Well, are they? Somewhere in your heart of hearts, you must know that your favorite junk foods aren’t even food at all and that they can’t be good for you. Sure, in this day and age we are surrounded by convenience foods at lower prices then healthy ones, attend events and parties filled with junk foods, etc. But it’s not as tough as you think to kick the habit. After all, kicking your junk food habit and eating like we were meant to will save you life. A high price to pay? Not at all.
Think of your body as a car. It needs fuel to keep going along with all of the proper fluids kept up for all it’s parts to work harmoniously. We’ve all seen that decades old, mint condition car that some old man or woman only drove to work and back. That car will run for decades more because of the care that cautious owner put into it. After all, it was an investmet they made into something that helped them all of those years. Your body is no different. We were born with mint condition bodies that will last us for decades and give us no trouble if we take care of it. Good fuel and proper fluids needed, just like an automobile. When you don’t gas up often, the car/your body will shut down. When you don’t keep up with your oil changes or fluid replacements, parts in the car/your body stop functioning properly. When you put junky fuel and allow that gunk as well as the elements cake up within your engine block, again, the car/your body falls ill. You know better then to put sugar or soda in your car’s gas tank so why doesn’t that transfer to what you put in the vehicle that takes you through life? Your own body? Hundreds of years ago, the human race at only what was grown or farmed. Nowadays, modern civilization’s consumption of natural products is at an all time low while “food” made in labs and factories is at an all time high. We are consuming 75% chemicals, preservatives and additives and 25% real food. And for some, the real food intake is even less.
Would you drink out of the cleaning product bottles that you store under your sink? No, right? Those or toxic, harsh chemicals! But guess what, the chemicals found in your processed foods, non-organic produce and even what happens to food when it is cooked a certain way, is just as toxic. Maybe one serving of junk food may not be the equivalent of downing 8 ounces of Draino but over time, the chemicals build up an reek havoc on your body. Just like when your car needs a major overhaul, it’s pricey and painful. It’s worse for your body because sometimes, there is no fixing the damage that has already been done.
Any food made that quickly can’t be good. Haste makes waste, right? Yes! Most of the ingredients used to make your value meal is pre-made, frozen garbage that is reheated by being zapped. Voila, lunch! The amount of preservatives and additives in these insta-ingredients could get that pre-packed crap through a nuclear holocaust. FYI, food is not supposed to last forever. And if it can last forever on a shelf, imagine how long it lasts in your system! Sodium and grease are the most prevalent in fast food meals. Both are the main culprits in causing high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol and a whole host of unpleasantness.
The more obvious red flags, however, are the insane amount of calories found in fast food meals as well as the lack of any nutritional value. Come on guys, you can’t really count french fries as a vegetable! And honestly, how can anything that is 99 cents be good quality stuff. Do you really know what’s in that “all beef patty”? The lowest grade f meat possible that barely passes FDA approval. I’m not even going to get into the horrors of the low standards put FDA holds our consumables up to. It’s mind blowingly bad and downright sickening.
Even in “moderation” fast food should be the first thing you nix! Fast food has every one of the following items on its menus so avoiding the drive through will ensure that you stay away from the horrible things I will be discussing next.
Outside of the large amounts of grease found in fried foods, the best kept and most frightening secret about them is that they are highly carcinogenic. High levels of toxic acrylamide are formed in carbohydrate-rich plant products cooked at high temperatures in pan-frying and deep-frying. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, cassava, yams, bananas, rice, potato chips, french fries, baked potatoes and certain bread will decompose if it is fried, then react with amino acids to produce carcinogenic compounds called Acrylamide. Acrylamide is linked to tumors, DNA damage, nerve damage, interferes with fertility rates, and result in miscarriage. And don’t even get me started on the rest of the fried stuff like chicken, etc. Bad news folks!
In addition, cooking oils become rancid over time. Heat, light, exposure to air, and other factors can speed this process. But heat, at high levels, such as the temperatures used to fry foods, cause these cooking oils to become incredibly harmful. Many fast food joints re-use their oil over and over causing the oil to be exposed to these high temperatures numerous times, making them more dangerous with every batch. Not to mention, they don’t take proper care of these oils from the beginning (allowing them to be exposed to air and light early on) so from the get go, you’re already in trouble. If you “must” fry at home, use a high tolerance cooking oil such as coconut or safflower and mid the temperature well. But do your best to kick this habit asap!
I know that there is quite a controversy when it comes to microwaves. But I’m here to tell you, anything that heats your food that fast and is otherwise cool to the touch, can’t be good for you. These microwaves that are heating your quick lunch are actually transforming the chemical makeup of your foods on a cellular level. Ever notice that many things are less crispy and more rubbery when nuked? That’s because while those little waves are heating up, they have mutated your food. And mutated food not only loses it texture and taste, it loses all its nutrients too. You’re way better off buying a convection oven, steamer and/or toaster oven.
Studies have shown that after eating microwaved food, hemoglobin levels decrease. White blood cells also showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants The violent change that microwaving causes to the food molecules forms new life forms called radiolytic compounds. These are mutations that are unknown in the natural world. Ordinary cooking also causes the formation of some radiolytic compounds (which is no doubt one reason why it is better to eat plenty of raw food), but microwaving cooking causes a much greater number. This then causes deterioration in your blood and immune system.
If you’re short on time, make a peanut butter & Jelly sandiwch and stop nuking your food! ** A little ditty on microwaveable popcorn – Most popular brands contain the flavoring agent, chemical diacetyl which triggers severe lung disorder, called popcorn lung. The popcorn bags are made of paper that is coated with a chemical to keep the bag intact when heated, which breaks down to a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer.
Processed and Packaged Products
Most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what’s been added, but what’s been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and “good” fats. Combine that with additives, and you have a recipe for disaster. Some common ingredients you will find in packaged foods are trans fats, refined grains (see below), salt and high fructose corn syrup (also see below).
Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. That means big trouble for your arteries and heart. Remember all the lovely stuff I mentioned above in the fried and fast food sections? That’s all trans fatty crap. ugh!
Three-quarters of the sodium in our diets isn’t from the saltshaker. It’s hidden in processed foods! Sodium is necessary for life. But what happens when you eat more salt than your body needs? Your body retains fluid simply to dilute the extra sodium in your bloodstream. This raises blood volume, forcing your heart to work harder; at the same time, it makes veins and arteries constrict. The combination raises blood pressure and increases your chances for a heart attack.
Outside of all of these terrible ingredients, processed and packaged foods are normally convenience foods. Microwaveable foods, which we’ve covered to be a no-no, and not to mention canned and meals wrapped in plastic that leach bpa and other toxic chemicals into our food. Just a few more reasons to stick to a plant based diet ; ) Oh, and you save the earth too by not consuming so much disposable packaging too!
See my article on Sinister Soda – it’s pretty eye opening!
The biggie? High Fructose Corn Syrup – Yuck! It costs less to make, is sweeter to the taste, and mixes more easily with other ingredients. Today, we consume nearly 63 pounds of it per person per year in drinks and sweets, as well as in other products. Research is beginning to suggest that this liquid sweetener may upset the human metabolism, raising the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers say that high-fructose corn syrup’s chemical structure encourages overeating. It also seems to force the liver to pump more heart-threatening triglycerides into the bloodstream. In addition, fructose may zap your body’s reserves of chromium, a mineral important for healthy levels of cholesterol, insulin, and blood sugar. You can check out some more on the negative effects of sugar in my Sinister Soda article as well.
Burnt and/or grilled Foods
First of all, grilling destroys vital nutrients because more often then not, grilled foods tend to be overcooked. Most food should be cooked just enough to make it palatable and easy to digest (if that much). Any extra cooking doesn’t add to the taste (it can be argued) but does destroy the most fragile vitamins. More importantly, the more cooked a food is, the higher the concentration of carcinogens in it, such as the aforementioned acrylamides.
Burnt foods are just bad all around. The amino acids in the proteins can change chemically into pre-carcinogenic forms. Similar things can happen to coffee from the process of roasting the beans. The burnt parts are highly carcinogenic, as bad as the skin on fried foods. The molecules and chemical makeup of that food item has been mutated in such a way that when it is processed by our bodies, it can have detrimental effects.
White Flour, Pasta & Rice
This is the one that may seem the least harmful of all the categories but over time, these suckers will get you! Highly processed white flour (alias “enriched wheat flour” or “wheat flour”) is missing the two most nutritious and fiber-rich parts of the seed: the outside bran layer and the germ. A diet of refined foods leaves many people malnourished, constipated, enervated and vulnerable to chronic illness. The more refined foods a person eats, the more insulin must be produced to manage it. Insulin promotes the storage of fat, making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, which can lead to heart disease. Over time, the pancreas gets so overworked that insulin production grinds to a halt, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or diabetes sets in. Either way, the body is getting little or no fuel from the food you eat and tries to convert muscle and fat into energy.
Besides, refined/bleached flour and wheat products, is the fuel of infection and high blood sugar levels created by the consumption of these products decrease immune reservoir and response.Choosing refined grains such as white bread, rolls, sugary low-fiber cereal, white rice, or white pasta over whole grains can boost your heart attack risk by up to 30 percent.
The constant refined sugar/refined flour intake places a continual stress on the adrenals to pump out balancing hormones. This, of course, ultimately weakens the adrenals making it harder and harder for them to respond as the “emergency system” they were created to be. When real adrenal failure sets it, you really have a problem.
Does this unnatural white color cause you harm? Yes! When you are eating white bread, you are also eating residual chemical bleach. Flour mills use different chemical bleaches, all of which are pretty bad. Here are a few of them: oxide of nitrogen, chlorine, chloride, nitrosyl and benzoyl peroxide mixed with various chemical salts.
Moral of the story
I know that it may sound difficult, junk food is fun and a major part of our culture. It’s cheap, it’s pervasive and we’ve grown to be emotionally attached to it. But we can change that mentality as well as the sentimenatalty. We have to because otherwise, if we don’t change the relationship we have with our food, we may not be around much longer to enjoy any other relationships. Missing birthdays, weddings, graduations, travel, etc just because we couldn’t put down the burger. Losing loved ones that could have had years more with us because they couldn’t give up their sodas, pastas or microwave popcorn. Weigh the pros and cons and you’d be surprised how little food will matter in the long run.
Switching to a healthier diet is no longer social suicide. I’ve been proving that for over 11 years now. And not only is it not a stigma, it’s the new gourmet. So much so, that folks won’t miss their junk because their bodies will become accustomed to what “real food” is supposed to taste like again. The natural flavors in whole foods are beyond delicious and getting creative in the kitchen will awaken the senses much more then that of a microwave pizza.
Take the reigns back from your life and give your self the chance to live a long and healthy one by saying no to “fake”and poorly prepared food!