Processed foods are basically foods that have been altered in one way from the natural state. This includes altering food by adding chemicals and additives such as colors, preservatives, flavors and flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, stabilizers among many others.
Some common processed foods include:
- Canned foods.
- Boxed foods such as pasta and cereal.
- White wheat flour.
- Refined sugars such as maple syrup, cane juice, corn sugar, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, beet sugar among others.
- Refined vegetable oils.
- Soy products such as soy cheese and soy milk.
- Junk food such as cookies and cakes that are packaged, crackers, chips, cheese food among others.
- Fast food.
- Powdered milk and eggs.
- Processed meat products such as ham, salami, bacon, bologna, and sausages.
Loss of nutrients
One of the major downsides of processed foods is that the processing leads to essential nutrients, minerals and fibers being destroyed. The loss of these nutrients contributes to blood sugar spikes because fibers and vitamins such as biotin that help to convert sugar into glucose have been removed.
Consuming processed foods for long periods can, therefore, lead to the deprivation of essential nutrients required by the body to function optimally thus leading to a decline in overall health.
High levels of sugars
The sugar that is found in processed foods is not natural sugar but is added sugar that is depleted of nutrients but containing large amounts of energy.
These increased sugars in the body interfere with proper metabolism and cause harmful health conditions such as increased cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and high levels of fat accumulation.
The long-term effect as a result of over-consumption of these sugars usually leads to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Processed foods have also been specially designed to be highly desirable and tastefully rewarding. Foods that typically are sweet, fatty and salty have been processed in such a way that they taste amazing and the brain has come to associate pleasure and satisfaction with consuming processed foods. This then has the effect of triggering the brain to overeat more than we need to which compromises our health.
Processed foods are typically devoid of essential nutrients, vitamins, and fibers that are important for healthy digestion. Processed foods such as white pasta, white bread, and white rice have had most of the fiber element removed which can then lead to constipation.
A healthy digestion requires a diet that is rich in fiber which in addition to being found in vegetables and greens, is also found in whole wheat grains and starches.
Increase in weight
Consuming processed foods is linked to health conditions such as obesity and being overweight due to the high levels of sugar and fats contained in refined foods. Diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are more beneficial to the body because of their nutrients.
Refined foods coupled with a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity issues which increase the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart attack and strokes and arthritis.
Stay aware of the effects of processed foods, and start making a conscious decision to consume more whole foods in your diet- your body will thank you.