In the last post, I listed the many factors that can sabotage your metabolism: sleep, stress, toxins in our environment, synthetic food substances, food intolerances, and imbalances in the bacteria in our digestive tract, as well as the timing, macronutrient composition (protein/carbs/fat), and quality of your foods. Metabolism Booster #1 was Start the Day with Protein.
In today’s post, I want to focus on two of these factors that go hand-in-hand, synthetic food substances (which make what I call “frankenfoods”) and quality of your foods. My opinion is that foods that are processed to the point that they can no longer be recognized as foods that are grown or raised are very low on the food quality scale. In addition, they typically contain additives and preservatives created in a lab to improve the taste, mouth feel, and shelf life. Picture a Twinkie and you know what I’m talking about.
Metabolism Booster #2 – Phase Out Frankenfoods
Most of us grew up eating these foods and readily accept them in our food culture. We know that they are not the healthiest choice, but they are highly marketed and everyone eats them, right?
Foods me and my siblings ate regularly included Doritos, Cheese Its, Pringles, Cheetos, Hostess Snacks, Pepperidge Farm cookies (only at Grandma’s house), Chips AHoy and Oreo cookies, Rice-A-Roni, Spaghetti-O’s, Hamburger Helper, and even Spam. My mom was an excellent cook, and most of the time we ate balanced meals as a family at the dinner table. But these other foods found their way into our diets just like they do in many of yours. They’re convenient, manufactured to taste wonderful, and will last in the cupboard for weeks.
The issue with these foods is that they contain non-nutrients that can sabotage your metabolism.
Artificial colors and preservatives are typically made from products we would never ingest naturally, and may be carcinogenic at low levels. They also disrupt our endocrine system.
Trans fat increases inflammation and can cause the liver to stop responding to growth hormone. Artificial sweeteners may cause an increase in carbohydrate cravings and consumption of more calories throughout the day. Refined grains (white flour) are stripped of bran and germ, causing them to digest quickly spiking blood sugar and insulin levels. High-fructose corn syrup causes the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin’ to remain high, so your appetite doesn’t get suppressed. The BPA in most canned foods mimics estrogen and may increase the risk of breast cancer, infertility, PCOS, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Even low doses of BPA have been shown to create new fat cells and increase their size.
Still not convinced? The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has created an excellent resource called Chemical Cuisine where food additives are described and classified as Safe, Caution/Reduce, or Avoid. Be brave and take your favorite snack out of the cupboard and determine how many non-food ingredients are listed on the label.
If you eliminate all of these processed foods, what’s left? Plenty!
You will light your metabolism on fire by making the following foods the core of your healthy diet:
- Vegetables – fresh or frozen
- Fruits – fresh, frozen or dried (sulfite-free)
- Lean protein – poultry, fish, grass-fed beef, beans
- Whole grains – rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet
- Healthy fats – nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, fatty fish
- Herbs and spices
- Filtered water
If you currently include many processed foods in your diet, pick one or two items to replace with a healthier option this week. “Trade up” where needed to boost your health and your metabolism.