This book will change how you think about food

by Bruce O’Hara

May 10, 2024

There’s so much I’d like to share from this well-researched, comprehensive, and often entertaining book, it’s going to require two postings just to scratch the surface.

Chris Van Tulleken wears many hats here – as a doctor, academic, father, twin brother, TV presenter, raconteur, and someone who eats food. The book meanders a fair bit, which would be irritating if he didn’t keep finding such interesting stories.

Dr. Tuleken ate only ultra-processed food for a month as an experiment while he was researching the health impacts of highly-processed food. By the end of the month he had gained 12 pounds. When tested, his hunger and satiety hormone levels were all out of whack. Even a brain scan showed changes in his brain pathways. Whereupon he quit eating UPF “cold turkey” – which his wife pointed out was in fact one of the foods he could still eat.

The definition of ultra-processed food is problematic. But a good rule of thumb is: if any of the ingredients on a package label are things you wouldn’t find in your own kitchen, it is ultra-processed. Basically it is any foodstuff that has been taken apart and put back together using various industrial processes. Even a lot of food that pretends to be healthy – ‘organic’ guava juice, ‘all-natural’ granola bars, ‘zero-trans-fats’ flavoured yogurt and ‘high fiber” breakfast cereals – are most often ultra-processed.

There’s now good research evidence that the more ultra-processed food you eat, the greater your risk for obesity, cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, depression and dementia. (Increasing the percentage of UPF in your diet by 10% increases your risk of senility by 25%, for example.)

Initially UPF was only shortening lifespans in the rich countries of the world, but as UPF snacks, fast food, and colas have spread to the poorer countries of the world, they too are seeing massive epidemics of chronic disease and obesity.

Van Tulleken recounts a number of the arguments that apologists for UPF make that it is not industrial processing per se which causes UPF to be harmful:

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Life can change in an instant because of a natural disaster, a seasonal storm, job loss, some new disease or even the political statements of a far off nation – Let’s get you ready!  Briden Solutions and The Lifeline Plan – Simplifying Emergency Preparedness.

Read More HERE