Salt. Oil. Sugar.
The three additives in many processed foods and that we use in our cooking everyday without even thinking about the effects to our bodies.
Not all salt is made the same, same goes for oil and sugar as well. When it’s found naturally in whole foods, that’s when our bodies are able to process and absorb the nutrients best. When it’s added into foods or meals, that’s when our bodies have a hard time processing them, leading to digestive issues and health problems.
Many people are talking about gut health in the wellness world right now and it’s so important to our overall health. Avoiding these three additives is another way to help your gut heal from all the damage done by animal products and processed foods.
I was originally turned on to the SOS-free way of life by Jordan Younger from The Balanced Blonde & the Soul on Fire podcast. She is living with lyme disease and has found a super clean way of eating that her body is able to thrive! That is with an SOS-free vegan diet (and so much more holistic therapy).
Read more about her story on her blog or listen to her story on her podcast.
What can living SOS-free do for you?
For adequate nutrition, there’s no need to add a bunch of salt to our food, cool with oil, or bake sugary treats. We can get everything we need from the food that’s found in nature.
The Human Design Diet (read full post here)supports the SOS-free way of life! Eat what is most abundant in nature and eat less of what is less abundant in nature.
Nutritionally speaking, we do not need to add salt, oil, and sugar to our food; we can get everything we need simply from eating a whole-foods plant-based (WFPB) diet!
We Americans love our table salt – also known as “sodium chloride” – which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. But, mostly we get our salt from all the packaged foods we eat: canned foods, soy sauce, ketchup, broths, breads, meats, cheese, milk, yogurt, cookies, chips, crackers, cereals, and fast foods. Restaurant food is also very high in salt. Salt is super addictive so the more salt, oil, and sugar the restaurants add, the more we come back.
According to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of humans exceed recommendations for sodium. The report also notes that excess sodium intake increases people’s risk of a stroke and/or coronary heart disease.
So how much sodium is too much? The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend a tolerable upper limit of 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt) or less per day. No more than 1,500 mg sodium (a little over a half teaspoon) has been recommended for older people (over 51), African Americans, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. A recommended safe minimum of sodium is set at 500 mg per day.
If you consume a balanced plant-based diet, you don’t need to worry about getting enough sodium because even without adding salt to your food, you will still get plenty of it because sodium occurs naturally in plants. As long as you consume a variety of plant-based foods and adequate daily calories, you will get all the minerals necessary for good health.
There are many reasons to avoid adding oil to food, but the most obvious is that oil is 100% fat. This makes it the most calorie-dense “food” ever! One tablespoon of oil contains about 120 calories – empty calories. If you’re trying to lose weight and be kind to your blood vessels, removing oil from your diet is a simple way to cut back on empty fat calories.
Here’s a fun fact: as oil enters our bloodstream, our blood vessels come in contact with it and over time become damaged. Our circulation slows, our blood pressure rises, oil builds up in our arteries, and forms potentially dangerous plaques that can lead to heart disease.
The bottom line is that the oils we consume most (yes, even coconut, olive and flax) do not promote health. Any remaining nutritional value in oil will always be outweighed by its negative aspects. Basically, oil is all con (100% fat, concentrated calories) and no pro (nutrients, fiber, water).
We do need to consume a small percentage of fat as part of a healthy diet, but the body responds better to the naturally occurring fats found in plant foods, as Mother Nature packaged them. Try eating more avocados, nut butters, and full fat coconut milk!
It may be hard to imagine going without oil when cooking vegetables, making salad dressings, and baking, but it is not as hard as you think. Pro tip: start using water or veggie broth when your cook your veggies!
After just a few weeks without consuming oils, you may not even notice but your body will become cleaner and your blood will begin to flow more efficiently without all the oil clogging the pipes!
Sugar exists naturally in all plant foods to some degree, and from these plants refined sugars are made. Americans are getting wayyyy too much sugar in their diet.
Refined sugar is an empty-calorie food, meaning it has little to no nutrients. And much like the concentrated nature of salt and oil, refined sugar is very easy to overconsume, often leading to weight gain, a factor for disease.
We find the highest amounts of sugar in packaged foods, such as sodas, sports drinks, juice drinks, snack foods, cookies, candy, jams, sauces, dressings, breakfast cereals, and canned foods.
The sugars in bananas and apples, on the other hand, are packaged exactly as nature intended, along with all of their accompanying nutrients, fiber, and water! This ensures that the sugars will gradually absorb into the bloodstream so that we will not be immediately hungry for more and we won’t overeat.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, look to fruit to satisfy your craving. If this sounds terribly boring, grow up… Just kidding! Your taste buds will adapt, and soon you will delight in a piece of fruit instead of a cookie for a snack, or add a little dash of pure maple syrup over your morning oatmeal instead of white or brown sugar!
Sugar alternatives found in nature: pure maple syrup, honey (not vegan), agave nectar, dates, over ripe bananas, or apple sauce!
The human body does not require any added salt, oil, or sugar for its health; therefore we can get by without consuming it at all!
Tips to consume less SOS in your diet:
- eat out less often
- choose restaurants where you can order dishes that contain no SOS or very little
- strive to buy packaged foods that do not contain salt, oil, or sugar in the ingredient list
- do not add SOS on food or during preparation
- don’t keep salt, oil, or sugar in your kitchen
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