How Processed Food Affects Your Health

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Eating right helps you maintain a healthy weight and avoid numerous health problems. Not only does what you eat have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing, it is also the fuel, nutrition, and energy your mind and body needs to function at work, home, and play.

Processed food is food that has changed form and is therefore different from how it occurs in nature. Most people do not think of the food they eat to be harmful, but some of the ingredients commonly found in processed food are considered toxic. “Toxic”, meaning chemicals or highly processed ingredients that aren’t good for you and can cause harm to your health and body. Some of these include refined grains, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and all other chemicals hard to pronounce or recognise in the ingredients lists. Any food that has been canned, dehydrated, reduced in fat, or had chemicals added to it is a processed food, and these food make up over 80 per cent of the average USA diet. 

When food is processed, not only are valuable nutrients lost and fibres removed, but the textures, natural variation and flavours are also lost. After processing, what is left behind is a bland and tasteless “pseudo-food” that people would not dare eat. Due to this, food manufacturers add nutrients, flavour, colour and texture to processed food in order to make them more attractive, and this is why they become loaded with food additives. If you live in Europe, you may have more options than Americans, as you may be able to find some processed food that do not contain synthetic additives.

USA processed food are worse than those in other countries. Many of the food additives that are legal to use in US food are banned in other countries. More than 3,000 food additives such as preservatives, flavourings, colours and other ingredients are added to US food. This is one of the key reasons why you should avoid them.

The more processed food you eat, the less nourished you become. Not only are you depriving yourself of nutrients your body needs to function and perform but you are also clogging up your arteries, intestines and colon with junk. If you do not recognise the ingredients on the food label (for example, Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)), your body does not either. And it does not know how to digest and make use of them, trapping them inside your body. So, even if you go on a diet, your body is all clogged up, making it hard for you to lose weight. A build-up of chemicals in your body can lead to blood clots, heart attacks, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colon, thyroid, adrenal, kidney, bladder and brain cancers. 

If you like your milk, low fat milk or skim milk undergoes additional processing to remove the fat content. At the same time, the majority of its nutrition are removed, as well as vitamin D and omega 3 content. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to many health benefits, including improved heart and brain health and a lower risk of cancer. Many people avoid drinking whole milk because they assume the fat content and calories will cause them to gain weight and develop heart disease. Many studies have shown that consuming whole milk helps prevent weight gain and is associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. 

The easiest way to be healthy is to eat food that does not have a food label, like avocado or steak. If you do choose to eat processed food, reading the label and being aware of the ingredients is invaluable.

Swapping your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole food is a necessity if you value your health and wellbeing.

If you want to be healthy, a good way is to prepare high-quality meals for yourself and your family. If you rely on processed inexpensive food, you exchange convenience for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills.

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