Just what is a “whole food” anyway? The generally accepted definition is a nutrient dense food that is not process or refined; or minimally processes as in washed or cut up food stuff. Think apples, bananas,
whole egg in a shell or a beef steak.
Processed foods can fall anywhere on a spectrum from minimally to ultra-processed. Minimally processed can include products that are cooked, canned, frozen, or fortified or have some other food
additive such as sugar. Whole rice, oats, yogurt with sugar and thickeners fall into this category.
Ultra or highly processed foods have been altered to include fats, sugars, salts, hydrogenated oils, seed
oils and components extracted from other foods – think hot dogs, chicken nuggets, TV dinners, chips, soda and sweet breakfast cereals. The problem with ultra-processed foods is they are cheap and convenient but lacking in essential
nutrients. The added salt, fat and sugar create an addictive reacting causing the eater to crave more and more –( “Bet you can’t eat just one!”) Availability of any of the nutrients in ultra-processed foods is diminished as the plant properties and animal cells of the additives have been altered. The empty calories also leave the body wanting more as it seeks to fulfill its nutritional needs…..a vicious cycle indeed!
Diets high in processed foods have been shown to promote obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, Type-2 diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome. Multiple studies show an increase
in all-cause mortality from this eating style, leading to more people dying prematurely than from cigarette smoking. A 2018 study in BMJ showed that for each 10% increase in ultra-processed food
consumption there was an increase in cancers by 12%.
In the long run, there are many benefits to cleaner eating. First, one feels better, has more energy and
mental focus. Less money is spent of antacids, anti-inflammatories, supplements and the like, less down
time due to illness, not to mention less time and money spent at the doctor’s office! Many folks also experience the added benefit of weight loss to boot.
With New Year’s Resolutions right around the corner, now would be a great time to commit to eating a healthier, whole food diet.
Broken Horn D Ranch