Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interesting article why processed food can lead to weight gain

In my experience, I lost a significant amount of ‘the last ten pounds’ when I started to prepare my own food from scratch with fresh (raw) natural ingredients at home: vegetables, fresh or frozen, rarely canned (besides tomatoes), dried beans and legumes cooked in the slow or pressure or rice cooker, quinoa, sometimes dried pasta, Indian basmati rice (for lower levels of arsenic), olive oils, fresh fruit, and raw nuts. That is about 90% of what I eat. Occasionally, I will add some parmesan cheese or goat cheese, bread is mostly home-made without preservatives, rarely animal products. Yes, the occasional frozen yogurt and gummy bears and chocolates. I guess at some point people called this ‘clean eating’, i.e. no processed food. So, what is processed food anyway?

junk-food-vs-healthy-food
  • food that was prepared in a factory a long time ago
  • food that waits on a shelf to be bought and eaten, and therefore contains many chemical food additives to keep it shelf stable
  • food that contains ingredients that were partially prepared in a factory (think pasta sauce in a home-made pasta dish)
  • factory prepared bread that never goes bad
  • food that has a wrapper
  • food that comes with a plastic tray and is heated in the microwave
  • fast food and many chain restaurants foods (they get it shipped from the mother ship).
  • food that no longer has any enzymes or vitamins because it was cooked eons- ago.
‘Processed’ food has been around for a very long time --- bread and cheese are technically ‘processed foods’. Canned food is processed food but it was and is used to be a way to preserve food. However, the problem started to escalate in the last 50 years, when the food industry was influence by the chemical industry and mass production has become common place. More and more chemicals were added to processed food that were either labeled or would remain unlabeled, when problems with obesity and gut inflammation started. The crux is really in all the chemical additives that have nothing to do with the food, but enhance taste and shelf life and reduce the cost of food production and enable mass production (more profits for the food industry!)

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This is an interesting article that links two common food additives, i.e. emulsifiers, to weight, immune system and digestive health. The simple story is that the emulsifiers mess with the gut bacteria and the mucus that protects the gut, so that the bacteria can get to the gut and chronic inflammation (aka colitis) can start for people who are predisposed. The emulsifiers also reduce the ‘good bacteria’ diversity in the gut. The variety of good bacteria exploit all the nutrients in the food for the body; if the body does not some of them, it will signal “give me something to eat, I need those nutrients’. This can lead to feeling hungry when you do not need the calories, but the nutrients….. They tested heir hypothesis with mice, and tests with humans will start. Even in very low concentrations, the food additives can lead to metabolic problems, meaning they gained weight and get colitis.

Here is a link to the original article in Nature.

So, there we go. Scientific proof that the earth is round and food additives lead to medical consequences for humans (and pets). There are so many things that the food industry conveniently does not want us to know about convenience food. We also sometimes think it is more convenient to ignore it. But, it is up to you.

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