Summer entails not just sunshine and opportunities for travel, but plenty of occasions to indulge in some of our favorite foods. But as the season’s sunshine helps smash the blues, a cleanse or detox just in time for quality summer fun can chase away the sluggishness that often slows down our bodies after a long winter.
Eating clean to optimize your health is an excellent way to refresh your eating habits. You may have heard of the “clean-eating” craze thanks to its popularity of foodie photos on social media and the countless hashtags like #cleaneating or #eatclean, but the spirit of eating clean lies in how it’s delivered to your table—meaning, as natural as possible. And while many see it as a diet, it’s more about creating a happy and healthy lifestyle for yourself for an improved wellness, one meal at a time. That said, it also means, eating minimally processed and packaged foods, and cooking more at home with good ingredients.
Touted as the best way to rev up your natural detoxification process by experts and nutritionists through the consumption of whole, real foods like veggies, fruit, whole grains, protein, nuts, seeds and oils, clean eating is a nutritious and beneficial way to support your body’s well-being.
Skip the sugars:
Sorry, Mary Poppins, but you don’t need that spoonful of sugar anymore. Sugar sweetened beverages account for 36 percent of the added sugar we consume on a daily basis. According to Sugar Science, one 12-ounce can of our favorite pop drink can increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third. As evidenced by scientists and researchers, the high fructose corn syrup used to sweeten numerous soft drinks and juices has links to metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease and diabetes. Have you ever picked up your favorite fruit juice from the supermarket aisle and noticed the nutritional serving? It’s not pretty. Nearly every container of juice contains 5 tablespoons, which is 25 grams of sugar per cup. Three servings a week of juice alone can increase risk of developing diabetes.
While there are sustainable substitutions available for you to satiate your sweet tooth, try using Stevia. It might seem sweeter than sugar, but it has a glycemic index rating of zero and that’s good because that means it has a gradual rise in blood sugar, if any. Following the natural route of sugars, have a water within reach all day and infuse it occasionally with fruit.
Wake up and smell the coffee:
Whether you love it hot or cold, iced or in the form of a Frappuccino from Starbucks, coffee is everyone’s favorite pick-me-up. Between improving your memory, helping you burn fat and protecting you from developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, coffee is one of the best ways to kick off your morning. Loaded with antioxidants and a slew of beneficial nutrients, coffee really is very healthy. However, it has its downside, especially when it comes to eating clean.
Coffee on its own is clean, especially if you buy whole coffee beans and grind them yourself. But as studies suggest too much can increase a fracture risk in women, cause anxiety palpitations and irritability. Moreover, it can cause insomnia and create stimulating effects on our digestive tract that reduce nutrient absorption. As if that wasn’t enough, creamers and sweeteners not only add too much sugar to your diet but contain dangerous artificial ingredients that a clean eating diet tries its hardest to eliminate. Starbucks might be our go-to coffeehouse, but most of their drinks are loaded with sugar. To help you cut back on coffee and continue clean eating habits, dilute it with decaffeinated drinks or try white, black, green or herbal teas with energy boosting properties like licorice or herbal “coffees” made of chicory, barley or dandelion.
A grain of truth:
For centuries, grain such as wheat, corn, oats and rye has been the soul of humankind’s diet and sustenance. As a major part of our livelihood and life, it is a foundational element to every food we have today. However, today we process and strip much of our grains of their essential nutrients and fiber in hopes to extend their shelf life and appeal to more taste buds. By changing up its makeup, selected nutrients are reintroduced after processing but not in the same quantity or quality as in what we find in original flours. Not to mention, low-fiber becomes a risk factor for compromising our body’s ability to properly detox due, causing constipation.
While we are well aware that reducing our sugar intake and curb our caffeine fix can reduce health risks, scientists are discovering that eating more whole grains can actually protect our arteries. In a report from the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found whole grain not only reduce cholesterol levels and promote weight loss, but they are effective foods in protecting your body against cancers and diabetes. As evidenced in the study, whole grains help to reduce damage to artery walls and the buildup of plaque on damaged areas. For the best way to eat clean, eat three servings of whole-grain foods a day to lower your risk of heart disease by almost a third.
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What are some ways you love to eat clean? Let us know in the comments below.