Ultra processed food is a highly processed food that often contains more artificial additives than natural ingredients. These foods are often heavy in sugar, salt, and fat.
Fast food, sausages, carbonated beverages, breakfast cereals, other convenience foods like instant soups and noodles are some examples of ultra or super processed foods. Ultra processed food is often inexpensive and convenient, but it is not necessarily nutritious.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Agency (FAO) recognises that increased consumption of ultra-processed food products(UPF) is connected with negative health consequences and advocates restricting UPF consumption through laws and regulations.
How Ultra Processed Food Can Harm Your Health
Ultra processed foods tend to be low in vitamins and minerals, and can lack dietary fiber. It can harm you in following ways:
Increased Risk of Obesity
Research has linked ultra processed foods to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and other health issues.
Ultra-processed foods are typically high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. A study published in journal cell metabolism, came to the conclusion that restricting ultra-processed meals could be a useful strategy for preventing and treating obesity.
Also read: Key Distinction Between Ultra & Processed Foods
Ultra-processed foods are often low in essential vitamins and minerals, which can cause deficiencies of important nutrients like protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and B vitamins.
Recent studies published in prestigious medical journals such as Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Lancet Endocrinology, and the British Medical Journal emphasised on the rising usage of UPF and considered it as a worldwide issue.
Ultra-processed foods often contain additives and preservatives that can disrupt the natural digestive process, leading to digestive issues like gas, bloating, and constipation.
A research published in the British Medical journal shows the association of the increased risk of irritable bowel disease with the increased intake of ultra processed food.
Eating too many ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of heart disease, as they are typically high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can clog arteries and lead to a heart attack.
According to a study published in an international journal, Advances in Nutrition, consumption of ultra processed foods can increase the risk of getting heart diseases.
Eating too many ultra-processed foods can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as they are usually high in sugar and calories. It can rapidly spike the insulin levels, so consuming an excessive amount of added sugar on a regular basis might lead to compulsive overeating. Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory disorders are also associated with it.
Also read: There is a link between processed foods and autism, says research
A study published in Neurology journal enrolled over 72,000 people in the United Kingdom, observed the link between eating ultra processed foods and dementia. Throughout a 10-year period, roughly one out of every 120 people in the group eating the most ultra-processed meals developed dementia.
For those looking to improve their health, it is best to limit ultra processed food and focus on eating more whole, unprocessed foods. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is the best way to ensure you are getting the nutrients your body needs.