You need to avoid processed food If your health is really important to you and you want to visit the doctor less often, it’s time for you to take control of what goes into your mouth: eating too much processed and industrial food is the fastest and surest way to get fat and get sick.
The processed food that surrounds us from all sides offers improved taste, quick and simple preparation, and a longer shelf life, but it comes with an extremely high price tag: high levels of morbidity and countless serious and life-threatening health problems.
Our addiction to junk food and processed food is one of the biggest problems of the modern western diet. This is the leading cause of the global obesity epidemic and the sharp jump in the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and other medical problems.
When I talk about processed food, I mean food that goes through industrial processes designed to improve its taste, texture, availability, and shelf life. It is bursting with tons of artificial additives such as flavorings, food colorings, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and antioxidants and the list just doesn’t end.
The bottom line, these are dangerous and harmful chemicals that will interfere with the normal and healthy functioning of your body.
It’s time to get to know the most problematic and worst types of food that should be on your blacklist. In this article, you will learn about 17 processed foods that you should stay away from. In addition, you will understand once and for all why you should avoid processed and industrial food and in what ways it harms the body.
Trust me, after you realize the extent of the damage and the mess it makes, you won’t want to put it in your mouth and get any closer to it.
I am sure that some of the things you are going to read in this list will surprise you very much! Beyond all the “instant suspects” that we are all aware of their harms, you will meet some popular foods that are actually considered relatively healthy, and I am going to explain how each of these types of food will harm your health.
So let’s get going and discover the foods that are better left aside and deleted from your shopping list.
The right kind of yogurt can be a particularly healthy and nutritious solution for your breakfast, but low-fat yogurt is really not the right choice.
Most of the taste of dairy products comes from the fat they contain, and the lower the fat percentage, the more bland and repulsive the taste becomes. To compensate for this and make the reduced-fat yogurt tastier, the various manufacturers shove tons of sugar into it.
In some cases, the yogurt also undergoes a pasteurization process that eliminates all the good and beneficial bacteria it contains. Look for natural yogurt from whole milk that contains probiotic bacteria that will only do good for your digestive system and help it work smoothly and efficiently.
There is no problem with incorporating quality meat into a healthy diet, but processed meats such as sausages, pastrami and sausages should remain out of your daily menu.
Increased consumption of processed meat increases the risk of developing life-threatening chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and heart disease ( 1, 2 ).
Although these findings are based on observational studies and not on clinical trials, serious and alarming findings have been found that show a direct and significant link between the consumption of processed meat and serious medical problems.
If you can’t do without a quality sausage, buy a premium natural product that does not include artificial additives.
Cookies, cakes, pastries processed food
These foods are bursting with tons of calories that are not at all useful or actually contribute to the body. It is true that these are particularly favorite foods, but do yourself a favor and stop devouring them without limit – your body will be grateful.
Huge amounts of refined sugar, white flour, and trans fats will harm your health and cause you to gain weight and gain extra pounds.
White bread processed food
Bread made from processed wheat flour provides our body with a lot of empty calories and causes a sharp increase in blood sugar levels.
All the important and beneficial nutrients contained in the wheat disappear and are destroyed during the grinding and processing of the white flour. Even if you are not sensitive to gluten (a protein found in wheat), it is recommended to give up white bread that will not meet your nutritional needs.
It is better to go for wholemeal bread made from wheat, rye, or other grains that have a high nutritional value.
sugary drinks processed food
Added sugar is one of the biggest problems of the modern western diet, it is devastatingly harmful to our health in a variety of different ways. There are lots of different sources of sugar on our daily menu, but sugary drinks are by far the worst and most problematic.
The sugar in soft and carbonated drinks activates the pleasure system in the brain and acts like an addictive drug.
You will be in the clouds for a few minutes, but the transient high effect will pass very quickly and before long you will feel thirsty and want to open a new can. The problem is that the brain does not “read” them as food, so they are not satisfying at all ( 4, 5, 6 ).
Momentary happiness has a heavy price, and the huge amounts of sugar hidden in sugary drinks cause much health damage.
Excessive consumption of sugar contributes to the development of insulin resistance and can lead to an abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver cells, a phenomenon called: “fatty liver”.
In addition, excess sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious medical problems, including obesity ( 7, 8, 9 ).
These are good reasons to give up the can of Coke that you are used to eliminating at a dizzying pace.
Ice cream processed food
Because this favorite and popular food is full of sugar, it has no added nutritional value. We also don’t really treat it as real food and tend to devour it between meals or as a dessert after a big meal, which only adds unnecessary calories to the body.
It’s hard to stop at one small scoop and many people tend to eliminate huge and excessive amounts of ice cream. It ends up with a few extra pounds weighing you down. If you can’t live without ice cream, just try to make it yourself without commercial amounts of sugar and artificial additives, just use natural and healthy sweeteners.
Fries processed food
I’m sure the following fact will not surprise you: excessive eating of chips leads to obesity ( 10, 11 ).
So it is true that it sounds obvious, but you will not be happy to know that frying, roasting, or baking potatoes creates carcinogenic substances called acrylamides and it is recommended to avoid them ( 12, 13 ). The healthiest way to eat potatoes is to simply boil them in water.
If plain mashed potatoes bore you and you miss the crunchy and crunchy chips, be creative and think of a way to improve the texture of a boiled potato – try adding nuts or dwarf carrots that can solve the problem.
fruit juices processed food
Yes, yes, you read that right. Many people are sure that fruit juice is the healthiest and most nutritious because it is made from fruits we are all aware of their high nutritional value and health benefits.
So it’s time to change this belief: fruit juices do not provide the body with the dietary fibers that help moderate the absorption of fructose (fruit sugar) in the body.
Drinking fruit juices causes a sharp spike in blood sugar levels similar to sugary drinks.
So it is true that fruit juices are rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins, but all their benefits are nullified and go down the drain because of the high sugar concentration ( 14 ).
Although it seems to us that natural juices can do no harm, they should not be consumed in excessive amounts, and drink without restriction. There is no problem if you occasionally drink pomegranate or acai juice, but be careful not to consume fruit juice every time you are thirsty – too many glasses of natural juice can be harmful.
Just drink plain water and you’re set.
Processed food cheese
Cheese can be a wonderful addition to your nutritional menu. It is rich in essential nutrients that will benefit your health.
But processed cheese is a completely different story. It is an inferior industrial imitation designed to simulate the taste, texture, and appearance of real and natural cheese. It contains a wide variety of artificial additives such as stabilizers, thickeners, and preservatives and includes a lower concentration of pure milk components.
Instead of spending the money on cheap substitutes, go for the real thing.
Agave nectar processed food
This sweetener is marketed as a natural and healthy product, but in fact, it is a refined and processed product that contains a higher concentration of fructose than regular white sugar or high fructose corn syrup ( 15 ).
The fructose in natural fruits does not pose any problem to your health, but a supplement of fructose can become a real threat. If you load your liver with large amounts of fructose that it will have to process, this can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes ( 16 ).
Instead of using agave syrup, try healthier sweeteners like stevia or erythritol.
Pizza processed food
This is one of the most popular and loved junk food in the world. The high availability and wonderful taste make pizza a favorite choice for many people.
The problem is that most commercial pizzas contain unhealthy ingredients like white flour and processed meat, and I’m not even talking about the huge amount of calories in one triangle.
So instead of eating pizza at the mall, it’s better that you treat yourself every once in a while to a homemade pizza that you make yourself.
Most people understand that fast food is not exactly the healthiest and most nutritious meal, but the cheap price and excellent taste easily overcome these considerations.
It’s time to realize that addiction to fast food takes a heavy and expensive toll on our health. If you feed your children industrial and fast food, keep in mind that it can lead to excess weight and chronic diseases ( 17 ).
If you eat out a lot and don’t miss a single fast-food restaurant, you’re basically treating yourself like a garbage can and pushing tons of fatty, processed junk into your body. If your health is really important to you, it’s time to get rid of this problematic habit.
Processed vegetable oils
The use of refined vegetable oils has increased dramatically in the last hundred years. The food manufacturers insist on pushing them into every product in order to lower costs and profit on the back of the consumer. They didn’t even bother to thoroughly check how safe these industrial ingredients are to use.
Scientific studies carried out in recent years reveal a bleak and worrying picture regarding the health effects of these oils. Much evidence has emerged to suggest that refined oils such as canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil increase the risk of cancer and increase oxidative damage caused to the body. They contain a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids that wreak havoc throughout the body ( 18, 19, 20, 21 ).
It is better to use healthier and more beneficial oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and butter.
I’m sure many of you think it’s not the end of the world at all if you allow yourself a sweet snack every now and then. What damage can he do? It is tasty, easily digested and does not fill the stomach, and provides an instant boost of energy.
The problem is that sweets are bursting with huge amounts of sugar and processed wheat flour. They are not at all satisfying and you will want to eat more and more of them.
Instead of pushing empty and useless calories into your body, snack on dark chocolate or a piece of fruit – they will close the corner for you when you feel hungry and want something sweet.
Just like processed cheese, it is a type of industrial butter substitute designed to mimic its appearance, taste and texture.
It is usually made from refined and hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain a high concentration of trans fat. This type of fat is toxic to the body and has no place in any healthy diet, even in the smallest amounts.
Manufacturers are allowed to market their product as “trans-fat-free” if one serving contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat. This is usually an unrealistic dose that no one can adhere to.
Even if the product contains small amounts of this dangerous fat, they accumulate quickly and reach a significant concentration that should worry you.
Better buy real butter and save yourself all this headache.
Sweetened coffee drinks
Many people are unable to start their day without a cup of hot coffee. Scientific studies have revealed that daily consumption of coffee reduces the risk of developing several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s ( 22, 23 ).
Coffee can offer a variety of health benefits thanks to a high concentration of powerful antioxidants that will only do good for your body. But all its positive effect disappears as soon as sugar or artificial sweeteners are added to it: the addition of artificial substances cancels all its health benefits.
To make your cup of coffee much healthier and more beneficial, be sure to drink black coffee clean from premium beans. It is better if it is sugar-free, but if you must refine and sweeten its strong taste, add a little whipped cream or whole milk.
When the wave of low-carb diets is at its peak and gaining popularity all over the world, many manufacturers want to jump on the bandwagon and translate the hot trend into handsome profits. They are flooding the market with snacks and meal replacements that excel at low carbohydrate concentrations.
All this junk won’t significantly affect your daily carb intake, but it will provide very few beneficial nutrients and lots of harmful chemicals and artificial additives to stay away from.
Why is processed food bad for your health?
Here are some good reasons to stay away from processed and industrial food.
Let’s stop the word washing and talk straight and to the point: processed food is full of harmful chemicals.
When you buy a granola bar, you are sure that it is a pretty healthy snack. After all, it contains oats, rice crackers, nuts, raisins, and honey – all high-quality foods with a high nutritional composition.
But don’t be in a hurry to be happy. Chances are that some really unpleasant surprises await you in the list of ingredients.
It may be that the manufacturer chose to push into the healthy snack you purchased much less sympathetic and positive ingredients such as guar gum (stabilizer), milk fat, hardened gelatin, maltodextrin (artificial sweetener), or synthetic flavors.
Artificial flavors include a wide variety of different chemicals and the manufacturer doesn’t even have to fully declare them.
The purpose of all these artificial ingredients is to improve the taste and texture of the product, to give it an attractive color, or to extend its shelf life.
Officially, all of these supplements are considered safe to use. But, believe me, you shouldn’t blindly trust the authorities and the authorized bodies, and it’s always better to play it safe and not gamble with your health ( 1 ).
A large number of refined carbohydrates
Most processed food contains a high amount of refined carbohydrates. While nutrition experts still disagree on whether large amounts of carbohydrates have a place in a healthy diet or not, they all agree that in any case, they should come from a natural, healthy, and clean source.
The simple carbohydrates found in processed and industrial food are quickly digested in the body and cause a sharp and rapid spike in insulin and blood sugar levels.
They will satisfy you for a short time only and within a few hours their effect will wear off and you will run to the fridge and want to devour everything that is in it.
In addition, refined carbohydrates are linked to a long list of chronic diseases and health problems ( 2, 3, 4 ).
Low concentration of essential nutrients and fiber
The industrial processing that food goes through damages its nutritional value and removes all the dietary fiber it naturally contains. It loses huge amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients that are required for the healthy and balanced functioning of the body.
The result is food without any real benefit that can cause nutritional deficiencies and harm your health. Many manufacturers try to be clever and pretend that they compensate for the low nutritional value by adding various vitamins and minerals.
How many times have you seen the title: “Enriched with…” emblazoned on the product packaging. This is a hollow password that does not solve the problem at all. In most cases these are artificial ingredients that do not come close to the original.
Both soluble fiber and viscous fiber play an essential role in the digestion and metabolism process in the body. Most of the dietary fibers are not digested in the body and are used as food for intestinal bacteria. These bacteria are able to ferment and break down these fibers, which ensures better and more efficient functioning of the intestines ( 5, 6 ).
Soluble fiber helps prevent constipation. They help create a comfortable and more suitable living environment for good and friendly intestinal bacteria that improve the activity of the digestive system and ensure that it works in the best and most efficient way ( 7 ).
Large amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup
Processed food is characterized by excessive sweetness and to satisfy the consumer’s uncontrollable urge for sweetness, food companies push as much white sugar or corn syrup rich in fructose into their products as possible. These two components cause a lot of trouble in the body.
We all know very well that sugar provides “empty” calories that the body does not have enough to use for its needs, but its damage really does not end there: it disrupts the body’s metabolism ( 8 ) and causes a host of disorders in the body such as insulin sensitivity, excess cholesterol and a high concentration of triglycerides, and it also causes the accumulation of abdominal fat ( 9, 10 ).
Excess sugar is associated with the most common diseases in the Western world such as heart problems, cancer, diabetes and obesity ( 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 ).
According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes no less than 70 kg of sugar per year. Less than 30% of this amount comes from the sugar jar in the kitchen.
This means that most of the sugar that reaches your body you consume covertly and unconsciously. For the few teaspoons we add to our cup of coffee or bowl of breakfast cereal, we put tons of sugar into our body, which is found in high amounts in the carbonated drinks and processed foods we consume ( 16 ).
Trans fat and vegetable oils
The food manufacturers spare no means to maximize their profits, and one of the best ways to lower costs and save a lot of money is to use extremely cheap and inferior oils.
Vegetable oils that star in the list of ingredients of most products you will find in the supermarket are designed to improve the taste and texture of the food. Regular vegetable oil such as soybean oil undergoes a chemical process that turns it into hydrogenated vegetable oil that contains a high concentration of trans fat.
I’m sure this name sounds familiar to you. Trans fat is a notorious saturated fat that has quite rightly earned its negative image and bad public relations. It contains a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids that increase the oxidation process in the body and encourage inflammatory processes, in fact, it is the most destructive and harmful type of fat for your health ( 17, 18 ).
Consumption of this type of oil increases the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the world ( 19, 20, 21 ).
Increased and powerful taste that encourages further consumption
Since the dawn of mankind, taste buds have played a significant role in our survival mechanism. They made us gravitate towards the most beneficial and safe foods for the body.
Our ancestors were attracted to fatty foods that contain a high amount of essential amino acids, salty food that provided a respectable dose of sodium that is necessary for the proper functioning of the body, and foods with a natural sweetness that fueled the body with the energy required for its daily functioning. We learned to stay away from spoiled foods with an overly bitter and sour taste that could cause poisoning and harm our health.
But, the modern food industry has learned to exploit these basic instincts for its needs: it has succeeded in creating products with an addictive and stimulating taste that will make us consume too much of them and return to them again and again.
In order to overcome the tough and tight competition in the market and to ensure that the producers choose their products, the various food corporations are ready to invest any amount to make their products particularly tasty and attractive.
The result is overeating ( 22, 23 ). We find it hard to resist and resist the temptation and insist on devouring an entire package. Although these products are not at all healthy and beneficial for the body, the various manufacturers and brands know which points to press so that we savor every bite and derive maximum pleasure from their products. It is impossible to resist spicy food with its intense and rich taste and contrary to simple logic and common sense, we devour huge and excessive amounts of processed food.
Junk process food addiction
You have to face reality: processed and industrial food is addictive. Once you start devouring it, it is very easy to lose control and very difficult to stop. It acts on certain chemicals in the brain and causes us to cross the border and swallow it unconsciously and without paying attention ( 24 ).
It doesn’t happen to everyone, but some people can’t stop until they finish a huge bag of chips, a box of ice cream, or an entire box of cookies. They just don’t stop until they get to the bottom and finish it all.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to get addicted to fatty and spoiled food that is bursting with sugar and flavorings. It causes great pleasure and a momentary feeling of satisfaction that we want to prolong and reproduce over and over again. Foods of this type affect the brain in a very similar way to cocaine ( 25 ).
This means that the brain damage caused is similar to the mechanism of addiction to hard drugs. Only this scary and shocking fact should open your eyes and convince you to stop consuming processed food. Start fighting your uncontrollable craving for junk food and quit it once and for all.
Processed food: summary and conclusions
Bottom line, processed and industrial food is a sure recipe for disaster. It will make you gain extra pounds and harm your health and quality of life. Switch to real food that will provide your body with everything it really needs to function in a balanced and healthy manner.