Clean eating can be a great way to improve your health in many ways. It helps strengthen your immune system, reduces your risk of heart disease, improves your brain function, and regulates your blood sugar. It also provides you with plenty of fiber, healthy fats and lean proteins, which are essential for a healthy diet. Clean eating is a relatively easy process but requires some commitment. If you follow a few simple rules, you’ll see great results in no time.
Processed foods are everywhere. They are in the grocery store, they are in convenience stores, and even restaurants. It seems like these foods are unavoidable. But what exactly is processed food? And why should you avoid them? Let’s discuss just how to do that along with the benefits of clean eating.
What is clean eating?
The term “clean eating” is relatively new, but the concept is simple: eating whole, unprocessed foods that are free of artificial preservatives and additives. It also means avoiding genetically-modified foods and ones that have been sprayed with harmful chemicals along with reducing the number of refined sugars and unhealthy fats in your diet. Instead, you should be opting for fresh fruits, vegetables, and organic, cage-free, and grass-fed protein sources.
What are the risks of clean eating?
As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” So, it stands to reason that eating healthy foods leads to a healthier body, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In recent years, the rise of clean eating has led to a trend of avoiding all processed foods, even if they are safe to consume. Keep in mind, foods that are not eaten in their natural forms such as frozen fruit or canned beans are still considered processed.
At Scratch Market, we believe clean eating should focus on avoiding ultra-processed foods such as fast food and sugary drinks. Having too many dietary restrictions can cause malnutrition; a lack of nutrients in one’s diet that can lead to various harmful effects. Caloric restriction is also likely, leading to anemia and muscle waste while even depression may arise. And let’s not get started on the effects that being super obsessed with healthy eating does to our relationships and mental stability.
The Benefits of Clean Eating Outweigh the Risks
With that said, the benefits of clean eating definitely outweigh the risks. You can have your cake and eat it too, if you do things right! In the words of Dani Spies (our favorite clean eater), clean eating is “Eating real whole, unprocessed foods as close to their natural state as possible, most of the time.” The keyword is “most of the time”. Which she says is technically 51%. Clean eating shouldn’t be a diet that you quit once you lose weight. It is a permanent change to your lifestyle that should be done in baby steps and small changes in order to succeed. So what are the benefits of clean eating? Let’s check them out.
1. May Improve Immune System
Eating more whole foods and avoiding processed foods is a great way to improve your immune system. When you eat cleaner, not only will your body be better equipped to fight off infections but also the quality of life for yourself and those around can rise.
A person’s immune system is incredibly important- it helps protect against disease by identifying threats before they become harmful or toxic substances that could do damage internally over time. So eating nutrient-dense foods helps provide necessary nutrients needed which help build up a healthy natural defense system. a.k.a. Immunity!
2. May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Research has shown that eating a clean diet can lower the risk of heart disease which lowers the risk of having a heart attack. Clean foods contain less sugar and saturated fat than boxed processed foods so it can help lower bad cholesterol (HDL) and increase good cholesterol (LDL). Choosing lean meats and eating fish regularly can help reduce your risk even further but don’t be scared of those saturated fats! Grass-fed meats and full-fat dairy are highly nutritious and can be enjoyed on a healthy diet in moderation. Saturated fats you should stay away from are those found in fast foods and fried foods. Source.
You should eat at least five to ten servings of fruit and vegetables a day. These foods are protective against CVD, reducing your risk by up to 24 percent. One serving of fruit or vegetable is a quarter cup of chopped or raw fruit, half a cup of cooked vegetables, or a cup of salad greens. While most Americans don’t meet the recommended daily intake, eating five to 10 servings a day is a good start to a healthy heart.
Eating a balanced diet low in sodium is also a great way to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. High sodium diets can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart failure and stroke. Excessive amounts of sodium are found in processed meats, fried foods, and potato chips. It’s also important to note that 70% of the salt Americans consume come from processed foods and restaurants so don’t be nervous to use that salt shaker in your clean eating, home cooking routine.
3. May Improve Brain Function
Eating clean and healthy foods can improve your brain health. There are many superfoods available in the market that are great for brain health, but it’s also important to keep in mind that your dietary pattern plays the biggest role. For example, if you eat a lot of junk food you may be depriving your brain of the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay focused.
Blueberries are an especially good choice for brain health. These fruits contain phytonutrients and essential nutrients that boost brain blood flow. This helps the brain focus and increases brain oxygen. Another good choice for brain health is fatty fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids that help protect the brain from age-related decline.
4. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Eating healthy foods is essential for maintaining proper blood sugar levels. Consuming whole grains, nuts, and legumes is a great way to keep your blood sugar levels in check. You should also include olive oil and spices to your diet, as they can be beneficial for diabetics. The fatty acids and fiber found in these foods help regulate blood sugar.
5. Gives You More Energy
It’s no secret that eating healthy gives you more energy. When you eat nutritious foods, your body is able to better perform its functions. You’ll have more energy to tackle the day’s tasks. Furthermore, you’ll be less likely to experience fatigue and exhaustion.
The best way to get the most out of your food is to eat natural, unprocessed foods. Processed foods are filled with unhealthy additives and chemicals that can zap your energy levels. They also contribute to weight gain and can lead to a number of chronic diseases. When you’re feeling down, reach for a piece of fresh fruit or some veggies instead of processed junk food. Not only will you feel more energized, but you’ll also be doing something good for your health.
6. May Help With Weight Loss
Processed foods are often high in added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. These additives can be very harmful to your health and can lead to weight gain. In fact, processed foods are one of the leading causes of obesity in the United States.
Unprocessed, natural foods have fewer calories and are packed with nutrients. They are also high in fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer. By eating healthy foods, you’ll be able to lose weight and feel healthier.
Again, it’s important to remember that not all processed foods are bad. There are some processed foods that are healthy and nutritious. However, the majority of processed foods are unhealthy and should be avoided. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to cut out processed foods from your diet and replace them with whole, natural foods.
7. Healthy Foods Will Taste Better
It is a commonly held belief that healthy food doesn’t taste as good as unhealthy food. In fact, after eating a healthy diet for a period of time, many people find that their taste buds have changed and they actually prefer the taste of healthy foods. This is because when you eat unhealthy foods, your body becomes used to artificial flavors and chemicals. However, when you eat healthy foods, your body is able to taste the natural flavors more easily. As a result, you may find that food tastes better after eating a healthier diet.
8. May Decrease Risk of Cancer
Last but certainly not least, eating clean can help keep you from developing cancer. When cells are repeatedly damaged by toxins, it makes it a lot easier for them to become cancerous or else not be able to fight off cancer cells when there are just a few. By eating clean, you give your body the tools it needs to destroy cancer cells before they become cancerous.
Eating less unprocessed foods is one of the best things you can do for your health. Not only will you lose weight and feel healthier, but you’ll also reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases. Clean eating is a great way to improve your digestion and have more energy throughout the day. Make the switch to take advantage of the health benefits of clean eating! And be sure to check out our clean eating tips.