After last week’s exploration of the world’s best foods, we must now turn our attention to the dark side of the food spectrum: that place where many good life years are sacrificed for fleeting endorphin highs.
Empty calorie carbs are the best place to start, since they represent the largest group of nutrient-free hyper-palatable carriers of degenerative disease.
What’s so bad about empty calorie carbs?
Our bodies need energy to live and live well. We cannot absorb energy from the sun like plants do. Instead, we get our energy from food which, directly or indirectly, comes from the sunlight captured by plants.
Unfortunately, the process of turning food into useful energy in our bodies is rather messy. Like any chemical processing facility, this conversion process leads to plenty of wear & tear and produces lots of waste products, some of which are quite toxic.
Repairing the wear and tear, removing the waste, and neutralizing the toxins is a full-time job. And these maintenance functions depend on a wide range of nutrients that occur naturally in all whole foods.
The problem is that our supermarkets are filled with shiny packets of super tasty foods that offer lots of calories, but no nutrients. In other words, these foods give your body plenty of fuel, but zero maintenance. It’s much like running an engine on some low-grade fuel and never servicing it.
Empty calorie carbs further fuel this fire by bypassing the body’s natural satiety response. These carbs are mostly simple sugars that can be broken down and absorbed very easily. Hence, the feeling of fullness arrives very late. In addition, these foods trigger a chemical response in the body (sugar rush) that easily turns into an addiction, driving additional over-consumption.
Lastly, although empty calorie carbs don’t offer nutrients, they often come with plenty of additives, such as preservatives, sweeteners and colorants, that may have significant adverse health effects.
The best known lifestyle disease caused by empty calorie carbs is type-2 diabetes, but it is also linked to several other big killers like heart disease and cancer.
Some examples of empty calorie carbs
This basically includes all kinds of snacks with lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates (a.k.a. the White Death).
- Soft drinks
- White bread
- Cake and cookies
- Sugary breakfast cereals
These hyper-palatable treats are engineered to maximize our cravings, forcing billions to get the calorie/nutrient ratio all wrong.
Hopefully, society will eventually evolve to the point where these foods are taxed to correctly reflect their true cost and labeled with health warnings like cigarettes are today. Until that day, we’re on our own against these carefully engineered addictions