5 Reasons Why Processed Foods Make You Gain Weight and Sick
In today's busy society, resorting to convenient and processed foods allows individuals to feed their body in a time crunch. And although such foods provide energy to the body, are they actually nourishing it? So what are processed foods and how might they make you fat and sick?
What Are Processed Foods?
When it truly comes down to understanding processed foods, the word "process" is often obscured and misrepresented. Processed is actually how the food has been prepared and packaged, whether made by a manufacturer, chef, or even yourself. The preparation is further broken down into minimally and highly-processed products. Minimally processed foods can actually be quite beneficial and healthful, as they are slightly manipulated and include chopped veggies and nuts. Though some more healthful than others, even if packaged as the same product, canned and jarred products are also considered processed. For instance, tuna packed in water would be a superior choice compared to tuna packed in salt and oil. Moving further down the processed line, those "go-to" snacks are considered to be heavily processed – think chips, crackers, and cookies found in the infamous snack aisle. Frozen and pre-made meals are the most highly processed foods, and include pizza and microwavable entrees found in the freezer section.
5 Reasons Why Processed Foods Make You Fat and Sick
1. Loaded with Sugar
Though the body is equipped to handle sugar, too much of it has been associated with weight gain and chronic disease. The American Heart Association recommends keeping added sugar consumption to less than 38 grams (9 teaspoons) for men and 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for women per day. As a general, yet overwhelming reference, a 12-ounce can of Cola provides 39 grams of sugar – that exceeds the recommended amount for both men and women, just for one drink!
2. Low in Fiber
Refined carbohydrate, mostly found in highly processed foods, is essentially stripped or bleached wheat or other grains. The processing technique strips away key nutrients and fiber found in its untouched, natural form. The bottom line: processed foods generally lack fiber, which may have negative effects on health. First off, individuals who consume adequate fiber are shown to have healthier body mass indexes (BMIs) compared to those with minimal fiber. Additionally, fiber insufficiency can raise the possibility of colon cancer and hemorrhoids.
3. High in Trans Fats and Oils
Fat is often feared related to its associated conception to heart disease. Although fat is a critical diet component, trans fats should take the backseat. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated the year 2018 as a deadline for trans fat to be taken out of processed foods. Trans fats are also recognized as "(partially) hydrogenated oil" or "hydrogenation" and widely found in chips, fried foods, and pastries.
4. Taste Good
Despite the desire for all food to taste good, processed foods are crafted to fulfill the taste bud's want of sweet and salty flavors. When the brain believes a food is appetizing, it is human nature to keep gravitating to such products. But consistently seeking out processed foods (rich in sugars, fats, and salt) can pack on calories, which fosters the notion of obesity linked to processed foods.
Though it may seem like an exaggeration, people can actually become addicted to (processed) foods. Mostly known as food addiction, the brain starts to long and crave these products. Sugar can be highly addictive, as the brain sees it as a reward and further yearns for its intake. Complex carb (such as white bread, crackers, and pastas) cravings also hold concern, as they are eventually broken down into simple sugars.
Processed foods are not necessarily apt to trigger illness and disease in an instant. Consistent intake, though, will more than likely lead to weight gain (especially if not counterbalanced with exercise). An overweight or obese status, lack of nutrients, and a sedentary lifestyle can ultimately increase the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer while compromising immune and lung function. To combat such consequences, embrace a nutrient-rich diet while partaking in exercise on a regular basis. If desiring further guidance towards healthful meals, check out bistroMD's official webpage at bistroMD.