A recent study discovered that our modern diets might actually be killing us. And our consumption of ultra-processed foods might be to blame.

Researchers from the Paris-Sorbonne University conducted the study on 44,451 French men and women with an average age of 57. The participants had to keep daily records of the foods they ate throughout the day. Using this information, the researchers classified these foods into different groups based on how they were processed. These were then linked to the participants’ mortality rates in order to find out if there was a connection between the two.

Chips are heavily processed foods and should be avoided as much as possible.

Based on the results, the researchers found out that each 10 percent increase in the consumption of processed foods increased the risk of death by 14 percent within the next eight years.

They also found that these foods accounted for more than 29 percent of the participants’ diets. This is a pretty significant amount and could even increase based on various factors.

For example, other studies have found that British diets are more dependent on ultra-processed foods. In fact, they make up for about half of the foods that British people consume.

Why should you avoid ultra-processed foods?

Cookies are delicious, but they're one of the unhealthiest foods around.

The study’s author, Dr Laure Schnabel, a nutritional epidemiologist at Paris-Sorbonne University, shares:

Ultra-processed foods contain multiple ingredients. They are usually ready to heat and eat, affordable, and hyper-palatable.

Ultra-processed foods are generally energy dense, rich in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and salt, and contain low dietary fibre.

These features have been associated with several non-communicable diseases that are the leading causes of mortality.

Beyond their nutritional aspects, ultra-processed foods have specific characteristics, owing to the industrial processes they undergo.

Thus, concern is rising about the potential harmful health consequences of newly formed contaminants or food additives

This means that while convenient and readily available, these types of foods aren’t good for a person’s diet. In fact, they could even pose a health risk, especially for those who consume these types of foods on a daily basis.

Examples of ultra-processed foods include white bread, sausages, packaged snacks, sugary drinks, ready-made meals, etc.

What are better alternatives to these foods?

Instead of being dependent on processed foods, it’s a good idea to eat more fresh or home-cooked meals. While these are less convenient and aren’t as “instant” as processed foods, they do provide a significant boost to your health and don’t have any ill effects, provided you eat them in moderation.

Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of your diet as these foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber that help keep your body healthy.

Meat is also very important since it contains iron, protein, and other minerals that your body needs, but it should always be eaten in moderation.

For snacks, you can opt to eat veggies like carrot or celery sticks, or snack on some healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds. It’s best to avoid eating chips or fried foods since these types of foods aren’t good for your health.

As for drinks, it’s best to stick to water or fresh fruit juice. Processed fruit juice, soda, and other similar beverages should be avoided since these contain a lot of sugar, which can cause health problems.

Lastly, it’s okay to eat processed foods. However, it’s important to eat them in moderation and make sure that they don’t comprise the majority of the foods you eat. Eating a pack of crisps or a couple of cookies is okay every now and then, but eating them everyday for your snacks isn’t good for your health.