What Constitutes a “Healthy Diet”?
Recently I was asked, “What do you consider a healthy diet?”
A “healthy diet” will look slightly different for each person, but as a general rule: A healthy diet is one that provides adequate nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fluids) needed not just to survive day to day, but to thrive. This will generally be a whole foods diet that contains very little added sugar, processed foods, or refined vegetable oils. Organic produce and pastured meats when possible, organic when not. Adequate unrefined salt (pink, Celtic, or Redmond’s Real are great items to rotate through), plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from wild/pastured animal and plant sources, and antioxidants from fresh local colorful produce and ample herbs and spices also promote health but often get overlooked. Filtered water, since there are many chemicals in the water supply that work against other healthy choices that we are making. Since our guts contain live microbes that support our immune function and digestion, we also want to feed these bugs with lots of servings of fiber. Some type of ongoing probiotic exposure will also be important, be it from a living food (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented veggies, etc.) or probiotic supplementation. Such a diet should promote adequate calories and nutrients to complete necessary day-to-day tasks, support anti-inflammatory activity throughout the body, maintain a normal body weight, achieve regular ongoing detoxification efforts, and provide the various processes throughout the body with adequate nutrients for the majority of people.
Notice that I didn’t answer with “gluten free” or “Paleo” or “vegan” or “keto,” etc. Each person’s body has a unique need for a specific blend of nutrients, and each person’s diet should be matched according to their need at a given time. Sometimes this may mean supplementing with certain nutrients to ensure adequacy depending on the chosen diet.