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Refined Foods Aren’t Limited To Just Carbohydrates

Posted May 20 2009 12:27pm

There is one universal health axiom promoted by people on all sides of the diet debate from low-fat to low-carb that we all seem to agree on: refined foods are unhealthy! That’s right, those people who are trying to lose weight and improve their health need to take a serious look at their intake of these overly processed and highly refined foods that dominate supermarket shelves. You’ll be hard pressed within diet and health circles to find anyone who will disagree with this.

But what are “refined foods?” You might be thinking that’s a ridiculous question to ask, but stay with me on this because there’s an important lesson to be learned today. Generally when the suggestion is made to avoid “refined foods,” the so-called health “experts” out there are talking about those ultra-refined CARBOHYDRATES that are typically full of plenty of empty calories, quickly raise blood sugar levels, and put your pancreas on overdrive trying to make enough insulin to counter the effects of this chain reaction happening in your body that leads to wild blood sugar swings and eventually weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even death. UGH!

Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls helped push me over 400 pounds

It’s darn near impossible to completely avoid refined carbohydrates in 2009 America because the food manufacturers put them in just about all the packaged foods you buy at the grocery store for your family to eat. Whether it’s all that high-fructose corn syrup they put in those Little Debbie snack cakes I used to easily eat a box at a time or the enriched flour they put even in supposedly “healthy” whole wheat breads, refined carbs are just plain bad news and they’re everywhere in our food supply. That’s why choosing healthy whole foods like meats, non-starchy veggies, and other low-carb staples are a MUST for anyone who is livin’ la vida low-carb.

Are 100% whole wheat hamburger buns good for you? Not hardly!

The refining process of grains especially negates whatever health benefits that may or may not come from consuming whole grains. Complex carbohydrates are turned into refined ones rather quickly and this process removes virtually all the fiber and nutrient-density that they supposedly provide. Even the “whole grain” versions of certain kinds of breads and other cleverly-marketed foods you find on the front packaging of foods are usually still refined. So beware of what the marketing slogan says and ALWAYS read your labels for the real nutritional content.

Don’t even get me started on this refined nightmare!

And it goes without saying that just about everything you order from your local fast food joint has been refined in some form or fashion. French fries are the perfect example of this and McDonald’s has made a healthy profit over the years peddling this starchy carbohydrate deep-fried in vegetable oil. I’m slowly convincing my wife Christine who LOVES French fries that it’s probably not a good idea to consume this as “food” (and I use that term very loosely with this particular product!). Doughnuts are just as bad and probably even a little worse because they contain refined flour and sugar, then are deep-fried in vegetable oil, and finally they’re topped off with even more refined sugar. Yippee! I used to eat at least half a dozen doughnuts when someone brought them to work or church. NEVER AGAIN!

So we all know about the damage we are doing to our health consuming these refined foods I’ve just mentioned, but there is another whole category of refined foods that we never hear talked about and that I am convinced are just as unhealthy as these refined carbohydrates. It never dawned on me until one of my recent podcast guests Sally Fallon from the Weston A. Price Foundation (this interview will air on June 11, 2009) brought it up during our conversation, but products that have had the dietary fat removed from them also should be considered refined foods.

Why would you eat this refined stuff when butter is just fine?

Think about it–creating fat-free products is as unnatural as refining grains is. And it’s basically the same thing refining fatty foods to make them low-fat or fat-free that is done with refined carbohydrate foods. Products like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter that boast of their fat-free status is nothing more than a refined fat. Compared with healthy natural butter, this is a nightmare waiting to happen once it gets inside your body. Why would you expose yourself to this stuff?

What is the purpose of drinking refined “fat-free” milk?

Perhaps the main reason why refined carbs are so vilified and refined fats are not lies in the fact that most Americans still suffer from a severe case of fat phobia. What else would possess somebody to choose fat-free skim milk over deliciously healthy whole milk or heavy cream chock full of great-tasting and nutritious fats? As my health blogging friend and YouTuber Sean Croxton from Underground Wellness (a dynamic podcast interview with him coming on June 8, 2009) would say about these fat-free concoctions, “Is God Stupid?” I mean really…do you think God would put all that fat in meats, milk, eggs and other natural foods if there was no purpose for it being there? I think not.

The perfect topping for that fat-free baked potato on a low-fat diet? EWWW!

And scientists are working feverishly to mutate the genes of cows so they “naturally” make low-fat dairy by the year 2011. It’s absolutely crazy just how much refining happens everyday with all these low-fat and fat-free foods that are perceived as healthy and nobody bats an eye at them. No, they just eat their baked potatoes with fat-free I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and add some fat-free sour cream on top as a special treat. YUCK! When I was on a low-fat diet in 1999, I ate my fair share of baked potatoes from Wendy’s with nonfat toppings because it was so healthy for me (or so I thought!). Now I realize what a bunch of garbage refined fat foods I was eating all under the guise of being healthier.

I can’t tell you how much nonfat frozen yogurt I used to eat

And then there’s the beloved fat-free frozen yogurt that people gobble up thinking it will help them in their weight and health efforts. But removing fat from this while simultaneously adding more sugar to mask the disgusting flavor does nothing to improve the negative impact it will have on your health. I overheard an older couple at the grocery store the other day talking about some food that was low in fat and the lady exclaimed, “Oh, this one doesn’t have any fat in it, so it’s the healthiest.” (Banging my head against the wall!) Will we EVER wake up from this Twilight Zone era we are living in being so scared to death of fat?!

The next time somebody brings up the idea of cutting out refined foods from your diet to make it healthy, be sure to mention the refining process that goes into removing the fat from foods like milk, cheese, etc. What do you wanna bet they’ll have the most puzzled look on their faces? That’s when you can smile back at them and feel confident that you’ve made them think about all the “refined foods” they’re putting in their mouths. And it just might open the door of opportunity to talk about how livin’ la vida low-carb is the only nutritional approach that eliminates BOTH refined carbohydrates and refined fats. Let the education begin!

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