The Fundamentals of a Clean, Holistic Diet

Vibrancy and diversity among garden items are generally good indications of health value. A variety of nutrients can provide broader benefits. VALENTINRUSSANOV/ISTOCK

Newsweek explores how a holistic diet can improve your daily life in this article, excerpted from a new Special Edition, Spiritual Living, The Secret to Peace and Happiness, by Issue Editor Trevor Courneen.

Consciousness is key in the spiritual lifestyle, especially when it comes to being aware of what you put in your body. Eating with intention—knowing the source of your food as well as how it can positively or negatively have an impact on your immune system and your body's other defenses—is commonly referred to as holistic eating, and it's a vital part of practicing mindfulness and living a more connected life. Those who consume holistic foods may even uncover benefits that can potentially aid them in dealing with serious ailments and conditions.

The term holistic is slightly elastic even among those who practice such a diet, but several essential guidelines tend to stay intact across the variations. Some see it as an attractive trend with elements they can pick and choose from, while others stick to a long list of dos and don'ts. Whatever your chosen path, adhering to these basic food fundamentals will get you on track to leading a holistic life.

Purified Water: Eight glasses of water a day is an age-old health recommendation, but ensuring your water is purified will better protect against dehydration.

Raw: The raw diet is making waves in the food world as more people seek to consume unprocessed foods. Raw ingredients are known to contain enriched enzymes and nutrients.

Local: Being connected with the source in the dietary sense means knowing where your food comes from. Farmers' markets are an easy way to guarantee the locality of your food.

Organic: Perhaps the most prominently popular aspect of a holistic diet, eating organic ensures the avoidance of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other unhealthy yet common components of foods.

Whole Grains: Processing proves problematic for most foods but particularly grains, which lose many nutrients along the way. To retain the natural nutrients, seek breads, rices and pastas labeled as whole grain.

Essential Fatty Acids: While anything dubbed "fatty" may seem like it should be avoided, good fats are necessary for overall nutrition. The likes of organic coconut or canola oil can be used as healthy substitutes to cook with.

Variety: Mixing it up is a surefire way to gather a strong range of nutrients. Try combining raw veggies with local meats, cooked together in an organic oil, for example.

With a plan of action in place, holistic eaters can attempt to target varying conditions that may be hindering their lives. Prescribed medicine and treatments may very well be the best route for sufferers of severe conditions, but taking small steps of their own can prove beneficial. Serious illnesses may not be cured by holistic foods, but their potential for further harm can at least be mitigated.

Asthma: A condition that impairs the daily lives of many, asthma can, to an extent, be addressed with holistic foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered the strongest fighters of bronchial inflammation, which causes recurring strife to asthma sufferers. Local or organic fi sh such as mackerel and salmon can potentially lessen the effects of the condition. But, knowing what to steer clear of can be just as beneficial as eating the right stuff . Certain foods, particularly those high in dairy content, have often proven to be triggers for asthma attacks. Most glaringly detrimental, however, are foods containing preservatives known as sulfites, which can be life-threatening asthma triggers. SHUTTERSTOCK
Depression: While depression may seem to weigh heaviest on the mind and spirit, it can also have adverse effects on the body. Sufferers of depression will often make drastic changes to their eating patterns, sending their bodies into dramatic spirals of weight loss or gain. An effort to control what you eat can have a positive effect on your outlook Protein is the leading nutrient known to combat symptoms of depression. High-grade proteins like organic meats and eggs are considered particularly eff ective. Also, fresh, local fi sh provides choline and tryptophan, which can strengthen the nervous system. SHUTTERSTOCK
Heart Disease: This condition commonly results from the likes of obesity, tobacco use and a generally poor diet, but it is also hereditary in many cases. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered prime sources of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and Vitamin C, which are able to protect the body’s cells from potential damage caused by high cholesterol. Antioxidant-acting plant chemicals, such as bioflavonoids, are also highest in fruits and vegetables. Blood clots, which can catalyze life-threatening strokes, are another major concern for those with heart disease. Clotting can be combated by eating fortified cereals and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, including trout, salmon, sardines and herring. Despite their acclaim, fish oil supplements should only be taken with a doctor’s approval as they can actually raise the risk of a stroke. SHUTTERSTOCK

This article was excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition, Spiritual Living, The Secret to Peace and Happiness, by Issue Editor Trevor Courneen. For more about spiritual livng, pick up a copy today.

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