Ultra Processed Foods: Everything you need to know…
- The UPF Epidemic
Did you know that Ultra-Processed Foods (UPFs) make up a staggering 57% of the UK diet? The risks associated with consuming these products are on the rise, and it's essential to be informed. We've compiled 19 crucial facts to help you understand UPFs better.
- What Are UPFs?
UPFs are not your typical food items. They contain industrial substances rarely found in home cooking and additives that make them taste irresistible. In essence, they're more like "edible substances" than real food.
- The Risks Are Real
As delicious as UPFs may taste, recent studies have linked them to serious health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and even depression. In 2019, research showed that UPFs accounted for 57% of the UK diet, a number even higher among children and some demographics.
- Spotting UPFs
While there are no health warnings on UPFs yet, here are some red flags to watch out for: unfamiliar ingredients, health claims like "high in fibre," the use of palm oil, products from big multinational brands, and the transformation of cheap crops into expensive snacks.
- Check the Ingredients List
A quick way to identify UPFs is to inspect the ingredients list. If you see unusual ingredients like hydrolyzed proteins, high-fructose corn syrup, or unfamiliar fibres near the beginning or middle, you're likely looking at a UPF. Additives, such as flavours and colours, tend to be listed toward the end.
- What's Safe?
Category one includes unprocessed or minimally processed foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, plain yoghourt, and more. Category two includes items like butter and honey, which have minimal processing.
- Top UPF Offenders
The culprits behind the UPF epidemic include fizzy drinks, packaged snacks, ice cream, and even some bread and breakfast cereals. It's surprising how UPFs can sneak into so many aspects of our diets!
- Designed to Overeat
UPFs are designed to encourage overconsumption and can even be addictive. It's not about willpower; it's about knowledge and conscious choices.
- Ditch Fizzy Drinks
One simple change you can make is to eliminate fizzy drinks, including diet ones. They can harm your teeth and weaken your bones.
- Exercise Alone Won't Fix It
Contrary to popular belief, exercise alone cannot magically erase the effects of UPFs. You can't out-gym a bad diet.
- It's About Knowledge, Not Shame
This isn't about shaming anyone for their food choices. It's about understanding what you're eating and taking control of your health. UPFs should be treated with caution, just like cigarettes – with taxation, restrictions, and clear labelling.
- You Have the Knowledge
Now that you have this information, it's all about making conscious choices. Your health is in your hands, and every choice you make matters.