Boosting your Immunity Tip #2: Processed Foods

No processed foods

What’s missing?

This week’s tip for boosting immunity–an awareness and reduction of processed foods–may be the hardest of them all if you’re used to eating the typical American diet. It’s  just so easy and convenient to buy processed foods, isn’t it?   Even “healthy ones.”

The problem is that many have had the nutrition processed right out of them, if they ever had it at all.  I remember years ago having a professor point out to me that the box my morning cereal was in was actually more nutritious than the cereal I had for breakfast every morning.  But there’s another problem, too.   Many processed foods contain fillers, like corn or soy.

Unless you grow it yourself with heirloom seeds, I’m not sure it’s possible to find corn that isn’t GMO these days.   Not only is it in our food as filler but it’s fed to the animals we eat, including fish.   How corn is a natural fish food, I don’t know, but I grew up on a farm with livestock, fish, corn, peanuts, and soybeans.  I remember my parents grinding feed for the cows and the pressure on them to put additives in the feed in order to sell heavier animals for food. I also sported many a blister from hand-pulling weeds from the acres of peanuts on my dad’s farm, but that’s another tip for later.

As for corn and corn filler, my body now has a specific sensitivity to it.   If I eat it, I will break out in a mild but annoying rash that lasts about two days. I discovered this through a diet detox in which I had no skin sensitivity until I added corn back to my diet.  And I LOVE corn.  Even processed food that I’d never suspect had corn in it often does, and I’ll get verification on my skin within hours.

As for soy, I’ve seen its use as filler increase exponentially over the last few years.   Since soy increases my estrogen level to a dangerous imbalance and estrogen dominance can lead to breast cancer and other cancers, I’ve been actively avoiding soy…when it’s obvious.   While working with a specialist, I’ve brought my hormones closer to balance (think  estrogen: progesterone ratio) but was surprised that while my ratio had improved at my last testing,  my estrogen level was up.   After some research, I dug through the pantry, re-reading labels, and was surprised to find that the processed foods I grabbed on my way out the door as healthy standards contained soy. I hadn’t noticed that before, and I’d specifically thought that this product was soy-free.

My friend Renee says that going to the grocery store is like playing “where’s Waldo” with what’s really in food.  True.   It sometimes feels like the grocery store is my enemy.

The only way I can be sure…or surer, at least…of what’s in my food is if I cook it myself.   That doesn’t cover issues with chemicals or pesticides but it’s an improvement.  So look at the photo above and tell me what’s missing.

The answer is processed foods.   For this week, if you can eat only processed foods or reduce your consumption of processed foods, try it and see how you feel.   That may take some pre-planning and weekend cooking to make it happen, and yes, it’s a lot of work…but I have to tell you that I feel fantastic, and that makes up for the extra work.

If you can’t cut out processed foods altogether, try this rule:   ask yourself if the food you are about to eat is found that way in nature.   Did you pick that snack off a brownie tree?   A cookie bush?  It’s a simple rule–is it found in nature this way?

And that’s your challenge for the week–reduce or eliminate processed foods.

Don’t forget to come back and tell me how you did!