Is Processed Fast Food Really Food?
McDonald’s is the poster child for the modern Western diet, and I’m pleased that people are finally starting to wake up and ask some questions. Such as: Is processed fast food really food?
I would argue that anything processed to the point of being everlasting is NOT actually food and should not be consumed.
What is “Food” Anyway?
As a general rule, “food” equals “live nutrients.” Nutrients, in turn, feed your cells, optimize your health, and sustain life.
Six years ago, film maker Morgan Spurlock vividly demonstrated the consequences of trying to sustain yourself on a diet of fast food. After just four weeks, Spurlock’s health had deteriorated to the point that his physician warned him he was putting his life in serious jeopardy if he continued the experiment.
His cholesterol had soared and he started suffering from depression, lack of attention, and sexual dysfunction, just to name a few of the health problems that surfaced once he traded in his normal diet for three square meals a day from McDonald’s.
His remarkable documentary, Super Size Me, ended up earning the Writers Guild of America award for Best Documentary Screenplay in 2005. It’s still one of the most powerful illustrations of the dangers of a fast food diet I’ve ever seen.
I also recently commented on the advertisement produced by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine that singles out McDonald’s for obesity-related deaths.
As the ad claims, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart attacks are hallmark diseases associated with a fast food diet – a clear indication that it does not provide the appropriate nutrition for your body.
And, if lack of healthful nutrition isn’t enough of a deterrent, perhaps the fact that this type of fast food simply does not decompose, even after several years, will get you to reconsider putting it into your body.
So, is McDonald’s fare really food?
When you consider the fact that a large number of the ingredients in a fast food meal exist nowhere in nature, but are rather concocted in a lab, the answer would have to be “no.”
Ever since the advent of the so-called TV dinner back in the 1950′s, the concept of “food” has expanded from meat, vegetables, raw dairy products, fruit and other such natural items to include the highly processed, preserved, artificially flavored and often brightly colored chemical concoctions.
But man simply was not designed to thrive on man-made chemicals.
How Can Bread Remain Mold-Free for Years?
Part of the embalmed-like feature of the meat patty can be explained by the fact it contains excessive amounts of sodium (salt), which is a natural preservative that has been used throughout history.
But what about the bun? What kind of bread can lie out for years on end without developing so much as a trace of mold?
The answer, I believe, is: a “bread-like” concoction that bears no real resemblance to natural bread.
According to McDonald’s website, their hamburger buns consist of:
“Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.”
Interestingly, analyzing this list of ingredients offers clues not only for how these buns remain unblemished for years on end, but also to some of the health ramifications you may experience when eating a McDonald’s hamburger.
For example, if you’ve ever felt it just “sitting” in your gut like a brick, perhaps the plaster of Paris, aka calcium sulfate isn’t quite as digestible as you’d hoped.
Of if you’ve had to run to the bathroom shortly after your meal, perhaps the ammonium sulfate and the ammonium chloride are to blame. Both of these chemicals cause gastrointestinal irritation with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
McDonald’s has fired back stating that their burgers will indeed decompose if given “enough time.” But just how much time has yet to be determined. Based on private experiments, like the one in the video above, two decades is still not enough time to make these burgers and buns disappear by natural means.
Folks, wholesome food is “live” food, and the hallmark of live food is the fact that it will wilt and decompose. The fact that these burgers, buns, and fries do not decompose, even after a decade or two, is a clear sign that it’s just not real food, and serves no beneficial purpose as part of your diet.
Processed Food Contains Many Potentially Dangerous Ingredients
Fast food hamburgers are not the only type of heavily processed food that is questionable in terms of whether or not it should be considered real food.
- Chicken McNuggets, for example, recently made it into mainstream news because of the potentially hazardous additives they contain.
- Soda can contain any number of health harming substances, from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to benzene and aspartame.
- French Fries are loaded with the worst types of fat on the planet — typically highly refined and genetically modified omega 6 oils, such as corn, canola, and soybean oils.
- Breakfast cereals are little more than disguised forms of high fructose corn syrup and many are loaded with genetically modified (GM) grains.
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea – anytime a food is heavily processed, it typically ceases to be beneficial for your health.
Many processed foods also contain dangerous MSG, to give the otherwise bland mixture some flavor. For more in-depth information about MSG, I highly recommend reading Dr. Russell’s Blaylock’s book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.
Fast Food Causes Insulin Resistance
It’s quite clear that fast food leads to obesity and insulin resistance – and just as Spurlock proved in his film, it doesn’t take long. Granted, his experiment included eating three meals a day at McDonalds, but as demonstrated in one 15-year long study, eating fast food just twice a week can make you gain 10 pounds and double your risk of developing insulin resistance, compared to eating it less than once a week.
Junk food diets have also been recently linked to increased risk of allergies.
The bottom line is that if you want to stay healthy, and keep your children healthy, you have to avoid fast food and other processed foods, and either you, another relative or friend, or someone you pay, has to spend some time in your kitchen, cooking from scratch.
Cooking for your children may actually have extremely far reaching benefits, because it is now well known that dietary changes can prompt epigenetic DNA changes that can be passed on to future generations. For instance, pregnant rats fed a fatty diet had daughters and granddaughters with a greater risk of breast cancer.
How Can You Identify REAL Food?
There are major incentives to center your diet on real foods as opposed to “food products,” the primary one being that real food is essential for optimal health. Real foods also taste delicious, and when bought from sustainable sources help to protect the environment.
So how can you tell the difference?
Real food almost always has the following characteristics:
- It’s grown
- Variable quality
- Spoils fast
- Requires preparation
- Vibrant colors, rich textures
- Authentically flavorful
- Strong connection to land and culture
Processed “food products,” meanwhile, tend to have these traits:
- Produced, manufactured in a factory
- Neat, convenient, pre-packaged
- Always the same
- Stays “fresh” for years, if not forever
- Dull, bland
- Contains fillers, additives and preservatives
- Artificially flavorful
- No connection to land or culture
Shopping Guidelines for Real, Health-Promoting Food
Regardless of where you do your grocery shopping, these are the signs of high-quality, health-promoting foods you want to look for:
1. It’s grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
2. It’s not genetically modified
3. It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
4. It does not contain any artificial ingredients, including chemical preservatives
5. It is fresh (keep in mind that if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may be the better option)
6. It did not come from a factory farm
7. It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
8. It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)
If the food meets these criteria, it is most likely a wise choice, and would fall under the designation of “real food.”
To truly optimize your health, I also recommend customizing your diet to fit your nutritional type. Once you’ve determined your nutritional type, you’ll know which foods to add to your diet, and which to limit or avoid when cooking.
Reclaiming your kitchen is part and parcel of healthful living, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. If you need help to get started, see Colleen Huber’s helpful tips on how to eat healthier organic food, free from many additives and preservatives, on a budget.
And if you’re “hooked” on fast food and other processed foods, please review my article on How to Wean Yourself Off Processed Foods in 7 Steps. It’s one of the absolute most positive life changes you could make!