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Stay Slim, Live Longer, Eat Less Ultraprocessed Food

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us have a few ultraprocessed foods that have sneaked into our diet. Addictive flavors and complete convenience often conspire to become favorite foods in spite of unhealthy ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and other flavoring agents and emulsifiers.  

If you wonder how unhealthy a food is, take a look at the ingredients on the package. The fewer the number of the ingredients the better. The more hydrogenated oils and fructose corn syrup the label shows, the lower its food value. Stick with a list of favorite fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry and fresh fish and keep the processed foods to a minimum.

Pizzas, canned ravioli, and packets of macaroni cheese often lead the way followed closely by frozen versions of chili rellenos, fried potatoes or waffles. You may have other favorites such as frozen fish nuggets or sausage meatballs.  They all contribute to weight gain and undermine overall health.

Researchers say we tend to eat faster, consume more calories and gain more weight when we eat ultraprocessed foods.

How It Works

A recent National Institutes of Health study spanned a month and studied 20 healthy adults. They were confined to one diet and told they could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

Both diets had the same amount of sugar, fat, fiber, calories and carbohydrates. For example, a breakfast might be oatmeal with walnuts, skim milk and bananas or a bagel with turkey bacon and cream cheese.

Both groups exercised daily.

The researchers found the people eating ultraprocessed foods consumed about 500 more calories daily with extra helpings. The increased boost in fat and carbohydrates resulted in weight gain of two pounds. The people eating unprocessed foods lost a couple of pounds.

How to Make the Switch

First you have to face the facts that unprocessed foods take more time to fix and may cost more, but when you consider the effects on your health and impact on your weight, it may be more than worth it.

Start with a list of fresh whole foods that you and your family enjoy and find recipes that work from sites like epicurious.com. Good choices might be fresh tomatoes, leafy greens, green beans, peppers and onions paired with salmon, breast of chicken, or lean beef. Healthy oils such as olive oil, low fat milk and cheese, whole grains, nuts and fresh fruits could complete the menu.

You may still pick up a few ultraprocessed foods, but the fewer you eat the better you will look and feel. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Charlotte, N.C.

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