In my practice as a gut health dietitian I see patients with IBD all the time. On Instagram @AndreaHardyRD, I talk all about the risk of getting IBD from eating ultra-processed foods!
In a recent study, researchers followed over 116,000 individuals over ~10 years to assess whether intake of ultra-processed food increased the odds of an individual developing IBD (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis).
Do ultra-processed foods increase risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease?
Ultra-processed foods included things like:
- 🍖processed meat
- 🥣cold breakfast cereals
- 🥫packaged sauces
- 🥤soft drinks
- 🍬refined sweetened foods (candy, chocolate, jam, jelly, ice cream, pastries, baked goods)
- 🍟fried foods
With increasing intakes of ultra-processed foods, risk of developing IBD went up significantly, whereas intakes of
white meat, unprocessed red meat, dairy, starchy foods, and fruit, vegetables, and legumes had no impact on development of IBD.
What does this mean?
The study suggests that consuming >1 serving a day of ultra-processed foods is associated with incrementally increase your risk of developing IBD, as servings go up, in comparison to those who had <1 serving per day. The more you consistently take in, the greater the risk.
⚠️ don’t panic. This isn’t about dietary absolutism. If you consume a lot of ultra-processed foods, start by swapping 1 item out for a more nutritionally dense food! For example, I love packaged sauces – so I will be swapping my teriyaki and hoisin for some home made sauces (hello my simple favourite: orange juice/zest, chili paste, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar!)