healthiest foods

We say it all the time: it’s the smallest changes that reap the biggest rewards. From implementing a new cleansing technique like dry brushing or nasal irrigation, to incorporating mindfulness and meditation, or ditching toxic make up for cleaner versions, each and every bite-sized change made helps craft the new-and-improved you. And one of the easiest ways to start making those small changes is by making a few simple swaps in your daily diet.

Food is fuel; the basic foundation that determines how we feel, think, move, and look. When you eat the healthiest foods possible – the ones that are the most nutrient-dense and free of problematic ingredients – the better your body runs. Despite what fad diets and quick-fix workouts might claim, there is no way around this basic relationship: making healthier food choices is imperative to looking your best and performing at your peak.

Overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s a list of our top 10 healthy food swaps to make daily…

The 10 Healthiest Food Swaps to Make Daily

Instead of potatoes, try...

Cauliflower. The white potato is a starchy vegetable that is a high-glycemic food. This means that it is a significant source of sugar once digested, causing our blood sugar to quickly rise, adversely affecting our insulin. In turn, energy levels drop, food is stored as fat instead of fuel, hormone levels are disrupted and the incidence of disease increases.

TCM Tip: Switch to cauliflower instead. Baked cauliflower, or steamed and mashed cauliflower has a very similar flavor profile to white potatoes but contains much higher nutrient levels. Cauliflower is rich in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants known to prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and support detoxification at the liver.

Instead of pasta noodles, try...

Wheat-free noodles. Pasta noodles are made from refined wheat and the process of refinement strips the wheat of its nutrients. This leaves you with a carbohydrate void of much of its fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Eating pasta can disrupt blood sugar balance, leading to mood swings, fatigue, weight gain, dizziness, food cravings and headaches.

TCM Tip: Switch to plant-based noodles instead. You can make your own faux noodles using roasted spaghetti squash or zucchini, or can buy pre-packaged noodles made from lentils and beans, quinoa or kelp.

Instead of corn tortilla chips, try...

Baked vegetable chips. It is estimated that 93% of conventionally-raised corn is genetically modified in the United States. Much like vegetable oil, the consumption of this GMO food can cause a slew of serious health risks, making it a food to avoid. In addition, tortilla chips are highly heated. This leads to the formation of acrylamide, a cancer-causing agent. Finally, most tortilla chips are made with vegetable oil, a genetically modified blend of canola and soybean oil.

TCM Tip: Look for baked chips using vegetables such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips, or make your own like these dill carrot chips. Make sure they use a healthy oil like coconut, avocado, sunflower or grapeseed. Better yet, ditch the chips all together and substitute them for fresh crunchy vegetables or raw nut and seed crackers.

Instead of dry cereal, try...

Cream of Buckwheat. Cold dry cereal is one of the worst ways to start the day. High in carbohydrates and sugar, it spikes blood sugar leaving you feeling fatigued, irritable, hungry and unable to focus within a couple hours. Dry cereal is typically made with genetically modified grains such as corn, soy and sugar, and is one of the most common places to find toxic additives such as artificial colors, and preservatives such as BHT. Finally, the processing of cold cereals damages the delicate fats, vitamins and minerals naturally found in grains, making it a nutritionally-void food.

TCM Tip: Switch to cream of buckwheat, which is a nutrient-dense, gluten-free option. Full of plant-based proteins, fiber and vital minerals, it’s a great way to start the day. Buckwheat also helps to balance blood sugar, improves cardiovascular health, protects against cancers and diabetes, and can even elevate mood.

Instead of dairy Milk, try...

Nut milk. About 65% of people are unable to digest cow’s milk. They lack the enzyme needed, which leads to an array of health problems including digestive disorders, skin complications and poor mental health. Cow’s dairy, especially when pasteurized, contains some very allergenic proteins, such as casein. This can lead to weight gain, inflammation and autoimmune disease. Recent research now indicates it can even lead to osteoporosis and diabetes.

TCM Tip: Switch to a plant-based nut milk such as hemp, almond, coconut, oat or rice. Homemade is best. Avoid soy milk altogether. It typically contains GMO soy and can interrupt hormone balance. 

Instead of Iceberg lettuce, try...

Kale, spinach, and collards. Just because we’re eating salads doesn’t necessarily mean we are upgrading our nutrition. Iceberg lettuce is a hydrating vegetable with a crunch, but it lacks nutrient density. So if you’re gonna grab a plate of greens, why not make it count?

TCM Tip: By switching to salad greens such as kale, spinach and collard greens, you can greatly improve your intake of health-promoting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These dark leafy greens support detox, normal cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, improve skin health and prevent cancer.

Instead of soda, try...

Kombucha. Sodas, both regular and diet, are among the most hazardous foods. They’re proven to cause a wide range of health disorders, from obesity and cardiovascular disease, to diabetes and cavities, to blurred vision and ADD. Needless to say, ditching soda in every form is necessary for improving health.

TCM Tip: Switching to kombucha is an easy way to make the transition. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that still satisfies our need for something fizzy. It contains probiotics that support a healthy digestive and immune system, and contains nutrients that promote detox, clear skin and high energy levels.

Instead of artificial sugar, try...

Stevia. Artificial sugars like Sweet’N Low (saccharin), Splenda (sucralose) and Equal (aspartame) are nonnutritive chemical sweeteners that can cause an array of health issues from digestive disorders and anxiety, to cancer and infertility. They are found in everything from diet foods, drinks and gum, to energy drinks, food bars and frozen yogurt, so always check your labels.

TCM Tip: Switch to using organic stevia instead. Stevia is calorie-free sugar derived from a plant. Coming from a natural source, it does not pose the same health risks as artificial sugar does, but still adds a sweet punch.

Instead of tofu, try...

Sprouted beans. Tofu is a plant-based protein made from soy. About 95% of soy in the United States is genetically modified. In addition, non-fermented soy like tofu contains anti-nutrients that leach the body of vital minerals, reducing the assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Soy also contains a compound called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens mimic estrogen in the body disrupting hormone balance. This can lead to infertility, PCOS, endometriosis, low testosterone, impotence and male breast growth.

TCM Tip: Replace tofu with another plant-based protein such as soaked and sprouted beans. Once soaked and sprouted, the beans are a great source of amino acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The soaking process also pre-digests the complex proteins, starches and lipids in beans, converting them into simple components that are easy to digest. While all beans have phytoestrogens, the levels found in beans are much lower than soy, and do not pose the same health risks. 

Instead of vegetable oil, try...

Coconut oil. Vegetable oil is the most common oil used for cooking and baking, but is a harmful food to the body. Vegetable oil is made from highly processed soybean and/or canola oil. Both are genetically modified and may lead infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

TCM Tip: Switch to coconut oil instead. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, making it a stable oil for cooking and baking at high temperatures. Coconut oil is also rich in healthy fats that stimulate the thyroid, immune system and metabolism, and help to heal the digestive tract.

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