2018-06-29
Ultra-processed food: A threat for our intestines?

If we write on Google Scholar “ultra-processed food consumption” in a tenth of a second, 3260 articles appear and all of them are link to the human health.

Ultra-processed food” is the word used to describe foods that are largely industrially processed and usually they are composed by 4-5 substances derived from food and additives.

Their daily consumption, could be a risk for the human health?

Numerous studies have been carried out on the subject and one of them, in particular, has investigated the association between UPF consumption and gastrointestinal functional disorders in a large sample of French adults from web-based NutriNet-Santé cohort. According to the results of a self-administered questionnaire, more than 10% of participants (3516 people) reported having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). After adjusting for confounding factors, an increase in UPF consumption remains associated with a higher risk of IBS. Further longitudinal studies are of course necessary to confirm this hypothesis, to identify and understand what specific characteristics of UPFs are potentially involved.

The processing of food raw materials is a particularly complex area. The international NOVA classification used in this study categorizes foods according to their degree of transformation. Like most methods of globalizing food classification, NOVA has many advantages but also methodological limitations and weaknesses. However, it has the merit of raising questions that remain to be explored about the link between ultra-processed food consumption and their impact on health.

Schnabel L et al. Association Between Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Results From the French NutriNet-Santé Cohort. Am J Gastroenterol. 2018 Jun 15.

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