Why the Last Thing that Should Ever Eat is Ultra Processed Foods: It Kills 11 Million People a Year - Transcipt

Dr. Mark Hyman: Coming up on this episode of the doctor's Farmacy. Ultra processed food is the number one cause of death in the world today, period. This is not my opinion. This is from the global burden of disease study of a 195 countries. The data is very clear. Too much of that crap and not enough real food. This is my friends. The new smoke ultra processed food are the new cigarettes, and we're gonna talk about why. Hey, everyone. It's Doctor Mark. As functional medicine practitioners, we need to get to the heart of root causes. Behind our patient's health concerns. And let's face it. Ordering labs to get the data. It can be an an administrative nightmare.
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Dr. Mark Hyman: that's myessentia.comforward/drmarkhyman. And now let's get
back to this week's episode of the doctor's Farmacy.
Welcome to doctor's Farmacy. I'm doctor
Dr. Mark Hyman:, and that's
Farmacy. We're gonna have to place for conversations that matter. In
this conversation on today's special episode of health Bites, is going
to matter to all of you because it's about one of the most pressing
and powerful destructive forces on humanity today. What I'm talking
about is ultra processed food, and we're gonna get into what that is,
why it matters, why you should be concerned, the conditions that it
causes, and how to avoid them, because this is my friends.
The new smoking. Ultra processed food are the new cigarettes. And
we're gonna talk about why. Question is what's ultra processed food?
What's not?
So let's talk about What exactly are ultra processed foods? What are
the characteristics? How do we define them? Well, there's something
called Nova classification. I'll get into a minute, but essentially,
it's deconstructed food.
Basically take raw materials from things like corn, wheat, and soy.
You deconstruct them chemically in a lab. You all structurally alter
them. So they're not actually the same chemical and our body remember
gets messages from the outside environment and regulates this biology
through chemical signals that depend on the structure and shape of the
molecule to create a signal in the body that does good or bad, right?
It's really important.
So these are funky weird Franken molecules. And then they're turned
into food like substances that come in every color, size, and shape of
chemical extruded, yuck, basically. Now they're super energy dense
usually. They're high in calories. They have pretty much no
nutritional value really.
They're high in sugar. I mean, they may have added vitamins. You know,
you get your cereal or fruit loops with added vitamins. Well, that's
not exactly healthy. They are high in sugar.
They can come from all different sources, high corn syrup, dextrose,
maltodextrain, cane sugar, fructose is a 1,000,000 different names of
sugar. You can Google it and see. We'll put a link to all the
different kinds of names of sugar, but hide the names of sugar on the
label so you get confused. Doesn't just say sugar. It's also high in
refined grains.
So these are highly pulverized grains that mostly wheat that are
chemically altered and are not resembling their original form. And
they're maybe from corn, from wheat, from beans like soy. Also Hyman
unhealthy fats usually trans fats still in market, refined oils, and
so forth. They contain often excess salt hyperpalatable. They're easy
to overeat.
They're low in fiber, typically low in protein. They're low in
vitamins and low in minerals. So all the things you need to thrive,
they don't have. They also tend to spike your blood sugar a lot. They
also don't make you feel full.
So people who eat ultra processed food eat 500 calories more a day.
This was a controlled study at the NIH with Kevin Hall. Really
impressive data. So, basically, people who were glad to eat whole food
versus ultra processed food as much as they wanted, the ones who ate
the ultra as food, 8500 calories more a day, 35100 calories a week.
That's a pound a week.
If you keep doing that all year, that's £52 a weight gain in a year.
What are the examples of ultra processed food? Well, potato chips,
crackers, pretzels, candy, microwave, popcorn don't ever eat that
muffins, donuts, sandwich breads, cookies, flavored yogurts, puddings,
jello, breakfast cereal, granola bars, things like added sugar, food
dyes, natural unofficial flavors, colors, preservatives, gums,
emulsifiers. Oh my. Right?
It's a lot of stuff. So don't eat that. It's not food. Ready to eat
meals, instant noodles, and soups, frozen TV dinners, can ravioli
pasta's, packaged meal kits, nasty, unless they're made from whole
food, processed meat and dairy. Again, we eat a lot of this stuff.
Hot dogs, deli means fish which I don't even know what they are often.
They're not fish. Chicken nuggets. Most chicken nuggets have, like, 35
ingredients. Only one of which is chicken, processed cheese slices.
They're not even allowed to be called cheese because it's not actually
cheese. They're not 51% cheese. Very spreads, flavored Mark, it's a
non dairy beverages, a coffee creamers, various protein shakes, you
have to be careful of, like, isolated. So protein is deconstructed
soy. Eventually, we're cancerous.
So we careful of that flavor. So it says soy, soy shake, and that's
like, maybe really bad for you. Flavors sweet and nut milks often can
be problematic if they watch what's in them. Of course, sugar
sweetened beverages, soft drink, lemonade, iced tea, soda, food
drinks, hunches, energy drinks, labor copies, all this stuff is just
nasty. So you wanna stay away from that.
But it comes to a healthy diet. We hear a lot of these ultra processed
food, processed foods. Most people have no clue what they are. And I
think it takes a little bit of education to understand how to navigate
this landscape of process and ultra processed food. Now what does it
We're gonna talk about between ultra processed food and other types of
processed food, for example, Doritos versus the can of sardines.
They're both processed, but highly different in their effect on your
biology. If there's one worse than the other, how do we tell the
difference? We're gonna get into all of that. Part of the problem
today is that most people need a PhD to understand nutrition labels.
And many must fall into the trap of convenience and just sort of get
whatever seems good or what are their package like it's gonna be
healthy. And, basically, there's a health claim on the label. You
think it's good for us, but that's basically one of my rules of
eating. If it has a health claim, it's not good for you. In other
words, gluten free potato chips.
Or a sugar free this. When it says that, it's always something bad
that's added. So if these are made by big food in order to lure you in
and get you sucked in, and track as a result of that, we have a nation
and a world increasingly where more than half than calories come from
this hyper palatable, easy to overeat. Ultra process, food like and
you have to look at the definition of food. Food is something that
supports growth and life.
The truth is these don't. So by definition, they are not food. Just
look it up in the dictionary. If you can convince me that these things
are food, well, good luck because they're not. And they don't meet any
definition of what food should be like.
And essentially as a substance that helps support life and growth and
ultra process, who is due neither. In fact, they do the opposite. Now
I'm not just making this stuff up. There's an amazing study. Now it's
a it's an observational study, but it's it's a very well done study
recently published, just news just out in the British Medical Journal.
They looked at 45 different pooled meta analysis involving 10,000,000
people. The hook here is that these were studies that were not funded
by ultra processed food companies. You know, matter of me talking the
other day about artificial sweeteners and how the large study that
showed artificial sweeteners are not harmful at all. But when you look
the funders of the study. It was the American Beverage Association,
formerly known my friends as the American Sotopop Association.
Clearly, We need to look at data that is not corrupt. And when you
look at studies that are funded by the food industry, it's 8 to 50
times more likely to show a positive impact for their food product,
whether it's dairy or artificial sweeteners or whatever. And when they
looked at the data from this large pulled men analyses, I looked at
people who ate higher amounts of ultra processed food. There was a 50%
increase in the risk party vascular death was a 48 to 53% increased
risk of anxiety and other mental health disorders like depression. Now
think about that the risk of having heart disease and a heart attack
and mental illness are the same from eating ultra processed foods.
We we get that, you know, these foods can cause we see in diabetes and
heart disease, but mental health crisis is also driven by these Ultra
Processors. We did a whole episode on this. I think it's really
important to go back and listen to a link shown us. There's also a
higher risk of type 2 diabetes and many, many other conditions. And
they go through many conditions, autoimmune disease, inflammatory
The evidence also show that there was a link between ultra processed
food and a greater risk of death from any cause and a 40 to 66% high
risk of heart disease related deaths. Obesity, tested diabetes, sleep
problems, and a 22% increase of depression. We're seeing this mental
health crisis, obesity crisis, diabetes crisis, heart disease crisis,
the immune crisis, I mean, the list goes on. Chronic disease is the
number one driver of our health care expenditures. It's the number one
driver of death globally.
Why is this happening? We never had these problems you know, I saw
something on Instagram the other day. There was a video of, from 1930s
film, and there was not one person who was overweight in the entire
video of people walking down New York. Big change. From then to now.
And this has led to the epidemic of chronic disease that's driven by
this ultra process. And we're gonna get into it. We're gonna go deep
in this topic, and we're gonna learn about how we begin to what is
ultra processed food should avoid. And hopefully, maybe we'll live in
a day when food labels are clear. I'm working on that in Washington
with my foodfix campaign on clear labeling and child friendly
Let's get started with with a case example of what an ultra processed
diet can do to our bodies in as little as 2 weeks. I think all of this
takes years years to develop problems. Well, not really, my friends.
You see the results very quickly. Now Tim Specter and a scientist from
King's College in London performed a short term study on a twenty four
year old set of healthy twin girls.
This is a different twin study than the vegan twin study. Now one twin
was assigned to eat an ultra processed diet. When you included a
typical breakfast of pancake syrup or syrup with a blueberry muffin,
pretty much our average diet. Lunch was a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich and white bread with chocolate milk and and dinner was either
a cheeseburger and fries or a meatball sub with cheese crackers and a
diet coke. The other twin ate a minimally processed whole foods diet.
Each diet, this is really important. Each diet was controlled for
calories. So they ate exactly the same amount of calories. I'm gonna
say that again, they added they ate exactly the same amount of
calories. They also have the same amount of fat, same amount of sugar,
and a fiber.
But the difference was the processing of the food. Now we're gonna get
into what this means in a minute. What was dragging about the study,
after just two weeks, you know, the twins eating the ultra processed
diet had higher blood cholesterol and lipids, higher blood sugar, the
gain more weight. Now remember, they had the same amount of calorie
friends, so it's not all about the calories. It's what the calories do
to your biochemistry your hormones, to your immune system, to your
inflammation, you've got microbiome.
It's not just calories and calories out. It's more complex in Also,
the study show, they look at their microbiome had a really negative
effect on the gut microbiome. Now we know that if you swap out in
animals a healthy microbiome for a microbiome, for example, an obese
mouse that the other mouse, eating the same amount of food will gain
weight. So we know that it's it's not all about calories, how they
process other metabolized and so forth. Now none of these changes,
these adverse changes that were in the twin eating the ultra processed
diet were seen in the twin eating the whole food diet.
She actually lost weight So one twin, again, eating the same amount of
calories gained weight on ultra processed food. The other twin lost
weight. Just register that for a minute. Now the results aren't
published Hopefully, there will be, again, and again, I see my
practice over and over again how ultra processed foods wreak havoc on
our health, and they do it very fast. The good news is You can reverse
it very quickly too.
Right? So eating real health foods can reverse these effects. That's
what I did with my 10 day detox diet, and we saw amazing results 1000
of patients often talked about this one patient ahead in 3 days was
off insulin simply after, 10 years of diabetes on insulin, 3 days of
eating this way completely eliminated her need for insulin. Now how
did this happen? How did this becomes 60% of our diet 67% of kids diet
It's increasing everywhere. Well, the industrial revolution spawned a
whole bunch of advancements in food processing technologies and the
mass production can goods and refined grains, and it was seemed to be
a Buddha of humanity. And it it did help a lot. We got to preserve
food. We got to store it longer.
We got to know, people to feed people who couldn't be fed, we have
hunger, so it wasn't all bad. And where we're wanting to, those were
huge catalysts for because there was a huge demand for non perishable
foods shipped to soldiers overseas. And and so it needed to be
something was was stable. It could be sent to the battlefield. They
wouldn't rot.
1 of the basic girl developing eating is only eat food that rots. I
don't know if you saw, it was something I saw once. I don't know a
movie or something, but some guy had a forgotten, like, a big mac in
his pocket for years, and it was fine. It hadn't degraded. It hadn't
you composed.
It hadn't gone moldy. It was just fine. Now you wanna eat food that
rots. That's a good that's a good So after world war 2, you know, the
economic growth and lifestyle changes, that happened, Hyman entering
the workforce was the increased demand for convenience, foods, fast
food TV dinners. There was a gathering of all the fast food and
processed food makers in the, in the late fifties as I recall on this
written about in Salt Sugar And Fat by Michael Moss.
We had he was my first podcast guest, actually. And in that meeting,
all these companies were We have to fight this trend towards eating
real food, which there was another sort of group of people promoting
that. They decided to make convenience king and So they created a
culture of convenience. They disintermediated people from the kitchen.
They invited Betty Crocker to get recipes of junk food in the house.
So you're pie your ritz crackers on top of your broccoli casserole or,
you know, they'll beat it cheese or your can of cream of mushroom soup
from Campbell's all in your recipe. So there's a lot of processed food
in the recipe. There was no Brady cracker. She was a made up person.
Oh, she was real good.
My mom had the cookbook. Anyway, in the 80s nineties, the food
companies began engineering foods even more. And and they were
engineering foods at an accelerated pace using all sorts of
technologies, a lot of new additives, preservatives, and multi fire,
which are terribly damaging for your gut and microbiome. There's like
600,000 of these products out on the market and start sugar, refined
grains, and processed oils became ubiquitous in supermarkets, vending
machines, fast food outlets, enter basically what we call the SAD or
the sad diet, the standard American diet. Now, like, as I said, it's,
you know, 60% of diet here, 67% of kids diets.
It's more than half the energy in high income countries, even like
Canada, the UK, Australia. It's nasty. Studies are clear on this. And
we link that way. We're linking to all the studies.
Everything I'm saying is evidence based is is backed by references.
You can just go show notes, you'll see them all. So studies show that
that the more ultra processed foods that make up your diet, the less
nutritious their diet quality tends to be overall. And the greater
risk they are of developing chronic inflammatory diseases, heart
disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke,
dementia, autoimmune diseases, depression. I mean, the list goes on
and on.
And according to CDC, more than 70% of deaths, or 1 point 7,000,000
deaths a year in the US are caused by chronic diseases mostly caused
by our processed food diet. This is a kicker. I've mentioned before,
but for every 10% of your diet that comes from ultra processed food,
the risk of death goes up by 14%. This is from the global burden
disease study about that in a minute. Yeah.
That's enormous. So if you think of 60%, right? So it's 6 times 14.
It's a big number increases your risk of death, not just getting a
disease. Now what's really scary is that the government is funding
They're funding the subsidies that go into agriculture that produces
the commodity crops that are turned into Ultra process food, you know,
benefiting from, the incredible, food stamp program, which is great,
except that 75% of the snap benefits are used for ultra processed food
and 10% are used for soda. It's about 10,000,000,000 a year. And we're
working on trying to change this in Washington, and we have a bill now
into prevent ultra processed food or being purchased with a Snap
dollars if you're a kid because we know these are deadly for kids. The
data is so clear. Hey, everyone.
It's doctor Mark. Now modern foods aren't nearly as nutrient dense as
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And now let's get back to this week's episode of the doctor's
Farmacy. What's the difference between ultra processed food and just
regular processed food? I read an article in a nutrition journal years
ago about defending process food as being something as old as as
We've been, you know, drying food and preserving food and fermenting
food and curing food for a long time. So what's the big deal about
processed food. If you look at the funders of it, if you look at the
journal, it's just funded by the food industry. It's so corrupt, my
friends. It's so I wrote about that, I think, in my book, Foodfix, or,
you know, one of my other books, but it's, it's a pretty frightening
Unless you just pick an apple up of a tree and eat it, or just eat a
raw egg, most food is processed to some degree. Cooking is a form of
processing, right? It's not really that processing is bad. It's it's
what is the process So minimally processed foods are fine. Like,
you've been doing it for thousands of years.
Olive oil is processed for yogurt, but hopefully from a to cows or
goat or sheep, right, that are generally raised. Cheese is a processed
food, canning food. So sardines, canned tomato, fermented foods,
sauerkraut meso, frozen foods, beef jerky, dried foods. Basically,
those are all processed foods, but they're fine. If you can recognize
the ingredients, if you know where they are, if you see that number of
steps it took to get from farm to your fork.
It's okay. If it doesn't have a list of weird frank and ingredients,
that's okay. It depends on on how they're processed. Certain foods may
seem they're, like, they're minimally processed. There may be some
protein powders that are okay or protein barge from whole ingredients,
canned beans, you know, frozen vegetables.
Those are all fine, but be very wary about what you're eating, even if
it comes from Whole Foods or Heroon or some great you know, natural
food store that you're shopping at, it can still be fraught with all
sorts of problems. And what, does a science say about what is an ultra
processed food versus what is not. And there are many classification
systems. The most reliable and the most common in in most well
accepted is something called the NOVA classification. It's kind of the
most comprehensive version, and it has some flaws, but it's still
pretty good.
So it just gives us a rough idea. There's basically 4 classification
of food with Nova. The first is minimally processed and unprocessed
food. So it's basically peanuts, right, taking the shell off of a
peanut is processed food. Any kind of husking, shelling, drying,
crushing, grinding, roasting, boiling, pasteurization, refrigeration,
These are fine. They often can be placed in containers or packaged
without happening to add sugars, salt, oil, or fat, things like whole
grains, beans, fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, milk, meat. These are all
fine. And I wanna say milk. I'm I'm being know, you know, I stand on
I'm being very specific. It should be a 2 case in dairy. It should be
regeneratively raised. It should be either go to cheap ideally. So you
wanna make sure you're eating the right dairy.
The second classification is Nova Group 2. It consists of processed
culinary ingredients derived from nature. Boils, bad sugar, salt. So
it could be pressing olive oil. It could be grinding of flour,
It could be seasoning, and cooking. Of foods that are in group 1. So
if you wanna put a a chicken in the oven and and bake it for 20
minutes, that's processing. Right? So that's group 2.
And things like olive oil, butter, flour, salt, vinegar. These are all
Nova class 2. And Nova class 3 is more processed foods. You're adding
things to it. You're adding salt and oil and sugar to group 1 or 2
foods, and they make them more durable, more enjoyable, more
enjoyable, for last longer.
So it could be canning, smoking, fermenting that extends shelf life.
And it may include adding other things like salt, sugar, fat. So you
can add salt and, for example, sugar to beef jerky. Well, you may not
want to do that. I like the South and built on.
It's just pure dried beef with some spices on it. We've been
processing food for as long as we've been human cooking as a form of
processing, fermentation is a form of processing, like, Sauerkraut
yogurt, cheese, canning, jarring vegetables. I used to do that. I went
to college with jar vegetables in the winter, fruit, vegetables,
pickles, olive, cans of tuna, cans of chicken, salmon cured meats,
cheeses. These are all processed, but often without bad stuff, but
sometimes with bad stuff, right, added salt, because one is the best,
and 2, 3, have to be smart, but you can get away with it.
Now class 4 is what really is the boogeyman here. This is the alter
process food category. And it's series of industrial formulations of 5
more ingredients could be less, but it's generally 105. This is
something that's not actually considered food. I don't think they call
it food.
They shouldn't call it ultra processed food. They should call it ultra
process science projects or food like substances or nonfooding edible
things or something. I don't know why. Metals, your processed foods
are really made from Whole Foods originally, right? But then they're
broken down.
They're mechanically altered. Chemically separated, and they're
changed to, you know, the isolated sugars, fats, oils, protein
starches, fiber extracts did to make food look and taste good and make
it resemble food when it's not food. They're dearly derived from
commodity crops that are funded by our industrial agricultural system,
corn, weed, soy, sugarcane, beet root. They're the basis of these
foods. You know, I mean, corn is 100 of different things that are made
from it.
They're all highly processed. And I think 5% of the corn that has
grown in America for quote, human consumption is is actually corn at
the cob or corn things that we eat. It's it's mostly turned into junk
food. And now they'll add a whole variety of bad stuff. They'll add,
if you're make manufacturer will make really bad stuff, and they'll
reassemble them into food like substances.
They'll add high fructose corn syrup, different kinds sugar,
maltodextrose, dextrose, various oils that are often hydrogenated, soy
protein isolates, all add extra gluting, casing, mechanically
separated meats, flavors, and most fires, gums, or thickening agents,
and basically makes your product look good. Have a good mouthfeel, be
hyperpalatable, create a highly profitable product. There's a cheap
product to make with long shelf life and they Mark up something hugely
to an enormous price. So the profit margins are huge. I mean, think
about it.
This is the most significant industry in in the country. When you
combine food and health care, I think it's $10,000,000,000,000. Okay.
That's a lot of money. And a lot of this is just driving us a sick and
disease society.
Now there's some limitations to the Nova, right? It's, it's
qualitative in nature. It basically assigns food proxy groups And
sometimes it's a little subjective and maybe a little ambiguous and
maybe inconsistent, but it it's still help. Us, for example, minimally
across the foods, maybe high in natural sugars or fats, while some
Ultra processed or processed foods may be okay, but probably not.
Literally processed foods for sure.
It doesn't really address portion size or eating pattern when you have
mixed meals the classification isn't really straightforward. So these
nuances can lead to real challenges in implementing food policies or
regulations due to misinterpretation among consumers, but all
processed foods are unhealthy when some may be okay, like whole food
protein powders or protein parts from whole ingredients or grass fed,
meats, pastries, turkey sticks, I like venison sticks, you know, tofu
is a processed food. Dairy alternatives can fish. They're obviously
processed, but their whole foods, they're made from your ingredients.
Now machine learning technology may be the future of predicting food
And this is interesting, actually. We use AI to help figure this out
in a 2023 paper, which we'll link to in the show notes, researchers
created a machine learning algorithm and takes nutritional measures
into account to predict the degree of food processing and what Nova
Group the food falls into. It's done a reproducible scalable fashion.
And based on this data, it predicted that 73% of the US food supply
soldier process. So even more than the 60%.
So it's almost three quarters of what we eat is crap and not food,
then one day we're also sick and overweight. Now what does this stuff
do to us? I mentioned early on some of the things, but in addition to
being loaded with sugar or start, processed carbs, oils, additives.
The re the reason they're often bad is they need to have a long shelf
life. What they do is they put it in packages plastics and different
kinds of packaging that often contains BPA phthalates, PDAS,
microplastics, nanoplastics, end up on our food.
So stuff, not even that that in the food when you originally produced
it, even if it's a highly processed food or ultra processed food, it's
actually what it's delivered in, what it's stored in, what it's sold
in is plastics and packaging that can leach into the food. Now this is
a big deal. As a result of this food food processing, there's other
things that happen. Right? Toxic compounds can be produced in the very
act of this processing.
For example, like heterocyclic amines, which are highly carcinogenic,
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PACs ages or advanced glycation
end products, which are changing the chemical structure causing
glycation, which is where sugars and proteins bind to brace proteins
in your body and create a lot of inflammation. It includes trans fats.
It can be formed, acrylamide, which are really bad, cause many, many
health issues, many, many animal studies and human studies have shown
these compounds to cause disease in humans. Animal studies have shown
that food ad is have a really bad effect on mental and physical health
due to their bad impact on the gut microbiomes, that could lead to
inflammation, that could lead to DNA damage. This is just kind of a
And it's, you know, often when the research is done on various
ingredients, they they only look at 1, for example, to look at one
element of the processed food diet, but they won't look at this whole
cocktail of additives in these foods and their combinational effect on
our health. And that and that's a problem. These are not just one
ingredient that we get. Like, we get all sorts of these things and
body doesn't know what to do with them. We eat about £3 to £5 of
additives a year per person.
And that's not including all the ultra processing of the food of the
raw materials. So it's just the additives We eat £3 to £5 of these
compounds from emulsifiers, colors, additives, artificial sweeteners.
Many of these things that are in our food supply in America are banned
in Europe. Things like titanium dioxide, classified as a 2b carcinogen
according to the, committee in in Europe that determines what's
carcinogenic, azodicarbonamide It's a bleaching and de foaming agent,
and it's a potential carcinogen common in yoga mat ingredients and was
in Subway sandwich brand, for example. And what is the impact on Ultra
Process foods on a risk of chronic disease.
Studies really clearly link the Nova class for our foods to an
increased risk of bad cholesterol profiles and kids to an increased
risk of support, cardi metabolic health, bleeding obesity, type 2
diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and we call all all cause mortality
in adults, which means death from any cause. Just to recap that new
British Medical Journal study, which I think is an important study.
It's sort of a landmark study. Again, it's observational data, but
it's, you know, mass amounts of people looking at significant trends,
and I don't think we can ignore this. When they looked at hot, ultra
processed food, they found a 50% increase risk of heart disease
related death, 50 plus percent risk of anxiety and mental health
diseases, like depression, 12% high risk of diabetes, 21% high risk of
death from any cause, up to a 66% in case risk of deaths from heart
attacks and obesity, type 2 diabetes, sleep issues, and a 22% increase
risk of depression.
Now that's a lot. And there's a lot of suffering lot of cost, a lot of
death, and it's totally preventable. I'm just gonna say it really
clearly unambiguously. Ultra process food is the number one cause of
death. In the world today, period.
This is not my opinion. It's from the global burden of disease study
of a 195 countries. The data is very clear. Too much of that crap. And
not enough real food.
Now what's really interesting is how these ultra processed foods
affect the brain. And when we look at the ultra processed food intake,
there's a 44% increased risk dementia. 1 or more servings of fried
food daily result in a 12% higher risk of anxiety, a 7% higher risk of
depression. That's pretty high. Mechanism, how would that happen?
Well, we don't know exactly, but chromatic exposure, which is common
and processed in fried foods increases free radicals, images of shell
membranes, cause have stress, cause inflammation, and any of these
mental issues are related to inflammation in the brain. So what are
the larger consequences of this. For society, for our economy, what is
this doing to us as humanity basic Well, there's 11,000,000 people
that die of your from a bad diet. Again, this is from the global
burden of disease study. I I really think this is an underestimate.
It's really an underestimate. Probably 75% of deaths worldwide from
chronic disease. So I think it's over, like, 70,000,000 deaths,
40,000,000 are from chronic disease. And so we're talking about
probably somewhere between 11,440,000,000 deaths a year, because if
most of the chronic disease are linked to diet and and the dietary
factor that's driving primarily is ultra processed food, then it it's
gotta be a little bit north of 11,000,000. But still, even 11,000,000
makes it the number one killer in And more than 2,000,000,000 people
in the world are overweight globally, and they're sick from eating our
ultra processed industrialized diet.
And the study I mentioned that global burden of disease study was
published in the United States, you know, looked at dietary risk
factors in a 195 countries. It was the most comprehensive study on
diet ever done over 27 years of data. And and there were limitations,
of course. So what they found was this, a diet without enough healthy
foods fruit, vegetable, nuts, seeds, whole grains, you know, healthy
protein, etcetera, good fats. And with too many bad foods, right,
ultra cross foods, refined grains, sugar, sweetened beverages, trans
fats, accounted for 11,000,000 deaths, and get this 255,000,000 years
of disability and life years lost, making it the number one cause of
death globally, surpassing smoking.
Now so it's not just that it causes death. It causes Massments of
disability, cost of society, productivity. It's bad news. In 2018, the
Milken Institute issued 2 major reports. One of them was called the
cost chronic diseases in the United States.
And the 2nd, America's obesity crisis, the health and economic costs
of excess weight, and we're gonna put links to those in the show
notes. Now they map out a staggering impact that food driven obesity
and disease caused by our current food system is having United And
here's what they found in these reports. 1st, 60% Americans have 1
chronic disease, 40% have 2 or more. In 10 years, 83,000,000 Americans
will have 3 or more chronic diseases. They're all connected.
High blood pressure, cholesterol issues, diabetes, heart disease,
stroke. You name it. These are all chronic diseases. 70 plus percent
Americans are about 220 Americans are either overweight or obese. The
direct health care costs for chronic health conditions was
$1,100,000,000,000 in 20 16 or 5.8 percent of our US, GDP.
The indirect costs, including just lost income, reduced productivity,
an impact on caregivers, not actually all the costs. And this didn't
include the impact of the food system on the environment, the climate,
all the other secondary damage we're doing from our environment was
another two point $6,000,000,000,000, the combined direct and indirect
costs are $3,700,000,000,000 or about $1,500,000,000,000 in our
economy. That's just from obesity. It it just it's just staggering to
me. Right?
One of the other important things to know is that these costs don't
include This is important. Don't include pre diabetes, which now
affects 1 in 2 Americans and also drives health care costs, and it
doesn't include the 93% of Americans who are metabolically and healthy
Mark also driving costs and and lower productivity and so forth. And
most of the diseases that are driving these costs are related to our
poor diet, and that drives obesity, inflammation, and all the
downstream diseases, hypertension, cholesterol issues, arthritis, type
2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, Alzheimer's dementia, and can
each tell you. So this is a big deal. The other thing we're seeing,
and this is kind of staggering, is the declining life expectancy.
And more than 60 countries and economies now exceed the United States
in life expectancy, 60 countries. So we're like bottom of the pile, 60
countries, and how long we live, despite spending double everybody
else on health care and having a robust economy and what the hell.
Right? We spend two to four times more on health care in other high
income countries. Why is this happening?
Well, we can see this in America. It's so clear. When you look at the
maps of obesity diabetes and the geographical distribution and the of
life expectancy, it just maps over clearly a 100%. So in the south, in
America, mostly in the south, there's a declining like expectancy, and
it has the highest rates of obesity and So it's it's really clear. The
pattern is really clear, and it's really caused by the increased,
rates of processed food consumption in some of these other really
thing is we need to make sure we can defend our country.
And one of the scary things is that we're seeing a decline in military
readiness because recruits are being rejected for poor health. 70% are
are rejected. We'll get into this. So the CDC reports that the
Department of Defense spends about $1,500,000,000 annually. Now this
is staggering.
This is the Department of Defense. Expense 1.5 $1,000,000,000 annually
in obesity related health care costs for both current and former
service personnel and their families as well as a cost to replace
unfit personnel. They get this lost workdays due to being overweight,
you know, obese for active duty military personnel 658,000 days per
year, costing the Department of Defense, a $103,000,000 a year. This
is a really both Hyman human issue, a societal issue, an economic
issue, a military issue, you know, 1 in 3 adults is too heavy to serve
in the military and 70% are rejected for service because they're unfit
to fight. Almost 20 percent of active duty service members were obese,
not just overweight.
20%. So one in five people in the military were obese in 2020, which
increased by 3% from 2015. What else is problematic because of our
ultra processed diet. The COVID pandemic revealed our vulnerabilities.
America had the worst outcomes almost in any country.
It's 4% of the world's population, but accounted for 16% of the COVID
cases and deaths. And, again, all of this is referenced. You can look
it up. I'm not making this There were 7,000,000 COVID deaths to date,
and the US accounted for 1,200,000 of those and 6,500,000
hospitalizations for severe COVID. We literally crippled our country,
accumulated mass amounts of debt, which we didn't have to do if we
were a healthy nation.
It it's scary. When you look at the effect of chronic disease on our
immune system, them. It's very clear. The strongest risk factor for
having bad outcomes with COVID was having 1 or more chronic diseases.
People who had 1 to 2 had a 70% increased risk of death.
And if you had 3 or more disease like high blood pressure, high
cholesterol, high blood sugar, you had 130% increased risk death from
COVID. Alright. Bad news. Let's get into the good news. Okay.
First, how do you defend yourself? How do you tell if a food is ultra
processed or not? Well, I always use this saying it's pretty kind of
goofy, but I use in faith based wellness programs that I teach. Ask
yourself a simple question. Did god make this or did man make this?
Did god make an avocado? Yes. Did god make a twinkie? No. If god made
it eat it, if man made it leave it.
Right? No. It's so simple, right? Cause, you know, man does make, for
example, cheese and man makes yogurt and some of the things. Those are
minimally processed.
What's con confusing everybody? Guidelines have changed over the last
3 years, and and we don't really know what to eat anymore. We're so
confused, but we do know this. We do know that ultra processed foods
are bad. And what makes a food ultra processed has made people
confused because big food is trying to confuse us Right?
They're they're trying to use their slick marketing tactics and food
labeling and all these halos of health claims on labels to make things
seem great. But don't be confused by that. Food companies are not
required to state on the food label if it's ultra processed or not.
It's not clear if a food is ultra processed. When you pick up the
package, right, doesn't say alter process.
Right? And imagine a food label, it was just clear. Like, they have in
Europe, red is bad for you, yellow, eat with caution, green is good
for you, or maybe they have like in South America, these big black box
warning labels with a stop sign shape that says what you shouldn't
should need or what's in it that you should be wary of. Labels in
America a lot to be desired. We're gonna get there.
We're gonna fix those, but it's it's it's still, important to
understand what you're doing by educating yourself. Some versions of
foods might be processed and some might be ultra So you have to read
ingredient labels. For example, fresh baked sourdough bread from we're
generally raised wheat with which has no pesticides or glyphosate and
is minimally processed in the grinding and is coarsely ground, very
different than wonder bread. They're both bread. Right?
Wonder bread is full of vegetable oils and calcium propyleneate and
monodiglycerides and hybridized corn syrup, whereas the sourdough
bread might be made from ancient non hybridized heirloom grains, which
is non GMO, whole wheat, flour water, sourdough starter might be a
hundred years old and salt, right? Simple. How about oats, right,
quaker and synovial versus we're generally raised steel cut oats or
whole oak throats, right, quaker oats is gonna be filled with sugar,
salt, various kinds of flavorings, highly processed, and the whole
oats or the seal cut oats maybe have one ingredient, right, oats. And
then you have to cook them for a long time. Takes like an hour.
So it's supposed to instant oats, which basically just are full of
junk and are very bad for you, and you should not start your day that
way. Now how do you identify if food is ultra processed? What's the
most practical way? Well, does food look whole. Right?
Did god make it? Did man make it? Right? That whole thing, an apple,
an egg, an Hyman sweet potato, piece of chicken, fish, You recognize
it. Does the food come in a box or a bag or a package?
Could be okay, but not necessarily. Right? Check the ingredient list.
How many ingredients are there on there? Are there 5 more ingredients?
Is the list of paragraph or longer? Do you recognize what's on there?
Could you pronounce them all? Would you easily find the ingredients
sold separately in the grocery store to put on your food. Like, do you
have butylated hydroxy toluene or maltodextrin in your spice cabinet?
Right? No. You don't. Don't eat that stuff. Are there long chemical
names, are there preservatives, flavor enhancers, artificial flavors,
sweeteners, dyes don't need natural or artificial flavor sounds maybe
good if it's a natural flavor, but not necessarily good.
Right? Monosodium glutamate, caramel color, red 40, corn syrup solid
soil ephesin, aspartame, just be away from all that stuff. It's not
that hard. Right? If you really don't know what it is, don't eat it.
Can you tell what the food is by simply reading the ingredient list.
Right? If you cover over the front of the package and you look at the
ingredient list and you can't tell if it's a pop tart or a corn dog,
don't eat it. If you turn a label and you say it says tomatoes, water,
and salt, you know, it's a canned of tomatoes, or you say sardines,
olive oil, salt, know, it's a can of sardines. Right?
You know what that is. Now to add to the confusion, food labeling is
not tightly regulated. So food packaging often features of right of
claims designed to attract consumers by highlighting specific
qualities or the health benefits. Right? It's not role, it doesn't
guarantee that it's minimally processed or it doesn't contain
artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, made with real fruit.
Lightly sweetened. Even, quote, healthy. All this stuff is stay away
from. Products are gluten free, organic, healthy, vegan, paleo, plant
based, low fat, low sodium, keto, doesn't mean it's healthy. Right?
You gotta be smart. It can still have a whole laundry list of
ingredients. It can be still ultra processed. And there's a lot of
ultra processed vegan foods, fake meats, Impossible burger or Beyond
Meat, either science project. These are not Whole Foods.
Right? They're they're have the halo of being plant based or vegan are
good for you. They're made from pulverized soy, deconstructed chemical
products from industrial food production. They're not whole foods or
not health So fake meats, fake eggs, plant based cheeses can sound
okay, but yet you're really careful. And these have been associated
with, the same risk for cardi metabolic disease So the basic rule, if
it has a health claim on the label, probably bad for you.
Michael Pollan, his beautiful book. I encourage you to read it. It's
called of food and eater's manifesto. He he talks about this whole
idea of nutritionism. It's a way people approach food and eating in
the modern world.
And, basically, it reduces nutrition down to individual ingredients,
saturated fat is bad, salt is bad, sugar is bad, whatever. It's just
reducing it. And what happens is this looks at the individual
ingredients focused on scientific analysis. It breaks it down to
constituent parts. So look like vitamins, fat protein.
And it, and it doesn't look at the whole ingredient complex of the
food. It doesn't look at the food as a whole food. And so what this
does, why this is bad is that it allows food companies to dial up and
down ingredients. So one day sugar's bad. So we increase fat.
Or one day's bad. Like, we had the low low fatty air. We had snack
bell cookies. Well, they're not good for you. Right?
They're there's sort of low fat cookies or low fat yogurt. That's
terrible for you, especially since it has a lot of sugar in it. It
allows us the food companies to dial up and down ingredients, which
kind of they can do all day long and process things in different ways,
but it's still junk food. It's still ultra processed food. So that's
why I love a classification system.
It focuses on ultra processed food as the boogeyman. It is the new
cigarette. How do you avoid these? Well, I encourage shop at places
like Thrive Market where you can get whole own processed foods. There
may be packaged foods there, but they're for minimally processed
Make Whole Foods the bulk of your diet. Just buy food. Go around the
of the grocery aisle, no meat, fish, chicken, veggies, nuts, seeds,
fruits, some whole grains, beans. All that's fine. Salt, olive oil,
All that's great. But avoid As much as you can, things that have
ingredients you don't recognize can't pronounce or in Latin or science
projects, avoid foods that come in a colorful packaging with long list
ingredients, just stay away from that. There's a lot of different food
scoring systems that may be coming around in the future. We have the
UK, Australian, New Zealand using something called Nutris score, which
looks at 7 to 9 ingredients, salt, sugars, and vitamins, protein, puts
them together and give a score on the front of package. So you get a
a, b, c, d, or e.
That should be an f too, I think. Now it helps consumers make choices
easier, like, kind of look at the ingredient list, a number or a
letter that grades the food. We're working on a grading system for a
child friendly labeling in the United States called Make the grade,
which will force manufacturers to actually reformulate their foods,
hopefully, and allow people to have an understanding of what they're
eating and how choice, and it'll, hopefully, get industry in moving in
the right direction. In Latin American countries, avoiding ultra
processed food is the golden rule of all the guidelines they have all
the national dietary guidelines. So if the product has too many
calories, too much salt, too much sugar, the wrong kinds of fat, it
gets a black box warning label, essentially looks like up stops I was
in Chile and Argentina.
I saw it. It was like, and everything, every package of chocolate had
all this. And so I'm like, oh, I don't need that. Problem is it's it's
not perfect because it scores poorly on high fat foods that are
healthy like nuts and seeds and extra virgin olive oils. There's too
much fat, but fat is initially bad.
So you have to have the right framework for developing these, and
there's some tweaking that needs to be done, but it was a good first
step. The problems also are that people don't have access to food.
Their food deserts, food swamps, Food and securities, real nutrition
security is also a big factor, which is lack of being able to get the
right nutrition. And so we have to make Whole Foods accessible
affordable, and we're working on a lot of that within our policy
efforts in DC. There's also another labeling or classification system
called the food Compass.
I did a podcast with Doctor Dari and Mazafarian from Tufts about this.
A lot of controversy about this. Got a lot of blowback, but it uses an
algorithmic model that looks at 54 attributes food, a little more
sophisticated than the Nova classification. It looks at ratios of
vitamins and minerals. It looks at carbohydrates, fiber, saturated
fat, unsaturated fat, omega threes, trans fats, additives, refined
starch, level of processing, fat, fiber protein, phytochemicals, and
it basically ranks of food from 1 to a 100, 1 being the worst, and a
100 being the best.
So foods that are less than 30 should be avoided, foods that are 30,
60, moderately and over 70, get thumbs up. The goal of this
classification system was to try to get classification system that
didn't allow food in the street to manipulate the foods to be
healthier by dirty up and down different ingredients. And that was a
good effort, but, you know, there were a lot of drawbacks to it.
Right? Whole grains may be scoring too high.
Right? Whole grain cheerios might sound good, but it's, again, a
highly processed animal foods might be scoring low, which may not
account for the glycemic impact or low to the Now one of the big
flaws, the big flaws on this, which is hard because there isn't a
large classification database that can be used to analyze foods was
probably the most important criteria of a food, and it was not
included in the system, and it's called the glycemic load or index of
a food, which how much a food raised your blood sugar. This is the
single biggest driver of insulin resistance. It's the single biggest
driver of chronic disease. And so missing this is not Good.
And it wasn't the fault of the scientists. It just there's no large
database available of the glycemic load of foods. And so it's hard to
do this. I think we need to kind of, in our minds, think about that as
well. Like, I kind of superimpose glycemic framework.
Is this thing gonna raise my blood sugar? Now you can use, for
example, in the use glucose monitors, you can track your blood sugar.
It's a lot of really cool ways to do it, and that's probably a better
way to do it. So we're going in the right direction. We need a clear
classification system.
We need clear food labeling. You need to watch out because this is the
biggest killer out there. If you get rid of these foods from your life
and your diet, you're going to so much healthier. And I think the work
we're doing in Congress with food fix and food fix campaign, you can
learn more at foodfix.org is trying to push policies in the right
directions, allow child friendly food labeling, deal with dietary
guidelines, and and, hopefully, the new dietary guidelines are going
to call out food as an issue. There's a lot of work we're doing.
We're trying to create, you know, campaign in Washington to help
senators and congressmen and the whiteness understand the dangers of
ultra food, how it is the new smoking, how it is driving our federal
deficit. It's the biggest driver of our economic burden in terms of
the burden on driving federal that GDP ratio, so it's a big issue. We
have a long way to go, but I think we're starting to get in the right
direction. I think this whole concept of ultra processed food is in
the zeitgeist now. People are You need to talk about it to understand
that there's just tremendous amounts of research building up around
this, and it's so so critical.
So really encouraging me to to avoid these foods. To learn about it
and to insulate yourself from them and to advocate for food companies
to do the right thing and start to make healthier foods for all So I
hope you've enjoyed this version of the doctor's Farmacy health
bites. It's a lot of information, but I I wanna provide deep dives
into really important to help you up level your health, understand
what's out there in the marketplace so you can protect yourself and
also give you guidelines how to live a long healthy life. So thank you
for joining, and I hope you love this health bite today. And, we'll
see you next time on the doctor's Farmacy.
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