Today if an animal is butchered there is no waste from that and it is the wonder of the food processing. You never know what is coming to your plate…

What is food processing?

Food processing is the method or technique of converting raw ingredients of food into food ready for consumption for human beings. Today this happens for animals also. Processed food with less additives and fresh raw ingredients are not bad but it is always important to know what is happening exactly because it is a multi billion business in the world and there are many people who want to make quick money at the cost of the consumers.

Everything seems wonderful, what is our problem with food processing?

I too thought like that 30 years before, the kitchen has one big refrigerator and big deep freezer full with all kinds of food. But when I come into contact with the patients who have problems with these foods I started to look very cautiously about these foods. There are advantages as well as disadvantages and you are in the positive side when you consume processed food now and then.

If not, what will happen?

My experience is if you are young your body adjusts all the food including junk food, processed food but the problem starts when you become above 35 years and when your body cannot make any compromise.

Are you against processed food?

No I am not against processed food, it has lot of advantages for many group of people who have really no time. But whenever we get time we must cook fresh food. We must educate our children how important freshly cooked food from the house is for their later life. It is easy throughout the world to prepare or buy quickly a salad with fresh vegetables. Fruits are also available everywhere. Eating only processed food is very unhealthy.

Why are you so careful?

I am careful because for me not only the taste is decisive but also there are so many other important factors. Imagine you never correct your foot to your shoe. There are more than 3000 chemicals used to support the processing, colour, taste etc. and the chemicals also help the food to adjust the different process. The machines are few but the foods are many and very different.

What do you want to say more about chemical additives?

What I want to say is simple, I want to know what I eat and it is not very easy to find out from the industrially processed food. Many of the fresh food ingredients are at first not available in enough quantities but you get them throughout the year. How is it possible? The chemicals make this. Strawberries and mangos are good example for this and the list is very long, that means we can produce almost everything with the chemicals and these may affect individuals in different ways according to their health. That is why, if we do not want to avoid, use the processed food rarely.

Could you give me few examples?

Almost all the fruit flavours in curds or in ice creams and soft drinks are not free from chemicals. I could give you an interesting tip that most of the pizzas have only synthetic cheese. These three thousand chemicals are in a position to mimic many natural food ingredients.

Could you tell me more about these chemicals or food additives?

Shopping fresh food items in the open market is the best possibility. In big super markets run by international companies, we must be careful. The factory made food contains several additives which may be harmful to our health. The most questionable additives are sodium nitrite, saccharin, caffeine, artificial colouring, etc. These we find mostly in low nutritional food.

What do you say about sugar and salt?

Sugar and salt are the most familiar additives and we must use them in right proportion. After eating enough rice in our meals it is not advisable to eat sweets or bananas which I have seen in many families in India. It may be good to show their financial position but they do only harm to their health. Nothing is prohibited but one must know when and how much to take. We master the software programs in this world but not in a position to understand these simple things. Here the women and dieticians may take the things in their hands and educate the society.

What are additives?

Additives are normally natural, nature identical or artificial substances which are of little or no nutritional value, but are used in the processing or storage of foods as well as animal feeds. Additives are used for different purposes including keeping the food wholesome until it is eaten, make the food look or taste better, make that the food is easy to store or use and keep the price of the food competitive. In an emerging country like India, it is the other way. Though it is costlier than other countries people are ready to pay since these are considered as fashion food. Regarding the food additives I write a separate article.

Are all from the 3000 chemicals safe?

Most of them are used to synthesise various ingredients to food. Many are good, about some there are no data available and there are also chemicals which may not be healthy to all. It also depends upon one’s health. Use processed food only rarely and that is the best way to be healthy. It may be cheap because of mass production but do not forget that you work hard to earn your money. It is better to spend your money to buy only healthy food. Fresh food prepared in your home is the best.

What is your personal opinion about this?

I too eat now and then some processed food but less. It is because in the processing of food, it must be so prepared that it is easily processable with machines. This is like cutting your foot to fit your shoes. The manipulated food is treated with different chemicals and finally it is optically good and so tasty that water is coming from your mouth. So I know the value of fresh foods in my home.

Do snacks and sweets contain any chemicals to stimulate mouth-watering?

Yes, it is applicable to chips, crackers and chocolates. Whether animals or human beings we react in the same way when we see a very tasty food, water comes from our mouth. We eat and when we have eaten enough, the saliva stops and we also stop to eat but there are very intelligent food chemists in the industry who thought that what will happen if the saliva comes further although that person has eaten enough. Then with chemicals they make these snacks in such a way that the saliva is produced after you are full. The result is you open the snacks pack and eat till you finish everything.

Suppose, I give you ten small chocolates and if you start eating you will see that you enjoy the first one very well. Keeping in the mouth for a long time, and enjoy it till the small piece melts. The second one also you will eat like the first one and from the third you chew half and then bite and eat. The 5th and 6th you bite and swallow it immediately. This is the effect with which you consume more and also worried about your health and weight. You must have the right information always about several things to react correctly.

What about the salted chips?

Chips and many other snacks are usually salty and after 100 or 200 g of chips you are so thirsty and drink one or two bottles of soft drinks. You consume the sugar from the soft drinks which also makes the industry very happy because they have made money out of everything. We must know all these, think about that and learn how to trick the industry. We need not sacrifice anything if we like it but everybody must find their own rules for themselves. The lobby of the food industry is so strong in several countries that there is no effective control even after many scandals.

Altogether so many chemicals, what about the adverse health effects?

The big problem to the body is the removal of these foreign chemicals including the heavy metals. Liver, the chemical factory in our body, is the place where the chemicals are treated for the excretion and liver has to do a lot of work always and this is an extra work. Heavy metals are deposited in kidney or excreted through our kidneys. Minimising these risks is good for our health. This is an extra work for our detoxification and free radical scavenging systems.

How could you summarise everything together?

It is very easy to do that and a friend of mine told me once that it seems the more we process our foods, the less nutrients remain in them. He is correct.