- author, My name is Stallard
- roll, BBC News
“It’s a little scary to see these results after only two weeks.”
Amy, 24, spent two weeks on a diet of ultra-processed foods as part of a study conducted by scientists at King’s College London for the BBC’s Panorama programme.
Nancy, her twin sister, followed a diet containing exactly the same amount of calories, nutrients, fat, sugar, and fiber. But in her case, eat only fresh or unprocessed foods.
Amy, who had worse blood sugar levels and an increase in lipid levels, gained nearly a pound. Meanwhile, her sister, Nancy, has lost the same amount of weight.
Conclusions about the possible impact of so-called ultra-processed foods on our health are based on this short-term study conducted by Panorama with the twin sisters.
The study was led by Tim Spector, professor of epidemiology at King’s College and researcher of disease behavior.
Over the past decade, evidence has accumulated that ultra-processed foods are harmful to health in unexpected ways.
“We’re talking about all types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia,” Spector says.
The term “ultra-processed foods” only came into use 15 years ago. This type of food accounts for nearly half of what is eaten in countries such as the United Kingdom.
In Brazil, a study conducted by the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health at the University of São Paulo (USP) showed that about 20% of the calories consumed by Brazilians come from ultra-processed foods.
From sliced whole-grain bread to ready-made meals and ice cream, this is a group of foods made with varying — but often — levels of industrial processing.
The ingredients used in its preparation such as preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and emulsifiers are not commonly used in home cooking.
“Ultra-processed foods are some of the most profitable foods companies can make,” says Professor Marion Nestle, a food policy expert and professor of nutrition at New York University.
As our consumption increases, so do the rates of diabetes and cancer.
Some academics believe the relationship is no coincidence.
Panorama has obtained new scientific evidence that shows the relationship between these types of chemicals and diseases such as cancer, diabetes and stroke.
Scientific Journal scalpel Published in January one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject, conducted by the Imperial College School of Public Health.
The study of 200,000 adults in the UK found that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods may be linked to an increased risk of cancer in general, and ovarian and brain cancer specifically.
Most commonly used superfood:
– bread and cereals packed with sugar;
– instant soups and microwave ready meals;
Fruit flavored yogurt.
Reconstituted meats, such as ham and sausages;
– Ice cream, chips and biscuits.
Soft drinks and some alcoholic drinks such as whiskey, gin and rum.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended avoiding prolonged consumption of artificial sweeteners due to potential health risks.
Proving that certain ingredients cause disease can be difficult because there are a number of factors in our lifestyle that can lead to health problems. For example, lack of exercise, smoking, or sugary meals.
The first research on mortality and consumption of ultra-processed foods began in France, at the Sorbonne University Paris North, as part of an ongoing study of the diets of 174,000 people.
“We have 24-hour food records in which participants tell us everything they eat and drink,” explains Dr. Mathilde Tuffer, who led the research.
Emulsifiers, an ultra-processed gem
Recently, the effect of a specific ingredient on food has been studied: emulsifiers, substances that act as glue in ultra-processed foods.
Emulsifiers are a gem of the food industry: They improve the look and feel of foods and help extend their shelf life much longer than less processed foods.
This ingredient is everywhere: in mayonnaise, chocolate, peanut butter, and meat. If you eat these foods, you are likely consuming emulsifiers as part of your diet.
Panorama gained exclusive access to the first findings of Provider’s research, which have not been analyzed by other professionals, a critical step in validating scientific studies.
“We noticed a clear relationship between the intake of lozenges and an increased risk of cancer in general, and breast cancer in particular, as well as cardiovascular disease,” says the researcher.
“This means that we saw a pattern between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and the risk of disease. But more research is needed.”
Aspartame is sweeter than sugar
One of the most controversial additives among ultra-processed foods is aspartame.
Two hundred times sweeter than sugar, it’s heralded as a fantastic low-calorie alternative, turning unhealthy sugary drinks, ice creams, and mousses into products marketed as “healthy.”
During the past two decades, questions have arisen about its potential harmful effects.
Last month, the World Health Organization said that while the evidence was inconclusive, it feared that long-term use of sweeteners like aspartame could increase the risk of “type 2 diabetes, heart disease and mortality.”
In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ruled that aspartame was safe, as did the Toxicity Committee, which ruled in 2013 that the findings “do not indicate the need for measures to protect public health.”
However, six years later, Eric Millstone, a professor at the University of Sussex, decided to review the same evidence the FSA had examined, to see who had funded the various studies.
Milestone found that 90% of the studies advocating the sweetener were funded by large chemical companies that manufacture and sell aspartame, and that all studies suggesting aspartame may be harmful were funded by independent, non-commercial sources.
EFSA guarantees that it will consider the World Health Organization’s ongoing evaluation of this additive.
“Wannabe internet buff. Future teen idol. Hardcore zombie guru. Gamer. Avid creator. Entrepreneur. Bacon ninja.”