When it comes to diet and nutrition; maintaining a healthy balance of calories, macronutrients and micronutrients can be extremely difficult. First the fact that a large amount of calories in a meal doesn’t automatically mean it is good for us is very confusing. Humans evolved to seek out salt, sugar and fats in our diets because traditionally these foods were scarce and calories were hard to come by.
In today’s society however, things are completely opposite. The average diet, especially in the western world, is full of high calorie, nutrient poor foods which lead to obesity, type II diabetes and other serious health complications. This is why knowing what is in your food is extremely important in being able to maintain a healthy body weight and have good overall health in general.
Sugary drinks are arguably the worst foods on this list for various reasons.
First we have to consider the obvious, that added sugar to any food item or beverage negatively affects health. When consumed in large amounts over a short period of time, sugar drives up insulin resistance due to the very high amounts of sugar found in the blood stream as a result. This can cause many diseases like type II diabetes and liver disease, two serious ailments. High sugar intake not only predisposes the individual to various diseases, but also can cause weight gain.
In addition to the negative health aspects behind ingesting too much sugar, the concept of a sugary drink itself is bad when it comes to your body registering what it is consuming. When you are drinking something, it doesn’t register in the brain as if you are consuming a meal.
Consuming a drink takes much less time than it does to chew and consume food, compounding the issue. Because of this, people usually don’t compensate for this in their diets by eating less calories, they actually consume more.
Instead of consuming sugary drinks, people should look to alternatives like water or tea. If water doesn’t have enough flavor for you, adding lime or lemon is a good option. If you are looking for an energy boost, caffeinated coffee or tea will do the trick. There are plenty of options out there.
Similar to sugary drinks, white bread has virtually no nutritional value outside of the carbohydrates it contains, which get turned in to sugars. White Bread is a bad food choice because it has been stripped of all its beneficial vitamins and minerals through processing. White bread is made from wheat, which has the husk removed.
The husk, or outer coating of the wheat plant is where all these nutrients are found. it is also where most of the fiber is located within the wheat as well. Fiber itself has no nutritional value to our diet because we cannot digest it. It is important however because it helps to control our blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion and absorption of these carbohydrates.
Good alternatives to white bread are whole grains that have all of that additional fiber and nutrients we need. These include oats, quinoa, whole wheat, rye and barley.
Studies have long shown that eating processed meat can lead to severe health issues like an increased risk for cancers, heart disease and other cardiovascular complications. Most of these studies are observational, so they haven’t discovered a definitive link to something specific within these processed meats themselves that cause an increased risk to cancer and heart disease.
With that being said, correlation doesn’t mean causation. However, considering that the vast majority of these studies performed involved participants who ate these foods also became ill, it is best to avoid these foods for the time being.
As far as alternatives are concerned, you can find pretty much any of these meats from another source who doesn’t use these chemicals. Uncured bacon is one example, as is sausage and pepperoni.
Let’s face it, most fast food is horrible for your health. Fast food is packed of those three ingredients we were talking about earlier, salts, sugars and fats. These three ingredients are what make you crave this food, this is what guarantees these companies that you will be coming back for more. If possible, avoid fast food altogether.
If you can’t avoid fast food because of budget or other restrictions, it is best to stick to undressed salads and chicken from fast food establishments.