Clean eating basics
There is such a lot of talk these days about ‘clean eating’ but what does this actually mean? Why does it matter? And where should you begin?
Whether you are suffering with skin breakouts or flare ups, digestive issues, or any other kind of illness or inflammation, and especially if you are just starting out on a journey of natural health and healing, the following practical steps will greatly support.
Conventional farming methods sadly (for our bodies, the environment and it’s wildlife) includes the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides with the purpose of making large scale farming less labour intensive and so less costly to produce. Though these chemicals are said to be only harmful in large qualities, our bodies work on a microscopic scale and will store unrecognised or toxic compounds in our organs and tissues to keep them out of the blood stream, over time they can and do accumulate, and it’s this accumulative effect that worries many advocates for health. Organic produce is also proven to be higher in nutritional value, containing more of the antioxidants which protect our skin from damage. We understand that it’s not always possible to buy organic, so here is a useful list called the dirty dozen (those carrying the highest levels of chemical residue) and the clean fifteen (those with the least residue).
Filter your water
While the enormity of the privilege that is running tap water is certainly not lost on us, unfortunately tap water these days is not as clean as it looks. Clear as it may appear be, tap water is actually laden with routinely added chemicals such as chlorine and also with contaminates such as pesticides, hormones and heavy metals all of which add to the bodies toxic load. Filtering your water helps to remove these chemicals and contaminates. You may not be willing or able to invest in the very best filtration system and thats totally ok, even a standard Brita filter will help to remove some of these toxins and lessen the load on your body.
Un-process your food
Aim for as few steps from field to table as possible. Why? The more processed your food the more precious nutrients are lost and the more unhelpful compounds are formed that wouldn’t naturally occur. Add to this the addition of synthetic flavourings, colours, preservatives and stabilisers and you end up with something that the body doesn’t really recognise or know what to do with, If like so many of us life is full and your don’t have the time or perhaps even the inclination to cook from scratch, which is totally fair, the first step is to simply begin a habit of reading the ingredients, something with a huge long list of ingredients that you don’t recognise is a warning sign of a heavily processed food. Look for shorter ingredients lists containing actual food names that you recognise and can picture what
Avoid damaged fats
Good quality fats are some of the most precious and health supportive foods we can eat, but it's so important know that fats are actually very delicate and need to be treated with great care and respect. When fats are damaged by light, heat, temperature fluctuations or oxygen, free radicals are created which are harmful to the body. Free radicals damage our cells leading to illness and ageing. Antioxidants protect our cells by mopping up these free radicals, so including plenty of antioxidant rich plant foods is an absolute must, but a multi pronged approach is always wise so in order to clean up your fat intake I recommend the following.
1. Avoid hydrogenated or ‘trans fats’ altogether. Margarine I’m looking at YOU!
2. Buy oils in dark glass or keep them in a cupboard or draw, out of the light
3. Keep lids screwed on tight to avoid oxidation
4. Keep them cool and refridgerate in summer, this includes your nuts and seeds
5. Do not fry olive oil at high temperatures, add a tablespoon of water to prevent the temperature from getting too high.
6. Use either coconut oil or avocado oil for frying, both have high smoke points and are most stable at high temperatures.
7. Never fry with ‘supplemental’ healthy oils such as flax or hemp seed oil, these should be used cold only or drizzled on after cooking.
8. If you suspect your oils, nuts or seeds may be old or rancid, throw them away!
Eliminate the common culprits
If you are struggling with inflammation of any kind, or with skin breakouts or flare ups which you can’t seem to pin point the cause of, and especially if you suffer with bloating or other digestive issues too, I really recommend eliminating these common culprits from you diet for 3 months to see if you feel a difference. These are foods which I do not believe are nutritionally useful or necessary for anyone and are perfectly safe to remove from your diet if you wish to.
The common culprits.
Wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, non organic corn, soy*, refined sugar.
*NOTE: I will add to the above and say that if you know you are not allergic or sensitive to soy, then organic fermented soy such as tempeh is a useful plant based source of protein eaten in moderation.