Saturday, January 17, 2015

Say No Processed Foods

January is the time of year when people think about starting over and making resolutions.  I've stumbled on an interesting 100 day plan to improve the way we all eat.  The plan I'm going to review is nicknamed "100 Days of Real Food."  This plan stresses transitioning to eating whole foods and cutting out fast food and all other processed foods.

You may be wondering, "What's the big deal about processed foods?"  Recent studies have linked processed foods to the development of autoimmune diseases.  In addition to this finding the knowledge that processed foods often contain more calories, fat, and sodium then whole foods should be an obvious link between these types of food and nutrition based diseases.

A team at Yale University studied the role of T cells in the body.  T-cells are responsible for helping other cells to fight off bacteria, viruses, and infections.  A subset of these cells (Th17) play an important role in the development of autoimmune disorders.

It was discovered that exposing the Th17 cells to table salt made them act more aggressively.  Mice fed a diet that was high in refined salt showed an increase in Th17 cells which promoted inflammation.

Here's the week by week plan found on (link below) on how to make this transition in 14 weeks:
  1. Week 1: Eat 2 fruits/vegetables per meal.
    • You want to start off by adding healthy foods in the form of 2 fruits and/or vegetables per every meal.
  2. Week 2: Stop drinking Calories
    • Limit your beverage choices to water, coffee, tea, milk (naturally sweetened), 1 cup of juice per week, and one glass of wine per day.
      • I already drink mostly water or tea.  I will need to switch the sweetener in my tea.
  3. Week 3: Limit Meat
    • All of the meat you consume this week will be locally raised. Limit consumption to 3-4 servings/week.  The meat should be an add-on to the meal and not the main attraction.
      • This one will be a challenge if I want chicken so I may have to stick to fish and seafood.
  4. Week 4: No more Fast Food or Deep-Fried Foods
    • Stay away from all deep-fried or fast foods.
      • I'm not big on fried foods anyhow.
  5. Week 5: Experiment with 2 new whole foods.
    • Try 2 new whole foods you've never eaten before.
      • This will be interesting!  I actually tried a melon I had never had before last week so perhaps I'm ahead of the game.
  6. Week 6: Eliminate all low-fat, nonfat, or lite products.
    • While marketed to be "healthy" these foods are full of additives and chemicals.
      • I already have eliminated products like this.
  7. Week 7: Switch to 100% Whole Grains
    • This week moving forward all grains consumed must be whole grains.
      • I'll actually be moving to no-grains.  I'm allergic to wheat and it's probably better for me to just give up grains.
  8. Week 8: Stop eating when you are full
    • Eat slowly and your body will tell you when to stop eating.
      • I've been practicing this technique for years as well as eating slowly.
  9. Week 9: Eliminate refined sweeteners
    • The names for these sweeteners can be deceiving watch and eliminate any foods containing the following sweeteners: white sugar (table sugar), brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice.  Stick to moderate amounts of honey or real maple syrup.
      • I honestly don't use many fake sugars unless baking.
  10. Week 10:  Toss those refined oils
    • Get rid of all refined/hydrogenated oils including vegetable oils, soybean oil, canola oil, margarine, and grape seed oil.
      • Currently the only oils in my house are Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut oil, and real butter!
  11. Week 11:  Go Local!
    • Eat 1 locally grown/raised food for each meal this week.  This can be anything from fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and honey.
      • I love shopping at the local farmers market and flea market for produce and locally made products.
  12. Week 12: Say Good-bye to sweeteners
    • Eliminate/Avoid all added sweeteners including raw honey and maple syrup.
      • This will be a bit of a challenge to give up completely.
  13. Week 13: Cut out everything artificial
    • Eliminate all artificial ingredients/foods including flavorings or colors.
      • This will be a great step in getting rid of everything artificial.
  14. Week 14: 5 or less rule
    • Discontinue consuming any packaged foods that have over 5 ingredients no matter what they are.
      • This will be interesting.  I already try to limit what ingredients are acceptable but limiting the number of ingredients will be interesting.