21 Horrific Facts About Processed Foods


Even the birds know by now that processed foods are not good for us and that it is much better to go with fresh and organic alternatives. Processing takes a lot out of food and often introduces substances which make the food bad for you.

However, what are the real facts? What are the cold, hard facts that illustrate this? We have compiled a list of 21 horrific facts about processed foods and we hope you will read this list in its entirety.

Bon appetite!

1. Processed Foods Are Addictive

There is a reason why processed foods are so popular. Okay, there is more than one reason. For one, they are cheap, much cheaper than fresh food and you get more for your money. In addition to this, they often make preparation simpler. However, the main reason why processed foods somehow always make their way to your plate is that they are, simply put, addictive.

Certain foods and substances are more efficient at stimulating your body to release dopamine. Sugar is one such example. Dopamine elevates your mood and makes you feel happy. Manufacturers of processed foods know this and they cram dopamine-friendly ingredients in their products.

Before you know it, you are craving your favorite processed foods because your body remembers the good feeling from the last few times you ate them. This is how drugs work. This is how gambling works. This is also how processed foods work.


2. There Are Soo May Artificial Ingredients

In case you think we are overreacting with this one, just take a candy wrapper – any candy wrapper – and try to figure out what goes into making your favorite sweet snack. You will see a seemingly endless list of words that look as if a cat walked across someone’s keyboard. You will have absolutely no idea what 99 percent of those words are, let alone what effect they have on your body.

The reason for this is that most processed foods are artificially “assembled”. Instead of putting in ingredients that they are emulating, it is easier to take a few preservatives, a few colorants, a few flavor enhancers and a few texturants, i.e. chemicals that actually simulate a certain texture.

As you can guess, this “construction” of food will introduce innumerable chemicals into your body, some of which may be perfectly safe. However, at best some of these ingredients are not.


3. Processed Food Is Everywhere

And they’re gonna get you! No, really. Unless you are really, really careful about what you eat, and we mean REALLY careful about what you eat, chances are that more than 70 percent of your calories are coming from processed foods. The reason for this is a simple one – out of 10 food items that the Average Joe and/or Jane purchase to eat, at least 7 of them will have been altered in one way or another with chemical ingredients.

Perhaps the saddest thing about it all is that in the beginning, people were using these chemical ingredients for good, introducing preservatives to make the foods last longer. Then, as the industry developed and advanced, they figured out that they can do much more.

These days, these substances are so present that it is near impossible to avoid them. Often times they will do no harm, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to avoid them if you wish to?


4. Processed Foods Contain Disgusting Ingredients

Food and cooking is all about chemistry. Certain substances produce certain properties when used properly and the food industry does not care what ingredients they are using, as long as they serve a purpose. They really do not care.

For example, the stuff that is keeping your bagged cheese from getting all caked and hard on the ends is cellulose, which is basically ground up wood. As in trees-in-the-forest wood. If you enjoy chewing on gum, you might want to learn that your favorite chewing gum contains a certain oily substance found in sheep’s wool.

Here is another example. Titanium dioxide (definitely sounds ominous) is an ingredient that you will commonly find in sunscreens and paints. Well, it is also found in most cake icing, salad dressings and coffee creamers.

And these are just some examples.


5. Processed Foods Make You Die Earlier

Growing old is rarely a walk in the park. As we get older, our bodies get weaker and tend to break down more often than before. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases; they all shorten our lives and can make our golden years not so golden. Well, processed foods have been proven to also play a role.

A study published in The American Journal of Medicine (an independent study, which is very important to point out) has established that eating processed foods so characteristic of the “western” diet contribute to the development of various health problems and to shorter lifespans.

The study was conducted on thousands of people, over the span of 16 years. It factored in all the other lifestyle choices that the participants reported and they concluded that people who did not control the intake of processed food lived shorter on average than those who did.


6. Processed Foods May Not Be That Cheap

We mentioned before that one of the allures of processed foods is that they are cheap. And really, when you can get a half a ton of microwave-ready chili (which is packed with all kinds of chemicals that are bad for you, btw) for $0.02 (we are exaggerating, of course), it may seem that only the rich people can afford to eat fresh foods and prepare it for themselves.

In reality, however, this is simply not true. A number of professional celebrity chefs and other experts have illustrated on innumerable occasions that preparing food from scratch is often more affordable, especially if you know how to use leftovers and give them new life.

Of course, there is the matter of spending time on cooking, but it is not like we all work 18-hour days and cannot find the time to prepare food. A good way to go about doing so is to make a family activity out of it.


7. It Is Hard To Lose Weight Eating Processed Foods

When you eat a meal, your body achieves something called the postprandial thermogenic response. Postprandial means “after meal” and thermogenic means “producing heat”. In layman terms, after you eat, your body spends some of those calories through this postprandial thermogenic response, meaning that not everything you eat becomes accumulation of weight in your body.

A study was done recently which compared this response after a processed food meal and a whole food meal. The conclusion is that the response is 50 percent less pronounced when eating processed foods. Basically, when you eat a processed foods meal, your body spends half the energy value that it would of a whole foods meal.

It then logically follows that it is far easier to lose weight by eating whole foods. In fact, it is incredible that more research has not be done into this.


8. Processed Foods Cause Almost All Chronic Diseases

Like we wrote in the introduction to this list, most of us are aware that processed foods are not good for us. We have all heard about heart conditions and other conditions that are contributed to by eating processed foods. However, this goes even further. More studies are showing that processed foods are actually the root of almost every chronic disease that cause untimely death.

A particularly comprehensive study that has looked at more than 30 years of data has established that the “new way of eating” has a negative effect on nutritional factors such as glycemic load, macronutrient composition, sodium-potassium ratio and many others.

As the result of this, people whose diet is particularly “western”  are at far greater risk of developing all kinds of chronic diseases that are virtually unknown in hunter-gatherer cultures and less Westernized people.


9. Processed Foods Wreak Havoc On Our Digestive Tract

You may not be aware of this (or you may just be ignoring it), but a large part of our digestive tract is a symbiotic relationship between us and different kinds of microorganisms (mostly bacteria) populating our digestive system. It is a relationship that has lasted for millions of years and that has so far been mutually beneficial.

Processed foods put a strain on this relationship, short and simple. This relationship began long, long before such a thing like food processing was even conceivable and the various chemicals that have become a regular feature of our diet are something these microorganisms simply cannot tolerate.

Because of this, the microflora in our digestive tract becomes unbalanced and this has innumerable negative effects on our digestion and our overall health. Moreover, this can lead to a number of chronic illnesses, some of which can even be fatal.


10. Processed Food Intake Is More Difficult To Control

This time, we will not be talking about the “inner workings” of the processed foods and their “stealth” way of producing an addiction-like relationship with them. We have already covered this and this time, we will be talking about a perfectly human weakness for foods that are convenient.

Namely, processed foods are convenient. They are usually pre-cooked and preparing them usually involves little more than cracking open a box or opening a bag of some kind. Because of this, most people rarely even notice when they eat. They just grab something processed and shove it down their throats.

This is a bad thing since you are “overriding” the natural signals that your body produces, telling you when you actually need nutrients. In essence, you are eating processed foods without actually needing any food at all. And this is always a bad thing.


11. Processed Food Labels Mean Nothing

There are quite a few laws that govern food labels. They are meant to provide us with all the information we need to make an informed decision on what to eat, how much of it to eat and what to expect to find in the foods that we eat. The only problem is that laws are so vague and lax that labels mean almost nothing when processed foods are in question.

For example, the fact that a food label indicates something is “natural” means absolutely nothing. The regulations and the laws are so muddled that foods which have been genetically modified, treated with all kinds of chemicals and packed full of various artificial substances can legally be marked as natural.

In addition to this, manufacturers can use ridiculously small serving sizes on the labels, making you believe that the levels of various substances and compounds found in certain processed foods are much lower than they actually are.


12. Processed Foods Will Make Your Blood Pressure Skyrocket

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a well-known chronic condition which affects an incredibly high percentage of American people. And not just American people. Pretty much every “western” country is reporting more and more cases of hypertension with each year that passes.

High blood pressure is linked to a number of cardiovascular conditions and events and even on its own, it reduces life expectancy. There are a few factors that contribute to the increased incidence of hypertension in the developed countries, with processed foods being one such factor.

The most common culprit is sodium which is found in copious amounts in many processed foods. Canned foods are particularly dangerous here, with a single serving of canned beans containing more sodium than you should put in your body in a day. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.


13. Your Cereal Is Packed With Pesticides

Cereals are an integral part of most people’s breakfast. We have a real love for cereals in this country and it is something that will probably never change. One thing that should change, however, is the type of cereal that we eat.

If you go for your “traditional” cereal, you are not only stuffing your system with copious amounts of sugar and empty calories. You are also introducing serious amounts of pesticides into your body. And pesticides are not good for you, to say the least. The reason for this is that most of the pesticides used today are system, meaning they are “inside” the wheats and not just on the outside.

Natural cereals are just as bad. Natural cereals also contain crop pesticides, GMOs and fumigation chemicals. If you want to eat your cereal and avoid all this, go organic. It is the only way.


14. Processed Foods Make You Age Faster

We have already talked about the fact that processed foods will make your life shorter. On top of that, processed foods will also make you age faster, making you look and feel much older than you actually are. So, not only do they take away years for you, but also make you look older during those years that you still have left.

The main culprit here is phosphate which is more than common in different processed foods, soda being the “winner” here. A study was done and it showed that ageing process is accelerated by phosphate. In addition to this, it can contribute to age-associated health problems such as chronic kidney disease.

Furthermore, a poor diet which is heavy on processed foods can lead to inflammatory processes in different tissues of the body, triggering oxidative stress and damaging collagen in the skin. The result – you, looking older.


15. Certain Additives Are Tolerated For Lack Of Proof

Studies and research require money. And where there is no potential profit, finding the money can be quite difficult. It is simply the way the world works. This is why proper research has not been done for innumerable food additives.

Perhaps the most illustrating example is butylated hydroxyanisole, an additive that keeps oils from becoming rancid. It is found in vegetable oil, cereals and chewing gum, for instance.

There has been some research done into BHA in rats and some other animals and in a portion of them, it has been found to cause cancer. Due to lack of money for further research, the FDA slapped the “generally recognized as safe” label on the additive which the Department of Health and Human Services classify as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Keep in mind that this is just a one example. Unfortunately, there are many more.


16. Processed Meats Cause Cancer

People love processed meats. We love bacon. We love salami. We love hotdogs. We love beef jerky. They are delicious and we cannot imagine sandwiches without one type of processed meat or another. And for years, experts have warned that processed meats are not good for you.

Well, it is now official and it is actually worse than we imagined. Namely, the World Health Organization has finally gone public, saying that processed meats cause cancer. In fact, they have officially put processed meats in the same category as plutonium.

It is important not to panic, though. As long as you eat processed meats in moderation, you will not be increasing risks of contracting cancer dramatically. That being said, processed meats are now in the same category as plutonium. Makes you think.


17. Processed Foods Will Make You Fat

Obesity is such a big problem in the modern world that many people are calling it the plague of the 21st century. While this is totally an overblown statement, it is true that being fat can lead to a number of health problems, many of which can be extremely serious. And processed foods are definitely not helping you.

For instance, there is a little thing known as high fructose corn syrup which is found in various beverages and other processed foods. HFCS has an effect on insulin secretion, as well as leptin production which are essential for how your body reacts to food. And this is just a single food additive.

In addition to this, since processed foods are often stripped of the necessary nutrients, you will need to eat more food to supply your body with everything it needs. As a result, you will get bigger. It is pure logic.


18. Processed Foods Can Cause Depression

Depression is a serious disease that more and more people are suffering from. It is a mood disorder which is much more than just “feeling down” as some people see it. It is no laughing matter and there are ways to reduce chances that you will develop depression, just like any other illness.

One of the ways to do this is to reduce the intake of processed foods. Why? Because processed foods and especially junk food can increase the chances of becoming depressed. A 2014 study showed that people who ate more processed food than their peers are 36 percent more likely to feel depressed. Another study showed that a high-quality diet is directly associated with improved mental health.

This studies have definitely shown that there is a correlation between one’s diet and their mood, which is something experts have believed for quite some time.


19. Processed Foods Will Give You Constipation

Okay, we may have gone really sensational with this entry, but it is not like it is not true. Namely, constipation, which has become quite a common problem, is an issue that can very easily be prevented by proper fiber intake. The problem with processed foods is that fiber is often both removed and lost unintentionally through food processing.

More precisely, fiber is essential for the wellbeing of the bacteria found in the intestine. As we mentioned before, this microflora is essential for the proper functioning of the digestive tract and without it, constipation is a common problem.

In addition to this, fiber has been shown to slow down carbohydrates absorption which means that you feel full for much longer if you eat a diet rich in fibers. Meaning, a diet which does not consist of processed foods.


20. You Never Know How Old Processed Food Is

There are a number of reasons why processed foods are as “processed” as they are. One important reason has to do with prolonging shelf-life. This dramatically increases the profits and ensures as little as possible is thrown away.

There are a number of ways in which the food industry “simulates” freshness of the food. For instance, they will introduce various dyes to make foods look fresher and healthier than they are. For instance, packaged meat is often treated with carbon monoxide (the same stuff that comes out of your exhaust) to make it red as long as possible.

As a result of this, you can never really be sure that the food you are buying is fresh. In fact, it is far more likely that you will be purchasing foods that have been on the shelves for God knows how long.


21. Processed Food Manufacturers Just Don’t Care

We are sorry if we are starting to sound paranoid or cynical, but these are the facts. Processed food manufacturers only have one goal – to make as much money as possible. If they were allowed, they would probably do much worse things than they are already doing. Anything that can potentially increase the profits is being done…

As long as it is not illegal. Over the last couple of decades, various regulatory bodies have managed to somewhat control what the processed food industry has been trying to do. That being said, they are still quite helpless. The money is short and research takes money.

In addition to this, the processed food industry is more than well connected where it matters and any laws and regulations that might harm the business are not easily passed.

But that is a story for another occasion.

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