Nutrition is one of the most important factors in promoting the quality and longevity of life. Yet, for many individuals, it is a known area of weakness. Most people know their diets could use improvement, but struggle to identify exactly how they could optimize their eating for better wellness. The simplest answer lies in the elimination of processed foods.
Although modern science has come a long way in terms of helping the human population maintain wellness, there is still no manufactured substitute for the nutritional value provided by natural sources. Processed foods only add cost to foods, and their creation is driven solely by consumer demand. Yet, while the food industry continues to churn out processed products, we continue to see startling disease rates linked to poor diet: as of 2016, obesity affected more than 93 million U.S. adults .
Indeed, the dangers of consuming processed foods are serious and often underappreciated. Here, we will explore some of the potential impacts of processed foods, along with dietary alternatives. Firsts, we will begin by finding out exactly what defines this type of food. You may be surprised to learn just how much of your diet comprises processed food sources.
Processed foods tend to be readily available, nutrient-poor but calorie-dense, and have a decreased ability to promote feelings of fullness. Yet, the reason people keep coming back to them is simple: these foods are highly palatable, which is largely due to their high concentration of excess additives like sugars, sodium, and fats.
Because the term “processed” is so vague, however, it is no surprise that there tends to be confusion around what is considered processed and what is not. Oftentimes, the term “processed food” is used synonymously with “junk food,” but, in reality, it also includes many food sources which are typically perceived as healthy. Any grain – including multigrain bread and whole wheat pasta – is a processed food, for example. In fact, by the strictest definition, any food source that is not a raw vegetable, fruit, or meat product would be considered processed.
Yet, in practical terms, it is important to understand the varying degrees to which foods can be processed. Bagged or frozen vegetables and roasted nuts, for instance, are less processed than pre-made meals, such as microwavable dinners, which fall at the other end of the spectrum. “Ready-to-eat” foods requiring minimal or no preparation, including cereal, oatmeal, dairy products, and deli meats are also considered processed . The more additives and processing a food source has, the more harmful it may be.
Processed foods are harmful for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are often high in refined carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary factor that most substantially increase cardiovascular related disease by modulating insulin and inflammation. They also contribute to obesity more than any other macronutrient (including protein and fats).
Most processed foods are exceptionally high in added sugar, which can have a significant detrimental effect on the metabolism. Added sugar plays a role in the epidemics of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome . Sugar consumption is also strongly linked to obesity and heart disease.
A diet consisting primarily of processed foods is also responsible for added weight gain, and eventually, obesity. Processed sugars in particular increase levels of harmful cholesterol, as well as fat accumulation in the abdominal cavity and liver . Additionally, processed foods are often high in unhealthy, cheap fats, like soybean oil and Omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation when ingested in excess.
Moreover, it is not a single offending ingredient but rather a plethora of artificial ingredients found in processed foods that contribute to them being so harmful. Highly processed foods typically contain additives including preservatives, colorants, flavors, and texturants, all of which are chemicals used for specific purposes. Some foods even contain additional chemicals you will not find on nutrition labels, since manufacturers do not have to disclose what comprises blends, including “artificial flavors,” for instance . In addition, while some contain added synthetic vitamins and minerals (to compensate for the nutritional value lost during processing), their nutrient level pales in comparison to that of whole, unprocessed foods. They are also low in fiber, which supports appetite regulation and aids in digestion.
Perhaps most alarmingly of all, highly processed foods are even linked to an increased risk of cancer. A 10% increase in the intake of highly processed foods is associated with an increase of greater than 10% in risk for overall and breast cancer . These ultra-processed foods associated with extra cancer risk include sweet or savory packaged snacks, soda and other sweetened beverages, mass-produced and packaged breads and baked goods, chicken and fish nuggets, industrialized desserts, and frozen ready meals.
For individuals who are used to following an eating plan primarily consisting of processed foods, eradicating these sources from their diet may seem overwhelming. Yet, these harmful foods can be phased out gradually, by moving away from the most heavily processed foods first until only minimally processed or entirely natural food sources are left.
While processed foods are indeed highly palatable and are in fact made for the very purpose of appealing to appetites, there are still hundreds of natural alternatives, which can be enjoyed. More importantly, natural food sources provide the nutrients needed to support healthy functionality for the body’s major systems, as well as minimized disease risk. From trying unique pairings to adding different blends of seasonings, there are many ways to tailor whole foods to your own liking. Finding vegetables, lean meats, and fruits that you enjoy most and replacing processed snacks and meals with these natural food sources can have far-reaching benefits.
Nutrition is one of the most important factors in promoting the quality and longevity of life. However, many individuals struggle to identify food necessary to optimize eating for better wellness. Processed foods tend to be readily available, nutrient-poor but calorie-dense, and have a decreased ability to promote feelings of fullness. The reason so many people return to these foods is simple: they are highly palatable, due to their large concentration of excess additives like sugar, sodium and salt. By the strictest definition, any food source that is not a raw vegetable, fruit, or meat would be considered processed.
Processed foods are dangerous and play a significant role in increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even cancer. As an alternative, to reduce the risk of disease based on diet, find vegetables, lean meats, and fruits that are enjoyable and replace processed snacks and meals with these natural food sources. Eradicating sources of processed food from one’s diet reduces the risk of disease and though it may seem overwhelming, these harmful foods can be gradually phased out.
The Cenegenics Elite Health programs take a comprehensive approach to nutrition, unlike other diets which tend to focus on a single facet of life – changes in eating habits. The Cenegenics approach assures long-term results in comparison to “fast” weight loss solutions by customizing programs based on individual needs.
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We hope the information above assisted you in your research process.
 “Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
 “What is a Processed Food? You Might Be Surprised!” International Food Information Council Foundation. Sept. 2010. Retrieved from URL: https://www.foodinsight.org/sites/default/files/what-is-a-processed-food.pdf
 Stanhope et al. “Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from the recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies.” Current Opinion in Lipidology. June 2013. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708
 Stanhope et al. “Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans.” Journal of Clinical Investigation. 1 May 2009. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673878/
 Gunnars, Kris. “Nine ways that processed foods are harming people.” Medical News Today. 01 August 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318630.php
 Fiolet et al. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NitriNet-Santé. Prospective cohort.” 14 Feb. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k322[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
If you are suffering from low energy and are constantly thinking, “I need energy now”, you are not alone. Research shows that 40% of Americans wake up feeling tired most days of the week , and a startling 97% of Americans have at least one of the leading risk factors for fatigue . Yet, if you are like many of the other individuals who experience exhaustion, you may have come to accept feeling tired as an unavoidable part of life.
In fact, there is a reason why you are always feeling tired – even if you have yet to identify it. Much like our overall wellness, our energy levels are defined by a complex combination of factors. From optimizing your diet to addressing hormone imbalances, there are proven, practical ways to boost energy and start improving your quality of life. And, for adults with busy lifestyles, there’s no better way to do it than through Cenegenics. Our age management program is designed for busy adults actively pursuing their personal and professional goals, whose success and performance depend on their ability to maintain optimal energy levels. Discover how our clinical team can help you address your fatigue, boost energy and restore your vitality below.
At the most fundamental level, the very purpose of eating is to provide our body with the energy it needs to support its many critical functions. Yet, the abundance of packaged and processed foods has transformed eating into a pleasure-driven activity centered on convenience, rather than a health-driven activity conscious of the dangers of processed foods. Indeed, the Western diet is characterized by foods that have little inherent nutritional value, which ultimately leave us feeling exhausted instead of energized.
To combat the issue, Cenegenics physicians prioritize a way of eating that spurs energy creation. One foundational aspect of improving diet in patients is optimizing their insulin sensitivity. Insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, is produced in the pancreas and helps to move sugar from the blood into storage. When cells become insulin resistant, however, they cannot use insulin effectively and therefore leave blood sugar levels higher than they should be. This spurs a vicious cycle in which the pancreas creates more insulin to reduce blood sugar when it detects high sugar in the blood. Over time, this process can deplete the pancreas of insulin-producing cells, a trend commonly found in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Beyond being linked to serious health conditions, poorly controlled blood sugar is also a common cause of fatigue . Thus, optimizing insulin sensitivity is among the most effective means to boost energy levels through diet.
Cenegenics’ team of dietary experts apply the concept of glycemic index (GI) in the introductory phase of treatment to help patients understand the ways in which different food sources impact blood sugar levels. In fact, GI was originally developed to help patients with diabetes manage insulin dosing. Low GI foods are typically digested slowly, thereby reducing the risk of the insulin spike, which abruptly reduces blood sugar levels and leads to the infamous “crash” we feel after eating something sugary. Eating lower GI foods also results in satiation despite taking in fewer calories, and a low-GI diet can even improve hormone-related response to food intake.
Carbohydrates high in fiber and other phytonutrients have a lower GI than heavily processed white breads, pastas, and similar foods. They can be energizing as well as satiating and, combined with quality protein and fats rich in essential fatty acids, are digested slowly and can aid in optimizing insulin sensitivity. However, the complex relationship between diet, satiety, and energy requires an individualized approach. For instance, some patients may benefit from incorporating marine fish oils and other food sources specifically to improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety, and address other symptoms that can impact perceived energy levels. As such, each patient receives individualized nutrition counseling through the Cenegenics program to pinpoint the key contributors behind possible fatigue-causing dietary factors.
Beyond nutrition, our clinical staff will also help you establish an exercise regimen that fits your lifestyle and actually spurs energy production instead of leaving you feeling tired, which brings us to our next point.
Feeling tired is perhaps the most common reason people neglect to exercise. Yet, it is worth noting that training and exercising can actually fight fatigue and act as natural energy enhancers. Research shows that exercise can even reduce symptoms of fatigue by as much as 65%, while boosting energy levels by up to 20% . While the precise interplay among exercise and energy levels has yet to be understood by researchers, some believe the ability to reduce fatigue stems from the impact energy has on the central nervous system .
Specifically, the Cenegenics program favors short bouts of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, customized to each patient’s own physiology and goals. With the understanding that the majority of Cenegenics patients lead busy lifestyles, this form of exercise is considered beneficial due to the fact that it achieves optimal results, including 24-hour energy expenditure similar to that produced by traditional endurance training, despite its reduced time commitment.
Moreover, HIIT is considered anaerobic exercise. This short-lasting, high-intensity form of fitness occurs when the body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the available oxygen supply. It therefore relies on energy sources stored within the body. Bouts of anaerobic training are also shown to increase growth hormone production and serum concentrations of testosterone, which is more beneficial to boost energy levels than longer bouts of moderate-intensity exercise which raise cortisol levels. High cortisol, especially in the evening, can deceive the body into thinking it doesn’t need rest, thereby contributing to poor sleep and, ultimately, fatigue.
Cenegenics physicians devise a tailored exercise plan for patients based on their preferences, skills, and ability. Because each patient begins with their own unique fitness starting level, recommendations are individualized and fine-tuned throughout the course of treatment to support optimal results, including improved energy levels. Ultimately, while some programs aim to exercise participants to the point of exhaustion, the goal of our physician-prescribed fitness programs is to do more with less time and take a healthy, sensible approach to working out so that you feel more energized – instead of drained – each day. At the same time, the regular periods of activity will also help to spur tiredness at the appropriate time: when you’re ready for bed. Discover more about how Cenegenics helps to optimize your sleep cycle in the next section.
Poor sleep is perhaps the most obvious culprit behind fatigue and lack of energy. Yet, if you are always feeling tired, you probably know that frustratingly, simply feeling exhausted sometimes is not enough to facilitate quality sleep.
To make matters worse, there are many potential causes of sleep deprivation, which is why a “one-size-fits-all” fix cannot be applied. The inability to fall asleep, and subsequently remain sleeping for the recommended seven to nine hours, can result from either physical or psychological challenges. For some patients, psychological barriers such as stress are the greatest barriers of a good night’s sleep. For others, a condition such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) could be to blame.
Duration and quality of sleep are both commonly improved on a Cenegenics program. This is due to the fact that the program’s all-encompassing approach to wellness often tackles the root causes behind poor sleep. Physicians’ recommendations on food selection, along with tailored dietary tips and exercise routines, can contribute to addressing the challenges that may be causing lack of sleep in patients.
For example, while weight regulation is one of the pillars of the Cenegenics age management program, it is also a key player in the prevention and treatment of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). In fact, research shows that losing just 22 pounds can significantly improve apnea/hypopnea index scores . Likewise, Cenegenics physicians may also utilize nutraceuticals to aid in sleep. Individualized supplements, including magnesium, magnolia bark, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can be taken under the direction of physicians to facilitate restfulness.
Additionally, our clinical team can assist patients in hormone regulation if needed. While the relationship between hormones and energy levels will be reviewed in greater detail in the next section, it is suspected that there is also a relationship between sleep disorders and hormones. Specifically, testosterone affects the organization of circadian rhythms and timing of sleep.
As mentioned above, one major component of the Cenegenics program is optimizing hormone levels. In both women and men, suboptimal levels of testosterone can have a negative effect on a person’s energy levels. Because significant dips in hormone levels are common in older adults, men and women in their middle ages and older may be ideal candidates for hormone replacement therapy.
In both genders, low testosterone has been linked to lack of motivation, fatigue, and even depression. Thus, testosterone has a far-reaching impact on energy and, when it becomes imbalanced, the physical impacts can escalate. Luckily, hormone replacement therapy is an effective way to address the challenging symptoms produced by an imbalance.
The age management experts from Cenegenics specialize in all aspects of age management and are particularly adept at diagnosing and treating testosterone deficiencies. They understand the inherent variabilities of testosterone levels and therefore perform diagnostics at specific times and take into consideration factors such as health status, age, fasting state, and sleep to determine if hormone replacement therapy should be considered. While there is no single consensus on what defines “low” testosterone, in general, patients beginning the program with a total testosterone reading in the 300s and low free testosterone may be recommended for treatment. By increasing and improving free testosterone levels (which fall within the normal physiologic range), patients will notice a considerable improvement in energy levels. The effects can be optimized further when combined with the measures outlined above, as well as nutraceuticals, described in greater detail below.
We mentioned briefly above that Cenegenics physicians may prescribe nutraceuticals for patients in which there has been an identified need for a specific supplement. While nutraceuticals can aid in sleep, as previously mentioned, it is also possible that certain micronutrients could help to support optimal energy levels, too.
Coenzyme Q10 (CQ10), for example, can be used to boost energy production, as well as cardiovascular health, neurological wellness, and blood sugar levels. While this antioxidant also plays a critical role in helping the body regenerate the production of vitamins, the body’s synthesis of CQ10 begins to decline at approximately 30 years of age. It has also been shown to reduce fatigue during workouts. Although CQ10 is found in food sources such as meat and fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils, most people are unable to reach even lower ends of the suggested dietary intake through diet alone. Thus, a supplement administered in the proper dose based on the patient’s needs assessment may aid in the natural production of energy.
Additionally, cinnamon may play a role in increasing energy, as well as improving circulation and aiding digestion. The spice has also been shown to directly improve insulin levels, possibly through slowing the absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine. Thus, when taken regularly, it is possible cinnamon could have widespread benefits on overall health.
When it comes to nutraceuticals, it is important to note that supplements are not subject to nearly as strict regulation as pharmaceuticals. Purity and potency are either up to the consumer to research or the manufacturer to offer, and because many patients do not report their supplements in their list of medications, drug interactions are even more likely to occur. It is thus critical that any supplements be taken under the direction of licensed physicians. Moreover, the quality of the source is critical. Nutraceuticals, such as healthy energy boosters provided by Cenegenics, bear significant differences from generic, retail-grade supplements. Cenegenics patients receive custom pharmacy items and efficaciously-dosed, pharmaceutically-tested clinical nutraceuticals.
While determining the potential cause(s) behind fatigue and energy depletion might ordinarily take patients months or even years to do, the robust testing performed under the care of Cenegenics clinicians upon the inception of the age management program may help uncover a causative agent quickly. Sometimes, the culprit behind energy depletion could be as simple as suboptimal vitamin intake, which can be easily remedied through nutraceutical and dietary measures. In other cases, there may be a complex array of contributing factors behind fatigue which require a comprehensive treatment program to address.
No matter the scenario, Cenegenics is the best source for achieving lasting and noticeable improvements in energy levels. Increased energy is one of the five key pillars on which the program itself was built, and the four supporting pillars also strengthen each patient’s ability to feel and perform better. Through the robust yet detail-oriented approach to wellness, our clinical team will address the barriers to optimal energy levels you are facing, while also lowering disease risk factors and supporting your overall, long-term wellness.
Register for your complimentary phone consultation.
We hope the information above assisted you in your research process.
This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT
Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.
Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS
Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.
 Moore, Peter. “Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.” YouGov. 02 June 2015. Retrieved from URL: https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2015/06/02/sleep-and-dreams
 “43 Percent of Americans Admit They’re Too Tired to Function at Work.” Occupational Health & Safety. 27 Jul. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://ohsonline.com/articles/2017/07/27/43-percent-of-americans-admit-they-are-too-tired-to-function-at-work.aspx
 Laskey, Jen. “Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Make You Feel So Tired?” Everyday Health. 25 Jan. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/why-does-type-2-diabetes-make-you-feel-tired/
 Timothy W. Puetz et al. “A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue.” Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 14 Feb. 2008. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18277063
 Parker-Pope, Tara. “The Cure for Exhaustion? More Exercise.” The New York Times. 29 Feb. 2008. Retrieved from URL: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/29/the-cure-for-exhaustion-more-exercise/
 Foster et al. “A Randomized study on the effect of weight loss on obstructive sleep apnea among obese patients with type 2 diabetes: the Sleep AHEAD study.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 28 Sept. 2009. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19786682.
The sun can do more than just cause spots and discoloration on your skin’s surface, it can also lead to aggressive and life-threatening skin cancer. It’s important to use the best sunscreen for your skin. A lower SPF can put you at risk of sunburns and increased exposure over time. The goal is to stop the harmful UV rays from reaching your skin’s surface. There are a number of things to consider before choosing your sunscreen, including:
An average white shirt only has a UPF value of around 3, but manufacturers are now making clothes designed to protect you from the sun. Shop online or ask your dermatologist about clothing created from special high UPF materials. It can also help to use a sun hat or umbrella to protect your face and shoulders from unnecessary exposure.
Hydrated skin is healthy skin! When you sweat or spend time in the sun, your body requires more water to control its temperature. This can lead to dehydration and dry vulnerable skin. When skin isn’t properly moisturized, it becomes more susceptible to sun damage. Make sure to drink plenty of water and to use a moisturizer to give your body a little help. Always take this into account when planning your skincare routine.
Protecting your skin from sun damage doesn’t mean that you have to avoid the sun altogether. But, there are certain times of day that can put you at a greater risk for UV exposure. Depending on your time zone and proximity to the equator, peak sun times are usually between 10am and 4pm. Planning activities either very early or later in the afternoon can cut out a lot of the risk.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is forgetting to reapply their sunscreen. This is especially prudent when swimming or participating in sweat-inducing sports. The more you’re exposed to water, the more often you’ll need to put more sunscreen on. Experts recommend reapplication every 2 hours, and more frequently for children. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]