Researchers in France and Spain have issues warnings about ultra-processed foods which have been linked to the possibility of an early death. While the results are conclusive, they do provide some worrying thoughts and ideas. The researchers have since called for more investigation into the foods.
So what are ultra-processed foods? Well, the term comes from a way of classifying food by how much industrial processing it has been through to get to the finished product that consumers buy off the shelves. There are different categories and each and every food and/or drink can be placed into one of them based on their ingredients and the processing it has undergone.
The lowest category of course, is completely unprocessed or minimally processed foods. This category includes all natural things such as fruit, milk, vegetables, meat, legumes such as lentils, seeds, eggs, and grains such as rice. The next category is processed foods, which have been altered slightly to make them last longer or taste better. To achieve this, they generally use salt, oil, sugar, or fermentation. The products in this category include, but are not limited to, cheese, beer, bacon, home-made bread, smoked fish, and tinned fruit and vegetables, all things which people love to eat!
The ultra-processed foods come after this, which have been through more substantial industrial processing and often have long ingredient lists on the packet, including added preservatives, sweeteners or colour enhancers. These are the ones which are bad for your health and this has been known for a long time. However, it’s now believed that they could lead to an early death.
Prof Maira Bes-Rastrollo, from the University of Navarra, said that if a product contains more than five ingredients, it can probably be considered ultra-processed. Some examples of these foods are instant soups, cake, processed meat such as sausages and hamburgers • breakfast cereals or cereal bars, sugary fizzy drinks, chicken nuggets, chocolate , ice cream, mass-produced bread, many “ready to heat” meals such as pies and pizza, and surprisingly, meal-replacement shakes. All these foods can be extremely bad for your health, even though they taste really good!
The University of Navarra, in Spain, completed the first study where they followed 19,899 people for a decade and every other year, they assessed their diet and how that related to their health. During the ten year study, there were a total of 335 death. In regards to diets, for every 10 deaths among those eating the least ultra-processed food, there were a whopping 16 deaths among those eating the most processed foods. Clearly, there is some correlation between the level of preservation that goes into each food.
The University of Paris conducted the second study where they followed 105,159 people for five years and assessed their diet twice a year. Similarly to the first study, the ultra-processes food came out worse. It showed that people who ate more ultra-processed food had worse heart health than those who ate less. Rates of cardiovascular disease were 277 per 100,000 people per year among those eating the most ultra-processed food, compared with 242 per 100,000 among those eating the least. While it may seem like a small difference, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a huge gap.
The studies, which were published in the British Medical Journal, clearly show that more processed foods cause more health issues. The only way to combat this is for everyone to realise how much of a negative affect these foods have and to start eating healthier foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and anything else that is natural and unprocessed. Otherwise, the health of the world may decline rapidly, far beyond repair.