Why You Should Give Up Processed Foods Forever
Having the health, energy and vitality of your dreams is much more simple than you’ve been led to believe. And the good news is, there are just a few simple rules you need to follow.
When it comes to our body, we have a tendency to overcomplicate things.
We get caught in the pattern of trying a million different things to get our health and energy where we want it, but end up confused, exhausted, frustrated and more often than not, back to square one (or worse than when we started!)
The reality is, I believe there are just a handful of rules we need to follow.
Following these simple rules will get us 80% of the way there, with just 20% of the effort required.
And today I’m going to talk about one of the most important rules (we’ll get onto the others in the next week or so, don’t worry): giving up processed foods.
Put more positively, I believe one of the rules of abundant health is to eat as close to the Earth & as close to nature as possible.
And it really does start with giving up processed foods as quickly as possible, and these five reasons should help:
Five Ridiculously Good Reasons to Give Up Processed Foods Forever!
Reason #1: They Are Full Of Chemicals Proven to Harm Your Body
It’s a simple fact, processed foods (i.e. fast foods, microwave meals, packaged foods, ready-to-eat, just-reheat meals, stuff that’s been pre-prepared months ago and then wonderfully infused with chemicals and preservatives so it still tastes ok when someone is ready to eat it), are full of known carcinogens, artificial substances, chemicals and all sorts of other substances that really should not be in our body.
A lot of us intuitively know that of the dozens of ingredients we’ve never heard of on the back of a packet, some are probably not the best for our health.
But we often overlook it. Or at least try not to think about it.
But when you scratch beneath the surface and actually look at what some of these ingredients are it is frankly shocking.
Here are just a tiny few of the thousands of ingredients commonly found in many processed foods:
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT): are preservatives that affect the neurological system of your brain, alter behavior and have the potential to cause cancer. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a chemical preservative so deadly that just five grams can kill you.
- Azodicarbonamide: the now famous ‘yoga mat additive’ that Vani Hari exposed Subway as using in their bread, sadly still exists in hundreds of products.
It’s a product that allows manufacturers to produce breads fast and cheap, however it has been linked to respiratory issues, asthma, tumor formation and cancer and lots more. It’s called the yoga mat additive as it is the same chemical that is used to make yoga mats, shoe soles and lots of other rubbery things.
- Sodium benzoate which is found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings, has been found to cause children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible.
- Sodium nitrite a commonly used preservative in hot dogs, deli meats and bacon, has been linked to higher rates of colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancers.
- Diacetyl which is often used as a butter flavouring has been shown to have major concerns for brain health and may trigger Alzheimer’s disease.
And a special mention has to go to MSG. Based on peer reviewed studies, there is no question that MSG is neurotoxic.
It has been shown to cause blindness and many other problems such as headaches, fatigue, disorientation and depression.
But the big problem is, even though we are aware that MSG is terrible, most of the time we don’t even know we’re eating it because it’s so well hidden.
While most MSG comes in the form of glutamic acid, the chemical’s active component, it is usually listed on labels under seemingly innocuous names like “natural flavors” or “hydrolyzed protein”.
It is very difficult to really know whether MSG is in your food because it has so many aliases.
This is just a small number of the names that can hide MSG in your food:
- Yeast Extract
- Malted Barley
- Rice Syrup or Brown Rice Syrup
- Autolyzed yeast
- Calcium Casenate
- Corn Starch
- The list could go on…
The bottom line is by eating close to the Earth you will avoid MSG, and by avoiding processed foods you will avoid MSG.
Processed foods HAVE to have these harmful ingredients in them in order to be what they are. Chemicals, additives, artificial colors, artificial flavorings, fillers, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats and preservatives are so prevalent in processed foods. Without these, in many cases, the processed foods would look nothing like they’re supposed to, taste horrific and go off before they even reach the shop floor.
And here’s the thing…the study into the effects of these chemicals is still a really new practice – and the findings like those above are only scratching the surface.
Who knows what other damage these chemicals could be causing.
Remember, the more steps your food has had to go through to get from the Earth to your plate, from the natural raw material to the product you are consuming, the fewer nutrient survive and the more chemicals there are.
Reason #2: They Are Chemically Designed to Be Addictive!
If there’s anything I know with absolute certainty about the food manufacturing (and fast food) industry is it that they invest billions into finding the perfect chemical combinations to make their foods addictive.
They know the perfect ratios of sugars, fats, salts and chemicals to get you addicted to their product.
But it goes further than that too. They also know how to create foods that feel overwhelmingly satisfying during consumption, but give you no satiation (meaning you feel hungry for more food very quickly after consumption).
Can you remember the last fast food blow out you had? Did you feel super-full and bloated right away, but hungry again soon after?
Bestselling author and investigative research Michael Moss, in his book Salt Sugar Fat, found:
“One of the things that really surprised me was how concerted and targeted the effort is by food companies to hit the magical formulation.
Take sugar for example. The optimum amount of sugar in a product became known as the ‘bliss point.’ Food inventors and scientists spend a huge amount of time formulating the perfect amount of sugar that will send us over the moon, and send products flying off the shelves. It is the process they’ve engineered that struck me as really stunning.
When it came to fat, it was the amazing role of what the industry calls the ‘mouth feel.’ That’s the warm, gooey taste of cheese, or the bite into a crisp fried chicken that you get. It rushes right to the same pleasure centers of the brain that sugar does…
When it comes to salt, what was really staggering to me is that the industry itself is totally hooked on salt. It is this miracle ingredient that solves all of their problems. There is the flavor burst to the salt itself, but it also serves as a preservative so foods can stay on the shelves for months. It also masks a lot of the off-notes in flavors that are inherent to processed foods.”
Again, we’re just scratching the surface here.
But the bottom line is this – changing our lifestyle and health habits can be hard enough, a real challenge, and the last thing we need is for the foods we are trying to move away from being chemically designed to be addictive!
Exercising our OWN willpower is hard enough right?
So we HAVE to move away from these processed foods, these franken-foods and get back to real, natural foods.
As a first step, why not totally relax about the foods you eat, the quantities you eat as long as the food is 100% natural.
I bet you’d see results really quickly…
Reason #3: They Strip Out Everything Good & Replace it With Complex, Artificial Ingredients!
Producers are less concerned with preserving nutrients than they are with turning a profit. They do so by producing the maximum amount of product at the lowest cost, and manufacturing it to maximize shelf life — none of which happens without taking chemical liberties, tossing in a few more preservatives and sacrificing nutrients along the way.
As mentioned above – processed foods without these chemicals would look very unappetising, be a very strange colour, smell bad and would be indelibly gone off before you even bought it.
They have to include these ingredients to even make their product work, let alone then the stuff added to dupe you into thinking it’s ok to eat.
This is another big thing to look out for. It’s something I really take offence at. So many companies are still bending the meaning of words, rules and ideas to make you think a food is healthy, when the reality is that it is far from it.
In the industry they call it “marketing puffery”.
Just check out this all natural, healthy granola bar:
High maltose corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, palm kernel oil (an oil which is not yet classified as being hydrogenated, but is actually worse than the oils that are…but they can call the food ‘natural’ by using this oil), colors 5 & 6, red 40, blue 1 (what are these colours hiding in this ‘natural’ product)…how are there so many ingredients in this food and almost none of them be natural!
If you or I were to make a muesli bar, I’m sure almost none of the ingredients would be the same as this.
Think about it, a bag of frozen organic spinach has only one ingredient, spinach — nothing has been added or taken away.
But compare this to a microwave meal label:
In this marketed-as-healthy-and-natural product you’ll find over 70 ingredients! Even something like this, a full meal of chicken stir fry, there should only be about 6-8 ingredients and they should pretty much just be the things you can see and taste!
But here we find modified corn starch, carrageenan (a recently popular additive that is linked to cell death, inflammation and more), autolyzed yeast extract (contains MSG), sugar, dextrose (contains MSG), colors, maltodextrin (contains MSG) and more.
Reason #4: They Completely Sap You Of Energy
Your body is talking to you all of the time. How do you feel after eating pizza, chips, ice cream?
Do you feel energized and happy? Or are you tired, irritable, bloated and sad?
The fact that many people wind up feeling lethargic, sleepy and even depressed after eating processed food is the body’s way of saying this isn’t a good way to eat.
These foods are such a shock to your body that it requires practically all of your energy just to process it, digest it and keep you functioning!
Listen to your body – see how you feel after eating a meal. Is the food fuel? Does it energize you?
Processed foods will ALWAYS leave you feeling worse for wear.
Reason #5: They Encourage the Retention of Body Fat
Processed foods are almost always designed to be impossibly unsatisfying. In other words, one Oreo is never enough.
Processed foods are almost always loaded with the perfect ingredients to guarantee fat retention.
Sugar (and high fructose corn syrup…the worst thing ever), are in high quantities in processed foods.
Now, we know that consuming all of these ‘empty calories’ is never going to be good to lose weight or prevent weight gain. However, many studies have also shown the devastating effects these highly concentrated sugars have on metabolism and can lead to insulin resistance, high tryglicerides, increased fat in the liver and more.
Plus of course, sugars like fructose (from the HFCS) actually go straight to the liver and are stored as fat. When you consume concentrated fructose like this (including the barley, malt syrups too) the brain is not actually sent any message that calories have been consumed.
In other words you can eat HUGE numbers of calories and the brain still thinks you’re hungry.
Intentional or not, this whole industry is set up to make you unhealthy and keep you that way.
And at the end of the day, processed foods, and their lack of actual nutrition plus their highly chemical, trans-fat, sugar-based contents are always going to lead your body to jump into an acidic state, and when we’re acidic the body will always lock down into survival mode and hang onto fat at all costs.
And, Of Course, They Are ALL, Without Question…Highly Acid-Forming!
If you want to get the health, vitality, energy and body of your dreams then you have to avoid these highly harmful acids.
There is no way around it, sugar, HFCS, trans-fats, MSG, yeasts, hydrolyzed proteins, chemicals, additives, artificial (and so-called ‘natural’) flavorings, stabilizers, binding agents, bleaching agents and known carcinogens that go into making these fake foods look real and taste addictive HAVE to be cut from your diet.
I know that the reason that most people eat processed foods is for convenience and because we are now so time-poor, but with a few habitual changes and a few tweaks to our routine we really can find the time to transition away from processed foods and towards real, whole, nourishing foods.
And nobody ever has to be perfect. This will not work either.
But try to aim, one-by-one, to eliminate as many of these processed foods from your life as possible.
Maybe start by picking the biggest offenders, those few foods that are probably the ones that are causing 80% of the problems.
And for now, just start to be AWARE!
Being aware of the problem is fantastic, as you will start to develop a nose for sniffing out the sneaky offenders.
What’s in that pasta sauce? What about that seasoning? Is my cereal really as healthy as the packaging suggests?
Once you develop this awareness you will start to be able to make simple changes that could make a big difference.
And if you think there is someone else out there who could benefit from this, share this message!
Join the conversation by joining me on Facebook Here or by leaving a comment below!
Sources & References
Neurobiology of food addiction; Blumenthal, DM; Gold, MS; Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: July 2010 – Volume 13 – Issue 4 – p 359–365 (source)
Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat?; Hu BF; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2010 vol. 91 no. 6 1541-1542; (source)
High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating, and Obesity; Ludwig DS, Majzoub JA, et al; Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Vol. 103 No. 3 March 1, 1999
pp. e26 (source)
Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease; Hu FB, Willett WC; Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;288:2569–78 (source)
From Passive Overeating to “Food Addiction”: A Spectrum of Compulsion and Severity; Davis C; ISRN Obesity; Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 435027, 20 pages (source)
The butter flavorant, diacetyl, exacerbates Beta-amyloid cytotoxicity; More SS, Vartak AP, Vince R.; Chemical Research in Toxicology; 2012 Oct 15;25(10):2083-91.
Pro-inflammatory NF-?B and early growth response gene 1 regulate epithelial barrier disruption by food additive carrageenan in human intestinal epithelial cells; Hye Jin Choi, Juil Kim, Seong-Hwan Park, Kee Hun Do, Hyun Yang, Yuseok Moon; Volume 211, Issue 3, 20 June 2012, Pages 289–295 (source)
Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from the recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies; Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Havel PJ.; Current Opinion in Lipidology; 2013 Jun;24(3):198-206. (source)
I’d love to read about ideas on how to eat clean with a family always on the go with work , student parents who also work . Often times we don’t choose cleaner because We run out of clean meal “ideas and the time to prep them.
Thank You Ross for telling it like it is and unveiling the truth about what we’ve been told vs what is actual and factual. My Dr put me on veggies,fruits,nuts/seeds and legumes/beans a few years ago – It was then that I found your site and have been a follower ever since.
I love love love the informative information about our health and why and what – like water and hydration…..now this! I have changed my life and what goes into my body thanks to you and a few other Alkaline/plant based sites I read.
I’ve never had this much energy and clear thinking since I was young (I’m 49) and because of this way of life, My ankles and back no longer hurt and deserve to be babied due to the pain and inflammation. I could go on and on and on, but I love that the truths are revealed and it gives me a whole new perspective of “WHO determines these food pyramids and ‘body’ requirements”?????? I think it should be YOU!
Keep up the good work Ross, I’m a forever fan!
Thanks heaps Tena, and amazing results (but not unexpected). Well done for taking your health into your own hands, you’re doing great!
Ross sorry my juice also has carrots and turmeric, just querying the pineapple. Thanks Delwyn
Hi Ross, currently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor so have been alkalising my body. Have never felt so good. Part if my juice has been with best vegs for cancer – broclii, kale, ginger, beetroot, celery and pineapple. The pineapple core is good, I’ve seen in sites that pineapple was alkaline but now I see on your list it is highly acidic. Can you advise as I’m using this as my base if my juice. Thanks Delwyn
Jumping in here. Pineapple is acidic but have very good enzymes to help in your cancer fight.
Drey is right – pinapple is acid forming due to the high sugar content, and when you have fructose without fibre it is not a great combo. If you can find the enzymes in a less sugary food that would be ideal. The core may be less acidic because the core is less sweet.
Such eye-opening information. Thank you for all of your hard work.
Sugar has always been my biggest challenge. I’m going to be moving country soon to earn more money, so that I can then fund my Alkaline diet.
And you have reassured me that this is the right move – without my health, I have nothing. I’m currently enjoying your recipe books too.
Thank you 🙂
Good luck Michael and thanks for the comment 🙂
I’ve been researching natural foods and medicines for over a year now. I’ve given up about 95% of all flour products, and about 60% of all sugar products….can’t bring myself to go total. I have increased vitamin and mineral supplements. I am now down to only one perscription (for thyroid)..not bad at all for age 77!. My BP is under control, and cholesterol is in good ranges…. I never took statin drugs after they made me feel like the walking dead. My bones and muscles don’t ache anymore and I never……I said NEVER get a headache. Processed foods are no longer a part of my life… well, maybe Baskin Robbins now ‘n then.
You are doing OUTSTANDING – that’s awesome, well done. Everyone can have a treat, don’t beat yourself up over that 🙂
I am so happy about the results you’ve gotten.
People say the alkaline diet is crazy, but it’s all about nourishing your body and just look at the results it can get.
No matter how well you think you are doing with your eating habits, it is always good to get gentle reminders to keep you on track. Thank you Ross for all the excellent information that keeps us all healthy beings.
No worries Carol – I know that everyone needs a little reminder now and then.
In truth, researching this article actually taught and re-taught me a few things too. Some of the sneaky names for MSG were a lesson for me too!
Thank you again Ross, for your wise reminders.
It’s crazy sad what we eat as a nation theses days. Going back to whole foods is a wonderful way to eat. Thank you for this artical, it was acre under of things I know, eye opening to things I did yet know and motivational to continue the path to clean eating!
Couldn’t agree more!
What do you think of minimally processed foods like Erwhon corn flakes. The only ingredients are organic milled corn and sea salt… Arrowhead mills makes puff cereals that only have one ingredient, Kamut, corn or millet, for example… And eden organic beans, that are extremely low in sodium (15mg in their black beans) and are in BPA free cans?
These are all absolutely fine. If you’re eating heaps of veggies, and other unprocessed foods – things like this are a great addition. It would be almost impossible to be 100% unprocessed all of the time.
Even juicing at home is processing in it’s truest sense!