In some countries, ultra-processed foods now account for 50% or more calories consumed. The new studies have shown that poor nutrition may not be enough to explain health risks.

Some researchers have also theorized that ultra-processed foods contain ingredients such as emulsifiers, thickeners, protein isolates, and other industrial-sounding products.

Ultra-processed foods contain various industrial ingredients such as emulsifiers, thickeners and artificial flavours, mixed into food products by a series of manufacturing processes.

Our favourite sugary drinks and many breakfast cereals are also ultra-processed foods, similar to the more recent innovations, such as so-called “plant-based” burgers, which are made of protein isolates and other chemicals to make the products palatable.

Many of us are well aware that ultra-processed foods are harmful for our health. The new studies suggests that other factors excluding poor nutritional quality affect your health.

Poor diets can increase inflammation in the body, and that this is linked to higher risk of chronic diseases. Some food additives common in ultra-processed foods increase inflammation in the gut by causing changes to the gut microbiome.

Some researchers have theorised that ultra-processed foods increase inflammation because they are recognised by the body as foreign – much like an invading bacteria. So the body mounts an inflammatory response, which has been dubbed “fast food fever”. This increases inflammation throughout the body as a result.

Although it’s not yet established, if inflammation increased in the men consuming the most ultra-processed foods, inflammation is strongly linked with an increased risk of colon cancer.

Since inflammatory responses are hard-wired in our bodies, the best way to prevent this from happening is by not eating ultra-processed foods at all.

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