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Drinking Diet Soda With Roasted Snacks, Fried Frozen Food A Health Hazard

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Transitioning to a healthy diet that demands leaving behind one’s favourite comfort foods and sugary delicacies if often a significant challenge. Instead of extreme diet changes and completely turning the buck around on current choice of foods, most people take a more moderate approach. This often involves shifting to so-called healthier substitutes of snacks and packaged foods. This can take the shape of one picking the “healthy” roasted or baked chips, air-frying instead of deep-frying, opting for diet soda instead of the regular choice, etc. However, they are not as healthy as one would like to believe.

To begin with, packaged (and sometimes even homemade) foods that are roasted or baked at high heat end up forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are known to be toxic to the body, often increasing the likelihood of heart diseases and acting as bio-markers for ageing. They also contribute in the development and progression of conditions such as diabetes, gut microbiome-associated illnesses, cancer, etc.

In a conversation with The Indian Express, Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Nutritionist at Apollo Hospital, said that while “the body can handle some amount of AGEs, but daily exposure to high levels is bad for health.”

Air-frying is also not a solution to the health issues that deep-frying creates. While the former does lower the formation of harmful chemicals like acrylamide and AGEs compared to its alternative, air-fried foods still contain these chemicals, which should not be ingested in excess.

Air frying
By most measures, air frying is healthier than frying in oil.
  1. If one transitions to zero-calorie foods, including diet sodas, under the impression that they will lead to weight loss and be healthier, they need to reconsider that too.
  2. Such foods contain fat substitutes and artificial sweeteners, which interfere with the body’s metabolism.
  3. Scientists have indicated that diet soda may boost appetite by altering sweet taste receptors, stimulating hunger hormones, and activating dopamine responses in the brain.
  4. If you have noticed yourself craving snacks after a diet Coke, this is likely to be the reason.
  5. Multiple observational studies have also shown that using artificial sweeteners and drinking high amounts of diet soda is linked to increased obesity risk and metabolic syndrome.

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If, somehow, one has found processed food free of the ills listed above, it is wise to check for potato starch powder or Maltodextrin. Packaged and frozen foods often contain this powder, used as an additive to enhance the flavour and shelf life of foods.

  1. Processed potato starch adversely affects gut health by enabling bacteria to stick to the cells lining the intestines.
  2. Maltodextrin is also sugary and works in a fashion similar to cocaine, increasing your tolerance for it and making one crave it more.
  3. With the presence of sugar in the body, the system works on breaking that down earlier, often leading to micro-nutrients not being absorbed properly.

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