By Brett Klika
Now, before you through your arms up in frustration and shut me out completely with the old “You’re telling me I can’t eat ANYTHING!!! A soda is not going to kill me” routine, wait a second. I agree with you. If you are part of the American majority that eats a diet of nearly all processed food, I am suggesting that you completely change the way you eat. This may mean abandoning some of your daily nutritional habits. I suggest this because another “kicker” that goes with being part of the American majority is that you are not only going to get sick and die before your time, you’re going to suffer. Prior to dying, you’re going to be on a bevy of expensive medications that carry side effects that alter nearly every behavior in your life. These meds do a pretty good job of keeping your carcass semi-operational for quite some time. Of course, you may go blind, lose vital organ function, mental capacity, ability to move, and other “luxuries” your healthier counterparts maintain into their late years. Are you still mad at me for suggesting you change? I also agree that one soda will not kill you. Less than perfect food sprinkled into your weekly diet will bear very little, if any, effect on your overall health. What I see over and over again, however, is people having one or two foods at EVERY meal EVERY day that “aren’t going to kill them”. While one soda won’t kill you, a soda at lunch, a bagel and coffee drink for breakfast, some chips here, some cookies there, a burger for dinner and frozen yogurt for dessert, starts to add up, particularly when this becomes your daily routine. In this case, it WILL make you sick, it WILL make you fat, and yes, IT CAN KILL YOU. Below are some of the common offenders in our processed food supply that negatively impact health. Keep your eye out for these additives in your foods’ ingredients list:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Research has determined high fructose corn syrup (hfcs) to be the most significant source of calories in the American diet. It’s plentiful and cheap for manufacturers to add to food. Simply put, you probably eat a ton of it if you eat processed food. Hfcs becomes a problem because it slows your brains ability to tell you when you’re full. The sweet taste keeps you eating without your brain saying “stop”. Its effects are more dramatic that typical table sugar and table sugar has an entire host of problems. This constant surge in blood sugar abuses the ability to extract it from the blood to be used. After a while, it can’t be extracted from the blood anymore. It can’t be used effectively and starts to damage tissues and organs. Type II Diabetes is the common disease manifested from this cycle.
Hydrogenated fats have seen a decrease in production due to increased awareness of their significant negative impact on health. Hydrogenated fats have been found to increase “bad” cholesterol and decrease “good” cholesterol. They have been found to significantly increase inflammation in the cardiovascular system leading to stroke and heart disease. Extensive research has determined that a 2% increase in calories from hydrogenated fats can lead to a 23% greater risk for heart disease. Food manufacturers are allowed to put a “no trans-fat” label on food that has less than 500 mgs. Eat a bunch of these manufactured foods, small amounts turn into big amounts.
Processed & Refined Grains
These are found in many of our bread products, along with other products with corn and wheat. The refining process makes these foods lower in nutritional value and makes them act like sugar in your body. See the negative effects of excess sugar under the high fructose corn syrup section. Research has also found increased blood vessel inflammation in individuals consuming diets high in refined grains. This leads to a host of cardiovascular diseases. Whole grains do not carry these same issues as long as they aren’t paired with other additives.
The most common glutamate is the flavor enhancer, MSG. While many avoid MSG, these are slipped into food as additives that usually start with a “glut-“ and end with an “-ate”. These are popular in salty snacks such as chips, nuts, and crackers. The primary danger of glutamates is that they are an excitotoxin. They cross the blood-brain barrier quickly and fire up excitatory neurons in the brain. This makes your brain say “Yummie, give me more!!” While you often comply, this process results in damage to the effected neural cells. The area of your brain where these are located is in the area that regulates things like hunger and thirst. Over time, with a frequent consumption of glutamates, you begin to lose your ability to determine when you are actually hungry and consequently full. You just eat for taste and stop when the food is gone. Food manufacturers get rich, you get sick and fat. When was the last time you quit eating chips because you were “full”?
While the above are the most common offenders, look out for food preservatives, coloring, excessive sodium, and excessive caffeine. High doses of these additives have been linked to health problems as well. As you go through life and consume high amounts of “Franken-Foods”, the negative side effects start to amount. It’s time to stop. Swim against the current because you’re headed towards a waterfall.
I hope this has been able to communicate how important it is to create a diet of whole, unprocessed foods that were born of the dirt or have a mother. Your body is a machine that must be fueled correctly in order to function properly. You are a human. If aliens kidnapped you and used you for an exhibit at some alien zoo, based on their research, what should they feed you? What do humans eat?
For more resources on this topic, I suggest reading “Good fat, Bad fat” by Gary Taubes, http://www.amazon.com/Good-Calories-Bad-Gary-Taubes/dp/1400040787, “The Power of 4” by Paula Owens, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+power+of+4, and “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels, http://www.amazon.com/Master-Your-Metabolism-Naturally-Balancing/dp/0307450732/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1248318095&sr=8-2, .
Live well. Eat well. Be well.
Coach Brett Klika is the Director of Athletic Performance at Todd Durkin’s Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA. He specializes in youth fitness and athletic performance, overseeing a staff of 8 strength coaches developing programs for over 300 youth per week, both athletes and non-athletes. He presents around the world to both trainers and corporations with Todd Durkin Enterprises on a variety of health, wellness, and athletic performance topics. Brett contributes monthly to the award-winning “TD Times” newsletter. If you would like to sign up, you can do so by visiting FitnessQuest10.com, ToddDurkin.com or use the contact form below: [easy-contact]