Processed foods were created to help us out in our busy lives – because when it’s already processed, it’s generally quicker to prepare and has a longer shelf life (so we don’t have to go grocery shopping as often, in theory).
But anything that’s boxed and processed isn’t usually the healthiest choice for your gut. When foods are processed, they often take away nutrients and add excess salt and sugar and other preservatives.
Many of us have become accustomed to having processed foods as staples in our diets – but there are a few easy swaps you can start making now to adjust to a cleaner, healthier diet! (Even when you’re eating out!)
5 Easy Ways to Swap Out Processed Foods for a Healthier Gut
1.Trade white rice for brown rice
White rice is processed, therefore many of the nutrients are stripped during that process. Brown rice has more fiber (which we know is great for making you feel full and keeping your colon healthy!).
White rice also has more sugar in it – whereas brown rice contains nutrients like magnesium, niacin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B1.
The nutrients kept in brown rice make it an energizing, healthy carb. Many diets that promote “no carbs” consider that most of the carbs many people eat are processed…but brown rice can be a great staple in your diet to fuel your body, clean your gut, and help you feel full with less food.
Plus, whole grains can help lower your colon cancer risk!
(And if you’re up for it, try trading your brown rice for even healthier options like quinoa or barley!)
2.Replace soda with carbonated water and fresh fruit (or just water!)
Nixing soda can be a hard habit to break – but if you make up your mind to do it, you can!
You still want the fizzy drink? Use carbonated soda water (without all the chemicals, sugar, and caffeine) and throw in fresh fruit. Cut up limes or lemons and have them on hand to squeeze and toss in there. Or maybe mix it up with some watermelon and cucumber for a refreshing twist!
Even replacing one can of soda with a glass of water can help start the trend. Water makes you feel full and replenishes lost fluids from your body to keep you from getting dehydrated.
Plus it doesn’t have all the sugars that your gut has to process.
3.Use real potatoes instead of instant flakes
When you’re coming home from work, it can save you a lot of time to make instant potatoes instead of cooking fresh ones. But, the real potatoes are worth it: They pack more nutrients, and can reduce inflammation in your colon.
Plus, the potatoes from the ground can help you feel more full! White potatoes are a resistant starch, full of probiotics that benefit gut health. Plus they’re high in potassium and low in sodium.
And if you’re thinking you want to stay away from carbs, fresh potatoes that are prepared in a healthy way are fresh and not processed, so they’re not as bad as you may think.
4.Instead of chips or cheesy crackers: Cheese and whole-grain crackers
Cheese has a way of filling you up and giving you nutrients to give you energy and stay full longer! When you are on the road and need a snack, it’s easy to pick up a bag of something…but fresh cheese and whole-grain crackers will work better!
Animal products like cheese contain protein and Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and calcium – all essential to a healthy diet. And having enough calcium in your diet can help to prevent colorectal cancer.
And the whole-grain crackers, although processed, are a better choice than chips for what you’re looking for in a snack. Whole grain, or multi-grain crackers, have fiber in them to keep you feeling full longer, and to help clean out your gut.
5. Switch from boxed cereal to oatmeal
You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but you’re rushed in the morning so you just grab a quick bowl of cereal (or breakfast bar) to make sure you get something to start your day. Why not try some oatmeal? Not the packaged kind, but the rolled oats kind, and add your own toppings!
When you’re choosing your oatmeal, steel-cut oats are the least processed type, full of the most original nutrients. But rolled oats (or old-fashioned oats) and quick oats are still good for your gut!
Quick oats are the most processed of the types of oats, because they go through a partial-cooking process to make them a couple minutes quicker to cook than rolled oats. Make sure if you have Celiac Disease that you talk to your doctor first.
Oats – and oatmeal – are fantastic grains packed with fiber to help you feel full longer, give you energy, and keep your gut healthy (with everything flowing smoothly).
Toss some cinnamon on your oatmeal, or some cut up strawberries and blueberries. Or maybe some peaches, or bananas and walnuts. The healthy, flavorful choices are plentiful to make your breakfast something you (and your gut) look forward to!
Get your gut checked today!
When you use these 5 Easy Ways to Swap Out Processed Foods for a Healthier Gut,
make sure to talk to your GI doctor about any changes in your diet, so you can take into consideration things like gluten and lactose that may affect your gut health.
Give Gastrointestinal Specialists, P.C. a call today and we can do a couple quick tests to help you determine what’s going on in your gut, have a healthier gut, and help you with any gut discomfort you may have.