This week, Ciaran Ruddock from FFS shares the benefits of eating real food, and moving away from the processed variety.
Do you want more energy, a higher immunity and better digestion? If the answer is yes, then today’s blog is definitely for you.
One of my favourite hashtags is #realfoodrealresults, but what does that mean? What is ‘real food?
Real food is whole or unprocessed. There is nothing added or taken away by humans or machines.
When judging what real food is, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s on the ingredient list?
- Do I recognise these things?
- How many steps did this food take to get to me?
- Does this food come in a bag, box or can?
For a real eye-opener; read the labels of your foods and take note of the ingredients. You may be surprised to see exactly what you are eating or you may even be confused as to what some of the ingredients are. I have spent six years studying nutrition and still struggle to understand what half of them are.
For example, a good quality yoghurt will contain milk and bacteria. Whereas a flavoured yoghurt will contain added sugars and possibly a few other hidden extras.
Increased awareness of what we are putting into our body can help us make better decisions with our food choices.
Here are a few of my favourite things to look for when choosing foods for a weekly shop:
- Added vegetable oils
- Added sugars
- More than five ingredients
- Ingredients that I must Google to find out what they are
The benefits of consuming real foods are massive and will have a hugely positive impact on your health.
- They have a higher nutrient density compared to processed foods. This leads to a better physiological response during digestion, absorption and nutrient delivery in the body. Think about putting high quality fuel into your car, eating real foods is the same idea.
- When we eat real foods, our bodies receive the appropriate hunger signals. Our body is pretty good at telling us how much we need, we just need to learn to listen. Eating mostly real foods will help our body tell us what we need.
- Calorie values we read about are based on a number obtained from incinerated foods (bomb calorimeter). Your body doesn’t incinerate food, it digests food.
- A healthy GI tract is equipped to break down all sorts of foods, and can digest bout 97% of all food we eat.
- When food and/or beverages are consumed, the GI tract will extract major nutrients from them, absorb necessary micronutrients, and act as a barrier to potentially harmful microorganisms. For this reason, we want to consume foods with the highest nutrient density.
- Digestion is an active process with innumerable moving parts (including trillions of bacteria that do much of the “digesting” part for us). It is not just moving “calories” along a conveyor belt.
- The way we digest food can change the amount of energy we can get from it – by up to 25%.
If you are already eating mostly real foods, that’s great.
No one is ever the finished article and we can always do better. So, have a think if there are a few foods or drinks that you could substitute for less processed choices.
If you aren’t already eating mostly real foods, then that’s great too. You have a fantastic opportunity to improve what you are currently eating. If you can choose more real foods you will look, feel and perform better.
We know that the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach doesn’t produce sustained results. It is a continuum, and the real results happen when we consistently make better choices.
To finish I am going to leave you with three key points:
- Real food is higher in essential nutrients compared to processed foods.
- Real foods are better digested and absorbed.
- Real foods help us listen to our bodies hunger signals.
A little equation to memorise:
Real Food = Real Results