Rather than focusing on calories and macronutrients, the Virginia Tech health researcher and assistant professor suggests reducing the amount of highly processed foods that have been physically and chemically modified.
Rather than focusing on reducing calories and carbohydrates, the Virginia Tech health researcher and assistant professor suggests reducing the amount of highly processed foods that have been physically and chemically modified.
“Many people receive this kind of ‘calories in, calories out’ advice when it comes to weight management and weight loss,” said Alexandra DiFeritonio, an assistant professor at the Fralin Institute for Biomedical Research at Virginia Tech Carilion. .
Dieters also often focus on macronutrients such as fats and carbohydrates.
“Remember the low-fat craze of the 1990s?” DiFelicantonio said. “We’re in a low-carb boom right now.”
Deferitonio said some recent studies suggest a change in the way we think about food.
“Processing these foods will change their health effects,” she said.
“I’m not just talking specifically about weight,” says neuroscientist Deferitonio, who studies how the brain integrates peripheral signals to guide food choices and eating behavior. he says.
What kind of foods qualify as ultra-processed products?
“Those are foods you can’t make in your home kitchen,” she said. “That means they’re either made with techniques that can’t be replicated, such as very high heat or extrusion, or they contain ingredients that aren’t in your home kitchen.”
Dr. Deferitonio said high intakes of ultra-processed foods “are associated with a variety of cancers, including colorectal, ovarian, and cervical cancers, as well as cardiovascular cancers.” [disease] and death from all causes. ”
Healthier food options are whole foods, she said.
“Pick a piece of fruit. Eat your vegetables. Steam your vegetables, cook your meat.”
Deferitonio said ultra-processed foods share the addictive qualities of tobacco, alcohol and other substances. They also affect the brain.
“They’re designed to be delicious,” she said.
Deferitonio said there was a choice between a rich chocolate cookie and a fresh apple, with the cookie being tweaked to give it an edge.
“They have the right amount of sugar, the right amount of fat, and the right amount of sodium, so you want to keep eating more of them. That’s what makes them so different from apples.”
Unlike ultra-processed foods, which can be addictive, “foods in their natural environment weren’t created that way,” she says.
Marketing of highly processed foods adds to the challenge. When I was getting gas recently, I saw an ad for fried chicken posted on the gas pump.
“I think we forget that our environment doesn’t have to be like this. We need to have these food cues everywhere.” Deferitonio says. “It’s really difficult when the whole environment is set up to make you want to eat them.”