In two new papers published in the BMJ, the more ultraprocessed — or industrially manufactured — foods a person ate, the more likely they were to get sick and even die. In one study, they were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems. The other linked an ultraprocessed diet to a higher risk of death from all causes.
Ultraprocessed foods are created in factories. They’re pumped full of chemicals and other additives for color, flavor, texture, and shelf life. This processing generally increases the flavor and caloric density of the foods, while stripping away the fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. So these foods are distinct from whole foods (like apples and cucumbers) and processed foods (like vegetables pickled in brine, or canned fish in oil) that rely on only salt, sugar, and oil — rather than a range of complicated additives — to preserve them or make them tastier.
Increasingly, scientists think processed foods, with all their additives and sugar and lack of fiber, may be formulated in ways that disturb the gut microbiome, the trillions of diverse bacteria lining our intestines and colon. Those disturbances, in turn, may heighten the risk of chronic disease and encourage overeating. In research the scientist have discovered that the further away people were from industrialization and ultraprocessed foods, the more diverse their gut micriobiome was. Besides Emulsifiers, the lack of fiber in ultraprocessed foods may harm us too.
Eat natural food. Avoid food made in factories.