Risk of depression increases sharply when ultra-processed foods exceed 30% of diet | Health and wellness

A large number of foods sold in supermarkets are ultra-processed. Pastries, industrial pizzas, a variety of sauces, salty snacks or cold cuts are among this group, which is increasingly consumed. In Spain, on average, more than 20% of calories come from these types of foods, while in Mexico this figure reaches 30% and 58% in the United States. consumption worldwide. Today medical journal B.M.J. publishes an extensive review of research supporting the link between increased consumption of these foods and diseases such as diabetes or mental illness and premature death.

Among the reviewed articles, published over the past three years and including nearly ten million people when participants are included, the authors find “strong evidence” that greater consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk. death from cardiovascular disease, about a 50% increase in the risk of anxiety and other mental disorders, and a 12% increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. At the next level of evidence, there was a 21% increase in the risk of death from any cause, about There was a 50% increased risk of obesity or sleep problems and a 22% increased risk of depression. In the same authors’ work, they saw that the risk of depression increases sharply when ultra-processed foods exceed 30% of a person’s daily diet. According to the researchers, data on gastrointestinal health or cancer risk is limited.

The work, led by Melissa Lane and Wolfgang Max of Deakin University in Australia, suggests that the findings provide sufficient evidence to support public health policies that reduce consumption of highly processed foods and thereby improve public health. Although their data does not allow them to compare the ill health caused by this type of food with the ill health caused by tobacco or alcohol, Lane believes that some policies regarding these substances may show what may be effective in reducing the consumption of ultra-processed foods. “For example, warning labels on packages, like those on cigarettes, can be effective,” says the researcher.

Miguel Angel Martinez, a professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Navarra who was not involved in the work, said there was more than enough evidence from the studies included in the review to suggest “structural, not just educational” interventions. to reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods. “We should make them more expensive through taxes and use the revenue to lower the prices of healthy foods like olive oil or nuts, rather than for anything else,” he explains. “It cannot be that healthy food becomes more and more expensive because it will widen the health gap between social classes,” he emphasizes.

The article also promotes progress in understanding the mechanisms that explain why these types of foods are harmful. They are now known to be less nutritious and worsen the diet of those who take them because, in addition to adding too much salt, fat or sugar, they leave less space in the stomach for foods such as fruit that contain nutrients. compounds such as polyphenols or phytoestrogens. They also contain less fiber and protein and concentrate more calories into fewer quantities. This combination may contribute to the development of chronic diseases arising from chronic inflammation or changes in the microbiota.

Martinez criticizes one aspect of the study that forces the authors to consider weak evidence that might have been stronger using a different measurement method. “They use the GRADE system to assess the quality and strength of evidence and made an error because this method was designed for clinical trials and we have long known that NutriGrade is tailored to the specific features of clinical trials. Nutrition is more appropriate,” he notes. “When using GRADE in many nutrition studies, the evidence will be weak because the observational study will be poor, and in nutrition we can’t do randomized clinical trials like we do with drugs, giving people ultra-processed foods to see if it hurts them.” , because it would be unethical,” he concludes.

Pablo Alonso Coelho, a researcher at the Sant Pau Research Institute in Barcelona and scientific coordinator of Nutrimedia, appreciates the large volume and information collected in the review, its order and consistency, but warns that nutrition research will always struggle to achieve a level of certainty. similar to what was achieved with the drug in clinical trials. “The impact of each factor is difficult to assess, and the consequences are small,” he notes. “We will never have the same safety as with tobacco and cancer, which has a very large effect, and the researchers themselves recognize the limitations that they cannot put their hand to the fire,” he concludes. As an interim solution, the authors of an article published in B.M.J. They propose short-term studies to test the effects of ultra-processed foods by measuring changes in weight, insulin resistance, microbiota or inflammation levels. Doing the same thing long enough to find out whether they speed up death or the onset of cancer or heart disease will be impossible.

You can follow EL PAIS Health and Wellness V Facebook, X And instagram.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button