Whether ready meals, sausage products, industrially manufactured bread and pastries, soft drinks, dairy products, or muesli bars: highly processed foods, so-called UPS (ultraproceeded foods), often contain additives and are considered unhealthy.
In fact, studies show that many of these foods can not only make you fat, they can also make you sick – and that they can shorten life. They can promote inflammation, change the composition of our intestinal flora, and the microbiome and lead to over-acidification of the metabolism. Every second product from the food trade is now considered to be highly processed and potentially harmful to health.
Artificial additives can cause diseases
The artificial additives are intended to give food taste or enhance it, make it durable, and optically spice it up. Or they contain filling materials that give them more volume. But all these substances have one thing in common: they can make you ill. Because the more food is processed and the more additives it contains, the more diseases it can promote.
Increased risk of inflammation, diabetes, and colon cancer
This connection has been proven in studies and can even be observed in inflammation values in the blood. Such products can also increase blood sugar levels and promote diabetes. Artificial sweeteners can lead to irritable bowel syndrome through changes in the microbiome, and processed meat can increase the risk of colon cancer in the long term. The carboxymethyl cellulose used as wallpaper paste also binds cake fillings, pudding, or ice cream – and can promote chronic inflammation of the intestinal mucosa.
The immune system is compromised by the infection
Some highly processed foods rob you of energy, make you tired, and impair your ability to concentrate and your physical well-being. One study demonstrated in animal experiments that the immune system can react to processed foods in a similar way to a bacterial infection.
Healthy Eating: Recognizing Harmful Foods
The so-called NOVA food classification divides foods into four groups. People who value a healthy diet should avoid products in the fourth category as much as possible:
- Unprocessed or little processed products such as fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, or milk as well as dried fruit, frozen vegetables, and frozen fish
- oil, flour, salt, and sugar
- Foods in the first group that have been made longer-lasting or whose taste has been changed by cooking, baking, fermenting, or preserving. This includes, for example, processed products with few ingredients such as cheese, bread, ham, pasta, canned tomatoes, or smoked fish.
- Highly processed foods have undergone multiple processing steps and contain many ingredients and additives. This includes sausages, meat products, baked goods, dry soups, soft drinks, ice cream, sweets, and ready meals such as frozen pizza.
- Nutritional studies using this classification have shown that frequent consumption of Group 4 foods can significantly reduce life expectancy.
Pay attention to the list of ingredients when shopping
When shopping, it’s worth taking a look at the list of ingredients: the longer it is, the more likely it is that the product should stay on the shelf. More than 15 ingredients are too many. All substances that serve to preserve the food and enhance the color or flavor should be avoided. Emulsifiers, which are supposed to ensure that the fat in the product does not separate from the water, should also not be included if possible. Even if unknown ingredients appear that could not also be found in your own kitchen, caution is the order of the day.
Clean Eating: Eating foods without additives
Clean eating is a diet that consists only of pure, unprocessed food and does not contain any additives. Lots of natural fiber and protein, plenty of vegetables, and bran are particularly healthy. Carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation and bread should be whole grain and preferably home-baked.