Processed Foods Effect on Health

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Food is altered from its original shape during processing. It involves heating, fortifying, fermenting, and chopping as well as freezing. Foods that have undergone minimal processing, like frozen, unseasoned veggies, pose no health risks. In actuality, the majority of the nutrients in vegetables are kept when frozen. On the other hand, highly processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat, like deli meats, frozen pizza, and cheesy crackers, can be unhealthy if routinely consumed. In addition, food preparation techniques like dehydrating, cooking, and canning result in the loss of important nutrients like vitamin B and C from vegetables. Processed foods have a number of detrimental effects on the human body, such as weight gain, food addiction, and promotion of insulin resistance, and require immediate solutions that deter companies from promoting the foods for their profitability.

Processing of foods through heating depletes their enzymes, and this may cause an accelerated aging process. Furthermore, heating of food changes its pH making it acidic, and when the heated foods are consumed, they compromise the human immune system (Mcclure 244). The detrimental effect to the immunity of the body is compounded by the fact that heating of food alters the absorbable minerals to inorganic form and makes it hard for minerals to be taken up by the body.

Processing of food by canning destroys most vitamins. Canning requires food to be heated in its process which destroys the natural life energy contained in the live foods. Life energy is a chemical energy derived from food by animals, including humans (Mcclure 244). Therefore, consumption of live food that contains life energy is healthy to the human body. There are different health benefits of eating live foods, such as boosting the immune system and fostering proper digestion and absorption of food.

Food that is processed may be full of dozens of synthetic chemicals that are not real “food.” These are inclusive of artificial colors, preservatives, artificial flavors, and texturants. Artificial flavors when on the product label may include another 10 or more substances in its constitution. Texturants are added to food to enhance its texture. Food manufacturers in general claim that synthetic food preservatives are safe to eat, but research states otherwise. Preservatives, for instance, are linked to health challenges such as allergic reactions, cancer, and more. Butylated hyrdrozyttoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are types of preservatives that have an effect on neurological system of the brain. They alter behavior, and can cause cancer. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is an artificial chemical stabilizer that has a deadly effect, and five grams of the substance is fatal. In the case of artificial colors, nine types are approved in the U.S for use in the food industry. They are associated with health issues like hyperactivity, allergies, and cancer. The results are taken from studies performed in the chemical industry and proved the health effects of the preservatives. Artificial flavor, such as diacetyl, is used as an ingredient in the butter flavoring for microwave popcorn. It has several concerning properties for the brain’s health, like triggering the Alzheimer’s disease.

Processed foods have high sugar and fructose corn syrup. Consuming excess sugar is associated with weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Refined fructose is processed as corn syrup and is now instituted in almost all processed foods. Fructose “programs” the human body to store fat and eat more calories. It is metabolized in the liver as it is the only organ that has transporters for it. Consequently, consuming large amounts of fructose present in the typical western-style meals may lead to damaging of the liver. The more fructose food contains, the more it accumulates in the liver. Research shows that sugar-sweetened foods are prone to lead to obesity compared to other diets based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Obesity increases the chance of stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and specific forms of cancer (Fardet 2340). It is wise to limit the sugar intake from foods by 15 grams or even less to deter such health issues. Sources of sugars and fructose may also be found in beverages like soda. This means that fructose and sugar is not confined only in junk snack foods and sweets. Snack foods and sweets are savory processed foods that also have a high content of sugar and fructose. Controlled consumption of the foods is required to avoid health complications associated with weight gain.

Processed foods can be addictive and are designed to make people overeat. They encourage extreme food cravings which lead to weight gain. The human body is designed to regulate the amount of food consumed. Nevertheless, food companies have established a way of overriding the intrinsic regulators. They have engineered processed foods that are hyper-rewarding. Hyper-rewarding theory stipulates that processed foods excite strong reward responses in human brains and become easy to overeat. A guiding principle for companies in the food industry is the sensory specific satiety. Fardet (2338) describes it as the propensity for distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain. This is a great success for companies, and they use complex formulas that arouse the taste buds just sufficient without overpowering them. The result is overriding of the brain’s inclination to have enough food. Potato chips are among the foods that are most addictive in the junk food market, and contain all the three inducing ingredients: salt, sugar from the potato, and fat. Unlike whole foods that constitute fats, fiber, proteins, carbohydrates, and water to help the body feel satisfied, processed foods stimulate dopamine. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter which makes people feel good albeit the food lacks fiber and nutrients. The synthetic dopamine stimulation causes unwarranted food cravings which ultimately leads to food addiction.

Health effects of company based processed foods require attention. Companies choose profit over responsibility and market processed foods promoting unhealthy eating disorders. Michael Moss (446) reports on the conscious effort by companies to create foods that stimulate addiction in people. They are also focusing on creating processed foods that are inexpensive and convenient to increase the number of sales (Raz 7 Feb. 2015). Companies like Coca Cola, Nabisco, Kellog, Kraft, Nestle, Oreos, Capri Sun, among others are centered on profiting from revenue from high volume sale of processed foods. The companies have invested huge resources to manipulate the chemical structure of food and beverages to increase their “bliss point.” Bliss point is the quantity of ingredient, such as sugar, fat, or salt, that optimizes palatability. The goal for food companies is to elevate the bliss point, which results in a large number of people becoming addicted to the food or beverage to increase revenue for the company (Moss 446). The reward for the companies is large profits. According to reports by the World Health Organization, twenty-six million citizens in America have diabetes. In opposition, processed food companies’ account for $1 trillion of yearly sales (Raz 7 Feb. 2015). Additionally, the total cost for the health issue is approaching $300 billion annually. It means company are benefiting from selling and promoting harmful processed foods with no sense of responsibility.

People have flourished on meats, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and other types of whole foods for decades (Amadou 321). The solution for losing weight and improving health lies on the simplicity of replacing processed foods for the real foods. Processed foods have only been around a few years. Many scientists and top executives at top processing food companies stay away from their food due to various health reasons. Clear guidelines for companies to follow protocol in processing of foods in ways that preserve their life energy are important for health promotion of their clients. Failure to follow the regulations should be countered with stringent measures, including heavy fines, closure of businesses, and evoking of production licenses. The measures are meant for companies to keep in line with the production and processing approaches that will not have harmful side effects to health of clients but rather a positive effect. Studies are to be carried out to conduct research on how to better improve the food processes by companies to ensure that food does not have any risks involved and is only meant to feed people. The public should also play its role in keeping the companies in check by avoiding products that have additives and preservatives that affect their health negatively. Companies that incorporate synthetic materials are in business because they still have a large number of customers to sustain them.

Works Cited

Amadou. “Millet-Based Traditional Processed Foods and Beverages--A Review.” Cereal Foods World, 2011, pp. 321, doi:10.1094/cfw-56-3-0115.

Fardet, Anthony. “Minimally processed foods are more satiating and less hyperglycemic than ultra-Processed foods: a preliminary study with 98 ready-to-Eat foods.” Food Funct., vol. 7, no. 5, 2016, pp. 2338–2346., doi:10.1039/c6fo00107f.

Mcclure, P. “Emerging pathogens of concern in in-Pack heat-Processed foods.” In-Pack Processed Foods, 2008, pp. 229–250., doi:10.1533/9781845694692.3.229.

Moss, Michael. Salt, sugar, fat: how the food giants hooked us. London, WH Allen, 2014, pp. 446.

Raz Godelnik. “When Food Companies Choose Profit Over Responsibility.” Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit, 7 Feb. 2015, Accessed 5 Sept. 2017.

June 26, 2023


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