Worried about looking older? It may be your diet.
Recently, Ladders covered a report indexing the anti-aging properties associated with Ataulfo mango fruit. The benefits came down to beta-carotene, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and anti-inflammatory chemicals that contribute to collagen integrity.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a bevy of ultra-processed foods like pizza, soft drinks, and french fries.
Ultra-processed foods are defined as industrial formulated products made from oils, fats, sugars, starch, and protein isolates that contain little to no whole foods.
Nearly 70% of packaged food in the US reportedly falls under this classification. This is especially troubling when we realize that just about 80% of Americans’ total calorie consumption comes from store-bought foods and beverages (packaged and unpackaged).
These products are frequently designed to belie the impression of actual food via flavorings, colorings, and emulsifiers.
Although research has shown that disease incidence increases dramatically among populations who regularly consume ultra-processed foods, research has been limited with respected to the impact these foods have n the aging process.
According to a recent study presented at the European and International Conference on Obesity, those who regularly consume ultra-processed foods nearly double that rate at which their body ages, in addition to increasing one’s risk for different forms of cancers, high blood pressure, obesity, metabolic syndrome, depression and type 2 diabetes.
The new paper reveals that cellular damage induced by nutritional imbalance can reduce the length of our telomeres, which are the compound structures found at the end of our chromosomes.
“Telomere length gets shorter with every cell division, and thus, producing aging. However, this process may be accelerated due to different risk factors, such as ultra-processed food consumption,” the researchers said of their new findings. “These risk factors produce oxidative stress and inflammation, which are some of the mechanisms inducing telomere attrition and further cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases or cancer.”
The length of telomeres naturally shortens as we age. However, progressive shortening of telomeres can be the result of poor nutrition. Prognosis often includes adverse cellular transformation; affecting the health and lifespan of an individual.
The authors began by recruiting 886 participants. Each provided saliva samples alongside self-reports of their daily food intake.
Consistently, those who habitually consumed ultra-processed foods were more likely to evidence a family history of heart disease, diabetes, and abnormal blood fats.
Not only did this group consume more fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, sodium, cholesterol, fast food, and processed meats, they tended to fail to receive sufficient quantities of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables.
More to the point of the paper’s thesis, intake of ultra-processed food consumption increased the likelihood of having shortened telomeres with each quartile above the lowest–with a risk increase of 29%, 40%, and 82% for the ‘medium-low’, ‘medium-high’, and ‘high’ ultra-processed foods consumption groups respectively.
The self-reports showed that 17% of the ultra-processed foods consumed were dairy products, including custard, ice cream, and milk shakes. Processed meats represented 15% of ultra-processed foods and Pastries, including but not limited to muffins, doughnuts and croissants, represented 12% of the ultra-processed foods consumed.
“A high consumption of ultra-processed food associated with telomere length attrition may trigger other diseases, which implicate a higher prescription of drugs, a higher collapse of hospitals or even a premature death, which will be translated into a more prevalence of co-morbidities and mortality,” the authors concluded.