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Processed food, the new silent killer

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Life expectancy in the US has dropped for the first time in over a century, and it’s down to a new ‘silent killer’.  No, it’s not heart disease anymore, it’s processed food.

Around 60 percent of the average American’s diet contains additives and chemicals that the human body has never encountered before and has no way to process efficiently.  Ultra processed foods contain emulsifiers and other additives that our gastrointestinal tract does not digest, but instead are creating a dysbiotic microbiome—the billions of bacteria in our gut—that can lead to disease.

The result is that processed food has taken on the mantle of the West’s ‘silent killer’, a term once given to heart disease, say researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt School of Medicine.

Not only has life expectancy fallen in the US, but it is also now below that in other comparable wealthy nations, they say.

The solution is not easy, however, as the multinational food conglomerate is even more powerful than Big Tobacco, and it is “unlikely that governments will be able to move quickly on policies that will promote whole foods and discourage the consumption of ultra-processed foods,” said Dawn Sherling, one of the researchers.

The message is simple: don’t wait for regulatory controls, take action yourself and stop buying processed food and start eating real fruit and vegetables.  

American Journal of Medicine, 2024; doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2024.02.001
Article Topics: processed food
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