Junk Food

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It was the bag of cookies that did it.

I mean, I really would have dismissed the 40-minute wait in the heat and convinced myself to calm done and just go with the flow.

But the fact remained that the delay was intricately woven around someone’s craving for severely sugar-laden, fat-stacking, and insulin-depleting sandwich cookies. The high fructose corn syrup stood little chance against the emotional hysteria that swept out of my mouth when it occurred to me I had been trumped by junk food.

Circumstances aside, it really gnawed at me that my day was inconvenienced in the name of unhealthy eating. How many lives are chronically inconvenienced by junk food via obesity, diabetes and heart disease?

Too many.

So what makes junk food, junk food (foods that contribute lots of calories but little nutritional value … looking at you, Twinkies). Let’s examine a few of the unsuspecting ingredients found in some of this health-less fare.

Monosodium glutamate.

Imagine that, with as much bad publicity this little ingredient gets, it still lands itself in foods. Also called sodium glutamate or MSG, this “seasoning” as it is called actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed foods taste fresher while unleashing another chemical to bombard the body.

Classified as an excitotoxin, it can cause many adverse affects such as obesity, eye damage, fatigue and disorientation, headaches and depression.

Stuff like disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, sodium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, soy protein isolate and concentrate and aspartame all contain derivatives of MSG.

Do we really need it? Well, only in the sense to fool us and make “dead” food such as frozen and canned foods look and taste better.

Another ingredient that finds its way into many products is maltodextrin. Really, check it out. A lot of so-called health-food bars are giving in to this inert ingredient. Made from corn and potatoes as a food additive, this ingredient actually has some habit-forming tendencies, making food cravings a physical reality. It’s basically used as a filler with no nutrition or value other than to make one burn through a whole bag of chemically laden chips before anyone can say “empty calories.”

Now, everyone has heard of this baby: high fructose corn syrup. It’s a nasty ingredient ubiquitous in junk foods and still believed to be nothing more than extra sugar. In fact, it is the most common added sweetener in processed foods and beverages. HFCS can cause triglyceride levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels to rise, as well as be a formative player in diabetes and obesity.

And once again, this is an additive that makes you want to drink or eat the product. No nutritional value whatsoever, none, nada.

Eating anything with this sweetener is not a healthy prospect at all. But just take a look at all those empty soda cans at the recycling centers and you have to wonder whether people really understand the junk they are drinking.

Apparently not.

Though the quintessential junk food Twinkies, is probably not on the majority of level-headed people’s eating lists, let me just quickly list their ingredients, for the fun of it: enriched wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable and/or animal shortening – containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean cottonseed and canola oil, and beef fat, dextrose, whole eggs, modified corn starch, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings, sodium acid pyrophosphate…

OK, I’m only halfway through the list and I’m already grossed out. In fact, you’d be surprised if you actually read the label on your favorite junk food how unappetizing it becomes.

Here’s a plea from me: Please, please read the ingredients of everything you eat. If it’s not listed, ask someone like your grocer to find out for you. Ask what goes into your favorite dish and your favorite restaurant. Don’t be in the dark about what goes into your body.

If it is stuff that sounds like something out of your high school chemistry book, don’t eat it. We as human beings are intended to eat whole foods, naturally made from nature full of abundant nutrients. The digestive system needs to keep busy breaking down foods it is familiar with, not with stuff like tetra sodium pyrophosphate (added preservative found in sausages).

Don’t be fooled by taste or marketing or media. Food becomes junk food when it is pieced together with all kinds of additives, preservatives, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. Hopefully a day comes when we will never have to discern whether what we eat is good or bad for us. And there will be no need to clarify food as healthy. Food will inherently mean health.

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