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.⁠

Pro-Dietitian Tips:⁠

⚠️ 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!) ⁠

DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n1554⁠