Eating Naturally

Eating Naturally

The best diet is a natural and balanced one. These days the word “natural” has become a catch phrase for many food and supply companies. It can mean any number of things, and it seems that each product that is presented as “natural” bends the word to their own convenient definition.

When considering the word natural and how it pertains to food, consider the sort of items that any person anywhere might recognize. For instance, fruits and vegetables, meats, grains, and dairy items are fairly recognizable to any person from any society or place on earth. These are the basis of all our foods, and what we are built to eat.

So, in general, when choosing foods, read the ingredient labels and consider each ingredient and whether or not it is commonly “recognizable.” If it isn’t, then the food you are considering is processed. The more unrecognizable ingredients it has, the more processed it is; the further away from natural it is.

Additionally, natural foods expire. They go bad. This even includes ingredients that you might use to cook with, like flour or oil. High quality whole grain flour or high grade oil should be kept in the refrigerator to keep them fresh and nutritious. Otherwise, these can begin to degrade without you even knowing.

A word about fat:

We must remember that fats are actually very important to our body. They help to keep our skin healthy and strong, and they are one of the major building materials for our brains. So, we need fats! The best fats are those that we eat either raw, or cooked as little as possible. For example, raw nuts and seeds are spectacular sources of fat. High fat fruits and vegetables are terrific as well– an example would be avocados. There’s a reason why they’re so delicious! The dairy group also contains very healthy fat.

Most dairy products are both pasteurized and homogenized. The process of pasteurization is the heating of raw fluids to the point where most potentially harmful bacteria have been destroyed. On the other hand, the purpose of homogenization is solely one of convenience and taste. Non-homogenized dairy fats separate,  which results in a layer of cream that rises to the top in milk and yogurt products. To alleviate this inconvenience, dairy companies homogenize their milk. Molecularly, dairy fats are composed of long chains of fatty acid molecules. When homogenized, these molecules get chopped up into smaller pieces that are more easily absorbed by the gut. Does this matter? Well, that is very debatable (and indeed, it is debated very frequently). Personally, I believe that we consume the foods we do for a reason. Over time, our bodies have adapted to consume foods the way that they are found naturally. So, I recommend not taking the chance. Drink milk the way it molecularly occurs naturally. Drink your milk pasteurized but non-homogenized.

The best way to moderate your intake of dairy fat (especially for reducing caloric intake when dieting) is to eat regular fat dairies, but in smaller amounts. Whole fat dairy isn’t bad– in this instance it just needs to be consumed conservatively. For example, whole fat yogurt is far healthier than most of those modified to be non-fat.  So, reduce the fat by serving your whole fat yogurt with a greater portion of fresh fruit– that way you can enjoy the taste and benefits of real yogurt responsibly.