It is important to understand how food either helps or hinders us. Research confirms that consuming ultra-processed food (UPF) damages our gut microbiome and as such our physical and mental health.
As discussed in previous blogs, our gut microbiome hosts trillion of bacteria: some are beneficial, others are pathogenic. They cohabit together and provided they are in balance, contribute to our health. An increase in the number of pathogenic bacteria leads to inflammation, the cause of many diseases such as IBD, diabetes or mental health issues. UPF are known to cause inflammation whilst plant foods and fish are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Why are Ultra-Processed Food bad for us?
UPF are high in salt, sugar, added vegetable oils and unhealthy fats. They are produced via processes that denature the original qualities of the ingredient and increase their levels of toxicity. They are high in artificial flavourings, preservatives and additives to improve their colour, taste and texture. They are usually high in calories and poor nutritionally. Their packaging is often also high in other contaminants such as phthalates, bisphenols and microplastics that can leach into the food over time. As they are considered “convenient”, their consumption has risen dramatically over the years and, by feeding our poor gut bacteria, UPF are linked to a rise in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, IBD, hypertension, hormonal imbalances and many other chronic diseases.
By altering the balance of our gut microbiome, UPF also have a direct impact on our mental health through the connection between the gut and the brain. This can lead to migraines, mood swings, excitability, anxiety, sleep issues, depression, fatigue…
What products are considered Ultra-Processed Food?
- Crisps & crackers
- Cakes & biscuits
- Ice creams
- Ready-made meals
- Sweeteners and sweetened drinks
- White bread
- Fried food
- Energy drinks
In today’s world, it is difficult to avoid them entirely but, as a general rule, when a product you buy has a long list of ingredients, most of which you cannot recognise or understand (often with numbers), you should stay away from them. Have them only occasionally and opt instead for fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and proteins as well as legumes, nuts & seeds. We are meant to eat REAL foods and UPF are not.
How to avoid Ultra-Processed Food?
- Clear your cupboards, fridge and freezer of all UPF
- When at the supermarket, do not go in the aisles selling them – so you are not tempted!
- Choose fresh ingredients that will provide you with all the essential nutrients your body needs
- Don’t go and do your shopping when you are hungry: eat something first or you will be tempted to rush for unhealthy options
Have you managed to successfully reduce your intake of UPF recently? What have you found challenging? What has worked for you? Please share with us so we can all benefits from each other’s knowledge 🙂 And if you have found this article interesting, please feel free to share it or comment on it.
👉 In addition, if you are looking for more advice regarding your diet and lifestyle, feel free to get in touch with me on 07788 444 199 or https://biovitalnutrition.com/contact/.