Friday, 24 August 2012

Technology and Diseases, Series 1

Technology has progressed by leaps and bounds, so has food processing. It has made life easier for man and helps him in adapting to the rush of today’s world. No time to prepare dinner, join with your friends at a fast food outlet or rush to a market and get processed, easy to make dinners. Does anyone really have the time to read the label or take a sneak peak at the list of ingredients? Of course not, why would you rush to the market in the first place?

Let’s first examine how the current nutrition trend is related to various diseases? Before that, one wonders what is it that makes people rush to canned foods, readymade lunches or to a fast food joint.
A fast food joint is becoming more popular, even after the televisions news channels report, how the heartless business men add illegal additives to food, cook them in unhygienic conditions or use decayed meat. Of course the risk of half cooked food is always there. Fast foods are getting cheaper, you don’t have to cook, it’s very tasty, and reasons are many. To enhance the taste and to prevent any bad taste after eating, monosodium glutamate or ajinomoto is often added to fast foods, that too above the recommended values. The bad effects after consuming MSG have been coined under the “Chinese restaurant syndrome”. It has been associated with several symptoms including migraine, palpitations, chest pains, numbness, food allergies etc.  Fast food contains too much of oils and sugars, high in calorie which you will definitely want to avoid if you are sticking on to a balanced diet. It’s obvious that if you consume too much of these you are likely to develop lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, stroke etc. Like I said earlier fast food provides you empty calories, it is devoid of the nutrients that your body requires for day to day activities, you will feel weak a short time later after eating. In short fast food increases your waist size, clogs up your arteries and leaves you feeling lethargic.

Let’s talk about processed food now. What exactly are processed foods? Processed foods have been altered from their natural states and the methods used include canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration and aseptic processing. Food processing is mainly done for storing, convenience, to preserve vitamins and minerals. Not all processed foods are bad for us. Processed foods high in Trans fats, saturated fats, having a large amount of sodium and sugar must be avoided. Food processing can deplete the nutrient content, or introduce hazardous substances to food. Canned foods, baked foods and processed meat are high in sodium. Chips, cookies, salad dressings and crackers are high in trans fat. Food manufacturers add a whole lot of ingredients to color, stabilize, emulsify, bleach, soften, preserve, hide odors, sweeten, flavor etc. Your taste buds get hooked to the strong tastes of these chemical food items and ‘normal’ food may appear bland. So you add even more seasonings. The high amount of fat, as mentioned earlier is linked to obesity, heart diseases, stroke etc. Beware of diabetes! Eating processed meat is linked to risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Did you know pasteurized milk is an example of processed food? It is good for your health. So are fortified breakfast cereals.

Technology and growth is the order of life. I am not against technology. Just don’t let technology deceive you. Let’s hope for a chemical free pantry. Meanwhile, keep your eyes open, your nose sharp and your taste buds sensitive…

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