Ultra-processed Foods Increase Cellular Aging

It's important to reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods in order to reduce their contribution of trans fats and toxic substances. Learn more in this article!
Ultra-processed Foods Increase Cellular Aging
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

According to studies, consuming ultra-processed foods can increase cellular aging. The scarce contributions of micronutrients from these products and their high caloric density contribute to promoting oxidation processes. This can also lead to an increased risk of developing diseases in the medium and long term.

A healthy diet has to be based on the consumption of fresh food. Vegetables, for example, have high amounts of phytochemicals in them that help prevent the appearance of free radicals. These micronutrients are also capable of reducing the damage suffered by cells over time.

In this article, we’ll teach you why you should eliminate, or at least reduce, the consumption of ultra-processed foods in your daily diet.

Ultra-processed foods contain trans fatty acids

Your body needs lipids (fats). They participate in a variety of physiological reactions. They’re responsible, among other things, for hormonal homeostasis and for transporting and reserving fat-soluble vitamins.

However, there are different classes of lipids:

  • Mono and polyunsaturated fats: Specialists consider these to be healthy and recommend their consumption.
  • Saturated fats: There’s some controversy surrounding saturated fats. We need more research to accurately assess them.
  • Trans fats, which are present in ultra-processed foods, are harmful. Eating this type of lipid regularly increases inflammatory processes and cellular aging, as stated in an article published in the journal Advances in Nutrition.
French fries frying, an ultra-processed food and source of trans fats.
Trans fats are related to inflammatory problems and excess weight. For this reason, we recommend you limit their consumption as much as possible.

Learn more: The Essential Fats Your Brain Needs

Acrylamide is present in ultra-processed foods

In addition to the lipids which affect inflammatory processes, ultra-processed foods contain other substances harmful to your health. One example is acrylamide, a waste product obtained from subjecting starches to high temperatures.

This substance can accelerate the processes of cellular damage and aging. Regular consumption of acrylamide is associated with an increased risk of developing complex diseases, such as cancer, according to an article published in the International Journal of Cancer.

For this reason, we recommend you reduce your consumption of foods that may contain this substance. Both ultra-processed, fried, and battered foods are could have this toxin.

To avoid acrylamide formation, we recommend you cook starchy foods at low temperatures. The best option is to boil them in water when it comes to reducing their teratogenic activity.

Two people about to eat cheeseburgers.

You might also be interested in: Fatty Liver: Foods that You Should Avoid

They have a high energy density

Ultra-processed foods are characterized by being rich in fats and sugars. This increases their energy density while worsening the markers associated with metabolic health.

This excessive consumption of sugars and trans fats is capable of also damaging the microbiota. This can cause changes in its diversity, which causes problems in digestion and the assimilation of nutrients.

For this reason, we recommend you reduce your consumption of this kind of food. Instead, you should prioritize eating fresh foods, such as fish and vegetables. It’s essential to guarantee your supply of dietary antioxidants to help your body fight the aging process.

Reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods

As we’ve said, ultra-processed foods have a high caloric density and a low content of essential micronutrients. They’re rich in simple sugars, substances related to poor metabolic health.

Also, they contain trans fats that cause inflammation and promoting cellular aging. As if that weren’t enough, they can also contain waste products such as acrylamide. These promote the appearance of cancer and increase the risk of developing complex diseases.

For all these reasons, scientists recommend you reduce your intake. However, we know it’s difficult to eliminate them completely since they’re so present in our routines. Therefore, it’s enough to reduce your consumption as much as possible while also increasing your consumption of fresh foods.

Meanwhile, it’s important to guarantee your intake of vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants that are responsible for fighting against the formation of free radicals and cellular aging.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Oteng AB., Kersten S., Mechanisms of action of trans fatty acids. Adv Nutr, 2020. 11 (3): 697-708.
  • Pelucchi C., Bosetti C., Galeone C., La Vecchia C., Dietary acrylamide and cancer risk: an updated meta analysis. Int J Cancer, 2015. 136 (12): 2912-22.
  • Rodríguez Hernández, C. (2018). ¿ Consumo de alimentos ultraprocesados?.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.