Yes, I am a 'flexible nutrition' follower: AKA: I eat according to my allotted macronutrients (protein/carb/fat + fiber) for the day and not restrictive eating that can (and has) lead to disordered relations with food.
BUT. I am also a nutritionist. I believe in REAL, WHOLE foods found in nature.
Because of the many MANY benefits real foods have on our wellbeing, longevity, immune system, energy and defense against degenerative diseases to name a few.
But don't most 'flexible dieters' eat processed foods?
Yes, many do. But not all. And I will never knock them for their choices, I will simply present information on the why's of eating real food and just saying NO to processed foods.
Here are 3 reasons to turn away processed foods:
Processed foods are usually loaded with sugar or ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’. I know you have all seen the commercials saying ‘HFC processes in your body the same as sugar.’ Sure. But sugar = a whole slew of health concerns:
Addiction: studies show sugar is an addictive substance, creating cravings and ultimately leading to over-consumption or binging
Empty calories: Sugar is an empty calorie – meaning there is no nutritional value to sugar so it is simply just adding caloric intake and yes, weight to your body.
Inflammation: Inflammation is the bodies response to irritation from chemicals, toxins and other foreign substances. I have mentioned before that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut. Inflame the gut and you are susceptible to a whole slew of immune responses/illnesses/issues (even injuries). Sugar is one of those. Ingesting sugar increases insulin which increases the inflammatory messengers, cytokines, in your body.
Chronic Diseases: excess sugar consumption (which leads to increased insulin secretion) is also associated with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
2. ARTIFICIAL INGREDEINTS
If you can't understand the ingredients, don't eat it. Why?
Artificial ingredients have been linked to multiple issues including:
Cravings:Consuming artificial sweeteners signals the brain that it is consuming sugar which leads to cravings for more sugar/sweets leading to excess caloric consumption
Preservatives: preservatives like Sodium Benzotate are often added to decrease mold but this harmful preservative has been shown to be carcinogenic and linked to thyroid dysfunction and even cancer. Similarly, BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) is an endocrine disrupter and can create hormone imbalances.
Food Dyes: Artificial food dyes have been shown to be carcinogenic and linked to cancer as well as behavioral issues in children
3. NUTRIENT POOR
Who cares about nutrients? You should. The Standard American Diet (SAD) full of processed, highly refined (nutrients and fiber removed) substances is devoid of actual nutrients our bodies need to function properly.
Devoid of Fiber: Real foods contain real nutrients, like fiber, that is removed in the 'processing' process.Fiber slows down absorption of carbohydrates, helps us feel more satisfied with less food, fuels friendly bacteria in the gut and helps keep us regular.
Devoid of Vitamins and Nutrients: Ever read 'fortified with ......' on your box of cereal? This means that vitamins and nutrients have been removed and have been re-fortified with synthetic vitamins and nutrients. Synthetic vitamins and nutrients.....NO THANKS! There are THOUSANDS of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, nutrients) found in real, whole foods that our bodies need to function correctly that are missing from processed foods.
Devoid of Antioxidants: You NEED antioxidants. Why? They neutralize free radicals. What are free radicals and where do they come from? Free radicals are normal - but the problem is with today's chemical laden/toxic ingredient processed foods and beverages that produce higher levels, leading to oxidative stress from toxins (hello chronic diseases). Real, whole foods like berries, leafy greens, nuts, artichokes, etc. are necessary to neutralize even a normal amount of free radicals.