In today’s modern world, processed foods and drinks are not only readily available but also featured prominently in restaurants and popular dining establishments. But you should think twice before reaching for your next boxed lunch and soda. Here are seven reasons why processed foods and drinks are your worst enemy.
1. Weight gain & obesity
The obvious danger of consuming processed foods and drinks is their effect on your waistline, as well as your long-term health. Processed foods are typically high-calorie and low-nutrition food, so eating them in excess naturally leads to weight gain and even obesity.
In addition, processed foods are engineered for addictive eating. They are high in simple carbohydrates and sugar, both of which are ingredients that trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical related to pleasure in the human body. In essence, you can become addicted to eating processed foods in the same way that someone could become addicted to alcohol or drugs.
2. Increased risk of diabetes
Processed foods and drinks are one of the biggest sources of excess sugar in the form of corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, and many other unnatural ingredients. A huge culprit here is sugary fruit juices and sodas.
These added sugars are bad for your health for so many reasons, but one of the most alarming is that steady high-sugar consumption can actually lead to insulin resistance and elevated triglycerides, which both require medication to treat. If not treated and without moderation, excess sugar consumption from processed foods and drinks can eventually lead to diabetes and cancer.
3. Consumption of chemicals
When you look at the nutrition information on the back of any processed food package, you are going to see a very long and very unnatural list of ingredients. This is because processed foods contain a large number of preservatives and other artificial chemicals, often in the interest of increasing shelf-or freezer-life.
The bottom line is that, because of all these artificial ingredients, when you consume processed foods, you end up consuming less real food and more engineered chemicals, which are unnatural and damaging to the natural processes in the human body.
4. They wreak havoc on your skin
Processed foods and drinks are lacking in vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients that fuel and nourish the body. Without these nutrients, not only does our internal body functioning suffer, but our outward appearance does as well. Without necessary vitamins and healthy minerals, your skin can become dull and dry, unable to get the energy it needs to shed dead skin cells. Furthermore, all the excess sugar in processed foods can lead to breakouts, acne, and other skin issues. (See also: 10 Best Foods for a Beautiful Skin)
5. Increased risk of heart disease
Not all fats are bad. You may have heard that omega-3s and other healthy fats are recommended for a well-rounded diet. However, processed foods are often high in a “bad” fat: they usually contain hydrogenated oils, like seed and vegetable oils, which become trans fats.
Hydrogenated oils can have a negative effect on heart health because they increase “’bad’ (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) cholesterol and lower ‘good’ (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) cholesterol.” Consuming processed food and drinks negatively affects your cholesterol levels and can lead increase risk of heart disease and blood pressure issues.
6. The rise of digestive issues
Because of their reliance on simple carbs and white sugars and flour, processed foods lack the natural fiber found in whole grains and wheat. Without regular doses of fiber, the digestive system can get backed up, and start functioning abnormally.
More worrisome, processed foods can also trigger the development of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. IBD can be caused by emulsifiers, which are a chemical additive frequently used in processed foods to extend shelf-life by keeping water and oil from separating.
7. Long-term liver damage
Although alcoholic beverages are not typically thought of as “processed foods or drinks,” that’s exactly what they are. Over-ingesting alcohol can have a severe and damaging impact on your liver health. You may be a health-nut when it comes to processed foods, but if you are abusing alcohol, your body will suffer the same negative side effects. If you feel you may have a problem with consuming alcohol – don’t worry. There are many available recovery programs.
As you can see, processed foods and drinks carry several negative side effects and little-to-no positive ones. If you feel you may be over-consuming processed foods, start slowly by replacing processed foods with natural ones. You may start to feel better in a matter of days!
About The Author:
Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California currently writing for Medically Assisted. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.