Ultrapocessed foods, you can tell just by the name that they are bad news. Well you’re right! A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has revealed that high consumption of ultra-processed food may lead to an increase in overall mortality risk.
The study was participated by 44,551 French adults aged 45 and above. Researchers tracked them for more than 7 years on average and requested to fill out survey questionnaires regarding their usual food and drinks, including information on lifestyle, physical activity, height and weight, and other body measurements.
However, the team was particularly more interested in the NOVA food group that is labeled ‘ultra-processed’ and are often consumed in the form of desserts, snacks or heat-/ready-to-eat meals. Researchers found that consumption of this ultra-processed food increases the risk of dying from many different causes. They found that for every 10% increase of ultra-processed food intake, the risk for all-cause mortality increases by 14%.
According to the Nova Food Classification, ultra-processed foods and drinks typically have five or more ingredients, with ingredients often used in processed foods such as oils, fats, sugar, stabilizer, salt, preservatives, and antioxidants.
Ingredients exclusively present in ultra-processed products include those that are not commonly used in cooking and food additives to mimic the taste and aroma of unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Example of ingredients that can only be found in ultra-processed foods includes certain substances extracted from food such as gluten, whey, lactose, casein, hydrogenated oils, soy protein isolate, invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and maltodextrin.
Food additives that can be found only in ultra-processed products include dyes, color stabilizers, flavor enhancers, non-sugar sweeteners, flavors, emulsifiers, humectants, sequestrants and processed aids like firming, carbonating, anti-bulking, glazing, anti-caking and de-foaming agents.
Ultra-processing aims to produce products that are ready to eat, to drink and to eat. The usual characteristics of this food group are attractive packaging, hyper-palatability, and aggressive marketing.
Typical ultra-processed products including ice crease, candies, chocolate, carbonated drinks, savory or sweet packaged snacks, margarine and spreads, pastries, cookies, cake and cake mixes, breakfast cereals, energy bars, and mass-produced bread. Chicken and meat extracts and instant sauces are also included in the list.
Ready-to-heat products that include pre-prepared pasta, pizza and pies, chicken nuggets, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, instant noodles and soups, and packaged desserts.
The JAMA-published study did not claim that ultra-processed foods caused early death, but only that they’re linked with a shorter lifespan. However, looking at all the amounts of unhealthy ingredients added in these products, this likely play a bigger role in the problem.
The following are some reasons why you should minimize, if not, quit, consuming ultra-processed foods.
Increases the risk of cancer. A study has found that foods containing additives, emulsifiers, and artificial colors and flavors are associated with an increase in the risk of cancer.
Contains a high amount of sugar. On average, ultra-processed foods contain more sugar than processed foods. Hence, along with consuming this type of food, it can have ill effects on your health. Studies show that consuming excessive sugars increases the risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension. It also increases the risk of death from heart disease.
Ultra-processed foods make you overeat. The brain’s reward system sometimes encourages us to eat more of the foods that we like, rather than the body actually needs. Food manufacturers are aware of this, so they include salt, fat, and sugar purposely, to make their food products more ‘rewarding.’ These ingredients make you buy more, leading to overeating, and eventually, overweight and obesity.
On top of all these reasons, ultra-processed foods are often stripped of essential nutrients and fiber during the processing, so they are fortified with synthetic nutrients that are clearly unnatural. So next time you get ready to make a meal, make sure to think about what you are putting in your body!
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About Dr. Jenny: Dr. Jenny is a Naturopathic Doctor and clinical research associate. She is a successful entrepreneur as the CEO/Proprietor of AgeVital Pharmacies in Sarasota, Florida. She is a charismatic media personality and television producer with regular appearances on ABC, NBC, TBN, CBS, the CW and up coming show on Lifetime. As a health and wellness expert and educator, Dr. Jenny lectures all around the world at various conferences about the endocannabinoid system and functional integrative healthcare and how natural solutions work to treat a multitude of disease and illness. She is currently authoring books about the endocannabinoid system for healthcare practitioners and consumers. She is the President and Chairman of The American Academy of the Endocannabinoid System (AAECS) and sits on the Executive Board of Directors for the American Board of Medical Marijuana Physicians (ABMMP). Her expansive credentials include a Board Certification at The American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners – (ABAAHP), a Diplomate of the AAIM College of Nutrition and a Board Certification with the (AAIM) Board of Integrative Medicine. Dr. Jenny is also a member of the American Academy Of Anti-Aging Medicine, serves as a senior business and financial advisor for Nuvusio and the medical director for Biom-Pharmaceuticals and Chief Scientific Officer And Medical Director for M3.
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