Truth About Processed Foods
Did you know that a lot of salad dressings and coffee creamers have titanium dioxide added to them which is commonly used in paints and sunscreens.
In today’s busy lifestyle, the concept of consuming processed foods is catching up big time solely because of convenience issues.
What exactly do we mean by processed foods?
Well, simply speaking, any food that has been altered from its natural state by adding chemicals and additives to increase their shelf life using processes like canning, freezing, dehydration, aseptic processing etc. are called processed foods.
How good are processed foods?
Processed foods can never compare to real natural foods even if they claim to be fortified with vitamins and minerals. These are synthetic in nature and are added usually to enhance the feel good factor of the consumer and are not a good replacement for natural nutrients which are found in naturally occurring foods. Most processed foods have artificial chemicals added to them which can ruin our health. We must always remember that certain chemicals may not even be listed on the label eg.the term ‘artificial flavor’ used on labels is a proprietary blend which is usually not disclosed.
Processed foods are engineered to keep you going back to them. They are designed to stimulate dopamine- a feel good neurotransmitter which lights up the brain making them hyper rewarding and hijacking the biochemistry of the brain. This leads to addiction for such foods and one keeps craving for such foods. Recent researches have shown that the brain lights up for sugar too in the sane way it does for cocaine so one finds it difficult to resist sugary and salty snacks.
Canned foods can be adulterated with silicon dioxide i.e sand. Potato chips may have sodium bisulphite, a toilet bowl cleaning chemical added to them. To enhance the anti caking property of cheese- usually cellulose which is ground up wood pulp is added. Chewing gums have an oily substance found in sheep wool called lanolin.
Frozen foods contain bacteria and enzymes in dormant state so it is essential that these foods be maintained at 0 degree farenheit until they can be used.
Processed foods require less energy and time to digest so one is hungry faster, satiety is lower and one keeps getting pulled back to these mouth melting easy to chew and swallow foods. These foods are high in transfats and lead to rapid spurts in blood sugar and insulin levels. Their high sodium content has alarming effects on our blood pressure too.
How can we as responsible individuals, parents and caretakers expose our families and children to processed foods only because of our ignorance and convenience? Let us make a conscious effort to offer the beautiful vibrant crisp fruits and vegetables, fiber ladened wheat, bajra, ragi, nuts and seeds, milk and naturally occurring Foods fit for the Gods to ourselves and our loved ones.
We should try to incorporate more organic and natural foods in our daily nutrition, whole grains like ragi and multigrain flours in place of white breads and refined cereals. Try to eat more cooked natural foods like rice, roti and and other nutritious vegetables. Keep sprouts, makhanas or chanas ready to serve when hunger pangs strike. Nature has blessed us with the bounty of foods like flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and melon seeds to boost your omega-3- fatty acids in place of fried snacks. Try to consume some nuts like almonds, walnuts , raisins and black currants in place of cholesterol ladened chips and cakes. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are a healthier option in place of processed juices and cold drinks. Freshly prepared soups again are an asset to our health compared to the processed packaged soup powders readily available these days. So pull up your socks folks and focus on the healthy options as compared to their processed counterparts. Choose wisely and Eat healthy.
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