We all eat some processed food. However there is a huge deference between natural food which have been processed in some way such as grinding, juicing, creaming, cutting, slicing, and dicing and chemically processed food. All of these are “mechanically processed” as opposed to “chemically processed”.
If we pack natural ingredients without adding any chemicals, they remain real food. Once foods are chemically processed, made only from refined ingredients and artificial substances, we get “processed foods”.
What is unique about processed foods is their lack of nutritional value and they are unhealthy.
6 Reasons Why I Stopped Eating Processed Food
1. Processed Food Has a High Amount of Sugar and Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugar and its evil twin, fructose corn syrup, have a bad reputation for being harmful to our health especially when consumed in excess. Besides being empty calories, sugar has no essential nutrients. It only provides us with temporary high energy.
Studies show that sugar can have a devastating influence on your metabolism. It can lead to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, increased levels of cholesterol, and accumulation of fat in the liver and abdominal cavity.
Sugar consumption is associated with heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Processed foods and sugar sweetened drinks are not part my diet.
2. Processed Food Gives You a Quick Fix and Lead To Over Eating
We naturally gravitate towards foods that are sweet, salty, and fatty with an expectation for energy and nutrients, our basic needs for survival. Food manufacturers are aware of our desire for tasty food. They go to great lengths to make foods as desirable as they can. When I say great lengths I mean just that.
They invest massive amounts of money to make foods very rewarding to our brain, but not to our bodies. This overpowers our natural desire for natural food.
Our body is a magnificent machine. It has a built in mechanism to regulate and balance how much we eat and how many calories we burn to keep us at a healthy weight.
Processed foods are highly rewarding to our brains and can affect our behavior causing us to eat more until we lose our ability to know when to stop.
3. Processed Food is High On Artificial Ingredients
When you look at an ingredient label of a food that is full of long words you can’t pronounce, the letter “E”, and many numbers, you know you are looking at a typical processed food. You have no idea what these ingredients are. Many of them are not food. They are artificial chemicals which have been added to:
Preserve or increase shelf life
Give it color
Give it more flavor
If you see “artificial flavors”, it might mean that the manufacturer has added more chemicals which it doesn't have to disclose.
Processed foods are loaded with chemicals, sugar, and vegetable oils which are not healthy to eat. In the long run, these chemicals accumulate in your body and effect your health in the future.
4. Processed Food is High in Refined Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates divide up the diet gurus in two. One group will swear by having a diet where the majority of our energy intake should be from carbohydrates. The second group recommends to avoid carbohydrates like the plague. However both groups will agree that whole food carbohydrates are preferable to refined carbohydrates.
Refined “simple” carbohydrates (processed) get broken down rather quickly in the digestive tract. This leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. When blood sugar levels go down a while later, we crave carbs again. This phenomenon is also called the “blood sugar roller coaster”. If you’re on a high carb diet, you know what I’m talking about.
If you’re going to eat carbs, get them from whole, single ingredient foods, not from processed junk foods.
5. Processed Food is Low in Fiber
Fiber, especially soluble ferment-able fiber, is beneficial to a healthy digestive system. It feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestines and functions as a probiotic. Fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates making us feel satisfied while consuming fewer calories.
The fiber that is found naturally in foods is often lost during processing or intentionally removed. As a result, most processed foods are very low in fiber.
6. Processed Food is High in Trans Fats Processed Vegetable Oils
Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats. They usually contain low grade fats, refined seed and vegetable oils (such as soybean oil) that are often hydrogenated. This turns them into trans fats.
These fats contain excessive amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids, which can drive oxidation and inflammation in the body .
When fats are hydrogenated, that makes them even worse. Hydrogenated (trans) fats are among the unhealthiest substances you can put into your body.
The best way to avoid seed oils and trans fats is to avoid processed foods. Eat real fats like butter, coconut oil, and olive oil instead.
Eat real food
When we replace real traditional foods such as butter, meat, fruits, and vegetables with processed junk foods, we get fat and sick.
Real food is the key to good health. Processed food is not.