6 Ways Processed Foods Hurt Your Body
Processed foods have their allure. They are quite cheap, quick to prepare and very convenient, but processed foods are not good for our human bodies. They have more fat, salt, sugar and calories than regular whole foods. Extremely processed foods have been treated with preservatives and additives to extend their lifespan. The reason why it all sounds unhealthy for the body is because it is. Here are 6 ways processed foods hurt your body.
Excess Refined Carbohydrates
Different people have different opinions about the place of carbohydrates in the human diet. Some are of the opinion that carbs should be avoided at all cost while others believe much of our energy source should be from carbs. One fact that is always agreed on is that carbohydrates from processed foods are not nearly as healthy as those from whole foods.
The big problem with the refined carbs found in processed foods is those simple carbohydrates are easily broken down and go quickly into the digestive tract to cause rapid spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar levels drop, a sugar craving can replace it and eventually cause the ‘blood sugar roller coaster’ which people on a high-carb diet experience. Many chronic sicknesses and adverse effects are associated with high consumption of processed foods. Labels like ‘whole grains’ seen on processed foods, especially healthy cereals, are misleading because those so-called whole grains are so processed that they become as harmful to the body as processed foods. Don’t only get carbs from junk food, incorporate them from single ingredient and whole foods too.
Processed Foods Lead to Over-Consumption
The human nature is naturally attracted to eating good food. Through evolution, our taste buds aid us in navigating through the natural food found in the environment. Our current appetites yearn for what is salty, sweet and fatty because we know those foods have the nutrients we need to survive and energy. Any food manufacturer that wants to make products the public will buy needs to consider making their products taste good. Competition is extremely high in the market today. Food manufacturers are in extreme contest between themselves, and so many resources are poured into making highly desirable foods. Some processed foods are specifically engineered to be highly rewarding to the brain in a way that surpasses any natural competitor.
Our bodies are complicated machines with systems to regulate the energy balance (i.e. the ratio of energy burned compared to the amount of food eaten). Until recently, this system has worked to keep humans at a healthy weight. Because of how rewarding these processed foods are designed to be, the inherent defense mechanism may be bypassed, and we will start eating more food than we actually need. This will increase in time and will begin to stand as one of the ways processed foods hurt your body because the inborn brakes against over-consumption are overridden.
Low In Nutrients
Compared to unprocessed and whole foods, processed foods usually have very low essential nutrient content. Real food contains much more nutrients than the standard vitamins and minerals that we know; it is not a good idea to replace them with processed foods which have little or nothing to offer. Until the day a chemical mixture is produced that can effectively replace essential nutrients, processed foods can only be harmful to the body if it is used to replace whole foods.
Affects Our Energy and Digestion
Food manufacturers aim to make easily consumed food with a long shelf life and close consistency. Sometimes it feels like processed foods melt in the mouth because of how easy they are to bite, chew and swallow. Since they are easier to consume and digest, we can eat more of them in a shorter time than healthy processed foods. As we consume more in less time using lesser energy, more of the bad parts of these processed foods have more effect on our bodies.
Loaded in High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sugar
Processed foods are usually packed full with high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Everyone knows that excess sugar consumption is harmful to the body. Sugar contains no essential nutrients to the body and yet contains so many calories, that is why it is called ‘empty calories.’ The harmful effects don’t stop at useless calories; sugar has more destructive effects than that. Some other problems include high triglycerides, insulin resistance, increased accumulation of fat in the abdominal cavity and liver and increased amounts of harmful cholesterol.
It is not a surprise, but the leading killers in the world are all associated with excessive sugar consumption. Diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease all have associations with high sugar consumption. When people add so much sugar to their cereal or beverages like coffee, it is because they have gotten accustomed to that sweet taste from processed foods. Processed foods are usually the greatest sugar source in a diet. Excess sugar consumption can have really bad effects on metabolism.
Processed Foods are Low in Fiber
Fiber has so many benefits to the body including its function as a probiotic that feeds good intestinal bacteria, helps us feel fuller with fewer carbs and slows carbohydrate absorption. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps to deal with the common health problem of constipation. Processed foods have their natural fibers stripped in the manufacturing process.
Every time we replace whole foods like fruit, fish, vegetables, and meat, we are increasing the risk of suffering poor health and sicknesses. It is simple, processed foods are not the key to health, and real foods are.
*Disclaimer: This article provides general information about medicine, health, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this article, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.
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