Throughout history, humans have been processing food mainly as a form of food preservation. From salting to canning, many of our beloved foods, such as yogurt, were discovered through food processing. But the evolution of the way in which we process foods today has created a health crisis in modern society.
From drive-through restaurants to take-home frozen pizzas, our fast-paced lifestyle has a love for convenience. Unfortunately, there are long-term health consequences that come with the desire for convenience.
Today you’ll learn why and how processed, ready-made food can wreak havoc on your bones, and also contribute to numerous other health problems.
The Majority Of Americans Eat At Fast Food Restaurants
A recent Gallup poll revealed that 80% of Americans eat at fast food restaurants at least once a month and 50% admitted to indulging weekly.1 Interestingly, most people understand that fast food is not healthy. However, studies have shown that the majority of individuals choose ready-made meals and fast-food restaurants because it is perceived to be convenient and to save time.2
It is worth noting here that there are a few organic brands that offer ‘clean’ frozen meals, but those are the exception. As mentioned above, most popular brands of ready-made foods contain many unhealthy ingredients, so read on to learn about the nine scientifically-based reasons to stop eating ready-made meals.
1. Ready-Made Meals Are Packed With Salt
Today’s palate has become quite accustomed to salty foods. The food industry has responded to consumer demands. As a result, ready-made meals are packed with sodium. The typical prepared frozen dinner may contain as much as 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one serving, and some popular brands often exceed that. Bear in mind that 1,500 milligrams, or ¼ of a teaspoon, is the low end of the scale for the amount of sodium consumption recommended per day, while the safe upper limit is generally 2,300 mg.
Savers know that excess salt consumption causes bone loss and leads to calcium loss through the kidneys.3 A 2013 Japanese study found that postmenopausal women who consumed diets high in salt were four times more likely to fracture a bone.4 And an April 2017 study confirmed these findings, showing that high sodium intake is a risk factor for low bone mass in postmenopausal women.5
Not all salt is created equal. While the sodium added to ready-made meals is processed and bleached, sun-dried sea salt without additives is a fine choice for moderate use at home. In fact, any “whole” salts, such as Pink Himalayan salt, include bone-building minerals that are recommended to use in moderation over plain table salt (sodium chloride).
2. Ready-Made Meals Contain High Amounts Of Artificial Ingredients
If you have a prepared meal, such as a tv-dinner, a pre-packaged frozen lasagna, or any other frozen entree in your freezer right now, take a moment to look at the ingredient list. Chances are there are at least 20 ingredients, most of which you have never heard of. In fact, many popular frozen meals contain over 100 ingredients and additives.
From MSG (monosodium glutamate) to coloring additives, ready-made meals are filled with bone-depleting ingredients. Chemicals are added to these meals to prevent the food from rotting. Texturants are added to give a particular texture to the meal, while artificial flavors are added to preserve and enhance the taste.
Perhaps most disturbing is that not all additives are necessarily listed on the ingredient label. For example, “artificial flavor” is a proprietary chemical formula owned by the company that creates it. The term “artificial flavor” may contain several chemicals and additives. Companies employ a range of chemists and chefs to cook up novel flavors from an assortment of 1,300 FDA approved ingredients. As long as the FDA has deemed the ingredients GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe, they are not required to be listed on the ingredient list. As a general rule, less is more. The more ingredients listed on a label, the less healthy it is.
3. Ready-Made Meals Are Low in Bone-Building Nutrients
Ready-made meals are low in nutrients and vitamins that are essential for healthy bones. Savers know that many foods decrease in nutritional value the more they are cooked.6 Ready-made meals are heavily processed and prepared even before making it to the grocery store. Once you’ve purchased them, they typically require reheating in a microwave or oven at home.
Not only do ready-made meals contain minimal amounts of nutrients, but the nutrients that are present are synthetically produced and added back into the product. There are often very few vegetables included in ready-made meals, and those that are tend to be genetically modified.
Bone health is reliant on the nutrients provided in real food, such as the Foundation Foods listed in the Save our Bones Program. Unfortunately, ready-made meals do not consist of many of the foods needed to grow strong, healthy bones and bodies.
4. Ready-Made Meals Are Packed with Genetically Modified Ingredients
Savers know how dangerous genetically modified crops (GMOs) are when it comes to bone health and overall health. Not only do GMO’s contain lethal poison, but they are incredibly destructive to the organs that are instrumental to healthy bones, such as the kidneys and the liver.
The majority of ready-made meals contain high amounts of GMOs. Sugar, soybeans, corn, and canola are three common GMO ingredients found in most frozen meals at your grocery store. Take a look at the ingredient list on the package. If it contains corn syrup, corn starch, soy sauce, soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, vegetable shortening, sugar, or maltodextrin, there is a high likelihood that you will be consuming a meal filled with GMOs.
5. Ready-Made Meals Contain Hidden Sugar
Don’t let the low-sugar content of some ready-made meals fool you. While you may think that you are making a healthier choice by choosing one that is lower in sugar, most ready-made meals contain artificial sugars that wreak havoc on your health and bones. There are at least 60 different names for sugar listed on food labels, including dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), maltodextrin, molasses, and corn syrup, just to name a few.
All sugars are bone-destroyers. Sugar is highly acidifying and, similar to salt, studies have shown that excess consumption of sugar causes the excretion of calcium7 and other valuable bone-building minerals. Sugar consumption is also linked to increased cortisol levels8, which have an adverse impact on bone health as well and it is extremely erosive to cartilage.
6. Ready-Made Meals Are Highly Addictive
Humans are genetically wired to crave sugars and fats because, at one point in the distant past, they were critical for survival. In fact, those who were able to consume the most calories could stave off starvation and live on to survive. While fats and sugars are efficient sources of energy, in prehistoric times they were mainly found in simple sugars such as fruit. Our bodies today are not adapted to the amount of processed sugar and fats that are readily available to us.
Manufacturers designed ready-made meals to taste as rewarding as possible to ensure that consumers will continue to buy them. Competition has driven companies to try to “out-do” one another with tastes that are more appealing.
It’s not all about taste, either. When our bodies consume foods rich in sugar or fat, the brain releases dopamine.9 This “feel good” chemical controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. There has been a plethora of research illustrating the link between consuming unhealthy food and dopamine. For many people, this rapid release of dopamine is highly addictive. In fact, some studies have shown that eating processed foods stimulates the same parts of the brain as highly-addictive drugs, such as cocaine.10
As we’ve already discussed, prepared foods are packed with sugar and fat. As such, consuming these meals on a regular basis can enhance cravings and create an ongoing desire to consume more.
7. Ready-Made Meals Are High In Refined Carbohydrates
If you’re following the pH-balanced nutritional plan described in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, then you know that grains are not emphasized, since, with very few exceptions, they are acidifying. However, whole grains do have their place in a healthy balanced diet. In fact, some grains, such as barley, contain valuable bone-building nutrients.
Unfortunately, the grains found in ready-made meals are highly processed and refined, which also strips them of any beneficial nutrients. These refined, “simple” carbohydrates are quickly broken down in the digestive tract and produce the same bone-damaging effects as sugar.
Even if the packaging claims the meal contains “whole grains”, be cautious. Many products that make that claim only contain a minuscule amount of actual whole grain, and are filled with processed flour.
8. Ready-Made Meals Are Low In Fiber
Fiber plays an integral role in your digestive, heart, and skin health, as well as your bone health. Fiber helps to rid the body of unwanted toxins. It also decreases inflammation, helps to control blood sugar levels, and decreases the incidence of bowel conditions. As calcium is absorbed through the gut, a healthy intestinal system is vital to strong bones.
Fiber that is found naturally in foods is lost during the highly processed method of creating ready-made meals. Even if fiber is present, it is likely to be chemically produced and unhealthy. For example, cellulose is often used to bulk up foods. This fake fiber is a wood pulp that is indigestible by the human body. Cellulose is added to low caloric foods by the food industry to make the consumer feel more satiated.
Many of the Foundation Foods in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program are rich in fiber that helps to enhance bone health and overall longevity.
9. Ready-Made Meals Are Loaded With Processed, Unhealthy Oils
Ready-made meals are often very high in unhealthy fats. Many of these prepared meals are made with processed oils, such as palm oil, cottonseed oil, or canola oil. These cheaply-made oils are highly processed with chemical solvents, bleach, and deodorizers.
Our Gift To You: Chef Secrets
As you can see, while ready-made meals may seem convenient and quick, they come with significant health dangers. At the Save Institute, we understand that your busy life may often get in the way of spending time preparing a home-cooked meal.
Our goal is to assist you in learning how to cook bone-building meals that fit into your current lifestyle, so as our gift to you, we’d like to offer you Chef Secrets, a free e-book filled with time-saving kitchen tips and techniques from chefs.
Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have To Be Time Consuming
As mentioned earlier, the majority of people choose to consume take-out food or prepared meals simply for convenience. What if I told you that you could enjoy delicious, bone-building dishes at home without spending hours in the kitchen?
Our recipe book, Bone Appétit, takes all the guesswork out of cooking homemade bone-healthy meals, and many of the dishes can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer for the convenience of future use.
And In the “Quick Pick” section of Bone Appétit, you will find a selection of recipes that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even scrumptious desserts. These “Quick Picks” can be made in less time than it would take you to drive to the grocery store or restaurant!
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Let us assist you in your mission for strong bones and a healthy body. With Bone Appétit by your side, you’ll be feeding your body to improve the health of your bones.
Till next time,
1 Gallup’s Annual Consumption Poll (2013). Web: https://www.gallup.com/poll/163868/fast-food-major-part-diet.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=USA%20-%20Wellbeing
2 Dave JM, An LC, Jeffrey RW, Ahluwalia JS. Relationship of attitudes toward fast food and frequency of fast-food intake in adults. Obesity. 2009. 17(6): 1164-70. Web: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2009.26/abstract;jsessionid=F7693CB9B2C27FD1951B5C5ED189A037.f02t04
3 Ho, SC, et al. “Sodium is the leading dietary factor associated with urinary calcium excretion in Hong Kong Chinese adults.” Osteoporosis International. 2001; 12, 723-731. 12, 723-731.
4 Endocrine Society. “Excessive salt consumption appears to be bad for your bones.” ScienceDaily. 17 June 2013. Web: https://www.slweb.org/pf.fluoride-bone.html
5 Kwon SJ, Ha YC, Park Y. High dietary sodium intake is associated with low bone mass in postmenopausal women: Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2008-2011. Osteoporosis International. 2017, 28(4). 1445-1452. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28074252.
6 Van Eylen D, Oey I, Hendrickx M, Van Loey A.,Kinetics of the Stability of Broccoli (Brassica oleracea Cv. Italica) Myrosinase and Isothiocyanates in Broccoli Juice during Pressure/Temperature Treatments. Journal of Agricultural And Food Chemistry. 2007. 55(6) 2163-2170. Web: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf062630b?prevSearch=myrosinase+AND+broccoli&searchHistoryKey=&
7 Lawoyin, S., et al. “Bone mineral content in patients with calcium urolithiasis.” Metabolism 28:1250-1254.1979. H
8 Yudkin, J., Dr. Sweet and dangerous. New York: Bantam Books, 112. 1973.
9 Wise, RA. Role of brain dopamine in food reward and reinforcement. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006 Jul 29; 361(1471): 1149–1158.
10 Blumenthal DM, Gold MS. Neurobiology of food addition. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: July 2010 13(4), 359–365. H