According to a recent study published in BMJ, almost 60% of the calories that the average American consumes comes from ultra-processed foods (1). Is this a problem? Probably.
As a doctor who treats gastrointestinal diseases and diagnoses colon cancer, this is the stuff that keeps me up at night. The phrase,’ American as apple pie,’ once had meaning. Considering the staggering amount of processed foods we eat—’American as soy lecithin and high fructose corn syrup,’ is probably more appropriate.
Processed foods are so common in the American diet, most people don’t know how to recognize them. I once fell into this category. Years ago when I was a freshman taking organic chemistry at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), gaining an understanding of the chemical nomenclature of ingredients listed on food labels excited me. Now, I just feel depressed when I reflect on this. Having a basic understanding of what you’re eating shouldn’t require a class in organic chemistry at one of the country’s best public institutions. This knowledge should be accessible to anyone with a high-school education. The problem is that most of our calories come from food that’s chemically engineered instead of raised or farmed.
So, how can the average person identify processed foods?
In this post, we define processed foods, break down the categories of processed foods, and share 9 reasons why processed foods are bad for your health.…
I am a physician and trained chef. I specialize in gastroenterology and nutrition. Currently I work as the Associate Director of Adult Nutrition at the University of Chicago.