Processed or packaged foods, whether canned or frozen, have become a regular and all-too-convenient part of our diet. Though many people opt for processed foods mainly because they are convenient and involve minimum preparation time, the fact is that they are extremely unhealthy and excessive use can cause harm to your body. Such foods contain high amounts of preservatives, man-made colourings and other added chemicals. Processed foods tend to be higher in fat, salt and sugar and lack nutrients and fiber.
Here’s why you should avoid consuming processed foods…
The ‘hyper rewarding’ nature of processed foods can have serious consequences. Processed items are loaded with additives and these foods are no less than an addiction, which makes your consumption level higher as compared to your regular home-cooked meals. Because packaged foods are altered to be addictive, some people can completely lose control over their consumption. This is why many struggle to avoid eating processed foods.
Since processed foods – including chips, biscuits, breakfast cereals, sausages and ‘convenience foods’ such as microwave meals - are stripped of fibers and nutrients, we often don’t feel full and tend to overeat; resulting in excessive weight gain.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the sharp rise in obesity (and chronic disease) seen around the world is due to processed foods. A research shows that children who ate processed fast foods in a restaurant consumed 126 more calories than on days they did not. Over the course of a year, this could translate into 13 pounds of weight gain just from fast food.
May raise the risk of cancer
Recent studies suggest that individuals who eat more ultra-processed foods - containing artificial colours and flavours, additives, and emulsifiers - have higher odds of developing cancer than their counterparts who eat less processed foods. A research shows that every 10 per cent increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with a 12 per cent higher risk for cancer in general and an 11 per cent increased risk for breast cancer.
Disrupts your sleep
If you consume processed foods closer to your bedtime, they can hamper your sleep and you will find yourself tossing and turning as your body struggles to deal with the sudden spike in blood sugar produced from digesting high levels of refined carbohydrates. In order to keep your insulin levels stable and get a good night’s sleep, you should try to stay away from packaged food items and stick to organic meals and snacks.
Diabetes and high blood pressure
Over the years, the extent of processing has increased so much that prepared breakfast cereals – even without added sugar – act exactly like sugar itself. As far as our hormones and metabolism are concerned, there is no difference between a bowl of unsweetened corn flakes and a bowl of table sugar. Starch is 100 per cent glucose [table sugar is half glucose, half fructose] and our bodies can digest it into sugar instantly. Also processed foods contain added salt to enhance the taste and increase shelf life of the products. Consuming them can push your sodium (salt) intake past the recommended 2300 mg daily limit and can result in elevating your risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
One of the leading causes of chronic illness today is inflammation. And studies continue to show that refined sugars, processed flours, vegetable oils, and many other ingredients commonly found in processed foods are largely responsible for this inflammation epidemic. So the next time your body craves a candy bar or a box of cheese crackers, consider the fact that heart disease, dementia, neurological problems, respiratory failure, and cancer have all been linked to the chronic inflammation caused by the intake of processed foods.
Destroys your digestion system
Do you have digestion troubles? Processed foods might be the cause. The digestive process starts with what you put into your mouth. The artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and sweeteners found within processed foods all lead to a toxic digestive system.