In order to achieve outstanding energy and long-lasting vitality you must feed yourself foods that the body and brain recognise as food. In other words, foods that provide the building blocks your body requires for sustaining life. Unfortunately, food companies looking to promote their products frequently use misleading terms, confusing the general public. Below, we take a look at the most common of these terms and what to look out for when making a ‘safe’ purchase.
This is a term appropriate for any foodstuff which provides you with good quality nutrients that can be utilised by the body for its various and many functions. They will, by their very nature, be naturally-occurring foods (those that grow on the earth or in the sea).
The term ‘healthy’ is used extensively to sell a variety of foods. However, foods with vitamins and minerals added to them (called fortified) are generally foods which are processed and have therefore been stripped of any naturally occurring nutrients (the nutrients they advertise tend to be added post-processing). An example of this would be breakfast cereals.
Truly healthy foods are also ‘natural’ foods (see below).
This term should indicate foods that are completely unadulterated, such as whole grains, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, unroasted nuts and seeds, legumes, beans, raw (unpasteurised) dairy and animal proteins.
Don’t be fooled into believing a product is natural, just because it says so on the label. After all, fruit juice is natural when squeezed manually, but when the juice is extracted by means of heat (destroying any naturally occurring nutrients), had man-made vitamins added to it and then stored for weeks in a plastic-lined carton (releasing toxic plasticides into the liquid), you’re not getting quite the same level of nutrition from it. In fact, you’re getting a product, which is quite toxic and certainly very ‘dead’.
‘Organic’ refers to foods which have had no chemicals added to it through its growth span (this includes the soil in/on which it is grown), for example pesticides, growth hormones and anti-biotics. Actually, this term should also refer to foods grown in a natural way. An example would be using permaculture principles (companion planting, as occurs in nature), rather than monoculture principles (single crop growth).
In the case of animal rearing, it should refer to the manner in which the animal lived; not just what it was fed (i.e. free-ranging vs feedlot/cage/barn). These distinctions are important. There are plenty of unscrupulous certifying bodies out there that may simply require a few photos and a sum of money in order to give a farmer ‘organic’ status, so it becomes necessary, as a consumer, to get involved in researching just where it is your food is coming from and what it was subjected to before landing on your plate.
‘Organic’ also refers to foods that haven’t been genetically modified in any way. This doesn’t mean that organic foods are always healthy or natural, since you may find plenty of processed foodstuffs made with organic ingredients!
The bulk (if not all) of your diet should be made up of natural, healthy, organic foods and at least a third of what you eat should ideally be raw. You can get this in the form of salads, crudités, fresh vegetable juice, sprouts, nuts, seeds, rare meats and fermented vegetables.
Never forget – you are what you eat, digest and assimilate, so take care what you put in your mouth…
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Tanya Wyatt, is the (surprised) author of two internationally released health fitness books, a nutrition lifestyle coach, a presenter and a health educator (and stand-up comedian wannabe). In the past two decades, she has been involved in developing training courses, lecturing and writing on behalf of educational institutions, contributing to a number of health and fitness magazines, and going grey while she does it.
Tanya served on the Advisory Board of Shape magazine for the duration of its license in South Africa, and writes monthly columns for two Port Elizabeth newspapers, Sport Elizabeth and Algoa Sun. She also writes for several online publications and is a regular guest on the city’s local television station, Bay T.V. (she loves the limelight!)
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