How Processed Foods Wreak Havoc on Your Health

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It’s safe to say that most American consumers probably can’t recall the last time they ate a meal prepared entirely from wholesome, garden-to-table ingredients, without any canned or prepackaged products. That’s because most Americans today consume mostly processed foods—foods produced with pesticides, GMOs and synthetic chemicals, routinely laced with too much sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.

In fact, processed foods make up as much as 70 percent of people’s diets– meaning only 30 percent of what they consume consists of wholesome, natural, or organic foods!

But here’s the truth about processed foods: Long-term consumption of these “food products” spell bad news for your health.

Processed vs. ultra-processed: What’s the difference?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines “processed food” as any raw agricultural commodity that has been subjected to processing methods, including canning, cooking, dehydration, freezing or milling. This means that the only time a food can be classified as “fresh” is when you’ve taken it straight from the source (washing it is okay, and would not be classified as a form of processing) and eaten it. By this definition, most foods would be considered processed.

However, in layman’s terms, processed foods can refer to sodas, potato chips, candy, baked pastries with extended shelf life–basically, “convenient,” easy-to-eat products that have been altered through the addition of artificial or ingredients, synthetic flavorings, fillers and chemical or genetically engineered additives. But this type of description actually refers to “ultra-processed food.” Researchers from the University of São Paulo and Tufts University define “ultra-processed” as:

Formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensory qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.

But most people use the term “processed food” and “ultra-processed food” interchangeably when talking about these consumer products. Conventional processed foods today come in a variety of forms. These include:

• Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables
• Canned meats (luncheon meat and sausage, corned beef, and meatloaf)
• Breakfast foods, including cereals, oatmeal, energy bars
• Canned, bottled, or tetra-packed fruit juices, energy drinks, and soda
• Jarred baby foods and infant cereals
• Foods “fortified” with nutrients
• Ready to eat meals, microwave dinners
• Ramen noodles
• Pastries, including cookies, breads, frozen pizza, and pies
• Condiments, seasonings and marinades, salad dressing, and jams
• Yogurt and other commercially made fermented foods

The simplest way to determine if a food is processed is by looking at the ingredient list at the back of its packaging. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is likely to be.

After more than 20 years of struggle by consumer activists and public interest groups such as the Organic Consumers Association, major food manufacturers are finally being forced to label GMO ingredients in processed foods sold in grocery stores. Because of this, many of them are starting to remove GMOs from their products, along with other artificial chemicals and additives.

The history of ‘processing’

Humans have been “processing” food through traditional methods for thousands of years. Egyptians have used salt for 4,000 years to extend the shelf life of food. In ancient sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic, there was evidence that early humans pounded cattails and ferns into flour and mixed it with water to bake bread.

Other methods of food preservation, including fermentation, pickling and curing, have also been used for thousands of years, in different cultures. The food was used to help survive long winters and voyages, and also as rations when soldiers went to war. This led to the production of foods like beer, wine, cheeses, yogurt and butter.

The 19th century saw the rise of modern food processing methods. Canning and bottling began mainly to serve military needs, although the initial cans used were hazardous, as they were contaminated with lead.

Pasteurization, a method that prolongs the shelf life of dairy and wine to allow increased production and distribution, was discovered and patented by Louis Pasteur in the mid-1800s.

In the 20th century, the rising consumer society in the U.S. contributed to the growth of food processing. Advances such as freeze drying, spray drying and juice concentrates were developed. At the same time, coloring agents, preservatives and artificial sweeteners were introduced. Self-cooking meals, “TV dinners,” reconstituted fruits and juices and other “instant” foods like coffee and noodles became popular. These were mostly marketed to working wives and mothers who were tired of preparing foods from scratch.

To convince people that processed foods were as good, or even better, than wholesome foods, they were marketed as a means for people to save time and money–hence the term “convenience foods.”

But do the time and money you save by choosing these processed goods make up for the havoc that they wreak with your health?

Not what the human body needs, or wants

The human body is not designed to thrive on processed foods. And foods are not meant to be altered. The more altered they are, the worse they are for your health.

Processed foods are actually lacking in nutritional content compared to natural foods. For example, processed bread and other snacks use refined grains that have the bran and germ removed and, along with it, important nutrients like fiber, iron and B-vitamins.

Dried processed foods not only have reduced amounts of vitamin C and fiber, but they also become more energy dense, which causes them to contribute to weight gain. When these foods are constituted and cooked with water, even more nutrients leach out.

Processed foods are also loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium, all of which your body is not designed to handle in high amounts, and all of which can endanger health. Particularly damaging are refined sugars, like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which convert into fat in your body. This wreaks havoc on your insulin and leptin levels, and leads to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and cancer. Meanwhile, synthetic trans fats, in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, have been linked to heart disease.

And of course processed foods are routinely laced with hazardous genetically engineered and pesticide-drenched ingredients derived from GMO corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets and cotton (cottonseed oil is common in low-grade vegetable oils). According to the Grocery Manufacturers of America, 80 percent of all (non-organic) supermarket processed foods contain GMOs. Only now are those ingredients being labeled, as food manufacturers are being forced to comply with Vermont’s GMO labeling law.

Loaded with health-harming synthetic additives

Close to 5,000 additives are now allowed to be used in food products. And this number keeps growing. If you factor in the additives found in the packaging (which can also leach into your food), that number of additives can rise to 10,000!

What’s worse, most of these food additives have not undergone any safety testing, and very few have been tested according to the way that they are ingested–meaning in combination with other additives. Some of these additives are downright dangerous. For example:

Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione (PD), both of which are added to microwave popcorn to give it a buttery aroma, are linked to brain health, Alzheimer’s disease and respiratory toxicity.

• Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is found in chips, processed meats and a wide array of other foods, is an excitotoxin that can lead to cell damage, triggering brain dysfunction and leading to learning disabilities, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

• Artificial food dyes like Red #40, Yellow 5, and Blue #2 are linked to brain tumors, hyperactivity, hypersensitivity and other behavioral effects in children.

• Preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT) can mess with your brain’s neurological system, causing behavioral problems and even cancer. Another preservative, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), is also deadly. In fact, just five grams can kill you, according to the FDA.

Giving up processed foods—easier said than done

If you think you can simply shake off your processed food cravings, you’re wrong. These foods are intentionally addictive. They stimulate dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter that affects your brain similarly to how drugs affect you. Manufacturers are fully aware of this, and actually engineer their products to produce this “delicious” yet dangerous effect. (Michael Moss details this in his book, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.”)

Sadly, many people still consume GMO and pesticide-tainted, highly processed foods because of their affordability, convenience and “delicious” flavor. But what you save in terms of money and convenience will ultimately put a double whammy on your health.

source: Elaine Catherine R. Ferrer via Organic Consumers Association

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Sacred Chocolates…What’s the big deal?

We all have those days when it seems that sweet tooth just won’t quit. Almost all of us are guilty of grabbing a sweet treat to crunch the craving and we feel oh so satisfied, but are we really making a wise choice when selecting our sweets? Most times, many people reach for a mars or a twix bar to satisfy that craving but have you have thought about grabbing something that is good for you AND satisfies that craving? The average chocolate bar in a grocery or convenience store will sell for roughly $2-$5 depending on the brand and many people aren’t comfortable spending much more on a little treat. But have you ever wondered why some other chocolates sell for $8-$15? What makes it worth THAT MUCH MONEY???? Take a look at one of the finest chocolate companies out there… Sacred Chocolate. Sacred Chocolate sells for about $7-$9 per bar and is worth every penny!

Sacred Chocolate is slowly stone ground below 115 degrees Fahrenheit from bean to bar and is hand poured and hand wrapped in a small custom-designed, certified organic, certified vegan, certified kosher, carbon balanced, 100% renewable energy factory in California.  This raw chocolate only includes healthy sweeteners such as Maple, Coconut, Inulin from Jerusalem Artichoke, Erythritol, and Stevia. Raw cacao is one of the most, if not THE most, nutrient rich and complex foods known to humanity. All chocolate starts out as raw cacao “beans” or nuts – the seed of the cacao fruit which grows on a tropical tree. The usual roasting/processing of chocolate destroys a significant amount of its valuable health supporting properties. The raw cacao beans go from bean to bar, where as other companies purchase cacao paste from overseas to save on costs… imagine that, billion dollar companies ‘cheaping’ out to save a penny. So many companies are using fake sugar substitutes and poor quality cacao or claiming that they have “raw” chocolate when in fact it is not raw at all! Then of course there is the taste factor.  It is common for many raw chocolates to have a gritty texture, but you certainly won’t find that with the Sacred Chocolatiers ~ they have done their research and they know what they are selling! Making chocolate seems to be a special gift that they have and with the awards they have already won, even against mainstream high end chocolatiers in the world, they are still coming out on top! They know and can guarantee that the products that they have created are really raw, natural and AMAZING! What we love is that we all get to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of their labours and find a unique way to enjoy our day.

So what’s the big deal? What’s with all the fancy ingredients?

Using pure sugar substitutes makes a world of difference! Excessive sugar in the diet is not the best idea when it comes to healthy living. Nonetheless, few of us are consuming sugar in recommended moderate amounts and most of us are eating tons of it. In fact, worldwide we are consuming about 500 extra calories a day from sugar. That’s just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. Most people know that sugar is not good for them, but for some reason, they think the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories. Perhaps it’s sugar’s lack of sodium or fat that make it the “lesser of several evils,” or perhaps people are simply of the mind frame that what they don’t know won’t hurt them. If you really knew what it was doing to your body, though, you might just put it at the top of your “foods to avoid” list. Check out this list for 10 shocking things you might not have known about sugar. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/dangers-of-sugar_b_3658061.html. With Sacred Chocolates, you will never find cheap sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar used, but rather truly unique sweeteners that are low glycemic and even suitable for diabetics!

The coconut…. Eating coconuts are excellent for one’s immunity. They are antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic, meaning they kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. it can help treat some of humankind’s worst and most resilient of illnesses such as influenza, lice, throat infections, urinary tract infections, tapeworms, herpes, gonorrhea, bronchitis, and numerous other ailments caused by microbials. Is it a snack? Yes… but if you think about it, it goes WAY beyond a snack! To learn more about all the amazing qualities, check out http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-numerous-health-benefits-of-coconuts-2.html.

How to Enjoy a Sacred Chocolate:

To truly experience and enjoy a Sacred Chocolate, completely clean your pallet to eliminate anything that may alter the true Sacred flavour. Break a piece off and let it melt in your mouth and roll it over the tongue as it melts.  This will allow you to experience each unique ingredient and how its exotic dance with chocolate appeals. This is so satisfying and enjoyable, much more so than devouring it in a matter of seconds. These chocolates are not meant to be eaten in excess. A small amount goes a long way and really does satisfy that craving.

The amount of flavours to choose from is endless and there is bound to be a flavour to satisfy all the chocolate lovers out there and may even capture a few who haven’t liked chocolate in the past. Click HERE to see a list of all the Sacred Chocolates and flavors that we carry.

The list of all the health benefits can go on and on but at the end of the day, ask yourself, if you can have a treat that tastes amazing in a variety of different flavours, and is great for you, would you do it? Of course you would! Give the Sacred Chocolates a try, they are all amazing. As David Wolfe, author of Naked Chocolate says “Sacred Chocolate…is clearly the best chocolate bar ever. Take one bite and you will know that Sacred Chocolate has cracked the cacao code!”

A few testimonials:
“Sacred chocolate is quite a revelation. People must learn that optimal health can dance with optimal taste. It’s all part of a revolution of a heaven on this earth and what better way to celebrate. Steve’s stellar artistry has produced hands down the best chocolate on the planet. It mystifies the taste buds and charges massive creative energies to bring you to the next level.”
Sacred Chocolate is my favorite food! It’s the first thing I eat each morning before going for a trail run. It makes me feel fantastic: energized, happy, and full of life. I experience a deep sense of well-beingness when I eat Sacred Chocolate. I can feel what a huge difference it makes to eat chocolate that is raw, stone ground, and made with the highest quality ingredients and care. I could not live without Sacred Chocolate. It has uplifted my whole life.”
“I would just like to say that I am so blown away by what you do in your chocolate factory. I tasted your chocolate on Christmas day this year and I had the “Indian Sunset”. I cannot tell you how beautiful my experience was. The flavors melted in my mouth perfectly, as I closed my eyes it seemed I had been transported to the country itself!!”