I'm pretty sure this post will be elementary to many, but being elementary does not make it any less important. In fact, I would say that even though the topic of whole foods can be well understood, it is doubtful that most of us live by a "whole foods" diet.
It is estimated that 90% of the food budget is spent on processed or refined foods, which offer very little nutritional value, and contain ingredients that even rob us of our stored nutrients.
Here's a simple explanation of what a whole food is: It will be one that is as close to its natural state as possible; it will look as it does in nature, unprocessed and unadulterated, and will almost always be found in the perimeter of your grocery store. It is perishable and has a short shelf life; it does not contain additives, colorings, or preservatives. It's real food, not from a box or packet.
Still have questions? Simply put, it is the foods that God created for us to eat (plants and animals) - the food your great grandparents ate. So if in doubt, ask yourself if this would be a food your great grandparents would recognize.
It may surprise you that the major causes of death in the U.S. during the early 1900s were infectious diseases, whereas the leading causes of death now are chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. Fortunately, though they are among the most common, they are also among the most preventable.
Adopting a "whole foods" diet, getting plenty of sleep and staying active, can prevent or control the devastating effects of these diseases.
So here is your challenge. Try it for one week - eat whole foods, see how you feel, and then hopefully you will adopt this way of eating for life. At least try to eat whole foods 85% of the time. For a long life, eat foods with a short shelf life.
For other posts in this series see About Nutrition
Resources: Hawthorn University lectures and Nutritional Sciences by McGuire and Beerman, 3rd edition.