Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ben Rawson

    Dr. Ben Rawson, DO is trained in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is a current Tri-Athlete and loves running.

    The Ugly Truth About Processed Foods

    The Ugly Truth About Processed Foods

    One of the many things that make us uniquely human is that we have always found a way to process our food. It started out of necessity—preserving food to ensure that we would have enough to get through the long winter months and to make it easier for us to digest.

    As our technology has advanced over the years, we have started relying on machines and factories to process our food for us, which strips away the nutrients and pumps us full of chemicals, pesticides and numerous other unhealthy additives. This is the sad truth about processed food.

    Even more disturbing is the fact that 80 percent of the packaged, processed foods that we consume in the U.S. have been banned in other countries. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves the use many disturbing ingredients that people should be outraged by. Here are just a few:


    Used as a filter to clarify liquids like wine, beer and juice and found in rice and cereal products.

    Human hair:

    The amino acid L-Cysteine found in hair, both human and animal, and cow horns are also found in bread products due to its use as an additive in flour.


    If your beverage of choice contains propylene glycol then you are consuming an additive used to make antifreeze.

    Beaver anal glands:

    Certain fruit-flavored ice creams contain castoreum, the anal and urine secretions of beavers, and are even allowed to call it “natural flavoring.”

    Fish bladder:

    Another additive that helps enhance clarity in certain beverages, the gelatin-like substance isinglass is produced from the bladders of fish.

    Silicone breast implant filler:

    Many processed meat products contain as little as 50 percent meat, with the other half made up of synthetic ingredients like dimethylpolysiloxane used in Silly Putty and breast implants.

    Rodent hair:

    In the factories and warehouses we use to process our food, it is inevitable according to the Food and Drug Administration that we ingest a certain amount of rodent hair. One for every 100 grams of chocolate, five for every 18 ounce jar of peanut butter and as many as 22 for every 100 grams of cinnamon to be exact.

    On top of these troublesome additives, processed foods can also over-stimulate the production of dopamine and cause the release of opioids in the brain’s pleasure center, making them very addictive and hard to live without once we’ve acquired a taste for them. Researchers claim that our bodies react the same way with hard drugs like morphine and heroin, meaning that it only takes about 21 days of sugar consumption to cause withdrawal when you try to stop cold turkey.

    Add to this the use of phosphates to keep them fresh and improve the taste, refined sugars, fatty oils, processed flours that make up for the good nutrients, enzymes and vitamins that producers strip away and you are left with a product that can hardly qualify as food at all. Real food has a reasonable expiration date and should mold or rot because they are not filled with chemicals that keep them looking and tasting the same for years.

    The consequences of consuming excess amounts of the pesticides and chemicals used to create these synthetic foods have been linked to serious health issues such as kidney failure, bone deterioration, inflammation, heart disease, neurological problems, rapid aging and cancer just to name a few.

    And although Americans rely on processed foods to make up many of our daily meals, the truth is that they don’t contain the nutrients need to actually fill you up and satisfy your hunger. So unlike filling up on healthy, whole foods like fruits, veggies and lean meats that will keep you satisfied until your next meal, the fuel that processed foods provides quickly burns up in the body and leaves you hungry and craving more within hours.

    One of the reasons so many of us stay loyal to these processed and fast foods is because they are just so cheap compared to many of the alternatives. But try doing a price comparison and you might find that preparing the same foods yourself with fresh ingredients might actually be more cost-effective. Say you reach for a can of chili that holds two servings. If you pay a little more up front and make the same recipe yourself, chances are that you will find the same serving size to be less expensive and healthier than its canned counterpart. And while it will take a little more time and effort on your part, you’ll also have leftovers that provide a fast and easy meal later in the week. If that isn’t enough to convince you, the Public Health and Nutrition actually found that people who made meals at home five days a week were 47 percent more likely to be alive in 10 years than those you consumed mostly processed foods instead.

    So, yes, processed foods are often cheap, easy and more convenient than taking the time to shop and cook, but think about what those prepackaged meals might actually contain and what they could do to your body. What seems like the easiest option for dinner tonight could make your life much more difficult later on with all the health problems that could follow.

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