GUIDELINES

Most importantly, you want to get the best nutrients you can and avoid chemicals in your food.

General REAL FOOD Guidelines: (updates in progress for this article)
  • Avoid Wheat.  Today’s wheat is not the same as it was just 100 years ago. Wheat is hybridized to increase its gluten content which interferes with digestion and causes a condition called leaky gut. This hybridization process has increased the number of chromosomes in today’s wheat from its original 14 to 42, which makes it more difficult to digest.  Alternatives: eat whole grain rice, such as brown and wild rice (full of vitamins and fiber) instead of white rice. Note: whole grain rice takes 40 – 45 minutes to cook on stove top.  Additionally, eat oatmeal (and other whole grain cereals) instead of boxed cereals.  Grains should be pre-soaked (overnight is best) before cooking to remove phytic acids which interfere with absorption of vitamins and minerals within the grains. In fact, eat a gluten-free diet. Popular gluten free “grains” are quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat which can be prepared as easily as preparing rice. Eating wheat and other improperly prepared grains is linked to inflammation throughout the body and joint pain. (More info: How to Soak and Cook Whole Grains and The Real Problem with Grains.)
  • Other carbohydrates (as an alternative to eating grains). Squashes (butternut, acorn and spaghetti) and potatoes are quite filling. (Note: “Red” potatoes have least amount of starch among all potato varieties.)
  • Buy organic, especially if eating animal products, to avoid hormones and antibiotics in your food. Eating hormones interfere with our own natural body chemistry and antibiotics from food can build up in our bodies so that doctor prescribed antibiotics don’t work when we need them to the most. Also, antibiotics found in food (just like in medicine) can destroy the good bacteria in our gut. Eating organic fruits and vegetables will cut down on pesticides on your food. If organic fruits and vegetables are not accessible, you can help cut down on pesticides by washing the skins (Spritz them in turn with plain white vinegar/apple cider vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Either can be used first.  Then rinse them off.) Also, consider totally discarding the outer skins from your food to cut down on the risk of non-organic foods.
  • Avoid Processed Foods as much as you can.  (This is almost anything that has been pre-packaged, pre-cooked and even pre-seasoned.) By eating fresh foods you avoid MSG and a list of other food additives, preservatives and fillers. 
  • Choose pastured chickens and grass-fed cattle. Grass-fed meat has higher Omega-3s which is necessary to balance out the high Omega-6s that most consume in their daily diets. (Omega-6s cause inflammation and high amounts are found in grain-based foods.) Personally I find grass-fed meats to be "slime-less". For instance, when making ground beef patties I don't have the sticky mass of residue stuck on my hands when using grass-fed meats that I did when using conventional meats. This was enough evidence to convince me that I eat should be eating grass-fed beef. There is surely a difference. Pastured and roaming eggs are the ideal because the chickens can roam and eat insects, worms and other small creatures of which is their normal diet. The label “Vegetarian-fed” is not normal. 
  • Dairy If you drink milk, make it real “raw” milk (www.realmilk.org). You can find local dairies from which you can purchase real milk just the way our grandparents used to drink it. Otherwise, if not raw milk, I suggest organic, lactose free milk.  Be sure to read labels concerning all dairy too. Once basic brand I find that doesn’t put extra ingredients in their dairy products is Daisy, but you have to make sure that you get the plain (NOT low fat versions). Sour cream, cottage cheese and cream cheese should only have a few ingredients such as cultured milk, cultured cream, salt and not much more. Yogurt should be chosen using these same guidelines: only cultured milk and cream and not much added sugar, I recommend buying plain flavors so that you can add your own fruit or honey. Cheeses: Choose hard “cultured” cheeses such as cheddar, Colby, Havarti, Parmesan. Buy cheeses in blocks and shred at home. You can purchase sliced hard cheeses from the deli at grocery store. AVOID processed cheeses such as American cheese. Dairy (except when raw) is mucus/acid forming which can encourage post-nasal drip and respiratory infections/complications. 
  • Eat many fresh fruits and fresh vegetables!
The best options are organic and local from your community’s farmers markets where you can actually speak with the farmers to learn of their farming practices before deciding to buy from them. If organic is not possible, choose fruits and veggies based on the Clean 15 and be aware of the Dirty Dozen.
  • Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup –  found in most packaged, processed foods, so eat as fresh as possible.  We are getting an overdose on corn because the animals we eat are also eating corn (which by the way is very unnatural and causes inflammation in the animal and therefore causes inflammation in us too because we get an overdose of Omega 6).   High Fructose Corn Syrup increases sugar consumption...as noted in next bullet point below...contributing to Type 2 Diabetes and other health problems.

  • Don’t drink your sugar. There are just too many calories in sodas and store-bought fruit juices.  Instead, if you must drink something sweet,  juice fresh fruit. Also, artificial sugars (found in products labeled ‘sugar-free’) are even more bad for you than the sugared ones.  You might want to try a naturally bubbly Water Kefir or Kombucha drinks instead which are what we drink at home and the kids love it.  These drinks are full of probiotics, vitamins and Kombucha helps with detoxing. Use 100% honey, maple syrup or stevia as a sweetener for drinks and even baking.

  • Avoid Hydrogenated (and Partially Hydrogenated) Oils. These oils are created with hydrogen gas under pressure that produces trans-fatty acids. These oils extend the shelf life of food products, so they are a common ingredient in packaged foods.  
  • Choose Extra Virgin Oils such as Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil & Walnut Oil in place of the common vegetable (canola, corn, soybean) oils. Heating most oils destroys their nutritional value, causing them to become rancid and the body can no longer use what should be beneficial. So don’t overheat oils above their recommended heat point. It’s even better to simply drizzle olive oil on the food after it’s prepared. Oils you definitely want to avoid are vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, any type of hydrogenated/fractionated oils.
  • To combat inflammation we need Omega 3s which can be found in high amounts in: Flaxseed Oil, Oily Fish/Fish Oil, & dark leafy green vegetables Read more here
  • Snacking. Eat “raw” nuts and seeds as snacks with naturally dried fruits.  If you want them roasted and flavored – it’s best to do so yourself. Also, it would be and added benefit to soak nuts and seeds prior to eating to remove phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.
  • Add probiotic foods to your diet. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/ is a good place to learn more about probiotic foods. These include yogurt, sauerkraut and fermented drinks such as kefir, Kombucha or the fermented coconut drinks. Also, taking a good probiotic which contains at minimum lactobacillus and bifobacterium strains every night before going to bed is very beneficial. Most Americans do not have a normal balance of the good bacteria in their guts/stomachs which pre-disposes us to all of the degenerative diseases. (Quick tips: Buy plain, whole milk yogurt that doesn't have added fruit or sugar to get the best quality. Many health food stores and some grocery stores sell probiotic drinks such as Kombucha and even fresh sauerkraut which is also a good probiotic. Food probiotics are less expensive and more effective than taking probiotic pills.)

NOTES:

1-To combat inflammation we need Omega 3s which can be found in high amounts in: Flaxseed Oil, Oily Fish/Fish Oil, & dark leafy green vegetables.

2-Kefir and kombucha can irritate the stomachs of those with leaky gut, IBS and other digestive issues, so start with only a few tablespoons at a time to see how well your body does with it. In fact, it’s best to begin with small amounts of any probiotic food because it takes time to re-populate the stomach with good bacteria if initially there are too many bad bacteria living there.

The Environmental Working Group provides a great on-line resource to avoiding pesticides.

For even more information, search the internet for these key terms: "pastured", "grass-fed", "raw milk", "Non-GMO".

Have you read 'What Is Real Food?' already?