Ultra Processed Foods to Avoid | Step 1: Remove

digestive health gut health holistic nutrition Apr 25, 2022
processed food examples

Sugar is universally accepted as a toxin for our body. It’s found in nearly every human-made food, from cereal and yogurt to luncheon meat and wheat bread to ketchup, marinades, and salad dressings.

Most sugars are made from refined sugarcane and sugarbeets, which creates white crystals that strip the vitamins, minerals, and fibers from the original sugar cane or sugar beet.

Sugar is very pervasive in our food supply and can be found in 80% of prepared foods in your supermarket with the average American consuming 66 pounds of sugar every year! This constant bombardment of sugar in our body can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.

Although many Americans are aware that eating excess sugar can create weight gain and cause diabetes, sugar can be a factor in many other diseases as well!

Instead of purchasing white sugar, buy local raw honey that contains antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Avoid commercial honey as it is heavily processed. Up to 80% of honey sold in stores contains zero pollen and is devoid of other nutrients as well, which you don’t want to add to your diet.

Green leaf stevia and grade A or B maple syrup and dates are also good alternatives to regular sugar as these all have added sugars. However, the sugars from stevia, maple syrup, and dates are natural and unprocessed. Because these are more natural sweeteners, they contain essential nutrients.


Hydrogenated Oils as a Dietary Inflammatory

Hydrogenated oils such as canola, corn, and vegetable oils are the oils used in most households and many restaurants and processed foods. These are not the right choice for health-conscious individuals as over 90% of canola and vegetable oils are made from GMO plants. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. These foods are not natural and can contain genes from different foods, causing inflammation in the body.

Secondly, many vegetable oils are used in partially hydrogenated oils. Partially hydrogenated oils are liquid fats that have been injected with hydrogen gas at high temperatures to make them solid at room temperature. This process makes these food products shelf-stable, but in doing so, these hydrogenated oils produce trans fats that have been proven to be hazardous to your health.

Lastly, vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oils are also dangerous because they’re too high in omega-6 fatty acids and are unbalanced with Omega-3 and nine fatty acids, which can create inflammation and lead to leaky gut syndrome.

Make sure to make healthy oil choices when you are shopping in the supermarket. Look for unrefined and unprocessed options such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, and flaxseed oil.

Processed and Artificial Foods Which Cause Inflammation

Artificial sweeteners and the promise of “zero calories” and “zero sugar” is hard to resist until you know how unhealthy these choices are for your body.

Zero-calorie and zero sugar foods have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose in them and are not a better choice. People usually think about soda, diet soda specifically, when they think about artificial sweeteners, but they can also be found in toothpaste and mouthwash, children’s chewable vitamins, chewing gum, sports drinks, flavored teas, salad dressings, frozen desserts, yogurt, breakfast cereals, processed snack foods, and processed meats.

These sugar substitutes are toxic and can have uncomfortable and dangerous side effects, such as headaches and migraines, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk for T2DM. Since these chemical-based, artificial sugar substitutes are artificial, the body doesn’t know what to do with them once ingested. One such sugar substitute, sucralose, travels through our digestive system undigested and kills our good bacteria in our gut, harming the intestinal wall.

Preservatives Additives Causing Inflammation in Our Bodies 

Preservatives and additives are commonly used to enhance the color and flavor, or texture of food and extend shelf life. Common additives you are probably familiar with are MSG, food colors such as Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, sodium nitrite, guar gum, high-fructose corn syrup, carrageenan, sodium benzoate, trans fat, xanthan gum, artificial flavor, and yeast extract.

These additives have been studied and shown to cause symptoms ranging from headaches and swelling to digestive issues like gas and bloating and an increased risk of inflammatory GI conditions, to weight gain and cancer.

Instead of eating foods with additives, try green leaf stevia (not Truvia) is best. Michael Pollan, a well-known health guru, says to eat food your grandmother would recognize, with less than five ingredients and ingredients you recognize, know, and can pronounce. 

Body Inflammation from Corn

Corn is a grain that is considered a vegetable. Originating in Mexico about 9,000 years ago, corn has since become the most widely consumed cereal grain worldwide. In addition to cereal, corn is also used for fuel and animal feed. Over 60% of the corn grown worldwide is used in agriculture for animal feed.

Corn has the same issues as wheat - its over-processed, genetically modified modern-day version is unrecognizable to our digestive tracts. This over-processing strips the nutritional benefits as well as adding sugar, fat, and salt.

Also, corn has been changed drastically from its original form. Over 90% of corn grown in the US is GMO to increase yields and improve insects' resistance. Many processed foods contain corn, corn oil, or cornstarch.

Instead of buying corn from a big-box grocery store, buy from a local farmer and eat corn on the cob at your summer BBQ a couple of times per year. 

Why Soy Isn’t Good For Your Body

Soy is a legume and one of the few plant-based complete proteins containing all nine essential amino acids. Rich in fiber, protein, and several essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and copper, soy is a natural source of polyphenols, antioxidants, and isoflavones, a subclass of polyphenols referred to as phytoestrogens that help activate estrogen receptors in the body. These are different from the hormone estrogen and work to balance estrogen levels, not increase them as many people mistakenly believe.

The problem with soy, like wheat and corn, is that much of the soy grown in the US is GMO and used in many processed foods. These foods contain an antinutrient that some people are sensitive to and can cause inflammation.

Look for organic, non-GMO soybeans and tofu that have many nutritional benefits and can and should be part of a healthy, plant-based diet. Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting can also reduce the level of antinutrients.

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