3 Experts on ultra-processed foods say you should cut them out immediately for gut health, inflammation and mood

3 Experts on ultra-processed foods say you should cut them out immediately for gut health, inflammation and mood

a woman biting into a cinnamon roll

a woman biting into a cinnamon roll

When it comes to junk food, it doesn’t get much worse than ultra processed varieties. Ultra-processed foods are those made mostly of processed ingredients that have been stripped of nutrients such as refined sugar, carbohydrates, fats, and more. Not only do these foods tend to pack in calories, they also provide virtually no nutritional value, making them a terrible addition to your diet. In addition to the fact that they can lead to spikes in blood sugar, overeating, weight gain and disease over time, they can also lead to inflammation and seriously affect your intestineswhich affects almost every aspect of your health, including your mood.

“Ultra-processed foods contribute to chronic inflammation that can lead to or worsen gut health, mood and overall health.” Lisa Richards, nutritionist and creator of the Candida diet. To find out more, we asked Richards and a dietitian Trista Best Balance One Supplements on some of the worst ultra-processed foods and why you should avoid them. They told us all about the effects of inflammatory, processed foods such as breakfast cereals, sugar cookies, and prepackaged oatmeal. Find their expert insight below!

1. Sugary cereals

Although sweetened cereals can be a quick, convenient and delicious breakfast, Richards warns that it also has a number of health consequences – especially when it comes to gut health. For this reason, she recommends ditching sugary, processed breakfast cereals and replacing them with varieties that don’t contain sugar, artificial colors or refined carbohydrates. You might be surprised how much better you feel when you eliminate these ingredients—not just in your breakfast cereal, but in your entire diet. “This change will not only reduce the inflammatory ingredients in your diet, but it will also change the way you start your day,” says Richards. “What we eat first thing in the morning tends to direct the rest of our eating habits throughout the day, for better or worse.” Noticed!

2. Pastries for breakfast

Unfortunately for those of us who love going to the bakery or enjoying a sweet brunch, Best says sweetly, processed breakfast pastries are another major culprit in gut problems and inflammation. This is mainly due to the high content of refined sugar in these incredibly tasty treats. “These foods are hard on the gut primarily because of the added and refined sugars used to make them,” she explains. “A diet high in this type of sugar promotes gut dysbiosis and an imbalance of gut bacteria.” She goes on to say that these added sugars, which are added in the manufacturing process, “are a food source for bad gut bacteria that cause an imbalance and overgrowth of this bacteria and potentially Candida.” And as we mentioned earlier, when your gut bacteria gets thrown out of whack, your overall health can take a serious hit; you may encounter problems like inflammation and bad mood.

3. Prepackaged oatmeal

Although homemade oatmeal topped with healthy ingredients makes a fantastic fiber-filled breakfast, Richards says yes prepackaged, processed varieties they’re often loaded with sugar and other artificial ingredients, which we all know are terrible for your gut, mood, and overall health. “Unfortunately, this is full of ingredients that cause bloating and gas,” she tells us. “The added sugar, refined carbohydrates and potential lactose/fructose in some flavors will cause a number of negative gastrointestinal side effects.” Yikes! As noted earlier, sugar, in particular, can make digestive problems worse because it is “a food source for bad bacteria and irritates the gut.” High fructose corn syrup is another common ingredient in prepackaged oatmeal that Richards says “produces gas by feeding the bad bacteria that often produces gas in the gut.”

Overall, processed foods in general can be harmful to your overall health. The highly processed, artificial ingredients found in these foods can wreak havoc on your gut, cause inflammation, and even ultimately affect your mood. And while it’s best to cut out all processed foods as much as possible, the ones on this list are a great place to start.

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