According to the Mayo Clinic, 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, more than half take two, whereas 20% take five or more. The Union of Concerned Scientists site studies predicting for the first time in a century, many children will have a shorter life span than their parents! It’s time to take our health back. While researching this topic, the most frequently mentioned culprits were artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, unhealthy fats, and refined grains, all common in processed foods.
Artificial sweeteners – We can’t “trick” our bodies and just keep eating. When we eat or drink, our body is poised to receive nutrients, when they don’t come the body continues to crave food so we keep eating, then the body quickly converts calories to fat as a survival mechanism.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – Widely studied, this pervasive ingredient has a direct link to weight gain, diabetes II, and heart disease. This type of sugar confuses the metabolic system in such a way you don’t realize you are full, sugar cravings increase, and calories are efficiently stored as fat. It is inexpensive to produce and highly addictive, consequently everywhere! Consider soda alone; after drinking one 8 oz can of soda a day for one year, 35 pounds of sugar is ingested. Burning off one soda requires running 50 minutes; if 35 pounds of sugar isn’t burned off, it potentially converts to 14.4 lbs. of fat – all in one year. Now, think about those Big Gulps up to 64 ounces! Make water your beverage of choice – our best hydrator. Meanwhile, watch for HFCS common in breakfast cereal, cookies, cakes, granola bars, crackers, condiments, salad dressings, canned goods, sauces, cough syrups, and more – Read Food Labels.
Fats – All fats are not created alike. Our body needs and feels fulfilled when we eat monosaturated and polysaturated healthy fats – salmon, avocados, olive oils and nuts. We need to eat minimal saturated fats (fried foods, chips, junk food, red meat) and completely stay away from trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils -French fries, and a common ingredient in packaged goods including cookies, cakes and crackers.
Following a 20 year grain promoting USDA food pyramid stint, in 2011 the MyPlate guide was developed to promote healthier eating. New recommendations are portion control, reduction of salt and sugar, and eating a wide variety of food with your plate proportioned as follows – 40 percent vegetables, 30 percent grains, 20 percent protein, 10 percent fruits and some dairy on the side. Nutritionists voice concern the food industry used its influence to make these new guidelines watered down and confusing. An independent science advisory panel clearly advised the guidelines recommend eating less meat, cutting down on soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages, mention the risk of eating fish high in mercury, and encouraged food sustainability practices; all were ignored.