In episode 113 of his video series, Dr. Larson discusses:

As we talked about in episode 109, there is a food component that is more abundant than what people realize, and it is ultra-processed foods. Most of us know about processed foods like cookies and chips, but not a lot of people understand what ultra-processed foods are and to what degree they are in our diets. We discussed the risk factors that come with eating ultra-processed foods in episode 109 and how consuming them increases all-risk mortality.

What we are finding out is that ultra-processed foods are doing three things that are leading to chronic health conditions. One, they increase your glycemic load and cause you to get a spike in blood sugar response. When you get a spike in blood sugar, what follows is a spike in insulin that causes fat storage and hunger, which can become a vicious cycle. The second thing ultra-processed food consumption does is low degree of satiation. Therefore, you can eat a lot of food and never feel “full”. That leads to overeating and the same insulin cycle. The third thing ultra-processed foods do is they rewire your gut microbiome to be more inflammatory.


Ultra-processed foods promote the type of bacteria that leads to inflammatory conditions like heart disease, hypertension, obesity, cerebral vascular disease, metabolic syndrome, blood sugar dysregulation, and cancer. In an article published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers attempted to come up with a way to know if we are eating ultra-processed foods. They came up with relatively simple definitions, and you can look at to find out if something is ultra-processed. The research will probably continue to show more of what these ultra-processed foods are doing. In fact, in some countries (notably not in the US), avoidance of ultra-processed foods is the ‘golden rule’ of their national dietary guidelines. So, if you can single out what ultra-processed foods are and avoid them, you can reshape your diet around eliminating them for healthier outcomes.



You can download the guidelines of processedand ultra-processed foods here.

Category four is the ultra-processed food category. The definition is still somewhat complicated, but the examples are very clear. If you are eager to decrease your risk factors for chronic illness, then it is a good idea to eliminate ultra-processed foods from your diet. NOVA is the research group that released these definitions. Over 50% of the calories that the average person consumes in develop nations are ultra-processed foods, and they are more common than you think. It is a huge problem that needs to be addressed both in the US and worldwide to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases and illnesses. And avoiding them is an excellent way to increase your health if you do nothing else to change your diet.


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