Inflammatory bowel diseases: a high consumption of ultra-processed foods increases the risk of colitis and Crohn’s disease

The warning is becoming stronger, a high consumption of ultra-processed foods is one of the worst habits for health. These are foods that have been modified to enhance their durability, preservation, flavor and texture, based on this they are usually highly caloric and rich in refined sugars, sodium, saturated fats, refined flours and all kinds of additives. It is undeniable to associate them with an increased risk in chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer and mental health disorders. Recently a new study found that Regular consumption of this type of food and drink can cause serious gastrointestinal ailments. As is the specific case of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

What did the study consist of? An international group of researchers led by the Population Health Research Institute and McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Canada, set out to investigate whether eating patterns could play a role in the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel diseases. As an aside, this medical term is used in a general way to refer to a group of chronic digestive system disorders, which present with chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The two most common diseases they present with are: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The research team brought together more than 116,000 adults from around the world (21 countries) between the ages of 35-70 and from low-, middle- and high-income areas. Among the most relevant aspects of the study without a doubt is the time period, since the participants were evaluated during a period of 13 years in which the volunteers were asked to fill out a detailed food and nutrition questionnaire. New IBD diagnoses were highlighted, including a total of 467 cases (90 with Crohn’s disease, 377 with ulcerative colitis).

The relevant thing was that even taking into account other possible risk factors, as is the case of age, body weight, lifestyle and habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking. The researchers revealed that a high consumption of ultra-processed foods It is associated with an increased risk of inflammatory bowel diseases.

What are the worst ultra-processed foods for gut health?

For years we have standardized the consumption of ultra-processed foods, in large part because they are incredibly affordable and easily available. In such a way that modern western society has become accustomed to consuming them excessively, in recent decades the intake of ultra-processed foods has increased dramatically around the world. According to information released by the CDC, the consumption of these types of products represents between 25% and 60% of the reliable source of a person’s daily energy intake.

Broadly speaking, processed foods are those that have gone through changes or some type of industrial processing before reaching the table. In such a way that through various processing methods we can have certain foods all year round (even when it is not in season), they also become safer because when using treatments with high temperatures certain harmful bacteria are destroyed and in some cases some additives are added which prevent the fats from decomposing or developing fungi and other pathogens. Therefore all that food that is chemically modified Through the use of refined ingredients and artificial substances, it will be considered ultra-processed and harmful to health. Among the main ones are: processed meats, sugary breakfast cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, refined sweetened foods (such as candy), salty snacks, ice cream, commercially prepared cakes and cookies, sauces and soups.

As for the statistics that the study revealed: Consuming one to four servings of ultra-processed foods per day was associated with a 67% increased risk of IBD, while five or more servings a day led to an 82% increase. In addition, as part of the findings of this study, it was found that foods such as raw white and red meat, dairy products, starches, as well as fruits, vegetables and legumes, were not associated with the development of inflammatory bowel diseases. These results led the study authors to believe that the risk of chronic intestinal inflammation is most likely related to whether or not a food is processed, rather than the food itself.

According to the researchers, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially to identify the exact mechanisms. However, these types of findings are very useful for create new dietary strategies that serve as prevention and controlIt finally makes sense that the combination of low fiber, low antioxidant, and high sugar is inflammatory to the intestine and can cause digestive disorders.

In addition, there are statements that add value to these findings, such as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, who agree that although there is no standard recommended diet for people diagnosed with IBD, there is. “Potential trigger foods.” Among which are all processed foods such as sugary foods, fatty foods, alcohol, fast foods and caffeinated beverages.

Considering that just one daily serving of ultra-processed foods can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome, the expert suggestion is implement several smart and simple food changes to your diet. Some simple examples: Substitute soda for sparkling water (topped with fresh lemon or mint), choose roasted sweet potatoes over French fries, and swap in a homemade fruit smoothie over ice cream. Also, as we have mentioned on previous occasions: it is not necessary to permanently prohibit favorite comfort foods, it is simply timely. enjoy them on special occasions and always keeping portion sizes in mind.

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