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Why Is Processed Food Harmful?

Why Is Processed Food Harmful?

Our overall health can be directly related to our diet. It’s because of this that we should do everything in our power to avoid processed food. The negative health effects of processed foods can become dangerous later in life since processed foods have minimal nutrients and are basically not real or natural food. They should be avoided at all costs for a number of reasons. We here at HPFY can shed some light on why processed foods can be so harmful.

Processed Food

Negatives of Processed Food

Yes, processed foods (such as fast food) can be inexpensive and convenient, but this comes at a cost. That cost is adverse and even harmful effects on our bodies. Whether it’s stopping for a burger or popping a frozen pizza in the microwave, there are a whole host of reasons why processed foods are bad for us. Some of these reasons include:

  • Hidden sugars
  • High amounts of trans fats
  • Low fiber
  • High sodium content

A great rule of thumb is if you read the ingredients of what is in your food and you require a PhD in chemistry to identify the ingredients, then it’s a good idea to try to avoid this processed food item.

Effects of This “Food”

Even though the temptation or convenience of processed foods can be overwhelming, understanding how this type of food can negatively affect our bodies and health is important. It is this education that can lead us to better choices in our diets. Yes, almost all food is processed to some level, but it is the chemically processed foods that are far more dangerous. These foods have negative effects on our bodies that can include:

  1. Diabetes/Insulin Resistance: These food types are often high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Not only does this provide empty calories with no other nutritional value, but can lead to the development of type II diabetes and obesity.
  2. Dangerous Artificial Ingredients: While food manufacturers claim that these artificial ingredients are safe, some research has shown they can pose serious health problems. Some artificial colors can be to link to cancer and hyperactivity, while other artificial ingredients such as diacetyl (an artificial flavoring added to popcorn) can harm our brains and may trigger Alzheimer’s.
  3. Carbohydrates= Sugars: Yes, carbohydrates are a source of energy for our bodies. But simple or refined carbohydrates are broken down quickly and turned into sugar when consumed. This can lead to increased levels of leptin and insulin levels. This often can lead to unwanted weight gain, reduced insulin resistance, and diabetes. We all know how bad diabetes is for us!!
  4. Poor Nutrient Levels: Unlike whole (unprocessed) foods, processed foods are often very low in essential vitamins and nutrients. During the processing of these foods, the nutrients that are lost are often artificially added. This unnatural addition of vitamins and minerals is, unfortunately, unhealthy. Also, there are other trace nutrients and antioxidants that are often lost in the processing of these foods and aren’t replaced. This is where more natural foods are beneficial.
  5. Encouragement of Over Eating: Processed food producers have taken advantage of our bodies design to regulate the need for energy and eating by designing food that encourages overeating. By triggering our brains, we are almost tricked into eating more through the process of hyper-rewarding. This can be achieved with salt, fat, and sugar which are all major components of processed foods.
  6. Low Fiber/High Trans Fats: Fiber (especially soluble and fermentable) has a nutritional benefit and high trans fats are just the opposite. Fiber can act as a probiotic as well as slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates and is often lost in the processing of foods. High levels of trans fats are linked to excessive amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids which can cause oxidation and inflammation in the body.
  7. Food Addiction: Processed foods can trigger a massive release of dopamine, therefore almost hijacking our brain chemistry. Many studies have shown that highly processed foods activate the same areas of our brain as drugs associated with addiction, such as cocaine. This can lead to food addiction and a whole host of health woes like overeating and obesity.

 

We all know about the convenience of processed foods. They can be prepared quickly and often very cheaply, but that convenience comes at a great cost. We should try to avoid these foods at all costs and eat foods that are minimally processed. You can consult your physician or a certified nutritionist to help with creating a diet that is rich in natural foods and tries to eliminate as much processed food as possible. Eat well, stay active, and avoid potential health risks!!

 

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