I’ll start your Wednesday with some shocking statistics.
A recent JAMA study was conducted that showed children and teens get a whopping 67 percent (two-thirds) of their daily calories from highly processed foods!
So, is it any wonder they’re depressed, can’t sit still or concentrate, and over half (54 percent) of them have at least one chronic disease?
Adults are no better.
Although as adults we “should” appreciate the importance of healthy food more than kids, a BMJ study recently showed we grown-ups get 58 percent of our daily calories from processed junk.
And our 70 percent chronic disease rate proves it.
What exactly are “processed foods”?
Processed foods are basically unavoidable. The only way you can get 100 percent unprocessed foods is to have a garden, grow your own food, pick it off the plant, tree or vine, and eat it.
I don’t see a lot of people doing that, so we all resort to processed foods to a degree.
That being said, it’s important to point out that all processed foods are not created equal, in terms of both ingredients and the level of harm they inflict on your body (more on that below).
Here are the 4 levels of processed foods—with each characterized by how much it has been adulterated away from how it originally appeared in Nature:
1) Barely processed
This is where a food is extremely close to how it appeared in Nature, with just maybe some washing, prep work and packaging.
Examples here are bagged lettuces, plastic-wrapped trimmed fresh green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, snow peas or radishes, and packaged fresh “soup starters” like diced onions, peppers and celery.
2) Minimally processed
This is where the food does not resemble exactly how it looked in Nature, but it doesn’t contain a lot of chemicals and artificial ingredients either.
This category includes things like canned tomatoes and other vegetables, dried fruits, frozen vegetables and fruits (without sauces), jarred olives and artichokes, dried beans, prepared horseradish, butter, dried herbs and spices, pickles, relish, vinegar, cold-pressed oils, raw nuts and ground coffee.
3) Moderately processed
This category includes foods that do not resemble anything in Nature, but still aren’t typically loaded with artificial ingredients (especially organic varieties). They have been cooked or altered in some way and may contain multiple ingredients.
Examples of moderately processed foods include dried pasta, breads, yogurt, cheese, pesto, ketchup, mustard, sour cream, applesauce, salad dressings, soups, peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise, traditional oils, tomato sauce or paste, roasted nuts, maple syrup, popcorn, cold cuts and sausage.
4) Highly processed
These are completely unlike anything you’d find in Nature and should not even be called “food”.
They are characterized by multiple ingredients, many chemicals, preservatives, and additives, and are almost always harmful to your health in some way.
These include breakfast cereals, packaged dinners and side dishes, crackers and snack chips, puddings, Jell-O, whipped topping, coffee creamers, margarine, soda, candy, ice cream, pastries, cookies, donuts, refrigerator biscuits, frozen pizza, TV dinners, juice drinks, sports drinks, granola bars, Pop tarts, shortening, jarred frosting, cake and cookie mixes, Cheez Whiz, low-fat, fat-free or sugar-free products, frozen desserts and sauce/gravy mixes.
It is category 4 that I am primarily referring to when I speak of the health dangers of processed foods—you’re better off eating shredded cardboard than taking these into your body.
The 5 ways you’re calling on the coroner
Getting two-thirds of your daily calories from highly processed foods can destroy your health and shorten your life in these 5 ways:
1- Refined carbohydrate risks
The refined carbohydrates (including sugar, high fructose corn syrup and grains) in processed foods are a leading contributing factor in heart disease, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, poor immune function, leaky gut, dementia and of course obesity.
Plus, high fructose corn syrup is typically made from GMO corn and has been found to contain mercury—a deadly neurotoxin.
2- Salt sickness
The salt in processed foods can stir up high blood pressure in two ways.
First, too much sodium can drive up your blood volume and raise blood pressure.
In addition, when you have too much sodium which is not counterbalanced by the proper amount of potassium, that leads to elevated calcium levels, which in turn makes the smooth muscle cells in your arteries contract, raising your blood pressure.
3- Trans-fat terror
The trans-fats in processed foods are linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, immune dysfunction, mood swings, obesity and accelerated aging.
Even though trans-fats (in the form of hydrogenated oils) are supposed to be phased out of our food supply, many processed foods are made with heated polyunsaturated oils, which form compounds that are just as disease-causing as trans-fats!
So, we’re trading one deadly fat for another.
4- Chemical calamity
Your body was not designed to metabolize chemicals that you can’t pronounce (such as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives) day in and day out.
Simply put, if you don’t know what an ingredient is on a food package, neither does your body.
And the thing is, they don’t just sail innocently through your system and get eliminated when Nature calls—it’s much more complicated than that.
Food additives must be metabolized by your system like a poison—this taxes your liver (your primary organ of detoxification) as well as your kidneys.
Eventually your body becomes overwhelmed and can’t eliminate the acid wastes from this chemical detoxification, and instead they can get reabsorbed into circulation.
From there they can then accumulate in your blood (robbing it of oxygen), invade your organs and tissues (and harm their functioning) and create an environment that favors disease.
5- Digestive disaster
Since processed foods are not actually food that is meant for your body, they require an ENORMOUS amount of digestive enzymes to be broken down, and can lead to heartburn, gas, bloating and constipation.
Plus, since your body’s ability to produce digestive enzymes may diminish over time, you may eventually find yourself running low and having even more digestive problems.
Your body knows—real is best
Your body was designed to eat REAL foods--fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, good fats and meats, poultry and fish. That's what your body depends on for nourishment, sound digestion and elimination of wastes.
The easiest way to accomplish this life-saving goal is to do the majority of your grocery shopping in the outer perimeter of the store—where the real foods are located.
Also, patronize local farmers, regional markets, and Community Supported Agriculture programs.
And when you do want the occasional highly processed food (such as chips, crackers, or cereal), strive to buy organic to help minimize the harmful ingredients.
Help your body recover too!
If you've been a processed food fanatic for a while, chances are excellent your gut microbiome might not be as healthy as it should.
Processed foods (especially refined carbs) become nourishment for the harmful bacteria and yeasts in the intestinal tract, so they can thrive and overcome your beneficial bacteria.
Not only can this worsen gas, bloating and constipation, but your immune system can be greatly hampered too (since 80 percent of your immune cells reside in your gut).
In addition to a healthy diet of real foods which nourishes your gut, probiotic supplementation can help you achieve this important goal—and Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula is the way to go.
Super Shield's full-spectrum blend of 13 strains of potent, effective friendly bacteria are up to the task--ready to line your intestinal walls, repopulate your supply of helpful bacteria, keep yeasts and harmful bacteria in check, encourage regular BMs and support your immune system!
Feed your body the delicious REAL food it is meant to have, and help it recover from past “food abuse” and I’m sure it will thank you handsomely for years to come!
To your health,