Processed Food (2) - 5 Reasons to Limit Your Use of Processed Foods
As I said in the introduction, not all processed foods are unhealthy. The term processing includes cutting, washing, storing in the freezer, and other such benign actions used in preparing food. I'm certainly not addressing those foods. Rather, I'm talking about foods barely recognizable as their former selves.
Here are 5 of the top reasons to limit your use of processed foods.
1. Loss of nutrients
Of course we know that our bodies need nutrients to be healthy. Therefore, it's only logical that we fill our plates with nutrient-packed food. But do we know how to do that? What about processed foods? How do we tell which ones are okay and which ones aren't?
First we have to figure out which ones are low in nutrients. You see, processing often strips the food of most of its natural nutrients. You may feel secure in the thought that the label on the product says it's fortified in one or more nutrients. Unfortunately, fortification returns only that one nutrient -- not the hundreds that were stripped.
Because foods rich in nutrients are essential to overall good health, important to growth and healing, and essential for a strong immune system; highly processed food should be kept to a minimum.
2. Low in fiber
Another reason to be careful with highly processed foods is that they are low or void of fiber. Fiber is essential for good health. It is helpful in avoiding obesity by filling you up and assisting digestion. It also helps you avoid constipation and other digestive problems, such as diverticulitis. And soluble fiber helps to lower bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Foods are highest in fiber in their natural state.
3. Salt, Fat, Sugar
One of the most important reasons to avoid many processed foods is that manufacturers add salt, fat, and sugar to foods during processing to make those foods hyper-palatable. Let's look at the health consequences of the addition of each of these ingredients that make our junk food extra tasty..
Approximately 32% of adult Americans have high blood pressure. Salt is a contributor to this percentage. Therefore, it is counterintuitive to add even more salt to our food, but during the processing of food more salt is added. This contributes to cardiovascular disease and increases the risk of strokes.
Foods that are high in fat contribute to obesity which leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Fats also contribute to a buildup of cholesterol.
Sugar consumption also leads to obesity, which leads to most of the diseases and conditions mentioned above. Are you sensing a pattern here? Many of our diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, could be eliminated in many cases if we merely maintained a healthy weight.
Another reason to be cautious with processed foods is that studies have shown that processing increases the addictive qualities of many of these highly altered foods; especially those containing extra quantities of salt, fat, and sugar. These increase our craving for foods that are loaded with them.
5. Engineered to ensure over-consumption
Scientists have, for quite some time, been successful at engineering foods to ensure our over-consumption. In addition to engineering foods to make them addictive, scientists tinker with food qualities (taste, texture, smell, feel, etc.) to make them go down so easily that we'll consume more at one sitting than we normally would want. In other words, they have figured out how to over-stuff us.
For these reasons, it's obvious that limiting or eliminating use of processed food is important. Now we just need to figure out the best way to go about doing that.
I'll be posting one Processed Food Series topic per week, so we can cover this subject completely. It is important to know the facts as we attempt to eat as healthy as we can.
Please feel free to comment with questions and/or experiences pertinent to Processed Food.
be kind - be the change
be the healthiest version of yourself