According to one new study, having processed foods on a regular basis, often like a staple in many western diets might shorten the life span. If we consider functional medicine, it is known that any diet that is about processed foods is harmful for health. A few chronic diseases which are closely tied to diet includes autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s and also high blood pressure.
The relevant study was in France, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal. It worked to track more than 45,000 people or adults. Most of such people were in late 50’s when the started was conducted. Researchers followed the diet and health of the subjects for more than eight years.
It was reported that the subjects got one third of their calories from completely processed foods. These foods included
- Breakfast cereals
- Instant soups
- Chicken nuggets
- Instant noodles
- Packaged snack foods
- Readymade snacks and meals
- Foods made with the use of industrial processing
- Energy bars and drinks
During the study, it was noticed that close to 600 people died due to cardiovascular disease or cancer. While studying the cause of deaths, researchers adjusted for compliance with healthy diet, the socioeconomic status, general health and also influencing behaviour.
However, in spite of all this, it was revealed that there was at least 10% increase in the consumption of different kinds of processed foods. This was closely related to 14% higher chances of early death. Undoubtedly, consumption of plenty of processed foods can increase the chance of chronic diseases and early death. When considering the link between processed food and premature death, a few possibilities were suggested by the author.
High-Temperature processing can be a cause of contaminants. It is known that high-heat processing is responsible for altering protein structures. The body considers it to be inflammatory. In case of functional medicine, it is known that high temperature can lead to toxicity of industrial oils when used for food processing.
There are a few additives which might be carcinogenic. These food additives are actually synthetic chemicals which are totally foreign for the human body. These chemical laden food additives help in binding the food proteins and can help in creation of new molecules which the immune system considers as an invader. There are many synthetic chemicals which are tough for the body to metabolize and elimination. These cause inflammation and can increase the toxic burden. There are many additives which are closely related to different brain-based disorders and symptoms. It can be said that food is not the place where synthetic chemicals can be safely used.
Packaging of many kinds of prepared foods can cause contamination. Due to the process of packaging, several types of toxins are introduced to the food. In case you are gluten-free, then having packaged foods can increase your gluten level because they might be contaminated with gluten due to the different processes which are involved in the packaging process.
Processed Food and Functional Medicine
The above are some of the worries which are mentioned by researchers. In case of functional medicine, one is quite aware of the different reasons of processed foods causing chronic diseases and which can increase the risk of early death.
Industrial Oils: The brain is made primarily of fats. The fats consume are known to determine the health of brain. The various oils used in different levels of food processing are usually industrial seed oils. These are generally rancid as their molecular structure is quite unstable. Such oils usually contribute to the poor neuron structure and also integrity. Thus, there is a chance that the general brain health can suffer. This is usually inflammatory in nature. Besides, processed foods usually are rich in hydrogenated fats which are quite a problem for brain. The body and the brain go through a cognitive decline, inflammation and also heart diseases.
Low Fatty Acid Ratio: The different oils used in processing foods are usually rich in different 6 fatty acids. It is noticed that human health needs omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in a ratio which is usually 4:1 though 1.1 is better. However, most Americans usually consume a ratio of 25:1, which is mainly due to processed foods. Or, they consume plenty of omega 6. Thus, the body goes into an inflammatory state. There is an increased risk of chronic disease and obesity.
Excessive Processed Carbohydrates – This is one of the prime reasons for increase in chronic diseases. This is also a leading cause of unstable blood sugar and dementia. Processed as well as packaged foods are usually grain based or they have high levels of carbs. The blood sugar level rises, which leads to inflammation and rise in chronic diseases.
Gluten – This is one of the most processed and packaged foods which are high in gluten and generally wheat based. Several people have gluten sensitivity which often gets unnoticed. There are many others who suffer from celiac diseases, which causes continuous inflammation. Gluten is known to have direct link with more than 55 diseases and most of these are autoimmune
If you consume a whole food diet which has real food ingredients, it is the best things which you can have to turn your health. Please get in touch with my office if you need a little more advice on whole foods diet.