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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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From discounters and supermarkets to market stalls and restaurants – there’s never been such a huge choice of foods as there is today. People who are food savvy are likely to find it easier to navigate through the nutritional jungle out there. A good rule of thumb is to eat lots of fruit and vegetables – and wholegrain foods. In the 19th century, the pioneers of the wholefood movement preached a “return to Nature” and believed that good nutrition would produce results that went far beyond physical health. Many naturopaths, for example, maintained that eating wholegrain bread could heal nervous disorders such as “hysteria”.


Wholefoods don’t necessarily equate
with a balanced, full-value diet

A full-value diet means eating as few processed foods as possible (especially in the case of cereals, fruit and vegetables) so that you get the benefit of its full nutritional value. Traditionally raw foods and muesli made of unprocessed grains feature largely in this type of food. At the same time, it’s essential to make the best choice from the huge variety of foods available. One consideration is preventing illness and here the key is to remember that no single food on its own can meet all your nutritional needs, it’s the complete balance that counts. Wholefood diets attracted criticism in the past because some of their proponents made health claims without scientifically tested proof of their validity. In the meantime, many of the ideas of wholefood enthusiasts and mainstream nutritionists have moved much closer together. There is one issue on which opinions still diverge sharply. Mainstream nutritionists will tell you that it’s possible to eat a full-value, balanced diet using products from conventional agriculture, whereas proponents of wholefoods are convinced that you must as far as possible eat only organically farmed products.


So what makes wholegrain products |so good for you? Unlike, for example, refined white flour, wholewheat flour gives you the whole grain – the germ, the bran and the endosperm. The germ contains valuable vitamins and minerals, the endosperm supplies protein and energy, while the bran supplies valuable roughage. Roughage is important for digestion and has the advantage of making you feel full for longer. In the digestive tract, they also bind carcinogens and transport them rapidly out of your body. Unpolished rice (brown rice) contains the whole product including the husk and the germ, by contrast white rice is basically just the starchy endosperm. Eating white rice causes your blood sugar levels to shoot up, but eating unpolished rice with its high roughage content satisfies your hunger for longer and helps to keep insulin levels steady. Then there’s “parboiled rice” where the husk and the bran layers are removed (that’s the roughage gone), but the special process retains vitamins and minerals.


One man’s meat …

What you eat and why has always been a personal decision. Advice to eat full value, balanced food is more of an aim than a strict set of rules. And long-term eating habits die hard; many people find it difficult, especially in the beginning, to make the switch to unprocessed vegetables and wholegrain cereals. They complain about digestive problems when they eat lots of whole grains and they can’t stand the taste of wholegrain pasta. One approach to try is to eat half the recommended amount of fruit or vegetables raw and the other half cooked, and as far as possible to eat wholegrain products. 


If you’re shopping for flour in Germany, look for the type number on the packet. The higher the number, the greater the share of the whole grain and therefore the vitamins, minerals and roughage you’ll be getting. If you’re in the UK, look for words like “wholemeal”. If you do a lot of baking, try gradually increasing the share of wholegrain flour in your recipes. Remember that every gram of extra roughage brings benefits for your health. 


Don’t be deceived by appearances

If you’re shopping for wholemeal bread or rolls, read the label! Don’t be deceived by an attractive scattering of corns and seeds on top or by a hearty brown colour. The colour could come simply from additives like malt or caramel which do nothing at all for your health. Look for products which actually say “wholegrain” or “wholewheat” on the label, they’re the ones you want. In Germany the word “Vollkorn” is legally protected as a guarantee of at least 90% wholemeal. 


If you prefer not to eat meat, then it’s especially important to eat a balanced high-value diet that includes vegetables rich in iron (beans, peas, fennel), wholegrain cereals, fruit (especially all types of berries) and enough milk and dairy products. If you’re vegan (no dairy or eggs), you need to be very well-informed to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. Many health professionals advise against vegan diets for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and teenage girls. 


Source: IN FORM