New Study: Ultra-Processed Foods Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer & Death

So processed food which their original source can be identified visually are probably ok.

Pass me those pickles.

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Plasma metabolomics showed that 257 out of 993 plasma and 606 out of 1279 urine metabolites differed between DPs. Overall, 21 known metabolites differed across biospecimen types. Six metabolites had higher levels, and fourteen had lower levels following a UPF diet. Acesulfame had the largest effect change between DPs, being higher after the UPF diet. Three metabolites related to benzoate metabolism (2-methozyhydroquinone sulfate, 4-ethylphenyl sulfate, and 4-vinylphenol sulfate) were consistently higher after the UPF diet in both plasma and urine samples. Most bile acids from plasma and urine were lower after the UPF diet. These results suggest that ingredients common to UPFs affect the human metabolome and justify further research as dietary biomarkers of a UPF diet.

[are they used in fake meat]?

Twelve metabolites (saccharine, homostachydrine, stachydrine, N2, N2-dimethylguanosine, catechol sulfate, caffeine, 3-methyl-2-oxovalerate, theobromine, docosahexaenoate, glucose, mannose, and bradykinin) were significantly associated with ultra-processed food consumption after controlling for false discovery rate <0.05 and adjusting for sociodemographic factors, health behaviors, eGFR, and total energy intake. The 12 ultra-processed food–related metabolites significantly improved the prediction of ultra-processed food consumption (difference in C statistics: 0.069, P<1×10−16). Higher levels of mannose, glucose, and N2, N2-dimethylguanosine were associated with higher risk of incident CKD after a median follow-up of 23 years.


We identified 12 serum metabolites associated with ultra-processed food consumption and three of them were positively associated with incident CKD. Mannose and N2, N2-dimethylguanosine are novel markers of CKD that may explain observed associations between ultra-processed food and CKD.

and mannose is essential for N-glycosylation


Mannose, a C-2 epimer of glucose, was positively associated with ultra-processed foods and CKD risk. Mannose is highly correlated with glucose metabolism and likely affects microvascular health through the effects of glucose.40 The primary source of circulating mannose in humans comes from processing of N-glycan, which is a component of glycoproteins.40 Glycoproteins and glycans are critical for cell communication and signaling. Complex N-glycans are elevated in patients with CKD.41 Mannose, as a component of mannose-binding lectin, initiates the lectin pathway of the complement system and activates innate immunity and the proinflammatory state. Our findings on mannose and glucose highlight the important role of sugar consumption associated with ultra-processed foods and blood sugar levels on CKD risk.

We observed a statistically significant, yet marginal, improvement in the prediction of high ultra-processed food consumption with four metabolites (saccharin, stachydrine, N2, N2-dimethylguanosine, theobromine, DHA [DHA; 22:6n3]). The magnitude of the improvement in prediction was larger for the 12 metabolites together. These findings underscore the value of a panel of metabolites to represent the complex nature of dietary intake. Furthermore, the diverse metabolites detected highlight that a variety of potentially important metabolic pathways are affected by ultra-processed food consumption.

The positive association that we observed between N2, N2-dimethylguanosine and ultra-processed foods and between N2, N2-dimethylguanosine and CKD risk was consistent with our hypothesis given our previous study demonstrating that higher ultra-processed food was associated with higher risk of incident CKD.4 N2, N2-dimethylguanosine is a product of transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) degradation, and its serum level reflects the rate of tRNA turnover and renal clearance. The circulating level of tRNA degradation products is a marker of oxidative stress.35 Serum levels of N2, N2-dimethylguanosine are elevated in patients with kidney failure because of impaired urinary excretion and in patients with polycystic kidney disease compared with patients with glomerular kidney disease or CKD from other causes.35,36 Elevated serum N2, N2-dimethylguanosine might be an early marker of CKD associated with ultra-processed food consumption.




Ultra-processed foods: Largest ever review shows many ill effects on health

"These studies should help inform advice about curbing our consumption of UPFs . . . "

Ultra-processed foods, such as cereals and fizzy drinks, have been linked to 32 harmful health effects, according to the largest review of the evidence to date.

Globally, one in five deaths are thought to be due to poor diet, and the role of ultra-processed foods or UPFs has attracted much attention in many studies over recent years.

UPFs were first defined around 15 years ago to allow researchers to investigate the effect of food processing on health. This new study, called an “umbrella review”, analyzed many recent studies, involving almost 10 million people, to bring together much of the available data to give an overall picture of how UPFs affect our health.

The results implicate the consumption of large proportions of UPFs in a diet with poor health outcomes and early death from a range of conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and poor mental health.

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Great topic RapAdmin!

As much as some individuals question epidemiological nutrition - there is really great information that is reliable that comes from it. We pretty much know what dietary patterns yield good outcomes and also understand which yield poor cognition, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.

The classification is problematic in that there are some very healthy products that can fall into UPF and others horribly unhealthy items that don’t.

I see the best data is for whole food plant based (with either some fatty small fish wild caught or omega 3 supplementation), and if you choose to add a bit of dairy (fermented) or meat that is high quality, go for it. Just make sure you have adequate protein (which is super easy to get on a WFPB diet), and your Omega 3 index is good, Vitamin D/B12 managed and measured.

In my practice, we see UPFs are a massive contributor to altered gut permeability (“leaky gut”) and auto-immune diseases, not to mention mental health and cardiometabolic syndrome.

The combination of hyperpalatable foods along with massive useless screen time, and validation of every adversity in life needing a therapist is seriously making the future of life demonstrate the movie WALL-E as prophetic!

Anyway … I digress … but UPF’s are a big part of what is creating the health mess I see every day I work in the ER.


Fake meat is a problem - this is one of many areas where Vegans can really mess things up. Most are junk food. Might they be a little better than a beef patty? I think one could make an argument either way. However, as an ethical statement on avoiding killing animals to eat - one can make a point here, but on a health perspective, I’m not so sure there is much to stand on.

There is one product that I’m really impressed with in this space which is pretty solid, both in nutrition and taste, that being Meati.

This is probably technically an UPF, but Meati
if you look at the nutritional info, even the sodium isn’t bad. 17 grams of protein in 120 calories, almost no fat, fiber 8 grams … We’ve had all their products, and if you are going to go after “fake meat” - go for this. It is all mushroom root based.

Even for the carnivores, this is looking like a pretty healthy mix of nutrition and nutrients.


May I ask, What’s your perspective on high quality vegan protein powers?

I guess the issue here is why?

It is convenient, but processed.

My wife who is an in the nutrition space, and weighs all of 55 kgs, and is fairly muscled is getting 80 grams of protein daily just on a really solid whole food plant based diet.

I don’t think we have any clear evidence for any benefit over 1.2 grams/kg/day for protein. So the issue is generally sorting out how to do this without resorting to bars or powder.

It really isn’t that hard, and our food bill is way lower than most people’s. The issue is using the beans, grains, etc and then making them taste amazing. Adding spices and salsa, chopped peppers, garlic, olives … nuts, seeds, … next thing you don’t need any of the powders.

The risk with the powders is that you are consuming something that is artificial, and doesn’t contain ALL of the things the original food contained. We have decent examples of where this has led to poor health outcomes.

The answer is, nature is amazing … just sort out how to accomplish your protein intake within this. If you need specific advice … DM me … I’ll put you in touch with my boss (e.g. my wife) who can take a look at everything, and give you some sensible advice on how to avoid the protein powder.

The convenience factor is a draw, but the health risks are unclear.


Look for these 9 red flags to identify food that is ultra-processed (Washington Post)

Free yourself from the grip of ultra-processed food by looking for these signs on the package label

Full story: Look for these 9 red flags to identify food that is ultra-processed


Thanks - this article is actually well done. I’ve seen poorly written articles in this space – but the author has done an excellent job.


Appears a paid subscription to the Washington Post is required to read/view.

Anyone want to post a copy?

It’s nothing new, really.

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The New Science on What Ultra-Processed Food Does to Your Brain

Ultra-processed foods may not only affect our bodies, but our brains too.

New research suggests links between ultra-processed foods—such as chips, many cereals and most packaged snacks at the grocery store—and changes in the way we learn, remember and feel. These foods can act like addictive substances, researchers say, and some scientists are proposing a new mental-health condition called “ultra-processed food use disorder.” Diets filled with such foods may raise the risk of mental health and sleep problems.

The science is still early and researchers say there is a lot they don’t know. Not all ultra-processed foods are equal, some scientists say, adding that some might be good for you. A diet high in ultra-processed foods has been linked with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, but researchers are still figuring out exactly why, beyond calorie counts and nutrient composition.

Makers of foods such as processed meats and muffins defend their products, and note that there isn’t a consistent, universally accepted definition of ultra-processed food.

Full story: The New Science on What Ultra-Processed Food Does to Your Brain (Wall Street Journal)


They are high in sodium.

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The group eating the least ultraprocessed food ate about three servings a day on average, while the highest averaged seven servings a day, according to the study published Wednesday in The BMJ journal.