Which foods should have no place in your home? Ask a hundred nutrition experts and you will get a hundred different answers. Despite this diversity of opinions, there seems to be one food group where nearly everyone is in agreement. And we have our modern food industry to thank for its existence.
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Yes, you guessed it! I am talking about highly processed foods. Industrial food processing has been one of the biggest dangers to our health for the past few hundred years. It is not a coincidence that searching for “processed food” on Google brings up results with words like “harm” or “avoid”. New research is revealing the harmful effects processed foods have on us almost every day. Some, like obesity, are more obvious, whereas others, like cardiovascular disease, gut issues, stroke, or damage to internal organs may seem unrelated. However, they are all very real, and considering these foods have not been around for long, there might be other long-term effects about which we don’t know yet.
So, why does food processing even exist, you might be asking. Well, it helps us feed the masses by prolonging the shelf life of foods, making them cheaper to produce and also easier to distribute over long distances, all while generating a handsome profit for the manufacturers. But we don’t pay for this luxury in cash, we spend our health instead.
Three most dangerous ingredients in the world
Food refining has brought us all of the three most dangerous ingredients: refined flour, sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup) and industrial seed oils. It’s not that these are the strongest poisons on Earth, it’s the ungodly quantities in which they are consumed in the Western world daily that’s the problem.
And why exactly is their high consumption so bad for us? For a start, they promote overeating: They are extremely low in dietary fiber and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals), yet very energy-dense, especially foods that contain a mixture of these ingredients (you know… donuts, cakes, muffins, cookies). These foods send strong signals to the reward centers of our brains. This means that eating them brings pleasure, but not the nutrients our bodies need. So calories pour in, but hunger persists. Because of this our cravings get stronger and the vicious cycle continues.
On top of that, you should seriously doubt their safety: Flour, which is often not properly fermented, contains lectins and proteins (gluten) that promote inflammation, sugar gets into our blood stream way too fast and causes unhealthy insulin spikes, and industrial seed oils, due to heat exposure, contain oxidized fats that are toxic to our bodies. Also, most of them have high omega-6 fatty acid content that contributes to a pro-inflammatory state in our bodies. This leads to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most modern diseases.
You can add superfoods to your diet, supplement with the best multi-vitamins, and still see almost no change in your health or performance. It’s only when you free your body from all highly refined foods that you experience the most significant and positive changes. Today, we are not threatened by having too little. It’s having too much that is the problem.