For decades scientific researchers have been examining the adverse health consequences of individual chemical additives common in highly processed foods. Now researchers have examined the health consequences of highly processed foods as a whole and the results are striking. Findings from a new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine indicate that people who eat more of additive-laden highly processed foods have a significantly greater risk of death from multiple causes over the years.
How great is the risk of death from eating a highly processed food diet?
Correlating a person’s consumption of ultra-processed foods with their risk of dying from all causes: Overall, for each 10% increase in the intake of ultra-processed foods, there was a 14% greater risk of all-cause mortality.
What are highly processed/ultra-processed foods, exactly?
The researchers summarize these foods as being:
“Manufactured industrially from multiple ingredients that usually include additives used for technological and/or cosmetic purposes. Ultra-processed foods are mostly consumed in the form of snacks, desserts, or ready-to-eat or -heat meals.”
In short, ultra-processed foods are “formulated from industrial ingredients and contain little or no intact foods.” (A detailed description can be found here.)
What are some of the chemical food additives in highly processed foods that may be contributing to a significant risk of death?
According to the researchers, here are a few of the synthetic and industrialized chemical additives present in processed food that may contribute to the increased risk for death:
Titanium dioxide, a nanoparticle food dye for white foods which “may be associated with an increased risk of chronic intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis”. (See our posts on previous research findings on titanium dioxide here: 1, 2, 3, 4).
Emulsifiers which have been found to disrupt the bacterial balance in the gut, potentially leading to inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes and cancer. (See our posts on previous research findings on emulsifiers here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
Acrylamide, a compound produced during high-temperature cooking of grains and potatoes, has been found by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, as a “probable carcinogen.”
Artificial sweeteners have also been found to disrupt the bacterial balance in the gut, potentially leading to inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes and cancer. (See our posts on previous research findings on artificial sweeteners here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA in food packaging. (See our posts on previous research findings on food packaging additives that leach into the food here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Journal reference: Schnabel, L., et al. (2019). Association Between Ultra-processed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France,
To learn more about these and other synthetic and industrialized food additives linked with serious health problems, as well as how to avoid them, get our book here.
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