Death By Convenience
Convenience foods are killing us; a fact jarringly obvious when we examine mortality statistics. How many people truly understand the relationship between the food they eat and its impact on their body's health?
We tend to live in the moment, forgetting choices have consequences. Food that’s been processed, packaged, flavoured and often precooked for us has increasingly become a convenient part of everyday life, but at great cost.
The issue at hand is the rapid expansion of a class of food products that are not simply processed conventionally to extend shelf-life but are also frequently modified to enhance flavour, appearance, texture, odour, and digestion speed. These foods are created through the deconstruction of natural ingredients into modified chemical constituents, and recombination into new forms that bear little resemblance to anything found in nature. These alterations are so significant that nutrition scientists have coined a new term for them: ultra-processed.
Perhaps there’s a reason you’re reaching for junk food. Scientists tell us that it directly targets the brain's processing of pleasurable sensations; quickly delivering a signal to the brain's reward centers. This leads many people to find it as addictive as opioids or nicotine.
The implications are worrisome. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of American adults now have diabetes or pre-diabetes, three-quarters of adults are overweight, and about 100 million, or 42 percent, are obese. Why? Because ordering food by phone, driving to a fast food drive-through, or dining at a restaurant with someone else serving us a piping hot plate of food is too convenient.
Fast Food Genocide
In a post titled "Convenience Is Killing Us" on Perpetual Health, it’s argued that the more we prioritize convenience, the further we move away from health. This is because the human body is designed to maintain a constant homeostatic environment and is not equipped to handle the onslaught of chemicals, pesticides, fillers, stabilizers, dyes, preservatives, and anti-caking agents found in processed foods.
Sugars and refined carbohydrates are also major disruptors of health. They dissolve almost instantly in your mouth, lacking sufficient protein, water, and fibre. The intense taste immediately stimulates the taste buds and lights up the reward and motivation centers of the brain. There is also a secondary hit of dopamine when the sugar is absorbed into the body, flooding the bloodstream with glucose and causing insulin levels to spike. This high glycemic load causes dysregulation of the hormonal system, resulting in constant cravings.
These are not actual foods, but rather formulations. Unfortunately, over the past 50 years, the health of many Americans has slowly deteriorated until there's nothing left but a broken, diseased shell. Shockingly, this practice has been linked to the deaths of approximately 678,000 Americans annually, leading some to refer to it as a "Fast Food Genocide."
What To Do
To improve your health, it's important to stop doing what's convenient and start eating whole foods high in nutrients. These have a positive impact on body weight, mood and mental health, blood sugar levels, digestion, cholesterol, blood pressure, sleep quality, skin clarity, and energy levels.
There is no debate on the matter—whole foods keep the body healthy by reducing the risk of chronic diseases. And in doing so, there’s a myriad of further cascading benefits that follow. But staying healthy requires effort. You need to become educated on the matter, shop at the right places, and choose healthy foods. They then have to be stored and cooked properly, which takes time and effort. In other words, there is no convenience associated with eating healthily. But then, it’s not convenient to die of a disease either, is it?