In a world dominated by social medias, where we always try to reach the ideal shape, we know the first things to do are eating healthy food and exercising. But we also know that this is a constant fight against ourselves to resist our grandma’s cakes or our convenient frozen and ready meals. Why having a healthy life looks so difficult? Why do we always end up failing at some point? Is it us being too weak and lazy? Let me tell you that you are not the only responsible for all this.

The majority of us fail to maintain a healthy life because their only goal is to lose weight. We often see people eating all the processed and junk food and then taking their slimming or fat burning pills. We also see people stopping to completely eat food, trying to achieve a drastic weight loss. Well, they might end up losing weight, but do you really think they are healthy? We should all know the answer. So how can we choose the right food and being healthier? There are 2 fundamental steps to follow.

It is known that we are keener to remember things once we truly understand them. So, first step to eat healthy food is to understand why we need healthy food: “We are what we eat“. Nothing truer. This sentence is perfect and we could already end here the article, but then what would be the point of creating this page on nutrition? It is a scientifically proven fact that our food choices affect our health.

Eating healthy food is not just a lifestyle choice. It is actually what your body needs and, thus, it has many benefits! Consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains, has been strongly associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, age-related functional decline, allergies, asthma and rhinitis [1,2,3,4,5,6,7].

Figure 1 shows the basic for our diet: from fruits to herbs, nature gave us whole raw food, and whole raw food is what we need!

Figure 1 – Raw foods are loaded with all the vital nutrients our bodies require to grow and maintain health. Raw foods also have a high water content compared to cooked foods, which is helpful in maintaining hydration and ensuring you actually get all the watersoluble nutrients the plant foods provide. Raw foods abound with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. (From [45])
Healthy food is even better than medicines [8,9]: in the case of blood pressure, healthy food can reduce it by 21 mmHg. Most available anti-hypertension drugs reduce it by 10-15 mmHg, but they have side effects like fatigue, dizziness and headache [10,11]. High pressure puts at risk of heart diseases and stroke and anti-hypertension drugs are only approved if they lower levels by 3-4 mmHg. Another example comes from the remission of type 2 diabetes by changing dietary and physical activity habits [12], that instead is often unsuccessfully fought with drugs.

Being healthy means also being more attractive: an increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a different tone of skin-color (carotenoid) [13]. When given a choice as in Figure 2, people perceived the carotenoid skin-coloration as healthier and more attractive [13,14,15,16]. Would you have this by eating junk food and then your fat burning pill?

Figure 2 – Same person, with different skin-colors: in the center, there is the normal tone, while on the left suntanned coloration and carotenoid on the right. A carotenoid color derives by higher consumption of fruit and vegetables. People in several studies found more attractive and healthier the skin-color on the right. (From [46])
The second step is to understand that you are not the only person to blame if you cannot eat healthy food and this is because you are living in a world dictated by industries. Did you know that 50 years before the current debate on the safety of high-sugar diet, the sugar industry shut down researches showing a link between sugar, heart disease and bladder cancer [17,18]? Sugar creates addiction [19,20], so it is a way for the industries to attract you to their products, increasing profits.

We see many advertisements from companies labeling their products as healthy. But there is already a problem: what can be considered as healthy food? Remember that there is only a single company providing real healthy food: the nature! Forget all the rest!!

There are also many consumers’ misconceptions about healthy food. A typical example is the worldwide wellness trend of eating gluten-free products (Figure 3): they are usually perceived as a healthier alternative [21], but the reality is that the exact opposite is true. These are highly processed food, missing also benefits of whole grains: they usually contain more fat, salt and sugar and also lower fibre and protein content [22]. Avoidance of gluten has been linked to cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes risks [23,24], while processed food containing high levels of sugar, fat and salt, together with lack of vitamins and fibre, has been linked to cancer [25].

Figure 3 – Example of journal promoting healthy food choice for people with gluten-related disorders. Although its positive purpose of promoting healthy diets for people with coealic disease, it creates many misconceptions for normal consumers. Gluten-free products are usually perceived as a healthier alternative, but, unless you have a coeliac disease, the exact opposite is true: they have higher intakes of sugar, fat and salt, together with lower fibre and protein content.

So you are trying to be healthy by buying industrial “healthy” labeled food, but you are actually harming your body! If you want to trust someone, trust the nature!

Time and temperature of processing, product composition and storage are all factors that substantially impact the nutritional quality of our foods [26]. Food processing, including cooking and thermal processing in general, peeling, soaking, freezing and thawing, washing, extrusion cooking (high-temperature short-time), destroys all the important nutritional elements found in our food, such as proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre [27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37].

Sugar, artificial sweeteners and sugary products (including those labelled as healthier, e.g. diet soda) have been linked to many diseases: diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome [38], cancer [39], mental disorder and depression [40], stroke and dementia [41], tooth decay as in Figure 4 [42,43,44]. Despite this, the majority of industrial food products still contains a large amount of sugar. Take any product from a shelf in the supermarket, read the ingredient label and you will be surprised of what you will find out.

Figure 4 – Teeth are the mirror of body’s health. Despite the clear link between tooth decay and sugar, all processed food still contains artificial sweeteners. (From [47])
In conclusion, take care of your body and it will take care of you. Provide the right fuel and you will be happier in a longer and healthier life! Food is the basic for your health: so, do not neglect it! When tomorrow you go to the supermarket, try to avoid pre-cooked meals or industrial food and read the list of ingredients of the food you are going to buy. And instead of going to the frozen section of the supermarket have a look at the fruits and vegetable section. Do you see a difference in the colors? Packed, white or grey cold food vs colored and fragrant natural raw food. Ask yourself why these fruits and vegetables are so nicely colored and attract you more than plastic packages of processed food and follow this instinct.



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Other websites

[45] Raw Food, by Healthy Body

[46] Looking good on greens, University of Nottingham

[47] Tooth Decay, Wikipedia