I attended a recent lecture by Professor Grant Schofiled and Dr Caryn Zinn on the science and practicalities of eating a low-carb, healthy-fat, wholefood diet (watch this space - we will be doing giveaway of their 'What The Fat' book soon).
Dr Zinn introduced the concept of the H.I. factor. This stands for Human Interference. Opting for foods with a low H.I. factor means choosing minimally or un-processed foods. This benefits overall health.
There is ample evidence to back up this approach to eating.
Last year a paper was published in the journal 'Public Health Nutrition.' The authors classified New Zealand supermarket foods according to their level of processing. They then examined the relationships between the level of processing, cost, and nutritional value of the food. The results from their study probably don't come as a big surprise:
- About 75% of world food sales are of processed food.
- Nearly 85% of packaged foods in New Zealand supermarkets are ultra-processed (the highest level of processing).
- Processed foods are cheap.
- The more processed a food is, the lower its nutritional value.
The authors pointed out that educational campaigns to encourage healthier eating are minimally effective at best. What really needs to change is the whole food environment.
Another paper published in 'Autoimmunity Reviews' last year explored the topic in greater detail. The authors explained how the rising levels of processed food have coincided with rising autoimmune disease. They provide a list of common food additives and processing aids that are know to set the conditions for autoimmune dysfunction.
Glucose, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten, microbial transglutaminase, and nanoparticles are extensively and increasingly used by the food industry, claim the manufacturers, to improve the qualities of food.
However, all of the aforementioned additives increase intestinal permeability
It is hypothesized that commonly used industrial food additives abrogate human epithelial barrier function, thus, increasing intestinal permeability through the opened tight junction, resulting in entry of foreign immunogenic antigens and activation of the autoimmune cascade.
Billions of dollars are spent each year by people trying to find a 'fix' for their health or weight issues. So much time and effort might be saved if we could just re-model the food environment, so that processed food becomes the minority in the supermarkets, and real food is affordable and accessible.
On that note - I'm off to have a broth; a slice of homemade, fermented rye sourdough with a big gob of butter; and one of the beautiful Golden Queen peaches that arrived in my Ooooby box this morning.