Thank you to Dr. Mark Hyman (M.D. and leading voice in the world of Functional Medicine) for sharing this little nugget of wisdom. Learning about nutrition often feels intimidating because we hear so many conflicting "facts" from all sides. Although the biochemistry bit can get a little in depth, one very simple truth remains: eating real, whole food is the best thing you can do for yourself.
What constitutes a "whole" food? Simple. The food, as it occurs in nature, with all of its edible parts.
To borrow the words from author Margie King, "Western science is obsessed with deconstructing food, researching and analyzing its component parts, isolating the "active ingredients," repackaging them in pills or powders and prescribing them in daily doses". But according to some experts in the realm of nutrition that I very much admire, this chemistry-based theory of nutrition is completely upside down.
Dr. AnneMarie Colbin, award-winning author and leader in the field of natural health advocates that our bodies know the difference between a whole foods and an aggregation of isolated nutrients. The human body has evolved over thousands of years to eat the food that nature presents to it and if that food has been split apart or "fragmented", the body knows and goes looking for the missing parts. Now, of course certain isolated nutrients have their place in the realm of nutritional therapy (regulating deficiencies, for example) but evidence based research shows that whole foods in their purest form are perfectly designed by nature to be digested, absorbed, and burned more efficiently and beneficially for the body than processed foods.
Every day we are inundated with tens of thousands of supplements, treatments, diets, and "health secrets" in our society...yet the population as a whole is continually becoming sicker and sicker. Chronic illness, cancer, and obesity are at an all time high and why? But we have stopped eating, and lost our connection with actual food. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is riddled with processed chemicals, fillers, binding agents, and dyes that are packaged and marketed as food...but it's not. So what do we do? Get back to the basics. The real stuff. The good stuff.
Real whole food should require refrigeration, or have a relatively short shelf life. Real whole food should come from the ground. Real whole food should be free of pesticides, added chemicals, and genetic alterations.
Isn't it great? It really is that easy.
If you want to know what the healthiest food you can be putting in your body is...reach for the real stuff without any health claims at all.