The Benefits of Eating Clean - dummies

By Jonathan Wright, Linda Larsen

So other than containing clean, natural ingredients rather than artificial chemicals, what can clean, whole foods do for you? Eating a clean diet can help you live longer, make you stronger, prevent disease, and maybe even treat some diseases. These claims may sound like one of those late-night infomercials, but they’re all true — backed up with scientific research conducted by real doctors wearing lab coats!

Overall good health

If you’ve been blessed with good health, you’re lucky. After all, your genes do play a part in whether or not you develop disease. But scientists estimate that 310,000 to 580,000 deaths in the United States every year are caused by an unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise. After all, your diet has a very real effect on your health:

  • Diet causes up to one-third of all cancers.
  • Poor diet causes most cases of obesity.
  • A diet based on processed foods, junk foods, and refined foods is a major risk factor for developing heart disease.
  • Not getting enough vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in your diet puts you at greater risk for catching infectious diseases.
  • Eating too much sugar, alcohol, and bad fat can reduce the efficiency of your immune system.

The eating clean plan can help you stay as healthy as you can be by putting your dietary focus on whole foods that pack a nutritional punch. No matter what the current state of your health is, you can feel better and get healthier if you ditch the refined, overly processed foods and start concentrating on eating healthy foods.

The characteristics of overall good health are

  • Stamina
  • Normal body weight
  • Normal blood pressure
  • Good blood cholesterol counts and other normal blood parameters
  • A healthy heart
  • Good digestion
  • Clear skin
  • Mental acuity

Overall good health has many more markers, of course, but the point is that good health isn’t perfection. It isn’t about achieving a model’s body or looking like your favorite movie star. Good health means that your body is able to do what you want it to do, whether that’s to hike Mount Annapurna or take a walk around the block.

Weight loss and disease prevention

More than 60 percent of all Americans are overweight. Even with messages about nutrition being blasted all day long, through every form of media, Americans are getting more and more overweight. What’s going on?

Many nutritionists think the problem is what’s in the food most people eat. Your body wasn’t made to use all the chemicals and artificial ingredients packed into much of the American diet. And it certainly wasn’t made to consume as much sodium, fake fat, and sugar as many people do today. Plus, your body was made to efficiently process food and store fat since your ancestors couldn’t guarantee that they’d get three square meals a day. When Americans are faced with unlimited quantities of food available 24 hours a day, something has to give. Often, that something is their waistbands.

The key to healthy, sustained weight loss is to gradually lose weight by eating a nutrient-dense diet of filling foods, which is exactly what the eating clean plan is all about. On the plan, you eat more often and you eat foods that are satisfying and very nutritious. After you get into the clean eating plan, you really won’t have any more room in your life (or your stomach) for the junk food that made you overweight in the first place!

Remember the thousands of deaths caused every year by poor diet and lack of exercise that we talk about in the preceding section? Well, people don’t die because of a poor diet; they die because of the diseases caused (or exacerbated) by that poor diet. Those diseases include

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Osteoporosis

Disease occurs when something goes wrong in your body. Cells grow too fast, and your body is so busy filtering toxins that it takes longer to respond to infection. Over time, these factors can lead to a serious disease.

The eating clean diet really is the model for eating to prevent disease. One of its main focuses is on getting plenty of phytochemicals, which help prevent inflammation, keep your immune system strong, and keep your cardiovascular system running smoothly. The only way to get your phytochemicals is to eat lots of whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.

A longer, more active life

A good motto for the eating clean life is “It’s not only the years in your life, but the life in your years!” Everyone wants to live a long life, of course, but if that life is full of preventable pain, disease, and suffering, all bets are off. Living a long life should mean being able to easily walk up stairs, walk around the block, and participate in active hobbies well into your 80s and 90s.

Fortunately, the eating clean diet can help you do just that! If you’re blessed with basically good health, eating whole foods prepared in a clean way is one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy. Of course, no diet can guarantee good health or a long life. But you can tip the odds in your favor with the eating clean plan.