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Junk Foods to Avoid!

Precision Orthopedics By Precision
October 24, 2023 | Health

When you hear the term ‘Junk Food’ what’s the first food image that pops into your head?

Chances are pretty high that the food pictured will contain high levels of at least one of the following: sugar or fat.

Which is completely normal!

As humans, we’re hardcoded to, almost constantly, crave these two ingredients; but why is that so?

Well, we have to jump back in time a little to locate the simple answer to this question. Up until about 12,000 years ago, before agriculture and livestock domestication, humans would pretty much hunt and gather whatever was available at the time.

Food was not only scarce, but also pretty difficult to store!

So, as a result, our early ancestors ate what they could, when they could, and stored as much of it on their bodies as possible.

Because who knew when their next meal would be available, right?

Sugary foods such as fruits and berries indicated that a food was edible, rich in energy, and had a high nutritional value.

Fatty foods such as fish, wild boar, nuts, and seeds were consumed because they provided high caloric levels – giving us a perfect stored form of energy for longer periods without food.

These natural cravings that we evolved to possess over hundreds of thousands of years not only aided our survival, but allowed us to thrive in the way that we do today. But, in relative terms, evolution is an incredibly slow process. Essentially, as a species, we progressed faster than our own evolution.

(We deserve a medal for this.)

But what this means is that despite our food sources now being so readily available, we still have that hunter-gatherer ‘survival chip’ that leaves us regularly craving sugary and fatty foods.

Unfortunately, junk-food producers have caught wind of this natural craving, and have somehow found a way to pump excess amounts of those two ingredients into delicious foods. All while stripping out the majority of the nutritional content (it saves them money!).

As a result, our overall health, as a species, is in dire condition (at least in the Western world). Since 1975, global obesity rates have tripled. A combination of excessive junk food and

decreased activity levels is responsible for this astonishing statistic.

We no longer have to chase our meals; our meals are now delivered to us!

It’s time to take our health back.

In today’s article, we’re going to highlight the top 10 junk foods you should either massively reduce, or avoid entirely.

1. Sugary Beverages:

Examples: Soda, sweetened fruit juices, energy drinks, and many sugary coffee beverages.

Negative Effects: Sugary beverages are often both high in calories and in sugar. With almost no nutritional value these drinks can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes; and they don’t even fill you up!

Verdict: Avoid entirely.

2. Deep-fried Foods:

Examples: French fries, fried chicken, and doughnuts.

Negative Effects: These foods are typically high in unhealthy fats, specifically, the worst fat of them all, trans fats. Trans fats can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. They’re often high in salt too, which can ultimately lead to high-blood pressure, heart disease, and increase the risk of strokes.

Verdict: Massively reduce.

3. Processed Meats:

Examples: Bacon, sausages, hot dogs, and salami.

Negative Effects: In excess, processed meats can be linked with obesity, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. This is due to the higher presence of nitrates, salts, and saturated fats found in processed meats.

Sidenote: Being reasonably high in protein, very small amounts of lower processed meats won’t do much harm.

Verdict: Massively reduce.

4. Sugary Breakfast Cereals:

Examples: Cap’n Crunch, Golden Crisp, Honey Smacks, etc.

Negative Effects: These breakfast cereals, often marketed towards kids, are quite possibly one of the worst ways to start your day. Loaded with extremely refined sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup, and almost no nutritional value, these types of cereals can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

With so many nutritious breakfast options available (that will keep you fuller for longer), sugary breakfast cereals should be trashed immediately.

Verdict: Avoid entirely.

5. Sweets and Lollipops:

Examples: Gummy bears, hard candy, and lollies

Negative Effects: Like many items on this list, sweets and lollipops contain almost no nutritional value whatsoever. They’re literally the definition of the phrase ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.’ Being so high in sugar, these sweet treats wreak havoc on your teeth, can lead to excessive weight gain, all while taking blood sugar levels to new highs.

Verdict: Avoid entirely.

6. Packaged Snack Foods:

Examples: Chips, pretzels, and many commercially baked goods.

Negative Effects: Not necessarily the worst junk food on this list, packaged snack foods are often high in salt and contain artificial additives. They can contribute to cardiovascular diseases while adding inches to the waistline.

Sidenote: Some chips are merely baked vegetables and can contain at least some form of nutrition.

Verdict: Massively reduce.

7. Alcohol:

Examples: beers, wines, liqueurs, and spirits.

Negative Effects: Large amounts of alcohol consumption have been directly linked to an increased risk of cancer. It’s a highly addictive substance that can be abused if not consumed in moderation. One gram of alcohol contains around seven calories, making it no friend to those aiming to lose weight. Wines and liqueurs specifically, contain high levels of sugar as well as harmful nitrates.

Sidenote: Low to moderate alcohol consumption, especially in a relaxed, social environment, has been shown to have positive effects both on the body and the mind. This data is constantly evolving and should be monitored frequently.

Verdict: Massively reduce.

8. Pastries:

Examples: Croissants, pies, baked doughnuts

Negative Effects: Generally, pastries are very high in fat, or sugar, or both! This can lead them to becoming a major problem when focusing on weight management, and can often lead you feeling sluggish and lacking energy after consuming.

Sidenote: Baked, whole grain pastries made with fresh butter have been a part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. The key is in moderation.

Verdict: Massively reduce.

9. Artificially Sweetened Products:

Examples: Diet sodas, sugar-free candies, and some ‘light’ yogurt or dessert products.

Negative Effects: While they might be branded as a healthier alternative, many artificially sweetened products can still have negative impacts on metabolism. Some studies suggest that they can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. Being relatively new to our food products, more and more recent studies are finding further negative effects of artificial sweeteners.

Verdict: Massively reduce.

10. Chocolate:

Examples: Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate

Negative Effects: We saved the best until last… Certain chocolates, especially milk chocolate and white chocolate contain high amounts of both fat and sugar, and this explains why it’s so delicious, right?

Sidenote: Chocolate can actually be a healthy snack! The general rule with chocolate is the darker and the simpler; the better. Meaning, higher levels of cocoa solids and fewer overall ingredients generally results in a relatively healthy bar of chocolate loaded with vital antioxidants. Next time you’re at your local supermarket, compare the ingredients list of a bar of 75% dark chocolate with a Snickers, this will show you the healthier option without fail.

Verdict: If referring to higher ingredient, lower-cocoa content chocolates, massively reduce.

To conclude: The golden rule to keep in mind is that it’s very rare to find a naturally occurring food that contains high levels of both fat and sugar. Foods that generally contain high levels of both should be mostly avoided; especially if watching the waistline.

The key to a healthy diet is to maintain an abundance of unrefined whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, beans, and pulses; while maintaining a moderation or avoidance of refined or processed foods. Follow up this article with The Healthiest Diet in the World for more information and how to get started on your journey to better health!