Whole Food Supplements vs. Synthetics Vitamins

General Diet Recommendations for Optimal Health

Of all the recommended strategies for fighting disease and promoting overall health and well-being, few are as critical and profound as the practice of healthy eating. Healthy eating is a lifelong process of nourishing our bodies, minds and spirits. It is not about depriving ourselves completely of foods that we enjoy, because even when a specific medical condition dictates such restriction, there are a number of healthier alternatives to many of our favorite foods that are available on the market today. Instead of deprivation and rigid dietary control, healthy eating ought to be viewed as the regular consumption of a wide variety of nourishing, whole foods, accompanied by positive attitudes toward eating wholesome meals that together provide us with the ability to rejuvenate and rebuild. However, with all the differing recommendations in today's popular dietary trends, choosing eating habits to help keep you healthy and energized throughout the year can seem a daunting task riddled with heated conflict and contradictory information.

There is overwhelming evidence; however, supporting an organic, whole foods-based diet full of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as a means to better health. Due to the high nutritional and antioxidant content of many whole foods, this type of diet is linked with increased nutritional activity, improved digestion, healthy inflammation response, healthy glucose metabolism, healthier lipid profiles and increased immune activity among other benefits. A whole foods diet can also be tailored to a specific health condition with a larger focus on certain foods. For example, foods such as cruciferous vegetables, which are high in sulfur, have been shown effective in supporting heavy metal detoxification. The members of this vegetable family also provide support in the fight against cancer, among other health conditions.

What defines whole foods? Whole foods are foods that are available in their original form, minimally processed and/or refined, and not containing additives of any kind. Whole foods consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (not hulled or polished), legumes, and raw nuts and seeds. Animal products should be organic and eaten in smaller quantities than is typical in the American diet. Aside from a higher phytochemical (plant nutrient and antioxidant) profile, whole foods contain much higher amounts of fiber, the regular consumption of which is linked to reduced cancer and heart disease. High fiber diets promote overall gastrointestinal health, as well as the detoxification of toxins and heavy metals.

In general, I recommend following a whole foods diet as much as possible, focusing on fruits and vegetables that are seasonal and organic. If you are dealing with a specific health condition, there are often additional dietary recommendations that you can also emphasize to further refine your treatment protocols. The dietary recommendations on this page are generally safe for everybody to follow. It is important to remember, however, that everybody has somewhat different nutritional requirements, and different ways of responding to certain foods and diets.

Vegetables to Emphasize Vegetables to Moderate Vegetables to Avoid
  • Organic, fresh, seasonal vegetables, lightly cooked, in soups, or raw
  • Sea vegetables, lightly cooked or raw
  • Raw, fresh vegetable juices (in limited quantities)
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Non-organic, fresh vegetables
  • Imported vegetables
  • No salt tomato products
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Dehydrated vegetables
  • Canned vegetables
  • Sprayed, GMO, or irradiated vegetables
  • Deep fried vegetables
Fruits to Emphasize Fruits to Moderate Fruits to Avoid
  • Organic, fresh, seasonal fruits eaten raw
  • Organic berries
  • Non-organic fresh fruits
  • Imported fruits
  • Frozen fruits
  • Dehydrated fruits
  • Fresh fruit juices
  • Canned fruits
  • Sprayed, GMO, or irradiated fruits
  • Fruit juice concentrates
Legumes to Emphasize Legumes to Moderate Legumes to Avoid
  • Sprouted, organic, raw legumes
  • Soaked or sprouted cooked organic legumes such as lentils, mung beans, and black beans
  • Miso and other fermented soy products
  • Instant beans
  • Organic, low sodium canned beans
  • Tofu
  • Non-organic canned beans
  • Unsoaked cooked beans
  • Refried beans w/lard
  • Processed soy protein, soy milk
Grains to Emphasize Grains to Moderate Grains to Avoid
  • Sprouted, organic, raw whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, barley
  • Soaked or sprouted, cooked whole grains
  • Sprouted grain breads
  • Processed, cooked grains such as white rice
  • Whole grain processed products such as breads, pasta, crackers
  • White flour products
  • Boxed cereals
  • Puffed grain products
Nuts and Seeds to Emphasize Nuts and Seeds to Moderate Nuts and Seeds to Avoid
  • Raw, organic, freshly hulled nuts
  • Sprouted or soaked organic, raw nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters made from organic raw, freshly hulled nuts
  • Fresh coconut
  • Fresh nut milks made from raw, organic, freshly hulled nuts
  • Dry roasted nuts
  • Commercial nut milks
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Commercially roasted, salted or flavored nuts and seeds
  • Commercially salted and sweetened nut butters
Animal Products to Emphasize Animal Products to Moderate Animal Products to Avoid
  • Organic, grass fed red meat
  • Organic free range poultry
  • Organic organ meats
  • Some wild caught seafood such as salmon and sardines
  • Organic, free range eggs
  • Organic raw dairy products from grass fed cows or goats
  • Organic fermented dairy, such as yogurt, from grass fed cows or goats
  • Non-organic grass fed meat
  • Non-organic free range poultry
  • Additive free prepared meats
  • Most fish and seafood
  • Pasteurized, full fat dairy
  • Unsweetened whey protein
  • Factory farmed, grain fed meats
  • Factory farmed poultry
  • Processed prepared meats
  • Canned meats
  • Farmed seafood
  • Large fish such as tuna
  • Factory farmed, non organic eggs
  • Pasteurized low fat/non-fat dairy
  • Condensed milk
  • Powdered milk products
Fats and Oils to Emphasize Fats and Oils to Moderate Fats and Oils to Avoid
  • Organic, extra virgin, unfiltered olive oil
  • Raw flax oil (do not cook)
  • Organic coconut oil (can be cooked at higher temps)
  • Organic expeller pressed raw sesame oil
  • Organic butter or Ghee
  • Non-organic butter and animal fats
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils such as margarine
  • Cottonseed, soy, corn, safflower oil
  • Fried foods
  • Lard
  • Oils that have oxidized (gone rancid) due to light and temp exposure
Flavorings to Emphasize Flavorings to Moderate Flavorings to Avoid
  • Unrefined Himalayan or Celtic sea salt containing trace minerals
  • Organic fresh or dried herbs and spices
  • Xylitol or stevia for sweeteners
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Fermented soy Tamari
  • Pasteurized vinegar
  • Natural sea salt
  • Honey
  • Raw, unprocessed sugar
  • Commercial salt
  • Commercial food additive flavors such as MSG and Aspartame, which are excitotoxins/neuro-endocrine disruptors
  • Refined sugars

If you are prone to inhalant allergies and hay fever, for example, there are some specific foods to avoid such as bananas, cantaloupes, cucumbers, honeydew, watermelon and zucchini, due to their structural similarity to common pollen allergens. Sometimes with environmental allergies, the underlying culprits are sub-clinical food allergies or sensitivities. Food sensitivity testing is often helpful in discerning specific food sensitivities that may be causing hidden inflammation in the gut. Symptoms that may arise include bloating and gas, headaches, increased mucous secretion, chronic sinus stuffiness or postnasal drip, among others.

Common foods on the sensitivity list include milk products, gluten containing grain products (wheat, rye, barley, oats) nuts, corn, strawberries, and shellfish. Another way to discover which foods to which you are sensitive is undertake an elimination diet, where all suspected allergenic foods are avoided until symptoms subside, then reintroduced one by one over the course of several days each, to monitor your body's responses. Avoidance for a minimum of two weeks is recommended. Since a healthy, well-functioning digestive system is at the foundation of good overall health, experimenting and testing to discover your individual sensitivities is time and money well spent. Unknown food sensitivities cause inflammation and irritation to the lining of your digestive system, which compromises your ability to absorb nutrients, and promotes an environment where unhealthy bacterial and yeast like to overgrow. Therefore, even with a healthy, whole foods diet, if you have specific food sensitivities that remain unknown to you, you may be contributing to an unhealthy digestive environment.

Another important consideration in transitioning to a whole foods based diet, is that if you have been accustomed to eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) which is full of processed foods low in nutritional value, and high in salt, sugar and unhealthy (trans) fats, then you may experience a bit of discomfort as you transition to healthier foods. This discomfort is temporary as your body begins to remove the toxins that have built up in your system over time with the SAD. However, if you are dealing with a serious health condition it is always necessary to discuss changes in your routine with your health care provider and of course, introduce new foods slowly to allow your body time to adjust.

Nutritional value and good tasting, fulfilling foods are not mutually exclusive. If you are not accustomed to eating non-artificially flavored, unprocessed foods, it may take time for your taste buds and ultimately, your brain, to appreciate healthier food choices. But remember not to be too hard on yourself. Guilt and negative feelings toward eating perceived "unhealthy" foods can cause more harm to your health than the actual foods themselves. Healthy eating can easily be an enjoyable part of your lifestyle, and as you continue your dedication to wholesome choices for yourself on every level, body, mind and spirit, your being will reward you with radiant health and a certain inner tranquility that arises from being truly nourished and fulfilled.