The processed, beautifully packaged foods in your supermarket trolley are largely toxic. Processed foods don’t have to be poisonous, but the processed foods sold to us by Big Phood certainly are; after all, it has been established that they increase the risk of cancer and early death from all causes. This is because they create chronic inflammation (which increases tissue breakdown), and multiple nutrient depletion (which strangles tissue regeneration); a combination of factors at the root of most of the chronic degenerative diseases. We call them ‘diseases of civilization’, but they are really diseases of Cargill, Nestle and Pepsico.
We know that these junk foods are lacking in omega 3 fatty acids, polyphenols and prebiotic fibers, and therefore predispose to inflammation. We know that they are full of AGE’s and ALE’s, which cause inflammation. And we know also that they are stuffed full of sugar, a pernicious heap of empty calories that also leads to inflammation. But people love sugar …
The classic sodas are 10% solutions of sugar, and so, perhaps more surprisingly, are the big brand peanut butters. Tomato ketchup is about 25% sugar, and breakfast cereals such as Kelloggs Froot Loops are over 40% sugar by weight (their spelling is terrible too.) Kelloggs Honey Smacks are the heavyweight champion, weighing in at 55.6% sugar.
Who eats these god-awful breakfast cereals? Adults, on the whole, do not, unless they are low information food junkies, mentally impaired or unemployed. No, these foods are marketed, aggressively, at the young and vulnerable; students and school kids. Big Phood likes to start ’em young because this is when food preferences and dietary patterns are being formed. A taste for sugar acquired in childhood will last for years, and maybe for a lifetime. The question is, at what age does the brainwashing begin?
According to a very recent report from Public Health England (1), even the very youngest consumers are being targeted. A survey of 1120 baby foods found that Big Phood has been encouraging sugar consumption in babies from 6 months and even earlier, and disguising these sugar-rich products as ‘healthy options’.
The bright packaging, cartoon figures and other insidious marketing tools used to reassure the parents and at the same time recruit the kids, are assembled by well-paid shits in advertising offices whoring for Big Phood, just as they do for Big Pharma. There is not an ethical bone in either industry.
Snacking foods accounted for more than one third (34.5%) of the total market, and the highest sugar content was found in processed dried fruit snacks. The worst of these sweet snacks, which typically claim that they are “packed with real fruit” or “one of five a day”, contained 67.5% sugar by weight.
Being force-fed these products and acquiring a taste for them at such a young age affects these innocents throughout childhood and into adult life, greatly increasing their risk of disease and early death. In England, for example, around a quarter of children aged 4 to 5 are overweight or obese, and a similar proportion have dental disease. The majority of these children will become overweight or obese adults, and their risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and early death will also be grotesquely increased. They are starting off on the wrong trajectory for their future wellbeing.
Think of the children. Or, if you don’t care about the children, think of the very serious health, welfare and economic consequences for families and society. Spare a thought also, if you will, for the hard working and under-paid dual citizens who control the media conglomerates. (I’ll return to them later).
Ultra-processed foods harm the body, and they harm the mind too.
In earlier posts I talked about the impact of chronic inflammation and malnutrition on causing depression, and loss of motivation and resilience. But they also contribute to poor impulse control, which is every bit as important.
The General Theory of Crime (there are General Theories of everything, and a General Theory of Everything) suggests that crime can be explained by the combination of situational opportunity and lack of self-control, aka impulsivity (2). But this is not the whole story. Some societies appear to be more criminal than others. The fish rots from the head, and the serial dishonesty and white collar criminality of our political leaders have motivated us all to be less law-abiding than we used to be. Legal and administrative decisions not to prosecute various types of crimes erode the social fabric further. The loss of any hegemonic moral system, accelerated by mass illegal migration, gives the screw one more destructive turn.
What our politicians don’t know – or don’t tell us – is that Signaling Theory (a sub-set of game theory which applies to all animals) explains that if the game is rigged, and enough of the players are playing dishonestly, and the penalties for misbehaving are not great or consistently applied, it doesn’t make sense to stick consistently to the rules (3). Honesty will still prevail to an extent in smaller and more homogenous communities, but in the wider and more diverse world it is thinner on the ground (4). The knowledge that there is one law for the rich and another for the hoi polloi affects us all, profoundly, by making it more likely that more individuals will break or bend rules that are manifestly unfair.
Back to impulsivity, which plays a central part in all of this.
Lower omega 3’s in the brain correlate with poorer impulse control (5, 6), with some evidence suggesting that the cingulate cortex, which is deeply involved in impulse control and response inhibition, may be particularly sensitive to omega 3 depletion (5, 7-9). This appears to be an important factor in old age (ie 8) and in adolescents with behavioural problems (10). It may not be as critical in adults in general (11), but it DOES appear to affect behavior in game situations, where lower serum omega 3 levels correlate with a reduced willingness to be conciliatory when faced with unfair treatment (12).
Impulse control, which improves as the anterior cingulate cortex develops, is essential for learning the personal and social advantages of delayed gratification, which is often constructive and the basis for durable careers and relationships. Poor impulse control, on the other hand, is linked to a preference for rapid or instant gratification, which is rarely constructive. In fact it is often destructive, and linked to criminal behavior (13).
This is where Big Phood and Big Media converge.
Junk foods downgrade the brain development and function, and reduce impulse control. If you have poor impulse control you are more likely to seek instant gratification, and make impulse purchases of junk food.
Big Phood drives the demand for instant gratification further with their shoddy (but carefully designed) Bliss Point products. These foods over-stimulate the palate, creating instant gratification but also food addiction, inflammation and malnutrition, generating a generation of kids with poor impulse control, and delaying their journey to maturity. Antifa, for example, who are exactly what they claim to be against, are a case in point. And then Hollywood and the purveyors of fake news climb aboard.
When flying across the oceans I use the quiet time to work first, and when that’s done I might scroll through the movie choices. The choices are generally between the adventures of some cartoon superhero, the bad behavior of criminals and the ‘attitude’ of young to middling cops, soldiers or other men and women of action. And action is mostly what it is. Thrills, spills, explosions, crashes, pectorals and truly awful acting, and all based, as a scriptwriter friend of mine explained, on a death every 5 pages. No time for reflection, mulling or chewing, these are the exact equivalent of junk food; over-processed cinematic product designed to provide instant gratification, diminish the attention span and reinforce poor impulse control. Like fast foods they keep you hooked, but leave you numb and empty. Marvel and DC Comics serve us Soma, cinematic super-stimuli that distract us from the dying of the middle class and the on-going ruin of the cities of the West.
It is no coincidence that the foods advertised on screen and sold in cinema foyers are junk foods.
It wasn’t always like this. The films of Bellochio, Truffaut, Wenders, Pollack u.s.w, were once in or not far from the mainstream. But at some point in the 80’s, perhaps, we started down a different track.
MacDonna (the MacDonald of music) was the audio equivalent of a Big Mac with cheese; a cynical, greasy and very calculated foray into the brave new world of audio junk food which provides so much of the soundtrack de nos jours. The news conglomerates from CNN to BBC compound and confirm the damage by serving us gobbets of news without real analysis or context, which makes them so much easier to fake.
Baby food, infantile art, dumbed down ‘news’ and criminal politicians are rotting our teeth, brains and culture. Oddly enough, when you look at the cross-ownership of Big Pharma, Big Phood and Big Media, you come across many of the same families.
- Gottfredson MR, Hirschi T. A General Theory of Crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press; 1990.
- Rowell J, Ellner S, Reeve H. (2006). Why Animals Lie: How Dishonesty and Belief Can Coexist in a Signaling System. The American Naturalist, 168(6), E180-E204.
- Darcey VL, McQuaid GA, Fishbein DH, VanMeter JW. Dietary Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Related to Impulse Control and Anterior Cingulate Function in Adolescents. Front Neurosci. 2019 Jan 9;12:1012.
- Patrick RP, Ames BN. Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. FASEB J. 2015 Jun;29(6):2207-22.
- Zamroziewicz MK, Paul EJ, Rubin RD, Barbey AK. Anterior cingulate cortex mediates the relationship between O3PUFAs and executive functions in APOE e4 carriers. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015 May 21;7:87.
- Bowman GL, Dodge HH, Mattek N, Barbey AK, Silbert LC, Shinto L, Howieson DB, Kaye JA, Quinn JF. Plasma omega-3 PUFA and white matter mediated executive decline in older adults. Front Aging Neurosci. 2013 Dec 16;5:92.
- Johnston DT, Deuster PA, Harris WS, Macrae H, Dretsch MN. (2013). Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and neurocognitive performance in deployed U.S. Servicemembers. Nutr. Neurosci. 16, 30–38.
- Reis RS, Dalle Molle R, Machado TD, Mucellini AB, Rodrigues DM, Bortoluzzi A, Bigonha SM, Toazza R, Salum GA, Minuzzi L, Buchweitz A, Franco AR, Pelúzio MC, Manfro GG, Silveira PP. Impulsivity-based thrifty eating phenotype and the protective role of n-3 PUFAs intake in adolescents. Transl Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 15;6:e755.
- Ginty AT, Muldoon MF, Kuan DCH, Schirda B, Kamarck TW, Jennings JR, Manuck SB, Gianaros PJ. Omega-3 Supplementation and the Neural Correlates of Negative Affect and Impulsivity: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Midlife Adults. Psychosom Med. 2017 Jun;79(5):549-556.
- Emanuele E, Brondino N, Re S, Bertona M, Geroldi D. Serum omega-3 fatty acids are associated with ultimatum bargaining behavior. Physiol Behav. 2009 Jan 8;96(1):180-3.
- Åkerlund D, Golsteyn BHH, Grönqvist H, Lindahl L. Time discounting and criminal behavior. PNAS May 31, 2016 113 (22) 6160-6165;