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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Fausnaugh

How to Improve Your Health with Better Nutrition

Wholesome acai fruit and grain bowl

Do you have the desire to improve your health with better nutrition but just aren't sure how to do it? The key to better nutrition is to focus on eating a healthful diet of wholesome foods that will support the body with essential nutrients and help reduce inflammation. Studies reveal the quality of foods consumed has a large impact on the lifespan and risk of chronic diseases. Eating a diet of wholesome real foods in place of processed convenience foods can add on average 10 years to your life. It can also decrease your risk of chronic diseases caused by inflammation like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer by half when compared to a Standard American Diet ( SAD) that contains high amounts of processed foods.

Which foods are wholesome?

Wholesome foods are real foods. They are foods found closest to their natural form. There are 11 varieties of real foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry. Wholesome foods are free of additives. They have no added sugar, salt, artificial color, or flavor enhancement.

What are processed foods?

The Department of Agriculture defines processed food as any raw agricultural commodities that have been washed, cleaned, milled, cut, chopped, heated, pasteurized, blanched, cooked, canned, frozen, dried, dehydrated, mixed or packaged — anything done to them that alters their natural state. The addition of preservatives, flavors, nutrients and other food additives, or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars and fats may also be included in this definition of a processed food.

There are various levels of processed foods ranging from minimally to ultra-processed.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ranks processed foods from minimally to mostly processed providing the following examples:

  • Minimally processed foods include pre-cut fruits and vegetables and roasted nuts. They are slightly prepped for consumer convenience.

  • Foods like canned tomatoes or tuna, and frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at their peak size and ripeness to lock in nutritional quality and freshness.

  • Moderately processed foods contain added ingredients for flavor and texture, such as sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives. For example, jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.

  • Ultra-processed foods contain several additives like preservatives, artificial flavor, artificial color, added sugars, salt, and added fats. The natural state of the product is unrecognizable. Ready-to-eat foods, such as cheese puffs, chips, deli meat, and soda are examples of ultra-processed foods.

5 Simple ways to start eating better
  1. Focus on fruits and vegetables. Include fruits and vegetables at meals. Use fruits and vegetables as snacks.

  2. Choose whole grains like barley, brown rice, corn, farro, steel-cut oats, farro, and quinoa.

  3. Drink water or unsweetened tea in place of sugar-laden beverages like soda and flavored juice beverages.

  4. Select natural protein sources like nuts, seeds, beans, peas, lentils, eggs, lean meats, and wild-caught fish.

  5. Read ingredient labels. Foods containing fewer ingredients are less processed and a healthier option.

Get Support to Improve Your Nutrition

A licensed dietitian nutritionist is a nutrition professional who is trained in medical nutrition therapy and behavior change counseling. Nutrition sessions with a licensed dietitian are covered under most health insurance plans. Dietitian Lindsey Fausnaugh offers virtual nutrition sessions and is licensed to work with both Florida and Ohio residents. You can schedule a session with Dietitian Lindsey using this link powered by Husk Nutrition

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