Real Food – What Is It? *Quick read*
Just Eat Real Food – this is a line you will see constantly on my Facebook posts and something I say to my patients in their appointments. But why do I announce something so simple and yet it seems to be a complicated topic? Let me explain.
Real foods are grown on the land and in the sea. If it comes from a farm, then it’s real (basically!). So that means fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, seeds and grains are all REAL foods. In their naturally grown form, they are nutrient rich, fresh and should be part of a balanced daily food intake (aka “diet” but that’s a whole other story associated with incorrect meanings!). If you wish to put a label to it, you would say Wholefoods.
Now some facts about these real foods that some healthy lifestyle advocates get obsessive about:
Fruit, vegetables and grains all contain naturally occurring sugars, fructose and glucose, as well as gluten, which some people think we should avoid
BUT Our bodies require these sweet goodies, they’re very important and are not the devil! Refined sugar such as corn syrup and sweeteners are classed as “added sugars” and are not the same. We require fructose and glucose in the forms of fruit, vegetables and grains in their whole food form, where other nutrients in that food helps process the sugars into our cell’s energy, healing and regenerating functions.
If you have real allergies to gluten or fructose, wholefoods will be your best form of diet, as your intestinal sensitivites will benefit from the least form of processed foods available.
Meat has naturally occurring lipids (called prostaglandins) that when digested in large amounts can cause inflammation, inducing high cholesterol and blood pressure.
BUT Eaten in small amounts (1-3 times per week for red meat or 2-4 times per week for chicken, 3+ times for fish, little to no cured/processed meats), the benefits far outweigh the cons, and the balance between lipids that reduce inflammation such as turmeric root, omega oils, fish and some vegetable juices means your body won’t even register the inflammatory factors from red meat and won’t waste energy on trying to repair it.
Grains, nuts and some vegetables pass through our system with most of their nutrients intact – in other words are hard to digest and we do not absorb all the nutrients we think we are.
BUT If we follow simple ways of making them more accessible, like soaking nuts and seeds ("activating” them), avoid over-indulging in the hard-to-digest food category (such as refined wheat) as well as eating our foods in tasty combinations, like spinach with citrus (as the citric acid unlocks the proteins in leafy greens), then not only do we start making delicious recipes but we gain a lot more from our food, meaning no need for all the vitamin supplements and ridiculous labelling, such as “superfoods” (hint: all foods are pretty super in their own way!).
Also, unfortunately at the rate we pollute the earth with pesticides, plastics and emissions; our sea life is bound to be affected by heavy metals and man-made chemicals.
With that said, what do we do: avoid sugars, gluten, meat, non-organic foods and anything too hard to digest? No! Otherwise (another fact), you’ll starve.
Solution? Keep it simple. Eat as close to REAL as you can and try to keep your supply local, with as much organic as you can afford (availability and cost are other facts with organic I know, but just support those who are doing their best to pollute the earth a little less) and don’t stress the small stuff. Because at the end of the day if you are trying your best to keep a balance of the good stuff, a little of the bad won’t do anything but hopefully give you a good giggle (like cake and wine)! є
Dr Emma, Owner and Chinese Medicine Practitioner of Healesville Chinese Medicine, is very passionate about all things health, and closely follows her motto everyday, to
Heal. Nourish. Educate. Empower.