As the old saying goes – You are what you eat. Nutrition is an essential part of our well being, and what we eat impacts our physical metabolism, the functioning of our organs, and the overall state of our health. Food can either offer immense health benefits, or cause great harm, depending on how much of it we consume in our everyday diets. Here, we list five ubiquitous foods that feature in our every day diets, yet, should be eaten moderately to insure our health and well being.
1. Salt - Salt is essential to any food production process, and can generally never be completely removed from our diets. Doctors however advise that we consume limited quantities of it as it can greatly impact our bodies’ biochemical pathways. Salt consumption in excess of 2000 milligrams per day can be harmful and inhibit effective absorption of nutrients, causing long-term side effects including hypertension, abnormal heart development, kidney disorders, osteoporosis, dehydration and swelling, electrolyte and hormonal imbalances, and digestive diseases. Increased salt intake can also greatly heighten risks of strokes, heart attacks, stomach and duodenal cancers, and trigger other health conditions such as circulatory problems and chronic fatigue.
2. Sugar − We consume excessive sugar in our diets; with the rise in consumption of pre-processed food and fizzy drinks, we consume the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Excessive sugar consumption can bring on consequences such as exposing us to heightened risks of obesity, cancer and heart disease. Unregulated sugar consumption can be harmful for us in many ways and cause a range of health conditions including diabetes, cancer, depression and mood disorders. Consuming too much sugar also increases the glycemic index in our bodies, causing acne and skin inflammations.
3. Margarine (solidified vegetable oil spread) − Butter has long been regarded as a rogue food, but turns out the real culprit is margarine. Margarine is derived from hydrogenated vegetable oils which are loaded with trans fats, and when excessively consumed can trigger vascular blockages, and coronary and arterial diseases. In addition the refined vegetable oils used in margarine are often genetically modified, and deficient of the highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Bread – Most of us know that white bread is made with refined grains and does not really contain sufficient nutrients. Whole grain bread is recommended as a better alternative, as it contains high amounts of fiber. However, some health professionals now state that even whole grain bread may not be all that beneficial, since the majority of them aren’t really made of “whole” grains. The high carbohydrate content in bread can elevate blood sugar levels, and the gluten in it can cause several digestive problems.
5. Processed fruit juices - We have always been encouraged to drink fruit juices, as they provide a range of essential vitamins and fiber. Yet, we could be consuming excessive levels of sugar and preservatives if we consumed them from juice cartons. Nutritionists today recommend that fruit juices that are freshly squeezed from a slow cold press juicer, or fresh cut fruits are a much healthier option.