Ever since mankind invented fire and spices, we have never looked back, and we are constantly finding new ways to break food and reunite.
The food we make is incredibly creative to create new tastes and experiences.
But what the foods we eat do to us is even more amazing, especially when it comes to ultra-processed foods.
But what are “ultra-processed” foods?
Pickles, canning, pasteurization, fermentation and remodeling – these are all forms of food processing and the end results are often delicious.
But what differentiates “Ultra-Process” foods (UPF) is that they are often changed and chemically modified using methods and ingredients that are not commonly used when cooking at home.
Dr. Chris van Tolkien recently conducted an experiment dedicated to the BBC, where he ate more than a month of processed food, and of course it did not end properly.
What do we feed our children? For this experiment, which was part of the documentary, Dr. Tolkien followed a diet in which he derived 80 percent of his calories from over-processed foods – an increasingly common proportion of people living on higher incomes in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States.
How ‘ultra-processed’ foods are affected“ In the body?
At the end of the month, Dr. Tolkien observed a set of symptoms such as insomnia, heartburn, lethargy, constipation, hemorrhoids, and weight gain of 7 kg.
“I felt 10 years old,” he said, “and he didn’t realize it was about food until I stopped following that diet”.
A study conducted with the experience of Dr. Tolkien has provided some scientific reasons for this.
This shows that people who consume high amounts consume more than 500 calories a day compared to those on a low-processed diet.
They have also recorded an increase in the hormone that causes hunger and a decrease in the hormone, which makes us fully aware, which may explain why many people are overweight.
But weight gain is one of the myriad problems associated with a diet that relies heavily on intensely processed foods.
Other previous studies have shown an association between long-term intake of these foods and an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and depression.
This study also shows the impact of these foods on the way we eat, as those who follow a diet that relies heavily on ultra-processed foods eat much faster than those who follow a lesser diet.
Previous research has slowly linked eating whole foods. But Dr. Tolkien agrees that ultra-processed foods are “much easier to chew and swallow.”
Food and nutrition scientist Emma Beckett can understand this: “Ultra processed foods taste great!” As a dietitian, he has a simple explanation.
Our love for fats and carbohydrates, he says, is “the remnant of evolution … the sources of energy and salt were scarce when natural selection developed our sense of taste.”
He continues: “For our ancestors, sweets and umami (a type of food that tastes sweet, sour, salty and bitter) resemble the taste of glutamate, a traditional ingredient in Asian cuisine, originally found in sponge, but are now made primarily from bean protein and grains. They are directly carbohydrates and Indicate the energy sources of proteins.
“The hunger for salt can be explained by the fact that humans need it in small quantities, but it has not been readily available throughout history.”
But just as important as evolution is the production process behind these intensely processed foods.
Dr. Beckett explains: “These products are often designed to reach our ‘satisfaction points’, the optimal level of salt, fat and / or sugar; And should be below the ‘specific emotional satisfaction’ point that exceeds sufficient. Not wanting more after that. “
In other words, intensely processed foods confuse our minds as well.
So what do you do to the brain?
Dr. Tolkien acknowledged, “Eating a highly processed diet is something that comes to my brain involuntarily.”
In fact, scans of his brain activity showed that the areas responsible for the reward were repeatedly linked to areas that lead to automatic behavior. Simply put, his brain became addicted to intensely processed foods.
“One of the side effects of delicious food is that it is very difficult to stop,” Dr. Tolkien agrees. Here is the difficulty in quitting the habit.
Dr. Beckett says these foods can trigger a mechanism called optimism.
He explains: “Satisfaction with eating these foods is achieved immediately, but it takes time for negative effects to occur, which makes it easier to believe that there is enough time to change our eating habits later.”
“You’ll want to eat these foods now, but you’ll regret it later,” he says.
Paradoxically, Dr. Beckett says, the intensive marketing of these foods helps to confirm the idea that they are more deeply ingrained in our minds that you don’t need them because they are automatically addictive, without the help of those ads.
“Many of our food choices are dull, habitually, we never think about being healthy, and the more we see these foods in the store, the media and the ads, the more likely we are to buy them.”
Why do we eat highly processed foods?
If ultra-processed foods pose a health risk, it is natural for you to begin to wonder why they exist.
“In the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, we call these foods‘ optional foods ’because they are a choice, not a necessity,” explains Dr. Beckett.
But luxury lovers “need to remember that not everyone is in a position to choose what they eat for health,” he says. Ultra-processed foods can last a long time, can be easily carried over long distances, and require little preparation. Available, there was a lack of money, these dishes may seem like a good option. “
The real preference is the forces and factors that motivate people to choose intensely processed foods rather than healthy preferences.
“Chronic stress changes our appetite for sweet, fatty and salty foods. Stress affects the time and energy we spend making healthy choices,” he said.
Also, not all processed foods are necessarily ‘nutritious’.
“Processed foods include canned vegetables, pasta, rice, bread and some important and healthy foods such as high-fiber breakfast cereals,” says Dr. Beckett.
But above all, we must not forget that food is so much more than the sum of its components.
Dr. Beckett says: “Food is more than a need, it is a part of our satisfaction, a part of our culture, our community, our social connection and so on. “
“What we really need is to help people balance happiness and health,” he concludes.