I talk a lot about eating right and the importance of employing a healthy diet as part of an overall healthier lifestyle. Part of eating healthy is knowing what we are putting into our bodies. When considering processed foods, that can be a scary proposition.
We have gone from growing and processing fresh, whole foods ourselves to eating processed foods. While this is mostly done out of convenience, these processed foods are often sprayed with toxins. They are also genetically modified and processed to include food additives, preservatives, colors, higher sugar content and higher calories. The bottom line: we have switched from consuming high-quality whole foods to processed foods that have little nutritional value.
Information included in the dietary guidelines as published at health.gov reveal:
- Approximately 75 percent of Americans have diets low in vegetables, fruit, dairy, and oils.
- Over 50 percent of the population meet or exceed total grain and total protein recommendations.
- A majority of those in the US exceed the recommendations for added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats.
In 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a 571-page report that, in part, concluded:
“About half of all American adults – 117 million individuals – have one or more preventable, chronic diseases that are related to poor quality dietary patterns and physical inactivity, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and diet-related cancers.”
When we consider processed foods, one element that is particularly disturbing is the many additives that are included. Some of the more egregious are:
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) – a preservative in food and personal care products classified as a carcinogen
- Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) – a synthetic antioxidant that causes tumors in lab rats
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – a “flavor enhancer” known to cause headaches and heart irregularities
- Sulfites – complicate asthma and allergies
- Hydrogenated Oils – creates trans-fat, which raises LDL cholesterol
- Inflammatory Vegetable Oils (cottonseed, soy, corn, canola) – Very high in Omega-6 fats. These increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, pre-diabetes, asthma, cancer, macular degeneration, IBS and heart disease.
To avoid the dangers of processed foods, we can do some simple and common sense things:
- Be realistic about your schedule and priorities
- Know what you are buying
- Read up on food ingredients and additives
- Buy certified organic whenever possible
- Buy products with the least amount of additives
- Make it yourself whenever possible
We should all take an interest in the foods that you put into your body. It is one way not only to live a healthier lifestyle, but it is a critical component to extending your lifespan. By making sure we ingest wholesome foods – while rejecting overly processed foods that contain chemical preservatives, we can help ourselves to extend our lives to the fullest.
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