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How to Eliminate Ultra-Processed Foods From Your Diet

How to Eliminate Ultra-Processed Foods From Your Diet

Learn which ingredients you need to cut from your diet so you can stay healthy.

When digital TV arrived in the 1990s, broadcasters embraced ultra-high frequency transmission for cable and the airwaves—revolutionizing the way we receive our in-home entertainment. Unfortunately, that was about the same time ultra-processed (UP) foods took over Americans’ shopping carts. The combo set the stage for an expanding (literally) audience of couch potatoes to munch their way through endless bags of chips and bottles of cola while watching super-fit super-heroes dance across their screens in high definition.

We’re sounding the alarm
Those UP manufactured foods are, says a study in BMJ Open, “substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations.” UP foods also contain emulsifiers, sugars and syrups like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), preservatives (BHT, BHA), flavoring agents (Double-O-Dangerous) and unhealthy fats like palm oil. Or to put it another way: UP foods are fake foods.

What are the risks?
UP foods are dramatically shortening your life (shortening and partially hydrogenated oils will do that). In fact, folks who eat four or more servings a day of UP foods have a 62 percent higher all-cause mortality rate than those eating the least amount (less than two servings daily) according to a 15-year BMJ study. Adding to that, a JAMA Internal Medicine study says every 10 percent increase in intake of UP foods pushes your risk of death from all causes way up. In the US, our intake of UP foods is an astounding 58 percent of total calories and accounts for almost 90 percent of all added sugars consumed.

No wonder almost 800,000 Americans have a heart attack every year; 1,762,450 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually; three million folks have Irritable Bowel Disease, 30 million have diabetes (the vast majority with type 2) and a staggering 84 million have prediabetes. Most don’t know they have it and, in over three to five years, 25 percent will develop full-blown type 2 diabetes.

To give you an idea of just how addicted to UP food we are: There are 25,000 donut shops in the U.S. cranking out 10 billion donuts a year. Enough to circle the earth 13 times! Almost 11 million Americans used one pound or more of Velveeta a week in 2018. Around 200 million Americas ate frozen pizza in 2018.

The contents? Harmful processed meats. If that pizza’s ingredients label says “natural pork flavor,” it is  most likely made with modified cornstarch, pork fat, natural flavors, pork stock, gelatin, autolyzed yeast extract, sodium phosphates (linked to chronic kidney disease), thiamine hydrochloride, sunflower oil and propyl gallate (also used in drugs and cosmetics). Mechanically separated chicken on pizza means that the chicken is a paste created by pressing unstripped chicken bones through a sieve to separate edible meat tissue (including tendons and muscle fibers) from the bones.

So, here’s the process that will remove ultra-processed foods from your diet.

  1. Buy fresh and unpackaged foods whenever you can. Buy fish and chicken that is uncooked. Avoid frozen, ready-to-heat meals. Do not buy foods with added sugars or syrups.
  2. When buying packaged goods, be sure to read labels. Ingredients found only in UP foods include added colors, color stabilizers, flavors, flavor enhancers, non-sugar sweeteners and processing aids (such as carbonating, firming, bulking and anti-bulking, de-foaming, anti-caking and glazing agents). UP foods may also include emulsifiers, sequestrants and humectants.
  3. Get hip to hidden UP foods. Some common hidden UP foods include flavored coffees, granola bars, catsup, American cheese, chips, lunch meats, bacon and many breakfast cereals.

We’re hoping this will make you ultra-healthy—and by voting with your food dollars you can persuade food companies to make foods more safely available to an ever-hungrier world.

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