The more we learn about nutrition, the more we realize that we have to eat like humans did a hundred years ago. New research shows that we need to eat whole foods, which are as close to normal as possible. A complete diet is a balanced diet that promotes good health and longevity. This diet emphasizes consuming fresh and whole foods (especially plants) and minimizing the consumption of processed foods. In the following, we will explain more about what a complete diet is, what foods it includes and what its benefits are.
What is a complete diet?
This diet includes foods that are in their most natural form and are not refined or processed. Of course, there is nothing wrong with grinding spices or peeling seeds.
You should cook a lot in this diet, because there are no ready-made sauces or snacks such as chocolate, sweets, ready meals, canned vegetables and white bread. Processed and prepared foods usually have more salt, saturated fat and additives than home-cooked foods. For this reason, the damage they do to health is even greater.
The basic principles of this diet are:
- Emphasis on consuming whole foods with minimal processing;
- Limit consumption of animal products;
- Focus more on plants including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts;
- Do not consume refined foods such as added sugar, white flour and processed oils;
- Pay special attention to food quality and promote the consumption of local and organic food.
What ingredients do whole foods contain?
In whole fiber foods, phytochemicals and nutrients are preserved, while in processed foods these nutrients are usually lost.
A balanced diet includes sufficient amounts of the following:
- the vegetables;
- Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes and squash);
- Whole grains (such as brown rice, rolled oats and oats);
- Lean proteins;
- Healthy fats (such as avocado and olive oil);
- Nuts and butter Nuts (like natural peanut butter);
- Unsweetened vegetable milks (such as coconut milk and almond milk);
- Aromatic spices and herbs (such as basil, rosemary, turmeric, curry, black pepper and salt);
- Seasonings (salsa sauce, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, vinegar and lemon juice);
- Plant proteins (such as tofu and tempeh);
- Beverages (such as water, coffee, tea and carbonated water).
In a complete diet, meals should include more plant-based foods. Animal foods should be consumed less and should complement any plant-based meal, not the main portion. If you supplement your plant-based diet with animal products, make quality products that are local and organic if possible.
What are the unhealthy foods in a complete diet?
Focus on fresh ingredients in this diet, and when buying labeled foods, buy items with as few additives as possible. In this diet, you should avoid the following foods:
- fast food;
- Added sugars and sweets (sugar, soft drinks, juices, sweets);
- Refined grains (white rice, white pasta, white bread);
- Packaged, ready-to-eat foods (such as chips and frozen foods);
- Vegan processed foods (vegetable meats such as tafomite, artificial cheeses, vegetable butters);
- Artificial sweeteners;
- Processed animal products (such as sausages).
In a complete plant-based diet, you should not use processed foods and animal products should be kept to a minimum.
Which processed foods are safe to eat?
Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins. B vitamins are difficult to obtain in a plant-based diet. For example, vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal sources. According to research, 65% of vegans and vegetarians do not take vitamin B supplements, so cereals fortified with vitamin B are a good option for them. Of course, you should check the food label, because many cereal brands are full of sugar and additives.
In general, it is better to choose foods with minimal processing. If the label of a food product says the name of an item that you can not read or do not know or that you think is artificial, it is better to avoid buying that food.
Can other diets be a complete diet?
Other diets can be a complete diet. A complete diet is a lifestyle that many other diets can fall into. Diets such as MIND and the Mediterranean diet are also complete diets.
For example, the MIND diet includes the consumption of these substances:
- Green leafy vegetables;
- Fruits, vegetables of various colors;
- Berries and nuts;
- olive oil;
- Whole grains;
- Oily fish or omega-3 supplements;
- White meat or a mixture of vegetable proteins;
- Vitamin D supplement;
- Foods with the least processing;
- 2 liters of water per day.
This diet can be a complete diet if it does not include processed meat or plant proteins.
Other diets, such as the vegan diet, can be a complete diet, depending on whether they contain processed foods or not. Some food substitutes are highly processed, so be sure to read the labels carefully.
What are the benefits of a complete diet?
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables or other high-fiber foods, such as whole grains and nuts, is important for long-term health and the prevention of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. These foods also help the body fight the effects of inflammation.
“Diets rich in plant foods can potentially prevent several million premature deaths a year, if used globally,” according to a 2019 study.
In general, the benefits of a complete diet can be summarized in a few cases, which are described below.
1. Receiving phytochemicals or phytochemicals
In the last 10 years, scientists have identified hundreds of biologically active plant food compounds called phytochemicals (or phytonutrients). These include the powerful antioxidants lycopene, anthocyanin and trostilben. The only way to be sure that you are getting healthy phytochemicals is to eat whole, unprocessed plant foods.
۲. Compensate for nutrient deficiencies
Many of us are deficient in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and potassium. These nutrients help reduce the risk of major problems such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The easiest way to overcome this deficiency is to eat a complete diet. With a balanced, mostly plant-based diet, almost any nutrient deficiency can be compensated.
3. Get useful fats
Harmful fats such as trans and saturated fats are more common in processed foods and fast foods. With a complete diet, it is easier to reduce the consumption of these fats and increase the consumption of beneficial fats such as omega-3 and unsaturated fats in plant sources.
4. Get more fiber
Most whole plant foods are high in fiber. Unprocessed and unhealthy foods and fast foods are not like that, because food fiber is lost during processing or refining. Fiber is essential for gut health and nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Consumption of fiber makes you feel full faster and also helps fight heart disease and diabetes.
It is better to get the fiber you need from foods instead of supplements, because most plant foods have both soluble and insoluble fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods helps control blood sugar, blood fats and weight.
5. Consume less additives
Whole foods are close to their natural form, meaning they have no added fat, sugar or sodium. By consuming whole foods, we reduce the calories received from added fats and sugars in processed foods and fast foods.
6. Consume whole grains
You might think that the benefits of whole grains are limited to their fiber, but their benefits far outweigh the benefits. Whole grains are rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that alone or in combination have important health benefits that go beyond the benefits of dietary fiber.
Consumption of cereals reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Whole grains have recently been shown to be associated with lower blood glucose and insulin levels after meals.
Eating whole grains further reduces visceral adipose tissue. Visceral fat is a type of fat that is stored between the limbs and abdominal muscles and is extremely unhealthy.
7. The benefits of whole foods for the brain
The brain consumes 25% of the total energy received from foods. The most important thing you need to improve brain function is whole, unprocessed food. The recommended diet for brain health is the MIND diet. Studies show that people who follow this diet carefully are 53% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
The best whole foods for the brain include fatty fish, nuts, eggs, berries, broccoli and whole grains.
8. Reduce the risk of obesity and disease
The high fiber of whole foods, in addition to eliminating processed foods, is a beneficial compound for losing excess weight. Even just eliminating processed foods such as soft drinks, candy, fast food and refined grains can have a huge impact on weight loss.
۲. Heart disease
A large study was conducted on more than 200,000 people who ate a healthy plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts. These people were much less at risk for heart disease than others. However, there was a slight increase in the risk of heart disease in unhealthy plant-based diets, which included sugary drinks, juices, and refined grains.
Research shows that following a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers.
4. Cognitive decline
Some studies show that diets rich in vegetables and fruits can help reduce or prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
Complete plant-based diets contain more plant-based compounds and antioxidants that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and reverse cognitive deficits. In many studies, a strong association has been found between consuming more fruits and vegetables and reducing cognitive decline.
A complete and plant-based diet can be an effective tool for managing and reducing the risk of diabetes. A study of more than 200,000 people found that those who followed a healthy plant-based diet were 34 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who followed an unhealthy, non-vegetarian diet.
As we have said, whole food is food that is in its most natural form, that is, with the least processing and change. In this diet, we should avoid eating ready-made and frozen foods and cook ourselves. Given the busyness and conflicts of life today, is it possible to stick to such a diet? Is there a way to get to our daily routine and have a complete and healthy diet? In the “Post a Comment” section, you can write your comments and experiences to us.