Skill Introduction – Cleaner Nutrition
The following is a list of ingredients from a fast food restaurant’s chicken pot pie product:
As you can see, food additives and pesticides are abundant in the food supply with over 10,000 food additives allowable and 230 different pesticide and pesticide breakdown products surfacing on sampled produce (1,2). If you aren’t paying close attention to what you are eating and how it is sourced, you are certainly getting a mouthful of those statistics.
In 2016, clean eating was voted the number one nutrition trend in a poll conducted by Today’s Dietitian and Pollock Communications (3). The alarming number of highly processed foods with synthetic additives (the names of which are difficult to pronounce), along with a desire to cut sugar, trans fats and pesticides, has spurred the human race to clean up their diets.
While those who choose to clean up their diet view cleaner nutrition as a lifestyle choice, not a trend, what it means to have a clean diet is rather ambiguous. In general, clean eating advocates consuming whole foods and avoiding processed foods. This can become a little tricky as there is a broad scale of “processing” foods, and not all processed food is considered harmful.
Processing is any deliberate change to a food before it is eaten. Processing can include freezing, canning, roasting, bagging and even pureeing, as well as the addition of spices, oils, flavors, preservatives, food coloring, sweeteners, MSG and more. Take a food processed with the addition of MSG versus broccoli, processed by freezing and packaging, for example. You may want to avoid MSG because of its potential side-effects, but because freezing produce close to harvesting can actually help preserve nutrients until you have a chance to consume them, frozen broccoli might be a good choice for you.
Cleaner nutrition is just as much about what you are getting, as what you are aiming to exclude from your diet, and cleaner, organic food can be higher in nutrition and friendlier to the environment. One study showed that organic meat and dairy contains 50% more omega 3 fatty acids because animals feed on grass that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids (4).
In addition, organic, pesticide free crops have greater health benefits because of organic farming practices. Organic crops are exposed to higher levels of stress, such as insects, which allows them to make their own natural pesticides, a process that doesn’t usually occur when synthetic pesticides are applied to crops. Carrots, for example, produce compounds that taste bitter to the carrot fly but may be beneficial to us. Organic crops also grow slower because they aren’t fed synthetic fertilizers. This extra time allows them to produce secondary plant metabolites which also have health benefits for us (4).
During the Zero 2 Healthy Human challenges for Cleaner Nutrition, you will be guided step by step through choosing organic produce for the worst pesticide offenders, decreasing potentially harmful additives in your diet, increasing whole foods in your diet and becoming a Cleaner Nutrition Master.
Dig Deeper & Learn More:
- EWG, EWG’s dirty dozen guide to food additives, Accessed November 12th, 2018 <https://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives>
- EWG, EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, Accessed November 12th, 2018 <https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php>
- Today’s Dietitians, Hottest nutrition trends of 2016: clean eating, Accessed November 12th, 2018 <https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0616p37.shtml>
- The Salt What’s on Your Plate, Is organic more nutritious? New study adds to the evidence. Accessed November 12, 2018, <https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/18/467136329/is-organic-more-nutritious-new-study-adds-to-the-evidence>