In modern society, people are eating more highly processed foods than ever, which are low in nutrients. What we’re eating now very often isn’t food, cautions Michael Pollan, journalist and author of the book, In Defense of Food.

“We are eating a lot of… food-like substances… highly processed things that might be called yoghurt, cereals, whatever, but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods.

“Most of the things that are killing us these days – whether it’s heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers – are directly attributed to the way we’re eating,” he says.

Highly processed foods go beyond the incorporation of salt, sugar, and fat to include artificial colours and flavours, preservatives, thickeners, emulsifiers, and artificial sweeteners that promote shelf stability, preserve and enhance texture, and increase palatability, says the Harvard School of Public Health.

Such foods are often mass-produced with low-cost ingredients making them cheap and highly profitable. These foods are designed to specifically increase cravings so that people will overeat them and purchase more.

Some of these foods tend to be low in fibre and nutrients. Examples are sugary drinks, cookies, some crackers, chips, and breakfast cereals, some frozen dinners, and luncheon meats.  An association has been suggested between the increasing sales of ultra-processed foods and the rise in obesity. (HSPH)

Eat real food for health and wellness – go for wholesome “living foods”, foods derived from nature (vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits). Avoid unhealthy processed foods (anything that comes in a box, package, gel, drink, bar, powder, pill, supplement) – these are “dead foods”.

“Choosing whole foods (single ingredient, mostly unmodified foods) can help you eat healthier because they’re higher in nutrients and fibre to keep you satisfied,” says holistic health and fitness expert Kristen Jakobitz.