Did you know that today’s grocery store food would be completely unfamiliar to shoppers from the 1930s?

Due to  significant technological and cultural changes plus the rise of packaged food companies, many health professionals believe we are poisoning ourselves as we watch cancer rates, diabetes rate and heart disease rise exponentially.

Here are some insights based on the available data and general trends in the food industry:

  1. Confectionery & Snacks:
    The largest segment in the food market is Confectionery & Snacks, with a market volume of US$135.20 billion. This suggests that snack foods and confectionery items are among the highest grossing processed foods.
  2. Packaged savory snacks:
    The results indicate that the daily intake of packaged savory snacks has essentially doubled since the ’90s.
  3. Dairy-based desserts:
    Similar to savory snacks, the consumption of dairy-based desserts like ice cream has also doubled since the ’90s  indicating their popularity and potential high sales.
  4. Sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages:
    Sugar is  associated with increased health risks like obesity and diabbetes. They are widely consumed and likely high-grossing products.
  5. Processed meats:
    Items such as bacon, hot dogs, sausages, ham, corned beef, jerky, and deli meats are mentioned as popular processed foods.

This list is based on inferences from consumption trends and market segments mentioned in the search results. The food industry is dynamic, and exact rankings of highest-grossing processed foods may vary by region and change over time.

Based on the search results, consuming large amounts of packaged and processed foods can lead to numerous negative health consequences:

  1. Increased risk of chronic diseases:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Up to 50% higher risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
  • Type 2 diabetes: 12% greater risk
  • Cancer: Increased risk, especially for breast and colorectal cancer
  • Obesity: Higher likelihood of weight gain and obesity
  1. Mental health issues:

  • Depression and anxiety: Up to 53% higher risk
  • Dementia: Increased risk
  1. Gastrointestinal problems:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Disruption of gut microbiome
  1. Nutritional deficiencies:

  • Lower intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Higher consumption of added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats
  1. Increased mortality:

  • 31% higher overall mortality rate for high consumers of ultra-processed foods
  • 18% increased risk of death for each additional daily serving
  1. Other health issues:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Premature aging
  • Potential negative impacts on brain function and intelligence
  1. Addictive properties:

  • Ultra-processed foods can stimulate the brain’s “feel-good” dopamine center, leading to cravings and overconsumption
  1. Metabolic effects:

  • Quicker digestion, leading to less energy expenditure and potential weight gain
  • Blood sugar spikes and insulin resistance
  1. Exposure to potentially harmful additives:

  • Many ultra-processed foods contain artificial ingredients and additives with unknown long-term health effects

It’s important to note that while these health risks are significant, they are generally associated with high consumption of ultra-processed foods. Moderate consumption of minimally processed foods as part of a balanced diet is less likely to pose these health risks. The good news is that focusing on diet and fitness can help mitigate these risks. The research suggests that reducing intake of ultra-processed foods and focusing on whole, minimally processed foods can lead to better health outcomes.

Insiders Health Tip

Here are some of the best diets that focus on eliminating processed foods, fast foods, and sugar, all while incorporating an abundance of healthy foods to eat:

  1. Whole30 –

    A 30-day elimination diet that focuses on whole foods and excludes sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy.

  2. Paleo Diet-

    Emphasizes eating like our ancestors, focusing on lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds while avoiding processed foods, grains, dairy, and sugar.

  3. Mediterranean Diet-

    Centers on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. It limits processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats.

  4. Clean Eating Diet-

    Prioritizes whole, unprocessed foods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, while avoiding processed foods, refined sugars, and artificial ingredients.

  5. Anti-Inflammatory Diet-

    Focuses on foods that reduce inflammation, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats (like olive oil), and lean proteins. It eliminates processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats.

  6. Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet-

    Emphasizes eating whole, unprocessed plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds while excluding processed foods, refined sugars, and animal products.

  7. Keto Diet (Clean Keto)-

    A high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carb diet that eliminates sugar and processed foods. It focuses on whole, unprocessed foods like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and low-carb vegetables.

  8. DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)-

    Designed to lower blood pressure, this diet focuses on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy, while limiting processed foods, sugar, and sodium.

  9. Sugar Detox Diet-

    Aims to eliminate added sugars from the diet by focusing on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, while avoiding processed foods and sweetened beverages.

  10. Low-Glycemic Index Diet-

    Emphasizes foods with a low glycemic index, such as non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, while avoiding high-glycemic foods like refined sugars and processed foods.

Remember that the best diet is one that suits your lifestyle and health goals. For personalized advice, consult with a doctor or competent dietician. Check out some of the amazing healthy lifestyle blogs available online for additional ideas on healthy eating and having a well-balanced life!

References:
https://www.statista.com/outlook/cmo/food/united-states

https://www.statista.com/topics/7781/global-snack-food-market/

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/05/25/1178163270/ultra-processed-foods-health-risk-weight-gain

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/eating-ultra-processed-foods-linked-to-32-health-issues-like-heart-disease

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6146358/

Processed Foods and Health

 

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/these-ultraprocessed-foods-may-shorten-your-life-study-says-1.6947492

The Many Health Risks of Processed Foods

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