Why do processed foods get such a bad wrap?

by Dr. Laura Brown
on 18 March 2017
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Six Reasons processed food wreak havoc on your health.  

1. AGES- Advanced Glycated End products are produced in food processing.AGEs appear to stimulate chronic low-grade inflammation and promote oxidative stress and affect the pancreatic beta cell function leading to the development of insulin resistance. When AGE diets are stopped in animal models, the development of type 2 diabetes is stopped.

2. Fats- not all are created equal. Processed foods use transfats to prolong shelf life, industrial oils (canola, peanut, sunflower, soy) oils because they are cheap and work great for superheating in fryers. Transfat and industry oils create inflammation in the body, increase risk for plaques in the vascular system, increase cholesterol and blood pressure. In contrast, when healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids like those found in fish oils, olive oil and coconut oil are consumed on a regular basis, the inflammation markers go down and the cell is better able to perform its function. Since every cell has a phospholipid bilayer, it means that every cell’s skin is made of fat. When fat is of a fluid nature, nutrients are able pass in and out more effectively and the cell’s function is optimized. Fat is also used to insulate nerve fibres, another imporant reason to pass on the fast food fats! 

3. Dyes –The processed food industry uses food dyes to add colour to colourless foods, to enhance colour and to avoid colour loss due to environmental elements and to preserve consistency when there are variations in the colour of food. Food dyes are linked to inattention, hyperactivity, irritability, temper tantrums or trouble sleeping.

4. Sugar & high fructose corn syrup. Most processed foods have some sugar added including soda pop, breads, cereals, yogurts, processed meats, soups and condiments. High-sugar diets may make a significant contribution to cardiometabolic risk. High fructose corn syrup, when digested by the body produces reactive carbonyls, which create tissue damage.Countries using high-fructose corn syrup had rates of diabetes that were about 20% higher than countries that didn’t mix the sweetener into foods, even when total sugar and total calories remain the same.

5. Salt – Processed foods use salt to help preserve it and for added flavour. The amount of salt in restaurant and packaged foods are the main culprits in the Western diet, not the salt added to home-prepared whole foods.  Research shows that the average North American consumes 4000mg sodium per 2000kcal diet. This is almost twice as much as the 2300mg/day recommend by some health experts. If the amount is reduced even to 2700mg/day, a 5mmHg smaller rise in systolic blood pressure would be noted in those 25-55 years of age. This results in an estimated 150,000 lives saved from death due to cardiovascular events. The kicker is, if not getting annual checkups, often the first sign of high blood pressure, is a deadly heart attack.

6. White flour  Without the fibre, white flour easily breaks down into simple carbohydrates which is essentially sugar to the body.  The fast breakdown quickly elevates blood sugar, induces insulin release and after the energy is stored in the cells, the blood sugar drops quickly and causes cravings for more sugar to restore blood sugar levels. The cycle easily repeats itself as quick carbs are continually fed into the body. Over time and continued food abuse, the insulin that works diligently to get the sugar into the cells, becomes less effective, the sugar stays in the blood stream and the person is now experiencing high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance… a path well travelled to the diabetes destination.