Processed Food: How Bad is it for Your Health?
If you’ve begun a healthier journey in your life, you’ve undoubtedly heard about processed food and how bad it can be for your health, but the real question is, how bad is bad? There are plenty of fitness gurus in the world that tell all people to avoid any type of processed food, no matter how delicious it seems, but they could be wrong. As more research goes into what is deemed as “healthy” it appears that not all processed food is terrible for your system. However, there are significant health issues that you need to think about before you take your next bite of a hot dog or processed cheese.
The Negative Factors Revolving Around Processed Foods
Below are some of the most prevalent side effects you’re prone to experiencing if you consume a diet that is heavy in processed foods.
1. Insulin Resistances, Diabetes, and Obesity
If there’s one thing that can be said about processed foods, it’s that they all contain abnormally high levels of sugar and if they don’t have sugar, they certainly have fructose corn syrup. Although these ingredients can make sugary treats taste much better than a batch of raw vegetables, they are incredibly harmful for your health.
Not only is sugar filled with empty calories, which are calories that lack any type of nutritious elements, but they also completely destroy your metabolism, making it far more difficult for your body to process and digest food as well as burn calories.
High levels of sugar or corn syrup intake can also lead to signs of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as a resistance to insulin. When it comes to processed foods with high amounts of sugar, be sure to stay away from certain beverages such as soda and many types of juices.
2. Overwhelming Appetite
Have you ever noticed that after consuming a fast food meal or a package of treats you’re immediately hungry within an hour of eating? This is because processed foods are a strong factor that can influence your appetite. As an industry that is extremely competitive, food manufacturers are constantly coming up with new ways to sell more products and to make their products appear to be more rewarding, tasty, and “satisfying”. The only problem is, this also leads our bodies and brains to feel far less satisfied when we have a healthy plate of vegetables and proteins.
Commonly referred to as the “food reward hypothesis of obesity”, the more often you consume processed foods, the hungrier you’re going to be, forcing your body to consume more than you should in an average sitting. This can lead to an incredible amount of health defects, the most prevalent being obesity.
3. Consumption of Artificial Ingredients
If someone were to show you artificial ingredients on a plate, you’d certainly stay far away from them because really, who wants to eat preservatives, artificial flavors, and colorants? However, when they’re mixed into the ingredients of processed foods that we love, you don’t have the ability to keep an eye on what you’re really eating which is what is the most scary part of having a diet that consists of primarily processed foods. Even different types of snacks designed by weight loss companies contain an absurd amount of ingredients that will make you think you’re eating absolutely everything except for real food.
When you decide that it’s time to revolutionize your eating habits, there are four main things to look out for on the back of the ingredient labels:
Preservatives: Chemicals that are added into food in an effort to prevent them from rotting.
Colorants: Chemicals that are added to help a certain type of food maintain a color, for example, popsicles that are blue, pink, and orange.
Flavors: Harmful chemicals included in ingredients that help a food taste a certain way. Artificial flavors are one of the easiest ingredients to be fooled by which is why you should pay special attention to labels that say “Tastes like X!” or “X flavored X”.
Texturants: Although these aren’t as common as the 3 other artificial ingredients, texturants can be used to help a food achieve a particular texture.
4. Junk Food Addiction
You might think that the idea of being addicted to junk food sounds slightly exaggerative, but in all reality, you’re probably already addicted to some type of junk food. No matter if it’s a “healthier” popcorn snack or if you enjoy getting sugary beverages from your local café, junk food addictions are relatively everywhere.
It’s particularly obvious when you start to live a healthier lifestyle and your body goes through a detox where you feel like you’re being deprived of sugar, sluggish, and suffering from headaches on a regular basis until your body gets used to eating healthy again. There are plenty of studies that have researched the theories behind junk food addictions, many of which proving a correlation between mental rewards and sugar intake.
The main concern about a junk food addiction is that your body won’t be able to experience the benefits of healthy eating right away and it’s going to be incredibly difficult to take yourself off the things that you would normally eat, such as fast food burgers, fries, and desserts.
5. Increased Levels of Refined Carbohydrates
There’s always some type of controversy surrounding carbs, as plenty of people believe they should be avoided whereas others believe that we need carbs in order to get enough energy throughout the day. Regardless of what you believe, carbohydrates from whole foods are substantially healthier for you than refined carbs.
Refined carbohydrates, also referred to as simple carbs, are broken down far too quickly in your digestive system, which can lead to high levels of blood sugar and insulin. After a few hours, your body will be craving more carbs ones your blood sugar levels return to normal, and as you eat more to satisfy your cravings, you’ll experience another spike in your blood sugar.
How to Eat Healthier without Processed Foods
There are plenty of different ways that you can revolutionize your appetite in an effort to eat healthier and live a healthier lifestyle. All you have to do is be aware of the artificial ingredients commonly included in processed foods and begin to detoxify your body.