Some swear on high carb, others prefer the protein and fat loaded Keto diet, and again others eat according to the Mediterranean diet – the recommendations of which food is good for your body could not be more different.
Yet, there is one thing all diets agree on: To put as much natural food as possible on your plate and into your belly. How come that despite all the differences, diets have this one thing in common? Well, there is more than one answer to this question. “Natural food” has many advantages for your body, mind and soul…
Natural food vs. fast food
Before we come to the benefits of natural food, we want to clarify what we are talking about. When we speak of “natural food”, we are referring to food that is widely close to its natural state. This includes
• free of synthetic and artificial ingredients or chemical additives
• rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Foods such as lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that can be found on the menu of our Bun-D restaurants.
It goes without saying, that processed (e.g. canned, baked, frozen food) and fast food or ready-to-eat meals are exactly the opposite. While they are convenient and fit our busy lifestyles to a T, they can also potentially affect your health: According to a 2015 review, fast food not only lacks some beneficial nutrients, it tends to be high in sugar, salt, saturated or trans fat and contains many processed preservatives as well as ingredients. This can also be seen in even the more healthy fast food items.
Nowadays, there is plenty of well-researched evidence demonstrating the various negative health effects of eating and overeating fast food, in both the short- and long-term. They range from high blood pressure making a person more prone to heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, or heart disease to inflammation to even depression and anxiety.
The list of the negative impacts of our convenient, typical Western diet is long. Good news is, that the list of advantages of eating natural food is even longer.
12 advantages of natural food
1. Good for your gut
“All disease begins in the gut”, modern medicine proves the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was not so far-off nearly 2500 years ago. A lot of physical and even mental diseases are connected to your gut microbiome. With natural foods, you can support your bodies ‘good’ bacteria such as probiotics to keep you healthy by
• supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation,
• helping your body digest food,
• keeping bad bacteria from getting out of control and making you sick,
• creating vitamins,
Another important component for a healthy gut is fibre, which can be found in avocados, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and blackberries as well as in beans and legumes.Sources of prebiotics, which is a form of dietary fibre, include garlic, asparagus, and cocoa.
2. Support weight loss
When switching to more natural foods, it is not uncommon to lose weight. In fact, as fruit, vegetables, wholegrain and other real food are generally lower in calories, contain less sugar and less (unhealthy) fat than processed foods, you probably lose weight without having to count calories, as suggested by a research published in 2018. Another research even suggests, that a high intake of processed and fast foods has been linked to a higher rate of overeating. By focusing on natural food, the days of binge eating might be gone- especially as a diet based on real food may help reduce cravings for sweets.
3. Help manage blood sugar and diabetes
According to the International Diabetes Federation, more than 700 million people are expected to live with diabetes world-wide by 2045. Eating natural foods can help reduce blood sugar levels in people who have or are at risk for diabetes. After eating mostly fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and nuts in a 12 weeks-study, people with diabetes or pre diabetes experienced a 26% reduction in blood sugar levels.
4. Care for a healthy heart
Increasing the intake of natural food such as beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains along with eliminating more and more processed food from your diet, is the best way to support heart health. Studies show that this diet helps reduce inflammation, which is considered one of the major drivers of heart disease.
5. Reduces the risk of developing cancer
Observational studies link a balanced diet heavy in fruits and vegetables not only to a reduced risk of heart disease, but also of cancer.Especially recommended is to add food that is rich in antioxidants such as
• Blueberries and Raspberries
• Pumpkins and Carrots
• Unsalted Nuts and Seeds
• Dark Leafy Greens
6. Give you strong bones and teeth
Our Western diet of processed food with lots of sugar and soda drinks is pretty hard on your teeth – pun intended – and likely to cause decay. On the contrary, if you consume food that contains lots of nutrients in particular calcium, magnesium and Vitamin-D, it can strengthen both your bones and teeth. Calcium-rich food is milk, yoghurts and cheeses; leafy greens like Lettuce, Kale, Pak Choi, flax, chia and pumpkin seeds or nuts such as almond or cashew nuts are full of magnesium; and Vitamin-D can be found naturally in proteins like Red meats and Eggs.
7. Makes your skin look younger
As if there were not already reasons enough, studies suggest that eating more vegetables, fish, beans, and olive oil may help reduce wrinkling, loss of elasticity, and other age-related skin changes.
8. Boosts your energy
With natural food, you are not only looking younger, you also feel younger. When you stick to a balanced diet with carbs e.g. in brown rice, sweet potato or banana, protein (eggs, lean meats) and good fats e.g. in walnuts or avocados, you will feel the boost of energy.
9. Improves sleeping pattern
According to research, a diet that lacks magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, C, D, E, and K will often cause sleep-related complications. As natural food contain lots of these nutrients by default, it does not come by surprise that this diet has been linked to improved sleeping pattern.
10. Beneficial for your mental health
Vegetables like broccoli or chickpeas, fruits, and grains, for example, contain folate, a mineral that has been known to reduce depressive thoughts. In addition to that, protein and fats in turkey, mushroom or oily fish contain important amino acids that help to regulate thoughts and feelings.
11. Helps Children’s development
While eating nutrient-rich food is important overall, it cannot be overestimated for children’s physical and emotional health. Beans, leafy greens or chicken can help them grow physically. Protein in particular is incredibly important for ensuring tissue repair and muscle growth. Natural food that contains folate, Vitamin B6 and choline is also critical for children’s psychological development. These nutrients synthesize neurotransmitters that regulate mood and memory. Are they out of balance, these transmitters can cause depression, anxiety, and irregular behavior among children. Eating healthy is also critical for their immune system: Fruits such as berries, oranges and grapefruits, and legumes are packed with helpful nutrients and vitamins that can boost the bodies’ natural immune system. As little as 1 cup of orange slices (165 grams) for example contains more than 100% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for vitamin C.
12. Better for the environment
Eating as naturally as possible is not only beneficial for us, but also for the environment. Food production including growing crops, raising livestock, fishing and transporting all that food to our plates is responsible for up to 37% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, scientists found out. Altering our diet to a more natural, locally sourced one could change that: A study found that if citizens in 28 high-income nations like the United States, Germany andJapan actually followed the dietary recommendations of their respective governments, greenhouse gases related to the production of the food they eat would fall by 13% to 25%. In addition, the amount of used land would decrease significantly as well. Not only that, developing sustainable agriculture based on real food may reduce energy needs and decrease the amount of non bio degradable waste that humans produce.
To enjoy all these advantages of a natural-food diet to the fullest, stick to fresh ingredients and choose organic produce whenever possible and put a lot of diversity on your plate. You can make it a habit to regularly try new foods such as chia seeds, organ meats and quinoa. Either by cooking at home, or by discovering natural food at Bun-D restaurants all over the world.