That ultra-processed foods are not healthy at all It is something that we have known for a long time, as investigations have become more frequent. What perhaps we did not know in such detail is that these types of products lead to a increased aging, a stage of life that arrives earlier than normal with its high consumption. This has been concluded by a recent study in the University of Navarra whose subjects to study have been people already of retirement age. This issue is worrying due to the increase in the consumption of industrial pastries or the so-called fast food (fast food) to the detriment of more fresh, nutritious and healthy. Here's more on the new research.
The context of the study
All over the planet there are foods that are previously cooked and then marketed, refined oils, sugary drinks, fried, snacks salty, sweets or cakes, and so on. All these products are included in the category of ultra-processed, which means a very high level of industrial processing. By this production method, they are usually characterized by including colorants, flavorings, emulsifiers and other additive. These elements are responsible for the fact that, in many cases, they are very poor in nutritional terms. Hence, it is advisable to take them in a moderate way, without abusing them. They are not healthy, of course.
And the worst thing is that its consumption by the world public continues to increase, which can lead to health problems of millions of people. There are already several investigations that associate ultra-processed with serious diseases: type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, hypertension ... But also some types of cancer related to inflammation and aging human cells. It is precisely on this last point that the scholars of the University of Navarra (ONE V) to shed some more light on the specific problem.
Biological aging at the cellular level
Among other personalities who signed the study are Lucía Alonso Pedrero, as well as professors Maira Bes Rastrollo and Amelia Marti. After finding important conclusions, the text has been presented at the European and International Conference on Obesity (Eco Ico), organized online in 2020. The objective of the research has been to evaluate the link between eating ultra-processed foods and the risk of having shorter telomeres. These are the ends of human chromosomes, vital for their stability and integrity.
Naturally, as they get older they get shorter due to the cell division, a process that results in the loss of part of the telomere. In conclusion, the length of this element in the chromosome is an indicator of age in a person and the study has associated the consumption of highly processed foods with this biological aging. At the cellular level, as we have already explained, there is a "strong association" for ingesting these products on a daily basis.
The subjects analyzed were 645 men and 241 women with a mean age of 67,7 years, through its DNA. Thus knowing the precise intake of ultra-processed, have been classified according to NOVA system for its level of processing. After the analyzes carried out, the researchers have seen how as their daily consumption increased, the probability of having agreed telomeres also drastically increased.
In the groups with the highest intake of these foods (more than three a day), fast food and processed meats have been detected, especially. In addition, all of these people had a greater chance of having a family history of diseases such as diabetes or others cardiovascular disorders.
Without being alarmed, beware of the ultra-processed
Given that conclusion reached by the research team, the data of the risk of shortening chromosomes and, therefore, accelerate old age, is situated in a 82% in consumers who abuse ultra-processed. Because yes, eating more than three of these products a day can be described like this. But not only does the arrival of the last stage of life increase in this way, but with it the risk of other problems (depression, overweight and mortality). All this leads, sooner rather than later, in death.
Of course, we should not be alarmed by this type of results. Although you have to take some care with the Abuse of ultra-processed foods In the diet, this does not mean that they cannot be consumed either. Always with control, infrequently, we can take them.