5 Critical Reasons To Stop Eating Processed Foods
Processed foods are linked with weight gain, metabolic damage, poor health, and eventually, increase your risk for a number of diseases.
At Resync, we know how important your diet is for your overall health. Being able to move through life pain-free and live a long and healthy life, so we focus on giving you the knowledge you need to make healthier choices.
In this blog, I want to focus on the “why”.
Why are processed foods so bad? And then I’ll connect you to a ton of resources for you to eat healthier to avoid all kinds of health repercussions.
What are processed foods?
Processing allows fresh foods to stay shelf-stable for a longer time. That was pretty important a hundred years ago when we had few ways to keep food spoiling. Salt-cured meats, refined white grains, and processed oils all helped humanity stay alive through times of famine.There is a big difference between using processed foods to stave off starvation and how they are used today.
Processing nowadays is used by the industry to make foods irresistible. Added sugar, fat, and salt all send signals to your brain to crave that food. It’s no wonder that when you get all three in a pre-packaged food, it’s almost impossible to say no!
The Four Different Levels Of Processing
Processing ranges from minimally processed foods all the way to ultra-processed foods that are definitely linked with poor health.
- Minimally processed foods include dried and frozen products. Few, if any, additives are used, and nutrient loss due to processing is minimal. This is regarded as a healthy level of processing.
- Processed culinary ingredients introduce another processing step before food reaches its final form. Toasted ground spices or extra virgin olive oil are two great examples of healthy processed culinary ingredients.
- The official “processed foods” term refers to foods that have been processed to be more shelf-stable versions of their fresh versions. Canned fish, natural cheeses, preserved meats, and foods that have added sugar, salt, and fat to preserve them are all included in this category. Some processed foods are still healthy (like canned sardines), but many (like deli meats) are linked with diseases like cancer or unhealthy weight gain.
- Ultra-processed foods are all the shelf-stable packaged foods that you will typically find on the shelves of a convenience store. These foods seem almost synthetic, and they hardly resemble their unprocessed origins. A number of nutrients have been lost in processing, and these foods are definitively linked with chronic diseases.
When scientists talk about the dangers of eating too many processed foods, they’re typically talking about ultra-processed foods.
If you want to read up on the different levels of processing, check out the Harvard Health blog on the topic here, here.
If you want a list of processed foods linked with weight gain and poor metabolism, check out our guide to healthy eating: Cooking Healthy on a Budget.
Highly processed foods are simultaneously depleted of their nutrients and then bulked up with fillers and preservatives. This combo makes them shelf-stable for what seems like forever.
Ever leave a piece of American cheese or a doughnut out on the counter? It does not degrade as any normal food would.
If a food does not naturally decompose due to the refining process and added preservatives, what does your body have to go through to digest that food?
I will tell you now. It’s not good for your health on any level. Actually, it affects every layer of your body, everything from your skin, to your bones.
5 Reasons To Cut Out Processed Foods:
Even if processing was important to get civilization away from the risk of starvation, processed foods no longer serve your health in the 21st century.
Because processed foods are lower in micronutrients and higher in calories, when you eat them instead of other more nutritious foods, over time this can lead to metabolic damage.
Here are some of the most important risks of eating highly processed foods.
1. Skin Damage
An unhealthy diet full of processed foods lacking essential nutrients is a sure-fire way to dry, brittle, aged skin.
Then you have to get additional nutrients to heal from sun damage. Keeping up with the UV damage done every day takes the right amount of specific nutrients.
Your skin - made up of layers of connective tissue - is a window into your overall health. Your collagen-containing connective tissues need specific nutrients to function properly.
Think about the relationship between thin skin and poor moisture. If you’re not getting the right nutrients to build thick enough skin, then it can hardly hold on to what little water it has!
(Pro tip: collagen peptides have been studied in multiple high-quality clinical trials to decrease wrinkles, increase thickness, and improve the moisture content of your skin.)
If you want a deep dive into the role of nutrition and healthy skin, check out the Resync course page for a synthesis of information that you can’t find anywhere else!
2. Collagen Damage
Chronic, repeated, high blood sugar leads to less functional muscle fibers, skin integrity, and collagen tissues, a process called glycation.
Refined carbs and sugar - some of the most common features of any highly processed food - are both near the top of the no-list for foods that can increase glycation. Charred meats and burnt oils are other contributors to glycation.
For your muscles, glycation decreases the glide that makes every movement possible. In addition, muscles tangled and knotted on the inside with glycation become less functional over time!
For your connective tissue, glycation irreversibly binds your collagen tissues up. That means stiffer joints, more injury-prone brittle tissues, and an increased accumulation of painful adhesions, commonly known as "knots".
Glycated collagen decreases blood circulation, tissue strength & integrity, and fascia pliability, which directly impacts your skin.
Unfortunately, most don't see the link between sugar and poor physical, musculoskeletal health until it's far too late. Sometimes, its not until a diagnosis of diabetes that people truly see the link between diet and damaged collagen.
These damaging effects of sugar, known by researchers and diabetes professionals for decades, are highlighted in-depth in Resync's new ebook Recover Every Layer of Your Body.
In addition, we include some of the most nutrient-packed superfoods in the world to help you lead the healthy life you want to!
3. Unwanted Weight Gain
Did you know that with processed foods, you get more calories and fewer nutrients?
Yes, indeed.So, in order to get the nutrients you need, you end up eating more calories. And we know that one cause of unhealthy weight gain is eating too many calories.
That's one reason why sugar leads to unwanted weight gain. Simply cutting sugar out of your diet can help you lose weight — this is vitally important for the hundreds of millions of people in the United States who are overweight or obese.
Just replacing one soda per day with a diet version or a calorie-free version can help you lose unhealthy weight easily and quickly. One study that did just that saw significant differences after only three months.
Three months may seem like a long time to wait for weight loss, but when you're doing one thing that takes almost no effort, that seems like a sure-fire win!
Check out my article on 51 ways to sugar-proof your kitchen for more tips on getting this metabolic insult out of your life!
4. Chronic Inflammation
According to animal studies, sugar may also lead to inflammation in the part of your brain that helps you regulate your body weight and food intake.
Inflammation lies at the heart of most, if not all, of the so-called diseases of civilization. It’s caused by an imbalance between antioxidants and damaging pro-oxidants, especially combined with low exercise and chronic exposure to pollution.
Some researchers argue that the cause of diabetes is inflammation of the cells that make insulin in the pancreas.
The cause of obesity could be inflammation of your hypothalamus, the weight control center in your brain.
The link between inflammation and disease is nowhere more obvious than with cancer. Not enough antioxidants and too many pro-oxidants are one cause of cancer.
So, choose a diet high in antioxidants and low in oxidants and other lifestyle choices to reduce inflammation, to fight back against accelerated aging.
Here’s a guide to antioxidant nutrition for your musculoskeletal health. Here, you’ll get resources like this and more in the Resync course on nutrition for connective tissue health.
5. Higher Risk of Death
Being blunt is not always effective, but it’s hard to beat around the bush when it comes to the fact that too much-processed foods are linked with premature death.
A study in the British Medical Journal found that eating more than four servings of ultra-processed foods a day is linked with a 62% higher risk of death compared to eating little to none of these foods.
It’s no surprise. Excess sugar, salt, fat, and calories — the very characteristics of most ultra-processed food — are associated, together and alone, with various debilitating diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are just some top ones. Sugar’s indirect effects on your metabolism then make the damage caused by excess salt or saturated fat so much worse.
That’s a sobering fact. But look around. What are the kinds of foods you see in the modern food system? Processed foods galore. It’s undeniable that they are everywhere!
So if none of the other reasons spoke to you, maybe this one will. Cutting out processed foods is an excellent way to live healthier and longer.
ESSENTIAL NUTRITION FOR CONNECTIVE TISSUE HEALTH
What You Need To Support Collagen Health & Strengthen Every Layer of Your Body
Collagen Builders, Co-Factors & Regulators For Optimal Connective Tissue Health
About This Class
This class considers vital nutritional factors that impact every layer of connective tissues health, with a deep dive into the importance of healthy collagen tissues and skin health. Nutrition plays a significant role in maintaining skin elasticity, structure, appearance, and health. This course provides evidence-based nutrition recommendations to optimize your overall skin and connective tissue health.
Not all processed foods are equally bad. The ones that pack in calories without providing much in the way of nutrition are the worst and are linked with a number of chronic conditions. They dull your skin, damage your connective tissues on every level, cause weight gain, lead to inflammation and ultimately shorten your life.
Why would you do that to yourself?
So, next time you're looking for a quick bite to eat on the go, reject the status quo and consider a quick and easy superfood smoothie bowl instead of some unhealthy packaged food.
Go ahead and check out Resync’s free recipes here and tell us what you think in the comments!
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While other companies push clickbait and fake news, what we say is backed by research. When you have the right information, you are empowered to make the right decision. That’s why we break down complex science into practical takeaways you can use today.
Helping you lead a healthier life,
The Resync Team
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