You may have heard a doctor or a nutritionist say, “food is medicine.” The choices you make at mealtime impact your overall health significantly. Choosing the right combination of dishes can ease pain and even correct some mild conditions.
However, as crucial as it is to know which foods to consume, it is equally critical to know which ones you should avoid. While few substances will harm you if eaten in moderation, some can cause significant trouble if you overindulge. You probably suspect that too much of the wrong thing can lead to obesity and even cancer — but did you know it can also weaken your immune system?
Want diet & nutrition content delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our exclusive diet & nutrition newsletter!
Unless you consume a raw apple, chances are good you eat processed foods whenever you sit down at the table. Many people worry about their consumption of “processed foods” without knowing what the term means. Heating, freezing, dicing, juicing — these are all methods of processing food.
So what’s the difference between a smoothie made with fruit and ice and a bag of chips made from potatoes — salt and fat? It all lies in the ingredients. The term “ultra-processed” refers to items made from substances extracted from foods, but with little if any intact components.
Therefore, items like snack foods make the list because they are made from dehydrated bits of potato or other starches bound together. During the process of forming the raw materials for the finished product, most of the nutritional value gets stripped away. All you get are empty calories. These provide a quick boost of energy, but they don’t give you the nutrients you need to keep your immune system running at optimal levels.