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Ramen-eaters — aka college students — of the world, beware: we have some less-than-ideal news coming your way and it regards your very internal organs. That’s right, we’re hitting real close to home today as we explain what happens to your mind and body when you consume processed foods. Not totally sure what a “processed food” is? They’re these guys…

processed food,jpg

(Image via The Liberty Beacon)

…In other words, the boxed mac ‘n cheese, the Chips Ahoy cookies, and the Fritos. Processed foods are high in additives, such as high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and chemicals with names like ‘butylated hydroxyanisole,’ which is not only used  to preserve potato chips and cereals but also can be found in rubber and petroleum products. Awesome. We are literally eating petroleum, America.

So, what are these high-sugar, overwhelmingly common foods and drinks doing to our precious bodies? The answer may make you ditch the (Jiffy) PB & (Smuckers) J for good. 

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(Image via Awentis)

Let’s be real for a second: we know we’ve all hit up CVS post-partying, purchased a sleeve of cookie dough with the intention of eating a single spoonful to satisfy our drunchie needs, and subsequently found ourselves feeling more nauseous than we originally felt, with half the sleeve magically…gone. (Oh, that’s never happened to you?…This is awkward). That’s because our bodies crave sugar. No surprise there. But the more sugar we consume, the more we raise our risk of some pretty serious health issues. Long story short: sugar affects our body’s metabolism in more ways than one — consuming large amounts of the sweet substance can result in insulin resistance (which is linked to one of our nation’s leading causes of death, diabetes) and increased triglycerides (which is linked to obesity, cancer, and heart disease). The hard part? Sugar is nearly impossible to avoid: it’s in everything, including savory products like salad dressings and Lean Cuisine frozen dinners. Why roast turkey needs to have sugar added to it is beyond us.


(Image via Authority Nutrition)

As if the health conditions mentioned above weren’t scary enough, the chemicals and additives in processed foods have other consequences, as well. For one, our brains become hardwired to crave these kinds of hyper-rewarding foods over time. Just look at the guy pictured above. He looks like he may keel over if he doesn’t get a bite of that burger in the next three seconds. Scary. Moreover, our need to have something fatty, salty and/or sweet at every meal is one of the major drivers of the obesity epidemic that continues to sweep the nation. Again, scary. 

To best avoid highly processed foods, and preserve the temple that is your body (#gettingspiritual), adhere to the following rules from Michael Pollan’s brilliant book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual:

1. “Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.”

2. “Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.”

3. “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?”

What processed foods are you willing to give up?

feature image via thinkstock