The American diet is heavily dependent on processed, pre-packaged foods. Processed foods are those that have been heated or made in a laboratory and are not in their natural state. They are full of chemicals and additives. Most processed foods are over fried, high sugar, high salt, and artificial flavourings and colours. Processed foods are usually only healthy when eaten in moderation and accompanied by a healthy snack. If you are trying to lose weight or improve your health, you should avoid processed foods.
Many processed foods are full of chemical additives and preservatives. These include artificial flavours like garlic powder, dill weed, curry powder, monosodium glutamate (a flavour enhancer), aspartame (a form of saccharine) and aspartic acid, all of which can cause serious ailments like cancer and nerve damage. Sugar can also be found in many processed foods. In addition, many pre-packaged foods are laden with high sugar content, artificial flavouring, artificial sweeteners and artificial nutrient-rich emulsifiers (e.g. sodium benzoate). All these additives and preservatives increase the shelf life of pre-packaged foods and create health risks when consumed in excess.
Lack of the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre
Even though many processed foods contain high levels of salt, most people still eat plenty of natural vegetables and fruit. Pre-packaged processed foods that have been highly processed tend to lack the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre needed by the body and are therefore often low in nutrients. This is because the chemical and mechanical processes which make up the processing process remove the essential substances from the food. When they do not have the essential nutrients, they become difficult to digest and absorb and can cause nutritional deficiencies and related health issues.
One of the main health risks of processed food is associated with weight gain. The Swiss study shows that those who consume large amounts of processed meat are likely to gain weight quickly. Processed meat contains high levels of fat and sodium, both of which are considered ‘bad fats’. Sodium is linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. However, the salt intake per person is not associated with increases in either type of cholesterol.
Processed food is made by the removal of many of the essential ingredients that are found in real food. It may have had the desired effect on animal feed consumption previously, but when the product is then processed, these ingredients are lost along the way. The result is a product that is not only low in nutrients but also lacking in most of the beneficial ingredients found in real food. It is important to remember that whole food such as fresh produce, nuts, seeds and fish contain a wide range of nutrients and can help to maintain a healthy balance.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Studies show that people who consume highly processed foods are more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. These are conditions that can result in digestive disorders and other health issues over time. Highly processed food is known to increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease since it forces the body to compensate for the loss of nutrients and force it to produce more inflammation. A diet that is low in nutritious whole foods can help to prevent and reduce the risks of contracting inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive disorders.
To sum up
Some of the most common types of food processing include bleaching, deodorizing, flavouring, juicing, microwave cooking, and ultra-processed. All of these processes have health risks and should be avoided, whether they are part of a larger set of overall decisions or are designed to sell more products. The health of our bodies depends on an overall effort to make healthy choices and avoid things that may be damaging to our health. A balanced approach to making choices can help us to achieve better health.