You probably know this about me already, but I’m a people watcher.
Not in a weird way, but in a professional/educational way.
I watch people’s food choices in restaurants, grocery stores and (most recently since I just flew home from Florida yesterday) airports and look for any obvious physical issues.
I’m not judging—rather, as a nutritionist, it’s important for me to see first-hand what people are eating and how it may affect them!
I’ve got to tell you, hands down there is a direct correlation between the level of junk I see people buying/eating and their weight and/or number of observable physical limitations. And all I can think to myself is our consumption of junk food is arguably one of the greatest threats to our existence.
Here’s why I say that, and we’ll start by taking a look at…
What is a “processed food?”
There are several levels of processed foods, characterized by how much processing has gone into the product.
Generally speaking, the more a food is processed, the sicker it will make you.
Some foods have minimal processing like canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, butter, nuts, coffee, pickles, relish and vinegar. Nothing too bad here, as long as the products don’t have sugary coatings, syrups or sauces.
Moderately processed foods include pasta, breads, yogurt, cheese, pesto, ketchup, mustard, sour cream, applesauce, salad dressings, peanut butter, jam and mayonnaise. Although overconsumption of these could be problematic, most of these items don’t pose a big problem if eaten occasionally.
Highly processed foods, on the other hand, are the TRUE junk. These are the foods that should be labeled with a skull and crossbones, and will cause you to be overweight, sick and die way before your time.
They have multiple ingredients, an array of chemicals, preservatives and artificial ingredients, and copious amounts of salt, sugar and/or (unhealthy) fat.
Examples include breakfast cereals, boxed dinners and side dishes, chips, puddings, Jell-O, whipped topping, coffee creamers, soda, candy, ice cream, cookies, donuts, frozen dinners, juice drinks, sports drinks, granola bars, Pop tarts, shortening, jarred frosting, cake and cookie mixes, low-fat, fat-free or sugar-free products, and sauce/gravy mixes.
Overfed, undernourished…and addicted
One of the biggest atrocities of processed junk foods is the fact that they don’t nourish you one iota.
Sure, they may boast about the fact that they contain “Added vitamins and minerals!” (breakfast cereals are notorious for this), but don’t be fooled. Because the added nutrients aren’t a drop in the bucket compared to what you would get by eating real food.
And they create the phenomenon of being overfed and undernourished.
Here’s how that works:
Your body’s innate hunger signals are triggered by a physical need for nutrients. Your body is brilliant and it knows when it needs nutrients to create energy, make all your systems work like they should, and, well, keep you alive.
But since processed junk foods don’t nourish you, after eating them your body eventually realizes it didn’t get the nutrients it needed, so it makes you hungry again!
And if you turn around and eat more processed junk foods, this creates a vicious cycle where you keep eating more and more and more, but your body’s never satisfied.
Overfed and undernourished.
Oh, and packing on the pounds while you’re at it.
Plus processed junk foods typically contain one or more of what are considered the “bliss-inducing” ingredients—sugar, salt and fat—and they are downright addictive.
Particularly sugar—it’s been shown to be more addictive than cocaine!
From junk food to death
Here are the various ways that junk food leads you by the hand to an early grave.
First of all, the refined carbohydrates (including sugar, high fructose corn syrup and grains) in processed foods trigger inflammation and are a leading contributing factor in heart disease and cancer (our top 2 killers), insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, poor immune function, leaky gut, and Alzheimer’s.
Plus as I mentioned above, junk foods lead to obesity which exponentially increases your risk of disease (and simultaneously, decreases your risk of survival of the same). And by the way, it also is a comorbid factor that can raise your risk of dying should you contract COVID-19.
Salt is a culprit too. In addition to making the food addictive, the salt in processed junk foods can stir up hypertension.
Moreover, the chemicals (artificial flavors, colors and taste/texture enhancers that you typically can’t even pronounce) in junk foods don’t just sail innocently through your system. Instead they have to be processed similar to a poison. This stresses your liver (which is your main organ of detox) as well as your kidneys (because they secrete the toxins through your urine).
Eventually your body may have trouble effectively eliminating the excess acid wastes from this chemical onslaught. Acid wastes rob your blood of oxygen, lower your pH and create an environment that favors disease.
Lastly, processed junk foods are extremely hard for your body to digest (because they’re not food!). This can lead to heartburn, gas, bloating and constipation, reduced digestive enzyme levels, impaired nutrient absorption, and eventually more chronic conditions like diverticulitis.
Your body was designed to eat REAL foods--fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, good fats (like real butter, coconut oil and olive oil) and meats, poultry and fish.
That's what your body depends on for nourishment and optimal health.
Here’s an easy rule of thumb for you. Do the majority of your grocery shopping in the outer perimeter of the store—this is where the real foods are located—and minimize going up and down the aisles.
Also, take advantage of locally grown foods in season. Patronize farmer’s markets and roadside stands, as well as CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares and local meat farms.
No processed food tastes as good as fresh, locally produced foods in season!
And last but not least, stay FAR away from the poison-in-a-can called soda. And don’t you dare ask me if diet soda is any better than regular.
Help your gut recover too!
If you've been a processed food fanatic for a while (or for life), chances are excellent your gut microbiome might not be nearly as healthy as it should be…and may be completely topsy-turvy!
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 may be greatly hampered too (since 70-80 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 repopulate and restore a healthier bacterial balance.
Super Shield Plus's 15 strains of potent, effective friendly bacteria are up to this important task--ready to support your intestinal walls, help 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 any past junk food harm, and I’m sure it will thank you handsomely for years to come!
To your health,
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What is so frustrating is I teach or share knowledge with others ( especially loved ones) to try to help them. See, they usually don’t seek out this information until they already have an ailment or worse a disease that they need medicine for to control the things that are alarming or concerning their doctors.
When a good physician explains their blood work to them & why they have so many red flags showing, they encourage them to eat right and exercise. Most patients know this but only a select few take the advice.
The ones who are definitely concerned and don’t want to be on necessary prescriptions for the rest of there life, might try for awhile but don’t stick to it. I think because everywhere you go, to either socialize or just to the grocery store you are slammed with all the junk food, big time! I even try to tell them to shop just the perimeter of the grocery store, & even then they need to read labels.
I give healthy tips, tell them to give there palate a chance to adapt to enjoying the healthy foods. Some are successful and I will encourage them to continue and express how proud I am of them & they should be proud of themselves. Because it’s difficult for some at first. But then when they start to feel better, have much more energy, sleep better and feel the lbs. dropping off they seem so very happy!
However, others simply don’t care. I do experience seeing the difference in age groups. The younger adults aren’t too interested in revamping their lifestyle because I think they are assuming they have time to get healthy but the older the adults leave their doctors office a tad frightened. So, they really want to execute a plan for themselves to get healthy ASAP!
As for people watching, I also do that sometimes. I’ll see others in really tight jeans and feel bad for them because it looks like it hurts! It doesn’t have to be that way for them.
Here’s to encouraging others to get healthy and avoid so many physical pit falls either early on in their lives or later on. Because it does catch up! Our bodies are so very smart!
I also am a people watcher for the same reasons. I can in large measure thank you for that. Many years ago, though active and pretty fit I had terrible heartburn and was on that poison medicine. I bought your books and followed the eating plan and Voila! Here I am at soon to be 86 very fit and slim. I go to the gym almost every day, play tennis, practice yoga, and tap dance. Soooo to all who read this pay attention to what Sherry has to say.