Every time you hear the term ‘natural food’, your mind probably starts conjuring up pictures of leafy green vegetables and big, juicy fruits. And why shouldn’t it? As the name itself suggests, such food is provided by nature and one that exists naturally with minimal processing and does not contain any food additives like artificial sweeteners, colors, flavoring, etc.
Know what you eat
While one would naturally be tempted towards grabbing those packaged potato chips or frozen meals from the store’s freezer aisles, have you ever wondered what they to do your body once you’ve eaten them? Processed foods like these come with great convenience and are usually ready-to-eat, however unlike natural foods, they are also packed with preservatives, additives, and chemicals that extend their shelf-life and keep their flavor intact. While these may also taste even better and satiate your food cravings greatly, numerous reasons exist that suggest why you should stick to natural or whole foods.
Mentioned ahead are some of the ways natural food can be greatly beneficial for both your health and body:
- Better and increased nutrition
Needless to say, natural foods like vegetables, fruits, dairy products, nuts, beans, legumes, etc., are packed with nutrients and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. Processed foods, on the other hand, are often stripped off their natural nutrients only to be replaced by artificial additives and chemicals. Numerous studies conducted on natural food have shown that organic and natural ways of production can actually boost key nutrients in foods.
Results of a new meta-analysis found out that organic dairy and meat contain 50 per cent more omega-3 acids which our body needs for a better immune function and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. These studies also show that organic vegetables and fruits have an increased antioxidant content along with other important compounds that protect cells from damage and fight off diseases.
- More energy
If eating your favorite burgers and pizzas leaves you sleepy and lethargic, perhaps it is time to incorporate some energy-filled foods in your diet that are loaded with energy-boosting nutrients and minerals. Plants, in particular, are full of fibers, carbohydrates and healthy fats that boost your metabolism and provide essential nutrients and minerals to the body which, in turn, act as energy suppliers.
Incorporating raw and whole foods like vegetables and fruits in your diet also helps you sustain energy levels in times of extreme stress and workload. Some athletes have been found following a plant-based diet regime and have observed increased energy levels, reduced inflammation and speedy recovery.
- Void of chemicals and additives
Since processed or fragmented foods are made to stay fresh and edible with the help of preservatives and chemicals, they can be quite detrimental and harmful for your health in the long run. Increased consumption of such foods means taking in chemicals and other harmful compounds that can take a toll on your health. This is why one should resort to eating healthy and organic natural food which is free of these harmful substances and also heavy metals like lead and mercury that are destructive for the mind, brain and body.
- Low on hydrogenated oils
Research has it that almost 40 per cent of the food at your local grocery store is made up of hydrogenated oils, which is more commonly found in cereals, chips, pizzas, candies, etc. These oils are usually cheaper than butter and, hence, are used in huge quantities and they also contain a lot of trans fat which is the bad kind of fat for your body. The oil doesn’t occur naturally and is made with the help of heat and harsh chemicals which are very dangerous for health and can also mess up your cholesterol levels.
However, with unprocessed and natural food, you won’t have to experience any such health problems because they contain naturally-occurring oils that are purely beneficial for your mind, body and overall health.
- Better digestion
One of the most common and naturally beneficial ingredients present in many natural foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, etc., is fiber which is your key to a healthy life. Fiber is one of the most essential nutrients required by the body for better digestion, healthy blood sugar and a good heart health.
Whole foods like the ones mentioned above are loaded with natural soluble and insoluble fibers that aid with easy and regular digestion. Fiber also slows down the absorption of glucose in the blood stream which prevents sudden insulin-spikes and helps control your blood sugar levels.
- They are filling and curb your cravings
It is not uncommon to consume a pack of chips one after the other and binge on them for hours. That is what processed food does to you. While they are definitely very delicious and appetizing, they are no way near being filling and can’t satiate your hunger either. In fact, sugar substitutes and other such additives often leave you with a craving for more.
Alternatively, natural foods are packed with nutrients, minerals and fulfilling carbohydrates that leave you full in no time. Also the presence of fiber in many of these foods helps keep you full and reduce untimely food cravings. Foods like oatmeal, pears, bananas, rye, and sweet potatoes are rich in soluble-fiber that helps you manage your hunger levels.
- Rich in antioxidants
Since processed foods are often made to lose their original value, they end up losing half of their natural nutrients and essential compounds that our bodies need to stay healthy. Natural foods, in comparison, are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that can benefit your body greatly. Fruits and vegetables are particularly very high on the antioxidant content which helps protect our cells from damage.
Studies also show that these antioxidants neutralize free radicals which help prevent cancer or might even treat it in due time.
Although processed foods are not completely all that bad, consuming them on a regular basis is likely to make you more prone towards illnesses and diseases. Because they often contain heavy metals, it can be very harmful for the brain and consequently you may even be required to take a brain test to check if it’s functioning properly. Therefore, it is essential to consume natural brain foods that protect your brain and boost your overall health.
Kamil Riaz Kara is an HR Professional and Inbound Marketer. He has completed his Masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. Currently, he is writing on mental health, fitness and lifestyle.