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You know that a fruit is a healthier snack than a bag of potato chips, but how do you change the way you eat in a big way and eat real food all (or most) of the time? One of the basic rules of good health is to eat real food. When you live by this rule, you reduce exposure to the hundreds of chemicals that are added to processed foods.

There is a list of foods that are packed with health-promoting compounds such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are known to play a role in a person’s longevity. When you replace processed foods with real foods, it can make a tremendous difference in your overall health and weight, and ultimately, determine how long you live.

What is Real Food?

Real food includes the following:

  • Unprocessed, whole, and unrefined foods
  • Grass-fed, pasture-raised, or wild animal products and fish
  • Local, organic, and seasonal foods

Unprocessed, Whole, and Unrefined

You need to remember – if something comes in a bag or a box, keep it away! Refined food has toxins that destroy health – processed soy products, white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, white flour and industrial seed oils. It has also brought chemical preservatives and additives, some with negative effects that are known and some with those that are still unknown.

New research is showing all the harm that new processed foods cause almost on a daily basis. A recent study demonstrated that emulsifiers that are used in packaged foods like ice cream, mayonnaise, bread, etc. increase leaky gut and cause a chain of autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

Another study showed that consuming diet soda causes kidney damage and increases your risk of stroke. To avoid the harm that processed and refined foods cause, a good general rule is “if something comes in a bag or a box, do not eat it.”

Pasture-Raised, Wild Animal Products, and Fish

There have been a number of studies that compare the nutrient content of pasture-raised (PR) and grain-fed animal products (CAFO, or confinement animal feeding operations). PR animal products are significantly superior to CAFO in two ways – their fatty acid profile is better and they have higher levels of vitamins and other micronutrients.

Studies have also shown that consumption of standard farmed salmon, which are raised on diets high in omega 6, increases blood levels of inflammatory chemicals that are connected to raised risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Wild salmon also contains 4 times the Vitamin D found in farmed ones.

 Local, Organic, and Seasonal

On average, organic plant foods contain 25 percent higher concentrations of eleven nutrients than other conventional produce. They tend to be particularly higher in polyphenols and antioxidants such as quercetin and vitamins C and E.

With local, organic, and seasonal foods, you make sure that you consume foods that have more nutrients and fewer chemicals. Organic produce is grown without herbicides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals that have been shown to be the cause of many health problems especially in children and other vulnerable populations. Research has found that children that are exposed to organophosphate pesticides found in conventional produce are likely to develop ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

As you can see, there are many benefits to eating real food. You get all the vital nutrients that your body needs and keep harmful chemicals far away from your body. With only real food in your daily diet, you ensure that you eat healthy and live healthy.

When you choose your foods, be sure to choose the foods your body wants, not just your brain.