What's so bad about junk food?

What’s so bad about junk (aka processed) food? We all know the answer. The bad part of junk food is excess sugar, fat, salt, and chemical preservatives – all the things that invite fat, clog arteries, interfere with metabolism, and keep us sluggish, irritable and constipated. Not to mention all that plastic, foil and cardboard packaging … but that’s a subject for another post.

So we know junk food is bad for us. We’ve heard all about it from our parents, health experts and well-meaning friends . . . blah blah blah

But do you really know why junk food is so bad?

Here’s my take on it.

Junk foods are freeloaders in the body. They are the unwelcome house guests that eat all the food and leave a mess in the bathroom. They make you feel good by promising to help pay the bills. They even promise to clean up when they are finished watching the game. But they never do, and you are left feeling frustrated, empty and tired.

You see, Nature, in her infinite wisdom, builds into each food she manufacturers the enzymes, vitamins and minerals necessary for that particular foods processing and digestion within the body. When you eat foods in their whole state, its like invited guests arriving on your door step with their own supply of food and bedding or buying a new electronic gadget with the batteries included. But as soon as whole food is processed and denatured, the enzymes, vitamins and minerals required to process and digest that un-whole food must be pulled out of the body’s stores … in other words, your guests arrive unannounced, empty handed and hungry … the batteries are not included.

Let’s take an example of one tiny little teaspoon of sugar. Did you know that it takes approximately sixteen feet of sugar cane to produce one teaspoon of refined white sugar? If you sat down and chewed on sixteen feet of sugar cane, you would be ingesting all the enzymes, vitamins and minerals your body requires to digest that teaspoon of sugar … no problem.

But when you ingest a teaspoon of refined sugar in the form of soda pop or candy, your body must remove the equivalent of the enzymes, vitamins and minerals found in 16 feet of sugar cane from storage places within the body. How many enzymes, vitamins and minerals do you think are in sixteen feet of sugar cane? I don’t know either, but I bet it’s a lot. So its no wonder that 30 minutes after consuming refined sugar, your immune system is compromised by as much as 50% as your body scrambles to deal with the freeloaders digging into your enzyme, vitamin and mineral stores.

There are thousands of specific examples like this illustrating how the ingestion of highly processed foods force the body to supply the enzymes, vitamins and minerals required just to deal with the junk, in the same way that free-loading house guests happily sit down for meals you’ve prepared, but never offer to buy the groceries or do the cleaning up.

In addition to using up the body’s supply of enzymes, vitamins and minerals, eating junk food is kind of like that freeloading houseguest throwing a party for all their belligerent friends, while refusing to invite your friends.

For example, in order to make delicate and fluffy pastries and breads, the outer portion of the wheat kernel is removed, and the leftover inner portion of the grain is refined into white flour, which in turn is processed into delicate pastries.

Whole grains contain zinc in their outer portion and cadmium in their inner kernel. During digestion zinc competes with cadmium for absorption into the cells. But if the outer portion of the grain (the part that contains the zinc) has been removed, the cadmium from the inner kernel has no competition and can freely absorb into the body. Excess absorption of this non-essential element is still being studied, but preliminary results suggest that, among other things, cadmium may be a factor in kidney disease.

And to make matters worse, by not consuming the outer portion of the wheat kernel, the body’s zinc stores are quickly depleted. Zinc is a critical requirement of over two dozen digestive and metabolic processes as well as being very important in the development of the reproductive organs and for normal functioning of the prostrate gland. Zinc also supports the immune system and protects the body from free radicals.

So the next time you are eating donuts, potato chips or candy bars, think about the enzymes, vitamins and minerals found in whole grain, whole potatoes, cocoa beans and sugar cane. And then think about where those enzymes, vitamins and minerals will be pulled from and what repair process, tissue re-growth, or bone strengthening that will not happen because your body has to deal with unwelcome, freeloading houseguests.