The human body adapts amazingly well to different ways of eating. People across the globe eat in a variety of different ways and different foods. People can be healthy and fit whether they eat vegetables, mostly fat, mostly carbs, or many meals a day. Whatever nutrition protocol or lifestyle you follow, most health-focused diets and health professionals would agree on some key fundamentals such as:
- emphasizing whole foods
- getting adequate quality protein
- incorporating a lot of vegetables
- prioritizing high nutrient density
- minimizing processed foods
- eating the right amount of food to sustain and maintain the energy and needs for your unique lifestyle
What I eat and do works well for me, but might not work well for you. However, you can try things I do and see if you like them, if they work for you, or not. Therefore, finding what works best for you, using the above principles or fundamentals, that you can do consistently and maintain for life, that help you feel and function best and reach your unique goals is what would be considered “the best diet” for you.
So while the human body adapts and can thrive in a variety of ways of eating our bodies need micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, myconutrients, and zoonutrients to be healthy and function well. These micronutrients keep us healthy and thriving! We need proper nutrition for our cells to work properly.
What we eat is important. I emphasize this because, in our culture and society, the American standard diet is full of highly processed, industrialized, lab manufactured “food” that doesn’t provide us with any nutrients, that are created to make us eat lots of it and want more of it. When we are eating like this, our bodies don’t feel well, we don’t function well. Our bodies are being fueled sub optimally, and we are performing sub optimally. We are putting food in our bodies, but they are starving for nourishment.
The food we choose and ingest impacts how our bodies function, perform and even recover. The food we eat gives us energy, when our body needs to make new structures like bone, skin, muscle tissue our nutrition plays a role, it provides co-factors for chemical reactions in our cells and metabolic processes, and for making hormones. When we eat well our cells function well. Happy cells means happy metabolism. Who doesn’t want to feel well, function well, and thrive?!
I want others to feel well, function well, and thrive so I want to talk about eating better to give our bodies the nutrients we need. Specifically, we are going to talk about plants. I say plants rather than fruits and veggies because I also want to include foods like potatoes, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole foods that are outside of the fruit and plant categories.
Eating more plants is most likely good for us. In general, people who regularly eat more minimally processed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and beans and legumes tend to have better health, decreased chronic lifestyle diseases, have a better body composition, recover more effectively from training, and delay age-related diseases.
Eat more whole, minimally processed foods
Food that is closer to the earth, closer to its original form, what I would call minimally processed whole foods, provides our bodies with nutrients it needs to feel, function, and perform its best. In general with whole foods, you can recognize what they used to be, generally don’t come in any packaging or are very minimal, they go bad fast, don’t have ingredient labels or are very minimal, take the minimum amount of steps to get to you. As I mentioned, the human body can function and thrive on many types of diets. A diverse diet full of varied minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods does the body good.
Benefits of eating plants
Minimally processed plant foods are nutrient-dense! They usually have a lot of nutrients per volume and total energy. They contain vitamins and minerals that our bodies NEED. They also have phytonutrients that have many disease-fighting activities and help with cellular processes. They provide us with fiber which helps our digestion. They give us more water, which helps us get more hydration. They provide us with fatty acids that are helpful for inflammation and hormone production. They also help us regulate our appetite as they help us feel more full and satiated. Whole plant foods also help us crowd out processed food: when we eat MORE whole food, we tend to eat less processed food, because we are more full. Also, eating more whole foods can help us improve our energy balance because of the thermic effect of food. It takes work to digest whole foods so eating more whole foods burns more calories, increasing the energy out part of the energy balance equation.
While plants, in general, are beneficial for most people, for some people some plants might not be. WE are all unique individuals. We might in general say that tomatoes are a healthy choice however someone might have an intolerance to them. The same might apply to almonds, they are a whole plant food, however, someone might be allergic to them. Some people might not digest FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, And Polyols) well which are found in many plant foods.
So for the most part, plants are good for us, they provide us with many benefits for our health and performance! Including more plants in your diet is going to provide your body with vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial micronutrients that it NEEDS. These vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are like nature's pharmacy, they help us fight diseases and stay strong.
How to include more plants in your diet
Eat the rainbow! Create a colorful food shopping list and
Aim to eat one serving of each color every day:
- Red: Tomatoes, red peppers, raspberries, pomegranates, walnuts, papaya, chili powder
- Green: Spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, legumes, green tea
- Orange: Carrots, squash, sweet potato, turmeric, pineapple, ginger,
- Purple: Eggplant, beets, purple potatoes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries
- White: Cauliflower, onions, garlic, apples, rutabaga, parsnips
Try 1 new plant or whole food every 2 weeks!
Do you usually just have broccoli? Try brussels sprouts! Do you usually have green beans? Try cauliflower! Do you usually have regular potatoes, try sweet potatoes.
Take a multivitamin.
Most people don’t get enough micronutrients. Even those of us who eat pretty well, we most likely have some sort of nutrient deficiency. Another way that we can ensure we are providing the body with what it needs is filling in the gaps, supplementing our diet with a multivitamin! I take flyte VITA to make sure that my gaps are covered. A multivitamin is a foundational supplement to make sure that you are getting these vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients your body needs. Supplements don’t replace a `high-quality diet, but can help us!
Recovery: Since nutrition plays a vital role in our recovery, I believe using a multivitamin and greens product not only helps us to function better, but also to recover better. When clients ask me about recovery supplements, I usually point them to LIFE and VITA because a foundation of a quality diet and micronutrients has a huge impact on our recovery. Nutrient-dense eating is a form of purposeful recovery. When we fuel our bodies well, it will assist our bodies in being able to recover from the stress we put on our bodies from training, work, relationships, environment, and all the other stressors that all add up in our lives.
Here is to trying new foods and including more colorful plants in our diets to help us be healthy, perform better, and thrive!
Charissa is a Performance Coach, Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Fitness Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and holds a B.S. in Kinesiology. She also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration. She is a follower of Jesus, passionate about faith, fitness, nutrition, a lifestyle of total health, meditating, learning and growing!