With inflation causing food insecurity, most people are suffering from “food” addiction. Here’s What You Need to Know Before It’s Too Late!
Fast food, packaged food, and ready-to-eat frozen food (ultra-processed foods) are cheap, delicious, and ultra-convenient, but there’s a problem … you can’t afford them.
When it comes to the “affordability” of food, there are two things to consider: price and cost. The price is what we pay, and the cost is what happens to our health, and make no mistake, we’re eating well beyond our budget. Let me explain.
We eat food to nourish our bodies, but ultra-processed food – fast food, packaged food, ready-to-eat frozen food – contains few, if any, nutrients. They temporarily fill us up and satiate our addiction to sugar, but that’s about it.
The food our bodies need is comprised of protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals – things that have been deliberately stripped out of manufactured, engineered food. These are would be the so-called convenience foods in colourful boxes that feature a long list of chemicals – most of which you can’t pronounce and none of which the human body is biologically equipped to consume. In other words, the very thing we’re supposed to be getting – nutrition – we’re actually not getting! What we are getting is ripped off! How badly? Worse than you can imagine!
Eating Junk Food for One Month Took Ten Years Off My Life!
In 2020, The BBC in Britain ran a documentary titled “What Are We Feeding Our Kids?” which chronicled a doctor’s self-experiment when he switched his diet from 20% ultra-processed food (UPF) to 80% UPF to see how it might affect his health.
For 28-days, Dr. Chris van Tuleken ate a strict diet of fast foods, fried chicken, fish sticks, cereals, and other ready-to-eat meals – which, by the way, is the actual diet of one in five people in the U.K.
To ensure his results were scientifically valid and to get a detailed picture of his health before starting the experiment, he recorded his weight, fat percentage, hunger, and satiety hormones. In addition, he had an MRI scan to map the connections in his brain to see if eating more UPF would show signs of addiction by changing his appetite, activity, and behaviour.
Beginning on Day One, he began stuffing his face with “hyper-palatable” foods. Although he loved the taste, it wasn’t long before his body started to suffer. Within days he noticed he was always hungry and was eating even when he didn’t feel like it.
Not surprisingly, he was soon constipated since UPF is typically low in fibre, and he developed painful digestion problems and piles. By the third week, he was experiencing sleep problems, and the high salt intake was also waking him up, which caused a need to pee or to get something to drink. In addition, he started suffering from heartburn, erectile dysfunction, extreme anxiety, and unhappiness and his libido was virtually non-existent.
Incredibly in just one month of eating a diet of 80% UPF, he gained 15 pounds and increased his body fat by nearly 7 pounds. During that time, his hunger hormones increased by 30 percent, while the hormones that should make him full and stop eating decreased by a similar amount.
But the most alarming change was in his brain scans. In just one month, he developed a neurological food addiction because the UPF he ate created new neural networks that drive repetitive, automatic behaviour. That explains why he was eating this junk even when he didn’t want to, and that’s behaviour that is totally consistent with addiction.
Six months after finishing the experiment, Dr. Tuleken eventually lost all his gained weight. His heartburn and anxiety stopped almost overnight. Not surprisingly, he went cold turkey on UPF because, as he said, “they’re an addictive substance: if your brain gets wired to addictiveness, you can’t moderate your intake; you’ll just crave more.”
As the show concluded, he asked this rhetorical question; “if eating a high diet of UPF can destroy my health and rewire my 42-year-old brain, what is it doing to the developing brain of my 4-year-old?”
Do We Have to Eliminate Ultra-Processed Food?
Practicing zero consumption of UPF is neither practical nor necessary, but we must learn to limit our intake. Most people get more than 60% of their calories from fast, packaged, and ready-to-eat frozen foods. If that describes your diet, you’re suffering from malnutrition.
Do you remember how cigarette studies found that a smoker would lose 11 minutes of life for every cigarette smoked? Well, a 2021 study at the University of Michigan evaluated more than 5,800 foods. It ranked them by their toll on our health. The study found that eating one hot dog costs a person 36 minutes of a healthy life, whereas 30 grams of nuts and seeds, for example, provide a gain of 25 minutes of healthy life per day.
The critical problem with UPF is that it’s typically low in fibre and nutrients, but high in sugar, salt, and fat, which promote systemic inflammation, perhaps the primary threat to healthy aging in the body and brain.
A recent study that tracked over 10,000 Brazilians for eight years found that consuming a daily diet of more than 20% of total calories from UPF could lead to dramatic cognitive decline. In fact, people who ate the most UPF had a 28% faster rate of decline and a 25% more rapid rate of executive function decline compared with people who ate the least amount of UPF.
Researchers recently estimated that if a person substituted just 10% of UPF with real food, it would result in a 19% lower risk of dementia.
Are You Eating for Health or Convenience?
Food is the foundation upon which our health is built. To avoid premature aging, obesity, and physical and cognitive decline, we must break our dependence on so-called “convenience food” by reminding ourselves that it’s neither convenient nor is it food, and it’s anything BUT cheap because when we factor in the cost to our health, it’s too expensive for anyone!
To lose excess fat and maximize our health, we need to feed our bodies, not starve them by dieting and eating nutrient-void food. Your health is the most valuable thing you own; treasure it, protect it, and guard it with your life because it is your life.