Our culture is addicted to Processed Foods. When you walk through the grocery store that’s basically all we see. When we turn on our televisions, it’s on every commercial. Think of your favorite snack, I’m can guess that you’re thinking of something processed.
We are addicted, and it may not be our fault. It’s what the processed foods have as ingredients. Take a look at some of these offenders in the processed foods. It is understandable why our country is in bondage to this non-food. But it doesn’t have to stay this way. You CAN wean yourself of this addiction with a few simple steps.
4 Offenders in Processed Foods
About 35 years ago the technology to produce this sweetener became commercially available. This radically reduced the price of sugar and now it has become the number one source of calories in the US.The majority of processed foods contain high-fructose corn syrup or some variation thereof. Consuming fructose suppresses feelings of satiety in several ways, which eventually will have serious consequences for your weight and overall health.
Fructose diminishes your feelings of fullness because it does not stimulate a rise in leptin, one of the most powerful hunger- and fat storage regulators in your body. Fructose also reduces the amount of leptin crossing your blood-brain barrier by raising triglycerides.
Leptin resistance, in turn, is perhaps one of the most significant factors underlying human disease. For example, it plays a significant if not primary role in the development of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself.
Additionally, whereas glucose suppresses ghrelin (also known as “the hunger hormone,” which makes you want more food), fructose, again, does not.
Fructose also increases your insulin levels, interfering with the communication between leptin and your hypothalamus, so your pleasure signals aren’t extinguished. Your brain keeps sensing that you’re starving, and prompts you to eat more.
For the sake of your health, I strongly advise keeping your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, but this is virtually impossible if you eat a lot of processed foods.
Genetically Modified Ingredients
Some 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients, which are being increasingly linked to serious health problems. Just last year the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reviewed the available research and issued a memorandum recommending that all doctors prescribe non-GMO diets to all patients because they are causally linked in animal feeding studies to:
- Immune system problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Organ damage
- Dysfunctional regulation of cholesterol and insulin
- Accelerated aging
One of the first steps to avoiding GM ingredients is to cut back on processed foods in your diet.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer, is added to thousands of processed and restaurant foods. MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.
MSG is so popular because it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.
However, it is also an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.
More than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — are added to foods in the United States. While each of these substances are legal to use, whether or not they are entirely safe for long-term consumption — by themselves or in combination — is a different story altogether.
Many of them, such as sodium nitrate, BHA, BHT, aspartame, Blue 1, 2, and potassium bromate, have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Others are estrogen-mimicking xenoestrogens that have been linked to a range of human health effects, including reduced sperm counts in men and increased risk of breast cancer in women.
Studies have also shown that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate — found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings — cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible.
Meanwhile, E-numbered food dyes (such as tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129) do as much damage to children’s brains as lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ.
Fortunately, when you avoid processed foods you’ll also automatically avoid virtually every one of these toxic food additives.
So, what are REAL foods?
- It’s grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
- It’s not genetically modified
- It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
- It does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
- It is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh local conventional produce, the latter is the better option)
- It did not come from a factory farm
- It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
- It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)
7 ways to wean yourself off Processed Foods:
- Seek true satisfaction. Enjoy genuine flavors, rather than fat, sugar, and salt added to mask the metallic taste of chemical additives.
- Read labels wisely. You can find food with “real” ingredients in the supermarket if you read labels carefully.
- Relish what’s on your plate. Devote time solely to enjoying the pleasures of eating.
- Wean yourself off excess salt, fat, and sugar. You can also cook with smaller amounts of these ingredients by using natural substitutes like strong spices.
- Give your palate time to change. You’ll gradually lose your taste for excessively sweet and salty foods.
- Go for high-quality foods. Look for products that contain the least amount of processed ingredients.
- Treat yourself well by not skipping meals. Try eating three meals a day at fairly regular times, plus a mid-afternoon snack.
By simply following some of these tips, you can wean yourself and your family of processed non-foods. You can avoid so many of the health issues listed above by merely not purchasing those items. We tell the marketers that we need these products when we purchase them. Make a few changes each time you shop!
Sources: Dr. Mercola, U.S. News & World Report June 4, 2010