For many families, whole foods have become a rare part of their normal diet. Food that has been chemically processed or that has added preservatives is generally inexpensive, easy to find and easy to make.
However, eating these processed foods regularly can have a serious impact on your health. Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider how you eat and try to eat better.
Sugar or High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Many processed foods and snacks contain a lot of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to give them a sweet, irresistible taste. But, including too much sugar in your diet is sure to have a negative impact on your health.
For starters, sugars provide what are known as empty calories, which means that they don’t give your body much of what it needs apart from energy. However, the effects of excessive sugar can be far more severe. Too many sweets can cause insulin resistance, high cholesterol, inflammation and high levels of triglycerides. These things are associated with diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Different diet plans each take a different stance on carbohydrate intake. For some people, carbs are a primary source of energy. Others avoid eating carbs as much as they can. However, whether you seek out carbs or stay away from them, the important thing is to go for carbs that come from whole foods rather than processed foods.
The carbs that are usually found in processed foods are refined, simple carbs which are quickly broken down by our bodies. This leads to a spike in both blood sugar and insulin levels.
Processed foods often contain high levels of unhealthy trans fats. Trans fats and processed vegetable oils are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. These vegetable oils can be tough to avoid as a part of your diet, since it has so many uses in the kitchen. Instead, try to use more wholesome oils such as olive oil.
Low Levels of Fiber
Processed foods are typically low in fiber, which is also lost or removed during processing. But, fiber has a number of positive effects on our bodies. It helps to get our digestive system going, which makes it effective at fighting constipation. Fiber also helps to boost the helpful bacteria in the intestines, which helps to promote healthy digestion.
One of the most positive effects of fiber is that is slows down the rate that our bodies process carbs, which can help us to feel fuller for longer. Sadly though, the majority of people only get about 1/2 of the daily recommended fiber.
Processed food can be hard to avoid. Not only is it commonplace at the supermarket, but also most fast food restaurants use processed ingredients in preparing their meals. Cutting down on processed foods and eating more whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes will make a big difference in your health and your body will thank you for it in the long run.