Good nutrition and healthy living go hand in hand. You cannot be healthy in the true sense of the word if you do not put high quality nutrition into your body. Many people mistakenly believe that health is about a controlled calorie intake. This is far from the truth, as all calories are not created equal.
A 100 calories from an apple, potato or cucumber are far superior to a 100 calories from a bite of doughnut, mithai or samosa. Let’s understand why this would be the case. Fruits and vegetables are natural; meaning not manufactured in a factory and are abundant with nutrients that are required for the healthy functioning of our body.
Natural, plant-based, unrefined foods have high levels of fibre, which is beneficial for our digestive system and for our gut flora. They contain micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and vital enzymes that are deficient in refined and processed foods.
Processed and packaged foods come with their own set of problems. As they are “commercial products”, they are designed to increase profitability of the manufacturer without much consideration for the health of the consumer. Consequently, they are stripped off most fibre to make them easier for processing e.g. white flour or maida products. Refined fats, sugar and salt are added in most cases to make them taste good artificially. Finally, they are doused with a bunch of chemicals to increase their shelf life so that the manufacturer can minimize spoilage, thereby increasing their profit margins. However, hundreds of chemicals used in the food processing industry are known to have adverse impact on human health.
My advice is simple; eat food as close to its natural state as possible. Eat a largely plant-based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. They will provide you with all the macronutrients, micronutrients and enzymes that your body needs for healthy and optimal functioning.
We humans have unnecessarily complicated our nutrition. It is more instinctual and not so intellectual. Little birds and animals in the wild all know what to eat and thrive on their natural diets. They eat the food they have an appetite for and are equipped to eat. Therefore a bird picks up worms from the ground with its beak, an elephants breaks branches with its trunks and a lion with its sharp claws and canines rips open a deer. Our hands are perfect for plucking fruit from trees and pulling out carrots from the ground. This itself is a clue to the true diet of our species.
If we learn to listen to our intuition and wean ourselves off excess sugar, salt and fat found in processed foods, we will re-connect with our instincts and develop a healthy appetite for foods that not only nourish but also heal us in the long term.
Nandini Gulati loves to help people achieve their health goals and makes it easy, tasty and fun! She helps bridge the gap between a desire to live a healthy lifestyle and actually doing it. She coaches people in person and online and conducts health retreats. Nandini has co-authored her first plant-based cookbook to be released in summer of 2015. She authors a blog here and a Facebook page here.