To eat healthier is a fairly common New Year's resolution and generally ALWAYS the right decision! Our tip for today is therefore: Why don't you give up convenience foods? Because they make us demonstrably old, as researchers have found out.
"This year I'm going to eat healthier!" How many times have we made this resolution and how long has it lasted each time? Part of the reason may be that healthy eating is elusive. Yes, it has something to do with eating lots of vegetables and fruits and reducing sugar. But sometimes the small changes are worth much more than the big ones, simply because we can keep them up longer. So today we have a diet tip for you and your cells that can be planned and therefore easily implemented: Skip the convenience foods for a change!
The problem is clear: time is pressing. At work, things are once again going haywire. There is simply no time to cook. So we turn to convenient ready-made meals that only need a little water or are ready on the table in no more than 15 minutes without any preparation. From instant mashed potatoes and frozen pizza to schnitzel in a ready-to-cook container - the selection in the supermarket is now enormous. Simply remove the lid and pop it in the microwave. It couldn't be more convenient.
And although the variety of dishes suggests that this would be a varied and therefore healthy diet, this is unfortunately in no way the case. We have known for a long time that convenience foods can make you fat and sick. Earlier studies were able to prove connections with high blood pressure, obesity, depression, diabetes and some types of cancer. But Spanish researchers have now discovered that convenience foods have an even more profound negative impact on our health: Because they accelerate Aging!
Disturbing study results
Those who frequently eat convenience foods such as frozen pizza, sausages and cookies instead of consuming freshly prepared foods have been shown to have shorter telomeres. Reminder: Telomeres are the protective caps of our chromosomes and thus protect our genetic material. Since they get shorter with each cell division, they are considered a gauge of aging. The shorter the telomeres are, the older a living being is! If you want to read more about this, you can do so here do so.
So people who frequently reach for convenience foods show clear signs of earlier, biological aging - on a cellular level. This is because convenience foods accelerate the shortening process of telomeres and thus cause cells to age more quickly. This is the new finding of a team led by nutritionist Lucia Alonso-Pedrero of the University of Navarra in Spain in 2020.
In the course of a study, they evaluated the data of around 900 older people, whose average age was just under 68. Depending on their eating habits, the subjects were divided into four groups: The first group ate less than two "ultra processed foods" per day. The fourth group ate more than three of the industrially produced, highly processed foods and thus consumed more fats, salts and cholesterol as well as fewer vegetables and fruits.
The result: men and women in the fourth group not only had significantly more cases of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but they were 82% more likely to have shortened telomeres compared to the first group!
Does this now mean convenience foods = aging?
Yes and no! Because for a direct causal relationship, further studies must first be conducted to determine the exact mechanism. What is clear, however, is that eating a lot of industrially produced food is unhealthy.
This is mainly due to the fact that such foods often contain high amounts of saturated fats, salts and sugar and additives such as colorants, flavorings and preservatives. In contrast, the vital nutrients that our bodies need are underrepresented.
In addition, convenience foods are often tricked. What looks fresh and colorful on the package is unfortunately usually more appearance than reality. For example, the juicy fruits on the yogurt pot are often not contained in the fruit yogurt. Instead, the beautiful pink color comes from the juice of the beet. Instead of fruit, fruit residue is incorporated that has been artificially flavored to taste like strawberry.
And that brings us to another crux of the problem. The artificial flavors start a vicious circle: they appeal to our sense of taste. sense of taste They appeal more strongly to our sense of taste, whereupon we perceive fresh food as bland and tasteless. We literally become "addicted" to the convenience foods that offer us a more intense taste experience.
Other unhealthy factors of convenience foods are, on the one hand, the Portion size: For some, the portions are simply too large, yet we eat them up. - After all, what's on the plate gets eaten. - On the other hand, the industrially produced foods have more calories than necessary due to the additional sugar. Both of these factors promote obesity over a longer period of time.
So what do we do if we want to take our New Year's resolution to eat healthier seriously? Well, generally reduce or eliminate convenience foods. That means paying attention when shopping! A look at the ingredients reveals a lot about the naturalness of the food. Because even if the ready meal says "organic," that doesn't mean it can't contain preservatives and sugar!
Reaching for ready-made puff pastry or pizza dough once in a while, on the other hand, is perfectly fine! As long as the pizza is then topped with fresh ingredients and lots of vegetables. By the way, strained tomatoes or canned tomatoes are no problem here either. In fact, they often contain more phytochemicals than raw tomatoes.
Also pure Frozen vegetables is also a good alternative. This is also quick and in most cases contains valuable vitamins and nutrients, some of which are better preserved by blast freezing than in fresh products because they are easily perishable. And if you're going to make mashed potatoes, make them yourself if possible! Is done quickly, and tastes much better!