Over years with technology and changes in lifestyle, the consumption of processed food has become immensely popular. To make cooking effortless, quick, and delicious processed food turned out to be an enormous business today. An important question is about the nutritional value of processed food.
Since early ages, people have been preserving food with varied techniques such as salt preservation, fermentation, drying, and so on. The aim to process food is always the same i.e. food storage for use during an unforeseen and unfavorable circumstance.
What Is Processed Food?
Food is either mechanically or chemically processed to increase shelf life and to ensure it is free from harmful microorganisms. Processed food has evolved rapidly because of the convenience it offers. Preparing dinner in the blink of an eye is possible now. Processed food is very popular nowadays because of the taste and flavors it offers to its consumers.
Why Is It Unhealthy?
Highly processed food utilizes artificial flavors, preservatives, added colors, and many chemicals. It offers a heavy calorie dose and less nutrition making it an unhealthy option. Also, processed food is often loaded with sugar, salt, and unsaturated fats which are extremely harmful for health.
It can cause chronic health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular problems. You need to be aware of what you are eating. The way it impacts your health is essential to a healthy well-being.
Some lifestyle changes can help to get away from health hazards and assure a healthier lifestyle. Replacing highly processed food with more organic and natural food options is important. These changes help in making a lifestyle that can work miracles.
1. It May Raise Cancer Risk
In the US, on average man and woman have a probability of 39% to be diagnosed with cancer during lifespan. This is an alarming statistic. Studies show that over time changes in lifestyle especially dietary changes have increased the risk factors of serious health issues including cancer.
Studies have found a link between highly processed food and cancer. WHO conducted a study that confirmed the link between processed meat and colon cancer. Another study showed an increase in consumption of processed food by 10% also increases associated cancer risks by 13%. These elevated risks associated with processed food make it worthy enough to refrain from.
2. Loaded With Sugar, Salt And Fats
Another principal factor of avoiding processed food is that these are a rich source of hidden salt, sugar, and fats. Eating processed food more frequently will increase the chances of overtaking the recommended normal intake amounts of salt and sugar.
These are associated with health concerns. Hypertension, diabetes type II, and obesity are interrelated health issues. Processed food is harmful because of a high percentage of sugar, salt, and fats in its ingredients. Too much salt can extravagant blood pressure. Persistent high blood pressure for a longer duration can cause hypertension.
Likewise, too much sugar intake increases the risk of getting overweight and diabetes. Fats in processed food are turned into triglycerides in the human body; it is a type of blood fat. Too much triglyceride will make it harder for blood to flow normally thus leading to hypertension.
3. Make Overeat And Addicted
Processed foods are made tempting and lucrative with the usage of taste-enhancing flavors and other additives. This makes it unavoidable. It is very common to overeat and not stop while eating processed food. It triggers a reward system in the human brain, which causes a release of neurotransmitters making a person overeat.
Overeating is directly associated with obesity. Processed foods are made appetizing and lucrative enough to trigger the desire of having it more often. This eventually leads to a level of addiction. This addiction is as bad as that of alcohol and other drugs.
But there are several programs available for alcohol and drug addiction recovery. For example, inpatient treatment for alcoholism is also available in rehab centers. But there are no such rehabs to recover from food addiction. Unlike drug abuse, recovery from food addiction is still under study.
4. Artificial Ingredients
There are many artificial ingredients added to processed food. It is quite common for any processed food to have more than one artificial ingredient. These ingredients have no or limited nutritional value. Some of them may prove harmful for their health.
Studies show artificial flavors are toxic to bone marrow cells in animals. More research can highlight the way it influences the human body. Sodium glutamate is commonly found in processed dinners, salty snacks, and soup. A study shows more people are sensitive to its use. Food dyes have raised health concerns.
It is because these are carcinogenic in nature. Sodium nitrite, commonly used in processed meat, is a proven cause of colon cancer. Weight gain, diabetes, and inflammation may occur with the use of high fructose corn syrup.
5. High In Carbs & Low In Nutrients
Processed foods are high in carbs. High-carb food causes an immediate increase in blood sugar levels. In order to deal with it, the body produces more insulin. It causes cells to save extra glucose as fats. It is important to limit the intake of carbs.
This is because it is an important factor that leads to obesity and diabetes. Many cardiovascular problems are linked with health issues such as obesity and diabetes resulting from excessive carb consumption.
In food processing essential nutrients are lost; these nutrients are vital to overall health. During food processing, food loses most of its fiber. No artificial additives can replace natural nutrients. Natural and organic food sources are rich in nutrients and ensure good health.
In comparison to natural organic and freshly prepared food, processed foods are less nutritious. More studies and research can help in bringing up awareness among people about its harms. Limiting the intake of processed food and replacing it with healthier options can help overcome health hazards associated with it.