Introduction to Wholefood Diet
Since a few decades mankind is facing a rapid growth of health problems. Even though our technology, our pharmacy and our understanding of the human body evolved rapidly, our health problems became worth instead of better.
I think these health problems cannot be cured by more use of technology and medicine, because these diseases of civilization are not isolated problems. Rather they are symptoms of unhealthy conditions. The unhealthiness of these conditions has to be recognized, in order to choose or create better conditions.
Wholefood Helps Against Diseases of Civilization
I think one condition for the rapid spread of diseases of civilization originates from the way we eat, and especially what we eat. So an effective way to counter diseases of civilization would be to eat healthier food. In Germany there is a diet called “Vollwerternährung” or “Vollwertkost”. A direct translation into English would be something like “full value diet” or “full value nourishment”. The proper English word is wholefood.
The German doctor Max Otto Bruker (1909 – 2001) assures in his book “Unsere Nahrung, unser Schicksal” (Our food is our destiny) that wholefood helps to achieve an overall level of healthiness. In his opinion eating wholefood prevents and helps against diseases of civilization like caries, periodontosis, rheumatism, arthrosis, arthritis, diabetes, adiposis, low immunity, gallstones, renal calculi, neurodermatitis and cancer.
The origins of the wholefood idea are reaching back into the 19th century when people started to eat industrialized processed food. Back then smart people already noticed that you get weak by eating too much meat, too much fat, too much sugar, too much white flour and too much denaturialized food in general.
The Kollath Table
One of these people was the German nutritionist Werner Kollath (1892 – 1970). He classified food into six levels:
- Level 1 is natural unprocessed and unrefined food like nuts, vegetables, fruits and rock water
- Level 2 is food only processed mechanical like vegetable oil, whole grain flour, salad and tap water
- Level 3 is food processed through fermentation like sauerkraut, yeast, wine and beer
- Level 4 is heated food like bread, cooked meals and tea
- Level 5 is conserved food like canned food and yam
- Level 6 is extracted and refined “food” like isolated fat, protein, sugar, vitamin pills and superfine flour
In the wholefood concept food becomes less healthy with increasing level number. In other words: food of level 1 is considered extremely healthy, while food of level 6 is considered very unhealthy. If possible you should eat food of level 1 – 3 and avoid food of level 4 – 6.
It is quite a simple system. There are no complicated rules for counting calories and the like. You can eat as much as you like. You neither have to stop eating meat like in a vegetarian diet. Nor you have to stop eating protein and carbohydrate together like in a food combining diet. The rule of thumb is just: eat food as unprocessed and unrefined as possible. This rule alone deduces that you eat less meat, less pizza and less cakes. Instead it suggests that you eat more nuts, fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grain products.
Trying Out the Wholefood Diet
Eating wholefood is nothing you do for just a few weeks. It is a diet you could follow for the rest of your life.
If you are willing to try out to eat wholefood, here is a little advice: Our digestive system is usually not strong enough to cope with a lot of raw food. It is not trained enough, and our intestinal flora is not used to digest large amounts of raw food. Suddenly just eating raw food could give you problems like stomach ache, wind and so on. Start with small steps and help your digestive system to adapt to the new food:
- For example start to eat some raw vegetable finger food like capsicum, cucumber, tomatoes or carrots to your cooked meals and slowly expand from there. You also could eat a salad of fresh vegetables before your meals. This would even be better because to eat the raw components of your meal first is considered better for digesting them, than to eat them last or in between.
- Reduce the amount of junk food and food with sugar you consume until it becomes almost zero. Replace it with snacks consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts.
- Try to replace food of level 5 and 6 step by step with healthier alternatives. For example, superfine flour can be replaced with whole grain flour.
Just one warning: Some vegetables like potatoes and beans have to be cooked to be eatable. Otherwise they are poisonous to the human body. So it is recommended to inform yourself before eating everything raw .
Do I eat only food of level 1 – 3? No, I try to do so, but there are too many tasty cooked meals . I do eat food of level 4, but I try to avoid food of level 5 and 6 as best as I can. I also eat very little meat and most of the time vegetarian meals.
In my opinion wholefood is no holy grail. As with every diet the advices of the wholefood concept should not be followed blindly. Nevertheless, I think healthy food like wholefood is a big step into the right direction. It is a simple system without any extremes which may be unhealthy. In my experience a wholefood diet will help you to raise your energy level, it makes you emotional more stable and you will gain more general health. Positive effects will develop slowly but surely. It even helps you to save money because unprocessed and unrefined products are usually cheaper than anything comparable processed and refined.
For some more information there is always Wikipedia:
- English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_foods
- German: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vollwerternährung
On Youtube you can find some very nice videos about wholefood:
- Healthy Whole Food Eating : What Are Whole Foods? (Don’t forget to watch her other videos about wholefood.)
- Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods – Nutrition by Natalie
For German readers there is a very nice forum about wholefood: http://www.vollwertleben.info/html/vollwert-forum.html
For German readers I also recommend the book Unsere Nahrung, unser Schicksal from Max Otto Bruker. The book is a little bit outdated, but it is still a very good introduction to the wholefood idea.
The image above was created by Suat Eman and is available at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Vegetables_g63-Mixed_Vegetables_p2128.html