Note: this post has been updated in September 2019
A problem faced by many Americans is that we try to balance work and life, and in doing so we have become used to eating on the go or frequenting take-out restaurants. To balance that lack of time we opt for convenience foods that are heavily processed and loaded with chemicals, not realizing that we are sacrificing nutrition for extra time with the family.
The problem with our food choices is that they are processed and processed food is bad for you. It is also one of the main reasons people worldwide are getting sick and obesity rates are skyrocketing. We need to challenge that mindset that says “fast food is good food.” Doctors and other health professionals should be advising people to eat food with better nutrients to be healthy instead of prescribing medication for conditions that are caused by poor eating habits.
In the 1960s, there was no labeling law requiring manufacturers to disclose product ingredients. It wasn’t until the 1990s that ingredients were placed on packages to let consumers know what was really in the food they are buying.
There are more types of canned foods on store shelves than produce these days. Canning food in the old days was just a way to preserve things like tomatoes from your garden and strawberries for homemade jam. Today, canned foods are a staple in many households, replacing the home-cooked meals of the past. Many of those same foods are loaded with chemical additives that negate any real nutrition it may have had.
Most things we eat today do not satisfy the definition of food-any nutritious substance that people eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth. There is very little “real food” left in the United States as we become more and more dependent on convenience foods. Here are a few of the issues involved:
Processed foods are usually high in sugar, and when consumed in excess, they are extremely harmful. Sugar consumption is strongly associated with some of the world’s leading killers, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Sugar is in nearly every product we consume in one form or another. It’s no wonder why the obesity rates are so high in the US and other countries that have adopted a Westernized diet or that have some of our franchise restaurants.
The addiction to processed food derives from its usually good taste and high accessibility. Given the limited time people can dedicate to healthy cooking of fresh food, the major food companies have a very easy job in convincing us to overconsume processed food.
Processed foods are bad for our health because they contain many artificial ingredients. If you look at the ingredients listed on the label of any processed packaged food, chances are you won’t have a clue what some of the ingredients (artificial chemicals) are. You may also notice that many of the ingredients listed you can’t even pronounce. If you can’t pronounce it and don’t know what it is, should you be eating it?
In addition, processed foods are also high in refined carbohydrates. These are not the good carbohydrates made from whole foods.
The bottom line is sad and simple: most processed foods are extremely low in essential nutrients and cause severe long-term damage to our health. The challenge is to offer people living in the modern world food products that include ALL the nutrients the body needs for both immediate functioning and long-term health.
Food is supposed to nourish the body, not kill it. This is a transformation of humanity. People are literally dying for nutrition. This is not a one-time thing. We need real food daily and we are not getting real food – we are getting JUNK!
A few great resources that may shed some light on the crisis is listed below.
Below are several great books including the China Study which is one of the best known for the extensive work done in the field of plant-based studies.
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