People often say that “you are what you eat” and although that saying should not be taken 100% literally, when you scratch beneath the surface just a little, you actually realise that it is far more relevant than people realise. For example: If you see individuals who drink plenty of fresh water each day, get plenty of exercise, and eat fresh, healthy, and, natural foods packed full of natural goodness, more often than not they’ll be bursting with energy, will have great looking skin, will be sleeping well each night, will rarely get sick, will be in great shape, and will just be healthier and happier. Now, on the opposite side of the spectrum, when you see people that don’t take care of their bodies, and choose to spend much of their time consuming alcohol, sugar, and unhealthy processed junk foods, you’ll see that they’re often overweight, have bad skin, get sick a lot, struggle to get a good night’s sleep, and are just generally unmotivated, tired, lethargic, and often times they’ll even be depressed. Yes, when it comes to health epidemics, processed foods should ideally be avoided at all costs, and rightfully so. Here’s a look at 5 of the main dangers of processed foods.
They’re rich in unhealthy fats
Now, before reading any further, it’s worth noting that not all fats are bad, and in fact, healthy fats, including polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats, are incredibly healthy and are actually essential for optimal health. Even some natural saturated fats can be healthy in the right dosages. When it comes to unhealthy fats however, it is trans fats which are notoriously unhealthy and are sadly responsible for countless deaths of individuals from all over the world. Trans fats are unhealthy fats which increase LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol that leaves fatty deposits and build ups inside your arteries. These trans fats cause: hypertension, blocked arteries, organ failure, unstable blood glucose levels, cardiovascular disease, stroke, blood clots, heart attacks, visceral belly fat accumulations, weight gain, and much more besides. Oh, and guess what processed foods are pumped full of? Yep, trans fats. The fats are added to many baked goods you see on snack food aisles in the supermarkets, and are notoriously bad for us.
They’re full of artificial chemical ingredients
Another reason why processed foods are considered very bad for us is the fact that they’re full of artificial chemical ingredients, which are designed to enhance the flavour, the colour, and the shelf life of these products. When you eat whole foods, such as wild salmon, the only ingredient you will be consuming will be the salmon, and any vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats found in the salmon, all of which occur naturally. If you were to walk down the snack food aisle however, and grab a cookie or a cake bar perhaps, if you read the list of ingredients in that particular processed item, there would be dozens upon dozens, many of which you probably couldn’t pronounce, and may not have heard of before. Many of these chemicals can lead to all sorts of health complications such as: food allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, diabetes, hyperactivity, heart problems, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and much more besides.
They’re full of sugar
Another of the downsides associated with processed junk foods is the fact that the foods are pumped full of sugar and chemical sweeteners, which are designed to enhance the taste of the product. The problem is the fact that they contain far, far too much sugar, which has been linked to an increase in the rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, hyperactivity, dementia, liver problems, and heart disease, to name but a few. Rather than stating exactly how much “sugar” they put into their processed goods however, many food manufacturers won’t actually use the word ‘sugar’ at all, and will instead use words such as ‘fructose’ ‘dextrose’ ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup’ or ‘glucose’. All of these ingredients are indeed forms of sugar, so don’t let the food giants fool you into thinking otherwise. Perhaps one of the most common side effects associated with the over consumption of sugar however, is weight gain. When we consume sugar, our livers metabolize it and help convert it into energy. The problem however, is that the liver can only work so hard, so when we do consume too much, it becomes overloaded and overworked, and simply can’t metabolize it all. What it then does instead, is take the sugar, and store it as body fat instead.
They contain virtually no healthy nutrition
One of the main benefits associated with whole foods, is the fact that they’re rich in natural goodness including: Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. Processed foods however, contain very little natural goodness at all, which means that they lack in healthy ingredients required for optimal health and well-being. The problem with processed goods, is the fact that, much of the time, any nutrients which may have originally been present in the food, before it was processed and combined with so much junk, will now have been removed and replaced with synthetic ingredients instead. As an example, natural wheat is considered healthy, as it is rich in B vitamins, fibre, and many different minerals. Processed wheat however, loses close to 90% of its manganese content, more than 70% of its zinc content, more than 75% of its iron content, and much, much more besides. Put simply, by processing a food which was once considered healthy, you lose many of the ingredients that made the food healthy in the first place.
They’re bad for your mental health
As mentioned, processed foods are pumped full of artificial chemicals that are notoriously bad for you, especially when it comes to mental health. Many of the “ingredients” found in processed foods affect the brain negatively, leading to conditions including: Headaches, depression, stress, anxiety, and even dementia. In children, it is processed foods that are thought to be one of the major contributing factors to ADHD, which is sadly becoming a pretty worrying epidemic.