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Food manufacturers have engineered our foods to have a longer shelf life, be easier to digest, and satiate us more quickly and inexpensively – and without the hassle of cooking in many cases! What could be better, right?
Truth be told, in order to deliver all of these modern conveniences, they added numerous additives that are literally destroying our health and making us addicted to the “quick food fix,” without having to employ our digestive strength whatsoever! These foods have been pre-digested for us, and because they have been engineered to trigger the satiety and reward centers in the brain, they can be as addictive as opioid drugs! (4)
Let’s take a look at what else happens to us when our digestive system goes on welfare – meaning we nourish ourselves with pre-digested foods, instead of digesting it the old-fashioned way.
In one study that may help explain our food addictions, researchers compared how much energy or calories were burned in the process of digesting whole foods (a whole wheat, cheddar cheese sandwich) versus processed foods (a white bread, processed cheese sandwich).
The whole wheat bread sandwich required two times the amount of calories to digest it compared to the white bread sandwich. (1) The Thermal Effect of Food, which is the measure of heat produced to digest food, was cut in half when a processed food meal was ingested.
Another study that followed some 190,000 people for seven years found that those who ate the most processed meats (hot dogs, bologna) had a 68 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who ate little or no meat products. (2) While the research is not definitive, the most likely culprits are the chemicals and processed foods used during the manufacturing of these meats.
In most folks, the bile ducts from the liver connect to the pancreatic ducts before they transport bile and digestive enzymes into the small intestines. Processed foods can congest the liver and gallbladder, rendering the bile thick and viscous. Thick bile has been linked to poor digestion, sluggish natural detox, and blood sugar concerns.
In one study, a diet of processed foods increased the risk of metabolic syndrome by a whopping 141 percent. (3) In the same study, those who ate more whole grains, including wheat, reduced their risk of metabolic syndrome by 38 percent. Metabolic syndrome includes:
- Abdominal obesity
- High triglycerides
- Low HDLs
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
Stress, processed foods, bad fats, environmental toxins and pesticide-laden foods have all contributed to the alteration of the microbiome and the breakdown of digestion. Taking processed foods out of the diet is much more simple than imagined: Read labels! If you never heard of an ingredient, don’t eat it! If it has a wrapper, beware and read the fine print!