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Effects On Unhealthy Food And Drinks On Health

Recently, a new body of research has come out showing the effects on unhealthy food and drinks choices and inactivity has in our health. From early dead, cognitive declining, liver disease and even stroke and heart attack our everyday choices are affecting our health. Let's look at it:

  • In a study published in JAMA Intern Med, on 11 February that analysed the diets of 44 551 people found that for every increment of 10% on eating ultra-processed foods increased the risk of dying for all-cause by 14%! In this research, ultra-processed foods were defined as ready-to-eat or -heat foods that have ingredients combined with additives. Processed foods can also include snacks and other processed foods with added additives.

  • Unhealthy lifestyle such as inactivity and a diet poor in fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrains can lead to low-grade chronic inflammation and according to a new study published on February 13, 2019, in Neurology® found that long term inflammation leads to cognitive declining, especially memory decline. Foods that are known to cause low-grade chronic inflammation are refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastry products; fried food; sugar-sweetened beverages; red meat; foods with trans fat such as margarine. 

  • Having 2 or more diet beverages/artificially sweetened beverages a day increases the risk of stroke, heart attacks and death in a study done in women published on 14 February 2019, by the Journal Stroke of the American Heart Association. 

  • People that eat lots of meat and are obese are at risk of liver disease, especially non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This study was published in the journal Gut last year.

As what happens with any body of research, there is a need for more research to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, this a turning point to prove a point of the dangers of some FAD diets that encourage the consumption of meat products, and low-calorie products (that are usually highly processed and also have artificial sweeteners devalue the role of whole grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables in lifestyle.

Follow these simple steps in order to reduce your health risks and protect your health - physically, cognitively and psychologically.

  1. Have a diet that is focused on fresh and minimally processed foods. This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and nuts and seeds. Frozen fruits and vegetables are considered safe and as nutritious its fresh counterparts. Look at the labels of any product that you buy if the ingredients list is too extensive, has sugar or artificial sweeteners and lots of words that you can’t understand what it is then that product should be avoided.
  2. Keep meat products to a minimal. There is no need to go vegan - start by reducing your meat portions and have meat-free days (Meatless Mondays).

  3. Prefer water as the best way to keep you hydrated. You can infuse your water with fruits and vegetables, have herbal infusions or even teas without sugar or artificial sweeteners added.

  4. Keep active, incorporate exercise into your life.


Written by Claudia, Senior Dietitian (since 2013)

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Claudia has a degree in Dietetics and she specializes in Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition Support, Gestational Diabetes, Chronic Disease, Cancer Nutrition Therapy, Weight Management, Mediterranean Diet as well as in Nutritional Wellness & Mindful Eating.

Read more of her here.

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