Ever heard of Anti-Nutrients?
Most of us have a good idea of what foods are not really good for us especially if we are trying to improve our health or lose weight. But did you know there is such a thing as 'anti-nutrients'? These are foods that either cancel out the good nutrients we consume or, worse, they can 'steal' the nutrients.
Foods that need more nutrients from your body to process than they actually provide for your body are anti-nutrients.
For example, if you eat a lot of anti-nutrients (I'll explain next what types of foods these are), you will probably use a lot of Vitamin C in the process of removing the undesirable toxic elements of that food. As Vitamin C also supports a lot of other essential functions such as immunity, collagen production, production of anti-stress hormones, protecting against cancer and heart disease, it's likely there won't be enough of it to do everything - something will have to give. This could mean you may be more prone to infection or feel more stressed.
It's easiest to consider anti-nutrient food in these four categories:
Carbonated (fizzy) drinks: colas, lemonade, carbonated water even.
Refined sugars: sugars in baking, added to drinks, and in cakes, biscuits, etc. Refined white flour is also included in this group because, like sugar, it's processed by our bodies very quickly and leads to a spike in blood sugars.
Artificial colours and flavourings, often included in confectionery, soft drinks, and snacks like crisps. Artificial sweeteners are also in this category together with Alcohol.
Processed foods: cured and smoked meat/fish, baked foods, ice creams - in fact most food that is not in its natural state and is ready prepared.
Anti-nutrients can also come from deep-fried foods, cans and plastic containers, medication, pollution, and smoking.
As well as robbing us of our essential nutrients, these foods contain little nutritional value themselves (often called 'empty' calories) and can lead to fatigue and sluggishness and trigger overeating. Much of our hunger comes from our bodies 'asking' for more nutrients - quality rather than quantity of food - that's why we can feel hungry so soon after eating a huge meal which has little nutritional value. It's also easy to get onto a blood sugar roller coaster - a sweet treat may give us a temporary boost as the sugar 'high' quickly hits us, but the resulting release of insulin to bring blood sugars back down again leaves us craving another sugar hit.
We all want to be able to enjoy 'treat' foods from time to time (me included) but moderation is the key. A varied diet of mostly fresh and unprocessed foods will support our health well and we won't suffer from an occasional treat.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" (anon)