Ultra-processed food and cancer – who knew?

Why is it that ultra-processed food is now implicated in cancer risk? For many health-conscious people it will come as no surprise to learn this. We have known for many years about dietary factors contributing to either health creation or degradation. Why should it be a surprise to anyone that a study is published which implicates ultra-processed food as a causative factor in the cancer picture?

I believe that there are two main reasons why the processed food is so bad, and why this, in turn, leads to higher cancer rates: firstly, the ingredients/composition of this degenerate food itself, and secondly, the protective factors that those who eat a lot of processed food are missing out on. Let’s look at them both.

The damaging ingredients in highly processed food
1. Deranged fat. I could write for weeks about this, but fortunately I don’t have to. Starting on page 40 of The Fatigue Solution and throughout my MP3 The Importance of Fat, you’ll learn all about how high temperature exposure and other processes cause perfectly decent oils to turn into horrible deranged substances that stick in our arteries and kill us, as well as degrading our cells, causing free-radical damage, harming the immune system and interfering with our hormonal balance on the way. Rancid fat, as I call it, is a killer. On the other hand, good fat is a lifesaver. Read about and order the healthy omega oil supplement that I use here.

2. Deranged protein. High temperature processing causes the formation of numerous damaging protein-derived compounds, such as skatols, to name but one. High temperature processing of meat products causes carcinogenic compounds to form. Combine this with the fact that they are in contact with the bowel lining for longer than ideal (since those who eat such foods have a slower bowel transit time than those eating a high-fibre, plant-based diet), and you have a recipe for increased bowel cancer rates at the very least. Chargrilling adds another layer of potential carcinogenicity to the high temperature processed meat story, as does preservation with nitrites. Get your protein from plants and you’re far less likely to be exposed to such challenges.

3. Deranged carbohydrates. White flour, white pasta, white rice… Stripped of the outer “husk” and refined to within an inch of their lives, grains have been robbed of any health benefits via processing. Add another layer of problems by high temperature treatment, such as frying, and you’ve got the potential for the formation of toxic substances such as acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed in substantial quantities when starchy foods are fried or baked at high temperatures. For us, this means chips (French fries for my North American friends) and crisps (potato chips for those across the pond). So what about potatoes in general? Not a problem if they are boiled – the acrylamide content is very low to negligible.

The carcinogenic properties of acrylamide have been known since 2002. Still, it is unregulated in processed food, and some brands of crisps (potato chips) exceed “safe” acrylamide levels by 910 times. You won’t see “Warning – contains acrylamide, a known carcinogen” on your next packet of crisps. I’m not sure how many of my readers will still be eating such snacks, but if you like the texture of these things (I can’t imagine that you would like the taste!), switch to dehydrated kale chips/crackers. Much healthier, because not only are they low-temperature processed and devoid of the deranged substances above, but they also contain significant levels of antioxidants.

Protective factors – antioxidants
Let’s face it, processed food is very unlikely to have been made from fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit and veg contain many thousands of antioxidants – compounds found in brightly coloured produce which have known health benefits, keeping our immunity high and our disease rates low. Each colour gives us a different spectrum of nutrients, which in turn has a specific benefit inside the body. Want to prevent breast cancer? You can reduce your risk by eating broccoli, or, better still, broccoli sprouts, which are full of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Heart and vascular diseases more of a concern for you? Reach for the dark red and purple foods such as berries and dark grapes, which are loaded with resveratrol.

Have you ever noticed that raw, rainbow plant food is just that (rainbow-coloured) but that processed food is, well, brown? There are no antioxidants in brown food. Even if there were, they would have been destroyed by high temperature processing. Listen to my MP3 Oxidative Stress and the Link between Diet and Health for more on antioxidants. For more info on the role of nutrition in cancer treatment, click here. Finally, to get all of your 25,000 (approximately) antioxidants daily in a whole-food form, have a look at this – it’s what I have been using for 22 years. I call it my insurance policy (and use it every day even though I have been raw-vegan for 2 decades). What’s yours?

About Max Tuck

Hippocrates Health Educator. Long term living foods vegan. Athlete, lecturer, author of four books (with the 5th coming soon) and firm advocate of healthy living.
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