Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sugar, salt & oil - Our lifestyle trap

Over the last 100 years, even as advances in science have enhanced life spans, we've begun to face problems related to unhealthy lifestyles and diet. Let us take a look at the three food fundamentals of sugar intake, salt intake and oil consumption.

Numbers for developed countries such as The United States show an annual increase from 20 pounds to 150 pounds per person. Developing nations such as India are not too different. Just look around and you'll notice the numerous forms in which we have sugar- in juices, breakfast cereals, ready to eat noodles, biscuits, cold drinks, cough syrups, mouth fresheners, toothpaste, in certain breads and most packaged foods.
Effects on the body: Excess consumption can lead to obesity, restlessness, shrinking attention spans, calcium loss from bones, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances and reduced immunity.

Salt consumption has gone up many times over limits considered safe for humans (5 gm  per person per day). Too much salt takes time to be thrown out of our bodies.
Effects on the body: Pressure on the heart to pump blood and fluids and on the kidneys to help the body purge out the salt.

Transfats found in bakery products, namkeens, snacks and ready to eat meals have been linked to a spoke in  ailments related to the heart, liver and joints. Two other trends which have crept into our eating habits include the large amounts of fats and oils that we consume and the highly chemical process of refining. This can partly be attributed to the increased affordability of oil and partly to consumption of foods with hidden oil. This is particularly worrisome as most people don't even know that these products have enormous amounts of oil.
Also, many crops used to produce oil have to be grown in enormous quantities, and such parasite-resistant farming is carried out using genetically modified seeds. Chemicals are used for oil extraction and refining. the outcome: oils removed from the original natural state.
Effects on the body: Indiscriminate intake of polyunsaturated fats can cause imbalances between other kinds of fatty acids such as omega 3. The free radicals can trigger inflammation that might manifest itself in nerve disorders, blockages in the heart and joint inflammation.
As food becomes more affordable, it becomes even more important to choose health and strike a balance between taste and nutrition.

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