Health experts have long-advised to limit the consumption of foods that are heavily processed and a new study just gave additional incentive to do that. New research indicates that eating ultra-processed foods can actually expedite the aging of your cells.
Now you may be wondering, what separates an ultra-processed food from one that’s just processed? Essentially, a food that’s considered to be ultra-processed is one that’s “industrially manufactured,” meaning its predominantly made with a mixture of oils, fats, sugars, starch, and proteins that contain little to no nutritional value. These types of foods are also void of any whole or natural ingredients. (Related: This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Deep-Fried Foods).
Candy, cupcakes, flavored potato chips, and anything that’s fried are all examples of ultra-processed foods as they contain artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers, preservatives, and various other additives used to increase shelf-life. These foods are also cheaper to produce and are often referred to as “convenience” items because they come pre-packaged. Processed foods, on the other hand, also include added oils, sugar, and salt, however, the food itself isn’t altered in the same fashion ultra-processed foods are. For example, healthier foods such as beans and tofu are considered processed foods because they are packaged, which enables them to sit on grocery store shelves for much longer than something such as fresh, unprocessed produce.
Not only can regular consumption of ultra-processed foods lead to weight gain and potentially the development of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, but new research is showing that it may also cause your body to age faster. Scientists at the European and International Conference on Obesity presented a study that discovered that eating three or more servings of ultra-processed food per day, doubled participants’ odds of shortening their strands of DNA and telomeres (proteins found on the end of chromosomes) in comparison with those who rarely eat those types of foods. We know what you’re thinking, how does this correlate to age?
Telomere length is one of the several markers for biological age, which scientists often rely on to help predict health risks. Shrinking telomeres are linked to increased risk of developing several diseases, most of which are associated with older age. So, consider cutting back on the Cheetos and fried onion rings to ensure you don’t accelerate the aging of your precious cells.
For more, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day.