Ultra Processed Foods Linked to Higher Risk of Premature Death: Health

Ultra Processed Foods Linked to Higher Risk of Premature Death: Health

Why Ultra-Processed Foods May Harm Your Health

Most people are aware that foods high in sugar, salt, and fat are not the healthiest choices. But recent research suggests that a diet heavy on ultra-processed foods could increase your risk of premature death. A study published in The BMJ found that consuming ultra-processed foods elevates the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly deaths caused by non-cancer and non-heart disease related ailments.

Ultra-processed foods, accounting for over 60% of daily calories in Americans, are products that undergo several mechanical and chemical processes, contain high amounts of preservatives and additives, and are ‘quasi-addictive’. Examples of these foods include deli meat, flavored chips, artificial drinks, frozen meals, and packaged sweets. The complexity of ultra-processed foods is confounding, with 70% of Americans not completely understanding what a processed food is.

To look into the significant impact of highly processed foods, researchers used data collected over 30 years from two prominent cohort studies: the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Over 172,000 subjects answered questionnaires about their food habits every four years since the mid-1980s. Subsequently, ultra-processed foods were divided into nine groups based on their culinary usage and degree of processing.

The results showed that individuals who ate the most ultra-processed foods, approximately seven servings daily, had a 4% increased risk of death from any cause and 9% increased risk of death from an ailment other than cancer or heart disease. Researchers further discovered that not all ultra-processed foods had the same effect. Thus, certain subgroups of these foods such as processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, showed a much stronger association with mortality.

How to Limit Ultra-Processed Foods for Longevity

While it may not be practical to eliminate all ultra-processed foods from your diet, adding healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, beans, and legumes is crucial. Eating a healthier diet is known to potentially offset the effects of consuming processed foods associated with an increased risk of certain diseases.

Moreover, it might be more effective to emphasize what you can start eating rather than over-restricting your diet to avoid feelings of deprivation. The BMJ study also showed that improved diet quality could mitigate some of the health risks associated with ultra-processed foods. For instance, processed meats like bacon and sausage, as well as sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, sweetened tea, and lemonade, should be consumed in moderation.

Originally Post From https://www.health.com/ultra-processed-food-higher-mortality-risk-8646790

Read more about this topic at
The dangers of ultra-processed foods - HSPH.Harvard.edu
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