The Health Disadvantages Of Ready Meals

The list of health disadvantages of convenience foods is long and so compelling that preparing meals at home using fresh ingredients is finally becoming more enticing than ever.

Sick from ready meals

Flavors, flavor enhancers, acidifiers, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and much more ensure that canned meals, packet soups, and vacuum-packed quick meals are attractive, durable, and taste acceptable to the convenience food lover. They are practical. Not more. The list of downsides is long and so compelling that, in the end, preparing your own meals from fresh ingredients seems more appealing than ever.

Ready meals are made from cheap raw materials

High-quality raw materials are not necessary for ready meals. A rich selection of different food chemicals for fining is available. With them, everything – appearance, consistency, aroma, and taste – can be concealed and changed as desired. So the cheapest ingredients can confidently be processed. Cheap ingredients – even if they have been styled visually and tastefully with the help of synthetic additives – of course still have disadvantages. They are often contaminated with pesticides or other agricultural toxins.

Ready meals contain hardly any vital substances

Cheap raw materials are often outdated, i.e. no longer fresh, or are used in ready meals not as fresh goods but as preserves (e.g. powdered chicken instead of fresh chicken meat, potato powder instead of fresh potatoes, fish fingers instead of fresh fish, etc.). However, such ingredients are extremely poor in vital substances.

During industrial processing to create a ready-to-eat meal that lasts forever, the very last vital substance residue is then said goodbye. So anyone who regularly eats ready-made products has a good chance of being able to enjoy all the symptoms of malnutrition sooner or later. The synthetic vitamins occasionally added by the manufacturer are no longer of any use. If they are still of any use in their unnaturalness, their effect is likely to fizzle out like a drop in the bucket.

Too much fat in ready meals

Finished products also contain a lot of unhealthy fat. Fat preserves and is a wonderful flavor carrier. Of course, fat is cheap too. Unfortunately, fat has a lot of calories that not everyone values. And even the best fat becomes unhealthy when exposed to the high temperatures used in the manufacturing process of finished products.

Too much sugar

As is well known, sugar also finds its way into finished products. Sometimes in places where you wouldn’t have expected it and in unexpectedly high quantities. The disadvantages of sugar are world-renowned: sugar weakens the immune system, makes the body susceptible to infectious diseases, can promote, if not induce, insomnia, dental problems, lack of concentration, fungal infections, menstrual problems, stomach and intestinal problems, inexplicable fatigue, depression, diabetes, and much more trigger many cases in the first place.

Harmful sweeteners

If sugar itself is not on site, its representatives are not far: sweeteners and sugar substitutes. Aspartame for example. This sweetener causes strong neurotoxins to form during digestion. Memory loss, depression, and eye problems can develop with regular use of aspartame. Sweeteners also make you fat. These neurotoxins can also conjure up clinical pictures that nobody would ever associate with the sweetener. This in turn can lead to misdiagnoses and, as a result, to therapies that will never be crowned with success.

Unfortunately, the patient never finds out that it is the consumption of sweetener-rich drinks and convenience products that is responsible for his miserable state of health. Other sweeteners, such as saccharin and cyclamate, were once considered carcinogenic, have been banned, have been re-authorized, or are authorized in some countries but banned in others. As far as the (harmlessness) of sweeteners is concerned, there is general disagreement. Nevertheless, they can be mixed into food and wreak havoc on the bodies of some eaters.

Salt and iodine are not skimped on

Salt is also used liberally in finished products. High blood pressure and kidney problems are promoted by table salt. In addition, in most cases, iodized table salt is used to protect us “poor” residents of an (alleged) iodine deficiency area from thyroid diseases and goiters. Unfortunately, there are more and more diseases of the thyroid gland – despite comprehensive iodine prophylaxis prescribed “from above”. Worse still: there are suddenly more and more people who suffer from iodine intolerance – mostly without knowing the trigger. The symptoms are manifold: acne, skin rashes, asthma, cardiac arrhythmias, and sleep disorders, restlessness, erectile dysfunction, and much more.

Preservatives and antioxidants

A sell-by date in the distant future calls for preservatives and antioxidants. Some preservatives (E310, E311, E312, E320, E321) can change the blood so that it can no longer transport oxygen. The result is a lack of oxygen. In extreme cases – especially in children – this can lead to suffocation.

Other preservatives (E280, E281, E282, E283) are said to lead to behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity, concentration disorders, learning disabilities, and sleep disorders in children. These food additives are also said to be able to negatively affect blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Still others (E200, E202, E203, E210 – E213) trigger hypersensitivity reactions and allergies.

Anyone who is already sensitive or suffers from asthma will experience allergic attacks or asthma attacks. Sulfites, which are particularly popular for preserving finished potato products (e.g. French fries, mashed potatoes, crisps), can trigger all sorts of discomfort from stomach pains to headaches, asthma attacks, and possibly ulcers and chronic intestinal inflammation. Sulfites also attract certain bacteria into the intestines, which create a highly aggressive environment there. Incidentally, the same bacteria are well known to the major oil companies because they can attack their pipelines and cause significant damage in the process. The fact that they can also colonize the human intestine was unknown for a long time.

Even if the packaging says “no preservatives”, that’s no reason to be overjoyed. Because most of the time they contain preserving antioxidants instead, which are often by no means harmless.

Dyes are the make-up of the finished products

They are urgently needed because machine processing understandably affects the appearance of the raw materials somewhat. Unfortunately, some of the commonly used food colorings (e.g. E102, 104, 110) can cause allergies such as B. to trigger skin eczema. They are found in pies, baked goods, instant soups, and instant sauces, among other things. Artificial colors can cause asthmatics to have seizures and shortness of breath, neurodermatitis, or attention deficits in children are aggravated. The dyes mentioned weaken the immune system and are considered carcinogenic. Some dyes may also contain aluminum without this needing to be stated on the label. Aluminum is suspected of promoting dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Flavor enhancers and aromas

The flavor enhancer glutamate already has a rather bad reputation, which is why manufacturers prefer to avoid mentioning it on the label. With the help of the latest high-tech, a powder is conjured up from non-fat milk solids that naturally contain a lot of glutamic acids. This is converted into glutamate during the manufacturing process. Ultimately, however, the label only says “dried milk product” and nobody knows that they are actually eating glutamate. Sensitive people notice it soon enough.

A comparatively harmless consequence is that under its influence the natural feeling of satiety can be put out of action, which is not exactly conducive to a slim figure. It can cause nausea and vomiting in some people. Migraine sufferers often experience a headache attack after consuming glutamate. It is also considered a dangerous nerve cell toxin that can cross the blood-brain barrier and transport toxins into the brain.

The use of aromas helps the manufacturer to save on expensive ingredients such as fruit or spices. In addition, the preparation does not have to be particularly gentle on the aroma, since the artificial aroma is added later anyway.

There are thousands of chemical flavors: soup green flavor, meat juice flavor, and apple strudel flavor,… They are produced by microorganisms, mainly molds. Some of them are genetically manipulated, which is not subject to labeling.

The citric acid in finished products

Citric acid is also produced by mold. It is an extremely widely used additive. It preserves, stabilizes, and imparts a fruity taste. Most fruit juice drinks, jams, but also baked goods, preserves, and convenience products can no longer do without citric acid. When extracting the acid, mold spores or other metabolic toxins from the fungi can get into the end product along with the citric acid.

Aside from its damaging effects on teeth, citric acid also transports metals such as lead and aluminum through the intestinal wall and into the blood. Brain activity is impaired, which in turn can lead to well-known learning and memory disorders and is even associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in the long term. Citric acid can also cause kidney and liver damage.

Acidifiers containing phosphates

Other acidifiers – phosphorus compounds – can hinder the absorption of calcium in the bones. Finished products with phosphates weaken the bones in the long term and lead to their decalcification (osteoporosis).

Technical auxiliaries and enzymes

Technical auxiliaries can be used, for example, to prevent foam, to accelerate reactions, as clarifying agents, and for many other purposes. Residues of it can be contained in the food without it appearing on the label. The matter is regulated by law in such a way that everything can be used in the processing of food as long as it is “sufficiently” removed from the food afterward. What “sufficient” means is up to you.

Enzymes are also added during processing and removed afterward. However, they may also remain in the food (after they have been deactivated beforehand). Enzymes are not subject to approval in food production because their residues are classified as harmless. Apart from the fact that many enzymes have now been genetically manipulated, they can introduce toxic substances into the food, such as toxins from mold or bacteria.

Effects on health have not been researched at all

In addition to the additives mentioned, there are infinitely more in all the nicely packaged ready-made pizzas, packet soups, vacuum-packed sandwiches, etc. There are also gelling agents, thickeners, humectants, emulsifiers, raising agents, complexing agents, color stabilizers, flour treatment agents, foam inhibitors, melting salts, fillers, sweeteners, release agents, and coating agents.

Some people know the health risks, some don’t. It is interesting in this context that their effects on human health are only examined in their raw state. When a ready meal is produced, however, high temperatures arise. For most food additives, there are still no studies on what happens to them in the oven. However, whole swarms of questionable decomposition products can arise from many a harmless substance when heated. Their possible effects on the human organism are largely unknown!

Ready meals are in toxic packaging

Not even the packaging of the ready meals is completely safe. Vacuum packaging favors the growth of the dangerous botulism pathogen. It can cause visual disturbances and even brain damage. Bacterial pathogens also grow in packaging with carbon dioxide (the so-called modified atmosphere – e.g. baked goods, sandwiches, etc. in cellophane or mixed salads packed in plastic) and excrete their toxins. Cans are coated with chemicals that e.g. B. should facilitate tearing open the lid. The chemicals that are considered carcinogenic and mutagenic rarely stay in the lid, but also migrate into the contents of the can and with it into the stomach of the consumer. Toxic mineral oil vapors from the packaging machines also often get into the packaging as an “extra”.

The times when you could eat ready-made products with a clear conscience (because you didn’t know) are long gone and those who don’t want to see themselves in the role of guinea pigs for food additives will prepare their meals from fresh, carefully selected ingredients in the future prefer to do it myself.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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