Processed foods harm your immune system and gut health

Los alimentos procesados dañan tu sistema inmunológico y salud intestinal

Many already know that refined foods are not good for the body because they are full of sugar, rancid and synthetic fats, preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, additives and other toxic substances.

They are called junk or junk food for a reason.

And less known, but equally important (if not more), is that they are closely linked to inflammatory processes in the body and threaten the normal functioning of the intestine.

It's hard to deny or ignore the research findings on processed foods.

Especially since a new study has come to light highlighting its detrimental effect on immune system and gut health (and that of your future generations).

Eating yourself to an untimely death

In a recent review published in the Nutrition Journal, Dr. Ian Myle of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained that the Western diet is setting the stage for diseases of the immune system.

"While today's modern diet may provide beneficial protection against micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our excessive abundance of calories and the macronutrients that make up our diet can lead to increased inflammation, decreased infection control, increased cancer rates and increased risk of allergy and autoinflammatory disease."

Components of the diet can trigger or prevent inflammation from taking hold in your body, and when it becomes chronic, it promotes heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and more:

  • Simple sugars increase inflammatory markers in the blood, while complex carbohydrate fiber (but not starches), such as that found in fruits and vegetables, appears to reduce inflammation.
  • Increasing your intake of omega-6 fats (found in vegetable oils) contributes to immune dysfunction, while omega-3 fats help prevent it.
  • The overabundance of processed and genetically modified foods increases inflammation and silences the immune system's ability to respond to and control infection.

What you eat can harm your gut health

The microflora in your body is made up of nearly 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms.

And science has made it quite clear that these organisms play an important role in your health, both mental and physical.

For example, beneficial bacteria known as probiotics have been shown to help:

  • Counteract inflammation and control the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
  • Produce vitamins, absorb minerals and eliminate toxins.
  • Control asthma and reduce the risk of allergies.
  • Benefit your mood and mental health.
  • Normalize your weight.

For this reason, a diet rich in whole and unprocessed foods is recommended, along with those that are cultured or fermented.

If for some reason you don't eat fermented foods several times a week, you should consider supplementing with a high-quality probiotic.

Eating too many grains, sugars, and processed foods serve as "fertilizer" for pathogenic (disease-causing) microorganisms and yeast, causing them to multiply rapidly.

In fact, millions of people suffer from yeast overgrowth and other diseases related to an imbalance of microorganisms in their intestines. The worst thing is that most conventional doctors will not be able to identify the cause of those symptoms if you suffer from this imbalance.

This is how it is explained in the Nutrition Journal:

"The idea that diet, stress and the environment can, for better or worse, impact the gut has been around since the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. However, only recent focus and technological advances have made it possible to accurately elucidate the mechanisms by which our lifestyle impacts our microbiome and leads to dysbiosis”.

Therefore, the best thing you can do for your health -including digestive health- is to eliminate sugars and processed foods to a minimum.

Do you plan to have a baby? What you eat now will affect him later.

One of the most striking aspects of intestinal health is that it can impact the health of your children and grandchildren.

And is that poor dietary choices can be encoded in the patterns of your DNA and gut microbiome, leading to permanent changes in the balance of bacteria in your body. Well, those patterns can be passed on to your children.

The Nutrition Journal noted that a mother's diet can shape her child's taste preferences in the womb, for example, leaning him toward vegetables or sweets.

There is also evidence that children inherit their microbiome from the mother and some of this may be "seeded into the fetus while it is still in the womb."

If a mother has an imbalance of bacteria, she will pass it on to her child and "thus does not present the ideal commensals for proper immune education during her child's most critical window of development."

This developmental imbalance leaves the offspring's immune system poorly trained to fight infection and favors autoimmune and allergic diseases.

Even the father's diet plays a role in the future health of the child and could alter the early development of his immune system.

In this way, cells that learn bad habits such as ignoring signs of infection or overreacting to antigens (a substance that the immune system interprets as a threat) could combine with changes in the microbiome to worsen a child's immune development.

Fermented foods are your best allies

Now that you know the risks of consuming processed foods and the importance of supplying your gut with beneficial organisms, you may be wondering what to do about it.

I give you the first three steps:

1. Eliminate processed foods as much as possible and switch to whole, unprocessed foods like organic grass-fed meat, organic eggs and produce, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats (like coconut oil).

2. A regular feast of fermented foods is the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you choose the traditionally made raw versions.

You can opt for vegetable fermentations. Many people find vinegar cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots delicious.

There's also lassi (Indian yogurt-based drink), grass-fed fermented organic milk like kefir, and natto (fermented soybeans).

Remember that in fermented foods you can also find some bacteria that reduce the toxic load of substances such as heavy metals and pesticides.

3. When you manage to swap a processed meal for fermented foods, set yourself another goal, like swapping out some fries or pretzels for broccoli gratin with cheese, or replacing a daily soda with a glass of sparkling water.

As you make changes to your diet you will gain more drive and energy to continue eliminating one unhealthy habit at a time.

And sooner than you think, you'll be completely rid of processed foods and all the health problems that come with them.

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