According to recent studies, one-third of all Americans are either overweight or obese. The term “Globesity” has been used to describe this ever-growing epidemic of battling the bulge. According to a new report completed in 2012, 22.3 million Americans are living with either Type 1 or Type II diabetes. There were 246,000 diabetes-related deaths reported alone last year, and $245 billion was spent to treat diabetes patients. Obesity also adds to the growing problem of heart disease, kidney failure, gout, blindness, and soaring health care costs.
You would think that these statistics would alarm our nation to appropriate and positive action. Instead, U.S. foods manufacturers are fueling an obesity epidemic with addictive ingredients, and are diligently at work to manipulate processed foods to get you hooked. The more you eat, the more money they make. Modern processed foods are engineered in laboratories with no regulations or control in marketing. There is a conscious effort to create food products that actually trick your brain into thinking you are hungry although you are overeating. This condition reflects in an overfed, undernourished society of fat and sick people. People become mindless eaters. Food addictions develop an obsessive-compulsive relationship with food.
France adds warning labels to processed foods much like we put warning labels on cigarette packages. United States food manufacturers call the perfect balance of ingredients and packaging that make it irresistible, the “Bliss Point.”
Sugar, fat, and salt are the three primary ingredients that make processed foods so addictive. Scientists spend a lot of time figuring out the optimum amount of sugar, fat and salt to create the “Bliss Point”. The exact amount of fat necessary is added in order to create the perfect “Mouth Feel”, the creamy satisfying sensation which affects the pleasure centers of the brain the way sugar does. Salt adds extra flavor, along with the added bonus of acting as a preservative. The preservative qualities of salt ensure manufacturer’s products are able to stay on store shelves for months without expiring. Processed foods are made for long shelf life, not long human life. This fact alone causes me to ask myself some very important questions.
Scientists have known for years that sugar is highly addictive. Sugar may be the most addictive substance, similar to a drug because of the effect it has on pleasure centers of the brain. Did you know there are fifty different names for sugars used in processed foods?
The guiding principle behind the processed food industry is known as the “Sensory-Specific Satiety. The “Vanishing Calorie Density” is a term used to describe to what degree foods melt in your mouth.
In recent years, specialized companies have formed to develop and patent chemical “flavor enhancers” that manufacturers are not required to list as ingredients. Instead, these “secret ingredients” are advertised as “artificial or natural flavors.” In many ways, this could be worse than the alternative because there is no telling what they are made from.
For instance, the popular snack chip “Doritos” is made with thirty-six ingredients. Unless you looked up what each individual ingredient was, you may only recognize two of them are used to make homemade nachos. The other thirty-four ingredients are genetically engineered and modified ingredients designed to keep you addicted. One ingredient, MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a preservative that deliberately inhibits the hormone Leptin, an appetite regulator.
Recently, an initiative failed that would have forced food manufacturers to label their products as GMO. A recent article states that politicians and scientists alike have opted to not use the products they engineer and sell to a willing public who so readily consume them. They are aware the dangers are a serious and very real problem. Certain well-known leaders are insisting upon only organic fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy for their families, requiring that non-GMO labels appear as proof they are also pesticide free.
What Can You Do?
My first bit of advice would be to stop eating on the run. Stop trying to multitask each day if this puts you in a position to choose to eat at fast food restaurants. Stop choosing to prepare pre-made food items loaded with preservatives. Stay away from frozen foods and many canned foods loaded with sugars, salts, and unhealthy fats. Secondly, try to make the time to include whole food preparation as 90% of your regular diet. Stay away from artificial sugars, non-fats, and ingredients you do not recognize. If you don’t know what they are, chances are your body doesn’t either!