Saturday, April 30, 2011

Displacing Worry from the Mind

Many of us have a tendency to worry about just about anything in our lives we can set our minds on and these days there are plenty of options. This is not to say that there is never a reason to worry. Yet how often do the things we actually worry about come to pass? Think about the time, energy, and stress hormones that could be saved if we could worry less.

In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, he tells the story of a gentleman who was entrenched in a sea of anxiety from two tragic events that had happened in his life. He couldn’t get himself out of the grip of worry, until one day, his son asked him to help him build a boat. After three hours of working on the boat, the man realized that his mind had been relaxed the whole time.

Why was this? Because psychologically, we can’t think about two things at the same time and if our minds are busy working on something, they can’t be stressed out about something else.

If you’re worried about a situation, ask yourself, “Is there something I can do to make it better or move it towards a less worrisome state?” If so, then make a list and take action. The work will displace the worry by giving the mind something to focus on and at the same time improve the situation.

If things are beyond your control, then get busy planning, thinking about, and doing something else. This will direct your attention away from your worries. As Tennyson said after losing a best friend, “I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

What are some of the things you do to take your mind off of your worries?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ground Yourself

I have been fascinated with the concept of grounding and read the book Earthing by Ober et al. “Earthing”, according to the book, “involves coupling your body to the Earth’s eternal and gentle surface energies.” This is most easily accomplished by standing or sitting outdoors barefoot, but can also be achieved using an indoor grounded conductive device.

The benefits of grounding are reported to be many, including eliminating disease and healing, increasing energy, and protection from electromagnetic fields, or EMFs. One double-blind study reported in the book used two groups of individuals. One group was grounded and the second was not. EEG and EMG recordings from the brain and shoulder muscles, respectively, were monitored 30 minutes before and after grounding.

Within a matter of seconds, brain activity of the grounded individuals decreased, and in particular on the left, thinking side, suggesting that it can calm the busy mind. In the shoulder muscles, there appeared to be a leveling off of muscle tension. Overly tense muscles relaxed and those with little or no tension showed an increase.

It seems so simple that we can relax the mind by spending time with our feet to the Earth. But since reading this book last summer, I’ve made it a point of walking barefoot in the grass, or in the sand at the beach and I always feel calmer afterwards. Is it in my head? Maybe, but does it matter? I’m still getting some sun and fresh air and spending time with the birds and the beautiful blue sky.

By the way, the book also talks about how Earthing can level out cortisol in the body, which will also help with stress.

The next time your monkey mind is working overtime, or you’re stressed out, try plopping your feet in the grass, maybe with a nice cup of herbal iced tea, and sit quiet for a few minutes. It may accomplish far more than you think.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lovng Others as We Learn to Love Ourselves

I decided to repost a blog I published several months ago because it aligns with the theme this week of detoxing the mind. I would love to hear your thoughts!

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “To love others, we must first love ourselves.” And in some ways, I guess this is true. If we were to walk around despising ourselves, we wouldn’t be of much use to anyone else and we certainly wouldn’t be able to offer any sort of compassion, tenderness, or love. But the following has made me rethink this idea.

I’ve been reading, The Little Book of Letting Go, by Hugh Prather. It’s a very insightful book that explains how to free our minds from things such as worry and conflict, and it outlines a 30-day program with useful exercises to help achieve this. The other day, I read the following passage:

“Even when you pray, if you pray without love or connection, you may have a temporary sense of peace, but you will not touch the eternal peace within your heart. There is no kindness in first thinking of yourself, then trying to be kind to yourself alone. Love is not an act of isolation, and “loving yourself first” is not a step toward happiness. Your will never satisfactorily nurture just your own wounds or your own needs, because those concepts include no unity. Only what joins us to another can make us happy.”

I thought for a while after reading this and understood exactly what he was saying. No amount of praying, meditation, visualization, or positive affirmations will ever get us to true happiness unless we put the results to practice. And I’m not talking about accomplishing our daily or monthly goals at the gym or what we’ve deposited into our savings accounts, or how effective we’ve become at work.

Accomplishing our personal objectives may help us to feel better about ourselves, but they won’t ultimately allow us to reach the point of self-love because it’s the relationships we have with others–how we act with and react towards others–how we make them feel and how they make us feel, that will ultimately lead to us loving ourselves. Here's an inspirational video that falls into the category of loving/supporting others. Even if you only watch the first minute, you'll get the power of this idea:

It’s the feeling or the realization that we do have the ability to participate in meaningful and significant relationships with others and the unfolding of those interactions that leads to us loving ourselves. Love can’t exist for long in a vacuum. What’s to love there? Love is meant to be shared. The idea of saving up our love doesn’t work. I can’t even think of a way it can be put away for later or hoarded. If we’re not loving others, then we’re simply not loving at all.

Therefore, I suggest that learning to love others, and the acts of loving others, are what teach us to love ourselves, and if we wait to love ourselves before we try to love others, it will never happen…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Practice of Mental Hygiene

by Vasco Gaspar

Vasco Gaspar, is a motivational speaker and the founder of ZorBuddha, a global movement, personal development, and goal setting tool that he has made available free of charge online and can be purchased on Amazon




Nowadays, it is increasingly important to detoxify the mind in order to have clarity of thought, more focus, and to be more positive and happy. So to continuously carry out the cleansing process, here is a shopping list of practices that represent good mental hygiene.

  • Start your day by thinking about something positive
  • Seek to learn continuously, even if only for 5 minutes/day
  • Set small goals for your day and go after them
  • Move your body because it will irrigate your brain and help you think better
  • Face your fears - they show you the places you need to explore in your life
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s the only way you’ll achieve great things
  • Establish objectives and priorities for your life
  • Listen twice as much as you talk
  • Listen not only with your ears, but your entire body, heart and soul
  • Avoid complaining and take responsibility for your life
  • Embrace silence and spend time alone
  • Improve your family, social, and work relationships
  • Remember that concerns don’t solve problems
  • Accept and forgive the past, it will not change
  • Be present with whatever you’re doing
  • Spend time in nature
  • Get enough sleep
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Give of yourself to others
  • Be true to your personal values
  • Smile and laugh whenever you can
  • At night, before closing your eyes, think of at least one thing that made you happy during the day

From this shopping list, choose the activities that make the most sense for you and dedicate yourself to practicing them on a regular basis. Remember, there are no secrets; consistency is the key to getting positive results.

Have a great day!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

The theme this week is detoxing the mind. Whether you realize it or not, this practice is equally as important as cleansing the body for several reasons:

  • Our thoughts are things that create our realities. Positive thoughts bring better things into our lives and negative vibrations attract more negativity;
  • There is a strong association between our thoughts and our physical health through the Mind/Body Connection;
  • Our mental state directly impacts our relationships with others;
  • The state of our thoughts influences how we feel about ourselves

Whenever I find myself becoming stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy over a situation in my life, I turn to my gratitude list. By writing down the things in my life that I am grateful for, my thoughts naturally expand on what is good which displaces my negative mood. This is something that has become a habit for me over the last couple of years and is something that inspired me to start my blog Gratitude Rising.

Before getting out of bed in the morning or before going to bed at night, think of at least 5 things that you are grateful for or that went well during the day. Keep a gratitude log or a journal and record them. This will put you into a higher vibrational state, which is where you want and need to be for positive things to come into your life. It actually has the power to squash your negative emotions.

According to Esther and Jerry Hicks, “Because the vibration of appreciation is the most powerful connection between the physical you and the Non-physical You, this process will also put you in a position to receive even clearer guidance from your Inner Being.”

Clearer guidance from ourselves. Meaning that we can more easily find exactly what we need within ourselves, which is exactly where all of our true resources reside.

So what will you include in your Gratitude List??

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Cleaning our Minds by Getting Organized

Just as a build-up of toxins in the body can lead to reduced energy and vitality, illness, and disease, a toxic mind can produce similar effects. “How can this be?” you might ask. Well, thoughts are things that have energy. They produce momentum and action (or lack thereof) and therefore create our realities.

When or environment is cluttered or messy, it can create a sense of disorganization and a lack of focus in our minds. I know when I sit down to a messy workspace, the only thing I can concentrate on is the mess.

In the book Ask and It Is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, they point out that “unfinished work, unanswered letters, incomplete projects, unpaid bills, unattended-to tasks; unsorted piles of paperwork; and stray magazines, catalogs and all manners of miscellaneous items, …can negatively affect your life experience.” They can add stress, eat up time unnecessarily, and make us feel as if we don’t have enough time to do what we need to get done.

Can you think of examples in your life that are creating a cluttered, disorganized reality for you? Is it messy cabinets, or your desk at work, or that pile of junk mail on the kitchen table? Or maybe it’s unanswered letters or emails. If so, make a list, then set aside a chunk of time to work on clearing the mess or finishing tasks. Check them off one-by-one–this can be very empowering and motivating. Then see how this creates clarity and opens up time and space for new and good things to come into your life. You'll love yourself for it!

Digest for Week-ending 23 April 2011

In case you missed it, this week, I wrote about 6 common herbs that are frequently found fresh in your local grocery store or that can be easily grown in the garden, in pots, or even on the windowsill. When added to the diet, either fresh or dried, they provide:
  • vitamins and minerals,
  • fiber,
  • antioxidants/phytonutrients,
  • antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal compounds
  • anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities
Read about why and how to incorporate these nutritional powerhouses into your meals here:

This herb's antioxidant capacity rivals blueberries!

Super high in bone-building vitamin K as well as vitamins C and A.

A potent anti-bacterial, it's also great for fighting a cold and for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Also high in vitamin K as well as iron, it's been used to ease a sore throat and chest congestion.

My favorite summer herb that's also high in fiber and an antimicrobial agent too!

Wonderful in tea, this herb settles an upset stomach and can reduce inflammation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Ginger

This week, I’ve featured 5 common herbs that are either easy to grow or fairly easy to come by and that by including then in the diet, can have a strong, positive impact on our health.

The final herb for this week is ginger. If you look at it’s nutritional profile below, you’ll notice that it is not nearly as robust as the previous herbs mentioned here this week.


% Daily Value

Magnesium 3

Potassium 3

Copper 3

Manganese 3

Yet, as an herbal remedy, ginger is reliably used to safely treat conditions such as motion sickness, nausea and upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. I think back to how many times I was given ginger ale for an upset stomach while growing up. Today, I don’t normally drink soda, but if I’m in the mood for a treat, I will buy Reed’s Ginger Beer. It’s a delicious, all natural, non-alcoholic carbonated beverage sweetened with honey.

Ginger also contains compounds called gingerols that act as anti-inflammatory agents and are believed to help relieve the pain and swelling of arthritis. Gingerols are also believed to act as potent antioxidants as well.

Ginger is a warming herb that can induce sweating and help fight an oncoming cold or flu. Try making a tea by grating a small piece of ginger then squeezing the juice into hot water. Add lemon and honey.

Here are some additional ways to use ginger:

  • Powdered or crystallized and minced and added to granola
  • Added into baked goods
  • Sliced or chopped and added to a stir-fry
  • Juiced along with vegetables
  • Included with fermented vegetables

What are some additional ways you add ginger into your diet?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Basil

Basil is the herb I most associate with summer and Italian cooking, maybe because it pairs so well with fresh-picked garden tomatoes. In fact, it is often a companion plant of tomatoes and I’ve found it grows like a weed. It does wilt and lose its flavor quickly, though, so it should be used soon after harvesting.

In continuing with the theme of this week, basil is another antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It produces several volatile oils that inhibit the growth of bacteria including E. Coli, Pseudomonas, and Listeria. This site lists some interesting medicinal uses for basil.

In addition, the flavonoids in basil protect cells from oxidative damage and beta-carotene (vitamin A) and magnesium help to keep the epithelial lining of our blood vessels healthy and relaxed.

Like most of the herbs posted here this week, basil has a strong nutritional profile. Two teaspoons of dried basil provide the following:

% Daily Value

Vitamin K 60

Iron 7

Calcium 6

Vitamin A 6

Manganese 4

Magnesium 3

Vitamin C 3

Potassium 3

Fiber 5


Some classic ways to use basil include:

  • As a main ingredient in pesto
  • Layered with sliced summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, then drizzled with olive oil
  • In tomato sauces or ratatouille

If you’ve got additional good uses for basil, share them here!!

The Power of Herbs - Garlic

I’m guessing that there are not too many people out there that haven’t heard about the benefits of garlic. I think many of us have a love/hate relationship with garlic. We know it’s good for us, but the trail it leaves behind is not so good. I’m talking about the garlic breath and the garlicky smelling sweat from the next day’s workout.

But there is no denying that garlic should be included in our diets. I remember a classic experiment we did as an undergrad in Microbiology class. We began with a Petri dish of solid growth medium that had a lawn of bacteria growing on it. We added a small piece of raw garlic to the middle of the dish, covered it, and let it incubate overnight. The next morning, there was a dead zone surrounding the piece of garlic where the bacteria had died and were unable to re-grow.

The main active compounds in garlic are sulfur-containing and include allicin. Besides acting as an antibacterial, garlic also exhibits antiviral and antifungal properties and can be used to fight and prevent a cold. It is strongly anti-inflammatory and has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the oxidative damage done to blood vessel walls, lowering the accumulation of plaque. Its vasodilative effect also relaxes the blood vessels, which helps to lower blood pressure.

Garlic also has anti-cancer properties. Diallyl sulfide (DAS), a sulfur-containing compound in garlic has been shown to inhibit the conversion of heterocyclic amines that are produced by cooking meat at high heat, into carcinogens in the liver.

To get the most benefits out of garlic, it should be crushed or chopped and allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes for the conversion of alliin to alllicin. Although some may not be able to take the heat of raw garlic, but it is best to eat it as close to raw as possible. Still, there is nothing better than the aroma of sautéed garlic or garlic roasting in the oven. To retain its health benefits, add it into dishes at the end of cooking.

Just 3 cloves of fresh garlic have the following micronutrient profile with trace amounts of additional vitamins and minerals:

% Daily Value

Vitamin C 5

Vitamin B6 6

Manganese 8

Calcium 2

Selenium 2

Here are some ways to add garlic to the diet:

  • Add it into hummus or pesto
  • Use it minced in dressings
  • Include it in sauces and soups
  • Mix it into a marinade
  • Chop off the top and roast it in the oven, then spread the soft cloves on bread : )
  • Make garlic-flavored oil by soaking the cloves (this should not be stored at room temperature)
  • Use the tender shoots, or scapes in dressings, soups, stir-frys, or on salads
Can you think of more??

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Thyme

Moving on to day three of herbs, there continues to be a common theme among them and that is their amazing healing and medicinal properties. Like oregano and parsley, thyme is more than just a flavoring agent.

It has antibacterial and antifungal properties and has a long history of use for sore throats and chest congestion because of the antiseptic properties of its volatile oil thymol. It has been inhaled in steam or steeped and used for gargling.

Thyme also contains antioxidants that help to protect our cells and it has a strong nutritional profile. Two teaspoons of dried thyme provide the following:

% daily value

  • Vitamin K 42
  • Iron 14
  • Manganese 8
  • Calcium 4

It also has small amounts of vitamins A, C, folate, and magnesium. As with other herbs, we can actually pump up the nutrient density of our meals by adding fresh (and sometimes intense) flavor! I love this concept because normally we think of something medicinal or healing as not tasting nice and it’s as if nature has made it a point of drawing us to the things that will do us the most good.

Thyme has always been one of my favorite herbs to use in dried form and I frequently combine it with oregano and basil in tomato-based sauces.

Like other fresh herbs:

  • it’s wonderful in egg dishes
  • on meats and fish
  • in soups and stews
  • and chopped fine in dressings

If you like clam chowder, my brother also has a wonderful recipe that calls for fresh thyme. It’s one of the few clam chowders I’ve ever made or liked, for that matter.

Have you ever grown thyme or bought it fresh? What types of dishes do you use it for?

The Power of Herbs - Parsley

Parsley is probably one of the most widely used herbs to garnish a dish, and it does add a certain elegance to a meal. It is also a practical tool for cleansing the palate and freshening the breath after eating, so in that way, it plays multiple roles on the plate.

However, limiting parsley in the diet to a sprig at the end of a meal greatly limits its true health benefits as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and digestion aid.

Just 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley provide the following nutrients:

% daily value

vitamin K 154

vitamin C 17

vitamin A 13

Folate 3

Iron 3

The flavenoids in parsley act as powerful antioxidants to neutralize oxygen radicals and increase the antioxidant activity of the blood. It has high levels of vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting and bone formation, the antioxidant vitamin C, and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Foods rich in this nutrient are linked to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Parsley contains volatile oils including myristicin, which have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in the lungs of animals. Myristicin also activates glutathione-S-transferase, which works with glutathione to prevent damage done by oxidized molecules. The oils also work to protect against the harmful effects of compounds referred to as benzopyrenes found in cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and fried foods.

Here are some easy ways to get the full benefits of parsley:

  • Add fresh, chopped parsley to scrambled eggs or omelets
  • Sprinkle it onto grain dishes near the end of cooking
  • Flavor sautéed vegetables
  • Include it in soups and stews
  • Mix it into salads
  • Use it to make pesto

What are your favorite ways to use parsley??

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Parsley

Parsley is probably one of the most widely used herbs to garnish a dish, and it does add a certain elegance to a meal. It is also a practical tool for cleansing the palate and freshening the breath after eating, so in that way, it plays multiple roles on the plate. However, limiting parsley in the diet to a sprig at the end of a meal greatly limits its true health benefits as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and digestion aid.

Just 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley provide the following nutrients:

% daily value

  • vitamin K 154
  • vitamin C 17
  • vitamin A 13
  • folate 3
  • iron 3

The flavenoids in parsley act as powerful antioxidants to neutralize oxygen radicals and increase the antioxidant activity of the blood. It has high levels of vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting and bone formation, the antioxidant vitamin C, and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Foods rich in this nutrient are linked to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Parsley contains volatile oils including myristicin, which have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in the lungs of animals. Myristicin also activates glutathione-S-transferase, which works with glutathione to prevent damage done by oxidized molecules. The oils also work to protect against the harmful effects of compounds referred to as benzopyrenes found in cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and fried foods.

Here are some easy ways to get the full benefits of parsley:


- Add fresh, chopped parsley to scrambled eggs or omelets

- Sprinkle it onto grain dishes near the end of cooking

- Flavor sautéed vegetables

- Include it in soups and stews

- Mix it into salads

- Use it in pesto


What are some of the ways you like to use fresh parsley??

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Oregano

The idea of oregano probably brings up images or thoughts of the dried herb flavoring spaghetti sauce and other Italian dishes and we probably don’t think about it as a source of healing powers. But oregano offers a wide variety of disease-fighting properties. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and an antimicrobial/antibacterial agent.

Its volatile oils thymol and carvacrol are potent inhibitors of bacteria and thymol and rosmarinic acid, also found in oregano, act as strong antioxidants that help to prevent damage done by free radicals. In fact, oregano’s antioxidant capacity is even stronger than blueberries! Yet, how many of us think about ways to include oregano into our daily diets?

Although oregano is best eaten fresh for better flavor, just two teaspoons of dried oregano provides the following micronutrient profile:

% daily value

Vitamin K 23

Manganese 8

Iron 7

Dietary fiber 5

Omega-3 FA’s 5

Calcium 4

Vitamin A 4

Vitamin C 3

Although I’m not one to pick apart foods for their nutritional value and would rather look at them in terms of their overall nutrition, I list the above nutrients to demonstrate how powerful oregano is as a source of valuable vitamins, minerals, and even fats. Can you see the value of including herbs in meals on a regular basis? Oregano enhances our health while adding flavor and aroma at the same time. There isn’t a multivitamin out there that can do that.

To take advantage of oregano’s powers, experiment with it by adding it to any dish you would normally add herbs:

- combine it with other fresh herbs in egg dishes,

- add it to sauces and soups,

- mix it into vegetables,

- use it in marinades and dressings

Can you think of another use for oregano, either fresh or dried? I’d love to hear your favorite dishes that include oregano!!

Weekly Digest - Weeks-ending 9 April and 16 April

Here is a recap of the topics covered over the last two weeks on The Daily Detox:


Week ending 16 Apr 2011:

Decompress to Reduce Stress

With the speed and intensity of our lives these days, it is vitally important to manage stress to stay healthy. Here are few ways to do that.

Un-process This…

Why we should minimize the amount of processed food in our diets and the benefits of eating whole foods.

Green Air Filters

Adding houseplants to our indoor surroundings is a great way to rid the environment of toxic chemicals.

Love-up the Skin You’re In

Taking a look at your repertoire of personal-care products and why it may need a makeover.

Let Them See You Sweat

Sweating aids in the removal of toxins from the body in ways that you may not be aware of.

Fast Food is Anything But Fast

The time it takes to order and pay for fast food may be quick, but the “fast” stops there.

Chew, Chew, Chew…

The simple act of chewing our food well provides some tremendous health benefits discussed here.

Week ending 9 Apr 2011:

Breathe Clear

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or simply want to keep the sinuses clear, this simple tool does wonders in minutes.

Sweet Dreams

The health benefits of sleep go far beyond not feeling sleepy all day.

Paper or Plastic?

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of plastic you use with your food, here are some ways to go about it.

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Do you eat a green vegetable everyday? Why you should and simple ways to incorporate them into your meals.

Deep Breath In…Deep Breath Out…

Breathing- it’s one of the main ways our body detoxes and a body function that we should practice more consciously

Changing the World with Water

How would the world be different if we were all well hydrated?

Welcome to The Daily Detox!

A welcome from me describing my inspiration for The Daily Detox and what I hope to accomplish through this blog.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Decompress to Reduce Stress

With the way many of our lives run today, it’s difficult to not experience some stress. Sometimes stress is a good thing, for example, when we’re driving and are cut-off by someone, and we need to react quickly. But being fully engaged for fight or flight all the time can have a real impact on us physically.

Like a pesticide or an organic chemical, stress is a toxin that actually depresses the immune system, generates free radicals, and negatively affects brain function. It also induces the production of cortisol, which can lead to weight gain and/or the ability to lose weight.

To maintain health and a sense of wellbeing, it is vitally important to relieve stress or decompress on a regular basis. Here are some ways accomplish this:

Go Play – Having fun is a great way to relax, and rather than being a waste of time, it can actually work to your advantage., Engaging in leisure activities or hobbies is a wonderful way to get the creative juices flowing. And it’s more difficult to feel stress when you’re enjoying yourself.

Get out in Nature – There is something so calming about being among the trees. The combination of the quiet, the calmness, the living energy, and the abundance of oxygen are all very healing to body, mind, and spirit.

Unplug – The radiation we are exposed to from our computers and internet connections, cell phones, and appliances place a tremendous amount of stress on the body and will be the topic of another post. Spend time away from them on a daily basis–for example, in nature as mentioned above.

Be still – We’re exposed to information overload and on a continuous mission to be somewhere or do something, often multi-tasking to get it all done. Take some time everyday to sit quietly, meditate, or just think. And sitting for hours in front of the TV does not count here : )

What are some of the ways that you like to wind down to relieve stress??

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Un-process This...

I am a big proponent of eating a whole foods diet for maintaining optimum health. What exactly does that mean? It means eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

For example, eat an apple instead of drinking apple juice or eating a store-bought pastry filled with apples. Eat whole grains like oatmeal or quinoa instead of a box of cereal made from oats or crackers made from grain flours. Eat a tomato in a salad instead of a frozen pizza.

Here a few reasons to adopt this way of eating:

It helps us to eat the freshest foods possible. A fresh, ripe apple is very high in nutrients, but we know that it has a very limited shelf-life that is easy to determine by the overall condition of the apple. Processed foods on the shelves are produced so that their shelf-life is extended, often way beyond what would be considered normal.

It allows us to get the full nutritional benefit from the food. For example, whole grains like wheat have an outer bran that’s loaded with fiber and nutrients that are often stripped away when it’s made into flour for cereals, breads, cakes, cookies. If the box says “enriched”, it means that important components have been removed.

Eating whole grains like oats, barley, quinoa, and buckwheat give us the full spectrum of nutrients in their natural state. This is important since these beneficial compounds are often part of a complex of nutrients that may get processed and absorbed by the digestive system more efficiently than isolated vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The same goes for fruits and vegetables.

It ensures that we’re not getting additional ingredients that our bodies don’t want. Most processed foods contain added sugars, salts, unhealthy fats, and chemicals that stabilize the food or make it taste great (often making them addictive!). By eating whole foods, we can give our bodies exactly what it needs and prevent it from getting things that it not only doesn’t need, but it doesn’t know what to do with, that can build up, and that can be harmful.

Today, pick one processed food product in your diet (if there is one) and replace it with a whole foods alternative.