What does Clean Eating Mean?
Eating clean is simply stripping your diet with unhealthy foods. It is not a diet but a lifestyle choice wherein you only eat whole, unrefined, and unprocessed foods. This allows you to eat more and weigh less by making smart food choices.
Eating clean can is the foundation for proper nutrition, weight loss and disease prevention. The concept of clean eating may seem to be overwhelming at first, especially if it involves a lot of dietary changes. Taking it one step a time and incorporating it gradually, however, can help you ease into these changes. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes or have slipped off the rails a few times. All it takes is the determination and patience knowing that you can eventually live a much healthier life than ever before. The keys to good health and proper nutrition are in the following concepts:
Cut down on alcohol
Several studies show that moderate consumption of alcohol (specifically red wine) has some health benefits, such as raising good HDL cholesterol and warding off dementia and Alzheimer. It is essential that consumption stays moderate, however, since excessive alcohol can affect your liver. It also weakens your immune system, making your body an easy target for diseases.
Cut down on sugar
On average, Americans consume 30 tablespoons of added sugar every day, which is higher than the recommended allowance deemed by the American Heart Association, which is only 6 tablespoons for women and 9 tablespoons for men. Excessive intake of sugar can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It can also result in weight gain since excess sugar that’s not immediately required for energy is converted to triglycerides. So, avoid sugar in excess, including sugary beverages such as soda and fruit-flavored punches.
Cut down on salt
Restaurant foods and processed foods generally have high sodium content. It is best to cook food at home to be able to manage your sodium intake. Use fresh ingredients and boost flavor by using herbs and spices rather than salt. Too much salt intake can result to hypertension and may increase the risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer, cirrhosis and kidney stones.
Avoid saturated and trans fat
Saturated fats are known to increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can damage the arteries. Trans fat is far worse that saturated fats because aside from raising bad LDL, it also lowers good HDL. Too much of these unhealthy fats can lead to coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver dysfunction and other chronic conditions.
Cut down on refined grains
As much as possible, limit your intake of refined grains such as white rice, white bread, and other foods made with all-purpose flour, such as cookies, cakes and crackers. Refined grains are easily digested into simple sugar, causing your blood sugar levels to spike or crash. These foods can also contribute to high triglycerides, which can cause inflammation and may worsen arthritis symptoms. Choose whole grains instead like whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and whole rye.
Avoid processed foods
Processed foods are anything that is in a box, can, bag or package that have a food label indicating more than one ingredient. All of these processed foods have loads of added sugar, salt, trans fat, and saturated fat that can be dangerous to your health. Processed foods also cause chronic inflammation, indigestion and obesity. Choosing natural, fresh foods are still the healthiest choice for everyone.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables are the best thing you could do for your body. Aside from being nutritious and rich in antioxidants, these power foods have low calories, which can minimize the risk for heart disease. They also have numerous vitamins and minerals, which are essential in keeping the body healthy and lowering the risk of contracting diseases. Fiber, which is also found in most vegetables and fruits, helps prevent diabetes, appendicitis and colon cancer. Make sure that fruits and vegetables will be the main food in your daily nutrition.
Increase your water intake
Our body is made up of 60% water, so it’s important that you replenish it by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to the body. It also helps keep your metabolism healthy and flowing, as well as regulates body temperature. Dehydration or lack of water in the body can cause tiredness, migraine, constipation, kidney disease and irregular blood pressure.
David Novak is a national newspaper columnist, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest and GQ Magazine, among others. David is a health and diet enthusiast, and frequently writes on a wide array of health topics for various publications, including regular editions appearing in healthline.com. For more of his Healthline articles, visithttp://www.healthline