Of the many modern innovations that have made our lives easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable, processed foods likely isn’t one of them.
Although they do play a sometimes-positive role, in terms of those times where we really don’t have time to prepare whole food meals, are traveling, or are in a pinch of some kind, we really do need to know what kind of impact the over-consumption of these foods might have.
Enter a study out of Wuhan (it’s comforting to know they study other things there) where researchers conducted a systematic review of the existing scientific literature to determine what impact, if any, high ultra-processed food consumption has on our health.
And the results were…
After evaluating the relevant studies for risk of bias, the researchers analyzed 20 studies. In a narrative review, they found “high” ultra-processed food consumption to be associated with an increased risk of the following:
- all-cause mortality
- overall cardiovascular diseases
- coronary heart diseases
- cerebrovascular diseases
- metabolic syndrome
- overweight and obesity
- irritable bowel syndrome
- overall cancer
- postmenopausal breast cancer
- gestational obesity
- adolescent asthma and wheezing
- and frailty
As long as it’s nothing serious though, right?
Now, in the “good news for ultra-processed foods” category, they found no significant association between high ultra-processed food consumption and the following:
- cardiovascular disease mortality
- prostate and colorectal cancers
- gestational diabetes mellitus
- and gestational overweight
So there’s that.
To be fair, as the researchers comment, there needs to be further studies conducted on a large scale to confirm their findings. But with that said this is still a pretty decent indicator that we should at least be on the lookout to consume a proper ratio of whole foods to processed foods in order to set a better foundation for our health.
At the very minimum, the science seems to be beginning to prove that a “balanced” whole food diet is superior to an ultra-processed counterpart, which although it should not be very surprising, it also does need to be proven.
So be sure to speak with your licensed health care practitioner about your diet, how much processed food consumption is right for you, and what type of diet best suits your needs.
And in so doing, enjoy your pursuit of great!
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