The way ultra processed food is killing you slowly

Ultra processed food is killing us slowly, but how? And what is ultra-processed food? I will answer all that, and I will also explain how food companies are selling us poison. Keep reading to know more.

Ultra-processed food is something that is not natural. It is chemically altered and unsafe. But first, we need to understand different categories in which food is classified. That will explain to us the major difference between different kind of foods.

Then we will get back to the ultra-processed food and deal with the devil itself.

Different categories of food

For ease and for better understanding, NOVA categorized foods into 4 groups. These categories not only tell us more about the food we eat, but also helps in making an educated decision.

Category 1- Unprocessed food

This category contains Fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, meat, eggs, fish, milk (plain), curd (plain), paneer (cottage cheese), herbs, spices, fresh fruit juice (not packed), etc.

These foods are in their natural state and vitamins, minerals & other nutrients are still intact. These foods are free from chemicals and have expiry date. That means they can go stale easily and quickly.

Such foods are plain and may not be attractive looking as these are in natural state. However, these are very healthy

Category 2- Processed Culinary ingredients

This category contains cooking oil, seeds, nuts, etc. These are also called as minimally processed foods. These are used in cooking and go through processes like grinding, refining, pressing, etc.

Main aim of these process is to obtain oil or other products that are free from pollutants and are stable to use.

Category 3- Processed food

This category contains foods that are processed in order to increase taste and preserve quality. For example Cheese, milk (sweet), freshly made bread, canned fish, canned vegetables.

Dry/dried fruits are also processed at some level. They are cleaned, salted (not all) and some preservative are added to them.

Unlike previous 2 categories, this category contains salt, sugars and few more ingredients are added before they are ready to be consumed.

Category 4- Ultra processed foods

Ultra processed foods go through series of industrial process. This category contains less of whole food and more of artificially made foods.

These types of foods contain various chemicals, go through various process and are unnatural.

We are most interested in this category, however we should not be. But for this post, we will be focussing mainly on ultra processed foods and their harmful effects.

How Ultra processed food are made?

To be very honest, I don’t know. Even the food companies who make such food doesn’t know how they are making it.

Ultra processed foods are chemically engineered, this includes various industrial processes like extrusion, molding, blanching, chemical modification, chelating, carbonating, gelling, glazing, bleaching, leavening, etc.

Such food could include fructose, syrups, hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers, foaming agents (also used in shampoo, soaps), clarifying agents, humectants (also used in cosmetics), processed protein, dyes, tartrazine, cochineal (these 2 are colors), stabilizers, thickeners (also used in paints,inks), maltodextrin, flavor enhancers and god knows what else.

Cosmetic additives like fruit concentrate & waste obtained from food are added to such food. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners, colors, detergents are added to such food to make it look more colorful and spongy.

Typical example of ultra processed food may include chips, soda, chocolate, noodles, cold drinks, ready to eat meals and mixtures, biscuits, chocolate powders, packed food like cakes, ready to eat snacks, sauce, chutneys, pickle, packed fruit juices, protein bars, cereals, certain breads, ready-made soups, ice creams, and even candies.

ultra processed foods

The interesting thing about such foods is, these foods are made to taste like certain food, so that you can feel good about them. These are very light and are broken down and remade, so these are very easy to digest and are micronutrient deficient.

As ultra processed foods are easy to digest, our brain doesn’t immediately understand when we need to stop, and we keep eating. Ultra processed foods are “designed” in a manner that people cannot resist, and they always buy them.

But, there are few more reasons why ultra processed foods are liked so much.

Ultra processed foods, why they are so popular?

What makes Ultra processed food a favorite

Ultra processed foods are very popular, I mean so popular that 60 % of total calories in the USA comes from such foods.

And European countries are not far behind in consuming Ultra processed foods. 44% of the energy (or calories) comes from such food. A similar figure for Australia as well.

But what makes, these foods these popular?

I will list out some reasons:

Easy alternative of unprocessed food

Ultra processed foods or UPFs are considered an alternative of natural food. The major reason for that they are easy to eat and requires no efforts.

Like, you might have seen some ready to eat masala in the market, those are claimed to be time-saving. So, while you are thinking that you are saving your time, you are actually reducing your life span.

Also, such items don’t require any efforts, so anyone can buy and eat them. There are like 100 variety of snacks, so people always have huge variety to choose from. Which is not case of natural food.

Heavily marketed

UPFs are heavily marketed. You will see amazing ads with catchy taglines, which makes you buy such products. Companies promote these products, and they will talk about how “healthy”, satisfying and nourishing such products are.

Even at supermarket, you will see packets of chips, snacks and such ready to eat food near the billing counter, so you will tend to buy such things. Believe it or not, it’s easy to find UPFs than the actual food.

Celebrities and popular personalities also promote such products, so it gets easy for food companies to sell them.

Attractive shapes and colors could be another tactics of food companies. For example, if food companies are targeting children, then they will sell such items that children will get attracted towards it.

Well… Been there, done that.

Cheap & time saving

UPFs are very cheap. The amount of money you will spend on UPFs will be much lesser than the actual food, plus these foods requires no cooking skills, additional ingredients, electricity or cooking system, and most importantly time.

Food companies know that people don’t have time, so they produce such things which can be called as time effective.

Ultra processed foods at supermarket

Longer shelf life

Ultra processed foods have longer shelf life, that means they will taste the same even after 2 months. This food don’t go stale easily.

For example, packed biscuits will not expire for many months, but homemade cookies will not look or taste the same even after a few days.

Now the biggest question is, what does Ultra processed foods causes? And how to deal with it?

UPFs can cause a lot of things like cancer, obesity, heart diseases, etc. But, we will discuss that in a separate post.


Ultra processed food is artificially created product of food companies for the profit. As you can read in this post, these foods are made with countless unknown industrial methods. Furthermore, various chemicals are added and those are not mentioned directly on the label.

These foods are popular and consumers are sold poison at a cheap price.

In the next blog post by FGW we will discuss why Ultra processed foods are harmful to us, and we will also learn some ways by which we can save ourselves.

Until then, remember to Smile.

Check out FGW’s other favorites….

57 responses to “The way ultra processed food is killing you slowly”

  1. As a single person cooking for myself, I must admit it is easier to buy some pre-made foods. When I cook from scratch, I tend to make larger quantities, so it takes me many meals to eat everything. I don’t tend to have a lot of waste from spoilage, but I do sometimes get tired of the same things, so I’ll have 2 different batches in my fridge to alternate from. If I make more choices then I’ll get food spoilage before I can eat everything. It’s a tradeoff.

  2. very informative, Devang.
    … and scary to think we don’t know what’s in these ultra processed foods.
    An easier way for working women but clearly risky.
    Thanks for sharing. 🀍

  3. Processed food tastes good, not going to lie lol. But it’s also definitely killing us. I try to eat as few processed foods as possible. Really great post about a vital issue. More people need to know the consequences of eating certain things and to be honest a big part of the issue is miseducation and lack of proper knowledge about nutrition.

    • You eat less food overall 😝

      Yes it does taste good, but yeah chemically engineered according to our liking πŸ˜Άβ€πŸŒ«οΈ

      The major danger is not knowing what we are eating. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

      • Hmmm interesting!!
        This could tell the basic thing
        That we are more able to eat food we like than food we don’t like.

        But tell me, do you eat what you eat ( WDIEIAD) by choice or by pressure?

        Like one part of your brain knows that what you are eating is good for health, but other part desire for other food. πŸ€”

      • Yeah, cos it has high amounts of sugar and sodium which makes us crave it more even when we are not hungry. That’s why snacks are often salty or sugary. The ones that are sold commercially I mean. You just end up overeating when you eat such food and your brain doesn’t understand when to stop.

        I eat what I like. I only eat what I like. I love healthy food and the taste of it. The reason I eat small portions is because I stop when I’m full. When eating unhealthy foods it’s easy to overeat and I hate that because it makes me feel ill later on. At least that’s how it is for me πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

      • Well I respect your relationship with the food. You are smart, you know what’s good for you, and you know the quantity your body needs. For others, it may look like that this girl eats so less. But, obviously, you are eating sufficiently. Otherwise, staying that pretty was not possible at all. I mean you would start looking dull, which you aren’t

        Plus, there’s always a good amount of protein, fibers in your diet. Which is actually making you satisfied.

        More people need to develop such relationship with the food…
        Hmm, interesting topic, maybe you should write on it.

      • My sister is a nutritionist so even if looks like I’m not eating much I’m eating the best diet for myself.
        I never used to eat protein much but as an adult I make sure to eat a balance of everything. And of course to not gain weight one has to eat more protein than fats. The reason I have a good relationship with food is thanks to my mum. She has guided me a lot.

  4. Good article, Devang. I was lucky that my mom taught me to read food labels as a child. I avoid preservatives. I buy very few packaged foods. We do not follow the standard US diet.

  5. Excellent article! UPFs many times are much more affordable than real food. There are many sales, coupons, discounts for them, where as real food rarely has such deep discounts. I find the longer I’ve been eating real food (in the form closest to the way God created it) or creating meals from real ingredients, the more my body can recognize how awful UPFs truly are. One example is anything that contains hydrogenated oils smells and tastes rancid to me. Thank you for the well laid out article! πŸ’ž

  6. Thank you for the load of super helpful information as always! Our healthcare begins with what we put in our mouths and on our skin. πŸ™πŸΎ

  7. Great and informative post Devang. Yes, it’s scary how bad ultra-processed foods can be, but also how addictive they can also be.

    I’m not perfect, bud I do prefer to have a fridge full of fresh produce. I tend to cook in bulk and fill my freezer.

  8. Oh no! My brain doesn’t understand when I need to stop having chips … UPF πŸ₯²However I do prefer having homemade food though. So some days when I feel craving for French fries, I make that at home. And I’m happy that I love fresh fruits a lot more than having UPFs.

    Very informative and helpful post.
    Will look forward for the next blog.

    Thanks Devang

    And yes, I’m not forgetting to 😊

  9. This is such an interesting and helpful post, Devang. I try to avoid UPF where I can, especially as once I start eating something like that, I don’t want to stop, which obviously isn’t good for our bodies or general health. As a vegan, I mostly eat fruit, vegetables, legumes (although canned), tofu, which is very versatile, seeds, nuts (unsalted) and oats (usually raw with fruit and yoghurt for breakfast). However, I know I’m far from perfect for some of the time. I like vegan sausages, which are processed, with ketchup, also processed. If I go out to eat, often with my son, I will have a pasta and sauce dish or a pizza, which isn’t good, as I find with pizza, once I start eating it, I don’t want to stop. The refining process makes it taste so good that I rarely get full up and end up eating far too much. Oh, and another weakness is salted cashew nuts – really not good, I know. I can get through a whole pack of these without barely noticing. I am looking forward to your next post discussing more on this interesting topic. Thanks for sharing your valuable knowledge, my friend. I am smiling today 😊.

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