According to doctor and TV presenter Chris van Tulleken, ultra-processed foods are impacting our health in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. While many dietary guidelines suggest that these foods are nutritionally inferior due to their high levels of fat, sugar, and salt, van Tulleken argues that it is the way these foods are made that really determines their nutritional value. The industrial techniques used to make many modern foods not only add unhealthy ingredients, but also change the way the foods themselves interact with our body.
Van Tulleken’s new book, Ultra-Processed People: Why do we all eat stuff that isn’t food… and why can’t we stop? explores the catastrophic consequences of ultra-processed foods now making up more than half of all food eaten in many Western countries. These foods contain artificial ingredients that strip out fiber and micronutrients, and are highly palatable and calorific. The ingredients added to these foods are ones that our bodies haven’t evolved to cope with.
Van Tulleken suggests that the best way to turn this trend around is to cook meals from scratch at home, rather than relying on processed and pre-packaged foods. By doing so, we can ensure that we are getting all the necessary nutrients and ingredients that our bodies need to function properly. With the rise in consumption of ultra-processed foods, it is important that we pay attention to what we are putting into our bodies and make changes to our diets if necessary.