronic low level inflammation.
Factors promoting chronic inflammation include: genetic predisposition, smoking, hypertension, stress, and poor diet.
RESULT: AGING and DISEASE PROCESSES are ACCELERATED.
http://www.inflammationresearchfoundation.org/inflammation-science/inflammation-details/time-cellular-inflammation-article (“Health: The Fires Within”) http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/30/inflamed (“Inflamed”)
2. When we “eat clean” and less processed— we consume fewer chemicals, preservatives, dyes, toxins, and additives. The body is better able to keep up with nutrient assimilation and detoxification. There is a lower work demand.
3. When we eat more WHOLE FOODS— we consume more natural fiber and varied nutrients, as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals—which help fight INFLAMMATION. We are better able to nourish our cells. We SLOW DOWN aging and disease processes.
4. “Eating Clean” diets tend to create a better acid-alkaline balance, and a healthier blood and body pH—which promotes health. (The “modern diet” tends to be too acid-producing. Clean diets include more alkaline foods (like green veggies), and fewer acid-producing sugars—thus bringing the pH into better balance.
A less proven scientific view:
Eating Clean is more in alignment with Nature, our DNA, genetics, and life force. To the vegan and vegetarian way of thinking: plant-based diets (particularly organic and locally grown foods) offer a more refined and energized life force, with fewer dense materials and toxins to digest, assimilate, and detoxify. Many vegans and vegetarians hold the belief that plant-based diets also better serve planetary ecological systems.
MORE ASPECTS of EATING CLEAN:
• EATING CLEAN may include an initial CLEANSING DIET phase, (7-21 days duration.) A CLEANSING DIET may also be referred to as a DETOX or ELIMINATION Diet. There are MANY 21 day challenge and cleansing programs. Below is an excellent SAMPLE example: See chart from http://www.madisonbootcamps.com (programs for young moms and women 50+)
• Cleansing Diet phases and Challenges vary in strictness.
–Some programs recommend limitation/avoidance of dairy products, or choosing only small amounts of organic dairy. “Eating Dairy” is an individual matter with controversial pros/cons. Dairy is often considered pro-inflammatory and ‘mucus-producing’. Some folks are actually allergic to dairy protein (casein) and/or are lactose-intolerant. Lactose is milk sugar.
–Some allow coffee (organic), some don’t.
–It may be recommended to omit any of the following, short-term: all alcohol, citrus, corn, dairy products, eggs, eggplant, gluten, peanuts, peppers (sweet bell-orange, green, yellow, red), Jalapeno and chili peppers, potatoes, soy, and all sugar (from all sources), tomatoes, tree nuts, wheat.
***Individual food sensitivities should always be addressed. For those with celiac disease—gluten and wheat should be avoided 100%. ***
• Eating Clean ALWAYS involves drinking adequate amounts of water and healthy fluids. We need fluids to stay hydrated for normal body processes and to flush our systems from toxins.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS of EATING CLEAN:
1. WEIGHT NORMALIZATION
2. WEIGHT LOSS
3. Diabetes Prevention and MANAGEMENT
4. NATURAL “DETOX” DIET
5. Healthier gastrointestinal tract and function, due to including adequate fluids, foods that nourish the gut, and fewer foods (less sugar) that promote bacterial imbalance and overgrowth
6. Increased immune function: easier to fight viruses, “bugs’, and harmful bacteria
7. Normalization of hormonal Imbalances
8. INCREASED, MORE EVEN ENERGY, less fatigue.
9. Increased STAMINA for EXERCISE, SPORTS, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
10. Better joint function; less painful joints. (due to both weight loss and anti-inflammatory dietary components).
11. CLEARER THINKING and calmer MENTAL STATES
12. CALMER EMOTIONAL STATES and WELL-BEING
13. In feeling clearer: more in touch with SOUL and INTUITION.
14. For some: IMPROVED SLEEP
15. BETTER DENTAL HEALTH from eating more vegetables and eating less sugar.
16. Looking and feeling healthier, skin has a better GLOW.
17. Possible improvement in auto-immune conditions aggravated by poor diet (e.g. osteo-arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and neurological conditions)
18. LONG-TERM HEALTH BENEFITS and Longevity –due to diet high in anti-oxidants and phytochemicals (natural in foods), consuming fewer chemicals, preservatives, and SUGAR; and drinking adequate fluids to flush out toxins.
We will continue with TIPs, Food Shopping Guidelines, Meals and Snack Ideas, and Clean Water Tips and Recipes in Parts 2 and Part 3 of Eating Clean.
Part 2 coming in 2 weeks!!!!
Until then, clean out your cupboards and fridge if need be, and start stocking up on healthier food choices!
Best Health to you! Deb and Wendy