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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Hidden Dangers of Ultra-Processed Foods: What You Need to Know

Ultra-processed foods or chemically processed foods, have become a staple in modern diets due to their convenience and taste. Astonishing about 30%-60 % of a person’s daily energy intake is of ultra-processed food throughout much of the world.

Multiple studies and research have forced statutory medical bodies to lay down dietary guidelines on ultra-processed foods. Experts and nutritionists say that over-consumption of packed and ultra-processed food items may lead to more than 30 damaging health conditions.

Processed Foods – Difference Between Mechanical and Chemically Processed Food

Not all processed food is bad. Mechanically processed food (such as grinding chopping, milling, heating vegetables, or pasteurizing foods, baking, etc) are considered safe compared to chemically processed food (like cheese, butter, salty snacks & drinks, canned fruits/juices, ready-to-eat packs, and many more) which are unhealthy.

Why Ultra-Processed Foods May Be Harmful to Your Health:

There are numerous health-concerning reasons why medical experts advise strictly against the intake of these packed foods. Ultra-processed foods mostly undergo numerous industrial processes. Moreover, chemically modified substances and additives are used to enhance the appearance, texture, taste, or durability of the food. The ingredients therefore can affect gut health.

The food items are high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and salt. Instead, they are extremely low in vitamins fibre and antioxidants found in whole foods. Thus, there is an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Furthermore, ultra-processed foods though offer convenience, their consumption can have significant negative impacts on health including:

  • Increased risk of major heart and lung conditions
  • Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, 
  • Rise in mental health disorders (adverse sleep outcomes, adverse anxiety outcomes, depression, asthma, hypertension, and poor brain function and mood regulation.
  • Metabolic syndrome, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, etc

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These conditions further relate to higher mortality rates. According to health experts and medical governing body, there are ways by which we can do fortification and enrichment of foods.

  • Always read the nutrients while buying ultra-processed foods. Don’t go by name. They can be misleading claims.
  • Add more iron, vitamins, iodine, and other micronutrients to staple foods
  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats
  • Eat all food groups – proteins and carbs. Have a balanced meal.

It’s best to limit these chemically fueled foods and focus on a healthy diet

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