Sugar

The Benefits of Unprocessed Foods

Processes Foods

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that people eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet. The difference in weight gain even occurred when the meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients.

This study considered foods “ultra-processed” if they had ingredients predominantly found in food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers.

Previous studies had shown diets high in processed foods correlated to health problems. But, because none of the past studies randomly assigned people to eat specific foods and then measured the results, scientists could not say for sure whether the processed foods were a problem on their own, or whether people eating them had health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.

This is the first study to demonstrate causality — that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight.

An ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk. The ultra-processed and unprocessed meals had the same amounts of calories, sugars, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates, and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

On the ultra-processed diet, people ate about 500 calories more per day than they did on the unprocessed diet. They also ate faster on the ultra-processed diet and gained weight, whereas they lost weight on the unprocessed diet. Participants, on average, gained 0.9 kilograms, or 2 pounds, while they were on the ultra-processed diet and lost an equivalent amount on the unprocessed diet.

Added Sugar: What Happens When You Cut it Out?

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Knowing exactly what constitutes a healthy diet has never been more difficult. Vegans believe forgoing animal products is best, while keto enthusiasts will tell you to eat anything that has four legs and can’t get away fast enough. But there's one food nearly every dietician suggest you avoid: sugar.

Giving up the sweet stuff is hard as it's even found in veggie burgers, tomato sauce, and crackers. But if you do nix added sugars from your diet, your body will benefit almost immediately.

Within a week you can expect lower blood pressure as well as healthier levels of fat and insulin levels in the bloodstream. Of course, how your body reacts to the absence of sugar depends on how much of the white stuff you eat in the first place–and whether you're eating carbs.

Your body breaks down complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal and fruit, into simple sugars to use as energy.

But what if you cut out all high-glycemic foods, as keto enthusiasts and no-carb, no sugar dieters attempt?

First, you'll probably day dream about donuts, if you're the type of person who regularly grabs a muffin in the morning and ends dinner with dessert. This occurs because you don't have sugar to help stimulate your brain.

You may feel, well, rough, but there's a lot of good stuff going on inside your body.

You won't go through the cycle of sugar highs and crashes, as initially you'll feel tired and lethargic, but that will pass within a few days. Also, adrenaline will increase and help break down glycogen, or sugar, stored in your body.

Within three to five days, your liver will make ketones from fat since there's no more glucose, your body’s main source of energy. That’s when your body enters ketosis, aka fat burning mode.

As a result, you could experience muscle cramps since you're losing a lot of water when you’re in ketosis after cutting out sugar. Some people experience keto flu, associated with headaches, fatigue and cramps, which lasts about a week.

But once that passes, you'll feel more energetic, focused, and calm. It’s common for people to cut out sugar and high-glycemic foods to lose weight for short periods of time. However, doctors still aren’t sure whether this is healthy long-term.

That’s why many doctors recommend eating healthy complex carbohydrates. Although they are broken down into sugar, this is an entirely normal and healthy process.

In fact, omitting added sugars while eating complex carbs keeps your insulin levels healthy. Try if for a week! You won’t get the headaches, you won’t get the crashes and you will get a consistent level of energy.

Think Twice Before that Morning Juice

Sugar Juice

Starting your morning with fruit juice is often perceived as a healthy way to start  your day.  That's understandable, given that it is natural and has the word "fruit" in it.

However, what many people fail to realize is that fruit juice is also loaded with sugar.  In fact, fruit juice contains just as much sugar and calories as a sugary soft drink... and sometimes even more.

Even if juice is labelled as "100% pure" and "not from concentrate”,  after being squeezed from the fruit -- the juice is usually stored in massive oxygen-depleted holding tanks for up to a year before it is packaged.

The main problem with this method is that it tends to remove most of the flavor, so the manufacturers need to add so-called "flavor packs" to the juice, to bring back the flavor that was lost during processing.

So even if you're buying the highest quality juices at the supermarket, they're still far from their original state.  Some of the lowest quality ones don't even resemble fresh-squeezed fruit juice at all...they are basically just fruit-flavored sugar water.

BOTTOM LINE:
Fruit juice isn't always what it seems, even the higher quality types have gone through processing methods that remove the flavor, making it necessary to add "flavor packs” (whatever those are!) to bring them back to their original state.

Ten Nutrition Tips That We (Almost) All Agree With: Part 1

Fitness Protein Low Carb

Between the Pinterest boards full of protein diets, the endless weight loss tips we see online and the countless low-carb diet foods we see in the grocery store, it’s getting more difficult to determine what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  VarCity HQ did a little leg work for you and scoured the internet for the common themes we saw from nutritionists throughout the internet. 

Below is VarCity’s Part 1 of our top 10 list of nutrition rules that almost all experts agree with: 

1. Added Sugar Is a Disaster

To improve the taste of processed foods, producers often add sugar to them. This type of sugar is known as added sugar (e.g. sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup).

It is definitely true that added sugar contains empty calories. There are no nutrients in it, other than sugar. As a result, basing your diet on products high in added sugar may contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other risks associated with excessive sugar intake that are now reaching mainstream attention.

Added sugar is being implicated as a leading cause of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

This is because fructose is metabolized strictly by the liver. High intake has been linked with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, abdominal obesity and high cholesterol over time.

However, the role of fructose in disease is controversial and scientists do not fully understand how it works.

SUMMARY
Added sugar provides empty calories and is believed to be a leading cause of diseases that kill millions of people each year.

2. Omega-3 Fats Are Crucial and Most People Don't Get Enough

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the proper functioning of the human body.  Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid derived from animals, makes up about 10–20% of the total fat content in the brain.

A low intake of omega-3 is associated with a lower IQ, depression, various mental disorders, heart disease and many other serious diseases.

There are three main types of omega-3 fats: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

ALA comes mostly from plant oils, while the best sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish proteins, fish oils and certain algal oils. Other good sources of EPA and DHA are grass-fed meat and omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs.

The plant form, ALA, needs to be transformed into DHA or EPA to function correctly in the human body. However, this conversion process is inefficient in humans.  Therefore, it is best to eat plenty of protein rich foods high in DHA and EPA.

SUMMARY
A large part of the population is not getting enough omega-3 fats from their diet. Avoiding a deficiency in these essential fatty acids may help prevent many diseases.