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How to live longer: The ‘Frankenstein foods’ that could ‘shorten your lifespan’

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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“Each year a new study or research findings are published and the media goes to town promoting the latest superfood or diet on the planet,” said the weight management expert Marisa Peer. “I think it is more helpful to flip the concept of superfoods and take a look at the Frankenstein foods instead – the real monsters that lurk in your cupboards and have been proven to contribute towards disease and shorten your lifespan.”

Mrs Peer noted that while sugar and salt are “key” offenders, other tricky foods include:

  • Trans fats
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Ultra-processed foods.

Trans fats

She said: “A few years ago, there was talk of banning toxic trans fats.

“The BMJ [British Medical Journal] published a study which demonstrated doing so would stop more than seven thousand people in the UK dying from heart disease over a five year period saving the NHS £265 million per annum.”

Designed to improve taste and increase shelf life, this type of fat is found in the likes of biscuits and cakes.

Although products rich in trans fats might be tasty, the fatty culprits can increase your “bad” cholesterol levels while lowering your “good” cholesterol levels.

Mrs Peer said: “What this means is an increase in risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

“Even small amounts can make a significant difference – research published by Harvard found that the risk of heart disease can increase by 23 percent from just two percent of your daily calorie intake coming from trans fat.”

Artificial sweeteners

Contributing to weight gain and obesity, sweeteners interfere with your “natural gut microbiome and can increase the bacteria that extracts energy from our food and turns it into fat”.

This process can leave you gaining extra pounds.

She added: “There is also evidence they contribute to diabetes and heart disease and make our body believe we are eating something sweet.

“It creates insulin that we do not use and is dumped in our cells adding to excess weight.”

What’s worse, the expert warned that artificial sweeteners ingested by mothers could even end up in the bloodstream of babies.

Ultra-processed foods

Mrs Peer said: “One study in France found that the biggest predictor of someone getting cancer is eating ultra-processed food throughout their life.

“By ultra-processed food, I’m talking about pretty much anything from ready-meals to muffins and sweets to crisps.

“This is because they’re packed with obscene amounts of sugar, salt and trans fats, making them the ultimate Frankenstein food.”

Apart from snacks and ready meals, another ultra-processed food which could be harmful to your health is meat.

She added: “A study of over 500,000 people discovered those who consumed the largest amounts of ultra-processed meat increased their risk of dying from heart disease by 72 percent and from cancer by 11 percent.

“One of the reasons is the huge amounts of salt and sugar that often go into the production of these types of meats together with all sorts of nasties added as fillers.”

“Again, check the labels if you want to discover what you are really eating,” she concluded.

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