Ultra processed foods are bad, I know you won’t believe me immediately, and even part 1 of the ultra-processed foods series wasn’t enough to convince you how bad UPFs are.
But, this time, I came up with some reasons. I know it took me a while with this post, but good things takes time.
With this post, we will look further into what damages ultra-processed foods are capable of causing and why we should avoid them strictly. We will also look into ways to help us avoid them.
So, get your bowl of
Table of Contents
Ultra processed foods can cause Kidney diseases
In a study on 14000 individuals, it was found that UPFs cause CKD or Chronic kidney diseases in many participants.
It was also found that participants with consumption of Ultra-processed food had 24% higher chances of developing kidney diseases than those with no consumption of UPFs.
Additionally, with every serving, there was a 5% higher chance of developing CKD. In CKD, the kidney gradually stops working, and that leads to waste buildup. If this waste is not removed from the body, it can be lethal.
37 million people in the US have kidney disease, and 90% of them don’t even know about it.
A possible reason for CKD in participants was food with high sugar, salt, additives, and GMOs, and these all are found in abundance in UPFs. CKD is also related to high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. And, UPFs are one of the reasons for increased blood pressure (even in children) and diabetes, due to unchecked amounts of sodium, sugar, and chemicals.
Ultra processed foods can cause Heart diseases
Ultra processed foods contain a lot of additives and unknown chemicals. Many of these chemicals are also used in making plastics, and those same things are positioning us.
In a study, it was found that higher consumption of UPFs is directly linked to BMI, waist circumference, elevated levels of blood glucose, elevated blood pressure, higher levels of triglycerides and more. These all are linked to cardiovascular diseases.
Another study helped in finding that individual with higher intake of Ultra processed foods have shown higher risk of CVD mortality, than those with lower consumption of such foods. Higher sugar content is to be blamed for CVD mortality or premature cardiovascular deaths.
CVD mortality is also linked with Diabetes, hypertension, smoking, dietary choices, lack of exercise, obesity and more.
Ultra processed foods can cause Obesity
Diet rich in UPFs are associated with 79% increase on risk of obesity. Interestingly, 25-50% of energy intake of countries like Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, USA and European countries comes from ultra processed foods.
Studies have shown that UPFs increase risk of overweight, higher abdominal fat, and metabolic syndrome in adults. UPFs are further associated with adiposity. These further leads to hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart diseases, etc.
Poor quality diet and excessive intake is to be blamed for all this. Obesity is not only among adults but also a common factor in children. A study on 210 adolescents reported that there was a drastic increase in risk of blood lipid levels, cholesterol and risk of heart disease due to heavy consumption of UPFs.
Ultra processed foods can deteriorate brain health
Our brain gets energy from healthy carbs and that comes from fruits, veggies, whole grains, milk, rice, nuts, seeds, etc. Eating such diet supports brain health and also lower the risk of cognitive decline, dementia, depression, etc.
Similarly, vital vitamins like B, C, D, E and minerals like magnesium are essential for brain health and development. Healthy nutrients are essential for normal function of brain, however ultra processed foods contain no nutrients and are possibly giving nothing beneficial.
Additionally, consumption of UPFs have also shown negative effects on mental health. A study on 10359 adults shown that participants with the highest level of UPFs consumption reported mild depression, more mentally unhealthy and anxious days.
Poor diet may lack essential nutrients, have high glycemic index, additional sugar, sodium and additives. These can dysregulate brain insulin, which affects mood, decreases neuronal levels of serotonin and dopamine and can also increase neuro inflammation.
Ultra processed foods can cause Digestive disorders
A lot of people have digestive issues. They go to doctors frequently. One of the thing that can be blamed is their eating habits. People have no restrictions when it comes to eating processed foods like sugary drinks, pizza, noodles, chips, processed meats, ice-creams etc.
Over 70% of packed food in the USA is classified as UPFs.
Consuming 1–4 servings of Ultra processed foods can lead to 67% increased risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which 5 or more servings per day lead to 82% increase. Such foods are low in fiber, high in sugar and salt, low anti oxidants are inflammatory to gut and may cause digestive disorders.
Ultra processed food can also create imbalance between good and bad gut bacteria, as it has numerous chemicals and preservatives.
Gut microbiome plays important role like digesting fiber, controlling immune system, even affecting central nervous system, but wrong food choices kills those bacteria and that creates imbalance.
Ultra processed foods can even cause Cancer
UPFs are even capable of causing cancer. Such foods are found to have 10% increase in the risk of breast cancer. These foods are gone through several changes, foods are made, then broken, they remade with added chemicals into it. These have high quantity of trans fat, simple carbs (which are easy to digest), lower in nutritional density.
The process of making it may contain carcinogenic properties, then these are packed in certain way so that they remain “tasty” for long. However, we are eating plastic with this food.
Ultra processed food have shown 28% increased risk of colorectal cancer among men. However, no such risk were observed in women.
Additives used in such foods have sodium nitrite, which gives typical color and texture to the food. However, it also has carcinogenic properties (cancer causing).
How to stay away from these harmful effects
Best way to stay away from these effects is not eating Ultra processed foods. I know there are still some people who are not convinced even after reading this blog post.
But, you need healthy dietary choices for a good and healthy life. Our focus should be eating more colorful diet, which can give us all the essential nutrients. Instead of packed food we should focus more on home cooked meals.
People need to understand that no food can remain fresh for long, so when chips and cookies taste the same even after months of manufacturing, then they have additivities and chemicals to keep them fresh.
Furthermore, we should start reading the food label to get better idea of what we are actually eating. Reading a food label also tells us about how that particular product is made and what we are getting from it.
Nowadays, there are ready made masalas in Indian market, which I’m sure are available in other countries as well. Such things claim to be time saving (which they are doing), but these things are not fresh and are causing above mentioned things.
People who have time restrain often end up buying and consuming things which are easy to make or ready to eat. They are not wrong in their place, but still they are harming their health.
There are tons of options online, where one with limited time can cook healthy meal easily. Even those who don’t know how to cook, can do cooking with all the options available on market and online.
If I give example of India, then you can find chopped vegetables, or utensils that can cut/chop/peal vegetable/fruit easily. Then easy recipes as shared by many wonderful chefs makes cooking easy, fun and time saving.
I love this blog post by my favorite blogger, that tells how fun and innovative cooking can be. She points out how to make food tasty without making it unhealthy.
Please note: At no point in this blog post, I have supported any specific diet. I always prefer a home-cooked meal, but that doesn’t mean I’m promoting any specific food. This blog post is to make people aware and to encourage them to make healthy choices.FGW
Ultra processed foods are bad, we have learned why. We don’t know how they are made, what are added to them and how they are effecting our health. But, we know we have to avoid them completely.
Our main focus should be eating fresh, clean and healthy. Anything that is packed with extended expiration date is not offering us any of that.
I won’t be saying to stop eating it immediately, if you are eating any of the processed food, I recommend you to get blood tested and see the cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, vitamins and minerals levels. Now for a week or more eat healthy and clean and see the results yourself.
There are more harmful effects of ultra processed food, let me know in the comments if you need part 3.
Until next time, don’t forget to smile.