9 Dangers of Eating Too Much Processed Food
Processed foods always get a bad reputation, and it has never stopped to be that way especially considering the increasing awareness people have regarding health issues and their connection to food. The problem is that it is very difficult to avoid them entirely, and you may have eaten a junk meal in recent hours even as you read this.
Besides the overwhelming guilt of consuming too many calories in one session thanks to eating something as harmless-looking as a blueberry muffin, there are other dangers that develop for your health because of consuming these foods. However, before discussing these dangers, it is best to know what it means when we term foods as ‘processed’, since not everything will fit the criteria.
What does the term ‘processed food’ mean?
Processed foods, basically, are foods and their ingredients that have gone through any changes to their natural state after they are harvested or plucked. The processes that are used include drying, baking, canning or freezing.
That does not mean that all processed foods are harmful, as almost anything you eat has some level of processing involved, for instance, washing and bagging salad. In addition, certain foods go through the addition of nutrients such as minerals and vitamins, so that their nutritional value increases such as fortified wheat or whole-meal bread.
However, there is a line that should not be crossed when processing the foods you eat. When this line is crossed, you get highly processed foods, such as cookies, candy, fries and sodas. These do not exist in nature on their own and consist of too many harmful ingredients such as white sugar, white flour, and very high sodium levels.
Additionally, they also contain additives that serve to increase their shelf life or cause the sugar, sodium or fat levels to increase.
Dangers of eating too much processed food
1. Digestive issues
The fact remains that what you eat must come out – which means you will experience digestive issues at some point the more you consume highly processed foods.
Because these foods have very high levels of chemicals and additives, the body cannot handle these levels of chemicals and they also result in harming of your microbiome (the good bacteria that live in your body). In case you are unsure of the difference between them when shopping, check out the ingredient list.
2. Brain fog and fatigue
This is something that you might be familiar with when you are right from consuming too much processed food and you are not alone.
These foods lack a variety of important antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, all which the brain uses to boost its energy levels. That results in low energy levels, difficulties in concentration, and completing tasks.
3. Low blood sugar levels
This might seem strange, especially when considering they are basically carbs. Your blood sugar will increase initially, but this triggers the release of insulin in the effort of the body to decrease the sudden high sugar levels in the blood.
The more the blood sugar levels, the more the body releases insulin. That means that blood sugar also decreases drastically, even to very low levels and that leads to low energy levels, as well as carb cravings, hunger and weakness.
4. Less discipline in eating
There is a certain pleasure you derive from eating something nice like candy and it is because highly processed foods are very enjoyable yet very empty in nutrition. The brain eventually learns to associate these foods with survival, making you want to eat more of them and resulting in less restraint when it comes to regulating the food amounts you eat.
5. Insulin resistance
This is more of a long-term effect of consuming foods high in sugar and fructose corn syrup. This is due to the body trying to regulate the sugar by forcing the liver to produce more sugar this raises the blood sugar overall and increased levels of insulin.
The more insulin there is in the blood, the more the body develops a resistance to it. This eventually leads to the development of obesity and diabetes.
6. Increase in mood disorders
Many people who struggle with conditions such as anxiety tend to reach for snacks that are full of sugar or processed food. However, this does nothing to help the body regulate the condition, which raises the question of whether these foods play a role in worsening mental disorders in general.
7. It affects your sleeping patterns
You may not be aware of it, but your circadian rhythm has a strong link to the foods you consume. When you consume too much processed food, you risk throwing the rhythm off-balance, especially when you consume them before heading to bed.
For instance, consuming sweets or sodas before bed causes a surge of adrenaline. This hinders the production of serotonin, which affects your sleeping patterns negatively.
Because many of these foods have very high sodium content, it results in the body experiencing water retention. That makes you feel uncomfortable, and eventual swelling in the feet, hands and ankles. All this is because high levels of sodium will remove water from the cells, and the water eventually collects in other body areas.
The best way to solve this though is through consuming natural foods that contain potassium – another electrolyte. These include sweet potatoes, bananas, as well as plain yogurt. The reason is these two minerals will seek to balance each other out and counteracts the effects of high sodium levels.
In addition, it helps you feel less swollen later on.
9. Fragile bones
This may sound surprising, but it actually makes sense the more you consume highly processed foods, the more your diet will lack important foods such as kale, dairy and fish, which supply Vitamin D and calcium. This makes the bones weak over time.
Highly processed foods are highly dangerous for your health, especially when you consume them in very high amounts. It is best to limit them as much as possible from your diet, only consuming them once in a while at most and stick to healthy foods.