Photo: Unsplash.com / @ellaolsson
Many of us are on a journey to making healthier food choices. The great news is that there’s no need to restrict yourself when wanting healthier eating habits. Finding an alternative to foods that irritate your gut and cause damage to your health is a fabulous way to keep enjoying foods you already love!
1. Instead of white bread…
Make the switch to sourdough or sprouted whole-grain bread!
Why is white bread unhealthy?
White bread is a refined carbohydrate. This means that it has undergone a milling process where the wheat is fragmented. Wheat is a seed that is made up of the bran, the germ, and a fuel supply called the endosperm.
Milling this nutrient includes removing the bran and the germ, leaving only the soft endosperm to be milled into flour. The endosperm is made up of simple carbohydrates which our body quickly turns into sugar (glucose), causing spikes in blood sugar levels. Consuming too many simple carbohydrates leads to a higher risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and decreased energy. The entire procedure of making white bread results in a food that contains very little nutritional value, as the nutritious parts of the wheat (the bran and the germ) are entirely stripped.
White bread is furthermore bleached with benzoyl peroxide to make the end product more appealing to consumers. On its own, this chemical is extremely dangerous to ingest and, if swallowed, it’s advised to contact a doctor or poison control straight away. So, why are we eating this?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up bread!
Why are sourdough and whole-grain bread healthier?
Sourdough bread is made with regular wheat or any other grain. Instead of using yeast for the bread to rise, it’s made with a sourdough starter, which is lactic acid bacteria (healthy bacteria). This starter allows the dough to rise and prepare the bread for baking through fermentation.
During fermentation, the lactic acid bacteria produce many nutrients which add great value to the bread. The fermentation process allows for the carbohydrates to break down into acidic compounds, making the bread much easier to digest. This is where sourdough bread gets its distinctive slightly sour taste and smell.
The top benefit of sourdough bread is that it has a low glycemic index, meaning it keeps blood sugar and insulin levels lower.
Whole-grain bread is simply a product in its natural and whole form. Unlike white bread, each part of the grain is present. This results in many nutrients being present such as fibre, minerals, and vitamins.
2. Instead of cow’s milk…
Switch to plant milk!
Is cow’s milk healthy?
Dairy has been a staple for decades and we are continuously told that it’s crucial for bone health and healthy development. Yes, this is indeed true- for baby cows.
We are the only species that drink milk after infancy. We are also the only ones to consume milk from another mammal. Strange, no?
Dairy is the most common food allergen- seventy percent of people can’t tolerate it. After infancy, our bodies typically stop producing lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, hence the common allergy. An intolerance to lactose (milk sugar) may result in bloating or abdominal pain while an allergy to casein (milk protein), may manifest as a skin rash or digestive problems.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: “milk and other dairy products are the top sources of saturated fat in the American diet, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.” Dairy products are also highly linked to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
To put it simply, cow’s milk should not be a staple ingredient if you want to pursue optimum nutrition. Cow’s milk, after all, is designed for calves. Not humans!
Don’t I need milk for calcium?
The body needs calcium for strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Milk and other dairy products indeed contain calcium, but they aren’t the only sources of this nutrient. The daily calcium requirement for 19-50-year-olds is 1000mg, and 1200mg for those aged over 50.
Some calcium-rich foods you can add to your shopping list are:
- Almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk, fortified (1 cup = 300mg)
- Collard greens, cooked (1 cup = 266mg)
- Tofu, prepared with calcium (4oz = 205mg)
- Kale, cooked (1 cup = 179mg)
- Soybeans, cooked (1 cup = 175mg)
- Boy Choy, cooked (1 cup = 160mg)
- Broccoli rabe, cooked (1 cup = 100
Cow’s milk is pasteurized and homogenized
A major concern is that dairy milk is a highly processed product. This natural white substance undergoes a process called pasteurization in which the dairy is heated to a specific temperature for a set amount of time, to kill potentially harmful bacteria. This high heat process results in a substantial loss of nutrients, including its protein content. With that being said, there’s no need to be concerned about “losing” any potential nutrients when ceasing the consumption of cow’s milk. It wasn’t nutritious to start with.
Another process, homogenization, is a second great concern. If raw milk were left to stand, the natural fat globules would rise and create a layer of cream. Homogenization, however, involves the conversion of fat into smaller globules through the use of high pressure to prevent separation. This process not only changes the size of the fat globules but also rearranges the fat and protein molecules, which negatively alters how they act in the human body.
Which plant milks should I buy?
Some great milk alternatives include almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk.
The taste of almond milk isn’t too potent, which is great for someone new to plant-based milk. You can easily replace the dairy in your smoothies, cereal, and even coffee for some almond milk. Almond milk contains monounsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats) which help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) in the body. Almond milk has a balanced nutrient profile, containing fibre, vitamin E, and manganese, all necessary for better health.
Oat milk is especially great for someone with many allergens. It’s free from nuts, soy, and of course, lactose. Because of its mild and creamy flavour, it’s great to drink on its own or to add to a cup of coffee or tea. Oat milk is the richest in fibre compared to other plant-based milk, providing roughly 2-3 grams of fibre per serving. This is a great benefit as the standard North American diet often lacks fibre, a crucial nutrient for digestive health.
Coconut milk is much thicker than other plant milk, making it a great ingredient to thicken recipes. It’s commonly used in smoothie or oatmeal bowls, curries, and nice cream. Just like almond milk, it’s known to reduce the bad cholesterol in the body (LDL cholesterol) and raise the good (HDL cholesterol). It’s important to note that coconut milk is relatively higher in fats and carbohydrates compared to other plant milk. To avoid unpleasant bowel movements, it’s recommended to keep the consumption of coconut milk to a minimal amount.
Other great plant-based milks include:
- Rice milk
- Soy milk
- Cashew milk
- Hemp milk
Tip: when purchasing plant milk, it’s important to watch out for additives and thickening agents such as carrageenan. This is a known carcinogen that is often added to give plant milk a creamy texture. Also, plant milk can be slightly more expensive than dairy milk. Fortunately, they are extremely easy to make yourself in the comfort of your own home with minimal ingredients. On top of saving some money from making your own milk, you’re also decreasing your waste consumption- a necessary step for a cleaner planet.
Good news: at Change Market, you will never find dairy or other animal substances in our products. We carry great milk alternatives that are free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and additives. On top of our milk alternatives, we have plant-based creamers you can add to coffee, tea, smoothies, and food!
3. Instead of regular coffee…
Swap for an organic cup!
Once a coffee lover, always a coffee lover. Am I right? Coffee is easily the most popular drink worldwide, with roughly 2 billion cups consumed each day. The upsetting news about this magical cup of greatness is that coffee is one of the most heavily chemically treated crops. It’s soaked with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other agricultural chemicals.
What does this mean for us, the coffee drinkers? Because of daily consumption of chemical-induced coffee, we are more likely to experience:
- Blurred vision
- Abdominal pain
- Weakened immune system
- Blood and liver diseases
Long-term exposure to pesticides is furthermore linked to Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and decreased fertility. The concern isn’t only with the consumers- it’s also with the environment, the farmers, and those who live near non-organic coffee crops.
To put it simply, agricultural chemicals steep into our soil and water and contaminate our air. Our farmers and those who live near these crops are exposed daily to these harsh toxic components, contributing to diseases, illnesses, and conditions listed above.
No need to get in a fluster, there’s a solution: organic coffee.
Organic products meet strict national standards and, you can definitely count on them. There are no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals used during the production of organic coffee. In fact, the rules include that the farm must not have used any chemicals during their farming practices for a minimum of three years. This creates peace of mind for consumers that certified organic is most definitely, a much healthier choice.
Good news: at Change Market, we love all things nutritious, clean, and eco-friendly. We have partnered up with some great Certified Organic coffee companies. Make sure you browse around our website as there are different options to choose from, including medium or dark roast coffee, decaf, espresso, and cold brews.
4. Instead of white sugar…
Opt-in for maple or coconut sugar!
It’s no secret that some sugars are bad for your health. All forms of sugar are simple carbohydrates that the body quickly turns into glucose to use for energy or to store in fatty areas. It’s not necessarily sugar itself that is bad for your body- it’s the type of sugar and the amount you’re consuming.
What’s the difference between natural and refined sugars?
Natural sugars are found in fruit (fructose), honey, maple syrup, and more. These are pure sugars that also provide the body with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Refined sugars come from sugar canes or sugar beets. The sugar from these foods is extracted, turned into syrup, then processed into sugar crystals. It is then packaged and sold in supermarkets, commonly under the name “table sugar”. This white sugar is then used in an abundance of foods to add flavour or to act as a preservative.
Refined sugars are known to be “empty calories” because they don’t provide nutrients to the body- no vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants. The danger with such sugars is that it’s found in so many foods, therefore, we end up unknowingly eating too much of it.
Tip: common names for refined sugars are glucose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Watch out for these on ingredient lists.
Why is too much sugar harmful?
When you give too much sugar to your body, it must be stored somewhere. It takes its place in fat cells and can accumulate in the liver, leading to fatty liver disease. Other health concerns include obesity, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, diabetes, and cancer.
But, what about yummy pastries? What about some sweetness in a morning cup of coffee? This is where maple sugar and coconut sugar come in to save the day.
Why are maple and coconut sugar healthier?
Both maple and coconut sugar are pure, unrefined, and contain no allergens, additives, nor preservatives. That’s not even the best news- they make a great and healthy alternative to table sugar as both contain many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s important to note that although these types of sugars are healthier, they should not be overly consumed.
Good news: our mission at Change Market is to provide our community with the best possible foods. This means no artificial or refined sugars in any of our products. We specifically love Cosman & Webb Maple Sugar and Ecoideas Coconut Sugar as they are both organic, and pure!
5. Instead of white pasta…
Go for whole-grain or bean pasta!
Pasta is one of the foods people cut out of their diet when wanting to be healthier or wanting to lose weight. What if I told you that you can keep eating that delicious, creamy and savoury comfort food, without feeling guilty or adding undesired weight? Because you can.
Why shouldn’t I eat white pasta?
Just like white bread, white pasta goes through a milling process where the two most nutritious parts of the wheat (the bran and the germ) are completely stripped, leaving only the endosperm to be milled into flour. This results in very little nutritional value and a simple carbohydrate.
The body takes this simple carbohydrate, turns it into sugar (glucose), and causes a spike in blood sugar levels. When this occurs too frequently due to an over-consumption of refined carbohydrates (such as white bread or white pasta), the body reacts in weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and lowered energy.
What makes unrefined or bean pasta healthier?
Unrefined pasta does not go through a milling process, therefore, contains each part of the wheat or grain. This is what makes whole-grain or bean pasta naturally nutritious with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Depending on the source of the pasta (e.g., soybean, chickpea, lentil, etc.), it may also be filled with protein. Many individuals, especially those following a certain diet, choose these types of pasta because most are gluten-free, have a low-glycemic index, are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are filled with fibre- much better than white pasta, which provides little to zero nutrition and contributes to negative health effects.
Some great white pasta alternatives are:
- Chickpea or lentil pasta
- Sourdough pasta
- Soybean pasta
- Quinoa pasta
- Rice pasta
At Change Market, we love all things nutritious and delicious, therefore, have partnered up with three amazing pasta companies that bring so much health to your plate.
Here’s a breakdown:
Chickapea offers a variety of chickpea pasta types such as penne, spirals, or elbow. Their only ingredients are organic chickpea and lentil flour. One serving is packed with 23 grams of protein, iron, B-vitamins, and 11 grams of fibre (your body loves fibre!)
Sourdough pasta goes through natural fermentation processes. This begins the breakdown of gluten, making it easier for individuals with gluten sensitivities to digest. Sourdough fermentation reduces the phytate content of bread by 25-50%, which helps increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals. Kaslo Sourdough contains zero additives, sweeteners, or preservatives, which is why we love them! There are different options to choose from, including Classic Spaghetti, Whole Wheat Radiatori, Classic Rotini, and Quinoa Rotini.
Tastell’s soybean pasta is especially great for those on a plant-based diet as they offer over 30 grams of gluten-free vegan protein per 85 grams of serving. Soybean pasta contains fewer carbohydrates than white pasta, and much more protein and fibre. It’s known for its high iron and calcium content, necessary for good health.
Tip: pair your pasta with one of our delicious, plant-based pasta sauces- either a creamy No-Dairy Alfredo Sauce or a saucy No-Dairy Vodka Pasta Sauce. The best news is that both of these pasta sauces are gluten-free, paleo and keto-friendly, and vegan!
Will these swaps actually create better health?
Industrialization has caused many foods to be refined and processed, simply to narrow the range of tasks and roles involved in food production. The majority of our foods are steeped in agricultural chemicals to avoid being damaged by insects. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are another concern in today’s world of food.
With a quickly growing worldwide population, scientists and farmers put advanced technology to use to assist in feeding a broader range of populations on a quick basis. This may sound great, but for our health, it isn’t. This means that our food is refined and less nutritious, as well as drenched in chemicals that our bodies cannot handle.
This is where diseases, illnesses, and conditions come in. Certain foods can cause bloating, nausea, flatulence, acne, and many other health concerns. Other foods can contribute to diseases and illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These symptoms and conditions are not normal- it’s the body’s way of communicating that something is terribly wrong.
It’s important to listen to our bodies. The human body is very complex, but also perfectly made with systems that work hard together to keep us alive and well. When we feed our body with unhealthy and harmful foods, it will scream at you in signs and symptoms (e.g., bloating, acne, eczema, diabetes, cancer, etc.)
On the other hand, when you go back to your roots and provide your body with nutritious and whole foods, you will likely feel and look your best. You’ll probably notice mental clarity, a boost of energy, regular sleep patterns, smooth and clear skin, strong nails and healthy hair, and more.
Eating healthy and balanced foods isn’t only about looking good and feeling your best- it’s also about longevity and the quality of your life.
Side note: is there a food you currently love, but you know isn’t the best for your health? Connect with us on Instagram (@changemarket) and browse our website. You’ll be surprised by how many more alterations you can make, beyond the ones listed in this article!
Whole wheat vs. whole grain
Is oat milk good for you?
Natural and added sugars: two sides of the same coin by Mary E. Gearing
How sugar converts to fat
Industrialization of agriculture
The terrible truth about white bread
How well do plant-based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk? By Sai Kranthi Vanga and Vijaya Raghavan
Recent advances in the use of sourdough biotechnology in pasta making by Macro Montemurro, et al.
Relationship between added sugars consumption and chronic disease risk factors: current understanding by James M. Ripp, et al.
A guide to calcium-rich foods
Product overview: organic soybean spaghetti
What does certified organic mean?
Organic Facts – 4 impressive benefits of maple syrup by Meenakshi Nagdeve
Peta – 10 reasons to switch to coconut sugar by Michael Hammers
Health concerns about dairy and the dangers of dairy with a plant-based diet
The sourdough microflora: biodiversity and metabolic interactions by Luc De Vuyst
Agricultural pesticides and human health