Time to Take Out Trash! Yep, the white stuff!

white bread and sugarWe’re here today to help you take out trash, yep, the white stuff in your diet!  There are three ingredients commonly found in our food that are harmful to the human body when consumed in the amounts they are today. They may have some usefulness in limited quantities, but when they are overused, they can and do wreak havoc on your system.

These ingredients are so prevalent in so many foods and have such a powerful impact as to cause not only wide spread harm to our health but even death. The “terrible three” which are worth our careful scrutiny are sugar, salt, and processed flour.


Added sugar as described on nutritional labels comes in so many forms that it is no surprise so many fail to recognize how much is in their food. Among them are brown sugar, syrup, fruit juice concentrates, corn sweetener, lactose, invert sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maltose, fructose, molasses, raw sugar, glucose, dextrose, sucrose, sugar, and honey. Many times, food processors use several different sweeteners in the same product which further hides their presence.

Among the problems caused by consuming too much sugar are type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer along with gum disease and tooth decay. It leads to obesity, a major epidemic in America where 35% of the population is now obese contributing to a vast array of diseases and health issues.

Sugar intake is difficult to avoid because it is added to so many foods, and in larger amounts than many suppose. Consider this. sodaOne 12 ounce can of Coca Cola Classic has 39 grams of sugar, fifty percent more than the average woman should have for an entire day (24 grams recommended by the American Health Association) and more than equal to what the average man should consume (36 grams)! Energy drinks have much more.

Confusion about sugar arises because sugar is a carbohydrate, but not all carbs are the same. A healthy diet will consist mostly of carbs, up to 75% of the calories consumed, but these need to be primarily complex carbs.
Carbohydrates range from very simple to very complex. Simple carbs are often described as bad carbs while complex carbs are described as good carbs.

The simpler a carb is the quicker it will enter the blood stream and spike your blood sugar; the more complex it is the slower this process will be. You can discover the rate by looking for a food’s glycemic index.

55 or less = Low (good)
56- 69 = Medium
70 or higher = High (bad)

Because high glycemic foods cause quick spikes in blood sugar levels they produce obvious problems for diabetics, but can also be detrimental to others as well for a variety of reasons. The sugar high is addictive, the spike is followed by a sugar low that saps energy, even small amounts can contain lots of calories leading to obesity, and simple carbs typically are nearly devoid of nutritional value.z

Salt – continue your quest to take out the trash!

saltHow much salt do we need? Commonly cited guidelines suggest that we should limit consumption of salt to 2300 mg daily, 1500 if over 50 years of age. Following major studies released in 2009, however, the American Heart Association lowered their maximum consumption recommendations to 1500 mg for everyone. Unfortunately, percentages of sodium in food products use the old numbers which underestimates the number by a good bit. At the same time the average person consumes 3,400 mg of salt daily, more than twice the recommended maximum 1500 mg intake. And truthfully, we need considerably less than 1500 mg for optimum health.

Excess salt causes our body to retain water. This, in turn, causes pressure on our heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure is the most troublesome result.

In America around 350,000 people die each year from hypertension (high blood pressure) with excess salt a major contributing factor. Excess salt causes reduced kidney function and other health problems as well.

Salt in processed foods is a serious issue and hard to deal with in the real world unless we have the time, inclination, and skill to cook all our food from scratch because the food industry puts so much of it into processed foods. For example, a can of red beans and rice has 3000 mg of sodium in one 16 ounce can. Eating half the can would provide all the salt allotted for the whole day!

Here are some interesting statistics about the way we get our salt. Only 5% is added in cooking and 6% at the table. Another 12% is natural in foods. Three-fourths comes from salt added to processed foods!  This statistic alone shows us how much we as Americans need to take out the trash!

This points to the fact that watching the salt we add to foods is not as helpful in our quest to reduce salt intake as most people suppose. Of course, both are needed but our primary concern must be to reduce the salt we buy in our processed foods.

Processed Flour

baked goods made with white flourThe third white threat is from white flour (also known as wheat, gluten, or any one of other essentially equal if technically different names). There are literally dozens of names, both common and scientific, that are used to list this ingredient on nutrition labels.

Wheat, and other grains, have three basic parts: bran (an outer layer, essentially fiber, containing B vitamins and trace minerals), the germ (a small section that includes B and E vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats), and the endosperm (a larger core that consists primarily of carbohydrates with some proteins we commonly hear identified as gluten). Whole grains have all of these while processed grains typically have only the endosperm.

Because processing grain for use as flour typically removes the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm, the processed product has little food value, leaving only one thing—empty calories, just another reason to take out the trash. That and the gluten, a group of proteins that do have some minerals (iron and phosphorus in particular) but is a health risk for many people, especially those with Celiac disease.

The danger associated with white flour is different than that of salt and sugar. It does not attack the body in any significant way, unless you have Celiac disease, but it is just as destructive in its own way.

White flour (wheat or gluten, etc.) does not fill you up as would whole grain. Compare eating a slice of whole wheat toast to a slice of white bread toast. So, we tend to eat more of the products made with it. Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we eat a lot of are made primarily with white flour: breads, pasta, cookies and other baked goods, cereals, and pizza just to start.

There is no doubt that the use of processed grains in the form of flour, stripped of its nutritional components, contributes immensely to obesity and poor health for many people in America. It only makes sense to take every possible step to eliminate as much of it as possible from our diets.  Just another reason to take out the trash!

Should you worry about eliminating too much of these from your diet? After all we do need at least some salt if nothing else. Not at all. You do not need any simple sugars or gluten and with so much salt in food products it is almost impossible to get down to the daily recommended maximum, let alone to get into a deficit situation. Furthermore, there is probably enough naturally occurring salt in your foods to provide what you really need.

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Are you looking for even more ways to take out the trash and eliminate the white stuff from your life?  We can help with that, schedule a nutritional consult today!