Buy Foods With Less Than 5 Ingredients

Eating too many processed foods in the diet is one of the leading causes of death and disease in our society. Processed foods contain large amounts of added sugar, salt, and fats. These foods can lead to diseases such as coronary artery disease, strokes, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.Processed foods are usually an illusion, often appearing to be healthy (with claims like low fat, low carb, vitamin fortified, no trans fat, contains omega-3s, etc.) when these foods are in fact the very thing making a lot of Americans unhealthy, sick, and fat. In fact, it is usually best to avoid any food product that is making a health claim on its packaging.

It is critical to read the label of any food product you buy. The first thing to look at is the ingredient list. The best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider before buying. In fact, the healthiest foods do not even contain an ingredient list. Your goal is too eat as much whole, unprocessed food every day as possible. It is always better to buy fresh foods. Eating fresh whole foods will not only make you healthier and prevent disease; it will also help you to lose those extra-unwanted pounds.

What is the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients? Why should I even care?

If you want to live a long and healthy life, it is important to eat a nutritionally sound diet. Understanding the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients is crucial to choosing the right foods to eat. First of all, macronutrients are the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods that most of us are familiar with.  They include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. We all get more than enough of these every day. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals (beta carotene, flavonoids, ect.), and antioxidants that are essential for good health. Most people’s diets are severely lacking in these.

The quantity and quality of the nutrients in your diet varies greatly, depending on not only what types of food you eat, but also the quality of those foods.  Processed foods tend to have more macronutrients than natural foods at the expense of micronutrients.  This is because processing food strips the foods of many of its vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Processing gives food a longer shelf life.  Cereal grains, breads, candy and sweets, dairy products, meat products, much of fast foods and other processed foods give you a large amount of calories without much micronutrient content – and that type of eating is responsible for most of the lifestyle diseases which affect many Americans. These “poor diet diseases” include heart disease, stroke, cancers, and many autoimmune diseases. Your goal is to load up on foods loaded with micronutrients including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Eating a hamburger and french fries gives you a lot of macronutrients but few micronutrients. On the other hand, a colorful salad is loaded with disease preventing micronutrients. The more micronutrients you can get into your diet the better. The goal is to consume the most micronutrients you can get for the least amount of calories. This is a recipe for good health, weight loss, and a long life.

It is also important to keep in mind that there is a difference in the quality of foods you eat as well. Depending on where your food was grown, or how your meat was raised, the quality of its macro and micronutrients can be incredibly different.  Shopping for locally grown foods helps ensure that you maximize the micronutrient density of your fruits and vegetables. Organically grown fruits and vegetables tend to have a greater micronutrient density than those conventionally grown. Organic produce is also pesticide free. Eating organic grass-fed cows, organic free-range chickens, and wild caught fish will ensure that the meat you eat is healthier. It will have almost no antibiotics and hormones, it is better for the planet, and it ensures that you are building your bodies with the best possible components.  Remember, you are eating what the animals ate.

Overall, focus on getting the most micronutrients you can at every meal. This is more important than focusing on individual macronutrients. Your body craves micronutrients to remain healthy and disease free. A micronutrient rich diet is by far the healthiest diet around.

Having problems with your memory? Your diet may be contributing.

Eating too much sugar and simple carbohydrates are known to be bad for your health. A diet loaded with sugar, bread, white rice and pasta have been shown to lead to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Can eating too many simple carbohydrates also affect your brain function and lead to memory loss?

In a study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers in Australia studied the effect of sugar on the health of the human brain. In the study, 266 non-diabetic men and women in their early 60s with normal cognitive function were studied. Blood sugar levels were in the normal range: below 110 mg/dL. All appeared to be healthy, with no signs of obvious memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease.

The study participants were given brain scans at the start of the study, then again four years later. After controlling for factors like age, smoking, drinking and lifestyle, the researchers found that those with the highest blood sugar levels had shrinkage in two areas of the brain critical for memory processing – the hippocampus and the amygdala. Brain shrinkage in these regions is also commonly seen in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

When a large amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates are consumed, insulin levels become chronically elevated, which leads to weight gain. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to sugar (hyperglycemia) leads to increased levels of inflammation throughout the body including the brain. Inflammation can directly lead to damage of cellular function.

This study serves as a warning: if your blood sugar is high, you risk losing brain function. The hippocampus and amygdala are necessary for memory and emotion. As people age, they often experience cognitive decline, but consuming large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates makes things worse. So stay away from both sugar and simple carbs; avoiding both is good for both the heart and the brain.