What you choose to feed your body is one of the most important things that you do to it every day. Are you consistently choosing the right foods to keep your body running happily and healthily? The benefits of a healthy diet are far reaching throughout the body as the old adage says, you are what you eat. The food that you regularly feed your body can affect your organs, immune system, lifespan and your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Feed Your Microbes Right
You may have heard about the microbes (microorganisms) in your gut and how a balance of good bacteria can counteract the bad bacteria. Our gut microbes control the amounts of fat and nutrients that are processed from our food and eventually absorbed into the body. A recent study has revealed that ultra-processed foods such as lollies and chips feed the bad bacteria in our gut and encourage them to take over the population, pushing the good bacteria out of a home.
A healthy diet involves a range of fibre sources to feed your gut bacteria and provide you with the full range of nutrients that your body requires. So you will need to make sure you consume different foods with different types of fibre including vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts.
Ultra processed foods are defined as containing at least one ingredient that isn’t normally used in a regular kitchen. These extra ingredients are often emulsifiers and flavour enhancers that are added to increase palatability of the food. Ultra processed foods have low nutritional value, are less filling and have been designed to have a better mouth-feel and flavour than the competition on the shelves. This makes you eat more and buy more because your body won’t feel satisfied with just one square of chocolate or one Pringle. Once you pop…
Not only are ultra processed foods designed to make you eat more but they help to feed the bad bacteria in your gut. When you feed your body a range of different foods you introduce both soluble and insoluble fibre into your gut. Both forms of fibre are considered to be good but they affect the population of human gut bacteria differently. More research is required on how they each affect the gut, but what we do know is that a diet low in fibre produces an inflammatory response in the gut. This is because good bacteria break the fibre molecules into short-chain fatty acids which provide an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. When you aren’t eating enough fibre, your gut isn’t protected from inflammation which can kill off the good bacteria. That’s when the bad bacteria can take over. Now you’re in trouble, the bad bacteria don’t produce anti-inflammatory compounds and can make your gut even more inflamed. Over time the low level inflammation causes health issues throughout the body including reducing the strength of your immune system and increasing your risk of chronic inflammatory illness in the gut.
Let’s Get Nutritional
As omnivores, humans require a certain percentage of protein to keep our body running. Therefore the body will feel hungry until you feed it the right portion of protein. Protein is relatively expensive so ultra processed foods are often low in protein and instead are filled with high levels of fats, carbohydrates sugars and salt. When we eat a diet consisting of a mainly processed foods we wind up eating more because the body will feel hungrier despite the large number of calories consumed.
A diet high in ultra processed foods is a diet that is low in nutritional value and eventually leads to low quality health. Be aware that these processed foods are “high GI” or have a High Glycemic Index. When you induce a high glycemic response in the body, over and over again, you overwork the organs and cells that are responsible for balancing the sugar levels in the blood. Eventually they stop working as well as they should and this leads to pre-diabetes, then if you let it go further out of control the disease can develop into diabetes. Diabetes is a serious chronic illness that, although common, does require specific care to ensure quality of life.
Due to the lack of nutritional value in packaged junk foods and ready meals, as well as the ultra processed ingredients, people who consume too much can become obese and malnourished. The best way to feed your body is to provide a large variety of food types, sticking to the ratios outlined in the Food Pyramid. Basically the idea is to have everything in moderation but eat mostly plants.
A diet that contains various sources of fibre is the ideal option for your organs and therefore your overall health.
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