The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

Processed foods: chemicals infiltrating our foods

Evelie St-Louis
SAYING NO: junior Nicknise Denis turns down a bag of Hot Cheetos during lunch.

In America there are over 20 foods that are banned in other countries, such as Fruit Loops, Skittles, Frosted Flakes, and Gatorade, due to harmful chemicals and additives, yet are sold here at most supermarkets you step foot in. 

America began adding multiple harmful additives to our food in the 1930s and since then we’ve introduced thousands of these new chemicals into our bodies.

In 1958, the Food Additive Amendment was signed, providing new authority to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the safety of chemicals added to the food supply. Now, 65 years later, there are over 10,000 new chemicals allowed in our food that have caused an increase in Americans’ intake of excess salt, saturated fat, refined grains and added sugars

Many additives put in food haven’t been tested by the FDA, but tested by a company expert and sold to the public if it becomes labeled as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). This can be dangerous as the food company is testing and deciding what additives are okay to put in their food without informing the FDA. 

According to Consumer Reports, there are over 1,000 substances that have been approved by the food industry, with no notice to the FDA. Many of these substances, FDA approved or not, provide no benefit to our physical health and cause our bodies to store them as fat rather than processing it and using it for beneficial purposes like cell repair or giving us energy. 

Processed foods lack vitamins, nutrition, and minerals which are essential for the human body to carry out its basic functions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared that only about 10 percent of Americans meet the recommended intake of vegetables and a higher intake level of processed foods than fruits and vegetables puts a person at risk for many health problems. 

“Many of the processed foods we ingest may include preservatives and artificial coloring, which can be associated with hyperactivity, irritability, headaches, and allergic reactions,” Anatomy and Physiology teacher Lisa Berner said. “These foods tend to also be high in saturated fats, sugar, and sodium which can affect our lipid and glucose levels; increasing our risk for heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension (high blood pressure).”

Increased cancer risk has also become a major health concern among processed foods as many chemicals, like red 40, yellow 5 and 6 and blue 1; majority of which are found in popular snacks like Takis, Doritos, M&M’s, Starbursts, and more; that are added to our food have traces of benzidine, a cancer causing substance. 

According to a five-year Harvard study, over 100,000 people found that every 10 percent increase in consumption of ultra processed food was associated with a 12 percent higher risk for cancer. America has the highest rate of people with multiple chronic conditions and has an obesity rate twice the average as the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Eating foods that contain these substances, however, can be difficult to stop due to the effect it has on our brain. 

Junk food that contains high levels of fat or sugar causes our brain to release dopamine, the feel good chemical of the brain, which will make you crave the food more often in the future, even if they don’t make you feel good after. 

“I get a really bad stomach ache, but I still eat it regardless because it’s just good. I think it’s just the ingredients,” said junior Christine Plancher. 

Nevertheless, there are ways to eat foods that are high in nutrients and lower the amount of processed foods you eat. Cooking homemade foods filled with vegetables and other nutrients or meal prepping is a great way to minimize your intake of processed foods. Reading the label of snacks before you buy it and comparing it with others could help you pick the snack that isn’t as heavily processed. Sugary drinks make your blood pressure rise and drop quickly making you hungry for high calorie foods quicker, so slowly replacing sodas with more water is a beneficial way to help lower these cravings. 

 The most important thing is to make these changes slowly and make these modifications one at a time to not get discouraged. Changing the foods that we put in our body will only benefit us in the future as we nurture our bodies with healthy foods.

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