Feb 25 2018

Processed foods…are they all bad?

Published by at 2:30 pm under Food Additives,GMO's

Processed foods…are they all bad?
Understanding the difference between highly processed vs. minimally processed food can make a difference in your health.  

 In a perfect world, we would only eat the freshest of foods straight from the land. In reality, most of us don’t have the luxury or time for that kind of lifestyle. Processed foods are convenient, fast and a temptation when we are hungry. But knowing the difference between highly processed and minimally processed foods can make a huge difference in our diets.

The term “processed foods” applies to “…any food that has been altered from its natural state in some way, for safety or convenience…” Food processing techniques can range from freezing and canning to baking, pasteurizing and drying. There are so many processed foods we have merely come to accept this type of food as normal. Common processed foods include crackers, breakfast cereals, yogurt, cheese, canned and frozen vegetables, bread, noodles and pasta, cookies, cake mixes, ready to eat meals, along with processed meats such as bacon and lunch meats. The list goes on.1*

It’s important to not only distinguish between minimally processed vs. heavily processed foods, but also mechanical processing vs. chemical processing. An example of mechanical processing is ground beef. It is simply beef that has been ground up, and doesn’t take away the nutritional value. Butter is cream that has been separated from the milk. These are single ingredient foods that have not had chemicals added and therefore are acceptable as it is still the real food. Even though a food has been ground up, jarred, or frozen, it can still be the real deal. If chemicals, sugar and other multiple ingredients have been added to improve taste, texture, appearance or shelf life of a food, it is a chemically processed food. (1,2)*

So how do you know if a food is minimally processed or highly processed? If the ingredients are few and words you recognize (as healthy), that food is minimally processed and a safer bet. An indicator that a food is highly processed is when the label’s ingredient list is long, full of words you don’t understand, contains high fructose corn syrup and the words ‘artificial’ anywhere. So with this in mind, foods that are chemically processed and include primarily refined ingredients and artificial ingredients are what we mean when we refer to as processed foods. These are the ones to avoid. (1,2)*

 So why are processed foods so bad for us when they taste so darn good?

Consider the following:

Processed foods and beverages are the biggest sources for added sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Sugar has been named as the culprit in many of the worst health diseases to include Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer. When consumed in excess, it has extremely adverse effects on metabolism. It contains empty calories and fast energy that has devastating effects on metabolism, as well as leads to insulin resistance, increased bad cholesterol, high triglycerides, and fat accumulation in both the liver and abdominal cavity. (1,2)*

  1. Food manufacturers put massive resources into making their foods “rewarding” to the brain,

Have you ever tried to eat just one Dorito? There is a reason behind this. Food companies are banking on the fact that you “can’t eat just one”. In fact they spend millions on making their foods “rewarding to the brain”, to the point that it affects our thoughts and behaviors, which causes us to overeat these deadly foods.  “…We have complicated mechanisms in our bodies and brains that are supposed to regulate energy balance (how much we eat and how much we burn) which, until very recently in evolutionary history, worked to keep us at a healthy weight. There is quite a lot of evidence that the reward value of foods can bypass the innate defense mechanism and make us start eating much more than we need, so much that it starts to compromise our health. This is also known as the “food reward hypothesis of obesity.”…”2*

Junk food is addicting.

This  “hyper rewarding” nature of processed foods can have serious consequences for certain individuals, as they can literally become addicted and lose control over their consumption. The intense dopamine release that occurs in the brain when they eat these foods can make it hard to stop eating them, a finding that is supported by many studies. Sugar and other highly “rewarding” junk foods activate the same areas in the brain as cocaine and heroin. 2*

 Steer clear of ingredients you don’t recognize.

If you look at the ingredients label for a processed, packaged food, chances are that you won’t have a clue what some of the ingredients are and that is because they aren’t real foods, they are chemicals, added for all sorts of reasons. Why would we want to put that in our bodies?2*

Beware of preservatives, coloring and texturants.

Preservatives are chemicals that prevent food from rotting. Chemical coloring is used to give the food its desired color. Texturants are chemicals that give a food a particular texture and artificial flavor mimics real  flavor but in a cheaper, chemical way. Manufacturers are not required to disclose exactly what the combination of chemicals is creating this flavor, so if you see “artificial flavor” on an ingredients list, it could mean that there are 10 or more additional chemicals that are blended in to give a specific flavor…”2*

 Processed foods are often high in refined carbohydrates.

Refined or  “simple” carbohydrates are quickly broken down in the digestive tract which leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Eating a lot of refined carbs, just like sugar, is associated with many negative health effects and chronic diseases. If you eat carbs, get them from single ingredient foods, such as brown rice, or other grains, not processed junk foods.(1,2)* Where are the essential nutrients?.

Many processed foods contain synthetic vitamins and minerals to compensate for what was lost during processing, but do not think this is a good replacement for the nutrients found in whole foods. Real foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fresh meat contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and thousands of other trace nutrients you just don’t get in processed foods.(1,2)*

We need high fiber in our diets and processed foods don’t have it.

Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, has so many benefits, including acting as a probiotic for the good bacteria in our guts. It helps us to feel more satisfied with fewer calories and can slow the absorption of carbohydrates. The fiber that is found naturally in foods is often lost during processing, or is intentionally removed. Therefore, most processed foods are very low in fiber. Beware of labels claiming “contains whole grains” on processed foods. These are most likely so pulverized that they don’t provide the same benefits as real whole grains.2*

Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, including trans fats or processed vegetable oils.

Processed foods usually contain cheap fats, refined seed and vegetable oils (like soybean oil) that are often hydrogenated, turning them into trans fats. Trans fats are among the unhealthiest things you can put in your body. Most people eat too much vegetable oil and it is also unhealthy due to its high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, which drive oxidation and inflammation in the body, and can lead to increased risk of heart disease. The best way to avoid vegetable oils and trans fats is to avoid processed foods. Eat real fats like coconut oil and olive oil instead.(1,2)*

Whenever possible, eat the real foods that were put on this planet to nourish our bodies instead of processed foods. Don’t fall victim to marketing and advertising on the part of food manufacturers who would like to fool us into eating foods that are harming our health. Buying fresh ingredients and cooking ourselves is the best way to feed your body. Adding Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ in conjunction with a healthy diet will help you to maintain a healthy gut and keep your immune system strong 2*

Healthiest wishes,

Kelli

www.bodybiotics.com

 

Resources:

  1. http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-beauty/article/2097670/are-all-processed-foods-bad-you-not-necessarily-say-hong
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318630.php


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