After following a group of more than 3,000 volunteers for more than two decades, American researchers listed consumption They are called ultra-processed foods Incidence of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, stroke and death.
These foods are those that are undergoing intense industrial transformation, such as instant noodles, soft drinks, crackers, and packaged snacks. It is common for these foods to contain preservatives, dyes, flavors, and other compounds in order to increase taste and shelf life.
It is not new that health professionals and scientists research this topicHowever, the new evidence against ultra-processed foods is an important step towards adopting policies that improve the quality of the population’s diet.
New work published in the Journal of the American College of CardiologyLed by Philippa Juul of New York University. For her, one path that Americans should take is to follow Brazil, which has something to do with it Food guide for the Brazilian populationGuidelines praised by experts from different countries.
“The level of food processing should be addressed in the Food Guide for Americans, as it did in Brazil. We also need to make healthy, minimally processed foods accessible and available to everyone, especially people with limited resources and living in disadvantaged neighborhoods. In this context, it is imperative to boost production. Local food, “says Juul Leaf.
Throughout the follow-up period, between 1991 and 2014 (with mortality data calculated up to 2017), there were 251 serious cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack, coronary artery disease and stroke, and 108 deaths due to them.
The higher the consumption of ultra-processed products, the greater the loss. Each additional portion (amount varies according to food), increases the risk of such an event by 7 percentage points and the risk of death by 9 percentage points. In this calculation, the effects of other variables, such as daily energy intake, body mass index, presence of other diseases, smoking and sex, have already been excluded.
The study is a prospective observational study. “Upon entering into the research, the subjects who were studied did not have the disease and were followed up over the years [nesse caso, por duas décadas]This makes it possible to monitor changes in diet, disease outbreaks and deaths, ”explains Larisa Paraldi, a researcher at the Unicamp Center for Nutritional Studies and Research who was not involved in the research.
Paraldi explains: “In this way, it is possible to trace the disease’s association with the diet accurately, without doubting the timeliness of the facts, that is, whether people will change their diet before or after the disease.”
However, scientists are still investigating the mechanisms that would explain the harms of ultra-processed foods, in addition to the more obvious fact that many of them contain high levels of sugar, sodium and saturated fats, and low amounts of protein and fiber. And micronutrients.
For example, the physical composition of these foods, additives, and molecules that form during preparation can affect satiety, the dynamics of the blood sugar response (which changes in diabetes, for example), increase inflammation and cause damage to the intestinal microbes, according to Juul reports.
Another lesson from the business, Paraldi says, is that it is pointless to view foods (preventative or at risk) and nutrients (fats, vitamins, etc.) in isolation to improve health and reduce the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. The diet must be studied completely. In this sense, the Nova taxonomy has added novelty to the studies.
The Nova taxonomy, which organizes food into four processing classes (see graph), has been used by researchers from around the world and developed by Nupens (USP’s Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health), with Baraldi also serving as a research assistant.
in another place A study was recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and DieteticsBaraldi and colleagues studied a US database (NHANES) and found that consumption of ultra-processed foods is also associated with reduced water intake, which can have adverse health effects, such as kidney stones, deterioration of cognitive function and exercise-induced asthma. Resist fatigue.
By dividing the subjects regarding consumption of ultra-processed foods into five parts (fifths), it was possible to observe a difference from the top fifth to the bottom fifth of 706 ml in water consumption: the more highly processed in the diet the lower the level of water and water consumption itself, as well as the foods. Which contain water, such as fruits, vegetables and yogurt.
Ultra-processed foods generally contain little water for reasons such as frequent use of dry ingredients, such as wheat flour and cornstarch, and reduced content due to processing, such as drying and salting. With less water, food degradation is stopped, food fragility is preserved and distribution cost is reduced, due to the low weight.
In addition to consuming more water and reducing the number of ultra-processed foods, what people lack for a healthy diet is nutritional knowledge, time, ability to cook and, above all, healthy, cheaper food that is easily obtainable. Scientists say.
“I hope we see big policy changes as evidence of harm from ultra-processed foods builds up. It is encouraging that more and more countries are taking measures to reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods, discourage their consumption in national dietary guidelines, or tax sugary drinks. Or order food labels on the front of food packages, ”says Gul.
Another way to improve food, Paraldi remembers saving traditional eating patterns, as encouraged by the Brazilian guide, in addition to always looking for meal companionship.
“Cook your food whenever you can and include fruits or vegetables in every meal. If you eat out or buy ready-to-eat foods, make sure they are freshly prepared with less processed foods. Avoid ultra-processed foods,” says Filippa Juul.