There’s no better time than spring to give your diet a makeover. If you have some unhealthy food habits that you have wanted to let go of, now is the perfect time. Spring is also the ideal time to enjoy some nutrition-packed, whole foods, to give your body and mind the energy and refreshment that they need.
This spring, take advantage of the abundance of fresh, seasonal produce to make some culinary changes for the better. The following are two foods that you would be much better off without, and two foods which could enhance your nutrition for the better.
What to drop
Hands down, the most important improvement you can make to your diet is to cut out processed foods. Besides often being loaded with sugar and white flour (the dangers of which are described below), these foods are filled with chemical additives, preservatives, dyes, and sometimes GMO ingredients. Any nutritional value in the foods used in their creation is virtually negated by their processing.
Refined sugar is an addiction for our nation, and paves the way for many of the chronic ailments that plague us, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and many cancers. It is an addictive substance, and it is not inaccurate to label it as a poison. What’s more, if you eat sugar, you will experience a sudden spike in blood glucose levels, followed by a crash, which can affect your mood and productivity for the rest of the day.
What’s even worse is high fructose corn syrup, a form of sugar added to many processed foods. It has an imbalance of fructose and glucose, which is absorbed by the liver and immediately converted to fat. It has also been linked to highly addictive characteristics.
With the natural sugars that abound in local springtime fruits, such as apricots, cherries, strawberries and – depending on your region – citrus fruits, there is no reason to put your body through the strain and risk of refined, processed sugar.
White flour (really, any wheat)
A staple of our culture’s food, we would all be a lot better off without white flour. Many people who are sensitive to gluten – and many of them are unaware that gluten is actually the problem – would do well to avoid glutenous grains such as wheat (barley and rye are two others to avoid). Gluten aside, however, wheat, and especially white flour, presents its own set of health hazards.
According to Dr. Mercola, modern-day wheat is doused with pesticides, fungicides and/or insecticides at all stages of its growth and harvest, starting from the seed. It is also coated in ‘plant growth regulators,’ substances which mimic hormonal activity. To make white flour, the ground wheat flour is bleached, using chlorine dioxide gas, potassium bromate or benzoyl peroxide. Sound appetizing?
What to add
Some of the best things you can add to your diet this spring are fresh, seasonal spring greens such as spinach. Spinach is mineral-rich and laden with vitamins. One of these vitamins is vitamin K, which helps to support optimal bone health.
This green also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cognitive decline, and can also assist in alleviating depression. Perfect for shaking off those winter blues.
Spinach is an antioxidant-filled, anti-inflammatory food, which can help reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases. It is also a good source of iron, which helps the red blood cells provide oxygen to the muscles, giving you a lasting source of energy so that you can be as active – and have as much fun this spring – as possible.
For a great protein source that makes a delicious and nutritious snack, consider adding raw walnuts to your shopping list this spring. Walnuts contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fiber, which keeps your digestive system running smoothly and your blood sugar levels stable. The unique antioxidant properties of walnuts have been associated with a decreased risk of breast and prostate cancers.
Additionally, walnuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body create serotonin, which elevates mood and neutralizes feelings of depression. For maximum nutrient absorption, and easier digestion, we recommend soaking your walnuts in filtered water for about four hours before eating. If you don’t like the texture, you can dry them in a dehydrator after soaking.
This spring, forgo the processed foods, sugar and white flour for healthy, whole food choices, and see how much more vibrant you feel.
-The Alternative Daily