Posts Tagged ‘fiber’

Processed Food

What is processed food? This question has come up more than a few times over the past couple of weeks. Processed Food (along with Hydrogenated Oils) is the number one item everyone is asked to eliminate on the Eat Healthy Challenge.   

“Does this include all packaged foods?” my friend Mark asked frowning. “Do my brown rice crackers and veggie burgers fall into the processed foods category? I sure hope not, because I can’t make it without them.”   

A distinction is in order. Some foods, like Mark’s tasty brown rice crackers and particular brand of veggie burgers, are healthy commercially prepared, convenience foods. The evidence is in the ingredients. In order to understand the difference between a healthy packaged food and a processed food, we must read labels.  

What we want to avoid are food products that have been chemically treated or stripped of nutrients. Examples of chemicals added to foods are; aspartame, MSG, nitrites, nitrates, colors (e.g. red dye #40, blue #2, green #3), BHA, acetasulfame potassium, artificial flavor, added sulfites and so on.

Examples of foods that have been altered include; white sugar, white flour, white rice, and salt (use sea salt). These foods have been stripped of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, vitamins and minerals must be stolen from the body to metabolize them effectively. A food is whole when it has all its parts. White flour and white rice are not whole foods given the fiber—bran and germ—has been removed.

“So I can eat my store-bought hummus and canned soups?” Mark asked again without waiting for me to answer. “I realize in a perfect world, it would be better for me to make all my own food from scratch, but I just don’t have the time. I cook way more often while on the Eat Healthy Challenge, but there’s no way I’m going to bake my own bread or make my own pasta noodles.”

“That’s great,” I said. “Buy whole grain bread and use whole wheat, kamut or brown rice noodles. Just read labels and make sure the ingredients in your packaged products are whole foods without added chemicals.”

The Colon – A Potential Sewer?

We made it through one week!  Day 8 of The Community Cleanse.  Hopefully we didn’t lose too many over the weekend.  Yesterday, one of my close friends’ said, “I used my cheat day last night.  But I’m back on it.  I’m refocused and ready to go.  No more cheat days.”  Of course you don’t have to take your one allowed cheat day.  At the moment, I’m feeling really good and don’t have any intention of using it – we’ll see.  I know we have some new community cleansers and I would like to welcome you all.  Anyone can join from now until the end on November 14th. 

Let’s talk about the colon!  There are two contributing factors that can lead to chronic disease – slow digestion and incomplete digestion.  Digestion begins in the mouth.  As we chew, our saliva secretes enzymes that aid in the assimilation of nutrients.  To ensure adequate digestion, especially of carbohydrates, it’s important that we feel relaxed, eat slowly and chew our food.

Food moves along the esophagus to the stomach where it is churned.  Chemicals in digestive juices are released.  This aids in the breakdown and digestion of food and assimilation of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.  HCL (hydrochloric acid) helps prevent the growth of microbes into the intestinal tract.  It’s important that the stomach remain highly acid.  Many have what is called, an underactive stomach.  We’ll come back to the stomach in a later post.

Food is then moved into the small intestine, where most of the digestion takes place.  When undigested food reaches the colon, the problem begins.  The colon is a “sewer” and houses good and bad bacteria.  The ratio should be about 70%-80% “good bacteria”.  The colon expects food to be properly digested before it gets here.  Good bacteria produce vitamins and protect the colon wall.  Undigested food ferments and the “bad bacteria” feed on this, allowing them to grow stronger in number and produce by-products of yeast, aldehydes and other toxins.  This brings the integrity of the colon wall into question as the “bad guys” make holes in it.  Undigested proteins and toxins move through the holes and into the blood stream where they freely circulate creating allergies and / or autoimmune diseases.  This is also named “Leaky Gut Syndrome”.

A common condition that results from a clogged colon or Leaky Gut is candidiasis – an overgrowth of yeast in the body.  Main complaints of Candida are; sugar cravings, high sensitivity to smells like perfume, gas, bloating, IBS, dizziness, fatigue, moodiness, itchy ears, nose and anus, difficulty concentrating, eczema, hives, hemorrhoids, vaginal yeast, and autoimmune conditions like fibromyalgia.  Those with many allergies seem to have higher levels of Candida – yeast in the body.

According to Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D., most everyone has an overgrowth of yeast.  This may be attributed to poor digestion over time, refined foods, processed foods, alcohol, white sugar, stress, an underactive stomach and the use of antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs.     

If there is a colon problem, we can rebalance this by increasing fiber foods and drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day.  Fiber supplements like psyllium, ground flax meal, chia seeds and apple pectin can greatly help increase overall fiber intake.  Remember to drink lots of water.  Of course cleansing helps to improve the situation because sugar, alcohol, tobacco, refined and processed foods, white flour and dairy help to feed bad bacteria and irritate the digestive system.  Grapefruit seed extract and caprilic acid help to kill yeast (bad bacteria) and acidophilus helps to rebalance the intestinal flora (good bacteria).  Digestive enzymes can also help.  An elimination diet may be necessary if there are many food sensitivities.  Other foods that are known to be highly allergenic are; corn, peanuts, baking yeast, pork, wheat, mushrooms, soy and gluten.  So let’s get our potential sewers in check and happy cleansing to all!  

Sources:

Dr. Matsen N.D., Jonn. Eating Alive, Prevention Thru Good Nutrition. Crompton Books, Ltd, 1987.