Processed and Junk Food
Any food that you can buy in a can, jar, packet or bottle is processed food. That is, food that has been altered from how nature presented it to us, in some kind of factory, as part of a bulk process
As per Natural Hygiene, there are three big problems with processed food –
- what is added,
- what is removed
- what is left.
What is added: Food additives. They are used to increase its shelf life, improve its consistency, flavour etc. Additives are used in food to keep it lasting longer and to make it taste, look and smell like something that it is not. They enable food to sit on a supermarket shelf, or in our cupboards, for several months without going bad - and then we eat it! Most processed food is not Vegan either - read the label - it may have milk or milk products in it.
In nature, if a food is kept on the shelf long enough, it loses its nutritive qualities. It is no longer fit for human consumption- so it spoils. Insects, germs etc consume it. However, when the additives are added, the insects and germs find the food too toxic. So they don't eat it The result: the food does not "spoil". It remains as it is until we eat it. But the food value is gone.
It is amazing how many varieties of additives are added to food. They go under different names look at the label on any processed food can or jar, and see if you can recognize what is in the chart below
Aspartame - Sweetener
Benzoates - Preservatives
BHA, BHT - Antidetoxidants
FD&C Dyes - Colorants
MSG - Flavoring
Nitrates/Nitrites - Preservatives
Sulfites - Preservatives
Some countries have strict disclosure requirements regarding additives. In India, we can get away with just saying "includes permitted colours /flavours" and "includes anti-oxidants, emulsifiers, stabilisers" etc. If you see any of these words on the label, it is a big red flag. Stay away.
Many people say additives are safe, but no one knows for sure, what kinds of tests have been done to establish this safety. What quantity of additives is safe. For how long can you safely consume them. Most tests are done on one additive at a time – not on a combination of additives. We don't know what are the long term effects of consuming huge amounts of additives over time.
It has been estimated that the food we eat every year, has about 5 kilograms of food additives as preservatives, colours, bleaches, flavours, emulsifiers and stabilisers. This not only results in extra work for our body to remove the chemicals, but frequently triggers asthma attacks; rashes; respiratory disturbances; hyperactivity in children, and even adverse reactions to medications
In India, because of poor licencing requirements and non-existent enforcement, many companies (especially the smaller ones) can get away with adding almost anything to the food they sell and they may not even tell you what it is.
So much for what is added to processed food. What is removed, during the processing or "refining" process is much of the fibre and other nutrients. Vitamins, minerals etc are destroyed in the high heat used in the processing.
So what is left? Not much. So they try to add some of the lost vitamins and minerals. This is called "fortified with Vitamins and Minerals" to make it sound good. The truth is - very little of what is lost can be added back. Artificial substitutes that are added back are nowhere as good as the real thing.
In short, stay away from any food in a can, jar, packet or bottle on the shelf of a store. Either eat your food raw or cook it at home or in a restaurant. Avoid anything that has gone through a factory. You don't know what has gone into it.
Food available in "fast food" restaurants (like Mcdonald's) is typically called "junk food". Why?
Let us consider a typical meal at such a restaurant
- Burger, French Fries, Ketchup, Coke, and an ice-cream for dessert.
What does this contain?
- White Bread - processed food devoid of almost all vitamins and minerals and fibre as well. Lots of preservatives added
-The patty itself is usually meat- chicken beef, etc (animal products)
- It is deep-fried in oil at high temperatures over 300 deg C. The food gets denatured, possibly even carcinogenic
- There are also some dips or dressings with vinegar, garlic, mustard etc which are irritants and toxins and not recommended
- Deep-fried potatoes
-Eight to nine teaspoons of sugar in one can. Aspartame in the diet version. Plus Phosphoric acid, and other chemicals for good measure.
Milk, cream, sugar, artificial colours, flavours, additives
On this website, you can find out details on how bad each of these things are. Most items here are not vegan either. Such foods have no part in a Natural Hygiene diet.
In short, its a high-calorie meal low on vitamins, fibre, minerals and other nutrients. Avoid.