These days, it’s incredibly easy to get by without ever really cooking for yourself. That’s not just something that might happen in a few rare cases, either. Research from the USDA found that the average American spends just 37 minutes a day preparing and serving food and cleaning up after. Suffice to say, it’s pretty hard to live on a home-cooked diet and spend so little time preparing food.
The food writer Michael Pollan is well known for advising people to cut out processed foods (or “food-like substances”) and eat only meals prepared from scratch, using whole ingredients. In fact, that’s a piece of advice that just about everyone involved in nutrition and wellness can agree on. Vegans, paleo diet enthusiasts, and everyone else along the spectrum recognize the harm done by a diet rich in processed food. So, it may be time to start looking up nutrition schools and buying yourself some cookbooks. Here are a few ways in which living on home-cooked food can change your life for the better
By improving the number of healthy microbes in your gut
The researcher Tim Spector mentions, in his book “The Diet Myth,” that the gut microbiome – that is, the balance of healthy and unhealthy microbes in our guts – may be one of the most important and overlooked features of good health overall.
As well as describing life-changing procedures that involve transferring microbes from healthy to unhealthy patients, and pointing out how identical twins can have completely different weights due to their microbiome, Tim Spector also outlines clear evidence that a diet made up largely of processed food ruins the health of the gut microbiome. As the gut microbes may be tied to everything from better weight control, to a better mood, to better immune function, eating whole foods (including fermented foods like kombucha and kefir) may just about transform your life.
By properly supporting your physical and mental performance throughout the day
When people try to live very physically active lifestyles, poor nutrition often holds them back and guarantees that they “hit the wall” sooner than they should. A diet of whole foods, cooked from scratch, is likely to have the right proportions of nutrients that you need in order to fuel you to optimal performance, both physically and mentally. Just try and keep the ratios of different macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) balanced, instead of being too keen to cut things out.
By reducing inflammation in the body, regulating hormones, and improving immune function
Chronic inflammation is connected to just about every serious disease a person can experience, and markers of chronic inflammation in the blood are frequently measured to determine a person’s overall health. Processed foods have been heavily linked to an increase in chronic inflammation throughout the body, whereas many natural, home-cooked meals and foods have been found to have the opposite effect, and are correlated with improved health. If your diet includes plenty of colorful vegetables, olive oil, and spices, you’ll be in a much better situation here. A special shout out goes to the spice turmeric, which, when combined with black pepper is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory.