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Reasons to Avoid Highly Processed Foods

By Rachel Carver

An entire industry thrives on processed foods, and these products sell. It is easy to pick up dinner from Burger King on the way home, or to whip up some boxed mac and cheese for the kids for dinner after a long day.

However, reaching for these processed foods can affect more than just your scale number. These foods are typically high in added sugar, sodium, and unhealthy saturated fat. Even if your calorie count is low, your scale number will still creep up with these foods.

Why Are These Foods so Bad for You?

A diet full of highly processed foods can increase your risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. BMJ research found that study participants regularly consuming ultra-processed foods had an 18 percent higher death risk during the study period.

These foods also affect appetite. One study found that mice who consumed artificial sweeteners and other high processed items each day experienced changes in the brain pathways that regulate appetite. These changes caused the mice to consume more calories and gain weight.

Keep these things in mind.

The degree of process makes a difference - Smoked or cured meats such as sausages and ham are more processed than other meats. The added nitrites make these meats ultra-processed.

Some whole foods go through minimal processing - Frozen fruits and veggies need some processing to preserve shelf life. However, this processing does not decrease the nutritional value of these foods.

Digestion of Ultra-Processed Foods

Whole foods such as quinoa, eggs, and leafy greens contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These improve gut health and can decrease the risk of cancer and other medical conditions.

On the other hand, the additives found in highly processed foods can throw off your body's digestive track. They are also low in fiber and other items important to your health. These can lead to bloating and other unpleasant side effects.

Choose whole foods whenever possible. In addition to nourishing your body, whole foods usually cost less. Research conducted in 2019 found ultra-processed foods are 40 percent more expensive than other foods.

Prepare lean protein such as chicken and fish to use throughout the week. Buy a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies from the store. You can find healthy, satiating recipes that will allow you to experiment with flavors and foods. The more you prepare your own food, the more health benefits you will see. You will also physically feel better and have more energy.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Flowery Branch, Ga.

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