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Ultra-Processed Foods and the Impact on Your Health

By Kelly Rossi September 18, 2020

It's no secret that today's American life is busier than ever. From work to school functions, today's American family only spends approximately 37 quality minutes with each other a day. When we're this busy and it is easier and cheaper than ever to pick up a meal, we're more likely to reach for things like fast food or frozen meals, which are almost always ultra-processed foods. While these statistics may look a little different from pre-pandemic time, the repercussions and changes to our lifestyles and habits have remained.

While these foods may help you save on time, they actually have a major impact on your health and quality of life. This article helps you find out why doctors are advising their patients to avoid ultra-processed foods!

Ultra-Processed Foods Lack Nutrition

When you think about why we eat, you might think the answer is because we're hungry. Food, however, is fuel. It helps us stay focused and gives us the energy needed to conquer the day. This is accomplished through nutrition.

Ultra-processed foods may taste delicious and temporarily sate our hunger, but that's about all they're good for. You won't find the vitamins and minerals you need to help your body function in these foods. In fact, the more processed a food is, the less nutrient density it's going to have.

Over time, relying on ultra-processed foods will leave you exhausted and reduce your quality of life. Opting for nutrient-dense whole foods instead will help fuel you throughout the day!

They're Packed with Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates

If ultra-processed foods sound delicious to you, it's probably because they're designed to make us crave them. One of the ways companies do this is through the addition of sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Not only are sugars and refined carbohydrates devoid of nutrition, but they also lack fiber. Our body uses carbohydrates and sugars to give us energy, but when carbohydrates lack fiber, then they cause your insulin levels to spike and crash. You'll get a boost of energy for a short amount of time and you will be left without a lot of energy.

Eating foods that have a wealth of fiber helps your body maintain energy throughout the day. They can also help you avoid diabetes and keep your digestive system healthy.

They're a Caloric Glut 

It should come as no surprise that the drive-thru burger you eat for dinner has far more calories than a dinner composed of lean protein and roasted veggies. Unfortunately, few people think about the number of calories they're consuming when they're relying on processed foods to get them through the day.

A burger, large fries, and a large soda can be packed with over 1,500 calories for one meal. If you eat two of those meals in a day, then you'll be consuming 1.5 times the recommended amount of calories you should consume in one day. That's a shortcut to packing on the pounds!

If you want to watch your waistline, opt for foods that are nutrient-dense and low in calories.

They Impact Your Quality of Life 

It is no secret that certain foods have an impact on our health and can directly raise our risks of developing serious diseases and conditions. As you can see from the above information, ultra- processed foods are packed with sugars, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and sodium. All of these ingredients are linked to some of the top causes of death in the US such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. We are even finding evidence that what you eat can impact your mental health. With that in mind, if you want to improve or maintain your quality of life it is important to follow the nutritional guidelines for you and your doctor’s recommendations. Your quality of life is important and if you can make a difference, then why not try? 

Need Help with Healthful Eating? 

Ultra-processed foods may save us time in the short run, and they might taste super palatable, but in the long run, they reduce our quality of life and even our length of life! By avoiding these foods and spending a little bit more time prepping healthy meals for us and our families, we'll improve our overall health and have far more energy for all of life's demands. Happy eating!

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