What Is Actually Processed Food?
Some of us will agree that processed foods are deliciously addictive. It’s not a surprise, and it’s a dietary equivalent to heroin. They’ve been made to activate all of our brain’s pleasure receptors for sweet, salty, savory, sour, bitter, and fat flavors in precisely the right proportions to make them addictive.
Furthermore, the presence of processed foods continues to perplex many people. What is processed food? What does it do to your body? As we progress through this article, let’s find out the answers to these questions.
What is Processed Food?
The word “processed food” can be misleading. Foods that have been chemically processed, such as ground beef, heated vegetables, or pasteurized, are not inherently unhealthy. If no additives or ingredients are used during the processing, the food’s healthiness is not compromised.
There is, however, a distinction between mechanical and chemical manufacturing. Chemically processed foods are mostly made up of refined ingredients and artificial ingredients with no nutritional value. Also, chemical flavoring agents, colors, and sweeteners are commonly used.
Risks of Processed Foods in our Health
Sugar is well known for contributing to obesity, which can contribute to several chronic diseases. Sugar is often added to highly processed foods, so don’t be fooled if the word sugar doesn’t appear on the packaging.
Sugar, including hidden or concealed variants, is known as “empty calories” since it adds little nutritional value other than carbohydrates and calories and can even stimulate the body to eat even more calories.
Furthermore, up to 50 different phrases describe the different types of sugar added to processed foods. Corn syrup, fructose, glucose, sucrose, malt or maltose, honey, molasses, or nectar are the most popular terms.
As if obesity wasn’t bad enough, processed food intake has also been related to metabolic syndrome, a set of risk factors that can contribute to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is caused by an excess of sugars found in highly processed foods. Sugars are a form of carbohydrate that the body uses to generate energy. When these forms of carbohydrates are eaten in abundance, the sugars must be retained in the body—usually as fat—resulting in a variety of metabolic problems.
In addition to that, frequent increases in blood glucose levels that need insulin to regulate are examples of these forms of metabolic events. It can lead to insulin resistance and an increase in triglyceride levels in the blood over time. These metabolic disturbances will increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes in the long run.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disorder, also known as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, can be exacerbated by processed foods. Emulsifiers, a form of chemical additive used to prolong shelf life and help foods maintain their shape or texture, are the culprit this time.
Foods like bread, peanut butter, cake mixes, salad dressings, sauces, yogurt, pudding, powdered cheese, ice cream, and cookies are just a few of the processed foods that contain them.
It may surprise you to learn that the emulsifiers used in processed foods are similar to those used in soaps and detergents in your home. The primary purpose is to keep water and oil combined, whether it’s to eliminate grime and stains or to keep food substances that would usually separate together.
When the body’s immune system starts to go wrong and assaults its cells, autoimmune diseases grow.
Type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are only a few of the more common autoimmune diseases. The immune system misinterprets healthy cells as unhealthy in these diseases, resulting in an assault on the body it is supposed to defend.
Furthermore, 70 percent of your immune system is believed to be found in your stomach. When you consider all of the environmental toxins that move through your digestive tract from beginning to end, this is not shocking. Epithelial cells, a type of cell that lines the inside of your intestine, serve as a protective membrane.
Processed foods have also been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Processed foods, such as luncheon meat, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, beef jerky, and any other meat product that has been chemically treated to remain preserved are the culprit this time. Consumption of red meat, such as beef or pork, also poses a risk.
It has been discovered that eating as little as 50 grams of processed or red meat a day, which is approximately the equivalent of a small hot dog or two slices of bacon, will increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
Furthermore, the risk is thought to stem from either the chemicals used to preserve these meats or the cooking process used to protect them, all of which are linked to carcinogenic compounds.
Anxiety and Depression
If you’re still not sure that eating processed foods is a bad idea, here’s another reason to think about it. Processed-food diets have also been related to higher rates of anxiety and depression. One hypothesis is that added sugars can cause havoc in your gut, where most serotonin is produced.
Serotonin is a mood stabilizer, and consuming a diet rich in chemical additives in processed foods may hinder the body’s ability to maintain healthy serotonin levels.
Furthermore, bear in mind that all of those added sugars caused a spike in blood glucose and increased insulin production, which sets in motion a metabolic roller coaster that can lead to hyperactivity, followed by lethargy. Furthermore, since those added sugars can become highly addictive, your body will continue to crave more, continuing the cycle.
Food can be a medication or a poison. Overall, eating a diet high in processed foods means eating less real food, resulting in a deficiency in other vitamins and minerals that are required to sustain your mood, mental health, and overall wellbeing.
While it is nearly impossible to remove processed foods from our daily diets entirely, it is essential to track how much you consume. This knowledge will aid in developing a healthy lifestyle and the treatment of a variety of medical conditions.