When was the last time you had an entirely wholesome meal? No canned food, no prepackaged products, and purely from farm-to-table ingredients? An average American consumes mostly processed foods – or foods that are made with synthetic chemicals, GMOs, salt, and other ingredients that aren’t beneficial for you. In fact, a study published in 2017 showed how processed food affects your body.
The pie chart below shows the percentage of the super processed foods we’re eating. It also shows how much it affects our body’s overall health, nutrition, and calories. The truth is, long-term consumption of ultra-processed foods can negatively impact your health in the long run.
What is Processed Food?
Most people think that you can only find processed food in fast food chains, in the form of a burger and fries. However, processed food is in every grocery store and even in your own pantry. It’s easy to tell if a certain food is processed. Chances are, if a food is bagged, boxed, jarred, or canned with a lengthy list of ingredients on the back, it’s processed. Here’s how they process food:
- Aseptic Processing
How Processed Food Affects Your Body
Yes, ultra-processed food is bad for you. But how exactly does it affect your body? Here are five facts that’ll make you think twice about processed food:
It contains tons of added sugar.
Processed food is riddled with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. We all know that excess amounts of sugar is bad for our health. Aside from the fact that it’s called “empty calories” for its lack of nutritional value, it has other harmful effects as well. It can lead to:
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- And more
A recent study shows that most Americans get about 90% of added sugar from ultra-processed food. That’s about 58% of total energy intake! Additionally, added sugar is responsible for about 21% of the total calories in ultra-processed foods.
Sweet treats aren’t the only foods responsible for all that added sugar. Even savory foods like pizza, bacon, pies, sausage rolls and more contain hidden sugars.
If you’re looking to quit sugar for good or to tame your sweet tooth, it’s best to let go of processed food altogether. You’ll be surprised how much sugar is added in packaged food. Make sure to check the nutrition facts to see how much sugar there is and look sugar in the list of ingredients.
There are 56 most common names for sugar and manufacturers know how to use them.
It may cause the development of other diseases.
With all the chemicals and the processing happening with ultra-processed food, it may cause the development of the following diseases:
- Cancer: Synthetic chemicals found in processed foods likely contain carcinogenic properties. A study from the University of Hawaii observed almost 200,000 people over the course of seven years. The people who ate a lot of processed meat had a 67% higher chance of developing pancreatic cancer than those who did not.
- Obesity: Since processed foods don’t have a lot of nutrients and are high in sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fat, they highly contribute to weight gain and water retention. In fact, the World Health Organization said that ultra-processed foods are responsible for a rise in obesity levels and chronic diseases all over the world.
- Heart Disease: Processed foods contain trans fatty acids (TFA) that can elevate your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL or the good cholesterol.
It can be addictive.
Since processed food contains high amounts of sodium, fat, and sugar, this stuff can be really addictive. Manufacturers add excessive amounts of these to make it tastier, causing consumers to crave more.
The processing strips the fiber to make room for more sugar, fat, and salt. The lack of fiber makes you eat more of it without feeling full immediately, doubling the caloric intake. Addictive sugar + quick digestion + deliciousness equals overconsumption of ultra-processed foods. While this type of food can be really tasty, it won’t satisfy you at all. Then you crave more. It’s a never-ending cycle and most people don’t even realize it.
It has artificial ingredients.
Adding artificial preservatives prolongs the shelf life of processed food and makes it cheaper. They also add food coloring and other chemicals to make it taste better, look better, and smell better. While not all artificial preservatives are bad for you, some of them can be detrimental to your health.
Even though the ingredients in processed foods are FD approved and tested, the long-term effects aren’t taken into account. Many factors affect our health, so it’s difficult to assess how preservatives can contribute to the development of health diseases.
It can lower your body’s immunity.
Eating processed food can cause high inflammation in your body which leads to lower immunity. This makes your body weaker in fighting the free radicals and toxins present in processed foods. Plus, the lack of fiber and vitamins in your diet contributes to a weaker immune system.
You’re more prone to become sick because your immune system is fighting the synthetic preservatives in processed food. It should only have to fight bacteria and viruses.
We Care for You
We know how processed food affects your body. So, our residents are provided with three healthy and delicious meals that are tailored to their needs and preferences. We offer special food plans for residents with food allergies or other dietary restrictions. In addition to the great tasting food, we take extreme care to make sure that our residents receive the best nutrition, daily vitamins, and needed caloric intake and are well hydrated to stay healthy and active.
If you want to know more about assisted living facilities, A Paradise for Parents staff and our resources can answer all your questions. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (623) 295-9890 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about the services we offer. You can also fill out an online form located on our homepage. We’d be happy to assist you in your search for an assisted living facility for your loved one.