Food manufacturers are lying to you!

 

warning read at own risk

Many of the foods we have been consuming over the recent years have often been highly processed, without it even crossing our minds what the effects of these processes may be. Consequently, this article is here to help identify the reason why we should avoid processed food as much as possible.

Lack of Education Into Processed Foods

The word ‘processed’ can be slightly confusing, as they may not know what is classified as processed. For example, despite seeming very natural, things like pasta and bread are highly processed foods that should be avoided.

Furthermore, others feel that almost all foods have been processed in some way, as apples have to be cut down from trees, ground beef has been ground down and when you buy kale, chop it up and cook it then you are technically processing it.

However, there is a massive difference between mechanical processing and chemical processing. This is because if a single ingredient has been mechanically moved or changed, but remains in its completely natural state, then it is still a natural ingredient and source of nutrients. But if a food has been chemically altered by adding cheap ingredients, flavour enhancers or any other artificial substances, then it is no longer in its natural state and has become highly refined.

Consequently, it is key to know how foods have been made and/or changed. We classify processed foods as:

  • Foods that have been processed more than necessary by adding flavour enhancers or other artificial preservatives.
  • Chemically processed foods that have been treated with chemicals , have added artificial flavours, or have been chemically altered in some way that is dangerous to health.
  • Refined foods that contain a lower nutritional value than their unrefined counterpart.

Just have a look at the ingredients of this Atkins Advantage Bar, a bar marketed as a low-carb, friendly health food.

atkins advantage

 

Processed Foods Are ‘Hyper-Rewarding’ And Lead to Overeating

Let’s face it, we all just want to eat food that is really tasty. Through evolution our taste buds have helped navigate through the natural food environment, by signalling to us through taste whether we had eaten something good or something bad. The main tastes where this occurs is sweet (safe source of energy), salty (sodium need for water retention) and fatty (a dense source of calories). The signals from our brains after eating these foods are those of pleasure and reward, helping us to remember that these foods were good food choices.

However, scientists have clocked on to this fact that our brains react strongly to certain tastes, and so have begun to modify our natural foods. They have spent huge resources on making their products as desirable as possible by sucking out the water, the fibre, and other nutrients. They then replace them with ingredients like corn syrup, MSG, seed oils and artificial colours, sweeteners and flavours. The intention of this is to induce cravings, overconsumption and huge sales of their products.

Consequently, we overeat these products but are deprived of any real nutrients that are essential for our bodies to function properly. As a result we can gain weight very quickly and live a largely unhealthy and malnourished lifestyle.

Food Labels Lie

The nutritional labels on the back of the foods we buy have normally been helpful in determining whether something is healthy for us or not, by allowing us to assess the nutritional content of each item.

However, research has found that food labels often underestimate calorie counts on processed foods because energy calculations are based on the calorie content in unprocessed ingredients. But it is important to know that processing or heating ingredients significantly increases the energy present.

We have all heard of trans-fats – the dangerous man-made fats that can lead to a number of different diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. However, food companies can get away with claiming a food is ‘trans-fat free’ if it only contains less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving.

This means we are being lied to, and unknowingly consuming harmful trans-fat within the processed foods we eat. As a result, we must realise food labels are adverts, not science. We need to protect ourselves from these false messages by choosing whole unpackaged food that is not trying to manipulate our behaviour.

You Will Have Better Blood Sugar & Insulin Management

Processed foods often contain refined carbohydrates and are low in fibre, which are rapidly digested and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. If this type of rapid spike and drop in blood sugar and insulin remains consistent through eating lots of high processed foods, then we can become insulin resistant.

Being insulin resistant means that we need more and more insulin for our cells to take up the glucose we consume in the processed foods we eat. The health implications of this type of reaction within our bodies are that our risk of diabetes becomes greatly increased.

The bottom line of this is that we need to promote insulin health and manage blood sugar by eating a diet that is high in whole protein and indigestible fibre from carbs, but low in carbs that have a high glycaemic response. This means eat plenty of low-carb whole vegetables and fruit, meat, fish, beans and nuts.

Kristian