These 5 Foods Can Seriously Damage Your Health, Research Says
By now, I think we all know some basic rules regarding healthy eating: candy is bad, fruit is good and energy drinks are a huge no-no.
However, there are many foods that can damage your health much worse than you think. Luckily, science now reveals more and more information about the real impact of the most popular meals and ingredients we eat daily. Not only are many of them deceiving, but they also increase our long-term risk for many fatal diseases that affect millions of Americans every year.
No matter how healthy you think you eat, there’s always more to learn about how we and our loved ones can live a healthier, longer life.
Today, we’ll have a look at 5 foods scientifically proven to have a negative impact on your health and why you should replace them with healthier alternatives.
When canned foods first became popular, they technically revolutionized the food industry. Nowadays, they’re equally popular because they’re very accessible, affordable and they can last for a very long time.
After all, who doesn’t love an organized pantry filled with their favorite ingredients ready to be used anytime?
Although they’re extremely convenient, many canned goods are highly processed nowadays, especially when it comes to the ready-made meals stored in cans. Some of the best examples are canned soups, sauces, pasta and even certain fruit mixes.
Not only are these products filled with preservatives and artificial flavors, but they also contain more sodium than it’s usually recommended. Scientists from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) explain the manufacturing process:
“When commercial [canned] soups are cooked at a high temperature for a long enough time to kill potentially harmful bacteria, some of the natural flavors evaporate. Salt is a cheap, convenient way to make up for the loss.”
This recent review from the journal Nutrients found that excessive sodium consumption can lead to a blood sugar spike and, in the long run, too much sodium can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.
Ready-made microwaveable meals
Just because we’ve been staying at home 24/7 doesn’t mean we always have time to cook dinner – and that’s when microwaveable meals usually come in. These frozen varieties are delicious, ready-made and they’re good to eat in a matter of minutes!
But their convenience comes with a price, experts say – and it’s not easy to pay at all.
This 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition proved that eating pre-prepared foods (microwaveable meals included) daily can seriously decrease your nutrient intake. Furthermore, researchers linked this habit with increased consumption of unhealthy fats and increased risks of abdominal obesity.
Wait… abdominal obesity? If you haven’t heard the term before, it refers to your body’s process of storing fat specifically in the belly area. Unfortunately, this phenomena is correlated to premature mortality; for example, only a 3-inch increase in the belly fat can increase the overall risk of premature death by up to 12%!
When fast food first appeared, it looked like a wonder to say the least; frankly, it still does for many people across the globe. The only difference is that now we actually have medical evidence on how much harm it causes and why we should opt for healthier alternatives instead.
I’m not even pointing fingers to one fast food chain or another because you can find processed, fast-food-like meals in grocery stores as well.
The one thing they have in common? Inflammation.
This report from the WebMD Medical Reference indicates that the main factors leading to inflammation are:
- Sugary drinks
- Fried foods
- Refined carbs (like white bread)
Many foods nowadays contain these ingredients – but fast food has every single one of them.
While your mind and soul are soothed by the flavor and texture of chicken strips or burgers, your body is literally under attack. This study published in the journal Cell showed that fast-food can trigger the same inflammatory response that happens when your body is fighting off a disease. Can you imagine?
Of course, if it happens occasionally, you won’t suffer any serious negative consequences. However, Hope Ricciotti, M.D., points out that constant consumption of fast food can increase your long-term risk of heart disease, depression or cancers.
We obviously know that candy has sugar and it’s bad for our health (and waistline). The real problem nowadays is that even if we reduce our dessert intake, we still end up eating plenty of unwanted sugar unconsciously!
How? Well, because most manufacturers are adding sugars to condiments, sauces, drinks and even bread to make them tastier and addictive. Many times, you won’t even realize that a food actually contains sugar too until you read the label (or it’s too late).
Let’s put it this way: the American Heart Association recommends eating between 24-35 grams of sugar and the USDA recommends no more than 50 grams of added sugar daily.
One in four Americans eats at least 105 grams of sugar every single day.
The trickiest part is that you won’t even notice the negative impact of this habit until years later. Elizabeth Spencer, RDN, registered dietitian at the Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, explains that the most concerning effects are an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint inflammation and a fatty liver – not to mention weight gain.
The best way to prevent unwanted sugar consumption is to read the label of every product before purchasing it.
This food isn’t always bad – in fact, red meat offers some useful nutritional benefits too.
However, eating red meats like pork, lamb or beef daily is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, as per the Harvard Medical School.
A seminal study from 2005 is perhaps the most relevant proof of the problem. During the study, researchers tracked 478,000 healthy adults over five years; during this time, 1,329 of them had been diagnosed with colon cancer. Disturbingly enough, researchers found that participants who were eating the most red meat (daily) were one third more likely to receive this terrible diagnosis than those who consumed less than 1 ounce of red meat per day.
Now, according to USDA data, an average American ate 222.4 pounds of read meat in one year alone, which is about 10 meatballs a day.
Furthermore, one quarter of American adults are still eating more red meat than the recommended level, confirms the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This food list alone is more than we need to realize just how difficult it is to stay healthy nowadays. Aside from many foods being so heavily processed, organic products are becoming increasingly expensive.
But there’s hope.
As with every other thing, moderation is key to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet without sacrificing flavor or your wallet. Here are a few of our most useful resources to help you improve your lifestyle even during the pandemic:
- Bread From A-Z: Health Benefits, Risks and Bonus Tips to Eat it Right
- 7 Simple Ways to Make Your Favorite Pizza Healthier
- 6 Ways You Can Overcome Your Emotional Eating Struggle
However, maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean anything unless you combine it with other healthy choices such as constant physical activity. Contrary to popular beliefs, it doesn’t take hours of dedication daily to stay in shape – and our posts below can help you get started on the right track:
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Workout Guide to Rock Your Body Right
- 8 Physical Activities You Can Safely Do During COVID-19
- Cycling or Running: Which One Is Better for You?
Which foods did you eat most often during the pandemic? Share your tips and tricks in the comment section and let’s keep each other healthy and happy!