Eating a healthy diet can be tricky. At 100 Year Lifestyle we are committed to making eating healthy, eating for longevity, as easy as possible. The fact is, so many of us are consuming “anti-longevity” foods that we truly believe are good for us. What are anti-longevity foods? They are ultra-processed foods which, according to Wikipedia, are:
Food and drink products that have undergone specified types of food processing, usually by transnational and other very large ‘Big food’ corporations. These foods are designed to be “convenient, eaten on the go, hyperpalatable and appealing to consumers, and most importantly, the most profitable segment of Big Food companies’ portfolios because of these foods’ low-cost ingredients.
For example, many people reach for a granola bar or protein bar for an afternoon snack. The packaging and advertising of many of the most popular bars talk about the convenience and health benefits of high fiber or perhaps protein content, while ignoring things like sugar content, actual nutritional value, and portion size (some of those individually wrapped bars are 2 servings).
But beyond granola bars there are many ultra-processed foods that most of us include in our diets in varying degrees, either as a treat or a mainstay, that would be best to be avoided entirely as part of our 100 Year Lifestyle. Need proof?
When Chris van Tulleken, a healthy 42-year-old physician and BBC television host, ate a diet of 80% ultra-processed food for a month, he believes he took 10 years off his life. His diet, extreme by almost all standards, consisted of frozen pizza, fried chicken, fried fish, cereals and ready-made meals. Very similar to the diet he was feeding his small child. He told the Telegraph that as a result:
My libido, piles, heartburn … everything got worse. I was anxious, depressed — and it was all self-perpetuating.
He gained over 14 pounds, was constantly nagged by hunger, and an MRI proved that his poor diet had the same effect as drugs or alcohol have on an addict.
According to the CDC,73% of US adults are overweight or obese. Is it any surprise that a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 60% of the American diet consists of processed foods?
In another study, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that three or more servings per day of ultra-processed food—mass-manufactured foods containing oils, sugars, fats, starch and little nutrients—may lead to changes in chromosomes linked to aging. Three servings a day isn’t that much—one soft-drink and a processed meat and cheese sandwich for lunch and you’re there.
So how do we avoid ultra-processed foods and live our best 100 Year Lifestyle? First, understand how to recognize ultra-processed foods for what they are. The further away from food in its natural state that you go, the more likely that the food is ultra-processed. These include:
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Sweet, fatty or salty packaged snacks
- Candies (confectionery)
- Mass-produced packaged breads and buns
- Cookies (biscuits)
- Cakes and cake mixes
- Margarine and other spreads
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Sweetened fruit yogurt and energy drinks
- Powdered and packaged instant soups, noodles, and desserts
- Pre-prepared meat, cheese, pasta and pizza dishes
- Poultry and fish nuggets and sticks
- Sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products.
Don’t be fooled. Even if that sweetened fruit yogurt or cake mix says “organic” on the label, that doesn’t mean that those organic ingredients haven’t been ultra processed and the product doesn’t contain unnecessary sugars and fats. Unfortunately, in today’s world, there is such a thing as organic junk food, and regardless of what the front of the box or package says, we all need to read every label.
Did you know that Mexico, in their efforts to educate and protect the health of their population, instituted in 2020 a food warning label on packaged foods that are high in sugar, trans fats, saturated fat, and calories. Specifically they want to curb incidences in their population of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other diet related ailments. Similar packaging requirements are also in place in Chile, Peru, and Uruguay.
An interesting thought as you create or improve upon your 100 Year Lifestyle diet. Consider eating organic foods without a label! Carrots, mushrooms, lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits—they all come without a label! If you do eat foods with a label, make sure they are minimally processed and contain as few ingredients as possible. Minimally processed foods are processed in a way that does not fundamentally alter the product, such as roasted nuts, frozen fruit and vegetables, cold pressed virgin oils, and dried herbs. Explore the colors of the rainbow in the produce section and venture out and try things you’ve never tried before!
At 100 Year Lifestyle we are committed to helping you become aware of the facts and make whatever changes you believe are necessary to live a long and healthy life. Check out our variety of healthy and delicious recipes for your 100 Year Lifestyle, learn more about the food we eat, and find a local provider to help you on your journey!