What does it mean to “eat clean”? And why is eating clean good for gut health?
You’re already doing it if you try to avoid processed foods. And if you’re not eating clean, here’s why you may want to start, especially if you live with a digestive disorder such as IBS or Crohn’s.
What’s the problem with processed food?
It’s not fair to paint all processed food with the same brush. Sometimes, processing is a necessary evil.
“Often processing removes toxins or bacteria, or allows for us to eat certain types of foods in off-season due to freezing or canning,” Columbia University nutrition professor Jessica Fanzo told Fitness magazine.
The trouble is food that is ultra-processed, often filled with unhealthy additives and stripped of their nutritional value.
For people with digestive disorders such as IBS or Crohn's disease, eating a diet of unprocessed foods eliminates the immunoreactive and inflammatory ones like gluten, sugar, and bad fats.
The benefits of clean eating
Unprocessed foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, nuts and dried legumes.
Numerous studies have shown that eating these foods can prevent serious conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Here are a few ways to introduce clean eating to your daily diet:
1. Taste the rainbow
Try to eat a whole rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day. No one is arguing against the benefits of eating green, but don’t forget things like tomatoes, which are a reliable source of lycopene, a nutrient that helps fight diseases. Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, which is very good for your eyes. And blueberries are an effective way to get Vitamin C and B6 in your diet.
2. There’s “whole grains” and whole grains
Just because food packaging tells you something has “whole grains” doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Avoid processed foods with this labeling, and try to prepare your own meals with whole grains, such as quinoa or steel-cut oats.
3. Keep it simple…
…at least when it comes to ingredients. Look for ingredient lists that contain whole foods, instead of a menagerie of processed, artificial materials such as hydrogenated oil, artificial coloring and sweeteners. Avoid substantial amounts of added fat, salt and sugar.
4. Lean proteins
There’s nothing wrong with getting protein from chicken breasts and lean ground beef, but consider branching out. Wild-caught salmon, catfish and tilapia are excellent seafood choices.
If your kids still want chicken nuggets, look for a brand with short-list ingredients, or try making your own. And don’t forget to work nuts and seeds into your daily snack regimen.
5. Get to know your local farmers’ market
What would you rather eat - an apple that was plucked from a tree this morning, or one that spent a week traveling from a farm to a warehouse to a grocery store?
Locally-sourced produce not only tastes better, it’s better for you and for the planet, as it required less fuel to get from the farm to you.
6. Make your own meals
Almost any meal you make from scratch at home is better for you than something you prepare using packaged ingredients or ordering from a restaurant. Make things simpler by planning ahead and stocking foods that you know your family enjoys. When you can cook at home, you’ll save money, eat healthier and make visits to restaurants more of a special occasion.
If you’re looking for other whole food solutions to help your digestive system, turn to Proper Nutrition. Our dietary supplements are made with protein-rich whitefish, and contain bioactive peptides shown to restore gut integrity in people with conditions such as Crohn’s and IBS.
Visit our product page today to find a product to help with your new, cleaner, way of eating.