Its good enough to grab a burger on your way back or enjoy a couple of aerated drinks with friends to celebrate success. Our world revolves around ready-to-eat foods and canned drinks. In a haste to earn more, live luxuriously and enjoy more we are indirectly affecting our very own existence, reducing our lifespan and digging our own graves for new diseases and ailments.
By now, we are well-aware of the consequences of consuming higher amounts of sugar, sodium and fats. Obesity and overweight rates are nowhere decreasing despite widespread campaigns on the ill effects of unhealthy weight gains. In order to get a clear picture of what’s happening behind the scenes, a group of researchers focused on ultraprocessed foods and their effect. Ultraprocessed food is anything that has undergone various processes and contains multiple ingredients. They are the pre-packaged foods that lie in bulk in your supermarket freezers, packaged baked goods, ice creams, aerated drinks and more. On the ground level, all our foods are processed and the effects of any food depends on its extent of processing. While fruits, vegetables, milk and grains such as rice are classified as ‘minimal processed/unprocessed foods’ instant soups, chicken nuggets, sausages, hamburgers, ready-to-eat pizzas, cereal bars and chocolates are ultraprocessed foods that contain more than 5-6 ingredients on its package. In between these are cheese, smoked fish, beer, homemade bread, tinned fruits and veggies and bacon which have been treated with salt, sugar or fermentation to help them delay expiry date and even taste better. Learn to distinguish different foods into different categories with clear demarcation between each category from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Studies Reveal the Gory of Ultraprocessed Foods
Two different studies have come up with the fact that eating any of the ultraprocessed foods increased the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. Though we don’t have direct evidences yet, we are already well-aware of the fact that consuming processed foods can result in increased risk of obesity, high BP, cholesterol and cancer too.
In the first study, researchers collected data from close to 20,000 participants following them over a decade and questioning them on their diet changes every year. There was a total of 335 deaths during the study period. Among those who died the ratio varied between those who consumed more of ultraprocessed foods and others. If there were 10 deaths among those eating least portions of ultraprocessed foods there were 16 deaths among those eating the most. The research team also acquired information on the lifestyles, physical activity, weight ranges and health nature of the participants. The researchers found that those participants who consumed more than four servings of ultraprocessed foods were at a 62% increased risk of early death compared to others. Further, every extra serving of these foods increased the risk of death by as much as 18%.
In the second study conducted by researchers at the University of Paris results showed graver effects. The study included more than 1,05,000 participants who were followed-up for five years and whose diet changes were analyzed twice a year apart from asking them to fill questionnaires relating to health, lifestyle and diet. Cardiovascular disease rates were up by 12% for every 10% increase in the consumption of ultraprocessed foods. A significant increase in the consumption of ultraprocessed foods is sure to skyrocket cardiovascular disease rates tremendously during the next couple of years.
When we look into the reasons behind such negative consequences of eating ice creams or pizzas the first thing is that people tend to eat more of ultraprocessed foods, almost 500 calories more every day, compared to what they would eat otherwise. Secondly, they are easy to consume and tasty too. None would like to choose an apple over an apple pie. Also, while these foods are laden with energy, they lack nutrients and fiber. The additives seem to have no ill effects on our health now but we are not sure about their consequences in the long run.
Mankind evolved as a species that relied upon raw fruits, vegetables and nuts for its daily nutrient needs. Somehow, we got carried away with modernization and use of technology to rule our daily living. We have let our taste rule over our health, our laziness rule over our requirements and our taste buds overtake our appetite. We have reached a stage where we design foods that can last for years together. Breads have a shelf life for a couple of days, ice creams for a couple of months and our jams and sauces even for a year or so. Think about the number of additives that would go into these foods to enable their stay long enough in the grocery shelves! Let’s go back to our basics-eat more of fresh fruits and vegetables, use whole grains, lean meats and poultry, low-fat dairy products and exercise regularly to lead a healthy life.
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