What’s your favourite food? More often than not, the answer to that question is likely to be something unhealthy — fast foods like hamburgers or french fries, processed snack foods like potato chips and candy, or high trans fat foods like cakes and cookies. Even if salads were your favourite food, there’s a chance they could be full of unhealthy ingredients too.
The food pyramid is a diagram that classifies the types of food, and from top to bottom, it shows how much of a certain food type we should be eating for good health. Your favourite unhealthy foods are probably right at the top of the pyramid, which means you should be eating as little as possible, if at all, of those types if you want to remain healthy.
So why is it so important to eat healthily? Why can’t you eat whatever you want and like? For starters, you’re harming your body with an excess of harmful substances, which could lead to weight gain and obesity. From there, your body becomes more vulnerable to chronic diseases, such as diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas in the human body is either unable to produce enough insulin, or when the body is unable to react with the produced insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels, and without it, our blood sugar levels will shoot up and cause long-term damage to us — vision loss, kidney failure, amputation of limbs, and higher risks of getting heart diseases.
The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, and millions of people all over the world are affected by it. In 2016, the World Health Organization declared diabetes as the seventh-highest cause of death, estimating that 1.6 million deaths were all directly linked to it.
The good news is that type 2 diabetes is a treatable disease, and with some proper care, it can be avoided. Remember all the unhealthy foods we mentioned earlier? If you don’t control your intake and continue to eat them, your pancreas will start to overwork itself and you might develop diabetes. Here are some foods that you should stay away from if you want to remain healthy and safe from diabetes.
It’s a no-brainer, really. Too much sugar is bad for you and can be the main contributing factor in developing diabetes, so you’ll need to cut it out as much as possible. For a start, sweet drinks are some of the most concentrated sources of sugar, and it’s not just the carbonated sodas that can cause problems — sweetened teas and lemonade can contain lots of sugar as well.
Most of these drinks are also full of fructose, a type of sugar that is the main culprit of increasing your body’s insulin resistance. When insulin resistance goes up, your body will be unable to react with insulin, which raises your blood sugar levels and can cause diabetes.
The high sugar content does more than just raise your blood sugar levels. It also makes you gain weight in the form of fat. Sugar that is not broken down and digested gets stored in your body and turns to fat cells. These cells will continue to grow if left unchecked and you will put on weight.
Trans Fat Foods
Artificial trans fats are one of the most unhealthy substances out there, and they are so unhealthy that the many countries set legal limits on trans fat foods, and some even outrightly ban them. Food manufacturers create trans fats through a process called hydrogenation, which is the addition of hydrogen to unsaturated fatty acids. This process makes it easier for them to produce both fried and baked foods, like cakes, biscuits, and pies.
Natural trans fats are also not healthy and should only be consumed in small amounts. Found in margarine, peanut butter, and ready-to-eat frozen meals, and while they don’t directly influence your blood sugar levels, they do increase your insulin resistance and increase your cholesterol levels, which are contributing factors in the development of diabetes.
White rice, white bread, white pasta — all these staple foods are considered to be processed or refined carbohydrates. This means that they contain little to no fibre, which is a nutrient that slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream. As a result, eating a constant amount of these refined carbs will likely cause your blood sugar levels to shoot up and might trigger diabetes.
Processed foods refer to food that has been altered in any way through the addition of chemicals and other additives, and making it look different from the way it was when it was first harvested. Most snack foods like salty potato chips and sweet treats like candy are considered to be processed foods.
In general, most processed foods are considered to be unhealthy because of the additives. These are added in order to preserve the food and drastically extend its shelf life, at the cost of making them very unhealthy. They usually contain large amounts of sodium and sugar, and some even contain saturated fats – all of which are not healthy for your body and can increase the risk of diabetes and many other chronic diseases.