Researchers with New York University (NYU) just wrapped up an 18-year study that focused on diet.
And they uncovered a disturbing trend that’s putting people ages 60 and over at MAJOR risk of early death.
Worse yet? It’s an eating pattern that continues to grow in popularity, despite its many—even LETHAL—ill-effects.
So, let’s back up to talk about how this dietary trend got started. Then, I’ll share the study details—and how to protect yourself…
NIH targets the wrong foods
While I was a research investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during the mid-1980s, I suggested looking at the relationship between disease and dietary patterns.
I based this idea on data collected as part of the “British Empire Cancer Campaign” of the 1920s.
This important survey gave us an early indication that people who ate more fresh produce and dairy had much lower rates of chronic disease. (And remember, at that time, those items were still mostly what we would today call “organic.”)
I also suggested that wild-caught fish and shellfish were very healthy choices. (Again, back then, it all still came straight out of the oceans and waters as Nature had made it—making it the one food that was still not processed or subject to any kind of artificial chemicals.)
But my advice fell on deaf ears at NIH…
Mainly because, at that point, the government had already begun spending billions of research dollars trying to blame chronic diseases, like Type II diabetes and heart disease, on fats, cholesterol, and salt in the diet. And they told people to avoid healthy, wholesome foods that include these nutrients—such as eggs, meats, dairy, and even some seafood.
Of course, we now know they were all wrong, all along.
The REAL problem is all the packaged, ultra-processed foods that people eat in place of whole foods. In fact, people who have a diet high in ultra-processed foods not only suffer from more diseases…they also have a higher all-cause mortality risk. (Which means death from ANY and ALL causes.)
Ultra-processed products include ready-to-eat (or ready-to-heat) items with artificial ingredients, additives, sugars, or other sweeteners, such as:
- Breakfast cereals
- Canned soups
- Fast foods
- Frozen pizzas
- Snack foods
And, according to the study I mentioned above, American consumption of these foods is SOARING…
Ultra-processed food consumption on the RISE
For this new study, researchers with NYU analyzed U.S. government food data. They found that ultra-processed food consumption in the U.S. diet grew from 53 percent of total caloric intake between 2001 and 2002…to 57 percent of total caloric intake between 2017 and 2018.
At the same time, consumption of whole foods fell from 33 to 27 percent of total calories consumed, mostly due to people eating less dairy and meat.
The greatest increases in consumption included more ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat meals.
In an interview, study author Filippa Juul said, “the overall composition of the average U.S. diet has shifted towards a more processed diet. This is concerning, as eating more ultra-processed foods is associated with poor diet quality and higher risk of several chronic diseases. The high and increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods in the 21st century may be a key driver of the obesity epidemic.”
And here’s what I think is the most disturbing finding…
The group who experienced the largest increase (in ultra-processed food consumption) were people ages 60 and older!
Perhaps seniors rely more of these “convenience” foods, as they tend to be less expensive and easy to serve. Not to mention, you can stock up on them and not have to visit the store as frequently.
Plus, researchers think the situation is probably much worse now, since many people (especially seniors) started stocking up on boxed, packaged foods with a long shelf-life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transform your shopping, transform your health
In the end, science shows cutting out the junk foods and filling up with whole, unprocessed foods is the No. 1 thing you can do, starting today, to transform your health.
Of course, you get plenty of wholesome, satisfying foods by enjoying a Mediterranean-type diet, which includes:
- Full-fat dairy, including butter, eggs, cheeses, and yogurt (Remember, in the Mediterranean, they eat cheese at each and every meal. But health experts typically overlook that point because it doesn’t fit their “anti-fat” narrative.)
- Wild-caught fish and grass-fed, free-range meat, especially lamb, which has the best nutritional profile of all meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day
- Alcohol in moderation
Even some unprocessed whole grains are okay, in moderation. Just don’t rely on them for your fiber intake. Instead, you get plenty of natural fiber from fruits and vegetables, as I explained in the April 2019 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Going against the grain. Don’t be fooled—eating more bread and cereal WON’T make you live longer”). To become a subscriber to my newsletter and get free access to ALL my archives, click here now.
“Americans are eating more ultra-processed foods.” U.S. News & World Report, 10/15/2021. (usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-10-15/americans-are-eating-more-ultra-processed-foods)