The post is from VeryWell.com and discusses a disturbing trend.
Recently, I was meeting a friend at a park over lunch, and I noticed a really disturbing trend. Almost everyone there was opening a package or box for their lunch.
As you are probably aware, multiple concerns have been raised about processed foods, including the abundance of processed foods and the dangers they pose. In fact, in a recent study, more than 60 percent of the food purchased annually in America is highly processed.
As evidence mounts linking over-consumption of these products to major health consequences, highly processed foods are becoming a concerning trend. These findings are not meant to imply that you binge on processed foods, it simply means that if your eating mostly processed foods your not getting enough nutrition in your diet and you can’t make up for the lack of nutrition with pills.
Some basic food processing is necessary to ensure the safety of perishable items, such as fresh meat or dairy, the concern lies with products considered to be highly processed. These are the convenience foods that dominate the center aisles of your typical grocery store and include: ready-made meals, cereal, canned goods, cookies, chips, sodas, candy, sweets and other packaged items. In addition, many types of meat and cheese products, such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, lunch meat, and cheese slices or spreads are also considered highly processed foods. These types of foods constitute the majority of the calories consumed on a regular basis for the average American family.
Avoiding processed foods altogether may be impossible, but understanding why consuming too many may be detrimental is an important first step to improving your health.
For starters, these products typically contain increased amounts of salt, sugar, or fat—all of which are known as harmful.
Highly processed foods are also chemically treated with additives or preservatives to improve their taste, texture, or to extend shelf-life. An easy way to identify any processed food is to take a look at the label; if there is a laundry list of ingredients with unrecognizable, complicated names it is safe to say it’s processed food.
Here are six ways overconsumption of processed food could be affecting your health:
It is well known that sugar contributes to obesity, which can then lead to a host of other chronic diseases. Highly processed foods are often loaded with extra sugar, but don’t be fooled if the word “sugar” doesn’t actually appear on the label. There are as many as 50 different words used to list types of sugar added to processed foods. The most common names are corn syrup, fructose, glucose, sucrose, malt or maltose, honey, molasses, or nectar.
Known as “empty calories,” any type of sugar, including those hidden or disguised varieties, adds no nutritional value and in fact, encourages your body to consume even more calories. What’s worse is that consumption of sugar triggers the same sense of pleasure and craving within the brain comparable to those who struggle with drug addiction. This not only explains why it is so hard to resist seconds after indulging in a sweet treat, but why many experience subconscious cravings for all those other highly-processed meals and snacks.
So, how much sugar consumption is too much? The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends added sugars should be limited to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. This equals about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day, which sounds pretty generous until you put into perspective that the average can of soft drink contains about 10 teaspoons alone.
Metabolic Syndrome Including Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
As if obesity were not bad enough, processed food consumption is also linked to metabolic syndrome, which is defined as a group of risk factors that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when any three or more of the following five risk factors are present:
Increased waistline also known as being “apple-shaped” with abdominal obesity
Elevated triglycerides, or needing medication to lower triglycerides
Low HDL (healthy) cholesterol levels, or needing medication due to low HDL levels
High blood pressure, or needing a medication to treat high blood pressure
High fasting blood glucose, or needing a medication due to high fasting blood glucose
The abundance of sugars found in highly processed foods is the main culprit of metabolic syndrome. Sugars are a form of carbohydrates, which the body needs for energy. However, when these types of carbohydrates are consumed in excess quantities, the sugars must be stored in the body—typically as fat—and may lead to several metabolic consequences. An example of these types of metabolic occurrences is frequent spikes in blood glucose levels requiring insulin to stabilize. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, as well as increasing the levels of triglycerides in the blood. The cumulative effects of these metabolic disturbances can raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
But hold on there’s more. Manufactured foods will also cause
Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Autoimmune Disease, Coloredtal Cancer, and Depression. All of the long listis all caused from sugar, salt and fat contained in processed foods.
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