Why Avoid Processed Foods?

Even when the foods you are eating are considered to be ‘healthy’ foods, like vegetables and fruits, they may not have the same nutritional value they were once considered to have if they have been ‘processed’. There are a number of reasons for this. Here are some of them.

We all know that processing foods can strip away vital nutrients. For example, removing the nutrient-dense part of a food, such as removing the ‘germ’ or the peel, can remove important vitamins and other phytonutrients. This leaves behind what have been referred to as ’empty calories’, which are more of a metabolic burden for the body.

Heating food denatures proteins, including the enzymes that would otherwise be active and available during the digestive process. By the way, cooking meat at high heat causes the formation of heterocyclic amines, which are known carcinogens. Heating can also convert unsaturated fats into trans-fats, which the body is not designed to deal with. Exposure to heat and even light can cause fats to become rancid.

Many foods are processed to increase their shelf life. One way this is accomplished is by removing nutrients, which microorganisms would otherwise use to reproduce. Another way is to add preservatives, many of which can be unhealthy in themselves, as can flavor enhancers, thickening agents, and other additives. However, many individuals are sensitive to several or many of these, causing a further health burden.

The best rule of thumb is to eat foods that look the way they did when they were harvested. Ideally, the foods you eat should not be processed at all. Of course, in the western world it is almost impossible to eat completely unprocessed food, but the goal should be to eat food that is as minimally processed as possible (and organically grown when available).

Here’s to your health.
Read Dr. Ellen’s new book, Clearing the Way to Health and Wellness

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