Limit your Exposure to Food Processing for a Longer & Leaner Life.
Food processing includes any additives or technique that extends shelf life, therefore increasing profit margins for food companies. Unfortunately, not much research is done into the long term effects on human health of these techniques. Examples of the worst offenders include: sugar, refined flour and Trans fatty acids, which have all been implicated in several long term health challenges. Therefore, to optimize our health we must do our best to limit our exposure to them.
Food processing techniques are so widely used now that it is next to impossible to avoid them! Many of these put us at risk for long term heath complications including overweight/obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, depression, cognitive decline, etc…)
Most of our genes have been theorized to have evolved during the hunter-gatherer time frame. Therefore, let’s structure our diet as we did back then. Let’s look at a simplified breakdown.
1) Vegetables & Fruits
– One consistent finding over the years has been that people who eat adequate vegetables & fruits per day live longer and healthier than those who don’t.
– Aim for 10 (of your) fists of vegetables & fruits daily!!! Remember if you are attempting to lose fat, then be sure that about 6-8 of those fists are low carb vegetables and the other 2-4 are fruits and/or cooked starchy vegetables.
– As Canadians we have a few choices for the best quality vegetables and fruits.
o 1) Fresh vegetables and fruits – You can enjoy locally grown fresh produce, so TAKE ADVANTAGE. You can even join a local CSA program (http://csafarms.ca/index.html).
o 2) Frozen vegetables and fruits – a good second option, most of the nutrition is still present.
2) Meats, Poultry, Fish and Eggs
– The best choices are grass fed meats and free range poultry and eggs as these provide good levels of omega 3 fats, which are essential and are anti-inflammatory in nature.
– A good second choice is to choose the leanest cuts of regular farmed/mass-produced meats and poultry that you can. Also omega 3 eggs are a good second option to free range eggs.
– Wild caught fish and seafood are the best options.
3) Nuts & Seeds
– Use raw nuts & seeds whenever possible.
– If you experience digestive upset with raw nuts, soak in water for 1-3 hours before eating.
– If you are attempting to lose weight, limit your portions of nuts & seeds as these can easily lead to high calorie intakes.
– Grinding nuts & seeds yourself can create very tasty & healthy nut butters that are excellent for spreading or dipping.
4) Grain products
– Technically, all grain products are processed. Therefore, if you can’t live without these, then be sure to choose the least processed forms of grains that you can.
– Choose “whole grain” whenever possible (legally only “whole grain” in the ingredients list means anything).
– If you are getting your 10 fists of vegetables & fruits then you don’t need grain products, despite what you might read/hear.
5) Dairy products
– We don’t really need these products either, if we are getting enough quality animal proteins, oils & dark green vegetables.
– If you consume dairy, choose certified organic or <2% products.
– Drink 2 cups before each meal & in between.
– Remove chlorine from water before drinking – using a filter system (e.g. Brita) is usually good enough.
– The only two supplements that we most likely need are:
- A) Vitamin D – if we don’t get access to adequate sunlight.
- Ideally we get 10-15 minutes of unprotected (no sunscreen) sun exposure a few times per week.
- Discuss supplementation with your health care provider (often doses of 2000 IU are used).
- B) Omega 3 (DHA + EPA) – on days when we don’t consume high omega 3 fish or other animal products.
- Usually 1-4 g per day of DHA+EPA total are prescribed to optimize liver metabolism.
8) Physical Activity
– Daily activity and consistency is key. There’s no better time to start than right now!
– Once to twice per week – lift heavy things!
– Once per week – move really fast!
– The rest of the time move slower but move & very often!!!