“Modern food manufacturers have overwhelmed store shelves with foods that are nutrient poor, rotten, spoiled, dead, old, and contaminated with antibiotics, chemicals, and growth hormones.
Refining has also brought us spectacularly cheap, pervasive, and fattening ingredients: namely white flour, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and industrial seed oils.
These fake foods distort your appetite and cause you to consume more calories than you require. This perpetuates a vicious cycle of stuffing your face but never feeling totally satisfied or nourished.”
Abel James – Author “The Wild Diet”
What Are Processed Foods?
Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on a food package and realized you had no idea what they were?
Food labels usually read more like a list from a science experiment than a list of ingredients we actually recognize.
You’ll reap the benefits of eating healthy, whole foods even more when you also reduce processed foods.
After all, you want your body to benefit as much as possible from the food you eat, right?
So, Why Not Processed Food?
Processed foods have been altered from their natural state.
There are varying degrees of processed foods, from minimally processed to highly processed.
Generally, the less processing a food has undergone and the fewer the ingredients in packaged products, the more nutritious it will be.
The more processing a food has gone through, the fewer nutrients it retains.
This means more empty calories that provide little to no nutritional benefit.
Processed foods tend to be LOW in nutrients and HIGH in calories.
They tend to not keep us full for very long, so we’re hungry again a short time later (this increases cravings for more processed foods).
Most are designed with convenience in mind.
They can be eaten quickly, anywhere (while driving, working at the office, watching TV, etc.), and require little or no preparation.
Highly processed foods include snack foods and desserts, such as candy, chips, ice cream, cakes, etc.
This category also includes frozen entrees, sodas, breads, pasta, and cereals.
Highly processed animal products include most deli meats, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and some sausages and burgers.
Many vegetarian alternatives to meat are also highly processed.
Minimally Processed Foods
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat and fish are often sold in minimally processed or non-processed forms (although each of these also have processed versions).
These foods are often not substantially changed from their raw, unprocessed form and retain most of their nutritional value.
The Effects of Food Additives
Studies show that food additives affect the following (which all have an impact on your overall blood pressure and how your body handles sugar in diabetes):
Appetite control (or lack of – food additives increase your appetite!)
Brain function – can cause “brain fog”
Quality of sleep
Concentration (as well as ADD/ADHD)
Gut flora, depleting the “good” bacteria necessary for assimilation of nutrients
Deficiencies of micronutrients
That’s really quite a list, isn’t it?
Nutrient Quality in Processed Foods
Processed foods can cause micronutrient deficiencies.
Not consuming enough vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids prevents us from getting the minimum daily requirement (MDR) of what our bodies need.
This can lead to disease and chronic health problems.
And, processed foods are lacking in the nutrients our bodies need to function properly, especially if our goal is improved overall health and/or weight loss.
It’s not realistic for most of us to never eat processed foods, but it’s very realistic to dramatically reduce the amount of these poor quality foods.
Once healthier choices become automatic, you won’t miss the processed choices because you’ll be feeling so much better.
Important Initial Step: Become More Aware of What You’re Eating
Did you know that the food industry allows more than 3,000 food additives to be used in the processing of our food?
These additives are used to help improve the taste, texture, consistency and visual appeal of food as well as extend the shelf life.
‘These processes can cause allergic reactions and stress on the liver to process such chemicals, many of which are cancer forming. Children exposed to such processes can become hyperactive and display learning difficulties.’
Dr. Gillian McKeith, author, ‘You Are What You Eat’
The best advice is to avoid foods with health claims on their labels.
Better yet, avoid foods with labels in the first place.
Download the Guide to Artificial Ingredients here and go through the food labels in your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator.
Using the nutrition facts only, determine whether that food should belong in your diet or not based on the information above.
If it checks out, leave it. If not, donate it or throw it out.