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What’s So Bad About Processed Foods?

As you may have seen in our blog last month, we have started discussing what a processed food is. We walk through the shops, and pile up our trolleys with foods that are well packaged and attractive, not realising that they could be causing and contributing to a serious level of unwanted illness.

In this blog we will unpack why chemically processed foods have a directly negative effect on our bodies, and why we should avoid them if we want to live a healthy life.

Click here to check out this quick clip on how food can really affect your brain!

Processed Food And The Brain

Our bodies have been designed and made perfectly. Each of us havebeen made with mechanisms in our bodies and brains that are supposed to regulate how much food we eat and how much food we burn, this is known as energy balance.

There is, however, a lot of evidence to suggest that the “reward value of food” can bypass our natural defense mechanism. This causes us to eat much more than we need to. This is also known as the “food reward hypothesis of obesity.” An example of this for you might be when you find yourself eating way too much on Christmas Day,because the food is so good!

Many food manufacturers know this and spend a lot of resources on making their food as rewarding as possible to the brain. Theyformulate and test their products to give them the perfect “mouth feel” and  “bliss point”. They do this by adding sugars, salt and bad fats.

Processed foods are foods that have been engineered to be hyper-rewarding, affecting our brains, thought patterns and behaviour and ultimate short-circuiting our innate brakes against overconsumption.

So, the more we eat the more we spend!!

Processed Foods Contain Artificial Ingredients

As we mentioned in our previous blog, many of the ingredients in processed foods are not actually real food. They are artificial chemicals that are added for various purposes.

To make matters worse many of the additives and preservatives that are engineered into these foods are not mentioned on the labels, as manufacturers don’t have to disclose the exact combination of chemicals in a particular blend.

Let’s look at an example:

If you see “artificial flavour” on an ingredients list, it could mean that there are 10 or more additional chemicals that have been blended in to give the food a specific flavour, but the manufacturer doesn’t need to list what these chemicals are and the consumer is left in the dark.

Highly processed foods often contain:

  • Preservatives: Chemicals that prevent the food from rotting.
  • Colorants: Chemicals based dyes that are used to give the food a specific colour.
  • FlavoursChemicals that give the food a particular flavour.
  • Texturants: Chemicals, emulsifiers, stabilizers and thickeners that give a particular texture.

Processed Foods Are High In Empty Refined Carbs

To carb or not to carb is a personal decision. However, most of us agree that carbohydrates from whole foods are much better than refined carbohydrates.

Many of the carbohydrates in processed foods are refined or “simple carbs”. It’s these carbohydrates that spike our blood sugar and insulin levels and cause negative health effects.

Even if the labels say “whole grain”, many times the whole grain has been minced, ground and even radiated into a very refined flour, destroying a lot of the real fibre and goodness that our bodies really need. When whole grains are in this form they can become as harmful as their refined counterparts.

Processed Foods Are Low In Real Fibre

Fibre slows down the absorption of carbohydrates in our system and help us to recognise and feel when we are full. The fibre that is found naturally in foods is often lost during processing, or intentionally removed, causing us to eat more. This is a marketers or big corporations dream, because the more we eat, the more we spend.

Read our blog on Fibre to find out why fibre is so good for us, and why we can’t afford to give it a skip!

Processed Foods Are Low In Essential Nutrients

Processing strips many of the nutrients out of the food. Food manufacturers know this and they will substitute the loss of nutrients by adding in synthetic vitamins and minerals. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are incredibly difficult for our body to recognise, our body needs and deserves the real thing.

Processed Foods And Trans Fats

Cheap fats are usually used in the processing phase. These fats include refined seed- and vegetable oils that are often hydrogenated and turned into trans fats, (you can read more about this in our article on fats). It’s these trans-fat that are so incredibly unhealthy for us. It is estimated that nearly 75% of the processed foods in our shopping malls today contain corn, soybean or canola ingredients which have been engineered from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Last But Certainly Not Least, Processed Foods Are High In Sugar And High-Fructose Corn Syrup

As mentioned earlier, manufacturers formulate products to have the perfect “bliss point” by adding crazy amounts of salt, sugar and fats. The sugar often added into processed foods is high- fructose corn syrup.High-fructose corn syrup is produced from corn starch, which is further refined to produce the syrup. High-fructose corn syrup has a high fructose content, which leads to excessive fat gain.

Sugar has been linked to insulin resistance, increasing levels of cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. (2).

I often hear people say proudly that they have cut sugar out of their coffee and tea, only to be unknowingly hit with a high content of sugar from the box food, drinks and pre-made meals they consume.

We, as Wholesome Food, encourage you to be wise with the food you consume, read your labels and do your own research. You will be amazed at what you find! Besides, it just takes a little bit of creativity in the kitchen to ensure your family avoid some of these nasty effects many of the foods we consume contain. With a little bit of knowledge and wisdom you can still enjoy a delicious, nutritious and wholesome lifestyle.