Welcome to week 1 of the Clean Cuisine Challenge! It may take a few days to get the hang of things and to adjust to some of our recommendations, but we will be guiding you through the next 8 weeks with plenty of tips and strategies to make this all doable in the “real world.” We encourage you to connect with us and with other people taking the Challenge on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Ok, let’s dive right in…
Focus of Week 1: Got Phytonutrients?
What are phytonutrients? Phytonutrients are super healing substances only found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans.
Phytonutrients are the substances that help protect the plants, but they also protect YOU, the plant-eater. They act as super anti-aging antioxidants and play an important role in reducing inflammation in your body. Phytonutrients are ultra-healers and super fat burners too. They actually help to activate genes in your body that help you burn body fat faster and age slower. Through a variety of mechanisms phytonutrients fight disease and obesity. And they play a critical role in how you age, look and feel.
Unfortunately most people eating a modern day diet are severely lacking in phytonutrients. The more phytonutrients you can consume and the more variety, the better!
More Plant Foods = More Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are not found in processed foods and they are not found in animal foods such as eggs, chicken, beef, milk, and cheese. The phytonutrients found in plants are a major contributing factor to why plant foods play such an important role in Clean Cuisine. And, for whatever it’s worth, most people who eat the standard modern-day diet are in less than optimal health, so it’s not surprising that their diets are exceptionally low in the phytonutrient-rich foods that form the foundation for Clean Cuisine.
We are not the only ones who are praising the powers of phytonutrient-rich plant foods either. The American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association, the Division of Nutrition Research Coordination of the National Institutes of Health, and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition all agree that we should eat more phytonutrient-rich unrefined plant foods and less animal food.
NOTE: We didn’t say no animal food, we said less animal food; there’s a big difference!
Phytonutrients offer tremendous health, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging benefits independent of their nutritional value. These plant-based superstar antiagers help cells repair themselves by stimulating the release of protective enzymes. In other words, flooding your system with phytonutrients can help you stay looking and feeling younger by providing your body with the raw materials it needs to repair damaged cells. Your body’s ability to repair damaged cells on a regular basis is a key factor in staying youthful. Without a sufficient supply of phytonutrients, your cells age more rapidly, and they lose their ability to remove and detoxify waste products, increasing the risk for disease.
A phytonutrient-rich diet is also an essential component of preventing the development of degenerative diseases. Research shows populations with low death rates from such diseases and populations with low obesity rates consume upward of 75 percent of their calories from unrefined phytonutrient-rich plant foods. Scientific evidence supports the idea that phytonutrients play an important role in preventing and even treating some of the most deadly diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
It is believed phytonutrients inhibit cancer-producing cells. Cancer starts out as a cell growing out of control and it is now believed some cancer cells are probably formed in every person every day. If you have a strong immune system, your body recognizes these cancer invaders and attacks. Almost always the healthy body with a healthy immune system wins this combat so cancer cells either never have a chance to develop or are destroyed before they have a chance to spread or cause damage. Phytonutrients from a wide variety of plant-based foods help fight cancer on many levels and help keep your cells healthy and strong. A review of 206 human population studies shows raw vegetable consumption to offer the strongest protective effect against cancer among the phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables.
Pass the Phytonutrient-Rich Fruit & Veggie Platter
Throughout the Challenge we will be showing you numerous ways to increase your phytonutrient intake, but one of the best and easiest ways is to simply eat more fruits and vegetables.
One of the most consistent findings in the epidemiological and nutritional literature is that as fruit and vegetable consumption increases in the diet, chronic disease and premature deaths decline. The CDC, the National Cancer Institute, the American Heart Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture all recommend adults eat 7 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for better health. One of the reasons fruits and vegetables are so important to eat in abundance is because they offer such incredible nutrient and phytonutrient bang for such a teeny-tiny calorie buck.
Vegetables in particular offer big nutrient package for basically zero calories. It is just impossible to overeat vegetables. For example, eating 1 cup of raw spinach delivers hefty amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for a paltry 10 calories. Yet, while spinach is great, you can’t eat only spinach for optimal health. You need to eat lots of different colored vegetables and fruits, and the more variety in color you get, the broader the protection. This is because each fruit and vegetable contains its own unique set of phytonutrients. Red fruits and red vegetables have different phytonutrients from green fruits and green vegetables. Even red strawberries have a different phytonutrient profile from red tomatoes.
For now, just know you should aim to obtain the majority of your daily calories from unrefined plant foods and you should eat A LOT of different colored fruits and vegetables.
3 Big Changes of Week 1
- Start the day right. Eat a Clean Cuisine breakfast containing phytonutrient-rich fruit every day. We will be giving you specific guidelines for how to create a Clean Cuisine breakfast later in the week. But for now, just remember to always be sure to add a fruit to breakfast.
- Redefine lunch. Eat a phytonutrient-rich Clean Cuisine lunch that includes a huge salad, cooked vegetables, or vegetable soup every day. Again, we will be providing specific guidelines for how to create a Clean Cuisine lunch later in the week.
- Drink a SuperGreen Smoothie at some point in the day, either first thing in the morning, midmorning, or midafternoon. Green smoothies take less than 5 minutes to prepare and can be made up to 24 hours in advance so long as they are mixed up a bit before serving. Check out the SuperGreen Smoothie recipes we provided in the Week 1 meal plan for ideas (Note: we will be giving you plenty of SuperGreen Smoothie recipes in the weeks to come!)
The Week 1 meal plan we sent before the Challenge started provides examples of what a Clean Cuisine breakfast, lunch and SuperGreen Smoothie consist of, but we will be providing more information on how to create each of these meals yourself later in the week. Stay tuned!
Note: We do not include a Clean Cuisine dinner meal plan for weeks 1 and 2 because we want you to focus on cleaning up your breakfast and lunch and also get in the habit of drinking a “SuperGreen Smoothie” daily (you’ll learn more about this tomorrow.) But this does not mean you won’t be eating dinner! We still want you to try your best to eat healthy dinners.