Decrease Intake of Processed Foods and Animal Foods
In general, the more nutrient-dense the food one eats, the healthier one is. Eating more veggies, fruits, and legumes is a direct response to this principle. But since you only have so much room in your stomach, the only (comfortable) way to eat more of these foods is to eat less of other foods that contain fewer nutrients per calorie. On the spectrum of nutrient- density, unrefined plant foods are at the top and processed foods such as pastries, cookies, candy, most food bars and breakfast cereals, bread made with refined (e.g. “white”) flour, oil, and others are at the bottom. Higher consumption of processed foods is associated with decreased overall health. This could be due to many reasons, but a likely one is that eating more processed food means eating less unrefined plant food, and it is the latter of the two that can actually protect your health.
Animal foods, such as meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, etc., also are less nutrient-dense than veggies and fruits, but generally contain more beneficial nutrients than processed foods. Therefore it is prudent to eliminate processed foods, begin to eliminate animal foods as much as you can and opt for the base of your diet to be unrefined plants instead. An additional reason for most westerners to eat less food from animals is that animal foods are virtually the only source of saturated fat in the human diet. And consumption of saturated fat is considered one of the main contributors to heart disease, a disease that increasingly strikes Westerners. And some animal foods, such as fish, contain the highest level of contaminants such as mercury, PCB’s, dioxin, and others. These contaminants pose a serious threat if eaten in too high a quantity, especially for children and fetuses. Again, the main issue with over-consuming animal foods is likely that it means under-consuming health promoting plant foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes/pulses, nuts, and seeds.
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