How processed foods can harm your health | healthfirst | healthy living

Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer are the three major serious diseases caused by unhealthy food. All three have a worldwide incidence every day, increasing the levels of mortality.


The organization Global Food Justice, within the framework of its campaign “Give me poison,” explains the derived risks and diseases caused in different countries of the world caused by processed foods.



WHO data shows that from 1980 to 2008, the obesity rate has doubled in almost all regions of the world. Globally, one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure, and one in ten is diabetic.


These are the diseases that bring the healthcare system to the brink of collapse, the illnesses that will break the bank. These are the diseases that cancel out the benefits of modernization and development, […].”

Margaret Chan, WHO Director, 2012



What are processed foods?

Processed foods are those that are modified before human consumption. In most cases, processed foods are designed to extend their shelf life on shelves or stored at home; however, these procedures may include some harmful compounds.

How do processed foods affect health?

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) explained that the problems caused by processed foods are diverse. The main one in Latin America is obesity, which could increase even more due to lack of activity and eating disorders caused by the time of confinement for COVID-19.


This relationship between obesity and processed foods is due to the high caloric quantity compared to the nutritional intake. Sometimes, the chemicals used to process food can reduce or cancel the nutritional value of said food. Although vitamins and other nutrients can also be added, checking each label is problematic.

Sodium is another detail to highlight in processed foods, mainly in light foods. Some of the consequences of excessive sodium consumption, according to the American Heart Association, include:



  • Headaches
  • Kidney disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart failure
  • Stomach cancer
  • Dilated heart muscle
  • Arterial hypertension


According to the UNAM, 90% of the additives used in foods are safe, but there is a 10% risk. Among the most common goals of food processing are:


  1. Colorants: interfere with color.
  2. Flavors: enhance the flavor.
  3. Antioxidants: conservative.
  4. Sweeteners: Chemicals used to the flavor.
  5. Thickeners: modify the texture of chocolates, juices, soft drinks, desserts, and yogurt.
  6. Humectants: prevent the decomposition of food.
  7. Solvents: carriers of flavors.
  8. Clarifiers: Remove metals.
  9. Liberators: separate food.
  10. Sparkling: foams when brewed, such as cappuccino coffee.
  11. Ascorbic acid: Inhibit the fungus.
  12. Benzoic acid/nitrates: Preserve.



As you can deduce from this list, the amount of processed foods is extensive, and it is sure to be found on the daily menu of all food lovers. Thus, avoiding its consumption or restricting it to 100% is complicated; however, we can reduce or exchange some processed foods for natural ones. Among the most common processed foods, the following stand out:



  • Cereals
  • Cookies
  • Instant soup
  • Seasonings
  • Refreshments
  • Potato chips
  • Box bread
  • Sausages
  • Butter
  • Dairy-derived foods

Processed food Create addiction.

Excess sugar, salt, and additives cause addiction. We cannot create a soda, a cookie, or a hamburger at home like the one they already sell you prepared.

It causes a clear nutritional imbalance. Since we are not offering the body what it needs, it demands more nutrients and more food.



It is not about leaving processed foods, but about making healthy choices such as exchanging vegetables or fruit with preservatives for natural foods. By reducing junk food intake and putting laziness aside to prepare food naturally instead of instant products, we can balance our diet.


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