Processed Food and Health
The relationship between food and health is a strong one, and knowing the health costs of the food you eat is important for long term wellness.
Most processed foods contain high levels of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or white flour. These highly refined carbohydrates are extremely concentrated and have a tremendous effect on your blood sugar and insulin.
Consider the fact that at any one time, your body only has ONE teaspoon of sugar circulating in your bloodstream.
When you consume foods rich in refined carbohydrates, it's very easy to consume great amounts of sugar in a very short time.
Drinking just one regular 32 ounce soda will dump just over 1/2 cup of sugar into your bloodstream in the two minutes it takes to drink it. That's over 24 teaspoons of sugar, 24 times the normal amount in your blood.
In contrast, when you eat fresh fruit, it's much harder to take in that much sugar all at once. For instance, you would have to eat 6 large apples in one sitting to get the same amount of sugar that is in that 32 ounce soda.
Consuming refined carbohydrates on a regular basis results in elevated blood sugar levels over time.
These constantly elevated blood sugar force the body to increase the levels of insulin being circulated to stabilize that blood sugar.
Constant increased levels of insulin "numb" the body’s normal process of insulin secretion and glucose use, and can lead to a condition known as insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.
The high levels of circulating insulin inflame the arteries and stress the internal organs. Numerous studies have shown that this inflammation is a major factor in the development of heart disease and other food and health related issues.
In addition, high blood sugar impairs the immune system, causes vitamin uptake dysfunction, inhibits the breakdown of blood clots, and increases hemoglobin glycation, a process which is implicated in aging.
Even in healthy volunteers, inducing a high blood sugar episode produces a substantial rise in blood pressure, heart rate and artery constricting chemicals.
What's Wrong with Processed Food?
Processed food is NOT real food. These foods are the products of chemical and mechanical manipulation, and many contain residues of pesticides, genetically altered ingredients and synthetic chemicals.
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, writes that
"pesticide residues are omnipresent in the American food supply: the F.D.A. finds them in 30 to 40 percent of the food it samples. Many of them are known carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disrupters -- dangerous at some level of exposure. The government has established acceptable levels for these residues in crops, though whether that means they're safe to consume is debatable: in setting these tolerances the government has historically weighed the risk to our health against the benefit -- to agriculture, that is. The tolerances also haven't taken into account that childrens' narrow diets make them especially susceptible or that the complex mixtures of chemicals to which we're exposed heighten the dangers."
Processed foods are created with the express purpose of extending product shelf life so the manufacturers can make as much money as possible from the original food source, which is usually corn or soybeans.
There are huge surpluses of corn and soybeans harvested in the USA every year, and food processors have found hundreds of ways of manipulating corn and soybeans into all kinds of new forms to use in processed food products. The goal is to get you to eat as much of these products as possible, and companies spend millions of dollars trying to spin the food and health aspect of their unhealthy products, (zero fat grams!) and find new ways to get you to buy corn and soybeans in the form of packaged food products.
The human body needs fresh whole foods that are rich in nutrients to maintain natural health and energy. This is evident if we view populations around the world who don't eat processed, refined or chemically altered foods.
These people eat traditional diets of clean, whole, vital foods, and they are healthy, strong, and free of the diseases while plague industrialized countries (heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke).
Food and health are intimately associated. Food really is medicine, and eating the best quality whole foods will do more than any drug or doctor to keep you well.
If we all avoid buying processed products, maybe these giant, money oriented food processors will start offering real foods instead.