Diet has long been established as a crucial factor for maintaining overall wellness. The manifold lifestyle diseases that plague us today such as obesity, diabetes mellitus type 2, heart ailments and cancer have all been linked with unhealthy food habits.
But try as we might to follow a healthy diet, fact still remains that grocery stores and supermarkets are now inundated with commercially manufactured food products that are laden with chemical preservatives and synthetic additives.
This is why it is crucial to learn how to read the labels so that you can steer clear of items that only satisfy your hunger but don’t do much for your health and wellness.
Avoid food products with these ingredients:
- Hydrogenated fats – Hydrogenated fats started out as healthy oils. However, the process of hydrogenation, wherein the oils are put through extremely high temperatures and then injected with metal catalysts like palladium to bring about a creamy oily texture, significantly alter the atomic makeup of the once healthy oils, thus turning them into trans fats. Scarier still, hydrogenated fats are just a molecule away from being plastics. Once you ingest these thickened oils, the blood thickens as a result because of the raised serum cholesterol levels. Coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes mellitus type 2 are just some of the conditions linked to continued hydrogenated fats ingestion. So as soon as you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on the labels, opt to ditch the product at once.
- Vegetable oils – Aside from being hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, most vegetable oils that are utilized by the food manufacturing industry today are the unhealthy type of oils. Examples of vegetable oils commonly used are soya, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. These oils contain very high amounts of omega-6, a family of essential fatty acids that function as pro-inflammatory agents in the body. Needless to say, most illnesses today, from rheumatoid arthritis, to diabetes mellitus type 2, to cancer, are all inflammation-induced diseases.
- Saturated fats – This class of unhealthy fats contain palmitic acid, a sticky substance found in food products from animals like meat and dairy products. The WHO has put palmitic acid under the same category as trans fats as the former has been found to increase risk of cardiovascular disease as well. If you see palmitic acid or its sodium salt derivative called sodium palmitate on the labels, don’t put the item in your grocery cart.
- Sugar – Excessive sugar consumption results in increased insulin production. Insulin is a hormone that transforms this sweet compound into energy. Uninhibited insulin release from excessive sugar consumption will eventually make the body resistant to insulin, bringing about diabetes. The RDA for sugar in children is 6 grams, in women 25 grams, and in men 37 grams.
- Simple carbohydrates – Practically all processed food products containing sugar and starch from grains that aren’t 100% whole like pasta, breads, cakes and cereals are simple carbohydrates that easily get transformed into sugars once ingested which in turn may bring about insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus type 2.
- High fructose corn syrup – HFCS, once ingested, directly goes to the liver thus instigating the creation of cholesterol, making HFCS consumption one of the culprits responsible for fatty liver disease.
- GMOs – The debate on whether or not genetically modified food is safe still rages on. But studies on animals linking GM food like soya to hormone process disruption, reproductive organ damage, and sterility should be enough to warn us against consumption of these bio-engineered crops.
- Farmed chicken, pork, beef and fish – Animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are fed heavily with grains which in turn raise their meats’ omega-6 content. These animals are routinely administered with antibiotics to control and manage disease as well making antibiotics resistance in both humans and pathogens a major concern.
What you should eat instead: Whole, natural, fresh, and organic produce as well as grass-fed meats are what you should be consuming on a regular basis. Colorful fruits and vegetables should make up most of your daily diet as well. Where do I get real food?
- Opt to shop at local farmers’ markets.
- Shop at the organic produce section of your neighborhood grocery store.
- Steer clear of the middle aisles in groceries as processed food products are displayed in these areas.
- Have a go at growing your own food.
Why grass-fed meats?
- They have a healthier omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids profile.
- Leaner and therefore has less saturated fat makeup.
- Richer in conventional anti-oxidant vitamins A and E.