The diet industry is exactly that – an industry. Manufacturing products that look healthy by using clean looking typefaces, vital images, clever wording, simple packaging that dupe everyone (me included) into thinking it is good for you. This blog will outline the 5 dangers of processed products that look healthy including smoothies, yoghurts and other ‘elixirs’ of life.
I have done it, gone into Waitrose and bought a green smoothie. The packaging and ingredients look amazing, there was a rare goji berry that was going to increase my vitality and make my bottom smaller with one mouthful. Okay perhaps the packaging doesn’t go that far, but as consumers, we do give big credence to promises that marketers offer us.
Lovely enticing messages like 100% natural, no added sugar in fruit juice, smoothies, yoghurts, muesli, bread, healthy meals all get the ‘good for you’ makeover, but it doesn’t mean that the products are healthy.
Consider for a moment what sort of process has it gone through to get that healthy looking product into Waitrose on a Saturday morning? Where are the native tribesmen that have harvested this amazing fruit and who got it here to Peckham or Solihull? What has gone into this healthy product to give it longer shelf life? What other pitfalls should you be aware of when consuming juices and products that claim every lasting life?
The hidden dangers of healthy looking food include:
1. Lack of fibre
Healthy juices are generally processed and the fibre is removed. As a consequence of removing fibre, the ingredients are therefore easily absorbed into your body. Which means that the sugar is consumed faster leading to your liver becoming overload because of the quick onslaught of sugar. The key issue is the lack of fibre. When you eat the whole fruit the fibre forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine and reduces the sugar rush.
This slows absorption of sugar means that the liver has a chance to catch up. However, the sugar found in fizzy drinks, fruit juices and smoothies, the sugar is readily available and the natural barrier has gone. This leads to the liver becoming overloaded.
2. Added sugar
Low-fat products have the additional concern of adding large amounts of sugar to make the food palatable. I have discussed this in depth with clients, when clients began to reengage and consume real food, rather than low-calorie food their enjoyment of food increases. Clients notice what food used to taste like rather than the saccharine taste that they have become accustomed to.
Products may not show that they have added sugar, other sugar additives and names are used. There are over 50 different sugar products added, most products have more than one of these alternative sugar added to one serving of a product.
Free sugar is what NHS refers to as any sugar added to a food or drink. Or the sugar that is already in honey, syrup and fruit juice. These are free because they’re not inside the cells of the food you eat. If you blend fruit, the natural sugars are released from within the cell walls of the fruit and become “free sugars”. Even if they have some added vegetables like spinach or kale, they are still likely to be high in sugar.
The sugars found in the whole piece of fruit, vegetables and milk don’t have a negative effect on your health they come with extra nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, the fibre hasn’t been processed out.
3. Naturally higher in sugar
In your quest to reduce calories, your focus is diverted from other dangers. Innocent smoothies can contain very little calories but are already naturally high in sugar. For instance, the pomegranates, blueberries and Acai Superfood smoothie contain:
- 171 calories
- 0.5g fat
- 34.3g sugar
Calculating that 4.2 grams are the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar, this food label informs you that this smoothie has over 8 teaspoons of naturally occurring sugar. Your daily allowance, prescribed by the NHS is 7 teaspoons a day for adults and only 5 for children.
Two of your 5 a day?
In addition, the marketing on a smoothie claims that you are consuming two of your five a day. This isn’t possible, these drinks can’t count for more than one of your 5-a-day – even if you’ve put 5 different fruit and veg in them.
Plus if you have a glass of juice on the same day, you can’t count them both.
4. Added toxins
Toxins are everywhere in your environment and your body does an amazing job of detoxifying them, eliminating them and keeping you well. To give you some idea of how hard your body is working, here is a list of some of the daily toxins you are exposed to in your environment and your food:
- End products from metabolism which are increased with stress & poor diet
- drugs and alcohol
- plastics (BPAs)
- Heavy metals
- food additives
The toxins that you can an immediate and significant effect on – are food additives. In general food additives are added to healthy products when sugar is taken out. Low-fat yoghurt, for instance, can have very little saturated fat, even low sugar, but the question is what has been added?
Look closely at the ingredient label of this Weight Watchers toffee yoghurt product and you will see two types of sugar – can you spot them? This product contains not only two types of processed sugars, but also added flavour enhancers and sweeteners. These are all toxins for your body.
The next section looks at what your body does with toxins and explains how they can lead to body fat.
4. Toxins and weight gain
When your body is exposed to large amounts of toxins, which means levels that your body cannot safely excrete toxins through your natural detoxification pathways, it stores these toxins in your adipose tissue – body fat which lies under the skin. Your body does this to protect you from the toxicity issues arising from these harmful chemicals. If the levels of toxins become too high your liver will become overburdened and you would become ill.
Two types of toxins: fat & water soluble
Water soluble toxins are easily handled by the body, your kidneys can excrete these through your urine, sweat and bile. Fat soluble toxins, however, are harder to eliminate and include heavy metals, man-made chemicals, pesticides, pollutants, plastics and our topic of conversation – food additives.
Your body eliminates these toxins by processing them in the liver where they are converted into water-soluble toxins by producing a substance called bile (which is stored in the gall bladder) this digests fats and aids elimination.
If your digestive system is already overloaded, or your lymphatic system is congested then these toxins cannot be processed effectively. When your liver is under strain then the bile it produces is thicker and less effective and the fat-soluble toxins are sent back into the blood and are stored in as body fat. By removing these free-roaming toxins from the body and locking them up in fat, the organs and tissues are protected from damage. However, these toxins cause inflammation and health issues in the body and brain.
The longer-term issues are when the toxin exposure continues and your bodies detoxification systems never get a chance to catch up. The consequence is that your body fat levels increase and your health declines.
Toxins build up over time…
Over time these stored toxic compounds lead to metabolic damage and parts of your cells are harmed. For instance, mitochondria function is disrupted. Mitochondria is the part of a cell where your energy production occurs, they are the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria act like a cell digestive system which takes in nutrients, breaks them down, and creates energy-rich molecules for the cell. Simply put mitochondria are the energy systems of your body which give you vitality.
Increased toxins in your body affect the production of your mitochondria as well as increasing your body’s need to increase its fat storage to prevent these toxins from damaging your cells further. With increased fat storage you have the added issue of affecting the chemical messengers of your body – your hormones. Most women understand the effect of hormone disruption. Cue the comment
“Next mood swing – 5 minutes”
Toxins affect your hormone balance
Fat levels affect hormones such as leptin. Leptin is a critical weight loss or weight gain hormone as it is your appetite hormone. Leptin is made by fat cells, and when functioning well will decrease your appetite naturally, your feeling of hunger will diminish. Levels of leptin are lower when you’re thin and higher when you’re fat.
When you start to lose weight and dissolve body fat, those stored toxins are released back into your body and slow your metabolism
Research has shown that the influence of environmental pollutants such as food contaminants, as well as other hormone disrupters like plastic and pesticides, contribute to the early onset of obesity and beta-cell malfunction (Ref)
These cells are found in your pancreas and are responsible for producing insulin and respond quickly to spikes in blood glucose concentrations by secreting some of their stored insulin and amylin while simultaneously producing more. These cells are damaged by excessive toxins and research has concluded that this type of damage from toxins leads to insulin resistance.
Researchers found that toxins interfere with many aspects of metabolism including disrupting hormone levels, blocking thyroid receptors, stressing liver function, and damaging the mitochondria and their ability to burn calories. Toxins may also damage hormone signals, affecting our very important hormone leptin– making you feel hungry all the time.
To summarise be consumer aware, don’t simply buy healthy looking products that have a large number of additives, be aware of the toxins in your environment and make mindful steps to avoid and reduce your exposure.
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