I am so glad I found the AntiCancer Lifestyle Program. This is an amazing idea and gift. Our son-in-law at 39 has glioblastoma. After surgery, chemo, and radiation we hope, no relapse. Hope, however, is not a plan. My wife and I are changing to help him change.”

“My patients respond to the Anticancer Lifestyle Program in a way I find unprecedented in 30 years of Radiation Oncology practice. It helps them feel that we are caring for them, and not just delivering cancer treatment.”

“If you are a Human Resources or wellness professional looking to take your employee health and well-being strategies to the next level, the Anticancer Lifestyle Program is unrivaled. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Offering this course to all of our employees really underscores how much we care about them and their loved ones.”

View All Testimonials

Health Hazards of Ultra-Processed Foods

An article in the Washington Post on September 27, 2022, outlines the considerable health hazards of ultra-processed foods:

“In many households, ultra-processed foods are mainstays at the kitchen table. They include products that you may not even think of as junk food such as breakfast cereals, muffins, snack bars and sweetened yogurts. Soft drinks and energy drinks count, too.

“These foods represent an increasingly large share of the world’s diet. Almost 60 percent of the calories that adults in America eat are from ultra-processed foods. They account for 25 to 50 percent of the calories consumed in many other countries, including England, CanadaFranceLebanonJapan and Brazil.

“Every year, food companies introduce thousands of new ultra-processed foods with an endless variety of flavors and ingredients. These products deliver potent combinations of fat, sugar, sodium and artificial flavors. They are what scientists call hyper-palatable: Irresistible, easy to overeat, and capable of hijacking the brain’s reward system and provoking powerful cravings.

“Yet in dozens of large studies, scientists have found that ultra-processed foods are linked to higher rates of obesity, heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. A recent study of more than 22,000 people found that people who ate a lot of ultra-processed foods had a 19 percent higher likelihood of early death and a 32 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease compared with people who ate few ultra-processed foods.

“So how do we break our dependence on ultra-processed foods? You can start by learning which foods in your diet count as ultra-processed. You don’t necessarily have to give them up. But once you know how to spot an ultra-processed food, it’s easy to find a less-processed substitute.

“Foods can be unprocessed or minimally processed — like the whole fruits and vegetables, chilled or frozen meats, dairy products and eggs that we buy. Other foods go through a moderate amount of processing — you can usually spot these foods because they have only a few ingredients on the label. Think freshly made breads and cheeses, salted peanut butter, pasta sauce, bags of popcorn and canned fruits, fish and vegetables.

“Then there are ultra-processed foods. At their core, they are industrial concoctions containing a multitude of additives: salt, sugar and oils combined with artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, stabilizers and preservatives. Typically they’re subjected to multiple processing methods that transform their taste, texture and appearance into something not found in nature. Think Frosted Flakes, Hot Pockets, doughnuts, hot dogs, cheese crackers and boxed macaroni & cheese.

“Research shows that our bodies seem to react differently to ultra-processed foods compared with similar foods that are not so highly processed.

“In a rigorously controlled clinical trial that was carried out by the National Institutes of Health, scientists compared what happened when they fed a group of people a diet of ultra-processed foods for two weeks and, on a separate occasion, a diet of matching meals that were mostly made from scratch.

“Both diets contained similar amounts of fat, sugar, sodium and fiber, and everyone was allowed to eat until they were satisfied. But to the researchers’ surprise, people ate substantially more calories when they were fed the ultra-processed foods. On average they ate about 500 more calories a day — roughly the amount in a large order of McDonald’s fries.

“On the diet of ultra-processed foods, the participants quickly gained weight and body fat. But on the unprocessed, homemade diet, the reverse happened: They lost weight, and they had reductions in cholesterol and an increase in their levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone called PYY. They experienced a drop in their levels of ghrelin, what is known as the hunger hormone. It’s not clear why the unprocessed and ultra-processed foods had such differing effects.

“We can’t explain it yet,” said Kevin Hall, the lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “We have a dozen theories or more about what it is about ultra-processed foods that caused these effects.”

“Many ultra-processed foods are made in industrial machines that subject grains, corn and other raw ingredients to extremely high pressures and temperatures. This can destroy micronutrients and create new compounds that can be harmful, including carcinogens, said Carlos A. Monteiro, an expert on ultra-processed foods and a professor of nutrition and public health at the School of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

“These foods contain many chemical compounds that are not nutrients,” he added.

“Ultra-processed foods often contain an array of additives whose effects on our health we don’t yet fully understand, said Mozaffarian. “It’s not just the salt and sugar, which are the obvious ones, but the artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, emulsifiers, stabilizers, guar gum and xanthan gum,” he said. “We don’t know that they’re innocuous.”

“The simplest way to cut ultra-processed foods from your diet is to buy fewer prepared and packaged foods and to consume more whole and minimally processed foods. Instead of buying sweetened fruit yogurts loaded with additives, buy plain yogurt and add berries, nut butter and honey if you like. Consider skipping the frozen chicken nuggets and making these baked nuggets at home, which don’t take much more time.

“You should also eliminate sugary sodas and sports drinks, which have many additives and little or no nutritional value. Substitute with sparkling water with lemon or lime, unsweetened teas, and plain water or water flavored with real fruit.”