What 'Whole Food' really means and why it it’s more about what you’re not buying
We’ve all heard about the healthfulness of adding more 'whole foods' to our diet, but what exactly does this term mean and why is it so important to our health and wellness? The simple message is we will achieve greater health by reducing the amount of processed foods we consume and instead, increasing as a percentage of our overall diet, the many foods that were produced just as Nature intended them. After all, many processes used to manipulate food products add ingredients we may not want such as stabilizers, preservatives, ripeners, color enhancers, fats and unnecessary sugar. If one has spent a lifetime reading labels as closely as I have, one learns that “processed foods” can also include a mind numbing list of chemicals so far removed from anything the human body was designed to digest that we instinctively know this is ill advised.
Looking a bit more closely into this subject, it is apparent that whole foods also give us the maximum amount of original, natural, easily digested nutrients, and usually in combinations that aid digestion and absorption of these nutrients.
Processed foods, on the other hand, are often missing many of their original ingredients. For example, refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white flour are missing both the fiber and many of the nutrients found in the original bran and germ. Crystallized sugars, syrups and sweet concentrates are often missing water, and most are missing any nutrients. Even foods that can be considered healthy, such as tofu or fruit and vegetables juices are missing the original fiber of the ‘whole foods’ whence they came.
It takes work and planning to eat a perfectly nutritious diet, comprised of only whole foods and including one hundred percent of the nutrients we need for optimal health. Many of us struggle to keep our calorie intake in check, and still have a pleasing and nutritious diet. One solution is to add carefully selected vitamins and supplements to close any nutrition gap.
Some vitamin and supplement manufacturers have transformed the original botanicals into something called ‘phyto-pharmaceuticals’ by selecting and then isolating specific active ingredients, known in the trade as ‘constituents’, and omitting the others naturally present in the original ingredient. This results in a very concentrated, artificially manipulated extract that bears little resemblance to the original plant material from which it was sourced.
More ‘whole foods’, indeed!
At Nova Scotia OrganicsTM, we often use a production approach called the Whole Herb Method which uses the raw plant exactly as found in nature. Such plant preparations contain all the inherent constituents of the plant including the natural buffers, which help protect the body from overdose, toxicity and dangerous interactions. In contrast to many unregulated techniques that isolate a single biochemical constituent, we use the entire herb plant, allowing it to work synergistically to create the positive health effect Nature intended.
Just about all of our herbal vitamins and supplements are simply whole herbs and plants dried using a gentle freeze drying process which preserves almost all of the nutritious properties of the original plant. Some formulations also add organic minerals if it is called for.
Whole foods… all.