In a fast-moving, high-paced World, anything which
offers us convenience and at a low cost has to be a winner. And that is how
the fast food industry has taken such a stranglehold on our lives, because
they meet those needs precisely.
So, given that our needs are for speed and convenience and that they are
being met so readily by the fast food industry, it would appear to b a
win/win situation wouldn't it?
On the face of it yes, but unfortunately that's only a part of it. Health
experts have been saying for some time that there are massive problems
associated with so called convenience foods, due to their reliance on
Most of us now know the documentary film "Super Size Me", in which film
maker Morgan Spurlock set out to investigate whether or not there was any
substance behind these warnings. His journey took him around the US on a
fact finding mission during which he also put his own body on the line,
living on nothing but McDonald's for an entire month with three simple
1) No options: he could only eat what was available over the counter
2) No super sizing unless offered
3) No excuses: he had to eat every item on the menu at least once
Prior to the journey, he'd been thoroughly checked medically and found to be
in good health but within the course of a month, his health disintegrated
rapidly and he had chest pains and trouble breathing. He also suffered from
depression, insomnia and the shakes. His liver functions deteriorated and
his liver specialist begged him to quit 20 days into the experiment. But he
persevered and finished 25 pounds heavier and much poorer.
So what is it about the food he was existing on that caused this dramatic
effect? Fast food is also known as convenience food because it's just that -
convenient for us. But it's also convenient for the manufacturer and their
convenience comes from mass production with a reliance on cheap, processed
ingredients. The nutritional value of the product is sacrificed for this
convenience. To give back the flavour which is lost through the use of such
ingredients and the processing, they use high proportions of fats, sugars
and salts, as these foods trigger the right sensations for us. But these
ingredients when used excessively are know to have the following
Saturated and especially trans fats, which are used widely in processed
food, can raise cholesterol, clog arteries and raise the risk of coronary
The excess of sugar in fast foods is a big concern. Not only for the well
documented impact on dental welfare but it has also been linked to obesity,
heart disease and even cancer.
Salts taken to excess play a huge part in raising blood pressure and
increasing the risks of strokes.
Spurlock's experiment meant he was subjected constantly to very high levels
of these high risk foods, but for the potentially dangerous consequences to
be so obvious in such a short time is a lesson that we should all be
heeding. That's not to say that's no place in our lives for convenience
foods; it's just to say that our reliance on them should be minimal and they
should be viewed as an occasional alternative to a normal healthy diet.
The argument is often used that to cook your own food from healthy
ingredients is just not practical in a modern world but with so many simple
healthy recipes available to us in books and on the internet and the fact
that in most parts of the world, good locally grown ingredients are readily
available, there is no excuse for not taking the warning provided by
Spurlock's film to heart.
We have choices and we must for the sake of our health and the health of
those around us, choose wisely.