The first step that many people take, when they first start to become more conscious of their health, is to cut out fast food from their diet. The processed foods, trans fats, and additives found in fast food can place great stress on your immunity and digestive systems. Cutting them out is a good idea if you suffer from Candida overgrowth or any other chronic health condition.
Eliminating fast food is only the first step, though! For many people, a quick glance through your kitchen cupboards will reveal a whole stack of packaged, unhealthy foods that may be masquerading as healthy choices.
Processed foods are undoubtedly convenient, and often cheaper than the real thing. But eating them too often can have real implications for your health. When you look at buying a packaged food, ask yourself a few questions first. Is it natural that this food doesn’t need to be refrigerated? Why is it that color? How much sugar and trans fat does it contain?
Foods that are classed as being processed are those that are made from refined ingredients and artificial components. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why even ‘healthy’ processed foods might not be a great choice for your Candida treatment plan.
The High Sugar Concentration
There is ample evidence now to show that high sugar intake is linked to a huge list of health problems. The old advice from the ‘80s (“Eat more carbs, less fat”) has been proven incorrect and is slowly being phased out from institutional guidelines.
Problems associated with excess sugar intake include diabetes, obesity, heart problems, and of course digestive imbalances like Candida or SIBO. Processed foods often contain multiple sources of sugar, hiding under names like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses, and many more.
Why Does It Taste So Good?
There’s no doubt that some processed food can taste really good. You might pay for it later, but the initial hit of flavor can sometimes make it seem worthwhile. Manufacturers of processed food are masters at making this type of food taste extremely good.
The three key components that stimulate our desire for food are salt, sugar, and fat. Next time you sit down for a processed meal, remember that it likely contains excess amounts of things like sugar and trans fat, and reduced amounts of the other macronutrients and micronutrients you’re your body really needs.
The Food Ingredient Jargon
Many of us are getting into the habit of reading at least some of the labels that are put on store-bought foods. This is great, except for when you almost have to be a chemist to understand them! Many of the items contained in any one type of processed food are artificial ingredients. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a purpose for these artificial substances. They are there to preserve the food by extending their shelf life. The artificial coloring makes them more visually appealing. The texturizing makes them more agreeable to the palate. The flavoring improves the taste. But do you really want to eat all these chemical additives when some fresh, organic food is likely to taste just as good?
The Junk Food Addict
Some say that you can become addicted to anything if you consume too much of it over a long period of time. Becoming addicted to food is something a lot of people scoff at. However, there are some studies that are beginning to show that sugar and some types of junk food affect the same parts of the brain that some drugs do, like cocaine for example.
The Wrong Carbs
For those that are dieting and focusing on their carbs, what they may not realize is that the cards in processed foods are refined carbs. These types of carbs pass through the digestive system rapidly, and when they do it causes spikes in insulin levels and blood sugars. An unstable blood sugar level is one of the key causes of Candida overgrowth. Spikes and troughs in your blood sugar can lead to cravings, bad dietary choices, and an unhealthy relationship with food.
Are you getting enough nutritional ‘bang for your buck’ from your food? Many processed foods are high in flavor but low in the nutrients that your body really needs. You might be eating three full meals a day, but if those meals are mostly processed foods you are probably undermining your immune and digestive systems.
Not Enough Fiber
A proper intake of daily fiber is important for the health of your digestive system. A chronically low fiber diet can slow down your digestive system and open the door for opportunistic pathogens like Candida. Most processed foods have very little fiber, and are instead full of refined carbohydrates. Eating lots of fiber can also protect you from heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, and constipation. Stick to healthy recipes that include lots of vegetables, where possible.
Say Goodbye To Processed Foods
The solution? Eat as many foods as you can in their natural, unprocessed state. Wherever possible, avoid foods with ingredient labels. If you do buy foods with ingredient labels, read them carefully. Look out for unexplained, non-specific items like ‘natural flavoring’, which may hide heavily processed ingredients. Be aware of the different names for sugar, and be especially careful of any long, technical sounding names that you can’t pronounce! Most importantly, for every food item that you pick up, ask yourself the question, “How natural is this?”