Study of 10M People – Processed Foods Destroy Health

The scientific evidence is clear that consuming ultra-processed foods is very bad for our health.

A new study reviewed data from 14 studies which included 9,888,373 participants. The researchers were looking for a correlation between ultra-processed foods and adverse health outcomes. They conclude:

Greater exposure to ultra-processed food was associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes, especially cardiometabolic, common mental disorders, and mortality outcomes.

(Lane et al., 2024)

The study showed that individuals with a diet high in ultra-processed foods were 53% more likely to develop anxiety and/or depression. The study also found a 50% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease among ultra-processed food eaters.

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In another study of 38,570 people, the association between ultra-processed food consumption and chronic insomnia in the NutriNet-Santé Study states that there is a “statistically significant association between UPF intake and chronic insomnia” (Duqueenne et al., 2024).

Interestingly, serotonin is largely produced in our gut, so I am not surprised that this study showed that low-fiber diets can lead to depression and anxiety. Read that again! Low-fiber Western diets greatly contribute to the mental health crisis we are experiencing.

Several years ago, Dr. David Katz MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM, the Director of Yale University Prevention Research Center did a VERY comprehensive review of diets that was published in the Annual Review of Public Health. He concludes:

The case that we should, indeed, eat true food, mostly plants, is all but incontrovertible.

(Katz, 2014)

The National Institute of Health (NIH) spent over a BILLION dollars on research concerning the human microbiome. In their 10-year review of the project, researchers indicate that dietary fiber appears to play a significant role in shaping gut microbiota diversity. High gut microbial diversity is increasingly appreciated as beneficial for maintaining human health and low diversity is associated with diseases including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer, and many auto-immune conditions.

The NIH review states that PLANT-BASED DIETS promote high gut microbial diversity.

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I have discussed the power of diet and nutrition on our health many times over the years in this blog. Diverse whole plant food high fiber diets are key to our health – including mental health. If you are interested in learning more, start with my Top 12 Longevity Foods.

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