What is the secret to longevity and living a fuller life? Science insists that exercise and practicing a whole foods diet is the ticket. Researchers have found that those who commit to eating less red meat and more whole foods live longer, healthier lives.
What we eat and how we eat it is a staple of the culture we are raised in. If you did not grow up with home-cooked meals made with whole foods, chances are it might feel challenging to switch up your diet. If you live an ultra-busy life, the convenience of processed fast food can cause even more temptation. After all — life is hectic, and we all have to eat. But what if minor tweaks could prolong your life by 5 to 10 years? There is a lot of life that can be packed into a decade.
Read more to learn how whole foods can help you live a longer and healthier life.
What Are Considered ‘Whole Foods’?
Foods that have not been processed are considered to be whole foods. Methods involved in processing foods usually strip the food of healthy fibers while adding sugar, fat and salt instead.
It’s important to note that most of the foods we eat are processed in some way — consider canned beans, frozen produce, etc. Even the bagged salad you chose for lunch or the brown rice bowl you’ve popped into the microwave have been processed to some degree. While both are mildly processed, they are still nutritional powerhouses and great choices, especially if convenience is what you are after.
Choosing foods that are minimally processed over ones that are highly processed (like french fries) still make a great impact on your overall health.
Why Are Processed Foods Less Healthy?
The sugar, fat, and salt in processed foods help to preserve the food so that the food will last longer while frozen or on the shelf— hence the term “processed”. Chemicals and preservatives are packed into these foods to make them last longer and taste better. Sometimes salt and sugar (like in bread, cookies, cakes) are key ingredients in order to keep the structure of the food together, ensuring that the pastry doesn’t break down over time.
Eating processed foods makes it easy to eat far more sugar, salt, and fat than you think you are. A lifetime of eating these ingredients along with the chemicals that preserve them is proven to lead to heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in America and in most cases, is avoidable. Poor diet, obesity, inactivity, alcoholism, and diabetes leads to this disease and others.
Eat Whole Foods and Live Longer
Most chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, can be prevented by eating a healthy whole foods diet — and it’s not too late. Studies have shown that even 80 year olds who switched to a whole foods diet increased their life span by 3.5 years. Wondering how many years you could add to your life by changing your diet? Play with this life expectancy calculator here.
The Good Stuff
The following items are considered whole foods and some of the healthiest, most nutrient dense foods a person can eat. They are not fried, breaded, or saturated in fat or chemicals. These foods can be found at nearly any grocery store. If you want to keep your money local and ensure you eat organically, we recommend picking these items up at your local farmers market if possible.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Fruits and vegetables are fantastic whole foods. Although canned fruits and veggies will lose some of their nutritional value, they are still great options as long as they are minimally processed.
- Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and barley
- Oats, barley and brown rice have more fat and fiber in them than refined pastas and breads. Consider these whole grains in replacement for processed carbohydrates if possible.
- Nuts, beans, and seeds
- Nuts and beans are fantastic sources of protein and fiber. Even canned versions offer dense nutritional value. Just make sure to check the labels of your cans to ensure the saturated fat content is low.
- Shellfish like clams and muscles have potent doses of B12, zinc, vitamin C, iron, and potassium. These nutrients support brain function and health, energy levels and strengthen the immune system.
- Eggs, often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin”, are packed with nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally. B vitamins and Selenium make up the bulk of the good stuff offered in eggs.
- Fish is packed full of proteins, nutrients, and vitamins that help to lower blood pressure and reduce your chances of having heart disease. The healthy fats found in fish support the immune system and healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Interested in adopting a whole foods lifestyle but not sure where to start? We’ve got a free whole foods meal plan here.
IV Revival is committed to helping our clients live longer, happier lives by providing information that supports optimal health. We are a team of registered nurses with decades of experience in the health and wellness industry. Reach out to us to learn how IV therapy can support your transition into a whole foods lifestyle.