Monday, July 10, 2017

Should You Go Unprocessed With Your Foods

A year ago, I decided that I would no longer eat unprocessed foods. I came to that decision as part of my journey back to nature and my desire to live as much of my life as I could in the way the human body was intended to live. That meant that if a food was cooked or manufactured by someone other than me and contained things like hydrogenated oils, sodium nitrates, sodium nitrites, artificial colors blue, green, red and yellow, high fructose corn syrup, etc. that I would avoid them. For me that meant reading ingredient labels and avoiding whole classes of foods like deli meats in order to stay as close to my eating unprocessed choice as possible without being completely impractical. By impractical I mean, I was not going to grind my own flour or make my own butter, I was simply going to eat whole foods, cooked by me or someone else, that were void of processing and chemicals.

In my research for optimum health and consciousness of the ecosystem which we share with all living things, it became obvious to me that our bodies were not designed to filter chemicals made in a lab. That in doing so, we slow down the body's natural processes and immunity and burden it with the demands of filtration and removal rather than regeneration and healing. That we should live our lives as much in harmony with the earth as we can.  That means getting fresh air and movement every day. Sunshine on our skin every day. Clean water to drink, and wholesome foods to eat, and rest. You literally are what you eat, drink, and breath on a regular basis. Unfortunately, in today's busy, fast-paced society, attention to these natural requirements can be difficult to achieve.  As I already do much of these natural requirements for optimum health, and already ate a healthy diet for the most part, I needed only to do some further tweaking. So I stopped eating any processed meats, frozen dinners, injected meats and any foods that contained the following toxic ingredients:

1. Hydrogenated fats -When a regular fat like corn, soybean, or palm oil is mixed with hydrogen and whipped into a solid, it becomes what's called a trans fat. These chemically-altered ingredients help packaged foods stay fresh longer so they can sit on store shelves for years without getting stale or rancid. Eating foods with trans fats can cause inflammation in your body and raise your "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while lowering your "good" HDL cholesterol. They also increase your risk of blood clots and heart disease. That means you should avoid them and foods that contain them; things like fried foods! Choose healthier, plant-based liquid monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. I use olive oil almost exclusively when I cook with oil, with avocado oil coming in second.

2. White Flour - When a whole grain is refined, the bran and germ are removed which are the parts that contain the fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This leaves these refined grained void of nutrients and make them incredibly easy to digest. This is not a whole food and not natural for your body to process. Digesting them is too fast and easy and raises your blood sugar and insulin. This can lead to weight gain, mood swings, bowel issues, and other health issues.  I recommend replacing all processed grains with whole grains, like brown or wild rice, whole-wheat breads and pastas, barley, and oatmeal. You will feel full longer and much more satisfied when eating cause foods made with whole grains are much more hearty. They also help regulate hormones and carry unwanted cholesterol out.

3. Artificial Sweeteners - I have not had an artificial sweetener for approximately 26 years. These are chemicals, plain and simple, and they can make you think you can eat more of a food that you shouldn't eat a lot of. Chemicals knows as Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), Saccharin (Sweet'N Low, SugarTwin), and Sucralose (Splenda) are worse than consuming regular sugar. The body doesn't recognize this man-made chemical and doesn't send the right satisfying brain chemicals you get with regular sugar leaving you wanting more. So have a sweet treat when you desire it, but limit the quantity and use real sweeteners. 

4.  High Fructose Corn Syrup - Refined grains are turned into high fructose corn syrup. Again, another man-made substance. It increases triglycerides, boosts fat-storing hormones, and drives people to overeat and gain weight.  Avoid it.

5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - is a processed "flavor enhancer."  How harmful MSG may be as a chemical flavor enhancer and it's effects on the human body are still being studied. As it is a chemical, I avoid it.

So after a year of cutting out processed foods, I can tell you that I feel wonderful. I feel more connected in mind and body and I have more confidence in my body's amazing ability to take care of me and keep me in balance and in optimum health. I have more muscle mass and I stay full longer. I was not trying to lose weight, however my daughter who joined me on this journey of eating unprocessed foods, lost 10 pounds eating this way in only 6 months, and gained more muscle and self-confidence. When you realize that foods have the power to affect how you feel and look in life, the choice to eat better is easy. Learn to listen to your stomach. Feed yourself when you are hungry and reach for foods that will promote healing and wellness like those that come from the earth and not a laboratory. It's actually quite fun to eat healthy.  Try it for a month. Shop healthy. Go organic. Make one change only if that's all you want to do, but do it. You will feel so much better and you will be healthier for it. Shop for food items online if that's more convenient 

For me it is a lifestyle habit now and I don't miss any of those processed foods. There are many wholesome alternatives on the market, or I just make it myself! I still eat chocolate which is my favorite guilty pleasure. It is a processed food and I won't make it myself, but that's ok cause I'm not aiming for perfection, just better.

Good luck!
- YouTips4U

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