What is Clean Eating?
The concept of clean eating is when one consumes “whole” foods, meaning foods that aren’t processed, refined, don’t contain any artificial ingredients, and no added sugars or other additives— basically natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
This is just a generalization, as clean eating can be more specific to each individual. For example, not all food additives are bad, such as fortified cereals and milk with vitamin D added into it.
These are beneficial nutrients that the body needs. The key to clean eating is to make conscious choices about the food you eat in order to provide the most benefits to your body.
Benefits of Clean Eating
Decreased Cancer Risk
Although genetics plays a huge role in future cancer development, lifestyle habits (including diet) can have either a negative or a positive impact on diet. Foods that are high in vitamins A, C, and E are known to contain phytochemicals that act as antioxidants that help fight cancer cells.
Improved Gut Health
Digestive issues are actually pretty common because they include problems such as Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which includes heartburn and acid reflux.
In fact, GERD is so common that people take antacids to reduce this inflammation, although the popular antacid Zantac has been linked to certain cancers. Instead of taking these potentially harmful medicines, avoid overly processed foods and instead opt for foods high in fiber and probiotics.
Increased Heart Health
It’s no secret that heart disease is a very common and serious issue among adults. It’s also well-known that processed foods and foods high in saturated and trans fat can raise your blood pressure and clog your arteries, putting more stress on the heart.
Healthy eating prevents these issues before they start, and can also help combat these issues when a person changes their diet.
Whole, natural foods also provide a metabolism boost, which is known to aid in weight loss. In addition to fruits and vegetables, add lean meats and nuts (for protein), and herbs and spices are all great foods to help boost your metabolism.
As we age, we’re more prone to bone thinning diseases, such as osteoporosis. Eating vegetables, legumes, fatty fish, and low-fat dairy products can help combat these diseases by strengthening our bones. We reach our peak bone mass at about age 30, so it’s important to incorporate these foods into your diet as early as possible.
In addition to providing a boost in metabolism, whole foods also contain fewer calories than processed foods, which also results in weight loss. Of course, everyone’s caloric intake is going to be different, so it’s important to consult with your doctor and keep up with the current dietary guidelines.
Examples of Clean Foods
Clean foods provide benefits to the overall function of the body, whereas certain unclean foods impair the body’s functioning. Here are some examples of certain types of foods that provide the benefits listed above.
Foods high in antioxidants are associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
- Dark, leafy greens
- Orange veggies high in beta carotene, such as carrots and pumpkin
High Fiber Foods
Foods high in fiber are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and weight gain.
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and starchy vegetables
- Whole grains
Foods that contain probiotics are associated with a decreased risk of digestive issues. These foods are also known to include calcium, which is excellent for bone health.
Keep in mind that clean eating doesn’t always equal restrictive eating. Yes, certain foods are not considered “clean”, but eliminating too many foods from your diet can do more harm than good.
It’s better to limit the processed, refined, sugary, and artificial foods than to try to eliminate all foods considered “unclean” because essentially, any food can be deemed “unclean”.