Processed Foods And Your Digestive System

Processed Foods And Your Digestive System
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Find out how your digestive system handles processed foods.

• Health: Diet • Health: Food & Nutrition • Health: Medical

Digestion of the food we eat is important to our body’s optimal health. One necessary ingredient to keep our digestive system healthy is fiber, especially fiber that is soluble, fermentable fiber.

This fiber has many benefits for the human body. It works as a prebiotic. It helps to feed bacteria of the friendly bacteria type into the intestines. It has been proven to help decrease the absorption rate of carbohydrates and allow our bodies to ingest fewer calories and still feel satisfied. If you’ve ever been constipated, you understand the usefulness of this fiber.

The fiber can be found in many natural foods, but is totally lost during the processing of that food. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, the majority of the foods that are processed have fiber content that is low.

Eating foods that are high in soluble, fermentable fiber means eating foods that are not processed. If you rely on processed foods for your health benefits, you will be greatly lacking in the fiber department.

The digestive system takes less time and energy to digest processed food. Manufacturers want you to eat more and more of their product. They make it quickly digestible so you will want to purchase more of it. You can eat much more of it in a much shorter time. This is more calories in = less calories out. Keep in mind that taking less energy to digest means less and less physical activity needed for digestion so there is less physical activity to burn the calories.

Another way they get you to eat more and more of them is they are made easy to swallow and chew. Many of them seem to melt in your mouth. When they take out the fiber and isolate the nutrients the foods don’t resemble the original form so they go down easier without as much chewing.

It takes longer to eat and to digest unprocessed, whole foods. You can’t eat as much in the same time span as processed foods. This allows for less calories in which equals more calories out.

One test conducted with 17 healthy women and men was designed to compare the energy expenditure difference of whole foods meals and processed meals. The test subjects are a sandwich. It was made with whole foods—multi-grain bread/cheddar, vs white bread/processed cheese slices—processed foods. It took the subjects burned up double the amount of calories when they digested the unprocessed, whole foods as when they ate the processed meal.

The TEF—Thermic Effect of Food—measures the difference in the energy expenditure is stimulated after eating. It equals 10 percent of the total metabolic rate of a person’s body. Those who ate processed foods cut the TEF in half which caused them to reduce the caloric intake burning during the day.

Everyone knows the benefits of eating a relaxing meal. That’s difficult to do when the food is processed so much it doesn’t even take a lot of chewing to get it down. Eating whole foods helps you stick to that relaxing meal, burns more calories than eating processed foods, and helps you stay full longer so you eat less. This proves that whole, unprocessed foods are much better for you.