Real Food is single ingredient, zero or minimally processed, and as close to nature as possible. The buzz phrases to look for are organically grown, pasture-raised, wild-caught, grass-fed, and locally grown. Put simply, real food is food as it’s found in nature. Only 9% of Americans meet the dietary guidelines for daily veggies and only 12% for fruit!
A generation ago all food was “real” and organic! Real food is food that has stood the test of time, meaning previous generations ate the food. It is food that nourishes our bodies and minds with vitamins and minerals and, makes us feel good after we eat it. Real food improves overall health. Local farmers put love and care into growing in soil that has trillions of microbes which feed good bacteria in our microbiome. Soil and the human gut contain approximately the same number of active microorganisms, but it is dependent on what we eat. Ultra-processed corn, soy and wheat, that is in processed foods doesn’t provide enough nutrients required to build ultimate long-term vitality.
Chronic diseases are at record numbers with 6 out of 10 adults diagnosed with a chronic disease, and 4 out of 10 having multiple diseases, especially in underserved communities. This is even more significant during the pandemic, with chronic disease markers generally increasing the risk of severe effects of COVID-19. Viewing food as nutrition goes a long way to having a healthy body and strong immune system. Our body absorbs the nutrients from food more easily than from supplements and works to heal the root cause of symptoms. Prescription medication becomes a band-aid that masks symptoms without addressing what caused them in the first place. A growing portion of medical doctors are combining integrative nutrition and functional medicine as a practice. Your body is constantly creating new cells from head to toe…make them out of the good stuff!
All of this matters because only 1 out of 10 people represent good metabolic health. We can look healthy but, can have underlying signals that make us susceptible to prevalent chronic diseases. Our bodies are constantly regulating themselves. Some of the markers to keep in check are weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure, and blood sugar. We can make a choice to prioritize whole foods by eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits that are rich in phytonutrients, plus fiber- rich seeds, nuts and whole grains. Of course, it is important to also include exercise, get a good night’s sleep and manage anxiety. Don’t try to make a complete switch all at once, any small changes you make in food choices or lifestyle is a win.
Boosting the local whole food economy provides more opportunities to implement amazing programs that exist but are facing financial challenges. The stronger local farms are, the better chance we have to see healthier food in schools, hospitals, and organizations that care for loved ones. Reach out to your local food pantry to find out the best way to donate fresh, nutritious food. Ask about their donation schedule and if they have refrigeration. When faced with challenging circumstances, it can be a struggle to choose healthy food options. Let’s do our part to make sure everybody has access.
Real Food Nutrition Guide:
Fruits & Vegetables: local, seasonal and/or organic when possible.
Meat & Seafood: wild, grass-fed, pastured and/or humanely raised without hormones or antibiotics when possible.
Dairy & Eggs: full-fat, grass-fed, pasture-raised when possible (raw and/or unpasteurized preferred)
Whole Grains: must be 100% whole grain: ancient, gluten and wheat-free grains preferred
Beans & Legumes: including green beans, snap peas and lentils; soaking helps with digestion, BPA-free cans when possible.
Seeds & Nuts: raw, unsalted, unsweetened and/or organic when possible
Spices, Herbs & Seasonings: fresh/dry/ground; minimally processed and organic when possible.
Unrefined, Virgin, Cold-Pressed Oils & Fats: coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, palm shortening and rendered animal fats, like tallow and lard.
Natural, Unrefined Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and dates (raw when possible).
Integrated Medical Professionals: