Becky is a 35-year-old woman who is trying to lose weight and lead a healthy life. Every morning, she eats an English muffin for breakfast. English muffins, like various other breads, pastas, and dessert products, are often produced using refined grains. These grains are heavily processed and have fewer nutrients than whole grains. They have been linked to several health problems, including heart attacks, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
Becky packs a sandwich for lunch every day. Since she’s trying to lose weight, she doesn’t put butter or mayonnaise on it. However, her sandwich always contains meat that is heavily processed and loaded with sodium4 . Even though all of us need sodium to live, too much sodium in our body can lead to high blood pressure, fluid retention, and dizziness.
Going for a jog after work is Becky’s favorite way to unwind after a long, hard day. As sure as the sun sets in the west, Becky will reach for an energy drink after every run. She is completely unaware that the benefits of her run are being eroded by the high-fructose corn syrup that she’s drinking. High-fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener in a wide range of foods, from soft drinks to breakfast cereals. Studies have linked its consumption to obesity, cavities, and poor nutrition.
Becky likes to cook dinner for her family. Even though the meals she cooks are often very nutritious, she tends to use a lot of margarine. Studies have shown that the high levels of trans fats in margarine can boost bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. People with high levels of bad cholesterol are more likely to have heart disease, cancer, and even depression.
Becky may have gone on like this forever if not for a phone call from her mom one Sunday evening. Her mom informed her that she had read a fascinating article in an English textbook that highlighted the nutritional deficiencies of everyday foods. "This article says that there’s an easy way to be healthy," Becky’s mom explained. "All you need to do is eat fresh foods that are not highly processed!"